Authors: Roxy Mews
Tags: #Literature & Fiction, #Genre Fiction, #Holidays, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Romantic Comedy, #Two Hours or More (65-100 Pages)
When the Lights Go Out
Copyright 2015 Roxy Mews
RM Productions, LLC
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.
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When the Lights
An April Fools For Love Story
To all the other retail workers out there. If only our days were this exciting.
So…maybe she wasn’t meant to drive a U-Haul. April Prime cringed as she hopped yet another curb and prayed she didn’t pop a tire. Thank goodness she’d spent the extra money on the insurance. Her heart slowed to just below racing as the truck rebounded off the ground and, luckily, kept on going toward her new home.
April had made it to the mortgage offices just fine. The elderly couple she’d purchased the small home from had insisted on an eight a.m. closing. Whatever the reason, the closing was done in plenty of time for April to do exactly what she needed to do. Move out. Sporting a bit of a hand cramp from all the papers she signed, she now held the keys to her freedom.
Living at home in her late twenties hadn’t been her original plan, but April wanted to be responsible with her money. Her parents had offered to help her build a cobb house in the back yard, but as much as April loved the environment, she was not going to build a cow poo house. Saving her cash and buying her home, one made the traditional way, was much more her style.
When she unlocked her door, her freedom started with some kick-you-in-the-ass reality. The electric company had the wrong date for her power to be turned on. The cable company had the correct day, but it wasn’t like they could test anything they installed without electricity. And they sure couldn’t program her new DVR box.
April had water, but with an electric water heater, she was doomed to a cold shower or none at all for the next three to five business days.
She’d insisted she wanted to move herself in, and it had gone okay until she started trying to move her books. April realized she might have been just a smidge hasty about turning down that help with unloading her parents had offered. Her phone was still at seventy-five percent, so she called her parents.
Her mother answered the phone breathless. “April. Dear. Is. Everything. Okay?”
That rhythmic panting could only mean one thing.
“Gross, Mom. I told you, if you and Dad are having grown-up time, don’t answer the phone.”
Her mom moaned and April hung up.
April wasn’t a prude. She liked sex. And she loved that her parents were caring and adored knowing their sexual relationship was healthy. She was just really over listening to the soundtrack. It was killing her libido.
Calling her parents back was out of the question now unless she wanted even more mental images she could really do without. And she had to get the U-Haul back to the over-night lot before they opened in the morning or pay a fee that cost more than the truck rental itself.
April thought about it for a moment and decided to take a quick trip to the local office supply store. When she’d bought some supplies to label her things, there had been rolling carts in the same aisle. A few wheels to help with the boxes, along with some coffee, and she’d be back in business.
A buzz against her leg drew her eyes to her parent’s number on her cell. April hit ignore. She needed some parental sex decompression time.
She’d planned on another six months at home, but her parents were killing her. Not to mention what their attitudes had done to her social life. Taking a man home was not all that appealing when her parents were having a healing ritual with tantric moaning across the hall. The first man she brought to her new house better eat his Wheaties or he’d end up mumbling incoherently when she was done with him. She was a little hard up, but she refused to let her father high five another one of her sex partners.
Her parents had her best interests at heart, but they took away a bit too much of the mystery for her. She made a mental note to not give them a key to her new place as she hit the closest drive-thru for some coffee.
Taylor James tiptoed through the dark store. Normally he took care with his appearance, but he hadn’t even bothered to shave, and he’d forgotten his name tag on his dresser. April Fools’ Day was a tradition at Business Depot. Even as General Manager, the tradition usually involved a prank played on him. At least this year he was single. Explaining to his girlfriend a few years ago why he came home covered in glitter had been rough.
He yanked down the pictures of Nicolas Cage staring bug-eyed at him as he went through the swinging doors that lead to the “employees only” area of the back room. Managing a retail store put him in the position to be everybody’s damn father. He ran a tight ship, but this was the one day of the year that the monkeys ran the zoo.
The whispers and laughter he heard meant he had a surprise waiting for him in his office. Patting his shirt pocket, he was glad he’d remembered his spare pen. If all the writing utensils were encased in ice again this year, he was covered.
“Hey, Mr. James,” Adam called on his way back to the lockers.
Adam was one of the employees who’d been with Taylor the longest. He’d started working at the store as a teen and continued through high school and into college. Taylor would have talked to the kid about management, but Adam made it abundantly clear he was not interested in any responsibility outside of his Call of Duty Clan.
“Hello, Adam. I don’t suppose we can forget about this whole April Fools’ Day thing and actually get some work done?”
Adam laughed. “I put in extra hours to get those resets done last week, just so I can boost the comedic morale of The Fellowship of the Red Shirts.” He handed Taylor a pushpin, and slapped him on the shoulder. “Are you sure you don’t want to take me up on the offer of a beer tonight? You might need it after my award-winning pranks.”
Taylor’s brow wrinkled at the pin in his hand. Adam gave him clues on occasion, and this looked to be the latest. Closing his fingers around the sharp object, he shook his head. “You know I can’t socialize with employees outside of the store. It’s not professional.”
“I’m not asking you on a date, Mr. James.” Adam said. “Although I do think you could use one.”
“Thank you for your concern.”
Adam saluted and took off with a small bag slung over his shoulder. Taylor really didn’t want to know what was inside it. He took a deep breath and opened his office. Balloons began to float out. Taylor gripped the pin and began to pop his way in. The noise was loud since he hadn’t flipped on the store’s Muzak yet, but at least he had a little stress relief to start his day.
After what had to be the hundredth balloon, Taylor thought a beer and some company sounded like a great idea. He just wished he had time for it. Still in his twenties, he was one of the youngest GMs to ever run a Business Depot. Studying the numbers and brainstorming on new ways to cut overhead sacrificed his social life a bit. Any potential girlfriend had to be just as driven as he was. The corporate headquarters was in this city, and Taylor had his eyes on an office job. A nine-to-five with bonuses and an office with a window sounded amazing. He wanted to be a part of the big picture and make real changes for the company on a nationwide level. Getting out of the trenches and the day-to-day stress was next on his to do list.
Finding someone else as independent, career-savvy, and willing to put business ahead of pleasure wasn’t easy. The few times he did find someone to fit the bill…well, all that responsibility didn’t leave much room for passion.
Taylor switched the pin to his left hand and kept popping. He was a good looking guy who kept himself in shape, but the most action he’d seen in the last couple of years was from the hydro massager at his gym. With the last pop, Taylor flipped on the sales-floor lights and storefront sign.
Putting down the messenger bag he used as a briefcase and his travel mug of coffee, he was glad to see his pens weren’t on ice this year. They were, however, completely gone. In their place were Hello Kitty pens topped with pink feathers.
Taylor drank half of his coffee. It was going to be a long day.
After nearly an hour of responding to emails and returning phone calls from his two days off, Taylor had needed a break. He was a strong guy, but he was no match for the imagination of his staff when it came to their pranks. Rolling his shoulders he’d reminded himself that he was the boss, and even if his district supervisor thought this prank war was good for morale, he could still fire people. With that cheery thought, he went to hit the bathroom before he gave himself the joy of finding horribly mundane tasks for his staff.
Taylor had seen the new men’s and women’s restroom signs as a special order on the supply truck and he knew darn well what one of the jokes was going to be. You would think his employees would be smart enough to know he’d remember which restroom was the men’s after working at this location for nearly a decade. All three of the urinals had plants sitting in them. At least it would freshen the air in here. He grabbed the green fern by the base of the stalks and placed it on the floor by the sinks so he could take care of business.
The handcarts were out of stock on the shelf. April looked up into the caged areas that stretched toward the ceiling and thanked her lucky stars that there was at least one left up in the rafters. Her phone rang again. She took a long swallow of coffee before she answered.
“Please tell me you’re finished, Mom.”
“Yes, but I told you before, I am very capable of multi-tasking while having sex. Your father does most of the work.”
April gagged. “I just wanted to warn you that I might stop by and take a shower tomorrow. Please wear clothes.”
She explained what happened with the electric company mix-up.
Her mother was far too excited about this development. “We can come over with some of our off the grid supplies. Are you at your house now?”
“No, I needed to pick up a few things.” April eyed the notebooks, but put them back down. She didn’t need anything else to move.
April heard the sound of her parents’ outbuilding storage light turn on and cringed.
“How many MREs do you need to get through?” Her mom asked, and April was pretty sure there was an entire box being filled.
“I don’t need MREs, Mom. I can go out to eat.” And those things tasted like cardboard.
“Oh, these need to be used up in the next few months. You need a stash anyway. You didn’t pack any when you left. Bet you feel silly now, don’t you?”
April banged her head on the endcap with file folders on it.
“Mom, I’m good, I promise. And if you and Dad want to come over and help me unload the truck I’ll even take you two out to that new vegan restaurant you’ve been wanting to try.” And
“I’m still bringing the supplies you refused to take with you the first time.”
Of course she was.
“I’m at the Business Depot that’s five minutes from my new house. I’m picking up a few moving supplies. How about I meet you at the cottage in thirty minutes?”
“Sounds good, sweetie. We’ll get your emergency stash started with you. It will be fun!”
April hung up and paced a bit as the coffee made its way through her system.
There was no way she would make it back to her house without using the facilities. Besides, it might be nice to wash her hands in warm water while she could.
A red-shirted employee walked by giggling to herself. April hated to interrupt anyone’s good time, but she tapped the distracted girl on the shoulder anyway.
“Excuse me. Do you have a public restroom?”
The girl looked a bit scared. “We only have employee bathrooms, but I don’t think you want to use them. You see…um…there’s this contest and—”
“That all sounds great, but unless you want to clean up a series of yellow puddles, just…just point, okay? I won’t tell anyone you let me in.”
The girl sputtered and automatically pointed toward the double doors at the end of the aisle they were standing in.
“Oh…and while I pee, I need that handcart from the top. Kay? Thanks!” April took off at a fast walk to try and not jiggle too much.
She pounded through the doors and took a quick stock of the hallway. The signs were a bit crooked, but as long as there were toilets behind the door, she couldn’t care less.
The first thought she had after the relief of getting to a bathroom, was that urinals weren’t usually in the women’s room. The second thought she had was “
.” There weren’t usually men holding themselves in a women’s room either.
“Oh.” April breathed the word but couldn’t fathom what to say next. Nice penis was not really a way to start a conversation, was it?