Kasey tried to think. She was so exhausted that she could only think about walking home, crawling into her bed, and closing her eyes. The noise around the locker room dimmed as she fell asleep sitting up, no longer able to keep her eyes open. It wasn’t until someone jerked her arm that she turned to stare at her boss, Mike White.
“I’ve been calling your name for ten minutes. What the hell is wrong with you?” She jerked her arm out of his tight grasp and looked at her locker. “I need you to work another shift, Betty, and I don’t care what other plans you have.”
She dropped her shoes in the open locker without looking up. “My name is Kasey, not Betty. Perhaps if you’d said the correct name in the first place I could have saved you the extra nine minutes to tell you that I’m not working for you.”
She cringed at his laughter. It always reminded her of a braying jackass. “I didn’t ask you to work. I said you were. Just stay away from the front until all the managers are in and you’ll be—”
“Look jerk-off, I’ve just come off a sixteen-hour shift and I can’t work anymore. I’m going home.” She stood up and watched as he backed up. She was at least six inches taller than him.
“You work it or I find someone that will, and I don’t mean just this shift, but permanently. Do you understand? I’m the boss, you are the employee. I’ll see you out front in ten minutes.”
When he walked away she nearly burst into tears. This was her third sixteen-hour shift this week at this job and it was only Wednesday. In addition to this job she had two others. She reached in and pulled out her boots to pull them back onto her aching feet.
“Are you working it?” Kasey looked over at her friend Toby. “You’ll have to be unarmed to work that. Even if it is illegal for you to carry past that many hours without sleep, don’t let him talk you into working armed. You’ll be the only one to catch hell.”
“I’ll go and disarm after I pull on my boots. Could you call and tell them I’m coming down? I don’t want to make prissy ass wait any more than he has to.”
Kasey York stood up after pulling on her boots and tried to make her uniform look better. It was difficult to do with the thing a triple X and her a medium at best. She tucked as much of the excess shirt into her too large pants and hoped her belt, which had seen better years, held up a little longer. When she had done as much as she could she walked down the hall to the armory.
“Hey there, sweetcakes. I just heard you was a’workin another shift. Are you trying to die at a young age or you wanna go for the world record of going without sleep?”
“Hi, Uncle Jay. Nah, Tweedle-stupid is making me. I have to turn my stuff in.” Kasey took the clip out of her Glock and handed it to her uncle. Then with her spotter there, she took her weapon out of the holster and handed it to him. She watched as he shot the round out of the muzzle and showed her it was empty. He handed it over to the armament and her uncle winked to her as he sauntered off.
“Honey, you need to take a break. You’re gonna get sick and that ain’t gonna do your momma any good.” Uncle Jay handed her the paper to sign her weapon in as he continued. “You come on over to the house after work and crash. Your aunt and I would love to have you.”
After agreeing she would think about it, knowing she wouldn’t bother, she went back up to the front of the lobby to see what her assignment was going to be. Prissy ass Mike was taping his foot and glaring at her when she got there. She was late, he told her as a greeting, and then proceeded to tell her what she was to do for the next eight hours—as if she didn’t know how to do her job.
Kasey had worked for Hunter Corporation for ten years in security. She was a part-time third-shifter that had never been able to be hired on as full-time. But it mattered little in the amount of hours she worked. In the past eight years, she’d averaged about sixty-five to eighty or more hours a week consistently. The problem was, she couldn’t get the benefits without the full-time status. Benefits that would do her a world of good not just for the insurance, but for the bonuses that she wasn’t entitled to get quarterly, and the pay raises.
She was just finishing up her tour of the building when she noticed that Butler, the day shift desk person, waved her over. She went to him smiling. She really liked the older man.
“Oh, darling, I gotta go. My wife made some of her famous chili last night and I’m about to die here. You think you can watch things for me for a bit? I won’t be but twenty minutes at best.”
Kasey agreed to watch the doors. The people coming in had slowed to a trickle now that it was nearing ten o’clock so she didn’t think Prissy would mind. She kept on her feet knowing that if she sat down, she’d be out.
It had been over fifty hours since she’d been to bed. She had gotten here to work her first part of this shift at two in the afternoon the day before yesterday. Kasey had worked as a bartender the night before that and helped clean the hotel rooms with her mom that morning before coming in. She was looking at the monitors when a group of men and women came in. They all badged in but the one in the middle. Kasey turned to stop him.
“Excuse me. Sir.” She’d said it louder when he all but ignored her. “Sir, you didn’t badge in. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to come back and do so.”
She nearly swallowed her tongue when he turned to look at her. Now here was a man to keep a woman up all night and have her not care if she was tired. She flushed at the thought, wondering where on earth that had come from. The man next to him tried to step between her and the man, but she stopped him with a hand on his forearm.
“He doesn’t need to badge in. He’s—”
“I don’t really care who he is. He could be the Czar of Russia for all I care. But he still needs to badge in.” She looked at the man who had been silent as she and the man next to him argued. “Look, the man who owns this building went to a great expense to put this thing in. It’ll take you all of two seconds to simply flash your badge at it. You don’t even have to dig it out of you—”
“Look…Officer York, I don’t think you—”
The man had grabbed her arm and she acted out of reflex. He was turned away from her with his arm up to his shoulder blade before he could finish his sentence. She forced him to the floor before she could think that she might have overreacted. “I’m sure we can work something out that doesn’t involve breaking the arm of my brother, don’t you think, Officer York. Jesse?” The man helped his brother up when Kasey stepped back and let him go. “Now, you were saying something about a badge. I don’t believe I’ve ever been stopped for one before. Is this really necessary?”
She didn’t like to be a bitch, but she’d read about this sort of thing happening when a gunman wanted to take out the top guy for whatever reason. She wasn’t going to be the one to let the bad guy in on her watch. She didn’t think this guy looked like a shooter, but she was sure that lots of people said that about their neighbors all the time when they happened to shoot up a restaurant or place of business.
“Yes, sir. Why just last year at the Christmas party, the owner was telling us what a fine job we’d been doing keeping that little machine in proper working order. He did pay for it and all and was glad that it was being put to fine use. I’d really hate to disappoint him by letting someone get by me without letting them have the opportunity to make his day.” Kasey smiled, but her stance was firm. She didn’t have any idea who the owner of this building was and if asked, he probably didn’t have a care in the world about that stupid badge machine, but now it was a matter of making a point. A point that she’d been right and Jesse—staring at her as if she had two heads—had been wrong in thinking she was going to just let this go.
“I don’t believe I have a badge, Officer York. Perhaps you could see if I do and then bring it up to me. I’m late for a board meeting and there are people waiting on me.” The man smiled at her charmingly and she figured that worked for him a lot.
“I would be happy to see if you do, sir. And if you don’t, it’ll only take three minutes to print one up for you. This is very important, you see. The reason we have the people badge in and out is so that in the event of a fire, we have a roll call already built in to see who is in the building when they come in and out. It’s for your own safety.”
He stared at her for several seconds before he walked to the desk with her. She was just pulling up the badging program to search for his name when Mike came up beside her. He jerked on her arm so hard she knew he was going to leave a bruise.
“What the hell are you doing?” he snarled at her ear. “I told you to stay out of the lobby until everyone was gone.”
“This man didn’t have a badge. I was just seeing if he had one.” She started to put in her password when Mike pulled her back again.
“Don’t,” the man said in a low voice.
Kasey pulled her hands off the keyboard and Mike stepped back. She looked over at the man who seemed to be willing to look up his badge information, then she looked at her boss.
“She doesn’t know what—” Mike started with a stammer.
“Apparently she does. Now step back so that she can see about my badge.” He turned to her with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “What do you need to look up my name?”Kasey wasn’t stupid. She knew something more than this badge business was going on. She looked between the two men, took another step back, and put her hands up in defense. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she had a feeling that she’d opened a can of worms that was going to get her into trouble.
“Mr. White here can finish this up for you, sir. I’m supposed to be on a round right now and…well, look, there’s my replacement now.” Kasey had never been so happy to see someone coming toward her as she was to see Butler. But the man had other ideas.
“You started this, Officer York, and you’ll finish this. What do you need to find my badge information?” She knew then that she was going to lose her job. With a sigh of resignation she stepped back to the keyboard and, with trembling fingers, she started typing.
“Your name will do. Unless you know your employee number, either will do.” She looked at him when she had put in her password and could feel the heat of Mike’s anger rolling off him and onto her. “If it’s not in here, we can print one in no time and you can be on your way.”
He smiled again. “Of course. But let me spell it for you. Don’t want it wrong on the thing, do I? My first name is Royce.” She typed it in as he spelled it. “My last name is Hunter.”
Her fingers stilled on the keys. Well, of course he is. Why not? her mind screamed at her. Why wouldn’t she stop the owner of the building and make a scene about badging in? She watched as the name Hunter popped up on the screen in front of her. Jesse was there, as was another man named Daniel and yet another named Curtis. She was so fucked. But she knew that she had to finish this.
“No sir, there doesn’t seem to be a badge for you. If you’d like to go with Mr. White here, he can get your picture taken and—”
“You’ll do it, Officer York. I wouldn’t want anyone else at this point.” He handed his briefcase to his brother and told him to go on up. He’d be up shortly before he turned back to her. “Shall we?”
He raised a well-shaped brow at her.
“I mean, I don’t have the clearance to make badges. Mr. White will need to take it from here.” She moved back only to be stopped by his next command.
“You’ll come along then. You should really learn all aspects of this job, don’t you think?”
Yeah, she thought, it was going to do her a lot of good to know how to print a badge at the Hunter building while she was unemployed. She nodded and followed Mike. She wanted to burst into tears, but she’d learned a long time ago that tears got you nothing but a runny nose and a headache.
Mr. Hunter sat for his picture. Kasey thought she’d ask for a copy so that the next time she wanted to stop the owner of a company for a trivial thing, she’d pull out this man’s picture to remind herself of what not to do. She just wanted this over with and if the daggers that Mike was sending her were any indication, she’d be done here before the ink dried on the stupid badge. But the badge printer wasn’t working for him. No matter how many times Mike tried to get it to work, it kept telling him he was putting the wrong information in. Kasey just watched him struggle.
Working nights gave her a lot of time to read and Kasey would read anything and everything. One night in a desperate attempt to stay awake when a murder mystery she’d already figured out didn’t help she’d read the manual on the badge making process, including the manual on the equipment. But she didn’t move forward to show Mike he was doing wrong. She just clenched and unclenched her fists until he gave up. He turned to Mr. Hunter.
“I can give you a temporary badge until the repair guy gets here later. Then when he’s fixed it, I’ll be able to print your badge, now that I have the picture, and bring it up to you to your office.”
Mr. Hunter was staring at her. She knew that he had figured out she could fix the machine, but for whatever reason he let it go. She was more grateful than she ever thought she’d been.
“All right. But have Officer York bring it up.” She looked up at him sharply when he said that. “I’ll be in meetings all day, but she can catch me between them.” He walked away without a backward glance.
Kasey looked over at Mike when the door to his office closed with a snap. She started to turn to leave, but he snarled at her. Before she could think about what he was doing, she was on the floor and her head felt as if it had exploded.
Stay Tune for Next Week Chapter Two
Books In the series
THE HUNTERS -
1 ROYCE – http://smarturl.it/royce
2 CURTIS – http://smarturl.it/curtis
3 JESSE – http://smarturl.it/jessethehunters
4 DANIEL- http://smarturl.it/danielthehunters