“She has worked for you just over ten years. But for reasons I can’t figure out, she’s only considered part-time.”
Royce looked at his brother Jesse. “What do you mean? You know we have a number of employees that are considered part-time. It works out well for all of us.”
“Yeah, but for her…look at her average weekly pay. I checked with records and the girl averages about eighty hours a week. I mean, Christ, that’s more than you work in a week and she does it consistently.”
Royce picked up her payroll sheet. It looked like over the past year she’d worked enough hours to triple her income. He looked over at her hourly wage and then back at Jesse.
“She ever apply for a full-time position?” He knew the answer before his brother showed him the applications. There were over three dozen of them.
“She’s been applying for a full-time spot since she was hired. Those are only over the past three years. She can’t apply and be turned down but every six months.” Jesse pulled out another sheet from the file in his hand and handed it to him. “These are her job performances. In order to be eligible for the yearly bonus, it’s required that you score a seventy-five or above. The bigger your score, the bigger your bonus.”
Her scores were fantastic. Nothing below a ninety-seven and several one hundreds. All the comments seemed to center around her good deeds and her ability to do her job. He looked at Jesse again, knowing he was missing something.
“She can’t get them. The bonuses. She’s not eligible because of her part-time status. White had been keeping her as part-time so that his bonus would be bigger. The less he gives out, the bigger his is for his department. Kasey was caught where he wanted her. A great employee who needed to work and who did it very well and no bonus.”
Royce leaned back in his chair and read the comments in the spaces for the supervisor she worked for. “Exemplary work.” “Good work ethic and code of conduct.” “Amazing trainer, keeps things running when I’m not available.” And there were more than that.
“Find out what her bonuses would have been, change her status to full-time retro from the day she was hired, and give her the benefits that she’s entitled to.” Royce took the next sheet of paper he handed him. “Christ, you’re good.”
On this sheet were the bonuses she’d been entitled to, a check for the amount, and the change in her status. Both needed his signature to complete. Also, there was a form to have her promoted to White’s position.
“I thought you’d want someone in the position that you knew would do a good job. She’s the best you have in that department. From all accounts she runs the department when he’s not there or even when he was. There’s not one employee there who wouldn’t jump for her.”
Royce figured as much. Every time he saw one of the other officers, they asked about her. She was very well liked. He wondered if anyone of them had felt the bite of her tongue when she was pissed, but didn’t ask. She was entirely too mouthy as far as he was concerned.
“Let me think on this promotion for a bit. She won’t be back for awhile yet so I have time.” Jesse laughed and Royce glared at him. “She isn’t exactly what I’d consider management material is all.”
“Sure. And this has nothing to do with the fact that you’re attracted to her, I suppose. Mom said she isn’t afraid of you. I think that’s hilarious.”
But Royce had stopped listening. “Attracted to her? When hell freezes over. The girl has the most annoying, mouthy, bitchy…well, as far as I’m concerned, there aren’t enough adjectives to describe what she is. Attracted to her. Mom, right? She put you up to this. Well, she’s wrong.”
Jesse stood up and gathered his papers. “Me thinks thou doth protest a bit too much, brother dear. Admit it, she’s gotten under your skin. Even I can see that.”
“Under my skin like a festering splinter. Get out of my office before I have to call in the security that you’re so fond of.”
Jesse left laughing. Royce wanted to get up and pound his brother in the head until he stopped, but knew that it would only make matters worse. He leaned back in his chair to wonder why his mother thought he was attracted to Kasey.
She was beautiful. Her hair was the color of fall, dark and light reds and browns that made him think of warm nights in front of the fire snuggled under a blanket together. She’d probably hog all the blankets, but it would be fun trying to take them from her. Or trapping her beneath them to grab a few kisses. He stopped that train of thought.
Her eyes were a shade of gray he’d never seen on a woman before. Steel gray with highlights of dark blue that darkened when she was pissed. He’d seen them that color more often than not and he smiled. He did seem to push her buttons.
She was tall and, with her ill-fitting clothes, he’d been hard pressed to figure out if she was as big as she looked or just sloppy. He’d heard from her uncle that she’d been requesting new uniforms for over three years and every time they came in, they were bigger than before until she just stopped trying. Jay thought it was White trying to put her in her place. Royce was beginning to see that he might have been correct. Then he wondered if Jay knew what his niece had been putting up with and decided that he hadn’t. Jay York would have torn the man to pieces for his niece.
He’d been intrigued by her the moment she’d stopped him in the lobby. He’d never been stopped before and, while that surprised him, he’d wished her timing had been a bit better. But when White had come up and started ordering her around he wanted to see how she’d react to finding out who he was. He supposed that he wanted her to see him as godlike, the man of all men. But she’d only seemed like she was going to the guillotine.
She’d handled that well enough, better than he’d expected. She’d not backed down nor done anything but her job. He smiled. She was a pain in his ass and though he wouldn’t admit it to his family, he was beginning to be attracted to her. He picked up his coat and the check and started for the door. Time to pay the piper, he thought, and see her face when he gave her the check.
Leah watched the man coming toward her. She knew who he was. Her daughter had complained about him endlessly for the past few hours. And she had described him to the letter. All the way from the way he walked like he owned the ground beneath his feet to
the top of his dark curly hair that needed a good comb through and a pair of scissors. Leah smiled when she saw the frown on his face. Here was a man who could give her daughter more than she ever dreamed. If either of them were to stop bickering at each other long enough to see it.
“She’s getting a bath. Well, they’re trying to give her a bath. She’s hurting so bad that they had to give her a shot to ease the pain, but she wants to be clean more,” she told him when he stood next to her. “She claimed that she couldn’t stand her own odor.”
Royce looked at the door and then back at her. “She can be quite vocal when she’s displeased, can’t she? Would you like to go get a cup of coffee while we wait? I’ve not had lunch yet either if you’re interested.”
Leah nodded. “Thank you. They just started so they may be awhile. She asked me to leave so that she could cuss without repercussions. I think I might have heard a few of them before I got the door closed. That poor nurse.”
“Yes, well your daughter can be nice when it suits her. Not to me, but I’ve seen it a time or two with you.” Royce smiled and took a bit of the sting out of his words. “I’m sorry. You probably don’t want to hear me bashing your daughter right now.”
Leah laughed. “Kasey always has been a bit headstrong. I think I wanted her to be independent so badly I over-encouraged her to be outspoken as well.” They were seated in the large cafeteria when she spoke. “She’s my biggest champion. I love her with all my heart.”
Royce laughed. “She does love you too.”
They ate for a few minutes before Leah looked up at the man again. “I’m dying. Soon, as a matter of fact. I have an inoperable brain tumor that is slowing killing me. Or quickly, I suppose. I have less than six weeks left on the year they gave me. I don’t think it’s…I won’t live to see her married or happy with a family of her own.”
He looked embarrassed then he looked her in the face. “My secretary told me about your illness. Bobbie, I think she knows your brother Jay. She said you’d been ill for a while before they found it.”
“Yes. Kasey blames herself for that, but I can’t convince her that it’s not her fault. She seems to think if she’d not gone away to school and had been home to see what was happening, I might have been able to get it taken care of. But she couldn’t have. It was too big before anyone found it. I’m just lucky that I’ve had the past few years to prepare and be with her.” Leah looked away, her heart suddenly too full to think.
“I’m sorry, Miss Y—”
She smiled back at him when he started to apologize to her. “I didn’t tell you for your sympathy, Mr. Hunter. I told you because I wanted you to know about my daughter. She’s not as bad as she seems…well, not near as bad. She just hates hospitals. I do, as well. When I was first diagnosed she spent nearly all the time with me. Six months, as a matter of fact. And the hospital hadn’t been…they weren’t kind to me as they are with her right now. The administration frowns on people without insurance coming to take up their bed space when others with money can be there. Kasey works too hard to pay the bills I incurred. And she refuses to let me help her when I can work. She seems to think it’s her duty to take care of me.”
“She is owed some money from my firm. A great deal of money. If I give it to her, what will she do with it?”
Leah smiled at his question. She thought the man knew what her daughter would do with the money, but she answered anyway. “She’ll pay what she can on my bills. If there is any left over, she’ll insist on paying this one as well. Kasey hates to owe anyone anything.”
Royce straightened up, clearly offended. Leah wondered if the two of them realized just how much they were alike. Both had a pride that rolled off them in rivers.
“She was hurt on the job and I take care of my employees, Miss York. She will have to learn to live with disappointment if she thinks I’m going to let her pay on my bills. And if she tells you any differently, you let me know. I’ll set her straight.”
Leah threw back her head and laughed. “Oh, Mr. Hunter, you are in for a big surprise if you think anything I say to her will make a difference when she has something set in her mind. Kasey is the most stubborn woman I know and she will tell you that all on her own.” Leah laughed again. “I love my daughter, Mr. Hunter, very much. I love her more than a mother loves her daughter. Without her…without her, I’d have died a long time ago. But she said I can’t. And for whatever reason, I haven’t.”
He nodded with a soft smile. “Call me Royce. And for as much as I hate to admit it, I admire her stubbornness, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to let her get by with it.”
“Call me Leah, and you have my fondest hopes that you can try and get through to her. As I have said, she is extremely stubborn.” To herself, Leah thought, and my biggest hope is that I get to see you two come together.
They went back up to her room twenty minutes later. Kasey was alone in the room when they entered and glared at Royce when he came into the room with her. Leah hid her smile and sat in the chair next to the bed without commenting on her looks at Royce.
“Do you feel better, honey? Your cheeks are red. Are you in pain?” Leah had to bite her cheek to keep from laughing when Kasey turned as best she could away from the man on the other side of her bed.
“No, I’m not taking any more pain crap. All it does is make me sleepy and I can’t do anything while I’m asleep.”
“That’s the plan, you know,” Royce said. “When you’re asleep, you can’t hurt yourself and your body has a chance to rest. It’s called cause and effect. You should try and practice that a bit more. You might learn something. Take the damn drugs and get better.”
The only reaction Kasey had was to stiffen, but she didn’t answer him. Instead, she continued to look at Leah. Kasey smiled tightly. “I’ve been making arrangements with Uncle Jay. He said that I could move in with him as soon as I can get there. Aunt Suzy will be thrilled. And he said that he’d hook up the Internet if I still needed him to. It’ll help me—”
“You are not going anywhere until I say so,” Royce cut her off. “I know for a fact that the doctor said you’d be here for another week or more until you could even begin to think about moving about. And if—”
Kasey turned on him immediately. “Listen to me speak, you overbearing, pigheaded asshole. I do not work for you. You are not my boss. I don’t even know…what are you doing here? Get out. Shoo.”
“No.” Royce turned to look at Leah. She could see the strain on his face and, for whatever reason, she thought it was the funniest thing she’d ever seen. “Could you give us a few minutes? I’d like a few words with your daughter.”
“You’re not tossing my mother out. I want you to get out. I don’t even like you. You are the most stubborn, egoistical dickweed that —”
Leah didn’t know what she expected, but she certainly didn’t expect him to lean down and kiss Kasey. Smack her, yes, maybe even flip her over and beat her bottom, but not kiss her. Leah stood up and left the room when she heard her daughter moan. There were some things a mother just didn’t want to know.
Out in the hall Leah leaned against the wall and waited for the elevator, smiling. She knew then that Kasey had met her match and couldn’t be happier for either of them. She just hoped that she’d be around to... A slight dizziness came over her and she had to hold on to the railing before she fell. But it left as suddenly as it had come over her. Weakly, she moved toward the elevator and stepped inside of the opening.
Time was running out. She knew this as well as she knew that she her daughter was going to be as happy as she ever hoped for her to be. Leah pushed the button to take her to the ground floor and held onto the railing again. Soon, too soon, she’d be gone and she was happy that her little girl would have someone to hold her when this was over. Leah knew her daughter wouldn’t be happy with her if she knew what she was thinking, but there were some things a mother did want to know. And Leah wanted to know that her only child would have someone to care for her, to hold her when she was no longer able to do it.
Stay Tune for Next Week Chapter Five
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