By Luanna Stewart
Mary Reynolds clicked save and leaned back in her chair, a feeling of satisfaction at a job well done. The catering for the annual statehouse shindig had been handled by their number-one competitor for years, but thanks to her massive skillz, her employer would make the big bucks.
She glanced around the large open workspace. She’d not worked here very long, and she wasn’t exactly friends with any of the staff, but she felt accepted. Mostly. Her gaze went to the one cloud in her otherwise sunny sky. She had no clue what she’d done to piss off the pastry chef. But as her older brother always said, it is what it is.
Her office phone buzzed. The summons to the big boss’s presence. She grabbed the printout of the calendar for the next three months, nicely filled thanks to her hard work, and skipped into the lair.
“You’re fired.” He kept his gaze on the menswear catalogue he was flipping through.
“Wait, what?” Mary’s heart zipped into overdrive.
“You are fired.”
“I don’t understand.” Her boss had finally gone off the deep end. The pressure of doing dick all day had finally gotten to him.
“Which word is tripping you up?”
Bastard. Rubbing her lack of a college degree in her face as usual. She’d completed enough credits for three degrees. They just weren’t all in the same subject. Or at the same school. “Why am I fired?” Sweat trickled between her boobs.
“There’ve been too many complaints.”
Whoa. “This is the first I’ve heard of it.”
He flung a file across his high-tech glass and steel desk that probably cost as mush as her car. Probably more, given the sad excuse for a car she could afford. “It’s all documented, so don’t waste your time going after a wrongful dismissal suit.”
Mary snatched the folder and flicked through—shit—over a dozen incident reports. What the fuck? Inebriated? She hardly ever drank. Who could afford booze? Incomplete project? Bullshit. The only project she wasn’t happy with was when she was forced to work with that pastry bitch. Yeah, there was her signature.
“This is a witch hunt.” She shook the folder, wanting to smack him upside the head.
“And don’t try any discrimination nonsense. I believe in religious freedom as long as it doesn’t interfere with your work.” He circled a picture in the catalogue. Skinny jeans. Not in his lifetime.
“What the Hades are you talking about?”
He heaved himself from his custom leather chair, quite a feat, and circled the desk. He pulled a sheet from the stack in the folder and held it three inches from her face.
She squinted. Satanic ritual.
“Okay, this isn’t funny anymore.” She snatched the paper from his meaty hand and read further. “I lit a candle, a balsam scented candle, because it was freaking Christmas, and I wanted to create a festive atmosphere in this dungeon. It had nothing to do with summoning be-ell-za whats it.”
“Pack up your desk and leave within the hour, or I’ll call security.” He settled in his chair and sighed, done with his exercise for the day.
“We don’t have security.” Ass. What they had was a mom-and-pop catering business, located in the basement of a strip mall, operated by the spoiled brat of the mom and the pop. “You haven’t heard the last from me.”
“Threatening your boss now?”
“You’re not my boss anymore.” She left the office, slamming the door, and faced the assembled crowd. No pitchforks. But plenty of knives. Which made sense given the large space was basically a huge kitchen. She’d never felt threatened by a paring knife before, but in Johnny’s hand, dripping with the juice of strawberries he was slicing for the compote for that afternoon’s reception at the mayor’s house, the reception she’d put on their books, suddenly the atmosphere seemed menacing.
Head held high, she marched to her little corner and started emptying her desk drawers into her tote bag. A shadow fell across the desk. She knew who it was based on the smell. Waves of cloying camellia hit her nose, bringing on a sneeze.
“You got what you wanted. I have no idea why you hate me, but I take solace in that fact that karma will right this wrong.” Mary met the steely gaze of the pastry chef. “Or maybe I’ll put a curse on you.”
She smirked as the other woman turned pale, and then turned tail and scuttled back to her workstation. Bitch.
Lugging her tote and her purse, she climbed the stairs. Not to worry, she’d get another job. She was damn good at organizing other people, and she’d made valuable contacts amongst the local movers and shakers. She’d be employed in no time, certainly before her next mortgage payment was due.
She stepped outside just as the sky opened. So much for the weather forecast, which had called for another hot and sunny day. Within seconds she was soaked, and her car was at the far side of the parking lot. Bloody, bloody hell.
A sleek black foreign car pulled to a stop in front of her, and the passenger side window lowered. “Can I give you a lift?”
She leaned down to see who the idiot was blocking her path.