Home > Burn(15)

Author: Linda Howard

Good old Jerry, she thought. At least he didn't pretend he wanted to see her because she was his daughter and he loved her, or any other sentimental sludge. "The claim has to be processed," she said, giving her stock answer.

"Yeah, not to mention the state gets to keep the interest that two hundred and ninety-five million dollars earns while the 'processing' goes on," he groused.

"That, too." By her admittedly rough estimate, in two months the state would earn about a million dollars in interest - and there was nothing she could do about it, so it seemed pointless to waste time fretting that the money could have been in her account and earning her that kind of interest.

"Well, never mind. We can still celebrate."

"Only if you're buying. I'm broke." That should put an end to any celebrating he wanted to do, she thought. In Jerry's world, other people paid for stuff while he went along for the ride.

"Well, you said you had to work, so if you gotta, you gotta. I'll catch you some time tomorrow, okay?"

He had, and every day since then, too. If he wasn't on her front porch in the morning, wanting to have coffee with her - though of course he didn't want to have the instant she had on hand - he was on the phone, showering her with fatherly attention that was all the more disconcerting because he'd never shown any before. She didn't know how to get rid of him, because he ignored the hints that she didn't intend to become Handout Central for him - if you could call blatantly telling him so a "hint." The thing with Jerry was that he was so focused on what he wanted that everything else sort of bounced off him.

She didn't know how to make him go away. She even had to admit to a tiny part of her that still hoped, somehow, this time Jerry would just be happy for her and wouldn't try to relieve her of as much of the money as possible. Faith and hope were two different things: She had no faith at all in him, but she still hoped the leopard would change its larcenous spots.

Regardless of that, she took precautions. She didn't leave her bag where he could get into it. If she had to go to the bathroom while he was in her house, she took the bag with her. Everything related to the lottery, and the financial arrangements she'd made so far and the others she was making, was locked away in a safe-deposit box that she'd spent a hefty chunk of her paycheck to rent. The key was on the ring with her car keys, and they were in her pocket unless she was in bed; then she slipped them inside her pillowcase - just a normal precaution for a daughter to take, to prevent her father from boosting the Goose.

As she entered the plant, a supervisor approached. "Jenner, I need to have a talk with you before you clock in."

"I'll be late," she protested, glancing at the clock.

"Never mind that. Let's go in the office."

A cold, sick feeling coalesced in her stomach as she followed the supervisor, Don Gorski, into his small, shabby office, constructed of white-washed concrete blocks, with an unpainted concrete floor, and occupied by a beat-up metal desk, some metal filing cabinets, and two chairs.

He dropped heavily into the chair behind the beat-up desk, but didn't ask her to be seated. Instead he rubbed his jaw, looking everywhere but at her, and heaved a sigh almost as heavy as his ass was.

"You're a good worker," he finally said, "but you've been causing a lot of disruption around here in the past couple of weeks. People - "

"I'm not causing the disruption," Jenner said, heat edging into her voice. "I'm doing my job the way I always do."

"Then let me put it another way: You're the cause of the disruption. Reporters calling, showing up at the gate, people complaining. I don't know why you're still here. You don't need the job, and there are plenty of people who do. So why don't you do everyone a favor and quit?"

The unfairness of it made her want to beat her head against the wall. Instead she straightened her shoulders and set her jaw. "Because I need to eat and pay my rent and utility bills, just like everyone else," she replied, her tone just short of a snarl. "Believe me, as soon as I get some money to live on, I'm outta here. Until then, what am I supposed to do? Live on the street?"

He sighed again. "Look, I'm just doing my job, too. The guys up front want you to go."

Frustrated, infuriated, she threw her hands up. "Fine. Then fire me, so I can collect unemployment until the money comes through."

"They don't want - "

"I don't care what 'they' want. I care about being able to live." She leaned forward and planted her hands on the desk, anger evident in every line of her body. "I've paid unemployment taxes since I was sixteen, and never collected a dime. If you want me gone - without a lawsuit being filed, and believe me when I say that very shortly I'll be able to afford a lawyer good enough to keep this company tied up in court for years, and will cost way more than a few weeks of unemployment benefits - then that's the deal. Fire me, okay the unemployment, and I'm out of here. Mess with me in any way, and the legal fees will bankrupt this company. Are we clear on this? Take the deal to the guys up front, and get back to me."

She stalked out of the office, changed into the ugly coveralls and hair cap, and clocked in. She was late for the shift, but so what? She didn't give a damn. In fact, with fury still running through her veins, she felt pretty good. Okay, so she didn't have any money yet, but what she did have were options, and she'd just exercised one.

None of the people around her spoke or made contact, not even Margo. Jenner ignored them as studiously as they ignored her. Several of them had gone to management to complain about her, she figured, exaggerating how much of a distraction her presence had been, blowing up the case for asking her to leave. Maybe she should have brought boxes of doughnuts every day, treated everyone, but, damn it, she didn't have the money! What was so hard about that to understand?

Hot Series
» Unfinished Hero series
» Colorado Mountain series
» Chaos series
» The Sinclairs series
» The Young Elites series
» Billionaires and Bridesmaids series
» Just One Day series
» Sinners on Tour series
» Manwhore series
» This Man series
» One Night series
» Fixed series
Most Popular
» A Thousand Letters
» Wasted Words
» My Not So Perfect Life
» Caraval (Caraval #1)
» The Sun Is Also a Star
» Everything, Everything
» Devil in Spring (The Ravenels #3)
» Marrying Winterborne (The Ravenels #2)
» Cold-Hearted Rake (The Ravenels #1)
» Norse Mythology