By: Elijana Kindel

“I’ve seen your boss, Elise. You’re not strong enough to hold him down.”

“I’ll lock him in his office and guard the door. You can take him, Raven. I know you can. He’s no match for you. Please. He left me with a mountain of revisions for his big meeting and… please, Raven. I’m begging you.”

Her brother laughed. “Forget it, Elise. I’ve seen your boss. Rubber bands won’t hold him long enough for me to load the stapler. Now, if it had been the dork, rubber bands would have sufficed.” He paused. “Besides, I’d rather waste my time mixing herbs for Moonbeam’s super-duper, whammy of a money spell.” Raven sighed. “Do what you have to, Elise. If you come up with an idea before the end of the week, let me know. Ken’s bringing over the check on Friday.”

“I will. I’ll call you when I get home tonight—if it’s not too late by the time I get out of here.”

“Make sure someone walks you out to the car. I don’t want to have to worry about you, too.”

“Luc always does. Later, Raven, and try not to cry too much.”

Raven grunted and hung up.

Elise stared at the phone and replayed the conversation in her mind. The longer she thought about it, the angrier she became.

Rain pelted the roof of Andersen Corporation’s building and the windows shook as thunder boomed overhead.

Elise picked up a spare pen cap and toyed with it before clamping her teeth down on it and gnawing it to death. “This bites big wankerdoodle,” she complained into her cluttered cubicle. “What was she thinking not to pay her taxes?”

She picked up a folder from the top of the stack she had to muddle through before clocking out and arranged the papers on the tray next to the monitor. “I’ll tell you what she was thinking. ‘Government, I don’t need no stinking government.’”

Elise threw down the mutilated pen cap and grabbed a fresh one. “Ha! It’s all that nonsense preached about at The Guiding Light of Gaia which has brought the tax police down on her.”

She moved the mouse and clicked open the file where she kept all of Luc’s notes on the computer. “Well, Moonbeam, let’s see Gaia get you out of this one.”

A bright burst of lightning flashed outside the window and the lights in the building died as a resounding explosion rocked the corporate office. From somewhere in the middle of the cubicle farm, a co-worker’s blunt, explicit curse reverberated between the walls.

Papers slipped from the tray and floated down into her lap as Donna in the cube next over asked, “Elise, do you smell smoke?”

Lights flickered and the air conditioner groaned back to life.

Elise’s jaw dropped as a tuft of smoke unfurled from her computer. “Oh my goodness.” She looked straight up and said fervently, “I didn’t mean it, Gaia. Honest I didn’t. I’ll never say another bad thing again. Just let me keep the hard drive. Please. I was so close to being finished,” she finished in a pathetic whisper.

“Elise,” Lucien Masters, her boss, called from behind her. “Have you finished the notes from this morning?” He was back from lunch and, more than likely, ready to dictate more changes to his plan for the financial reconstruction of Andersen Corporation.

She swiveled in her chair and gazed up into his clean shaven face. The fear she felt must have been written all over her expression, because his blue-green, grayish eyes moved, looking over her shoulder to the sizzling computer. She cringed inwardly as his relaxed appearance transformed into his patented Lucifer look. His attention fastened on her face and his jaw tensed, along with his shoulders, his hands, and in all likelihood the rest of his body.

“Tell me it’s not as bad as it looks,” he ground out.

She hesitantly lifted her shoulders and picked up the papers from her lap, holding them with a white knuckled grip. “It’s not as bad as it looks. We’ve still got the hard copies.”

There was a loud crack from behind her, then a hiss.

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