Nothing Bundt Trouble

By: Glenna Sinclair

Chapter 1




Joey

I slipped into my chair just as my supervisor started the slow walk down the hallway, checking to see which cubicles were filled and which weren’t. I’d never worked anywhere where tardiness was so closely monitored, but I’d learned my lesson last week when Mrs. Constantine reamed me out in front of everyone for being five minutes late. Just five minutes. It was ridiculous, but I needed this job.

I needed all three of my jobs.

“Joey,” she said as she passed my cubicle, “nice of you to join us today.”

I inclined my head just slightly, pretending I was terribly busy booting up my computer. In truth, I was just trying to catch my breath.

As soon as she was gone, Lesley, the girl who sat in the cubicle next to mine, stood and peeked over the thin barrier separating us.

“That was close.”

“Tell me about it. Mike made me stay late at the bar last night and my alarm didn’t go off. Then the bus—”

“Yeah, I know. I saw you running up the street.”

I shook my head. “I don’t know how much longer I can keep this up.”

“Well, surely you’re close to paying everything off.”

I wished that I was. But it seemed like every time I felt like I was getting ahead, a new bill came in that I hadn’t counted on. I thought getting a college degree was good idea. You know, all that you-can-get-a-better-job-with-a degree bullshit they feed you in high school. What they forgot to tell you was that unless your parents made a quarter of a million dollars every year, you were going to have to take out student loans—and those student loans would have to be paid as soon as you stopped being a full-time student. I had more loans than I could count, and every one of them had a monthly minimum that barely paid the interest, let alone any of the principle. It was my goal to get them all paid off before I turned thirty. I had seven years, but I was making little headway, even with three jobs. And it didn’t help that the car I was still making payments on had given up the ghost last week.

Five thousand dollars. That’s how much it was going to take to replace the transmission. So much for certified used cars. There was nothing certified about my car. It lasted a year. The worst purchase of my life.

If my dad was still living nearby…but that was the problem, wasn’t it? If he’d been closer, he would have told me the car was a lemon and helped me find something a little less about to fall apart.

I miss my dad. I love my dad.

My computer finished booting, and I sighed as I read the number of emails waiting for me. Forty. And all work requests from upstairs, I was sure.

I worked for a graphic design company that did everything from creating logos for t-shirts to printing the huge posters that go up on billboards. The company had some very important clients, a lot of companies with household names. If you wanted your name out there where people would sit up and take notice, it was our company you would call.

I wasn’t an artist, though, as much as I’d like to be. I was essentially a glorified bookkeeper. I kept track of the money that passed between hands, the money that could potentially pass between hands, and the money that went out to pay for supplies, labor, and all that fun stuff. The guys upstairs sent a request down to us to ask that we figure out how much it would cost to do a specific project. We gave them a basic number, numbers that were impacted by unforeseen events, and a median number that was usually the one quoted to the client. It was all supposed to be random. But some of the project leaders upstairs had figured out how to get around the system and send their projects directly to the assistant accountants—(the fancy title Lesley, me, and three others shared)—they favored and—for some reason—the majority of those came to me.

Forty. It was going to be a long day.

I settled in and got to work, my ten key buzzing as my fingers never missed a digit. I was through about fifteen projects before lunch, which was something of a record for me. But I had so many left to do that I couldn’t stop. Another lunch missed.

I never seemed to have time to eat anymore.

“Hey,” Lesley said, stopping by my cubicle on her way back from lunch with a couple of the other assistants, “we brought you a sandwich.”

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