By: Kathi S. Barton

Chapter 1

Kasey tried to think. She was so exhausted that she could only think about walking home, crawling into her bed, and closing her eyes. The noise around the locker room dimmed as she fell asleep sitting up, no longer able to keep her eyes open. It wasn’t until someone jerked her arm that she turned to stare at her boss, Mike White.

She jerked her arm out of his tight grasp and looked at her locker. “I need you to work another shift, Betty, and I don’t care what other plans you have.”

She dropped her shoes in the open locker without looking up. “My name is Kasey, not Betty. Perhaps if you’d said the correct name in the first place I could have saved you the extra nine minutes to tell you that I’m not working for you.”

She cringed at his laughter. It always reminded her of a braying jackass. “I didn’t ask you to work. I said you were. Just stay away from the front until all the managers are in and you’ll be—”

“Look jerk-off, I’ve just come off a sixteen-hour shift and I can’t work anymore. I’m going home.” She stood up and watched as he backed up. She was at least six inches taller than him.

“You work it or I find someone that will, and I don’t mean just this shift, but permanently. Do you understand? I’m the boss, you are the employee. I’ll see you out front in ten minutes.”

When he walked away she nearly burst into tears. This was her third sixteen-hour shift this week at this job and it was only Wednesday. In addition to this job she had two others. She reached in and pulled out her boots to pull them back onto her aching feet.

“Are you working it?” Kasey looked over at her friend Toby. “You’ll have to be unarmed to work that. Even if it is illegal for you to carry past that many hours without sleep, don’t let him talk you into working armed. You’ll be the only one to catch hell.”

“I’ll go and disarm after I pull on my boots. Could you call and tell them I’m coming down? I don’t want to make prissy ass wait any more than he has to.”

Kasey York stood up after pulling on her boots and tried to make her uniform look better. It was difficult to do with the thing a triple X and her a medium at best. She tucked as much of the excess shirt into her too large pants and hoped her belt, which had seen better years, held up a little longer. When she had done as much as she could she walked down the hall to the armory.

“Hey there, sweetcakes. I just heard you was a’workin another shift. Are you trying to die at a young age or you wanna go for the world record of going without sleep?”

“Hi, Uncle Jay. Nah, Tweedle-stupid is making me. I have to turn my stuff in.” Kasey took the clip out of her Glock and handed it to her uncle. Then with her spotter there, she took her weapon out of the holster and handed it to him. She watched as he shot the round out of the muzzle and showed her it was empty. He handed it over to the armament and her uncle winked to her as he sauntered off.

“Honey, you need to take a break. You’re gonna get sick and that ain’t gonna do your momma any good.” Uncle Jay handed her the paper to sign her weapon in as he continued. “You come on over to the house after work and crash. Your aunt and I would love to have you.”

After agreeing she would think about it, knowing she wouldn’t bother, she went back up to the front of the lobby to see what her assignment was going to be. Prissy ass Mike was taping his foot and glaring at her when she got there. She was late, he told her as a greeting, and then proceeded to tell her what she was to do for the next eight hours—as if she didn’t know how to do her job.

Kasey had worked for Hunter Corporation for ten years in security. She was a part-time third-shifter that had never been able to be hired on as full-time. But it mattered little in the amount of hours she worked. In the past eight years, she’d averaged about sixty-five to eighty or more hours a week consistently. The problem was, she couldn’t get the benefits without the full-time status. Benefits that would do her a world of good not just for the insurance, but for the bonuses that she wasn’t entitled to get quarterly, and the pay raises.

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