By: Kathi S. Barton

She was just finishing up her tour of the building when she noticed that Butler, the day shift desk person, waved her over. She went to him smiling. She really liked the older man.

“Oh, darling, I gotta go. My wife made some of her famous chili last night and I’m about to die here. You think you can watch things for me for a bit? I won’t be but twenty minutes at best.”

Kasey agreed to watch the doors. The people coming in had slowed to a trickle now that it was nearing ten o’clock so she didn’t think Prissy would mind. She kept on her feet knowing that if she sat down, she’d be out.

It had been over fifty hours since she’d been to bed. She had gotten here to work her first part of this shift at two in the afternoon the day before yesterday. Kasey had worked as a bartender the night before that and helped clean the hotel rooms with her mom that morning before coming in. She was looking at the monitors when a group of men and women came in. They all badged in but the one in the middle. Kasey turned to stop him.

“Excuse me. Sir.” She’d said it louder when he all but ignored her. “Sir, you didn’t badge in. I’m sorry, but I’m going to have to ask you to come back and do so.”

She nearly swallowed her tongue when he turned to look at her. Now here was a man to keep a woman up all night and have her not care if she was tired. She flushed at the thought, wondering where on earth that had come from. The man next to him tried to step between her and the man, but she stopped him with a hand on his forearm.

“He doesn’t need to badge in. He’s—”

“I don’t really care who he is. He could be the Czar of Russia for all I care. But he still needs to badge in.” She looked at the man who had been silent as she and the man next to him argued. “Look, the man who owns this building went to a great expense to put this thing in. It’ll take you all of two seconds to simply flash your badge at it. You don’t even have to dig it out of you—”

“Look…Officer York, I don’t think you—”

The man had grabbed her arm and she acted out of reflex. He was turned away from her with his arm up to his shoulder blade before he could finish his sentence. She forced him to the floor before she could think that she might have overreacted.

“I’m sure we can work something out that doesn’t involve breaking the arm of my brother, don’t you think, Officer York. Jesse?” The man helped his brother up when Kasey stepped back and let him go. “Now, you were saying something about a badge. I don’t believe I’ve ever been stopped for one before. Is this really necessary?”

She didn’t like to be a bitch, but she’d read about this sort of thing happening when a gunman wanted to take out the top guy for whatever reason. She wasn’t going to be the one to let the bad guy in on her watch. She didn’t think this guy looked like a shooter, but she was sure that lots of people said that about their neighbors all the time when they happened to shoot up a restaurant or place of business.

“Yes, sir. Why just last year at the Christmas party, the owner was telling us what a fine job we’d been doing keeping that little machine in proper working order. He did pay for it and all and was glad that it was being put to fine use. I’d really hate to disappoint him by letting someone get by me without letting them have the opportunity to make his day.” Kasey smiled, but her stance was firm. She didn’t have any idea who the owner of this building was and if asked, he probably didn’t have a care in the world about that stupid badge machine, but now it was a matter of making a point. A point that she’d been right and Jesse—staring at her as if she had two heads—had been wrong in thinking she was going to just let this go.

“I don’t believe I have a badge, Officer York. Perhaps you could see if I do and then bring it up to me. I’m late for a board meeting and there are people waiting on me.” The man smiled at her charmingly and she figured that worked for him a lot.

“I would be happy to see if you do, sir. And if you don’t, it’ll only take three minutes to print one up for you. This is very important, you see. The reason we have the people badge in and out is so that in the event of a fire, we have a roll call already built in to see who is in the building when they come in and out. It’s for your own safety.”

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