By: Kathi S. Barton

He stared at her for several seconds before he walked to the desk with her. She was just pulling up the badging program to search for his name when Mike came up beside her. He jerked on her arm so hard she knew he was going to leave a bruise.

“What the hell are you doing?” he snarled at her ear. “I told you to stay out of the lobby until everyone was gone.”

“This man didn’t have a badge. I was just seeing if he had one.” She started to put in her password when Mike pulled her back again.

“Don’t,” the man said in a low voice.

Kasey pulled her hands off the keyboard and Mike stepped back. She looked over at the man who seemed to be willing to look up his badge information, then she looked at her boss.

“She doesn’t know what—” Mike started with a stammer.

“Apparently she does. Now step back so that she can see about my badge.” He turned to her with a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “What do you need to look up my name?”

Kasey wasn’t stupid. She knew something more than this badge business was going on. She looked between the two men, took another step back, and put her hands up in defense. She wasn’t sure what was going on, but she had a feeling that she’d opened a can of worms that was going to get her into trouble.

“Mr. White here can finish this up for you, sir. I’m supposed to be on a round right now and…well, look, there’s my replacement now.” Kasey had never been so happy to see someone coming toward her as she was to see Butler. But the man had other ideas.

“You started this, Officer York, and you’ll finish this. What do you need to find my badge information?” She knew then that she was going to lose her job. With a sigh of resignation she stepped back to the keyboard and, with trembling fingers, she started typing.

“Your name will do. Unless you know your employee number, either will do.” She looked at him when she had put in her password and could feel the heat of Mike’s anger rolling off him and onto her. “If it’s not in here, we can print one in no time and you can be on your way.”

He smiled again. “Of course. But let me spell it for you. Don’t want it wrong on the thing, do I? My first name is Royce.” She typed it in as he spelled it. “My last name is Hunter.”

Her fingers stilled on the keys. Well, of course he is. Why not? her mind screamed at her. Why wouldn’t she stop the owner of the building and make a scene about badging in? She watched as the name Hunter popped up on the screen in front of her. Jesse was there, as was another man named Daniel and yet another named Curtis. She was so fucked. But she knew that she had to finish this.

“No sir, there doesn’t seem to be a badge for you. If you’d like to go with Mr. White here, he can get your picture taken and—”

“You’ll do it, Officer York. I wouldn’t want anyone else at this point.” He handed his briefcase to his brother and told him to go on up. He’d be up shortly before he turned back to her. “Shall we?”

“I can’t.”

He raised a well-shaped brow at her.

“I mean, I don’t have the clearance to make badges. Mr. White will need to take it from here.” She moved back only to be stopped by his next command.

“You’ll come along then. You should really learn all aspects of this job, don’t you think?”

Yeah, she thought, it was going to do her a lot of good to know how to print a badge at the Hunter building while she was unemployed. She nodded and followed Mike. She wanted to burst into tears, but she’d learned a long time ago that tears got you nothing but a runny nose and a headache.

Mr. Hunter sat for his picture. Kasey thought she’d ask for a copy so that the next time she wanted to stop the owner of a company for a trivial thing, she’d pull out this man’s picture to remind herself of what not to do. She just wanted this over with and if the daggers that Mike was sending her were any indication, she’d be done here before the ink dried on the stupid badge.

But the badge printer wasn’t working for him. No matter how many times Mike tried to get it to work, it kept telling him he was putting the wrong information in. Kasey just watched him struggle.

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