By: Kathi S. Barton

Working nights gave her a lot of time to read and Kasey would read anything and everything. One night in a desperate attempt to stay awake when a murder mystery she’d already figured out didn’t help she’d read the manual on the badge making process, including the manual on the equipment. But she didn’t move forward to show Mike he was doing wrong. She just clenched and unclenched her fists until he gave up. He turned to Mr. Hunter.

“I can give you a temporary badge until the repair guy gets here later. Then when he’s fixed it, I’ll be able to print your badge, now that I have the picture, and bring it up to you to your office.”

Mr. Hunter was staring at her. She knew that he had figured out she could fix the machine, but for whatever reason he let it go. She was more grateful than she ever thought she’d been.

“All right. But have Officer York bring it up.” She looked up at him sharply when he said that. “I’ll be in meetings all day, but she can catch me between them.” He walked away without a backward glance.

Kasey looked over at Mike when the door to his office closed with a snap. She started to turn to leave, but he snarled at her. Before she could think about what he was doing, she was on the floor and her head felt as if it had exploded.

Chapter 2

Royce was sitting in his meeting with the department heads two hours later when Jesse opened the doors with a crash. Royce stood immediately and when Daniel came in too, Royce started for the door. Something had happened to their mother.

“Where is she?” he asked them as they headed to the elevator. His heart was pounding in his chest and he hoped to Christ that she was all right. “What happened?”

“She was in the bathroom when I left her. She’s beat up pretty bad. Christ.” Daniel leaned back against the wall as the elevator started down. “I didn’t go and check on her sooner so I didn’t get in there on time.”

Royce nearly dropped to the floor. “Someone…someone beat up Mom? What…she’s gone?”

Daniel straightened up and looked at him. “What are you talking about? I’m talking about that girl from this morning. She was beat up. Though I don’t know why anyone would tangle with her, but he did.”

The girl from… “The York girl? Someone beat her up? What happened?”

The elevator slid open onto the lobby. The place was quiet and the only people who looked out of place were them. The ambulance rolled to a stop in front of the building before he could ask again what had happened. Jesse led them to the back part of the first floor where the security offices were. Royce stepped into the room just as the medics began working on…a man? He looked at his brother.

“I thought you said she was beat up. I’m reasonably sure you know the difference between a male and female.” Royce looked back at the man from this morning as he whimpered on the floor. “Where is she if he looks like this? And where is the person who beat them up?”

Royce thought it a reasonable question. He was confused when Jesse starting laughing and Daniel flushed. Before he could ask again Mike White began howling like someone was trying to murder him.

“Quiet,” Royce snapped. The room did just that. “Now, who did this to you?”

“She did. She’s nothing but a fucking cunt. I didn’t do…you have no idea what it’s like to come to work every day afraid of your employees. She hit me. Hit me with a…she used a club. Yes, a club. I’m suing her for…oh, I’m in so much pain.”

Royce looked at his brother with a raised brow.

“Bathroom. She was bleeding pretty well before I left. I told her to sit still, but she had to throw up.”

Rubbing his fingers over his forehead, Royce went to the bathroom that Jesse had indicated. Royce knocked and waited. When he didn’t get an answer, he knocked harder and announced he was coming in.

The room was empty. He could see where someone, presumably the girl, had rinsed blood from somewhere in one of the sinks, but there was no one in here. He looked under the three stall doors before opening them and still, no girl. He came out of the bathroom and entered the men’s room just in case. No one was there either. He went to speak to Daniel and Jesse.

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