Read training amy epub format

Authors: Anne O'Connell

training amy

Training Amy

Anne O’Connell

 

Midnight Fantasy Press

Electronic Edition

Copyright 2011 by Anne O’Connell

 

 

 

Dear Reader, I tend to write my Doms and Dommes as real people with real emotions. They do feel love for and have a psychological attraction to their subs. They can also be friendly, playful, and warm. I know some readers don't like this and have complained about this with some of my previous novellas such as 
Weekend Captive
. I just can't write about emotionless, loveless sexual relationships. I suppose there are other writers out there who can and do. I'm just not one of them. I also realize that in real life people may not fall in love with one another, or come to trust one another, as quickly as they may in my stories. Please remember my stories are works of fiction. Thank you for reading. 

 

Warmest Wishes

- Anne

 

 

Chapter One

 

            Paul fumbled around with her bra, poking her hard in the back. He pulled at the catch in futility. "Damn thing won't come off!"

            Amy groaned, undoing the clasp herself. Sliding it off, she resumed kissing his neck.  She felt his swollen cock on her thigh.

            He immediately lifted her short black skirt. Slipping his hand down her panties he squeezed her ass. "Get these off."

            That did it, she was annoyed. This was the fourth time in the past two weeks he just wanted to get her naked and stick it in without foreplay, let alone variety in positions or places. Good old missionary position in the bedroom. She pushed him away and glanced at the clock. A rush of panic ran through her. "You know what? I have to go. I have an interview in an hour."

            "Babe, don't leave me like this. It will only take five minutes, I promise."

            She let out a laugh before she could stop herself. Evidently he thought the usual eight minutes was a treat? She started wondering again why she was dating him. They rarely did anything fun anymore. They didn’t talk. Now, all their dates led to sex – and it wasn’t even good sex. Of course he was only the second guy she’d ever been with, so she wasn’t really sure what good sex was, but it had to be better than this. In her imagination it was.  

            "Paul," she protested. "I really have to go. Maybe later tonight? Just take a cold shower or something."

            She straightened herself up, put her bra and blouse back on, put the black heels back on and headed out the door with her suit jacket and bag in hand. Paul was safe, reliable and predictable. All the things her parents wanted in a potential son-in-law. He was also a law student and got good grades. He'd have a real money-making career once he passed the bar exams. With a wry smile she wondered,
what good is money if you’re bad in bed?
   

 

 
           It was her sixth interview this week. So far the only offer she’d gotten was from some sleazy guy who told her he’d pay her seven bucks an hour plus tips to serve drinks at a local strip club. Of course once he found out she refused to go topless he retracted the offer. Now, at twenty-one, she was stuck living in her parents’ basement, going to community college part time, and trying to find a job. The bus pulled up to sixth and Marquis Avenue and she got off, carefully looking around the unfamiliar street. She had filled out the application online and was honestly surprised when they called her for an interview.

            Lifting her chin, she began walking down the street looking for the address. It took her a few minutes but finally she saw the sign that said,
By the Book
. With a deep breath she straightened her suit, worried quickly if she was overdressed or if her skirt was too short or her heels too high, then put on her most confident smile and headed toward the door. The outside of the shop was neat and tidy and the shop windows were clean. The inside window displays stood filled with the week’s most popular books. Opening the door she was surprised to find herself greeted by the scent of fresh coffee and that new book smell. The store itself was neat and clean inside, too. The floors were spotless and the shelves well kept. A few customers wandered through the stacks and an older man was sitting in a chair off to the side of the stacks reading a history book about World War II. 

            If she could just get this job it would help her out tremendously. Maybe even put her that much closer to getting out of her parents’ basement. Besides, she loved to read and she’d worked retail before. She walked up to the counter. There were two men there. The blond with the goatee stood leaning on the counter watching the customers and another with dark brown shoulder length hair sat typing something at a computer. They both looked to be in their thirties and both were attractive (in her opinion at least), well-built, and dressed very casually in jeans and t-shirts. A sinking feeling started in her stomach. This couldn’t seriously be happening. She quickly decided she was
way
overdressed. Trying to ignore the feeling of defeat she smiled, realizing she already had the blond’s attention.

            “Umm, hi, I’m Amy Myers. I’m here for the interview with Brad?” She was pretty sure she sounded like a dumb ass.

            The man behind the counter looked her up and down and smiled. “Well, hello Amy. Brad will be with you in just a minute.” He nodded toward the guy at the computer. “Brad, Amy’s here.”

            Amy smiled and clutched her shoulder bag. Great, the blond was a smart ass.

            The man behind the computer finished what he was doing and turned his attention to the front counter. “Amy, come back here and have a seat.”

            The first man opened the swinging partition and let her behind the counter. She carefully made her way around several boxes and sat in the chair across from him. It wasn’t very private. If they wanted to, the customers could listen in on her interview. Of course it was this or taking off her top and serving drinks to lonely men who liked ogling women’s breasts.

            The man reached across the desk and shook her hand. “I’m Brad, and that’s Eric. We own
By the Book
. So I see on your application that you have retail experience. Care to elaborate?”

            She gave him a nervous smile. “I worked at a small clothing boutique when I was in high school. I ran the register, stocked, and did general store cleanup. Then my first two years of college I worked at the grocery store mostly stocking and doing inventory, but I’d sometimes run a register to help out. After that I had a few office jobs.”

            He nodded. “Do you like to read?”

            She realized Eric was listening in, too.  “I love to read. Of course I haven’t had as much time as I’d like to lately with school and all. Most everything I read is a college textbook these days.”

            “What’s your school schedule like?” He looked at the papers sitting in front of him and started making notes.

            She glanced at Eric, then back to Brad. “I have classes between eight and eleven in the morning Monday through Thursday.”

            “What year are you?”

            “I’ll have an associate degree by summer.”

            “In?” Brad lifted an eyebrow.

            “Business.” As she said it she realized how lame it sounded.

            “Good. Willing to work weekends?” He made another note and glanced up at her.

            She probably wasn’t answering fast enough. “Yes.”

            “What was the last novel you read?”

            The question completely caught her off guard. “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows,” she said honestly. Hopefully it didn’t sound too childish, but a lot of adults read
Harry Potter
, didn’t they?

            Much to her surprise he didn’t laugh at her or give her a raised eyebrow like she expected. “Good books, they sell well. You did well on the basic skills test.” He looked over at Eric and raised an eyebrow.

            Eric had his hands crossed over his chest. He shrugged.

            Brad leaned back in the chair. “So if you saw someone stealing a book, what would you do?”

            “Call the police and file a report?” She could feel herself cringing so she forcibly tried to relax her expression.

            A low chuckle escaped from Eric. He smiled but didn’t say anything.

            “What would you do if a customer asked for a book we didn’t carry?” Brad continued, keeping his own expression calm and unaffected.

            “Umm, order it for them if I could?” she said hopefully.

            This time a wide grin spread across his face. “How much can you lift?”

            “I’m sorry?” she wasn’t sure she’d heard him right.

            “Cases of books are heavy. How much can you lift?” he asked leaning forward.

            She shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe twenty-five pounds or something? Maybe even fifty?”

            He rubbed his hands together. “An irate customer comes in and demands his money back on a book. What do you do?”

            She bit her lip. “Well first I’d ask what was wrong. I mean, if the customer just didn’t like the book then he can’t really expect a return. I’ve bought and read books I didn’t like. But if it’s damaged or something I would probably exchange it or give him a refund or whatever the store policy is.”

            He pursed his lips and regarded her for a moment. “A customer comes in and tells you the clerk who waited on him earlier was rude and he demands to speak to a manager.”

           
Was that a question
? She paused waiting to see if he said anything else. He just looked at her expectantly. “I would get a manager or tell him to come back when a manager was here.”

            “A man comes in with a gun, points it at you, and demands you give him all the money in the register,” Brad said.

            She caught Eric smile out of the corner of her eye. Swallowing hard she answered, “I’d give him the money, activate the silent alarm, umm, and I think that’s it.”

            “What are your wage requirements?”

            She froze. Really she just wanted a steady paycheck, hopefully more than minimum wage. “At least nine an hour,” she said, realizing she was cringing again.

            “Any questions?” This time, Brad lifted an eyebrow.

            With both of them staring at her she was intimidated. She shook her head. “No.”

            The men exchanged glances again. Brad wrote something else on the paper in front of him then looked at the floor next to her with a frown. “Pick that piece of paper up and throw it in the trash.”

            Amy immediately grabbed the piece of trash and tossed it in the wastepaper basket Eric offered her.

            “Thank you,” Brad said. He stood. “We have a few more people to interview but if we decide you’re the one, we’ll call you.”

            Nausea overwhelmed her. This couldn’t have gone worse. She forced a smile, “Thank you.” She shook both their hands and ducked out of the shop as quickly as she could. Once she was out of the store and out of earshot she groaned. Could she have sounded any more spineless?

            She walked across and down the street to the bus stop, flopping down on the bunch with a defeated sigh. This sucked. There was no way she was getting
that
job. Going back over the answers to his questions she could have kicked herself. There were so many ways she could have answered differently. Why did employers have to ask those kinds of questions anyway? Again, the nausea gripped her. Swallowing was the only thing that kept her from losing her breakfast all over the sidewalk. Just then the bus pulled up. With a sigh of relief, she got on.
She decided not to go back to Paul's. She was just too depressed.
All she wanted to do was go home, crawl under a blanket and feel sorry for herself.

 

Chapter Two

 

            “Amy, you need to call someone named Brad back. It’s about a job at a bookstore,” her mother said. Amy’s mother and father were semi-retired and always home, or so it seemed. It made living at home that much more difficult.

            Amy pulled the backpack off her shoulders and dropped it on the kitchen counter. Could they make college textbooks any heavier? It was like carrying around a cement block. The realization of what her mother said slowly sunk in. “Brad from
By the Book
?”

            Her mother sat at the kitchen table reading a magazine. “I think that was it.”

            A swell of excitement rushed through her. “Right on! I think I have a job!” She hurried to the phone finding the message pad. Without hesitation she picked up the phone and dialed the number.

            “
By the Book
, this is Eric, can I help you?” came the voice on the other end of the line.

            “Hi Eric, this is Amy Myers, umm, Brad called earlier and I’m returning his call?” Oh God, why did she make everything sound like a question as if she was some brainless twit? She almost groaned aloud, but caught herself.

            “Amy, good. Brad’s actually not here now, but we’d like to offer you the job. It pays ten an hour and the hours are one in the afternoon to nine at night, Monday through Friday and Saturdays and Sundays from one to six. We can negotiate days off. Would that work for you?”

            She did some quick calculating in her head. That was at least forty hours a week. “Umm, yeah, that’s great.”

            “Good, can you come in this afternoon to fill out your paperwork?”

            “Okay,” she paused, “When will I start?”

            “That’s up to you. You can work to close tonight if you want, give you a jumpstart on your training.”

            She looked up at the clock. It was eleven thirty. She wanted to change and grab something to eat. “Yeah, I’ll work to close tonight. I can be there by one,” she said hopefully.

            “That’s fine, I’ll see you then.”

            They said their goodbyes and she hung up, jumping up and down. “I got the job!”

            Her mom gave her a smile. “I knew you’d find something. So do you have time to tell me about it?”

            Amy hurried to the fridge and pulled out a yogurt. “Not much to tell really. It’s a bookstore and I’m basically going to be stocking books and running the register. I might even be able to do homework if it’s slow. But,” she started; getting excited again, “It’s at least forty hours a week and it pays ten bucks an hour!”

            Then her mother asked, “Are there benefits?”

            Amy shrugged. “I don’t know.”

            “Amy,” her mother started, “You’re an adult now, and these are the kinds of questions you ask during an interview. Benefits are really important and once you’re out of school you’re off our medical insurance.”

            She rolled her eyes. Her mom meant well, but she was the kind of person who’d find a problem with winning the lottery. It was just like her to rain on Amy’s parade and make her feel like she was still sixteen. “I’ll ask when I go in today.”

 

            It didn’t take her long to clean herself up, change her clothes and get to the bookstore. This time she dressed more casually in a newer pair of jeans and a scoop neck green blouse that drew out the color of her eyes. She had her long brown hair pulled into a ponytail and wore just enough makeup to give her that awake and put-together look. Finally, she had chosen a pair of black flats to complete the outfit. She didn’t want to
overdo
the casual. She walked into the store realizing there were a lot more customers today. Eric was behind the counter, just like yesterday.

            When he saw her he pointed to Brad’s desk. “Paperwork in the white folder. Fill it out, Myers.”

            His voice was deep, commanding and intimidating. Stifling the urge to salute she gave him a shy smile and hurried behind the counter to the desk. It took her about an hour to fill out all the paperwork. She smiled when she got to the insurance information and application. After some consideration she signed up for the dental and vision, two things her parent’s insurance plan didn’t cover. “Eat your heart out, mom,” she whispered under her breath.

            “Pardon me?”

            She jumped, realizing Brad was standing there. She put her hand to her chest. “You scared me.”

            He laughed. He had a sexy laugh. “What were you saying?”

            She shook her head. “My mother. We had a conversation about benefits and insurance just this morning.”

            “Still living at home, huh?”

            She gave him a tight smile. “Uh huh. It’s another one of those unfortunate things about my life at the moment.”

            Brad sat back in his chair and looked her over. “You look more comfortable today.”

            “I hope this is okay,” she said quickly, wondering if she went too casual.

            “It’s good.” He gave her a reassuring smile. “Why don’t you put your bag here in the cupboard and let’s give you the tour.”

            She did as she was told and followed him first to the back.

            He took her through a door behind the small office - register area and into a short hallway. There was a door to the left, a door to the right and then the hallway that led to a bigger room in the back. That room was lined with shelves stuffed with boxes. There was a door that presumably led outside and another to the left.

            “So this is the store room. Books are organized by author back here. We only stock excess we don’t have room for on the shelves and books we know are going to sell well. We do a full inventory once a month on a Sunday night. This month it’s actually Sunday after next.”

            She looked around. “What’s in there?” she asked, pointing to the door on the left.

            He lifted an eyebrow. “That is a private stock room. No one except Eric and I are allowed in there. Same with the room to the left in the hallway. That’s a private stock showroom for select customers and collectors. The other door, the one on the right side as you enter the hallway, that’s a private employee only restroom. The public restroom entrance is in the store.”  

            She gave him a tight smile. “Okay.”

            He led her back into the main store, out from behind the counter and into the stacks. “Children’s books, magazines, calendars, journals, and datebooks are over there,” he said, pointing to the left.

            She looked around trying to note where things were.

            “Right in front of us here, these six rows are fiction. It’s sorted by genre and author.” He looked at her as if making sure she was paying attention. “Then here to the right in the back, these twelve rows are non-fiction. They’re sorted by topic and author. We’ve labeled the shelves. You’ll notice we usually only keep 1-2 copies of each book on the shelves unless it’s popular. We don’t have the space the bigger stores have and we specialize in certain topics. For example, we’ve found tattoo and piercing books are popular with you younger kids. We have a good sized section. We have a large Christian section and an even larger Atheism section. Notice those two sections are separated from each other for obvious reasons. We also have a large human sexuality section,” he said cautiously.

            She nodded. “Okay.”

            “And finally to the left of Nature and Gardening is the bathroom. Notice the mirror up there. You have to watch that because if someone’s going to steal, they start hanging out by the bathroom. Also, the bathroom has a key. People have to ask you for it. Make sure they don’t take books in.”

            She just nodded, taking it all in. It was a pretty good sized store, she realized. Noticing a piece of paper on the floor she leaned over to grab it. That’s when she realized how much cleavage her blouse was showing and that Brad was looking down her shirt.

            He gave her a sly grin. “What I want you to do today is just go around and look at the shelves. See where things are and familiarize yourself with the store. When you’re done, come back behind the counter and we’ll discuss the register and certain protocols and store policies. Okay?”

            She smiled. “Got it.”

            He turned and headed back toward the counter and she was left standing amidst the shelves of books. She decided to start in one corner and work her way around. Reading the labels on each shelf, she tried to make mental notes where each topic resided. When she got to human sexuality she marveled at how big the section was compared to others. He hadn’t been lying. There were sex manuals from the
Kama Sutra
to
Joy of Sex
.  Then something caught her eye. The label read
bdsm
. There were a lot of those books. There was also a section labeled
fetish
, probably about foot worship and stuff like that. The gay, lesbian, and transgendered section was also good sized. It took her about forty minutes to get through non-fiction. The fiction section was relatively typical. A lot of romance, fantasy, sci-fi and horror, but there was a huge erotica section and it was further broken down by type. Again there were books for those of different sexual orientation, those with fetishes, and bdsm, which she assumed was whips and chains. Finally, she made it over to the children’s books, magazines, journals, calendars, and so on. That was probably the smallest section of the store and it looked relatively unused. Either that or it had been recently cleaned up.

            “We usually don’t get the kids until the evening hours and weekends,” Eric said from the counter as if he’d read her mind.

            “Great.”

            He laughed. “You don’t like kids?”

            “Depends how obnoxious they are and whether or not they’re sticky and spreading it around,” she said with a smile. She thought she heard Brad chuckle. With that she came back around the counter. “Well, I think I’m familiar with the stock.”

            “Now for store policies.” Brad got up from behind his desk and joined her and Eric at the counter. “First things first – we do accept returns of merchandise in new condition with a receipt no matter the reason for return. Your panic button is here. Use this if you’re robbed. In case of fire, the alarm sounds automatically. Fire exits are labeled and there are fire extinguishers around the store. Try to get the customers out but don’t endanger your life. Next, any private collectors or customers are by appointment only. Eric and I are the only ones who deal with the private collectors. Again, the two rooms in the back are off limits to you and the entire back is off limits to customers unless Eric or I take them back. Clear?”

            “Yes, sir,” she said carefully. Damn. He and Eric sounded like drill sergeants. That clipped way they both gave orders was going to take some getting used to, she decided.

            “Good, we don’t have a time clock, but you’ll have a time card right here and you will log in and out. There will be time for breaks and if we’re slow you can work on your homework. I realize I might be pushing my luck with your schedule and I know college produces a lot of homework. For the next few weeks you’ll be in training until we know you’re going to make it and we can leave you on your own for short periods. Most of the time one of us will be here with you. Okay?”

            “Okay.” She bit her lip and looked around, taking it all in.

            Brad nodded to Eric. “You’ve got her until closing.”

            “Thank you,” Eric said.

            With that, Brad disappeared into the back and Eric showed her how to work the register. She watched him help customers. A lot of people seemed to be regulars and Eric knew many of them by name. When they were finally customer free and he was out of things to tell her she thought she’d ask him about the books.

            “So I noticed there’s a lot of erotica books.”

            He nodded as if people said that to him all the time. “The big chains don’t carry a lot of that stuff, it’s too controversial. And trust me, women read a lot of it. It’s one of our biggest sellers.”

            “Yeah, I guess sex sells.”

            “Did you see the romance section?” He snorted. “My grandmother used to read those books by the bagful. She and my mom used to trade them.”

            She laughed. “I’ve never read a romance novel or erotica so I don’t understand the appeal.”

            “Certainly you’ve read some forbidden books? The Sleeping Beauty books by Anne Rice under her pseudonym? Or
Story of O
?” he asked.

            She shook her head. “No.”

            His look turned to disbelief. “Every woman I know has read at least one of those.”

            “Are they romance?”
            “Not exactly. More erotic. You should read them when you get a chance.”

            She laughed. “Have you read them?”

            “I didn’t have to. One of my ex-girlfriends told me all about them.”  He shrugged. “You know, my ex may have left some books at my house. I’ll check my shelves and bring them in for you.”

            Laughing and feeling a bit bold and silly she said, “You
have
read them! She left them at your house and you were bored and you read them.”

            He chuckled openly. “Well aren’t you a brazen little brat. I think you’ll fit in well here.”

            She gave him cheesy smile. Eric was a nice guy. She liked him. Good looking, smart, fun to talk to. Everything Paul wasn’t. Of course Eric was also at least ten years her senior.

           
Closer to closing time, Eric had already moved her onto the register.  Brad spent a great deal of the evening straightening the stacks, talking to customers, and stocking books as needed. Several customers stopped in for special orders that were stowed behind the register. It became her job to pull them.

            She was marking a special order picked up when she felt a tap on her hand. Looking up, Paul was standing there. "You didn't call me. So I called and your mom answered and said you got a job. Thanks for letting me know. Thought I'd pick you up and we could go back to my place."

            A sick feeling ran through her gut. She hadn't really wanted to tell Paul where she worked, let alone have him stop by. She'd have to have a talk with her mother about that. "Sorry, been busy," she said. Turning to put the special order log-book back on the shelf behind her she rolled her eyes. This didn't go unnoticed by Eric who smirked.  "Look, Paul, I don't get off for another hour so maybe you should go get some coffee or something and come back."

            He was dressed in a blue button down shirt and a pair of tan Dockers with black leather dress shoes. That was his idea of casual. "I'll be back at nine-fifteen," he said. With that, he turned and left, but not without a glance back over his shoulder with a frown in Eric's direction.

            "Boyfriend?" Eric asked, clearly amused.

            She rolled her eyes again. "Yeah and it’s not really working out. I've been thinking about dumping him."

            "Oh?" 

            She took a dusting cloth from under the counter and began wiping down the register, the screen, the credit card terminal and the counter.  "He's really exciting if you couldn't tell. I can't handle that much excitement in my life," she deadpanned.

            Eric laughed. "Wow. Is that code for lousy in bed or what?"

            Was she really that transparent? Her face went three shades of red. "You could say that, and add to it the fact that we never do anything fun anymore. I mean – how many guys in their early twenties walk around dressed like that unless they're a Republican or a Jehovah's Witness?" 

            He laughed again. "I totally understand. My ex was just like him. If you want, I'll call her and we can set them up."

            She giggled. "And encourage them to breed? God no!"

            Just then Brad set a stack of books on the counter with a thud. "Who are we encouraging to breed?"

            "Vanilla, suit wearing Jehovah’s Witnesses," Eric said in a hushed tone.

            Brad smiled and shook his head a little. He smacked the stack of books he set on the counter. "I always walk in on the end of those conversations. Here, let's see what the return policy is on all of these and get rid of them. They're not selling."

            Eric nodded, "Okay." He turned to her, "The joy of book returns. Here's how it works..." With that, Eric showed her how to process returns, strip the books that needed to be stripped and by the time he was done, Brad had already seen the last customer out, locked the door, put the closed sign on the door and turned off the main lights.

            "So when is your Mormon boyfriend picking you up?" Brad asked.

            She looked outside just in time to see Paul pull up in the black Chrysler his parents bought him when he graduated High School. "Right now evidently."

            "I know who's not getting any tonight," Eric said with a snicker.

            Her face flushed red again. "Umm, yeah."

            "Well you better get your bag and go. He might pull a tire iron of the trunk of that car and try to kick me and Eric's asses," Brad said, trying not to laugh.

            "Man, I know. He gave me that shitty look earlier, too. Doesn't that kid know I could take him out with one hand?" Eric crossed his arms over his chest and glared at Paul through the window.

            Once she'd gotten her bag and wrote her time out on her timecard she took a deep breath and shook her head at all the male posturing. While it was a little bit flattering, it was kind of childish. "I'll be here by one tomorrow. Good night!"

            Brad and Eric bade her goodnight and Brad let her out the front door, locking it behind her. Paul was standing there still staring down Eric through the window.

            "Stop being an ass, Paul. You're gonna get me fired."  She stood at the curb next to the passenger side door thinking he was at least going to open it or unlock it for her. But instead he stepped off the curb and went to the driver’s side and got in. She pulled on the door handle. It was locked. He leaned over and unlocked it. She got in with a huff and put on her seatbelt, very aware that Paul was glaring at her.

            "I don't think I like you working here."

            She turned to him, literally seeing red.  "What? Fuck you! I like it, I need the money, and you don't have a say."

            "Are you going to be a bitch all night?" He was still glaring.

            She rolled her eyes. "I don't know. If you're going to be an asshole, yeah. Maybe!"

            "So which one of them are you fucking? The blond?"

            Her eyes flew open. "Seriously? I’ve only worked here since one o’clock this afternoon! I’m not
doing
either of them."

            "I don't know.  I see my woman working with two men..." He didn't finish the sentence, just started the car.

            She couldn't believe it. The idiot was actually jealous of her bosses. "Take me home," she demanded.

            "You're not coming over tonight?"

            She whirled around  in her seat to face him.  "Seriously? You just accused me of sleeping with my boss. You show up at my job and stare my boss down and you expect me to go home with you? Fuck you, Paul."

            "Then get the fuck out of my car."

            He might as well have slapped her across the face. If that was the way he was going to be... The thought kind of trailed off into a numb nothing. She undid the seatbelt, grabbed her bag, and jumped out of the car. "We're through," she said, slamming the door behind her. As he pulled from the curb the tires squealed.

            She watched after him, seething with anger. There was a noise behind her. Turning, she saw Brad standing there holding the door open. “Come back in here and I’ll give you a ride home in a minute. I have to wait for a collector.”

            Eric was now sitting at the desk looking through a catalogue of books. “Is she coming back in?”

            “Yes I am.” Amy walked back in. She plopped her bag on the counter and buried her head in her hand.

            “You alright?” Brad asked.

            “I’m really angry,” she said.

            “Take some deep breaths.” He rubbed her shoulder reassuringly. Just then there was a tap at the front door. Brad hurried and opened the door, letting the older man in. He was wearing a black trench coat and had dark hair slightly graying at the temples. He was a big guy, too. She wondered if the three of them belonged to the same gym. Clearly they were all lifting weights or something. She left her head in her hands.

            “Gary, you’re late.” Brad led the man behind the counter and toward the back room.

            The man, Gary, had given her the once over as he came in and given Brad a questioning look. She’d seen him out of the corner of her eye. “I got caught up.”

            They disappeared into the back room.

            Eric got up and joined her at the counter. “So you’re going to sulk over that asshole?”

            “He had the audacity to ask me which of you I was sleeping with. That’s how jealous and stupid he was being. Then he told me he didn’t like me working here as if he controls me or something. So I ask him to just take me home. He gets all pissed because he’s not getting any and tells me to get out of the car. So I did and I told him we’re through. I’m done.”

            “Well, you can certainly do a lot better,” Eric agreed.

            “I could do worse, too,” she pointed out.

            “You could,” he said with a laugh.

            “Now I feel bad. I’m totally putting Brad out. I can still catch the bus,” she reached for her bag.

            “No,” Eric said flatly. “You can’t. We don’t want you sitting at the bus stop this late at night. This isn’t the safest neighborhood for a woman after dark. He and I discussed it before we decided to hire you. Either he or I will take you home at night, unless you have a friend or someone to pick you up.”

            “What if I’m totally in the opposite direction?” she asked.

            “Aren’t you up by Clearview?”

            She nodded, “Yes.”

            “That’s right on the way home for both of us,” he assured her. “I’d just take you home now but I have to pick up a friend at ten. So you get Brad tonight.”

            She kind of laughed.

            “What’s funny?” he asked.

            “Any bets Paul is sitting outside my house waiting for me to get home to see how I get home?” Stifling a yawn, she pulled at her pony tail, tightening the band.

            “If that’s the case, I dare you to just tell him Brad was the best lay you ever had. Then the guy will go berserk on Brad and Brad will kick his ass,” Eric suggested.

            “Brad doesn’t strike me as the violent type,” she said honestly.

            “He’s not, usually. Under the right circumstances, however, a guy like Paul would be wise to shut up and walk away. Though I suspect Paul’s not the wise type,” Eric finished.