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- Free Short Story - Snipe Hunt
Wednesday, August 25, 2021
Harri stomped back into her office and slammed the door. Why the hell didn’t Aisha get the fact their fledgling law firm was too new for a partner to take a year off? Because no matter what she said about remote working from Paris while Rey attended culinary school, they couldn’t take the chance of Mitch developing his powers around some French au pair.
Which meant Aisha would need to be a full-time mother. Plus, there was the time difference between the western United States and France. There was simply no way for her to continue practicing law full-time.
Harri threw herself in her office chair and stared at the pile of paperwork sitting in her to-do box. The firm had too much business as it was. They had been turning away potential clients for the last couple of months after they successfully defended Ultramegaperson on charges of mass murder in the Golden Gate Bridge collapse. While she’d spent most of her professional life in the city legal department, she was all too aware of what happened to any type of business that grew too fast.
She’d thrown every last cent she had into starting up this firm. Worse, she knew she couldn’t do this without Aisha.
Sure, Susan was a decent IP attorney, but Aisha’s knowledge and expertise of superhero law outstripped both Harri and Susan put together. Not to mention the endorsements of Aisha’s superhero persona gave her a secondary income stream. Something Harri didn’t have.
Was that the real problem? Was she jealous that Aisha earned more money than she did? But Aisha had always earned more since they graduated from law school because she’d gone into the private sector. If it didn’t matter before, why did it matter now?
A slight knock on the office door intruded on Harri’s pouting fit. She took a deep breath before she called out, “Come in!”
The aroma of fresh-brewed coffee entered before Patty with a steaming cup. She closed the office door before she strode over to Harri’s desk and replaced the empty mug on the coaster with the fresh cup.
Harri looked inside the cup. It wasn’t her usual straight black. The liquid had a creamy brown appearance. She took a suspicious sniff. Cinnamon blended with the java. She eyed Patty.
Her assistant shrugged. “I’ve noticed someone else has been using the cinnamon-flavored creamer besides me. Given everybody else’s tastes, it had to be you.”
Damn. Harri rolled her eyes. She tried something new a couple of times, and now, Patty believed it’s what she wanted all the time. However, she couldn’t take her pissy mood out on the younger woman. She needed Patty’s skills even more than she needed Aisha’s.
“Thank you,” Harri said as she picked up the mug. “But next time, ask me first please. Did you need something in particular?”
“I thought you might want to talk.” Patty sat in one of the visitor chairs, her fingers clenched around the empty cup. “That was a pretty bad argument among you guys this morning. Not a good sign when all three partners are yelling at each other like that.”
“I know.” Harri sighed and sipped her cinnamon coffee. It was definitely a flavor that could become an addiction, though right now, she’d prefer a shot of whiskey in her mug. “I’m really sorry about that.”
Patty cocked her head. “Is this a serious problem, or is it your abandonment issues rearing their head again?”
Harri swallowed her defensive streak and considered the situation. Everyone in the building had called her on her emotional issues at one time or another, but only Patty had lost her parents at a young age like Harri had, and Patty was the most likely to listen instead of judge.
“It’s probably a little of both, but definitely serious if we lose a partner,” Harri admitted.
Patty cocked her head. “So why are you doing you damnedest to chase Aisha away?”
Harri paused in mid-sip. “I’m not trying to chase her away. I’m pointing out why this Paris thing isn’t a good idea.”
“You also promised to hire an associate this year, and it’s the beginning of September.” Patty crossed her arms. “Instead, you’ve been trying to push me to go to law school. You’ve dumped a ton of work on Steve, who’s not even a second-year law student yet. Not to mention, Aisha’s been pulling more than her fair share of the load while being a new mother and a superhero.”
Guilt poked at Harri’s conscience. Was that the problem? Aisha did everything perfectly. Sweet kid. Gorgeous husband. Awesome double career.
All while Harri could barely keep it together with one career and a boyfriend. It had been different when they were both freshly divorced, no kids, and no one else to lean on besides each other and Jeremy.
Then there was reality.
“Our firm isn’t at the point where a partner can take a year’s sabbatical,” Harri protested. “Our doors have only been open for a little over a year.”
Patty shook her head. “Will we ever be at a point were one of us could take some time off?”
“Probably not,” Harri reluctantly admitted.
“And that’s your personal insecurity talking.” Patty leaned her elbows on Harri’s desk. “What are you going to do when Arthur and I need time off for our wedding and honeymoon?”
“Did he pop the question?” The news yanked Harri out of her funk. Their IT guru was madly in love with Patty and adored Patty’s daughter Grace. He may be a genius, but his self-esteem when it came to personal relationships could be precarious at best.
“Not yet, and don’t you dare say a word to him.” Patty narrowed her eyes. “He’ll ask me when he’s ready. Not before. And that’s the point. I’m not letting my insecurities about abandonment run rampant when it comes to our relationship. Arthur loves me, and he shows me in a million ways Cade never could.” Harri took another sip of coffee to keep from reacting to her assistant’s statement. Patty’s ex-boyfriend, Cade Wilson AKA Black Death, had escaped from prison earlier this year. It was the first time Patty had even mentioned him since he killed Arthur last year. Only Baby Grace had saved Arthur, and none of their immediate circle understood why or how Grace’s powers had manifested that one time to bring Arthur back to life.
Even more worrisome was if Harri’s goddaughter could kill like her father could as well as heal. But if she brought up the subject, Patty would accuse her of deflecting from the more pertinent issue.
“Anything else you need to lecture me about this morning?” Harri asked.
“Yes, apologize to both Aisha and Susan before they quit, and find that associate you promised you would hire.” Patty rose to her feet. “Now, Aisha and have our own interviewing to do.”
“Molly offered to watch the kids—” Harri started. And Molly Reinhold AKA Nix had been rather put out when Aisha insisted the girl go back to college and earn her degree instead of babysitting Mitch.
“She needs her own life,” Patty snapped. “She’s only twenty-three.”
“So were you when Grace was born,” Harri shot back.
“I am not having this argument with you.” Patty pivoted on her sensible flats and marched out of Harri’s office. Surprisingly, she closed the door gently behind her.
Harri sipped more her coffee. What the hell was going on with everyone in the Law Office of Winters and Franklin? Did they expect her to be a figurehead? She was only looking for the most reasonable solutions to their problems, but everyone reacted like she was a tyrant.
She reached for the case file on the top of her inbox. Maybe the best way to deal with her irritation was to get some work done.
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
The heat inside the Lechuza Building didn’t match the last blaze of sweltering summer in Canyon Pointe. No, the heat inside was much worse. Nor could it be soothed by the iced version of Aisha Franklin’s favorite no-fat, sugar-free peppermint mocha.
As much as she wanted to see her blood kin at her baby brother’s wedding, she wished she could leave her adopted family behind. She glared at her law partner and best friend, Harri Winters, who sat across their office conference room table.
“We need someone to cover the office. We can’t leave for a week with no one—”
“Then find someone we can trust!” Harri yelled.
“I said I would stay—” Susan Kennedy, their third and newest partner, started to say.
“No!” Aisha and Harri shouted at the same time.
Loud banging filled the room before Patty Ames, their legal assistant and all-around Girl Friday, shoved the door open. “Keep it down in here. The clients on the phone can hear you.”
Patty didn’t yell. She used what their tenants, the Esperanza boys, referred to as her “Mommy-growly” voice. Not even Aisha’s husband Rey or her brother-in-law Steve messed with Patty when she used that voice, and they were both supers.
“We’re sorry,” Aisha said. “We’ll be quieter.”
“Harri?” Patty’s voice carried an obvious warning. Ever since her daughter Grace was born, their assistant acted more and more like their boss. Or their mother.
“I’ll be quiet, Patty,” Harri grumbled.
“Thank you.” Patty closed the conference room door behind her.
“All I’m saying is opposing counsel will use the opportunity of the office being closed to pull shenanigans,” Aisha said.
“Because that’s what you’d do,” Harri snapped.
“Isn’t that the pot calling the kettle black?” Susan asked. When Aisha glared at her, Susan held up her palms. “Was that racist? I swear I wasn’t going there.”
Aisha blew out a deep breath. “Too bad Steve isn’t licensed yet. We could stick him with desk duty as the newbie.”
“Why don’t we?” Susan said. “He’s not going to Martin’s wedding because of classes. He’s taking the legal clinic at the law school next year. Let’s give him the experience. If something happens and he needs a licensed attorney, he can call one of us.”
Aisha exchanged looks with Harri. “It’s a good idea. I’ll fly home if there’s a major problem.”
“You can’t,” Harri said. “It’s your brother’s wedding.”
“You can’t,” Aisha replied. “It’s your foster brother’s wedding.”
Susan waved her arms. “Excuse me! I said I would stay from the beginning.”
“Shhhhh!” Aisha and Harri said at the same time.
Harri glanced over her shoulder, but the conference room door didn’t open. She looked at Susan. “You don’t want her back in here, yelling at us, do you?” “So, we’re agreed?” Aisha said. “Steve handles the phones except when he’s in class?”
“What about when he’s not in class?” Harri asked.
“What about Javier’s friend Josie?” Aisha suggested.
Harri shook her head. “She’s finally back in school. I don’t mind giving her odd jobs around the building on the weekends and summer, but I am not giving her an excuse to drop out. What about her mom Veronica? Javier said something about her losing her job again.”
Aisha slowly nodded. “Yeah, that might work.” Like a lot of people in the neighborhood, Veronica had grabbed her kids and fled north because of trouble in Central America. In their case, Veronica’s family had immigrated legally. However, Veronica had a lot of trouble getting her teaching certification in the U.S. She fell into a downward spiral her pride and American prejudice wouldn’t let her pull out of. Maybe this was a chance to do some good. “I’ll talk to her.”
“I can do it,” Harri said.
“Your Spanish sucks,” Aisha and Susan said in unison.
“I’ve been—” Harri started loudly. When Aisha hiss and pointed at the door, Harri lowered the volume of her voice. “I’ve been practicing.”
“I’ll talk with Veronica,” Aisha said.
“You mean the Ghost Owl will talk with Veronica.” Harri crossed her arms and sulked.
“The Ghost Owl will get through to her better than a bunch of stuckup gringa lawyers,” Susan said.
“She’s got a point,” Aisha said.
“Fine,” Harri said while she stood. “Anything else we need to talk about?”
Both Aisha and Susan shook their heads.
“Fine,” Harri repeated before she stomped out of the conference room.
“What the hell crawled up her butt?” Susan muttered. “It’s just a wedding. I’m not even sure why your brother invited me.”
“This isn’t about the wedding,” Aisha replied.
“You’ve got to be kidding me.” Susan rolled her eyes. “This is still about the Paris thing?”
“Unfortunately.” Aisha tapped her nails against the conference table. Harri better get her shit sorted before they flew to Atlanta for Martin’s wedding. Otherwise, Aisha might just drop her best friend from thirty thousand feet.
Wednesday, August 11, 2021
(For those of you who detest Amazon, I understand and I apologize for getting so behind over the last year and a half. I blame COVID. However it's a virus, and it really doesn't give a shit about me blaming it.)
Now for a question to you all:
I plan to post a Free Short Story in September. I'm giving you an opportunity to vote on what you'd like to read.
a) A totally new, unrelated fantasy story
b) A totally new, unrelated sci-fi story
c) A Justice short story
d) A prequel story set in the upcoming Soccer Moms of the Apocalypse universe.
Vote in the comments below!
Wednesday, August 4, 2021
Tomorrow and Friday will be a bit crazy with workmen going to and fro. I'll take Princess Bella to the sister-in-law's house so she doesn't try to supervise the workers too much. This means I will be able to take a hot shower this weekend and give the princess a long overdue bath.
On a positive note for those of you waiting on paperbacks, I'm getting the paperback interiors and covers from my peeps for last year's novels and collections. Once I've uploaded A Hand of Father, I can upload those files to my distributor. So if you've been wanting a particular paperback, they should be available at the end of the month.
Then it's a matter of getting the rest of THIS YEAR'S novels and collections formatted and uploaded. The goal is to get everything up to date by A Very HERO Wedding's release in October because I have special plans for Halloween with a handsome young man.