Read Heart-Shaped Hack Online

Authors: Tracey Garvis Graves

Heart-Shaped Hack

BOOK: Heart-Shaped Hack
13.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

 

HEART-SHAPED HACK

A Kate and Ian novel

 

Tracey Garvis Graves

COPYRIGHT © 2015 TRACEY GARVIS GRAVES

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.

Cover Design by Sarah Hansen at Okay Creations

Interior design and formatting by Ebook Launch

ISBN-10:0990696723

ISBN-13:978-0-9906967-2-8

Table of Contents

CHAPTER ONE

CHAPTER TWO

CHAPTER THREE

CHAPTER FOUR

CHAPTER FIVE

CHAPTER SIX

CHAPTER SEVEN

CHAPTER EIGHT

CHAPTER NINE

CHAPTER TEN

CHAPTER ELEVEN

CHAPTER TWELVE

CHAPTER THIRTEEN

CHAPTER FOURTEEN

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

CHAPTER SIXTEEN

CHAPTER SEVENTEEN

CHAPTER EIGHTEEN

CHAPTER NINETEEN

CHAPTER TWENTY

CHAPTER TWENTY-ONE

CHAPTER TWENTY-TWO

CHAPTER TWENTY-THREE

CHAPTER TWENTY-FOUR

CHAPTER TWENTY-FIVE

CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX

CHAPTER TWENTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER TWENTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER TWENTY-NINE

CHAPTER THIRTY

CHAPTER THIRTY-ONE

CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

CHAPTER THIRTY-THREE

CHAPTER THIRTY-FOUR

CHAPTER THIRTY-FIVE

CHAPTER THIRTY-SIX

CHAPTER THIRTY-SEVEN

CHAPTER THIRTY-EIGHT

CHAPTER THIRTY-NINE

CHAPTER FORTY

CHAPTER FORTY-ONE

CHAPTER FORTY-TWO

CHAPTER FORTY-THREE

CHAPTER FORTY-FOUR

WHAT’S NEXT?

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

OTHER BOOKS BY TRACEY GARVIS GRAVES

CHAPTER ONE

“The babies are going to starve,” Helena said.

“Don’t be so dramatic,” Kate replied. “No one is going to starve, least of all the babies.” But her pinched expression and the way she was jabbing at the keyboard as she refreshed the donations page on their website said otherwise. For the first time in the sixteen months since Kate had left her position as a corporate attorney to open the food pantry, she faced the heartbreaking prospect of turning hungry people away. She couldn’t stand the thought of letting down her regulars, especially the young mother of three who relied on the pantry to feed them.

The problem was that Kate’s nonprofit organization wasn’t the only one in Minneapolis that needed help. Tomorrow was the first of September, and everyone was trying to stockpile whatever resources they could before they headed into the colder months.

“Let’s see,” Helena said. “We could rob a bank. We could pawn our valuables. You could sell your body on a street corner.”

Despite their dire circumstances, Kate cracked a smile. Helena had walked through the front door of the food pantry shortly after Kate opened and said, “I’m sixty-five, and they’re forcing me to retire from my job at the insurance company. My husband retired two years ago, and now he’s home all day. That’s too much togetherness for us. I have to find something to do outside the house, and you wouldn’t have to pay me much.” Kate hired her on the spot and had never regretted it.

She swiveled her chair toward Helena. “Why am I always the one who has to sell her body? Why can’t you sell yours?”

“Who do you think is going to bring in more money? A gray-haired grandmother of seven or a willowy twenty-nine-year-old beauty? It’s a no-brainer.”

It was hard to argue with logic like that.

Kate had been so determined not to let down their clients that she’d resorted to begging her ex-boyfriend Stuart—who worked as the executive producer on an hour-long talk show on the local ABC station—to let her appeal to the public during the afternoon broadcast.

“Do you know how hard it is for me to be around you, Kate?” Stuart said when he received her call. “Do you ever think of that?”

“Of course I do. But this is really important to me.”

“I used to be really important to you.”

Kate remained silent. They’d been through this before.

He sighed in defeat. “Come in tomorrow. I’ll squeeze you in after the cooking segment.”

“Thanks, Stuart.”

The skirt had been Helena’s idea. “We need to do whatever we can to grab viewers’ attention.”

“You mean
I
need to do whatever I can.”

“Of course I mean you. You have great legs.”

 

On the day of the broadcast when Helena arrived at the food pantry, Kate said, “I don’t remember this skirt being quite so short. I’m actually a little worried about the type of viewer I might attract with it.” She tugged on the hem, pulled out her desk chair, sat down, and crossed her legs. “Can you see anything?”

“You’ll be fine unless you decide to recross your legs in the middle of the segment like Sharon Stone did in that one movie.”

“I can assure you I will not be doing that. The skirt is as far as I’m willing to go. I draw the line at flashing people, not even for the babies.”

Kate had paired the black-and-white houndstooth skirt with a black short-sleeve top and her favorite black heels. When she arrived at the TV studio, she ducked into the bathroom to check her teeth for wandering lipstick. Before she left the food pantry, she’d applied a raspberry lip stain that Helena claimed looked stunning on her. That morning she’d curled her long dark hair and then brushed through the curls with her fingers so they draped across her shoulders and down her back in loose waves. She’d used plenty of mascara to play up her brown eyes. The extra primping made her feel a little like she
was
standing on a street corner, but she banished those thoughts. At this point, they needed all the help they could get.

After Stuart snaked the mic up the back of her top, his hands lingering on her skin in a way that made Kate feel sad, he positioned her on a stool and told her to wait for his signal. She kept her legs tightly crossed, and when the light on the camera turned red, he pointed at her and she began to speak.

“Good afternoon. My name is Kate Watts, and I’m the executive director of the Main Street Food Pantry. As we head into the winter months, our needs—and those of all local food pantries—will be greater than ever.” Kate stared into the camera, imagining she was speaking directly to someone who might have the means to help them.

“No child should ever have to go hungry, and many of our local residents depend on the food pantry to feed their families. I’m here today to personally appeal to you should you have the ability to help us in any way. The families we assist, and especially the children, depend on your generosity more than you could ever imagine. Thank you.”

She ended the short segment with the food pantry’s telephone number and street address, and when Stuart gave her the all clear, she reached under her shirt for the microphone and handed it back to him.

“Thanks, Stuart.” She gave him a quick hug. “I really appreciate this.”

“Sure,” he said, looking over her shoulder as if there was something very interesting across the room. “Take care, Kate.”

 

That had been yesterday, and so far only a few additional donations had trickled in. She and Helena spent the rest of the afternoon making calls to local churches and schools to set up additional food drives while continuing to monitor the donations page. Finally, at a little before three, Kate went into the back room to recount their inventory. It was the end of the month, and they were down to their last cases of infant formula and baby food. Almost all the canned vegetables had been depleted, and they were completely out of peanut butter and soup. If it was this bad now, Kate didn’t want to think about what might happen when budgets were stretched even thinner by holiday spending. Dejected, she was sitting on the floor, clipboard in hand, when Helena burst into the back room.

“I ran after him,” she said, gasping for breath. “But he was too fast. Boy, am I out of shape.”

“Who did you run after?”

Helena tossed a brown paper bag to Kate and leaned over, resting her hands on her knees as she took in giant gulps of air.

“The man who dropped off the money. Seriously, I may need supplemental oxygen over here.”

Money
?

Kate looked into the bag and blinked several times. “Did you lock the front door?”

“Yes.”

She turned the bag upside down and watched in disbelief as hundred-dollar bills rained down on the concrete floor. She counted it quickly. “There’s a thousand dollars here.”

Their website listed four levels for donations with amounts ranging from ten to one hundred dollars. There were higher amounts for corporations, but this was the largest donation they’d ever received from one person, and it was more than enough to replenish their shelves. Kate was already picturing herself pushing a giant cart through Costco. “Did he leave his name?”

“No. He walked up to my desk and said, ‘Give this to Katie.’ He must have seen you on TV yesterday.”

“Young? Old?”
Rich
?

“Young. Early thirties maybe? Tall. Blondish-brown hair. He was in a real hurry to leave. I chased him out the door, but he jumped into the driver’s seat of an old blue car.”

“An old car? Are you sure?”

“I think it was old. It didn’t look like any car I’ve ever seen. It had stripes on the hood. And then he burned rubber.”

“Why would someone who drives an old car drop off a bag full of money?”

“I have no idea. But whatever the reason, he just saved us.”

CHAPTER TWO

It happened again the next month.

Kate was conducting a client interview when Brian, one of the high school kids who volunteered in the afternoon, approached her desk. “Uh, Kate? A guy said to give this to you.” He thrust the paper bag into her hands, and she stifled a gasp when she looked inside. She shoved the bag into her desk drawer and locked it.

“Thank you, Brian.”

It hadn’t occurred to her that the previous donation would be anything other than a onetime thing. In addition to the monthly allotment of food Kate received from food banks, which operated on a much larger scale than food pantries, they also received recurring donations each month. But they were smaller amounts and were typically comprised of food from can drives or other collection methods. Though she appreciated it all, cash donations were what Kate cherished most. She had a knack for hunting down bargains, and cash meant being able to buy in bulk, which helped the money stretch even further. Tomorrow she would make another trip to the discount warehouse and fill her four-year-old TrailBlazer to the roof.

Curiosity regarding the man’s identity consumed Kate. Was he some kind of philanthropist? A self-made man who owned a successful start-up? Maybe he’d developed an app or video game and sold it for millions. Maybe he was a lottery winner. Maybe he just liked to pay it forward on a grand scale.

She could hardly wait until the end of the day when all their clients were gone and she and Helena were alone. As soon as Kate locked the door, she turned around and said, “He did it again.”

“Who did what again?” Helena asked, picking up her purse and getting ready to leave.

“The man who dropped off the money last month gave us another thousand dollars. Look.” Kate handed her the bag of money, and Helena looked inside.

“Well, I’ll be darned. Are you sure it was the same person?”

“It’s the same amount. And it was brought in on the last day of the month, just like last time. It’s got to be him.”

“Looks like we’ve found ourselves a mysterious benefactor. If you don’t mind my saying, Kate, I think the skirt really helped.”

CHAPTER THREE

Kate and Helena worked out a plan. The first donation had arrived on August thirty-first and the second on September thirtieth. Today was October thirty-first. Kate had no way of knowing if he’d come again, but she and Helena had begun watching the door as soon as the food pantry opened. If their mysterious benefactor showed up while Kate was in the back room or with a client, Helena was to detain him and dispatch one of their volunteers to find her immediately.

“Maybe he won’t come since it’s Halloween,” Helena said.

Kate smiled. “Because he’ll be too busy haunting a house?” But she’d had the same concern, and when he hadn’t shown up by two thirty, her hope started to fade. When the food pantry closed at three, Kate sent Helena home and began to lock up.

She was crushed but tried to buoy her spirits by thinking of how fortunate they’d been to receive the previous two donations. Kate had spent the money wisely, and they were doing fine. Not great, but no one who was hungry would be turned away in the coming months, and that was all that mattered.

BOOK: Heart-Shaped Hack
13.15Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Sons of the Wolf by Barbara Michaels
The Zombie in the Basement by Giangregorio, Anthony
Adrian by V. Vaughn
The Marriage Act by Alyssa Everett
BAT-21 by William C Anderson
Edge by Brenda Rothert
Cracks by Caroline Green
The Dark Queen by Williams, Michael
Dead By Dusk by Heather Graham
People Will Talk by Carol Rose