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Authors: Claire Adams

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The Job

BOOK: The Job
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THE
JOB

By
Claire Adams

 

This
book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places and incidents are
products of the writer's imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not
to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual
events, locales or organizations is entirely coincidental.

 

Copyright
© 2015 Claire Adams

 
 

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Chapter One

Quote,
Unquote

Jessica

 

It
started as a simple idea: Expand the plus-sized section and add in a new
display area for the front of the store. Simple, right?

Well,
simple though it may be, this is turning out to be a lot more than I bargained
for. I’m getting ready to meet with another contractor to discuss quotes and,
so far, they’ve been sky high.

The
store’s been doing great, but I don’t know how I’m supposed to expand anything
if I can’t get these guys to rein in their estimates.

My
next appointment, some guy from IRP Construction, comes through the doors, and
I can already see that I’m not going to be his biggest fan.

I’m
waiting at the front of the store when he comes in, but as I say, “Hello,” he
just scoffs and walks right by me.

Heading
to the counter, he interrupts one of my salesgirls, saying, “Hey, I’m here to bid
on the expansion job. I’m supposed to meet with the head chick or whatever.”

So,
hearing all this and being the head chick or whatever, I walk over to him and
introduce myself, trying to mask my general repulsion at his presence.

“Hi,
I’m Jessica Davis,” I say and put out my hand to shake his.

He
just looks down at it and then back up at me.

“I’m
the store owner.”

“Oh!”
he says with
a
only partially-toothed smile. “I
thought you were the store greeter or something. Let’s talk about what I can do
for you today.”

“All
right,” I tell him, “if you’ll follow me…”

I
lead him over to the section of the store that I want redone and start pointing
things out to him.

“Over
here, I’d like to get this section of the wall taken back a bit. From what I
understand, it’s just dead space back there. I guess they used to use it for
storage when this was a more general department—”

“Yeah,
that’s a load-bearing wall,” the man says, “If I knock that out, you’re going
to see daylight. Maybe that’s what you’re looking for, though.”

“I’m
not talking about the wall behind,” I explain. “I’m talking about this area
where it juts out. If we could just remove the small storage space and leave
the external wall…”

“Well,
that’s not going to be cheap,” the man says. “I’ll have to get my electrician
in here to check the wiring, and if he finds it’s degraded, we’ll have to tear
up the whole store to do it.”

“That
really won’t be necessary,” I start, but he doesn’t let me finish.

“Bad
wiring can cause a fire,” he says. “If you don’t get it taken care of, you’re
playing games with your customers’ lives. Is that what you want?”

What
I want is to punch the guy in the face right now, but I’m pretty sure he could
take me in a fight.

“No,”
I tell him. “What I’m trying to say is that the wiring in this whole complex
was redone a few years ago when the property was bought by the
Richmonds
. I’d be absolutely mystified if there was any
degraded wiring in there.”

“Huh,”
the man says, and I can tell he’s just looking for more ways he can pad his
bill.

Luckily
for me, I did some homework on this place before I bothered calling contractors
to come in and give bids.

“Well,”
he says, “I guess I could do all that pretty cost-effective and what not, but I
think if you really want to open up this space, you’re going to have to get rid
of all those wall displays.”

Now
he’s just talking gibberish.

“Those
would obviously come down before the wall did,” I say, annoyed. “What I
do
want to do, in addition to what we’ve
already talked about, is to see if we can lengthen this window space up in the
front so I can display some more of the specialty items that set this store
apart. Is that something you think you could do?”

“Well,
that’s going to be pretty costly,” he says. “We’re going to have to reinforce
the wall if we’re going to increase your window space here. Now, we have a few
options to go with there, but I think it’s best to do it right the first time.
Otherwise, you’re stuck paying more over the long run.”

“I
absolutely agree with you on that last part,” I tell him. “I’m not looking for
a quick and sloppy job. I’m looking for something that’s going to last for a
long time to come.”

“My
men don’t do a ‘sloppy’ job,” he says.

“I’m
not saying they do,” I start again. “I was just saying that I agree with you:
I’d rather have it done right the first time than do something that’s only
going to end up costing more time and money. That’s all.”

I
don’t know if this guy’s actually this dense, or if he’s trying some
rudimentary psychology to convince me to pay more for what I could get cheaper
from someone else.

“I
like to use titanium,” the man says. “It’s a bit more costly, but nothing lasts
like titanium.”

Yep,
he’s trying to sucker me.

“I
don’t think titanium should be necessary,” I tell him. “To tell you the truth,
you’re the first person I’ve ever met who’s even suggested that titanium should
be used for something like this.”

“You
want it done right, don’t you?” the man asks. “I sure know I want to do you
right.”

“Excuse
me?” I ask.

The
large, unevenly shaved, gummed, smelly man in the stained white shirt just said
he wants to do me, right in the middle of negotiating his estimate. I wonder if
he actually thinks that’s going to work.

“I
just meant that I want to do right for your store and you as a client,” the man
says.

For
a second, I actually start to feel bad about judging him like that, but when he
runs his yellow-coated tongue over his lips and winks at me, I stop feeling so
guilty.

“I
think I’ve heard about enough,” I tell him. “I’ll let you know.”

“Is
that it?” the man asks. “I understood that it was going to be a much bigger
project than what you’ve described.”

“It
is,” I tell him, “but I just don’t think it’s going to be the right fit.”

“I
think we got off on the wrong foot here,” the man says. “I’m Billy, by the way,
it’s nice to meet you.”

Yeah,
now he wants to shake my hand.

“Jessica,”
I say again and, being the benevolent woman I am, I shake his gross, sweaty
hand. “So, all right,” I continue. “I also wanted to see what you think we
could do about having a lowered section right through the middle here. I saw
this shop up in Greenwich, and it had a space like—”

“You
do know this isn’t Greenwich, right?” the man asks.

“I’m
perfectly aware of my store’s location,” I tell him, “and I think we’ve really
come to an impasse here. I don’t think it’s going to work out. Thank you for
coming in.”

“You
haven’t heard my bid yet,” the man says.

“Fine,”
I say, rolling my eyes. “What do you think it would cost for what I’ve asked.”

“Well,
I’d need to know the measurements you’re looking at for everything,” he says.

“Yeah,
I was getting to that, but you decided it was appropriate to inform me that I’m
not in Greenwich right now, an observation that I can only assume was made
because you think I’m stupid or naïve about my design ideas, but I’ll have you
know—”

“Calm
down, sweetheart,” the man says. “We’ll get this worked out, I’m sure.”

“Sweetheart?”

I
wonder if I’m within my legal rights to kick this guy between the legs yet. If
not, I’m sure I could come up with a pretty convincing story to tell the cops.

It’s
something to think about.

But,
being the shrewd businesswoman I am, I just put on a smile and say, “Get the
hell out of my store.”

His
face morphs into a disgusting smile, but when he realizes I’m not joking and
that I really am quite on the verge of showing him what it’s like to have the
business end of a stiletto end up somewhere he really doesn’t want it, he
quickly turns and hurries out of the store.

I
walk back to my office, more frustrated than ever.

My
computer’s
still on my schedule screen and I make a
quick note under IRP Construction, saying, “Absolutely not.”

Ivanna,
one of my sales associates, knocks on my door.

“Hey,
sorry to bug you,” she says.

“No
worries,” I tell her. “What’s up?”

“There’s
a man here, he says he’s here to bid on the job.”

“I
really don’t know that I can handle another jerk who’s going to try to
overcharge me while mocking everything I want to do,” I tell her.

“Oh,
I think you’re going to want to take this appointment,” Ivanna says.

“I
really don’t know that I do,” I tell her.

“Do
you want me to get rid of him?” she asks.

I
take a deep breath.

“No,”
I tell her. “Let’s just get this over with.”

I
get out of my office chair and walk with Ivanna until she gets to Shoes and
turns off.

When
I make it to the front of the store, I ask my cashier, Linda, where the
contractor is.

“Oh,”
she says, looking up from her smartphone, “he wanted to know where you wanted
the work done, so I just sent him over to plus.” She leans over the counter and
motions for me to come closer. “I think you should hire him,” she says.

“Yeah?”
I ask. “
Why’s
that?”

“Just
go over there and talk to him,” she says. “I have a feeling you’ll figure it
out pretty quick.”

“No
screwing the construction workers,” I tell her.

Usually,
that would be a faux pas, but with Linda, that sort of thing actually has to be
pointed out. There’s a bit of precedent here.

“You
know I can’t promise that,” she says.

“At
least try not to do it on my time, will you?” I ask.

She
sighs. “Fine.”

I
walk over to plus, but it takes me a minute before I can find the man. He’s
crouched down, measuring the storage room wall.

BOOK: The Job
4.02Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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