My winner is Krysta. Thanks so much to everyone who participated!
Cats and Halloween. They go together like caramel and apples, but cats, especially black ones, have gotten a bad reputation. Having a black cat cross your path is thought to bring bad luck and some folks associate these pretty dark felines with evil, demons and death. A black cat on a ship, however, is considered good luck. For the sailors, I guess, and maybe for the cat if there are plenty of critters to chase.
Felines are often thought of as sneaky, aloof, and sinister. My calico cat, shown below plopped all over my Halloween wreath, is more cuddly than spooky but I've know some scary cats. There are the kind that leap out at you from behind furniture, ones that skulk around corners waiting to tangle up in unsuspecting feet and ones that perch on your chest while you sleep. Have you ever woke up to find a cat staring you right in the face?
Join us in this fun hop October 27 to 31. My prize is an eBook copy of your choice from my backlist. To enter, just leave me a comment and tell me something you love about your pet. I'll use Random.org to pick a winner. Then enter the Rafflecopter below and hop on over to the next author and find more treats to enjoy.
PS I'll be out of town with very little Internet access for a few days *shudders from withdrawal already* so I'll be awarding my prize a little later. Enjoy the PG13 excerpt below for my upcoming book, Don't Say No, and thank you so much for participating in this hop!
“I've written out a script for you to use at the spa.”
Jaeger pushed a piece of paper across the table to Amber.
She picked it up and raised an eyebrow. “A script? You think I can memorize this in half an hour? Anyway, I don't need a script.“
Amber pushed it back toward him.
Jaeger frowned. “You need to make sure they think you're just visiting. You can't let on that you're evaluating them.”
“Okay, duh, I've got it. I know what to do. I have been to a spa once or twice in my life. I know how to act like a guest.”
She dug into her food. They sat at Pancake Palace again, and this time Amber had ordered waffles. The small order. She didn't want to be overly full while getting her treatments. Jaeger had insisted on meeting before she went to the spa to brief her. Brief her. That's what he'd said. Like this was some kind of tactical mission.
“Here then, look at the evaluation form you'll be completing on each employee.”
Amber took the paper and studied it while Jaeger scanned her completed employment application.
“You took two years off between high school and college? What did you do during that time?”
Was he allowed to ask that? Was it any of his business?
“I traveled around with my boyfriend. We wanted to visit a bunch of different states.”
Plenty of people did that. Some even went to Europe and other foreign places.
She sighed inwardly at the memory. Team Amber/Randy had had a good time those two years, no regrets. It had been a great experience, staying with friends and in hostels, meeting new people, working a few temp jobs to make money, and not having a set agenda. She'd learned a lot during those days.
The question was asked innocently enough, but Amber stiffened. Well, this was bound to come up, if not now, then later. Jaeger could probably find out about the sordid Event anyway, and it wasn't the worst thing in the world. She hadn't committed a felony or hurt anyone. Plenty of people got kicked out college.
“I went to Camton University for two weeks, then was asked to leave.”
He looked up from the paper. “You were asked to leave?”
“Do I stutter? It's a long story. I don't feel like getting into it. What, I can't be your mystery shopper without a college education?”
“I didn't say that.”
He went back to reading her application. “What were you studying?”
He looked up again. She knew he wanted to hear more, wanted to know something about her. What could she tell him that would inspire trust? He'd already hired her, sort of. He could dismiss her just as easily though. She was going to have this conversation with other employers, she realized. Might as well work on her spiel now.
Picking at the paper placemat, she forced herself to look him in the eye and answer. “Business management. My boyfriend, Randy, and I were going to open our own business.”
“And you're not now?”
“Was your boyfriend the man you were pelting with baked goods at Taylor's Café?”
Jaeger's mouth turned up slightly at the corner. “I take it the relationship ended badly.”
“What makes you say that?”
He laughed. “What kind of business?”
She stopped fussing with the placemat and sat up straighter. “We were going to call it Fun on the Beach. We would rent out toys to people who were vacationing at hotels. You know, Frisbees, kites, stuff like that. Cheap toys, so if they got broke, no big deal. Parents don't have enough toys, the kids get bored. Or the adults want something to do besides sit around, so they fly a kite. It was a great idea.”
Her shoulders slumped. Yeah, was.
“You're kind of young to be running a business,” she added.
It was time to get the focus of this conversation off her and her failures.
“I'm not running a business. It's my family's company. I've been assigned this project. And I'm not that young. I'm only several years older than you, I believe.”
She crossed her arms. It was illegal to ask her age, she knew that, but he could figure it out from her application. Okay, enough of this. She needed to get in a spa frame of mind, not pick a fight with her employer.
“Tell me more about Bella Sun. What's going on there that you need to know about?” she asked and bent back to her food.
“Actually, I think it would be better if you don't know. I want you to go in with fresh eyes, to observe.”
“Oh, come on, give me a hint. Is there a specific problem I should look for?”
He took a sip of his tea. The server had looked at him like he was nuts when he'd requested Earl Grey. She'd asked who that was. Jaeger was not trying to be snobby, Amber suspected, but he was obviously used to a slightly different lifestyle from the one they had in Palm Groves. He'd settled for a decaf tea bag, which Amber guessed was dug out of a dusty box buried on a shelf.
“We just want to identify employees who are not happy or causing trouble.”
“If I give them a bad report, will they get fired?”
“No, we can't do that. We'll talk to them first and see if we can resolve any issues. If that doesn't work, we'll cut their hours enough so they leave voluntarily. Your input will have some effect, yes. You understand that, right? Are you still up to the job?” he asked.
She snapped him a salute. “I do, and I am.”
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