There was a special place in hell set aside for those who abused the check out chick, Sally Smith decided with a scowl as she swirled her glass.
It had been a long day. God, if she was being honest it had been a long year. Sundays at the store were always a hit or miss; either they were shit-you-to-tears boring or busy as fuck. Today had been the later. And when it was busy, when things were not on the shelves because deliveries didn’t arrive till Tuesdays, people became shitheads.
“Oh the screeching,” she hissed to her roommate. “You would think we were murdering their first born.”
Yuki Raine had a sip of her own wine, shooting her friend a grin. They lounged in their pj’s, a pizza box between them, some random radio station playing from Yuki’s computer. Something with a piano and a smooth sax jazzing it all together. Yuki had known Sally all through high school, her father had moved into Sydney with work. Sally warmed to everyone, but Yuki had been a special case with her black hair that had white blonde tips and her amber eyes. Her Japanese heritage in a suburban suburb had made her a target for bullies immediately, and Sally hated bullies.
She would have become friends with her just to piss off the jocks, but they had bonded instantly over a love of animals and graphic novels. Yuki spent most of her time at Sally’s house over the years, trying to get out from under her parent’s thumb, it had only made sense they move in together almost as soon as high school ended.
Sally let her head roll back, trying to let the bulk of the week’s strain go. Monday was her only day off and the first she’d had for a fortnight. She was sure her boss was a sadist or something, the way they were able to work their staff for a tonne of days straight, but get around paying too much over time by making the shifts shorter. She hated it, but she needed the work. It was the only problem with not knowing what you wanted to do with your life. High School only got you so far; no higher education, no training in a trade and a distinct lack of money and power all spelled out a lifetime of minimum wage.
She tugged at her wavy, and knotty, hair. She’d washed it as soon as she’d gotten home, unable to handle the feel of the supermarket drenching her body, but it would now take most of the night to dry. The red curls ran all the was down her back, brushing against her arse and always getting caught in everything. She kept it up while at work, usually braided, but after this last two weeks she needed to have it loose to stem the headache that always seemed to plague her. Now she clutched the strands, pulling against her head.
“I don’t know how much more I can take of this Ki,” she whispered miserably. Her hazel eyes closed against the tears she knew she’d shed, if she let them. Even with her eyes closed she took a gulp of her drink, letting it warm her stomach. “It just feels like too much.”
When she opens her eyes Yuki was nodding sympathetically, her own eyes filled with compassion. Instantly Sally felt guilty, letting go of her hair. She shouldn’t complain so much to her best friend. It wasn’t like anyone she knew had things easy, Yuki herself held a waitressing job, went to uni and volunteered at a vet clinic whenever she could. Not to mention the family issues that seemed to constantly haunt her.
Sunday once a fortnight was the only time that they got to spend together, pizza night and the cheapest wine they could get their hands on. And every time Sally had fresh complaints about the hell hole she worked in.
“Sorry Ki,” she cringed, “I just don’t know what to do with it all any more. This was never the plan, you know?”
“I know, Bell,” she reached across the back of the couch and held my hand. The nickname made Sally cringe a little, her friends and family had called her Tinker Bell as a child, shortened to Bell as she got older. Though it drove her up the wall, she had yet to break any of them of the habit. “Maybe it’s time to let it go?”
“I wish I could,” Sally sighed wistfully. “Everything I’ve applied for I just haven’t gotten anywhere with.” Out of the seemingly millions of things she’d applied for in the last few months, she’d only gotten 2 call backs and an interview. She was grateful that the interview had fallen through, that HR guy had come off a little creepy. She didn’t think she could handle creepy on top of minimum wage.
“Well,” Yuki’s slate eyes twinkled with delight, “you know Mr Tattoos that I’ve been flirting with shamelessly for the last few months?”
Sally frown, wracking her brain for which one of the customers she might be thinking. “The fella with the parakeet that has nothing wrong with it but he always asks for you to be in on the check up?”
Yuki nodded enthusiastically, her raven hair bobbing everywhere. “It turns out he works in the HR department of North Industries.”
As she reached into her sweat’s pockets Sally felt her chest flood with excitement. North Industries was one of the biggest companies in Australia, it spanned across multiple businesses, but it’s claim to fame was it’s environmental and conservation work. No company anywhere had a better reputation for protecting the native flora and fauna then North Industries.
There wasn’t a person on the planet that didn’t know about the husband and wife duo who ran the company either. They were often on the cover of any magazine known to man, though there were very few photos of them that weren’t professional shots. Sally couldn’t recall ever seeing them in a unflattering photo. Not that the tabloids didn’t try, there just didn’t seem to be any evidence to back up their wild claims.
Yuki flicked a business card her friend’s way. “They’re looking for a new personal assistant, and I got you an interview for tomorrow.”
Before she even caught the card Sally had launched herself across the couch, pulling her best friend into a hug and trying not to cry too much.
Celeste North liked to get up early. She was sure it was part of growing up with a large extended family around her; the only time to get any peace was either late at night or early in the morning.For her, there was something primal about watching the sun rise. It was certainly her main reason for choosing this apartment five years ago she mused, sipping on her coffee. They had needed a place closer to the office as the business started to expand faster then anticipated and this one had balcony facing east with huge glass wall connecting to the kitchen with a breakfast bar. When she found herself waking before Hunter it was her favourite spot to watch the sun rise over the harbour.Her thoughts drifted to her mate and husband, as they often did. He was nothing like she had expected growing up but she had had no doubt that he would come waltzing into her life and turn it upside down. He had already owned the architect firm, Savannah Dreams when they had met
Hunter North, CEO and co-owner of North Industries, hummed slightly as he read over the proposal again. It needed a few more tweaks, but he was sure they would be ready to present it early next week. He also had no doubt that they would get the contract.Anything ‘Green’ was a buzz word right now, and many companies wanted to appear to do their part whilst spending the least amount of money possible. Hunter and Celeste had ensured early that their business was as eco-friendly as possible. They kept up with the newest research and took the time to ensure that they’re practices met the highest standard. While Hunter was an architect at heart, he had a degree in environmental science. Celeste had been a thorough task master and between them they had been able to take the company to places even he hadn’t dreamed of.With a wistful smile he knew there was a reason for that; Celeste was everything he hadn’t known he’d needed in
Sally made triple sure she was up early Monday morning. The interview wasn’t till 11, but she was leaving nothing to chance. She showered and shaved, did every skin care regiment known to man and took the time to tease her curls into stunning locks that she pulled into a high ponytail. After her pampering she ironed her favourite interview clothes before dressing carefully.Her skirt and jacket were a matching dark charcoal grey, tight against her hips but flaring a little at her knees. The button up shirt was jade green, offsetting her red hair and complimenting the green flecks in her eyes. For today she had black heels on, but if she did get the job she’d be checking the dress code, she didn’t want to be stuck wearing heels all day if she could help it.Sally kept her makeup lite, she didn’t like what it did to her skin when she wore too much. Makeup made her feel uncomfortable so she made use of mascara and lipstick and hop
Celeste wished she could figure out what had her all pissed off. It felt like someone was rubbing her against the grain and all it did was make her want to run. She had no idea where but if she didn't figure this out soon she'd probably end up biting someone. And not in the fun way."You gotta get this together, Cuz!" Tyler muttered after the last applicant left shaken and perplexed.To be fair on the woman, Celeste had not said a word to her all interview. She'd sat there, arms and legs crossed and ground her teeth. Not exactly the kind of impression one of the owners should leave an applicant, but Celeste couldn't help it. What ever was riding her had her patience thinner then usual."She was ok, wasn't she?" Kyra asked, scratching her head. "Her references are pretty amazing.""I didn't like her," Celeste growled, offering no tangible reason because there wasn't any. She just wasn't right to work with Hunter."Maybe it'd help,"
“I see.”When Celeste had stalked in Hunter wasn’t sure what was wrong. Part of him hadn’t known what Tyler had meant earlier, what 'off' could have really meant. Walking in to the office she had been wild, her golden eyes flashing in a way he hadn’t seen in years. He couldn’t even imagine what might have caused his wife to shake with so much pent up energy. But now he understood.Another Mate. Hunter wondered what they might be like.“That’s it?” Celeste was distressed and confused, he could see that she her body trembling with the energy that pulsed through her. “I tell you I have a second mate and you say ‘I see’?”Hunter stood and came around to her side of the desk. Her foot tapped with nerves but she paused as he pulled the chair closer to him. From here he could reach out and take her hand. He felt her still instantly, which made him smile, he could still calm
When the beautiful woman left, Sally couldn’t quite explain the sudden sadness that filled her. It was like the light went out of the room. She also had no idea what it meant in the context of her job. Was it an automatic disqualification if one of the interviewers took one look at her and left the room?Probably, she thought, even more downhearted. She had thought it had been going well till now.Tyler and Kyra looked alarmed and surprised as well, so she thought that was a better sign then straight up pity. For a moment they appeared to flounder before Tyler turned to her.“Could you give us a second, Sally?” The two stood without waiting for answer. She watched in surprise as they moved away from her, whispering in hisses that, try as she might, Sally couldn’t make out. Finally Kyra shot her a short wave before shuffling out of the room to the hallway Sally started in with the other applicants.Tyler moved his seat around
Celeste was glad she’d decided to take a run before trying to head back to try and do work. Even though she couldn’t get out of the city, parts of it were still green enough for her. Coupled with some decent headphones she was able to zone out and clear her head.Being away from Sally’s scent helped too.One day soon she would take all three of them out of the city, somewhere on a walkabout. It’d make her mother insanely happy if they went up to her sheep ranch for a while and just be for a bit.Between North Industries and Clan business she was becoming run down. Now the addition of a new mate added it’s own level of stress to her exhausted body.Yes, once Sally was hers they would take some down time and she would show her the bushland she had grown up in.With her mind calmer she headed back towards the building. She had run far, but less then she thought she’d need to to calm it all down.She
Hunter was furious with Luna, but it was really nothing new. It didn’t matter that it might be the 20th century, some people would always treat it like they were still tribal. The shear intimacy that came with Clans, Packs or Prides made things worse of course.Celeste and Luna’s mother didn’t live with the clan for a reason. Her and Celeste’s father owned their shearing ranch and were happy away from the politics. But when Celeste’s Nona had left, the Matriarch was always a direct descendant. Either Celeste or Luna had to take her place. Celeste had won every challenge thrown her way. The Clan was her everything.It hadn’t stopped those who didn’t like Celeste’s changes though. To mate with someone out side of the clan had been a sticking point, as if she had chosen her fated partner to spite them.North Industries was another, though they were hard pressed to argue that. In fact, Hunter taking the Clan&rsqu