Samantha Bradshaw is 24; Cory Green is 48; Autumn Beare is 17
Fridays were never the busiest day, Samantha mused, as she re-arranged the display in front of the bookshop counter for about the fourth time. She had been in Richmond for just over a month now, and she was finally starting to feel something like normal again. She'd stopped imagining someone was following her, whenever she walked home. She had even stopped bracing herself before opening the door of her room, half-expecting to see it trashed like the apartment in Kayton. It might even be time to start leaving the house after dark again.
Cory came out of the office and looked around the near-empty shop. "You might as well take your break now," he told her, "and can you remind Autumn that its time she came back out?".
She nodded, looking forward to checking out the accommodation advertisements in the morning newspaper. She hadn't planned on staying here, she'd only meant to stop off long enough to get some money together, then move on to... where? She had no idea where she'd go next. Probably, this place was as good as anywhere, so long as she was safe. She was even enjoying her job a lot more than she'd ever expected. The pay wasn't bad, the work was enjoyable, and everyone had made her feel like a welcome part of the team. Probably, it was time to put down at least some little roots.
Autumn was gathering up some forms from the table in the break room when she entered. "College applications?" Samantha asked, just to make conversation.
"I'm not going to college!" Autumn snapped back.
"Sorry... I just thought... Cory mentioned that you were leaving for college, and - "
"God, why doesn't can't everyone just get off my back about college!" She stuffed her papers in a folder and stalked out of the room, nearly barging straight into Cory in the doorway.
Ok, almost everyone...
Cory looked after the girl for a moment, puzzled, then looked questioningly at Samantha. She shrugged. He looked back through the door to confirm that Autumn had taken her place as cashier, then sat down. "Are you still looking for an apartment?" he asked Samantha,
"I've looked at a few places, and I can afford the rent, but the deposits are so high...".
"My sister recently moved back to town, she's renting a two bedroom townhouse and she's paid the deposit, but she could use a room-mate to help with the weekly rent and expenses. Would you be interested?"
Samantha nodded. A townhouse with one other person sounded like luxury next to the noisy, crowded boarding house.
"Helen's coming to dinner with us at Dad's place tonight - can you be there at around seven?" He paused as Samantha nodded. "I'd take you home with us from here, but its Friday and we have to stop in at Kyle's with the week's accounts for the shop.".
"Kyle - that's Rose's father, right? The owner?", she replied, gesturing to one of several pictures on the wall. Father and son, the day they opened the shop, about 12 years ago..
"Yeah, owner." Cory said with a sigh. "Sometimes I wonder why I even bother taking him the accounts every week. Its not like he even cares about the shop any more.".
"Why do you say that?"
"When his father died, he basically abandoned the place - he just didn't open it for about six weeks. The stock they'd pre-ordered was still coming in, the bills were coming in, we were losing customers just because we were never open... and he just ignored it.
"He doesn't even like me. Putting me in charge just shows how little he cares."
"Or that he trusts you more than you think"
"He didn't exactly make me manager. Kyle never wanted me working here at all, less so after I got involved with Rose. To be fair, I wasn't exactly a good risk when they hired me... but Orlando, Kyle's father, was willing to give me a chance when I really needed it. After he died, I couldn't just watch all his work go to waste. I confronted Kyle about it - told him he needed to re-open, sell the shop, anything - just don't neglect the place to death. His father wouldn't want that. And he literally threw the shop keys at me and told me that if I wanted it open, I could open it. So I did."
"Oh," was all Samantha could think of to say.
"Yeah, and if you'd known him before all this happened... I don't think I'd ever seen him even raise his voice before... now Kyle has everyone tiptoeing around him because he just blows up at the slightest thing. Or he just doesn't care. I don't know which is worse.". He seemed to be talking more to himself than to Samantha. "I'm not sure if tiptoeing is the best way, though. That's why I keep taking the accounts... Someone has to remind him that this is his shop now..."
"Anyway... ", and he suddenly turned back to her. "Dinner? Seven o'clock?"
"Yeah... sure", Samantha agreed absently. She was thinking of something else... I wasn't exactly a good risk when they hired me...
"That day when I asked for the job here... you didn't ask for a resume or references or - "
"I was desperate, like I said... but you looked like you could use a chance, too, and, well... that was how Orlando hired me. Daily pay, the right to instantly terminate my employment, the whole thing... and here I am still." He shrugged. "I just figured it was a good time to pass the favor on."