Fighting the wheel of her dad’s rusty pickup, Trish rumbled down the same old dirt road. It was a twenty minute drive to town, plenty of time to make a game plan for finding her next dead end job. Anything that was legal, paid the bills, and kept her from starvation would do.
Career type jobs were few and far between in Jaspon, Montana. The tiny country town proudly had its own Wallyworld and a few Ma and Pop stores, but not much else. Normally she loved the smallness of it, but it was a big hurtle when job hunting. Trish smacked the steering wheel when she thought of the unfair circumstances that had ended her previous employment.
She’d been fired from the Redeye Diner last week. The official reason was because five dollars mysteriously went missing from the till. Trish had been framed, the real reason was because she’d accidentally let the boss’s wife catch him porking the new line cook, Greg in his office. All hell broke loose, and she was glad to be free of the drama. If only she didn’t need money. Getting fired under those circumstances meant no unemployment, and no paycheck. With only a couple thousand in the bank, it was going to be a scramble to find something.
Driving down Jaspon’s Main drag she noticed a crew hefting a new sign above a storefront that read ‘Night Howls’.
“Jackpot!” she cheered to herself, praying they hadn’t hired all their employees yet. Whipping into a spot outside the new store, she peered through her cracked windshield and into the store front. Inside there were a couple of desks and a comfy sitting area, neither of which told her the purpose of the business.
Trish slammed the truck door and pulled her frayed peacoat closed over black slacks and a purple silk shirt. It was the one nice outfit she owned, so if by some miracle she landed an office job there would have to be some crafty wardrobe substitutions until payday.
Once inside, she scanned the bare walled office. Her eyes stalled at the sight of a man behind the granite topped counter, his back turned. He mumbled curses as he hunched over a copy machine, giving it several wacks with his palm.
She slumped in disapointment, seeing they’d already hired a receptionist. Trish told herself there was still a chance for an opening. So taking a deep breath, she pulled her shoulders back and walked up to the long counter in the back of the room. The man stood to his full height and Trish gasped and took a step back. He was freaking huge, the size of a pro wrestler. His long black braid swung as he turned to greet her with a dazzling smile.
“Excuse me, Sir?” she asked, her voice smaller than she remembered.
Trish had to crane her head back to look at his face, he had to be just under seven feet. His predominantly Native American features were smooth and gave him a fun, boy next door appeal. Her mouth went dry. Realizing that she was staring, she looked away as he answered, “And how can I help you?”
Scanning the room in an effort to quell a blush that was creeping up her chest, she answered in her most professional manner.
“Hello, I’m Trish Hamel. I was wondering if perhaps there were any positions open?”
“I would have to check with my brother first but I think I remember him saying we needed an office assistant.” He checked her out as thoroughly as she did him and smiled again.
“He should be back in a little while. You can wait here and keep me company if you like. I’m Tate. I don’t usually work here, just helping out. Although if you start working here I think I might become a lot more helpful.”, he said saucily.
Trish decided he was just a huge flirt and tried to stay focused on landing a job. Better to not encourage him. She smiled politely and pointed at the comfy sofa group. “I don’t want to keep you. I’ll just sit here quietly and stay out of your hair until your brother returns.”
“Suit yourself, but he may be a while. Let me know if you need anything, anything at all” he said with a hint of a suggestive tone that had Trish smiling and shaking her head at the incorrigible man.
She sunk into the oversized suede armchair, propping her feet on the matching ottoman. Ten minutes passed, then twenty and she contemplated just coming back another day. An idea quickly squashed when she thought of another person snatching the opportunity from her. Desperation would keep her in the office waiting for as long as it took. However with the sun shining through the front window, a comfortable chair and lack of good sleep she easily drifted off.
She dreamt again of being dragged from her bed and into the woods. The dirt scraping her side and hip like sandpaper as she clawed at the fist pulling her along by her hair. This was nowhere near as vivid as last night, but it was still scary enough for her to awaken mid scream. Opening her eyes after the awful nightmare and finding hetself in a strange place with male whispers coming from close by made Trish jump from her chair in a fighting stance.
“Woah there. Are you okay?” Asked a stalky man with obvious military ties. He had authority in his voice, rocked a buzz cut and was six feet of thick muscle. She looked over to Tate and saw he held his hands up like she was a wild animal.
In a flash, her fuzzy mind cleared and she about died of embarrassment. Thinking to herself ‘Great way to get employment Trish, take a nap in the office and then attack the boss. Very smart.’
She rubbed her cheek and wiped a small trail of drool away. Immediately she felt the blood rush to her face, “I’m all right thank you, I just came in to ask if you had any positions available. I guess I fell asleep.”
The men stared at her strangely for a minute and each one flared their nostrils as if they smelled something. Was it her? did she stink? Trish couldn’t smell anything on her, but sometimes you can’t tell. Mortified and convinced she’d blown her chance, she turned to leave.
Almost to the door, Trish heard the boss call out, “Wait. I think we may have a position for you.”
It took a second for his sentence to sink in but then she was rushing back to him, shaking his huge hand enthusiastically. “Really! That would be great. I’m Trish Hamel. Do you want to see my resume?”
“No, that’s alright. You seem like a smart, capable woman. Am I right?” Military man asked and she nodded, “Yes, Sir.”
“I’m Grant Two Feathers and you already met my little brother Tate.” Tate scoffed under his breath, “Psh. Little brother…” He ended the complaint with a glance at the top of his older brother’s head and Trish barely held in a laugh.
“We use first names in the office since were all “Mr. Two Feathers”, and it could get confusing. It’ll be great to have some quality help around here for a change.”
Tate patted his brother on the back, “If you wanted quality, you should have paid me. You know what they say, you get what you pay for.”
“How much do I have to pay to not have you around?” Grant joked.
Tate pretended to think a moment and held out his hand, “$100”.
“Not happening.” Grant laughed and went to grab the paperwork for her hiring.
Trish couldn’t believe her good luck at finding such a great job so quickly. It had been a fight to keep her mouth from dropping open when they discussed her pay and benifits. Everything was well over what she expected or would need to get by.
She daydreamed of how nice it would be to have extra income. The first paycheck would have to go towards new office wear but the excitement of possibilities zinged through her mind on the way home. She could save for a rainy day, do some refurbishing on the cabin, or maybe even go on vacation. Work began the next morning at nine and Trish squealed in joy at the thought.
Night Howls was a wilderness guide business. And thankfully not a shady mob front or something equally illegitimate. She’d had her worries.
The guides were all brothers Tate, Grant and Logan Two Feathers. Trish hadn’t met Logan yet but Tate said he kept to himself a lot and only guided when they needed the extra help. Trish could respect that, if she was independently wealthy she would spend all her days just roaming the woods. Convening with nature was her favorite pastime. People could be tiresome.
She absolutely loved her new job. All day she got to survey the hunks and drink coffee. The office work was pretty straight forward; setting up jobs for the brothers and sending out waivers and information packets. When Trish opened the mail and saw the payments they received for their services she realized how they were able to pay her so well. They themselves were paid very well. Night Howls was already highly sought after, the bookings were packed well into the next year and Trish loved the security of it all. She just prayed it would last.
More to come….
Picture is from pintrist.