Georgina “George” Trammel is up to her chubby neck in family trouble, and it isn’t even her own family. Her aspiring fiance Alex Brenton now controls the back room of the Stacy Department Store where she works, but some in the family aren’t too thrilled with the idea. They’ll use any excuse to go through with the merger of the company and fire half the employees, and Alex is giving them plenty of ammunition to shoot George and his hopes of saving the store out of the sky.
Now they have to race against time, family and a rival department store to save the future of the company. Can they do it? Will Alex finally convince George to marry him? What are they going to do with an entire shipment of live bees?
The best I could say was he was well-intentioned, but out of his league. He was also my aspiring boyfriend, and my boss. None of this was a combination for success, but it made for one hell of a fun, stressful, and exciting time.
“George? George!” I heard a woman’s voice call me. I sighed as I sat in my little cubby-hole of despair between palettes of perfumes and boxes of balls. It was my best friend, Jamie Newton, calling me. I slunk out of my hiding spot and she smiled when she spotted me. “There you are! I thought you went home.”
I managed a shaky smile and got to the point. “What’s he done now?”
Jamie sheepishly grinned and shrugged. “I don’t know who you mean,” she teased.
“You know I’m meaning Alex Brenton, so what’s he done now?”
Alex was our new manager and partial owner of the Stacy Department Store where we worked.
At that moment Jamie and I stood in the back room, a large warehouse filled with everything a department store could ever need. Boxes of purses, palettes of ping-pongs, and a plethora of possibilities hidden in the countless other crates. We were the forklift crew, the first line of defense when a product ran out on the shelves. When a department cried out for shoes, we were there. When a shelf needed a box of popcorn, we were there. When a customer service representative screamed for a child’s toy while the child was screaming right next to them for it, we were there. We were the forklift crew, and our duty was to haul those items to the department doors, and ensure the safety and sanity of all those beyond those doors. It wasn’t an easy task. There were long days in the darkness of the warehouse and sometimes the boxes fell on you, encasing you in a pile of rubber duckies or scary dolls, but somebody had to do it.
And Alex Brenton wasn’t helping us do any of this hard work. Actually, he was doing the opposite. Wrong orders, missed orders, late orders, wrong delivery times, and incomplete request forms were just a few of the mishaps and mayhem he’d caused on his first week of the job. Now he was about to outdo himself.
“Well, he kind-of-sort-of ordered something that may-or-may-not-be dangerous,” Jamie told me.
I blinked. “Jamie, that sounds terrifying. What is it?”
“Well, you know how the perfume department has all those scented beeswax candles?”
“How could I forget? Every time an order comes in those things stink up the place.”
“Well, the department put in an order for more beeswax candles, and Alex kind of read it wrong.”
“He ordered bees.”
“Isn’t that what he was supposed to order?” I asked her.
She cringed and put a hand on my shoulder. “Not beeswax, George. Bees.”
My eyes widened and my mouth dropped open. “Live bees?” I gasped.
“And we found out about this when?”
“Well, the truck’s out back and the driver isn’t happy about taking back the boxes.”
“We can’t keep them here!” I exclaimed.
“I know that, you know that, but he doesn’t want to hear that,” she told me.
I groaned and pinched the bridge of my nose. “Where’s Brenton?” I growled.
“I, um, I can’t seem to find him,” Jamie replied.
I sighed and rolled my eyes. It was up to me to save the day again like in those other orders. I marched through the maze of wide metal shelves stacked with palettes and arrived at the back where stood the loading and unloading bays for the delivery trucks. There was a large crowd of our coworkers around one of the docks, and that told me that was my destination. They nervously looked at the truck and whispered among each other, and the words weren’t kind toward Alex.
“This new guy is worse than Stouten,” one of them muttered.
“He’s one of that family that bought the place. They probably want to run it into the ground and sell it off,” another replied.
“How many forklift drivers and lifters does it take to unload a truck?” I yelled over the mumbles.
The worry of being found standing around by the higher ups dispersed the crowd faster than yelling ‘fire.’ In a minute the people were gone and I saw a large man with a plaid shirt standng by one of the doors with the back of his truck pulled up to the loading bay. I put on my best smile and walked up to him with as much disinterest as I could muster. It wasn’t that I didn’t care about the boxes of bees that bussed inside that air-conditioned truck. That freaked me out.
No, my disinterest was meant for the driver. The truckers were a strange and fascinating lot. Alone on the road most of their days, they built up a wealthy of words that would have made Tolstoy look like a children’s book author. Once they smelled the slightest hint of interest they jumped on you and wouldn’t let you go until you heard all of those words, and any new ones they thought of while they were talking. Once dispensed of their arsenal of word weapons they’d leave you in a stupefication of awe and mind-numbing confusion. In other words they were gabby, and the last thing I wanted to do was get trapped in one of their endless conversations.
The first thing I wanted to do was find Alex and strangle him, but that would have to wait until I got this ticking-time bomb of bee business away from the store. “I heard you have an order for us for a bunch of bees,” I told the trucker.
“Can I see the delivery slip?”
“Yep.” He handed me the slip and I looked it over. Alex definitely messed up this time, and was nice enough to sign his name to the order form.
“Any way you can just take these back for a full refund?” I asked him.
“Nope.” He was one of the more eloquent drivers.
I threw up my arms. “What do we have to do to get rid of these things?”
The man stiffened and his eyes flickered around the unloading bay. Nobody was around but us. He leaned in toward me, and I leaned away from him so that I hardly heard his whispering voice. “You wanna hear a story?” he asked me.
“You’re joking, right?”
The trucker straightened and scowled at me. “Nope.”
My shoulders slumped and I sighed. “All right, let me hear your life story, and then we can get this truck of bees out of here?”
“All right, I’ll do it.” For the company. But for Alex, I’d get him for this if it was the last thing I did.
“Wow, who knew he was that old?” Jamie wondered two hours later. Our ordeal with the bee trucker was over, but I would be scarred for life. Some of the trucker’s tales had been hair-raising, personal, and personally hair-raising. The two of us were walking back from the unloading dock and searching for our dear, soon-to-be-departed back room manager.
“Who knew I could think of so many ways to kill a man?” I muttered.
“What was that?” Jamie asked me.
“Nothing, just thinking happy thoughts,” I replied.
“It sounded like you were thinking happy thoughts in your homicidal voice,” she pointed out.
“You’re just hearing things.”
“No, I’m pretty sure I heard you speak that way just before you hit a man for hitting on you,” she protested.
“He deserved it.”
“He deserves what’s coming to him, too.”
“He’s your boss,” she reminded me.
“Please don’t remind me,” I grumbled.
“You can’t hit him.”
“Maybe I can put a voodoo curse on him and just need a fistful of his hair,” I insisted.
Jamie cringed. “Won’t that hurt?”
“I hope so.”
“George, you’re not being reasonable here.”
“This isn’t a reasonable situation. Besides, I wasn’t going to hit him.”
She looked doubtful. “What were you going to do?”
“I was going to kill him.”
Jamie choked on her spittle. “George! You could get into trouble for doing that!” she scolded. Ever the voice of reason except when she was saying insane things.
“I’ll be doing the world a favor,” I protested.
Jamie grabbed my arm and stopped me. “George, I’m sure he means well, and he’s probably working very hard right now-”
“George! There you are!” a voice shouted at us. We turned to see Alex himself walking through the maze toward us. He had a bright smile on his chipper face. It was enough to make me cringe. “What about lunch?” he suggested.
My eyes darted over to Jamie. “Working hard, or hardly working?” I whispered. She just sheepishly smiled and shrugged.
By this time Alex reached us and stood before me ready for be sacrificed for my revenge. “What do you say?” he offered. I wanted to say a lot of things, but none of them could be said in public.
I counted to ten to gain some patience, then glanced at my watch. I nearly lost the patience I’d gained when I saw it was still morning. “It’s only eleven, and lunch doesn’t start until noon,” I pointed out.
“That’s fine. I have some business matters I want to talk to you about, so it can be considered on company time,” he replied.
I sighed and turned to Jamie. “Cover for us, will you?” I pleaded. She straightened and saluted. I could count on Jamie to hide our disappearance with a good lie.
“All right, where did you want to go?” I asked him.
“Oh, that’s a surprise,” he chuckled.
“I can’t wait.”