Camille Eide writes romantic, inspirational dramas about love, faith, and family. She lives in Oregon with her husband and is a mom, grammy, bass guitarist, and a fan of muscle cars, tender romance, oldies Rock, and Peanut M&Ms.
View the interview HERE.
Layne drew a deep breath. “I’m sorry, Sue. You know I’ll help you in any way I can.” She looked like she had more to say but was holding back.
Layne reached in her bag, pulled out another blue Lindor ball, and unwrapped it as she spoke. “Remember your failed inspection last month? The one that left you with a list of repairs and thirty days to do it?” Layne gave her a steady look. “Sue, if those repairs aren’t done to code by the end of October, they’ll yank your license and shut you down. So unless you want to scatter those kids to the wind and lose everything you’ve worked for ...”
Sue eyed the chocolate. A burning knot tightened her belly, flat-lining her appetite. “Things have been hectic lately. We’ve done most of the repairs. I just haven’t had time to finish it all. Bowman was making progress, but ... I had to let him go.”
“I heard. But time’s running out. Follow up inspection is in two weeks.”
“Can you get a delay?”
Layne shook her head. “Sorry, there’s nothing I can do. At least, not about the inspection.” Her perfect little arched brows perched higher and waited.
Ignoring her friend’s baited expression, Sue made a mental list of all the opposition her home had faced in the last two years. Income had been so sporadic lately that letters from the bank had become routine. State licensing regulations, county housing codes, food and funding shortages—she and the kids had worked together every time and found a way to solve each problem. She wasn’t about to lose her home now over a couple of broken windows and some leaky plumbing.
Layne folded her arms along the bedrail and leaned close. “Remember what I said about my brother’s oil rig boss in Alaska? He’s here until January and needs the work. It’s the perfect solution, Sue. I’m sure he can fix anything. He could get all your repairs done and solve your male dorm counselor problem.”
“Dorm counselor?” Sue huffed out a laugh. “My care staff has special training in handling troubled kids. Working at Juniper Ranch isn’t like running a crew of men.” Especially big, burly men with girlie tattoos and who knew what else.
Layne leaned back. “Okay, so he might not be ideal counselor material. But he can definitely help you out of a really tough spot. And it’s just for a few months. If it makes any difference to you, it would help him out, too. Besides, it’s a steal of a deal. Joe is probably worth far more than whatever you were paying Bowman.”
The sensation of being trapped in a corner and bullied into submission stirred up a mixture of panic and resentment that soured the lingering taste of chocolate. “I don’t like this, Layne. I don’t like being forced.”
“I know, Sue. I’m sorry. But I don’t think you have any other choice.”
See, it’s that no choice part I really dislike.
People shuffled about their business on the other side of the curtain, while Sue lay trapped, a victim of rotten circumstance outside her control. A familiar feeling of powerlessness crept over her, but she refused to let it take hold. She was no longer a small, defenseless child. Swallowing her dread, Sue said quietly, “Since this Joe is already on his way, what am I supposed to do, hire him sight unseen?”
“You interview him like you would anyone else.”
An interview. Where I drill this total stranger and pretend I actually have a choice. “Okay, let’s say he passes the interview. Until I get a full background check and references—which you are going to provide me, by the way—he’s only working on repairs under supervision and he’s not coming anywhere near my kids. He lives off-site until everything clears.”
Layne’s brows shot up. “You’re going to supervise him?”
A slow smile spread across Layne’s face. “So that’s a yes?”
Sue turned toward the assortment of hoses and medical panels on the wall. Sometimes, Sue secretly admired Layne’s subtle powers of persuasion.
This was not one of those times.
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