A singer with a voice like a nightingale sang about someone to watch over her. A snort of disgust escaped her lips. “Really car radio. Is that the best you can do? I’ve never had anyone to watch over me, except for my grandparents.”
Her hand brushed against her cheek to wipe away any telltale moisture that might have somehow appeared. She always got emotional when it came to her parents. Never talked about them. Ever. She made the mistake of mentioning them once to Elle. Her best friend couldn’t understand parents who would drop off children at the grandparents and disappear for all practical purposes. No tragic story about an accident taking both parents at the same time. Some of the other students lived with grandparents because their parents were deployed, in rehab, or prison. Hers just left her and her brother with maternal grandparents. No lead up to it, no reasoning, just a promise to see them later. One they never made good on.
Stupid radio. She pulled into the parking lot and turned off the ignition. She took a couple of deep breaths to get herself together. Didn’t need parents who didn’t need her. Her grandmother assured her that her daughter and son-in-law were too immature to be parents. Of course, they must have realized this after she was ten and her brother eight. It wouldn’t help thinking about it. It never did. Ellie slammed the car door hoping she could close the subject of her abandonment just as easily.
Her boss stepped out of the door and tugged on his ballcap. Elle smiled at him. Harry was like a big, gruff bear. Make that a bearded, balding bear. That’s what the ball cap was for. It allowed him to pretend there was more hair underneath beside the broad fringe at the rim of the cap.
“Hey there, short stuff, I was starting to worry about you.”
Short stuff again, didn’t anyone remember her name? Her lips pulled up into a tired smile. “I had some problems this morning.”
He held up one hand. “Say no more. You’re here that’s all that matter. Termite has already called about paychecks for his crew.” The gurgle of the phone ringing through the door indicated someone else needed to comment on the lack of paychecks.
She pointed to the office. “I bet that’s Lightbulb calling.”
“Probably.” Harry agreed with a nod. “Thought I’d meet you at the door with the checks.” He held out a handful of envelopes to her. Her hand closed around them as she spoke.
“Are you sure they’re all there?” Typically, she didn’t question her boss. “Last time, Thor’s check was missing and it wasn’t pleasant. “ The Nordic giant they hired recently bore a striking resemblance to the actor who play Thor. The resemblance stopped there since their version had no personality. He hardly talked and answered more in grunts and with the occasional withering look.
Her boss laughed and slapped her on the shoulder. “No worries. I think he might be sweet on you. Go spread your payday magic. I know the men and Robby will be delighted to see you.”
Robby, the only female carpenter, somehow escaped her boss’ fondness for nicknames. All in all, short stuff wasn’t too bad considered one of the men he labeled ass dragger. The other employees just called his ass for short. Another unfavorable nickname was Turd for the plumber journeyman. Short Stuff sounded better than better.
“Okay.” She waved the checks in her hand. “I’m out on delivery duty. I’ll be back before lunch.” She pivoted to leave wondering if the car radio would offer any more romantic tips.
“Take lunch out,” Harry yelled after her. “You look like deserve a treat.”
His words stopped her in her tracks. Harry never offered her any extra lunch time. He expected everyone to work as hard as he did, which was pretty doggone hard. Luckily with his old fashioned views he believed as a delicate female she shouldn’t work past four since she came in at seven. Normally, she didn’t, but a few times she worked long into the night.
Usually when it was tax season or she had to prepare for an audit. On those days, Harry apologized at least three to four times a day for her extended work day.
Back in the car, she started it and turned on her radio. Commerical played from everything from corn chips to freezing your fat surgery. Nothing sounded prophetic or related to her in any manner. The previous stuff had to be a fluke.