Uncharted Fate

Uncharted Fate by Cynthia Racette

Book: Uncharted Fate by Cynthia Racette Read Free Book Online
Authors: Cynthia Racette
her throat, Juanita fumbled with the belt of her gray wool skirt. “I only meant the pay is way less than you’re used to.”
    “True,” Anna conceded. “But every cent I get, I’ve earned. I’m not ashamed of this job. In fact, it feels pretty good.”
    Juanita brightened. “It’s wonderful you’re managing this well. You know, Don might be able to find you something at—”
    “No.” Anna held up her hand. “Thank you for the offer. I’m making it on my own.”
    "I see." Juanita glanced at her slim gold watch. "Oh my, it's getting terribly late. I didn't realize. I guess I won't have time for coffee after all." She stood, picking up her umbrella, coat and dress box. "I've got to get going. I need to go to the mall to find a blouse to match this suit."
    Juanita turned to leave, reached into her wallet, and pulled out three ten dollar bills, tucking them under the silverware on the table. "I know I didn't order, but here's a little 'something' for taking up this much of your time." She reached over and gave Anna a peck on the cheek. "Good luck, honey. You're being brave, so brave."
    Restraining herself from physical violence, Anna stood stiffly and watched her rush out of the diner. Great . She knew Juanita would go home and tell her daughter the lurid tale, and Chris would tell Mallory. It was all she needed; she and Mallory were already on rocky ground as it was.
    Anna picked up the thirty dollars and stalked over behind the counter, holding the bills out to Lucy. "Here. You take this. I don't want it."
    Lucy shook her head in sympathy. "Oh no, sweetie. Your friend wanted you to have it. I can't take it."
    "She's not my friend. I don't want it."
    "Then I'll give it to Betty."
    "Betty's not here. She went to the bank. You keep it. Go on. Serves the snob right."
    A young man at the counter, who was sipping a spoonful of beef vegetable soup, held his hand out. "Hey. I don't know what's goin' on, but if you two are giving money away, I'll take it. I could sure use it."
    Anna turned to look at him. He wore his brown hair long and sported a goatee-type mustache and beard. His flannel shirt and jeans were torn and faded, but clean. She hesitated.
    "Good idea," Lucy said. "Mark's a great guy. I'll vouch for him. He and his family could use the money. He can buy some groceries with it."
    Anna noticed the guarded, hopeful look in his eyes, so she handed him the money. He took it quickly, as if afraid he would change her mind and grab it back. He flashed her a grateful smile. "Thanks, lady. That's the only good thing that's happened to me in weeks."
    She held her hand out, returning his smile. "My name's Anna. You're Mark?"
    "Yeah, Mark Spencer," he said, taking her hand. "And thanks again." He patted his shirt pocket. "This'll buy a bunch of spaghetti sauce and macaroni."
    "I know the feeling. We ate a lot of spaghetti for a while there. I take it you're out of work?"
    He nodded. "Since spring. I'm a heating repairman and there's not much call for heating jobs in the summer and my old boss decided, because of the economy, he's not going to hire back the guys he laid off. Says he needs to cut back. Since then, I've tried everywhere I can think of to look for another job. I worked for a few weeks as a discount store stock boy during the Christmas season. Nuthin' since then. Jobs are scarce here, except for computer companies and they don't hire guys like me with no education."
    "I know what you mean. It took me six months to find this job."
    "Boy. You're lucky to have it. Don't listen to that snooty broad. She don't know what it's like to wonder where you're going to find money to put food on the table."
    "I know I'm lucky. Betty took a chance on me when I'd no experience whatsoever."
    "I wish there was something I could do here. The only men she hires are the dishwasher and the short order cook. The dishwasher is that slow guy who's been here for ten years and the cook's got twenty years' experience. I know she'd

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