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The kettle whistled. Bob grabbed two mugs from the cabinet and poured them both a cup of chamomile. Joyce stubbed out her cigarette in the ashtray still smoldering from her last deposit and used the dissolving wad of Kleenex in her hand to dab her eyes. She hadn’t felt so emotionally drained since the funeral.
Bob placed their tea on the table and slid into the chair next to hers.
“I’m so mad I could scream,” she said, placing another cigarette between her lips. “Or sue. I should sue him for the cost of my vase. That’s what I should do. I’m sure it cost Josh a pretty quarter or two.”
Bob reached over and took the cigarette out of her mouth, then placed it between them. He studied it for some time before standing. Joyce sunk. He would now retreat back to his television. It was nearly time for Divorce Court.
She slid the cigarette back between her lips just as Bob returned with a copy of The Yellow Pages.
“What are you doing?” she asked, both surprised and relieved.
“Why shouldn’t you sue for your vase and emotional damage too?” He opened the thick book, licked his finger and flipped through the pages.
“You’re not trying to get us on one of your shows, are you?”
“I’d love to see Judge Jubilee from Jubilee Justice really hand it to him, but we’d have more success with an attorney,” he said, running his finger down the list of law firms.
“But, Bob, Kevin doesn’t have any money.”
He reached for the phone. “His parents do. We’re forced to leave because of the hostile environment they’ve created.” He started dialing. “We’ll sue for the salary of five years, when we would retire, and we’ll buy a place in Nevada. We always said we wanted to live there.”
“I don’t know, Bob. I don’t want Elder Management to get in trouble. Not after everything they’ve done for us.” Her boss, Patrick, had taken great care of them—bonuses, vacations, several raises, funeral costs. It’s the only reason they’d put up with Kevin for as long as they had.
“We won’t, we’ll go after the McMills family directly,” Bob said with conviction.
“I don’t know…”
He reached over and grabbed her hand, giving it a reassuring squeeze, just as he used to before Judge Judy got involved. “I’m done not living. This isn’t what he would want. I can’t stand to look at this place anymore. The walls. The front door. It’s got too many reminders of the day… I don’t want to remember the day he died. I want to remember all the days before. This is our ticket to get out of this purgatory. Let’s take it.” He lifted the collar of his shirt to wipe the tears spilling down his cheeks.
She closed her eyes, preparing for her own tears. She felt the same. Josh had never lived in their apartment. He had already started college by the time she took the job. Every time she stepped foot out their front door, she thought of the sheriff standing in his creased pants and tan shirt telling her Josh had died. “I want to. I really do. But who is Patrick going to get to replace me? No experienced property manager will put up with Kevin like we have.”
He placed the phone to his ear. “Sweetie, that is not your problem… Hello, yes, I would like to speak with an attorney regarding a hostile work environment.”
JOYCE IS A MINOR CHARACTER FROM MY BESTSELLING COZY SERIES: