Born in the Shadows (In the Shadows Series Book 1)

By: Courtney McPhail

To my family

Chapter 1

Cordelia Reese could feel a splitting headache starting to form behind her eyes. Moments like these she really wished her boss would get with the 21st century. Hell, even the late 20th century would be a godsend at this point. Mitch Stanford, owner and operator of Stanford Construction, swore up and down that you couldn’t trust computers. He was adamant that he would die before he ever touched one.

Just getting the old man to carry around a cell phone had turned into an epic battle. It had only ended when one of the foremen pointed out that clients would be angry if they couldn’t reach him on job sites. Mitch believed that the client was king and that great customer service was the cornerstone of any business. In the construction industry, his level of service was rare and it was what had made his relatively small company stand out in the large city of Toronto.

And since the client demanded printed invoices rather than handwritten carbon copies in this day and age, that was where Cordelia came in. It was her job to log the hand written invoices and purchase orders into the computer which was the cause of her present headache. Mitch had the penmanship of a blind, arthritic chicken and, even after three years on the job, she still had trouble deciphering it.

She pinched the bridge of her nose and leaned back in her chair, staring up at the pressboard ceiling. The office trailer was completely utilitarian. The walls were covered in fake wood paneling, the floor in beige heavy-duty carpet and fluorescent lights flickered on the ceiling. Her desk was at one end of the trailer, gunmetal grey filing cabinets lining the wall behind it. Two metal folding chairs faced the desk, her one attempt at trying to legitimize this as a true office. Unfortunately, they had yet to be used as the men she dealt with preferred to stand when interacting with her.

A small counter top and overhead cabinet were located directly across from the trailer door. A coffee maker and a microwave were the only occupants of the counter and a bar fridge was stashed beneath it. A tiny bathroom took up the back corner, for which she was grateful. The idea of having to use one of the port-a-potties out on the site made her skin crawl.

The whole space was neat and orderly, the Spartan walls emphasizing the lack of clutter. Well, in all places except her desk. A rainforest worth of papers and file folders covered most of the desk, thanks to Mitch insisting she file his hard copies instead of shredding them. The demon computer sat in the centre of the desk, surrounded by the time sheets that she had been logging. A stack of file folders full of information about past jobs that Mitch had asked her to pull from the filing cabinets yesterday sat perilously on one corner. She really should move them before they tumbled to the floor.

Despite her apparent disorganization, she was able to do her job and do it well. In the short time she had been with his company, Mitch had come to rely heavily on her to keep his business running as smoothly as possible. She was in charge of the paperwork part of constructing new buildings while he dealt with the work on the job sites. Applications for permits, invoices for building materials, processing pay cheques for the crews, those were her territories, and she made sure that when the taxman came calling everything was squeaky clean.

It wasn’t that bad of a job, really. She spent most of her eight hours alone in the trailer, dealing with paper and taking the occasional phone call. She liked being alone. She worked best by herself and that had been one of the draws of the job. For all intents and purposes, she was her own boss. Sure, Mitch would check in with her and pester her with his quirks but he wasn’t breathing down her neck at every turn. She was good at anticipating his needs. Half the time she knew what he wanted before he even asked. He had quickly learned to trust that she knew her job and left her alone, just the way she liked it.

Aside from Mitch visiting her at the start and end of each day, the only time her solitude was interrupted was when the crew foremen would come in for a coffee refill. The rest of the crew got their coffee from the nearby food truck but the foremen were afforded the chance to take advantage of the far superior coffee in the office trailer.

When she had started working with the company, she brought her favourite blend of prime coffee bean with her. When Mitch had tasted it, he had given her access to the petty cash and the order to keep the coffeemaker brewing the stuff. When word of the quality joe in the trailer made its way through the foremen, they abandoned the food truck swill and never looked back.