In Too Deep

By: Lauren Landish

A Romantic Suspense Novel

Chapter 1


"You’ve got to be kidding me."

I looked at the memo in my hands, which had been unceremoniously tucked into my little employee mailbox along with the typical daily corporate fliers. It hadn't been marked any differently than normal intracompany mail, which made the information within even harder to swallow.

Resisting the urge to crumple the damn thing in my hand, I headed for the general manager's office. I found Gene at his desk, a forlorn look on his face. "Gene, what the hell is this?" I asked, showing him the paper. "They're really closing us down?"

"I got the message this morning from corporate. You're the third person I had to break the news to so far today. The other two told me to fuck off and quit."

"Considering we're not getting a severance package, I can see why," I fumed. "Jesus Gene, two weeks notice? That's it?"

Gene nodded. I was pissed, but not at him. In the three years we'd worked together, ever since I got transferred after working my way up from pharmacy tech, he'd been a good guy. He demanded a lot of us but also gave a lot too. If you came to him needing extra hours, fewer hours, a changeover of shifts, he'd move heaven and earth to get it done. If Gene told you he couldn't do it for you, you knew he wasn't lying. "Two weeks. I get an extra month in order to oversee the clean out of the location and preparing it for the real estate agent to show, but then I'm in the same boat as you."

I shook my head. “Really?"

He nodded sadly. "Yeah, really."

"How many years have you given this place, anyway?" I asked. "I mean, I know you're older than me, but I've never really pried into it. It didn't seem to matter until now."

"Eighteen years," he said. "Like you, since I graduated school. Worked my way up from pharmacy tech just like you did, in fact.."

I shook my head. It was a tough spot for Gene. He was too old to start over at the bottom with a lot of companies, but at the same time he wasn't high enough up the chain that he’d be headhunted by a competitor. The best he could look for would be a managerial position in another retail type company, or else he was going back behind the pharmacy counter like I probably was. "Have you kept up with your tech info?"

Gene shrugged. "I've got six weeks to bone up, and I've got a little bit saved. Tina's job is going fine, and the kids are thankfully well set up for college. I'll make it. What about you?"

I shook my head. "I don't know. I mean, I could always go back to slinging pills, but I'm kind of burned out on this town. Honestly, I was thinking about putting in for a transfer out of here come spring anyway. You're a good guy to work for, but riding the subway and triple locking my door each and every day just is wearing thin on me."

Gene sat back, thinking for a moment, then reached into his desk drawer. "Here, I was supposed to give this to the employee of the year, but that wasn't supposed to be for another month. Guess corporate is just going to have to eat the cost of these since they're screwing us over so badly."

He tossed me an envelope. “What’s this?” I asked, taking a look. "Anything I'd really like?"

"I don't know," Gene said. "I figured it has to be better than those monthly gift certificates to Omaha Steaks that I hand out on a monthly basis. How many of those did you win before you joined the managerial team?"

"Four, each well appreciated," I said, patting my stomach. It may not be all that fashionable, but I'm a girl who can appreciate a fine steak. Some might say I appreciate them a bit too much, but we all have our vices. "You sure you don't want to keep it for yourself?"

Gene shook his head. "Nah, if I do that corporate would most likely come after my ass for reimbursement. Technically there's no rule against a lower level manager winning one of these, it was just a personal rule I had. Do me a favor though and open it for me here, I’m curious as to what’s even in there.”

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