Resistance Is Futile

I frequently take part in free-writing challenges that result in one shot short stories like this one.  The story, inspired by a prompt, is completed in a limited time frame (usually an hour) and I thought they’d be fun to share.


Prompt: Simply Irresistible

Resistance is Futile
Maisy Applegate’s doom walked through the office door at quarter past two, the third Tuesday of August, just as she was applying a second coat of Positive Energy — a delicate shade of pale, pale pink – to her big toe.

Foot propped on the corner of her desk, Maisy paused in mid-drying puff. Her attention went from her toe to his face. His nice face. All ruggedly carved with a mouth made for nibbling on a lazy summer day. His brown hair tousled. And his eyes… Maisy’s toes curled. Belgian chocolate with swirls of caramel. Yum.

He stared. She stared back. Not just because of her foot or her position, which she had a strange suspicion was showing him quite a bit of thigh, or even the fact that her right shoe – her favorite zebra striped slingback with the four inch crimson heel and matching peep-toe ruffle – sat between them on the desk, holding the papers still as the oscillating fan tried to stir the humid Georgia air. No, Maisy stared because – in the month she’d worked the reception desk of Vinder, Vinder, and Madden – she’d never met Vinder I or Vinder II, and had only corresponded with Madden via a very brief, rather rude e-mail.

As dooms went, this one wasn’t bad. Well, he wouldn’t be if she still allowed herself to be doomed by tall men with shoulders wide enough to fill a threshold and bedroom eyes. Fortunately she’d given them up after the one turned out to be married. This one, however, was looking at her like she’d just sprouted two heads, horns and a tail. Thank God.

Positive Energy dripped from the nail polish brush in her hand, leaving a splotch on her toe. She straightened in the chair as she lowered her bare foot to the floor and tried to look as administrative as possible as she smiled and said, “Welcome to Vinder, Vinder and Madden. May I help you?”

Those deep, rich eyes flashed a moment before his brow furrowed. “Where the hell is Helen?”

Wuhu-oh. Maisy screwed the cap back on the polish and reached for her shoe. “I’m afraid she’s not in today. May I be of assistance?”

He looked around the small outer office, seemed to linger on the three shut doors behind her. Each of them led to one of the partners’ offices. Each of them always remained shut. Maybe even locked. Maisy didn’t know because of Helen’s strict orders. “It’s an easy job, Maisy, but there are three rules you don’t ever break. You don’t go in their offices. You don’t go in their offices. And you don’t go in their offices. Got it?”

Maisy had gotten it all right. And in case her employers were the type to setup hidden cameras in ferns or picture frames – a predilection her second to last doom had introduced her to when she found video of them making out on his sofa online — she stuck to those rules.

The man shifted his weight from one foot to the other, cast her a suspicious look before he raked his fingers through his hair and took another step closer. “Helen was supposed to have something for me. Did she leave it with you?”

“No, but I can call her,” she said, reaching for the phone.

His hand clamped over the receiver before she could get there. “No. No, that’s all right. I’ll just…” He smiled. Forced. Phony. Way too tight for such a nice face. He’d get wrinkled doing that. Though Maisy had to admit. He’d be hard to resist if that smile ever turned sincere.

Those dark eyes searched hers for a moment and that smile flattened. He leaned forward, his hand still braced on the phone. “Maybe you can help me.”

He was looming. Why was he looming? Maisy hated the looming. She slipped her shoe on and rose. She still probably only came to his shoulder, but she’d surprised him. She could tell by the spark in his eye, the way his eyebrows inched just a bit higher.

A sudden thought struck her and she eyed him. “You’re not Vender, Vender or Madden, are you?”

A corner of his mouth twitched upward. “No.”

“Oh.” Good. Not exactly the best impression in the world. Not that she cared. She was just doing a favor for a friend. Well, acquaintance, really. But still. She didn’t want anything she did to reflect poorly on Helen.

He cocked his head. “So you don’t know the partners?”

“I’ve never met them.”

“And you…” His gaze wandered over her, then back up. “Work here.”

She tried not to cringe. Desk jobs weren’t normally her thing. Her wardrobe didn’t exactly contain the normal nine-to-five gear, but Helen had assured her casual was fine. Casual was even better when the air conditioning conked out five days ago and no repair man could get to her until next week. Once the temperature hit ninety-nine, she’d hit the closet for shorts and a tank top. She needed the money, but it wouldn’t do her any good if she keeled over from heat stroke at her desk.

“I’ve only been working here about a month,” she confessed as she reached up to absently touch the loose knot she’d screwed her blonde hair into. “As a favor.”

His eyes narrowed again. “I thought you didn’t know the partners.”

“Oh. No. Not as a favor for them. A favor for Helen. She’s my neighbor.”

“I see.”

“And since this whole mess was my fault, I figured filling in for her was the least I could do.”

“Mess,” he repeated.

She nodded. “I never thought she’d get hurt.”

For the first time something that looked a lot like genuine concern flashed through his eyes. “Is she…?”

Maisy scowled. “What?”

“You know.”

Her frown deepened.

He sighed. “Dead. Is she dead?”

“What? No! She’s in Chicago. She broke her hip.”

“She broke her hip in Chicago? What the hell is she doing in Chicago?”

“No, she’s recuperating with her cousin in Chicago. She broke her hip here.”

Those wide, wide shoulders relaxed. “Oh.”

“I just felt awful about it,” Maisy told him, pressing her hand against her chest. “I mean, it was my entirely fault.”

“You broke her hip?”

“Of course not! She fell.”

He eyed her. “What’d you do? Trip her?”

She laughed though part of her wondered if he was actually serious. “No. She broke it line dancing.”

“Line dancing.”

“I still feel awful about that.”

“And this is your fault how, exactly?” he asked.

“Well, see, it was seniors’ night at The Bronco, and Helen’s always working or holed up in her apartment and you can tell by just looking at her that she’s got spunk in her still. Nothing a couple Gold Margaritas wouldn’t bring out—”

“So you’ve been here. Covering for her. Doing everything for the partners while she’s gone.”



She bobbed her head. Sure. Everything. Not that there was much. An occasional invoice, a random phone call, some plane tickets here and there, maybe the random transfer of money from here to there or there to here. It wasn’t very taxing, which was fine by her considering her skills lay in another arena all together. But for some reason everybody thought the female sex was genetically programmed to know how to answer a phone, type a letter, and file. And like she’d told him. She owed Helen.

He drew a long, slow breath in through his nose, nodded once as if deciding something, and straightened. “Then you’ll do.”

“I will? I mean…” She gave herself a quick shake. “How can I help you?”

“Tell me your name.”

“Oh. Maisy.” She held out her hand, the gold bracelets there tinkling together as they danced around her wrist. “Maisy Applegate.”

He took her hand, clasped it firmly as he reached into his jacket and pulled out his black wallet. He flipped it open and the very, very shiny badge inside winked gold at her from its perch above a card that read FBI. “Maisy Applegate, you’re under arrest for money laundering. You have the right to remain silent.”



© Julie Harrington 2010