Okay, two cookies down, one to go! Heeeeere's Jayne!
After reading the schedule for next week, I balled my hands into fists and willed my head not to explode.
I turned to my unfortunate companion and seethed, “Is he serious with this crap?”
“What did the evil man do now, Jayne?”
Jake, my cameraman for the last five years, was the big brother I had never had. In actuality, I had two older brothers, but we didn’t care for each other very much. For as long as I had known him, Jake had helped to fill the void left by my blood relatives. In short, he was family.
I curled my lip in disgust. “He actually thinks I’m going to do this?”
“That’s the job, isn’t it?”
“Not exactly.” I handed him the paper. “Did you read the last line?”
Jake’s eyes widened in surprise. “This is bad, Jayne. Even for him.”
“I know, right?”
“What did you do?”
“Hey now!” I grumbled. “Why are you assuming I did something?”
He gave me a knowing look.
“Fine.” I shrugged. “I may have delivered a snide comment about him in my last report.”
“The one on toxic waste?”
“That’s the one.” I smiled sheepishly.
“You have to behave better, Jayne,” Jake warned. “You’re never going to get ahead if you keep slamming Tony—otherwise known as your new boss and the big boss’ son.”
I knew he was right, but I didn’t have to like it. The man’s personality really was noxious. As a field reporter for WGST, Northern Connecticut’s go-to station for “hard hitting” news (read: no fluffy bunny stories), I was used to being constantly on the move in search of the latest scoop. I had made peace with the grueling schedules, the difficult working conditions—bad weather, remote locations and my personal favorite, ornery eye witnesses—and the miniscule pay. None of that mattered. I vowed I would put up with anything to become a news anchor.
But this was crossing the line. Expecting me to wear a costume while reporting? No. Nuh uh. Not gonna happen. He would have to fire me first.
Reading my mind as he often did, Jake said, “He can’t fire you for not wearing the costume, but you do have to figure out a way to fix this.”
“I’ll think about it,” I muttered.
“You do that.” He patted my shoulder. “In the meantime, you’d better get going if you’re going to make it to Gapton in time to meet your friends.”
I grabbed his arm and looked at his watch. “Crap!” After giving him a quick wave, I tossed a “See you tomorrow!” over my shoulder and ran into the building.
The mirror in the ladies’ room showed me the day had taken more of a toll than I had thought. Long strands of auburn hair were falling out of my high bun, my makeup was smeared and the level of sheen I was sporting was in no way flattering. I had some serious work to do. Putting up with Amanda’s snark with regards to my haggard appearance was not something I wanted to deal with tonight. She was going to give me enough trouble as it was about my new hair color.
After years of having non-descript brown hair, I had decided to become a redhead. Unfortunately, I couldn’t seem to decide which shade of red I wanted. I had started off with red highlights, eased my way into a deep auburn, and then took a left turn and ended up with a golden copper. Then last week I decided the golden copper was too sassy for me and I returned to auburn, though lighter than the last time. It took far longer and far more money than I had wanted to spend, but I had finally found my shade.
I could have gone to my mother’s expert hair stylist (the man had won a number of Oscars for his abilities), but that would have meant being under her control. She would have decided exactly what shade and exactly what style I would have and then she would have kidnapped me for an afternoon of shopping (aka dressing her daughter) and lunch at the club. Having her foot the bill simply wasn’t worth the level of humiliation I would have had to endure. I was nowhere near the limit on my credit card anyway. I could take the hit! Freedom certainly had its price.
A knock on the door startled me out of my reverie. “Had Bob the intern pull your car up front!”
“Thanks, Jake!” I called. “Out in five!”
I powdered my nose, added a coat of mascara and swipe of neutral lip gloss. There. Just enough makeup so Amanda wouldn’t be able to mock me.
I quickly took my hair down, smoothed it and put it back in the bun. I smiled as I thought about seeing Holly. She was going to love my hair. She was always so supportive. I only wish there was something I could do for her. She had seemed so sad lately. Although living with your parents and having questionable career prospects would bring anyone down. Not to mention her latest dating mishap.
I had to remember to keep my mouth shut. I had to give her the time to bring it up on her own. Amanda had better keep her big trap shut too. That blond bombshell meant well, but she sure didn’t pull any punches. As far as I could tell, Holly wasn’t up for Amanda’s usual shenanigans tonight. Besides, we had a birthday to celebrate.
The banging on the door became persistent. “Let’s go, Jayne!”
I threw my stuff haphazardly into my purse, grabbed my coat and ran out the door.
“Say hello to Margeaux and the kids for me!” I gave Jake’s shoulder a pat as I ran by. “What would I do without you?”
“Let’s hope you never have to find out,” he quipped.
(Excerpt from Girls’ Night Out by Glynis Astie, Copyright 2018)