Love, Technically (Entangled Lovestruck)By: Lynne Silver
To my mom, who always encouraged me to “do something” with my writing
“Darn it.” Michelle Kolson clicked her mouse furiously on the print button. No dice. The large gray box on the stand in the corner remained silent and still.
“Don’t you curse at me, young lady.” Mom’s voice came through the phone loud and clear.
“Sorry, Mom. The stupid printer won’t work.”
“Why are you still at the office? It’s eight thirty at night. Even Walmart employees don’t work such crazy hours. What’s wrong with the management?”
Michelle rolled her eyes. Mom didn’t get it, didn’t have a clue about the life she wanted. If she were still back home in Minsker, Iowa, she’d be with Brad, waiting on an engagement she didn’t want and working a job she hated.
Nope, not for her.
On cue, Mom just had to mention her ex-boyfriend. “I ran into Brad at the diner. He was eating burgers with Rebecca. Do you think he’s dating her?”
“Mom, stop worrying. Brad and I are done. He’s free to date anyone he wants.” She got up to check on the printer, stretching the desk phone cord as long as she could. She examined the printer closely. The green light was on and the tiny gray screen said “Ready.” Why then wouldn’t it print? Arrgh. She gripped the handset tighter, resisting the urge to bang it against the printer.
“Mom, I have to go. This thing is due tomorrow.”
“Fine. I’ll call again soon.”
“Bye. Love you,” she said almost absently. Priority number one was getting her time sheet and record log finished and on her jerk of a boss’s desk. He wouldn’t forgive printer problems. Though why he couldn’t approve it via e-mail like every other twenty-first-century office worker, she didn’t know. Ironic, really. You’d think a company specializing in eco-friendly products would have policies about paper usage. But this was her first week at the job, her first real job in an office anywhere, unless you counted working at her parents’ secondhand store since the age of ten—which she didn’t.
If she did count it, she’d still be in Minsker, working at the family store. Or if she were truly lucky, the Walmart, where Missy McQueen, high school cheerleader and popular girl, was manager and still making people’s lives miserable. Ha. If life had any sort of justice, Missy McQueen would be fat, unemployed, and suffering karmic justice for her behavior in high school. But she was still thin, beautiful, and mean as a snake.
Michelle sighed as she glanced around the space. LightWave Tech was an open office environment, her coworker explained on her first day’s tour. It meant no cubicle walls were in sight. Instead, a sea of desks stood in rows, looking like a wood-and-computer army. She could see all the way to the windows where the finance cluster stood. Her department was on the third floor: the boring floor, she’d learned. The floor where the bills got paid, benefits were doled out, and customer calls fielded.
All the fun stuff happened on the fourth floor, where the tech, graphics, and marketing teams lived. Michelle had only been up there once, but it had been more colorful somehow. The desks had been personalized with photos, comics, and toys. Down here it was Any Office, USA, and it was currently dead. No computer screen flickered other than hers. Darn it, that meant no one to help.
Time for a last-ditch effort. If it didn’t work, she’d have to grab a flash drive and pay to print out the document at the twenty-four-hour printing store near her house with money she didn’t have. She kicked the printer stand and caught it as it wobbled.
“That never works, but I appreciate the sentiment.”
She jumped and whirled around to see a young guy, looking nerdy in an endearing way. He wore a ratty black T-shirt with the words There’s no place like 127.0.0.1. She guessed it was a computer joke. Despite her confusion, she took note of the way the numbers spread across his wide chest, hinting at some interesting muscles hiding behind the geeky demeanor. She had to lift her chin to see his face.
“You startled me.” She placed a hand to her chest to calm down her wildly beating heart, which jumped thanks to being startled but also at her close proximity to a tall, handsome man. At least, she thought he was handsome. A baseball cap pulled low over his brow prevented her from seeing most of his face, other than a nicely squared jawline shadowed by a hint of a dark beard.