Undead and Unemployed
Quill Award: Nominee
Being royally undead isn't all it's cracked up to be--there are still bills to be paid. Luckily, new Queen of the Vampires Betsy Taylor lands her dream job selling designer shoes at Macy's.Chapter 1
But when a string of vampire murders hits St. Paul, Betsy must enlist the help of the one vamp who makes her blood boil: the oh-so-sexy Sinclair. Now, she's really treading on dangerous ground--high heels and all.
When I’d been dead for about three months, I decided it was past time to get a job.
I couldn’t go back to my old one, of course. For one thing, I’d been laid off the day I died, and for another, they all still thought I was six feet under. Plus, a job during daylight hours just wasn’t going to work anymore.
I wasn’t starving or homeless, at least. My best friend, Jessica, owned my house and wouldn’t let me pay rent, and she had her team of super accountants pay the other bills despite my strenuous objections. I sure didn’t need to grocery shop for much except teabags and milk and stuff. Plus, my car was paid off. So my monthly expenses were actually pretty low. Even so, I couldn’t live off Jessica’s charity forever.
So here I was, on the steps of the Minnesota Re-Employment Center. They had evening hours every Thursdaythank goodness!
I walked through the doors, shivering as I was greeted by a blast of air-conditioning. Another thing about being dead that nobody warned me about was that I was cold pretty much all the time. Minneapolis was having a severe heat wave, and I was the only one not hating it.
“Hi,” I said to the receptionist. She was wearing a stiff gray suit and needed her roots done. I couldn’t see her shoes, which was probably just as well. “I came to the unemployment center to”
“I’m sorry, miss, that’s RE-Employment. Unemployment centers are an anachronism. We’re a responsive twenty-first-century re-employment one-stop center.”
“Right. Um, anyway, I’m here to see one of the counselors.”
For my audacity, I spent the next twenty minutes filling out paperwork. Finally, my name was called, and I was sitting in front of a counselor.
He was a pleasant-looking older fellow with dark hair, a gray-flecked beard, and chocolate brown eyes, and I was relieved to see the wedding ring as well as the photo of his pretty wife and de rigeur adorable kids. I fervently hoped he had a happy marriage, so he wouldn’t make a fool of himself once my undead charisma smacked him in the face.
“Hi, I’m Dan Mitchell.” We shook hands, and I saw his eyebrows go up in surprise when he clasped my clammy palm. “Elizabeth Taylor, right?”
“Are your eyes all right?”
I was wearing my sunglasses for two reasons. One, the fluorescent light hurt like a bitch. Two, men didn’t fall under my spell if they couldn’t see my eyes. The last thing I needed was a slobbering state employee humping my leg.
“I was at the eye doctor’s earlier,” I lied. “He put those drop things in.”
“Yeah, been there. Elizabeth Taylorjust like the movie star!” he enthused, obviously having no idea people had been drawing that conclusion since the day I’d been born.
“Betsy, then.” He was flipping through the reams of paperwork I’d handed him. “Everything looks right . . .”
“I hope so. I’m here for Unemployment”
“We’re the RE-Employment Center,” Mitchell said absently, still flipping.
“Right, right. Anyway, I need a new job, and while I’m looking, I’d like Unemployment Insurance. In fact, I have a quest”
Mitchell looked vaguely alarmed. “Um . . . I need to stop you right there. We can’t do that here.”
I blinked. Not that he could tell behind the Foster Grants I was wearing. “Come again?”
“We’re a re-employment office. That’s what we do.”
“Sure, okay, I get it, but don’t you . . .?”
“If you want unemployment benefits, you need to call the hotline. Or use the Internet. I’m sorry, but we can’t answer your question here.”
“Let me get this straight. This is the place I go to when I’m unemployed . . .”
“Yes . . .”
“And you have unemployment benefit applications here”
“But you don’t have any staff here who can help me get unemployment benefits.”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“Oh, okay.” This was weird, but I could be cooperative. Probably. I leaned back in the uncomfortable plastic chair. “Okay, so, can I use your phone to call one of these hotlines?”
Mitchell spread his hands apologetically. “Ah, jeez, you know, we used to let people do that, but some folks abused the phones, and so”
“So you’re telling me I can’t call an Unemployment Hotline using a telephone in the Unemployment Office?”
“Well, technically, remember, we’re not an Unemployment Office anymore”I suddenly wondered if a vampire could get drunk. I decided to find out as soon as I got out of this bureaucratic hellhole“and that’s why we can’t let you do that.” He shrugged. “Sorry.”
I whipped off my sunglasses and leaned forward, spearing him with my sinister undead gaze. It was a rotten thing to do, but I was desperate. “I need. To use. Your phone.”
“No!” He hunched over and clutched the phone protectively to his chest. “It’s against policy!”
Amazing. I was sure my vampire mojo would leave him putty in my hands, but apparently his bureaucratic training was stronger than ancient evil.
“You’ll just have to go home and contact them on your own dime,” he snapped.
I stomped back to the waiting area. Outrageous! I wasn’t just any undead tart, I was the queen of the vampires!
“Don’t forget to fill out a customer satisfaction survey on your way out!” Mitchell yelled after me.
God, kill me now. Again, I mean.
Entertaining, wicked and delightful. (Romance Reviews Today)
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