Authors: Karen Fuller
Burden of Reckoning
Kathi S. Barton
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used factiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locations, organizations, or person, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © by Kathi S. Barton 2012
First Edition World Castle Publishing January 1, 2012
This book is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This book may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you respecting the hard work of this author.
Cover Artist: Karen Fuller
Photo used on cover from Shutterstock
Editor: Brieanna Robertson
“There’s a guy out there to see ya, Sam. He says he’s been looking for you.” Betty Cramer was in early for her shift, which in her case, was something to remark upon. She delivered her news to the person with their head in the oven.
“I’m kind of busy right now; did he say what he wanted?” Sam had six more pies to bake, four of them with top crusts that were not cooperating. Finally, after cutting out little apples with left over pie crust dough and painting them to the top with a milk and honey mixture, the pies were ready to pop in the hot oven. There were another eighteen crusts to be filled with custard and two with berries. Now was not the time for socializing.
“Nope, just wanted to talk with Sam Hunter and that’d be you, not me, so I didn’t ask. Told him you were busy, but he said he’d wait. Kind of a squirrely acting, if you ask me. Bought the last cheese and cherry Danish, though, oh, and a cup of mocha delight.”
“Betty, I told you to save that Danish for me, damn it.” Sally Jenkins so didn’t need another Danish to eat. She was a good fifty pounds overweight. But then both women were overweight and didn’t seem to mind. Sam thought it was great that they didn’t let society dictate what size clothing they should be wearing.
Both women had worked full-time for Sam’s Baked Goods for four years. The three of them were friends, but yet neither Betty nor Sally knew all that much about Sam.
And that’s just the way Sam liked it. The two women seemed to like working there and usually hung around until closing time at five to walk home together. Sam owned the shop and the building. It worked out perfectly because she could work anytime she needed to and then go up to bed.
“Tell the mystery man I’ll be another ten. And take those cupcakes out to be boxed up please. That lady from Becca’s should be here soon to get them. She might need some help taking them out to her car. Hopefully, it’s not one of those sub compact thingies.”
The cupcakes were why the pies were not done. A place called Becca’s Place had called Monday morning, ordering ten dozen of the suckers for a birthday party and,
“oh could you please make them half for a girl and the other half for a boy?” the lady had asked. She was nice and even offered to pay more, but still...who needed ten dozen cupcakes for a kid’s birthday party? Kids must have a lot of cousins with a big friggin’
family, Sam thought with a snort. She couldn’t remember the last kid she’d talked too, much less enough of them to need ten dozen cakes.
Sam was another fifteen minutes before she could go out and talk with the man.
The shop was really busy at this time of the morning, as always. People stopping by on their way to work had become a habit, and one that paid off really well for Sam’s little shop. The coffee was hot and the baked goods fresh and really rich and tasty. And the staff was if nothing else, honest about the food—maybe too honest sometimes. She noticed that Betty was sharing a cookie with one of the patrons at the counter again.
“Hello there. Sorry about the wait. What can I do for you?” Sam was just throwing the towel she was drying her hands on to the back room when the front door opened and two very beautiful women walked in.
She glanced their way, but didn’t really register them physically. Mentally, she felt them. They were different than the others in the room, the humans in the room. But she didn’t focus on that, as they seemed to not pose any threat. Yet. But the man waiting to speak to her, he radiated anger, mistrust, and a profound hatred toward women. It was coming off him in waves. Sam took a cautious step toward him to maneuver him closer to the door, and hopefully out.
“I wanted to speak to Sam Hunter. I’ve waited long enough and I’ll not be put off by someone who is certainly not him. Now, this might work on other people, he putting them off and all, but I’m not other people, girly. Not some piece of ass of his that thinks her crap don’t stink.”
Sam looked around the room to see if they were being heard. The women looked like they might be able to hear, but the others didn’t seem to notice. She couldn’t touch the man’s mind; it was filled with too much red haze caused from anger. She gave the others a small push to leave the store quickly. All of them did, of course, except the women. Sam pushed a little harder.
The man was big and imposing, but that didn’t bother Sam. She had been taking care of herself for a while now. Size really didn’t matter to her. Not when you came prepared like she did to every situation, especially with the nice equalizer in the waist band of her jeans. Sam was an expert shot and she kept in shape too.
“First of all and most importantly, I am Sam Hunter, and secondly, I am no man’s piece of ass. Now, you either state your business with me, or you can turn yourself around and leave. Please don’t let the door hit you where the sun doesn’t shine. I’ve got things to do.” Sam moved again, this time toward him.
“No, I don’t think so. You aren’t a man. And if you think that I’m going to take some woman’s word about man’s business then you’d better think again. Women like you give nice, respectable women a bad name. And as far as I’m concerned, women do not work outside the home—”
“Very good, jackass, you get to go to the head of the gender recognition class. You have a very high opinion of yourself, don’t you? Doesn’t matter. Now, if you don’t mind, as owner of this business, I have work to do.” Her voice was low and menacing, not much more than a whisper. But she knew he had heard.
She started to turn away from him. Sometimes, she thought the best way to deal with a bully was to walk away. She got no further than turned around when he spoke again. This time, his voice was loud, carrying to everyone in the room.
“Sam Hunter took my wife, lured her away from her duties to me and my sons. I heard the son of a bitch was a big man, not some sexpot pretending her life has meaning when she ain’t got no man to tell her what to do.” He grabbed for her arm.
“Don’t you dare turn your back on me, bitch. Someone should teach you some manners.
And by God, I’m just the man to do it.”
Sam tensed up and turned around again to look at the man. With a quick glance at Betty, Sam gave her a small nod. For a big woman, Betty could move like the wind when she needed to. She came around the counter and tried to usher the two women out of the line of fire and into the kitchen. They, of course, wouldn’t budge. Betty went to the phone and made a quick call to the police. Sam knew this was not going to end pleasantly and she didn’t want the law to say she’d done anything wrong.
“Get your filthy hands off me or I’ll move them for you. I don’t know who you’re talking about, but again, I’m Sam Hunter. This is my shop, I bake. I want you to fucking leave, right now. My employee has called the police. And as of right now, I don’t know your name. Leaving would do you a world of good.”
Sam moved to the left so the man had to turn around and keep his back to the women in the shop. If he got violent, then they would be fairly safe from him. At least she hoped so. She knew they weren’t human, as least not full human, but she wasn’t sure if they were immortal or not. But Sam knew that Betty and Sally were, and bullets killed mortals.
“Paula Ship, my wife. You’re gonna tell me everything I wanna know, bitch. I’m betting you know just where she is. You tell me or else, and I don’t care if you are a female. Someone should have taught you manners for a man a long time ago. Right now, you fucking bitch.”
Sam suddenly remembered Mrs. Ship. She had been in the shop several weeks ago buying a cake for her son’s birthday. She’d been nervous and timid everytime someone got close to her. When she moved her arm, Sam had seen the bruises, lots of bruises.
Sam had reached out to the woman mentally and felt her terror of being late and that if she was then she would be beaten for it. Sam also caught glimpses of her being chained to the heater in the kitchen and the length of it being just long enough for her to reach the stove, refrigerator, and the sink. There were other times when one or both of her sons would knock her around. The husband, the man standing before Sam, had taught the sons the way he’d been taught, that women were to be disciplined at all costs.
Sam realized that it would never occur to this man that his wife might have left on her own if she could have. Women like Paula, to his way of thinking, were too stupid to make any decisions of their own. They needed a man, a man like him, to make all the life choices for them. Women like her needed a man to keep them in line and tell them what to do, even if it meant knocking them around a bit now and then just to keep them reminded of who it was in charge. Sam hated this man.
“I don’t know where your wife is. And frankly, I don’t care either. And as nice as I’m sure her life was living with you, maybe she is better off gone. Like I said, the police have been called and they will be here shortly. Why don’t you do us all a favor and leave right now I won’t press any charges.” She didn’t need to press charges. Sam had her own form of punishment in mind.
Sam didn’t lie, ever; it was never worth it. There was always the possibility that you’d get caught and she didn’t want to have to remember what she said to each person. But she really didn’t know where Mrs. Ship was, at least at that very moment she didn’t. When Sam had helped Paula to get away, Sam had taken her to an underground system that hid her and others like her away from the abuse. Once they entered that part of their lives, Sam never saw or heard from them again. She knew it was safer for all of them that way.
When Mr. Ship pulled out his gun and pointed it straight at Sam’s chest and smiled, she didn’t so much as flinch or look at the others in the room. When unfamiliar magic started to flow, Sam threw it back to the sender and felt the immediate withdrawal from one of the women. She didn’t know who had tried, but this was her store and her rules.
“Mr. Ship, did you hear me? The police have been called and I’m asking you again to leave here now. I don’t know where your wife is. I don’t know where you got your information either, but you came here looking for a man and ended up with me. Maybe you should go home and cut your losses. This isn’t worth jail time if your wife left you.