Sure Thing(6)


by Jana Aston

Touché.

But it’s true. And I have zero interviews scheduled for this week. Nada. I’ve been sending résumés for six months and I’ve done nothing but go on interviews for positions I don’t even want and don’t get offered. Which just makes me feel like shit because I can’t even turn down something I’m not interested in.

“And I know that you can follow the script I wrote well enough to fake your way past an assortment of tourists from other countries,” she adds. “You’re not an idiot. It’s not like you’re going to mistake the White House for the Capitol Building. Just follow the cheat sheet I made for you.”

“Just follow the cheat sheet,” I repeat. It’s ironic, since cheating got Daisy through most of high school.

“The bus driver has the route and all the stops are prearranged. You’re handing the group over to local experts in Washington and Gettysburg. You’re practically just dropping them off and picking them up. You got this.”

“Right.” I blow out a breath and eye the bus again. “And you haven’t done any tours with this bus driver, right? Tom? He’s not going to expect me to know him?”

“Nope. I told you there’s at least a couple hundred drivers. I rarely saw the same one twice and I’ve never met this one. You’re good.”

“Okay,” I mumble. “This is still a terrible idea.”

“It’s a genius idea,” she replies, full of confidence. “Besides, if you don’t show up all those tourists are going to be stranded.”

“That’s not true,” I reply slowly, rolling my eyes even though she can’t see me.

“It’s sort of true. Your first airport pickup is in less than an hour. The company wouldn’t be able to get a replacement there that quickly. Just think of all those nice Canadians standing at the airport check-in spot wondering where you are.”

“You mean wondering where you are,” I reply drily.

“Whatever. They’ll be sad, Violet. Sad they came all the way to America and no one greeted them.”

“Why are you singling out the Canadians anyway? Wouldn’t everyone be sad?”

“I thought I’d pull on your heartstrings a little and everyone knows how nice the Canadians are,” she says, unabashed. “I bet one of them offers you a maple candy before the week is up.”

“You’re ridiculous,” I mutter, but I’m smiling.

“Love you, Vi. You’re my peanut butter.”

“And you’re my jelly.”

We end the call and I pin the Sutton Travel name badge with “Daisy” stamped on it to my top with renewed confidence. Daisy’s right. I can do this. And I really do need the cash.

This is what happens when the company you work for is sold two weeks before you’re due to close on a condo and your job is eliminated. It turns out that banks frown on giving thirty-year mortgages to people without jobs. I’d already given notice on my apartment, most of my possessions packed into boxes ready for my move, when my world imploded. The boxes moved into storage and I moved onto Daisy’s couch.

I lost my boyfriend at the same time.

When I say I lost him I mean it literally. He’s alive—I just don’t have him anymore. Because we worked together. In different departments—nothing scandalous. He was the owner’s son—everyone knew about us, it wasn’t a secret and it didn’t get me any special favors, of course not. I’d never have wanted special favors.

Except…

When it happened I was the last to know. The very last. I was running an errand on my lunch break when the email was sent notifying employees that we’d been sold to a larger company. A larger company that only needed half of the current staff. A larger company that was relocating Mark to another city in a high-level executive position—part of the deal when his father sold the company, of course. When I got back to the office a human resources representative from the new company was there to offer me a severance package.

Do you know what severance packages look like when you’re twenty-six? A week’s pay for every year of service. I’d been there for three and a half years. Three weeks of pay. They didn’t even round up for that half-year.

Within two weeks Mark moved to California for a new job and I lost my earnest money on the condo.

He barely bothered to break up with me before he left. As in he barely said the words. Do you know how much it sucks when someone insinuates a break-up but doesn’t actually do it? It’s complete shit, is what it is. I basically had to break up with myself. Thanks, asshole. He said he was moving to San Francisco and I—stupidly, as it turned out—asked what that meant for us. He frowned at me and said something about it being a bit far, like I was dense for not getting it. “This is a really important time for me, Violet,” he said.

Some girl named Lindy has him now.

So I really do need this.

As I approach the bus the doors slide open and the driver bounds down the steps with a huge grin. “Daisy!” he calls out, eyeing my tits.

Fuck. He knows me. I mean her. He knows my sister.

CHAPTER SIX

Violet

“Hey.” I smile and glance at his name badge. George. Fuck, fuckity fuck it. Tom was supposed to be the driver this week. Tom Masey, who Daisy assured me she’d never met. Not George whoever this is, who she’s obviously met. “George,” I repeat and put a little enthusiasm into it. “Hey!” I wonder how many trips they’ve done together. How well does he know her mannerisms? This is going to be so much harder if he expects me to act like her.

He stops too close to me and flashes a smile, dimple flashing in his cheek. He’s attractive and as he slides an arm around my waist in greeting it hits me loud and clear how well he knows Daisy.

I’m going to kill her.

“George,” I say as I wiggle out of his embrace and try not to panic. “I thought Tom was my driver this week?”

“He was. When I saw you had this trip I switched with him.” He winks. “He took my Boston to Maine tour.”

“You can do that?” I question, then catch myself. “I mean, great.” I nod and tighten my grip on my phone, still in my hand. I need to call Daisy. Then I need to grab my suitcase and run. No way can I do this. No way in hell. “You know, I just need to make a quick call,” I say, pointing at the phone in my hand as I take a step backwards. But I don’t even make it a second step before George has slung his arm around me again and rotated me to the bus door.

“Come on, Daisy, you can call from the bus. We’ve got to get on the road if we’re going to make it to the airport in time to pick up the first group. You know staying on schedule is key.”

“Um,” I mumble, but he’s on my heels so I find myself climbing the steps to the bus. It’s a luxury travel coach, one I’m familiar with from the time I tagged along with Daisy. I climb the additional few steps past the driver’s seat and face the empty bus before begrudgingly taking a seat in the first row. George snaps the doors closed and then buckles in, sliding a pair of sunglasses over his eyes as he maneuvers the bus out of the parking lot.

“So, Daisy,” George starts as he stops at a traffic light on Frying Pan Road.

Do I stay or do I run? I mean, running is clearly the sane choice. But how do I get out of this now? Tell George I’m not Daisy? Tell George I’m suddenly ill and ask him to pull over? I could just start running, but a glance at the cars whizzing past the window tells me that running is probably not the safest idea.

But maybe she hasn’t slept with him? Maybe they met once and he thinks he’s got a shot with her. Daisy’s a total flirt so that’s possible. But I can’t lean down and ask him how he knows my sister, can I? Since he thinks I am my sister. Jesus.

“Daisy?” George calls again but he doesn’t get any further than that before I snap to attention and realize I’ve got less than ten minutes until we reach the airport. Less than ten minutes to figure out how to make this work, because I’m not a runner. I’m a pleaser. I’m a make-it-work kind of girl.

Also the thought of letting anyone down makes me want to throw up. I might like to strangle Daisy right now but I still don’t want to let her down.

“I’ve got to make that call,” I announce and stand up, gripping the handle on the seat edge for support. “It’s private,” I add as I take off down the narrow aisle to the back of the bus, already having hit redial with my thumb.

“Did you chicken out already?” Daisy asks as soon as the call connects. “It’s been five minutes, Vi. Five minutes. This is not complicated. You stand by luggage carousel number one and hold up the Sutton Travel clipboard. The tour group passengers will find you. You check them off your list and send them out to the—”

“Daisy,” I snap, cutting her off. “That’s not why I’m calling. We have a problem.”

“What’s that, Violet?” she responds, but she doesn’t sound worried. She never does. I’ve always sort of imagined that I came out of the womb with a skeptical frown while she followed a minute later with a high-five to the doctor. That we share the same DNA astounds me. Yet I can’t imagine life without her.