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22

Fleeced

Janey pulled a sizzling-hot apple pie out of the oven. Her little one-bedroom apartment a few blocks from the Settlers Club always had delicious smells wafting from it. If it wasnt the baked goods she was making for dessert, it was one of her specialties such as lasagna or meat loaf or any one of the other comfort foods she enjoyed preparing for her clients.

She loved going into their apartments and filling their refrigerators and freezers with her plastic containers full of food. It excited her to think of them coming home after a hard day and zapping her loving efforts in the microwave. And now she was preparing some special desserts for the anniversary party at the club, including a huge tiered white cake theyd display on a big white table decorated with red ribbons.

Anything to cheer Thomas up.

Hey, I lost two clients yesterday, she thought. Nat and Ben had both loved her cooking. She had even dropped food off at Bens apartment yesterday when he was out. Now itll just go to waste, she thought.

It had been a busy week, and after she finished preparing the cakes and pies, she planned to go back to the club. Her phone rang just as she was placing the apple pie under the window to cool. It was Mrs. Buckland, a good but demanding client.

Janey, Im having three unexpected guests for dinner and I need food.

But Mrs. Buckland Janey began.

I know you can do it, Janey. Didnt I introduce you to all my friends?

Janey held the phone in her hand, trying to figure out what to do. After a moment, she said, Okay, Mrs. Buckland. What time do you need it?

In a couple of hours. Thank you.

Janey replaced the phone in its cradle. I dont want to go food shopping now. And all that cooking. I dont even have time! she wailed in a ladylike voice.

A thought came to her that she didnt even want to entertain. But like most crazy thoughts, if you give it a minute or two, it can take on a surprising sanity.

The food she had delivered to Bens apartment yesterday had obviously not been eaten. Heck, shed probably never get paid for it anyway, and she still had the keys.

It was a lovely roast chicken with stuffing, mashed potatoes, and her special gravy. Shed also prepared peas and carrots, baby corn, and a key lime pie. It was enough for two meals for Ben, four for people with less hearty appetites.

Well, why not? He had lived in a walk-up, so there was no doorman. Shed ring the bell. If someone was there, shed say she was only stopping by to express her sympathy.

Quickly untying her apron, Janey grabbed her coat, purse, Bens keys, and the bright-red thermal carrying case with her logo on the side, and ran out the door.


| Fleeced | c