J. W. McKenna
"Come in, Ellen,” Jack Sawyer said, working to keep his voice even. “Did you have a nice vacation?” He stood in front of his pool-table-sized walnut desk, a manila folder tucked under one arm.
Ellen Sanchez, Sawyer Metalworking's attractive, dark-haired financial officer entered her boss's spacious office smiling. “Oh, yes, Jack. The beaches are wonderful in the Bahamas. It was very relaxing.” She paused, noticing Jack did not return her smile, then asked tentatively, “Did everything go all right here while I was gone?"
"Sort of,” he said vaguely. “There's something we need to discuss. Here, have a seat.” He indicated the chair across from him. She eased down onto it, folding her skirt primly in front of her.
Jack glanced at the figure of his employee and admired it anew. Ellen was a beautiful Latino, a rich combination of Incan and Mexican ancestry. Her smooth high cheekbones gave her face a sharper, more exotic look, offset by a cascade of dark hair. She kept herself in good shape, he noticed, which was surprising from someone who made a living sitting at a desk, poring over figures.
"How's Bill?” Jack asked suddenly. “He find a job yet?"
She glanced up, suspicion in her eyes. “Um… No, not yet. He's in a specialized field, you know…” Her voice trailed off. Her eyes darted away, as if she wanted to escape.
Jack sat down across from her, putting the folder deliberately on his lap. “How long has he been out of work, this time?” he pressed, emphasizing the last two words. He knew Bill had been fired from his last two jobs.
Ellen stared at him for a minute, as if she couldn't believe his impertinence. When it was clear he really wanted to know, she licked her puffy red lips and said, “Oh, let's see… About a year now, I guess."
"Must be hard to make ends meet."
Her eyes fluttered and she grew pale. “Oh, not really, we're pretty thrifty, so-"