Woman in Hot Water

By: Berengaria Brown

Chapter One

“It’s a damn good thing I’m not too tall,” Kendra McIntyre muttered softly to herself as she untangled her body from the sleeping bag on the backseat of her old car. She peeked out the rear window through one bleary eye, pleased to see no people around but quite a few cars scattered about the cinema parking lot.

She sat up, slipping her shoes on, then brushed her hair and tied it up in a ponytail. Now to find a place where she could shower and change her underwear. The first three days after she’d been thrown out of her apartment because her roommate wanted her boyfriend to move in, Kendra had used a free trial gym membership pass. That was awesome because not only did she get to try out all the equipment, and use their showers, but also if she went early enough in the morning, she got a free breakfast as well.

The next two days she’d visited various malls, but washing there was problematic as there were too many people and no shower stalls. She’d ended up filling her water bottle with hot water, stealing the soap from the sink, and trying to wash in a toilet stall. Today she planned to try out the local swimming pool. For a start, it opened at six a.m., so she figured she could spend plenty of time in the showers and wash her hair as well.

Her car was almost out of gas, and her bank account was almost empty, but she’d have to put ten dollars of fuel in her car if she was to continue job hunting. The problem was everyone wanted fifteen-year-olds to do the type of jobs she was looking for—retail and hospitality. She still had two more funeral homes to apply to for a job as a professional mourner though. She was positive that being in her midtwenties would be better than being a teenager for those positions. Besides, funerals almost always had coffee and something to eat after them, and her food budget was even lower on her priority list than her gas budget.

Her panties and bra were still a little damp. She’d washed them out the night before and laid them on a towel on the dashboard of her car, but they weren’t dry enough to wear. Still, she couldn’t leave them there in daylight. Hopefully, there’d be hot air blowers at the swimming pool and she could finish drying them then.

She set her cell phone to recharge as soon as she turned her car engine on. Every time she saw an electrical outlet, she plugged her cell phone in, but it was never long enough to recharge it fully. However, it still had two bars, so it should last long enough to answer a call about a job. If she was offered one. Certainly she wouldn’t be using it to call anyone herself. There was no budget for that.

Dammit, she needed a job right now. Then she could get an apartment. Then, possibly even a life. She grinned at herself. Yeah sure. Men would fall all over themselves to date her. Like hell they would. She was at least ten pounds overweight, her hips needed trimming, and so did her hair. She sighed. No budget for a hairstylist either.

But being ordinary had worked for a long time in her last job. She’d been a mystery shopper for almost a year. Way longer than anyone her supervisor had known of before. She’d go to various stores and buy goods as instructed, then report back on service, quality of the goods and so on. And she got to keep whatever she’d been ordered to buy. In fact, most of the stuff she sold on Ebay as fast as she could. It hadn’t paid much, but it was a livable system. If she’d owned more clothes, had her hair cut and dyed a different color, she may have even lasted longer. She’d tried wearing plain eyeglasses, that’d helped a bit, but she’d cycled through her outfits one too many times and been recognized, and that was the end of her job.

At least all she needed to be a professional mourner was a black skirt, black shirt, and black shoes, which she owned. She even had a pretty white lace handkerchief that had belonged to her mother. She could so ace this job. All she needed to do was convince some funeral home to hire her. Well, first a trip to the swimming pool. Swim a few laps, shower, and wash her hair. Dry her underwear using the hand drier, then dress in her black outfit to go get a job. Easy peasy.

* * * *

Kendra swam up and down the slow lane, loving the feel of the water flowing over her skin, her arms and legs moving smoothly as they should. It’d been ages since she’d been swimming. Years. She’d almost forgotten how much she used to enjoy the sport. She was so glad she’d kept the swimming costume she’d bought as a secret shopper. She’d thought about selling it, but it fit her perfectly, and the colors suited her, sunshine yellow with orange highlights.

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