Joan stared off into space, glassy eyed, as the busman ranted and raved at her. He stopped in mid-sentence and looked at her, "You're not even paying attention."
She slowly turned to look at him, eyes still glazed over, "with good reason." She stalked off, long legs ready to bolt if the man came after her. She was used to being hit, but that didn't mean it didn't hurt.
The tall, lanky girl went over to her cot, picked up her duffel bag, and left the building, ready to run if the guy started after her. She shivered in the cold and looked down at her clothes. Jeans and a t-shirt were fine for inside but really no good for early winter in North Dakota. She thought of the Mighty Ducks, they would probably think this was warm. Compared to their planet.
Why am I thinking about hockey?! I'm running away, and I'm cold.
She walked a little way down the street and ducked into an alley. Setting down her duffel bag she dug an ad and a couple of sweatshirts out of it. The article read:
Capable person who can handle horses.
Will pay. Go to the 'Bar H Ranch' or call for details.
I can handle horses. Joan headed for I-95 to go to the Bar H. Joan, if you give up now, you'll never be free again. She goaded herself on with these words, looking at the ground, glancing up every now and then. She didn't see the big iron post in her way. "Owww!" She rubbed her head and looked up. "Bingo." There was a wooden sign bearing the brand Bar H.
She headed down the driveway.***
Duke had Kit pinned to the floor. "One eye eh? Take that." He tickled her and she shrieked.
"Ahhhh! Help! Stoppit! Firesky!"
Firesky grinned, in her human form of Sarah. "Sure." She got down next to Duke and started tickling.
"Brian, can you give ME a hand here!" Kit shrieked.
"Nope," he was leaning against the doorway. "I'd end up getting kicked by ya."
The doorbell rang.
"Cool it guys." He opened the door and found Joan there. "C'mon, help me get 'er in." Duke and Brian picked her up and set her on the couch.
Joan came to and saw Duke. "Oh. My. Gosh!" She gasped.
He grinned, "What? Never seen a duck before?"
"Oh plenty, I watch TV." She growled at him.
"Why so surprised?"
"Duke." Sarah growled at him. "She's cold, hungry, filthy, don't question her."
"Ok, what ever."
Joan looked at Brian. "I came to get a job. Is the spot still open?"
He nodded, "what can ya do with horses?"
Sarah cut in, "Brian, she's cold, tired and underfed. Wait with the interview, ok?"
Brian nodded and helped Joan up, "you go with Kit and Sarah here. They'll get ya cleaned up."
The three left and Duke looked at Brian, "on the spot hiring?"
"Better believe it." Brian grinned.***
"Ok, this'll be your room." Firesky pushed open a door on the second floor.
Joan took one look. "Wow."
"I've never had a room this nice, never had my own room at all, slept on a bench in front of the theater."
"Ouch, well, even if my bro doesn't hire ya, I'll have him let ya stay here."
"Thank you... I think."
Kit dumped Joan's duffel bag on the bed and motioned for her to follow Firesky. "She'll show ya where the bathroom is and how to work stuff."Joan followed Firesky out of the room.
Kit unzipped the duffel bag and started pulling out stuff. There were two t-shirts, a pair of jeans, and a sweatshirt. That was it, almost.
As Kit went to set down the jeans, a small blue disk fell out of one pocket. Kit picked it up and set it on a shelf above the desk in the corner. At the bottom of that bag was a metal safe, small, but locked, Kit set this next to the disk then ignored them both. A few minutes later Joan waked in and gasped.
Kit looked up. "Kid, you need more clothes, I put the things on the shelf over there. Anything else, cause I'll wash these for ya."
Joan heaved a relieved sigh and shook her head. "You nearly gave me heart attack, no that's everything."
"Ok." Kit picked up the clothes and left the room, not noticing the blue Disk glint, even though there wasn't any light hitting it.