“You could’ve asked that over text,” Kara complained in a gruff tone. The 33-year-old woman sighed at the purple-haired woman immediately after, then apologized. “I’m sorry,” she said. “I just really needed this.” The pair of women met in a quiet coffee shop after hitting it off on an app. J.J. nodded apologetically.
“It’s better if I ask in person. But…,” She looked at Kara up and down. “…you needed this?” She pointed at the empty chair in front of her. “Let me apologize for wasting your time. Can I ask why you need it so bad?” Kara sighed. She didn’t have anything else to do; she cleared her whole schedule for this chance. Things didn’t work out as she hoped, but the woman did invite her to join anyway. She felt she could still salvage the situation.
“You’re inviting me to sit down, or you’re treating me to coffee?” Kara asked. “And a pastry,” she added quickly. J.J. grinned and nodded.
“On me. Go crazy, get dessert for the next week if you like.” After several minutes, Kara returned to the table holding a large cup of iced coffee and a translucent bag filled with assorted cookies and pound cakes. J.J. raised an eyebrow, but smiled. “Kids at home,” Kara said apologetically.
“So, why are you here meeting me, Kara?” J.J. asked. Kara gave her a forced smile and sighed.
“Kids at home,” she repeated. “Two and a half jobs isn’t enough to feed three kids, a dog, two grandparents, and myself.” She shrugged. “Three jobs would kill me anyway so…,” she trailed off.
“That’s it?” J.J. asked. “You’re short on cash?” Kara giggled.
“Short on cash,” she said sarcastically, then her eyes hardened and she glared at J.J. “We can’t afford to LIVE,” she said through clenched teeth. “Not all of us. My parents are always watching the kids already anyway because I’m working so much. If I disappear, nothing changes for them. Money still comes in even when mommy isn’t home.”
“How old are they?” J.J. asked.
“Nine, eight, and five. Boy, girl, boy.”
“Ohhh. That bites,” J.J. said. Before Kara could give the flippant young woman a piece of her mind a well-dressed gentleman walked up to their table.
“J.J.?” he asked. “I”m Wilson,” he waved his phone at her. “From DnnR?”
“Hey, Wilson.” J.J. waved. “I got a question for you first. What’s your favorite number?”
“33,” he replied. “You could’ve asked that over text,” he laughed.
“Alright!” J.J. clapped her hands together, then stood from her chair. “I’ll take you.” She grabbed her black leather duster from the back of the chair and slipped it on. After it was on, she reached into one of the interior pockets. She pulled out two black credit cards. She handed one card to Wilson.
“Be back here next Friday at midnight. Card’s tracked of course, but you don’t look like the type to skip out. 1.5 billion for you and your family.” Wilson nodded eagerly. He took the card, shook J.J.’s hand, then bolted out the door. J.J. turned her attention to Kara, she dropped the other card on the table in front of her.
“That one doesn’t have 1.5 billion. But it’s enough to get you through to next week comfortably.” Kara narrowed her eyes up at J.J.
“I know it’s how things work here, but I don’t like the thought of your kids growing up in a world where it’s too easy to sell yourself. Come back next week. With your kids and your dog and your parents,” J.J. smiled. “I’ll set you up on an Earth with fewer cannibals.”