Welcome back to this week’s Midweek Tease, made possible by the lovely and talented Angelica Dawson. Since we are getting into the spirit of the holidays, I decided to share a snippet from my short story, Her Christmas Hero. This book and its follow-up, The Best Day Ever, are super-short stories, just over 5K each, perfect for a quick read. The first story was inspired by an actual event. Eventually, the situation was resolved, but it took months.
Here’s the blurb:
Widowed mother of four Laurie Wilson gets a shock when a check that was supposed to have been destroyed is cashed, leaving her in a financial lurch just days before Christmas.
Leland Ostler packed his heart in ice years ago and goes through the Christmas season paying lip service to the holiday. When he discovers Laurie Wilson is the girl he was fascinated by in high school and discovers her plight, he determines to make sure that family has the Merry Christmas it deserves.
Here’s your tease:
Laurie slipped her bank debit card into the machine and followed the instructions.
“The bank denied the charge,” the girl said, citing the obvious.
“I must’ve pushed the wrong key,” Laurie answered, fear clawing at her belly. This had happened too many times in the past. “There’s enough money in the bank to cover this.” She got paid yesterday. There had to be more than seventeen hundred dollars in that account.
Laurie redid the transaction with the same results. This couldn’t be happening. Not now. Not again. On the verge of panic, she swallowed her anxiety. Something was wrong. At this time six years ago, she’d have blamed Frank, but he wasn’t around to cause trouble now.
“Can you just hold onto these until tomorrow?” she asked, her cheeks burning in her embarrassment. “There must be something wrong with my card.”
“I can’t hold them for more than a couple of hours without a ten percent deposit,” the girl said.
Laurie nodded, well aware of the store’s policies. If you didn’t pick up an order within twenty-four hours of its arrival, the goods went back up for sale. She opened her wallet and pulled out all the cash she had. Seventy-one dollars wasn’t much, but it was enough to hold the precious tablets until she got this mess straightened out.
“The balance due by closing time on Monday is $624.79,” the girl said, putting the money in the cash drawer.
Laurie tucked her broken purse under her arm and hurried down the street facing into the storm. This had to be a card reading error. All she needed was a new bank card. She stepped into the bank, her stomach in knots, and got in line to see one of the tellers. She’d take out the seven hundred she needed and go right back to the store. If she didn’t get those tablets…
Staring at the slip of paper the teller had handed her, Laurie prayed this was all some kind of bad joke, and the floor would open and swallow her. The recent transactions page clearly showed a balance of $408.79, but what was most distressing was the entry above it. A check had been cashed earlier in the day for $1250.00, the exact amount she’d paid regularly up until last month when she’d bought the house she’d been renting, adding a mortgage to her mounting pile of debts, hoping the equity she gained would help her get her financial feet on the ground. But this…this was inexcusable. She’d been robbed!
“I’m sorry, Ms. Wilson. There isn’t anything we can do. If you feel this was a fraudulent transaction, you’ll have to take it up with the payee or the police. The check was cashed yesterday, and since you had the money in your account to cover it, we put through the transaction. We didn’t have a stop payment notice…”
“Thank you,” Laurie said, cutting off the teller, realizing she’d put her faith in someone and had gotten screwed again. No matter how hard she tried, she just couldn’t get a break. Being a single mother was hard enough, but getting taken in, time after time, was just wrong. Wasn’t Karma supposed to even out in the end? The bank had cancelled her overdraft protection six years ago when Frank had cleaned out her account, and she’d been too ashamed to have it reinstated, which they’d probably have done since she’d managed to restore her credit rating.
How could she be such a terrible judge of character? Sure, her taste in men obviously sucked, but wasn’t there one honest person left in the world? She’d felt sorry for Jayne, believed her when the woman had said not paying the water bill had been an oversight, and then had scrambled to come up with the money for a down payment so she could buy the house when the landlady had said it had to be sold. This wasn’t the ideal house, but it was home and moving again this year of all years wasn’t going to happen. The kids had lost too much already, and now, somehow, she’d find a way to keep it all together—not for herself, but for them.
She swallowed her fear and turned away from the counter, trying to breathe normally when her carefully constructed house of cards was falling down all around her. She’d have to borrow money on her credit card to cover the mortgage…
If you’d like to read the rest of the story, https://www.amazon.com/Her-Christmas-Hero-Susanne-Matthews-ebook/dp/B017TGEVAC