A lighthearted look at one woman's search for everyday greatness, true friendship, love and the perfect job.
From Gina Robinson, America’s acclaimed master of the super-sexy spy novels Spy Candy, Spy Games and the upcoming The Spy Who Left Me, comes a new women's fiction novel for anyone who's been down on their luck, out of work, or just looking for a fresh path to greatness...
SHE WAS LOOKING FOR WORK...
Leesa Winsone has always felt unnoticed and overlooked. A bit rebellious, she's an independent, hard-working engineer. At least she was until her ex-best friend pink-slipped her. And her house caught fire. Now she's out of work, out of her house and quickly running out of options. Hoping for inspiration, she attends a motivational seminar, led by the handsome, eligible Ryne Garrett…
NOW SHE'S LOOKING FOR HOPE...
Ryne Garrett is attracted to the fiesty female engineer that walks into his life at his Northwest Institute "Breakthrough to Greatness" seminar. But when she joins up with the loose group of fellow unemployeds who call themselves the Job Camp Group, he risks losing her forever as she finds her own "path to greatness"…
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July Unemployment Log
(Required by Washington State to continue to receive the weekly pittance. Generally only kept by rule-followers like me. The state never checks these things, so why not have fun with it?)
Job-free days: 32, but who's counting?
Applications to date: 6 monster.com, 8 dice.com, 3 workaholic.com, 5 jobfox.com, 2 want ads.
Number of online résumés posted: 12
Number of interviews to date: 3 No new ones scheduled.
Number of rejections: (Excuse me, responses. I must remember to keep a positive attitude.) 4 auto e-rejects
Tasks for the day:
1. Check e-mail for the perpetually perky message--we found a job that matches your specifications! (Exclamation point supplied by workaholic.com.) Do the ritual "apply" thing.
2. Haggle with insurance company about beloved bungalow kitchen and bedroom reduced to ashes and sooty puddles during the great remodeling adventure.
Bank account level: I feel an overdraft coming on. Depending on Employment Security to automatic deposit on time.
Self esteem: nonexistent
Optimism level: Optimism, must look up meaning in the dictionary. If "optimism" has obscure usage as depressed, have plenty, no need for more.
Thought for the day:
Pink has gotten a bum rap over the years. Like most girls, I like pink. It's a feminine color, my personal favorite. A classic for lipstick, blush, eyeshadow, and nail polish. Hot pink, soft pink, fuschia--I look great in any shade, most blondes do.
So how did such a fabulous color cuddle up to an association with a layoff notice? Pink felt a desperate need for notoriety, maybe? The slut! Preferring infamy to obscurity!
How's this? Let's rename termination notices after a color no one likes, like puce. Puce slip kind of sounds like how you feel about the time you get the slip, that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach. And deep red to brownish purple? Come on, what's to love about a color like that?
Three pink slips in five years qualify me as a pink slipper. In my dreams I'd be the vavavoom fifties glamour girl slipper with the killer heels and feathers at the toes. But it's hard to vavavoom anyone while wearing a salvaged wardrobe speckled with ember holes. I'd settle for reliable bunny slipper.
In troubled times, many people run to the bosom of their family for comfort. I generally just run--in the opposite direction. The bosom of my family is as soft, natural, and nurturing as an old silicone implant. But losing my job and coming home to a toasted bungalow had driven me back to my father's house and his kitchen table, which is where I found myself the morning my sister Julie dropped the bomb.
"Daddy has a surprise for you." Julie could look very catlike when she chose. With her darkbrown hair swept up and clipped behind her head, loose ends escaping, she even had the appearance of feline ears, perked up and ready to delight in the damage she wreaked.
"I do indeed have a surprise for you." Dad sounded too nonchalant. It took a practiced ear to discern malfeasance in his tone, but I'd had thirty-two years of it.
I feared the infamous surprise. Surprise never boded well for me in the Winsome household. Surprise meant getting a dress on special from JCPenney while Julie got a designer label.
Somehow I had the feeling that scenario was about to repeat itself.
My father shoved a brochure across the table at me. Under his breath he hummed a little ditty I recognized from my youth, the "get a job" song he'd composed when I was fourteen.
I caught a glimpse of a glossy featuring a high rise building and a skyline suspiciously like Seattle's. "What's this?" The question slipped out. Did I really want to know? "We've decided that you could use a little help." His tone implied professional help.
Great. My family bosom struck again, smashing me with the steel teat.
When I gave Dad the I'm-not-happy look, he added, "with the job search."
"Breakthrough to Greatness Seminar?" I scooped up the brochure. "The Northwest Institute," I read aloud, amazed that I could read at all considering how stunned I felt. "You're sending me to one of those hokey, pop psychology seminars! You know I don't believe in that touchy-feely stuff."
Julie took a coy bite of toast, but I felt her gloat just the same as if she'd sniggered.
"Think of it as a retreat, Lees. Alice put me onto the idea."
Of course my godmother was behind the idea. Dad wouldn't think of my well-being without prodding. I consoled myself that if Alice suggested this seminar, it must have some merit.
I flipped open the brochure. "Join us for an explosive seminar that will empower you to transform the results you are producing in your life. In our dynamic program you will: learn to take charge of your destiny, consciously navigate the future, release limiting decisions, break through limitations of past personal programming, role model and integrate excellence, and reprogram your mind for total career and life success!
"Set in beautiful downtown Seattle, Washington against the backdrop of Puget Sound and the Olympic Mountains, The Northwest Institute offers the finest in life coaching and counseling services in a comfortable urban environment…"
Attend some boring seminar! I don't think so.
"Thanks, Dad, but no, thanks. I'm not into this motivational boloney."
Dad reached across the table and patted my hand again, trying in his own way to be encouraging. "Successful people teaching you how to achieve greatness. Think about it, Leesa. Everyone wants to be great."
I crossed my arms, letting my closed body posture speak for itself.
"Alice assures me that this seminar is innovative and upscale." Dad would play the Alice card on me.
But I wasn't budging. "Why don't I just bag the seminar? You can give me the money you spent on it for something more pressing, like say, a new wardrobe? I don't need any…help."
"Nice try." Julie set her napkin on the table. "You've been cracking up around here lately. Moping around, sleeping all hours. You need counseling and you know it. You're adrift. You have been since college and that short-lived engagement you had."
"You can't hang on to a job or catch a man," she continued. "Who knows? Maybe you'll meet someone at this seminar and kill two birds with one stone. At the very least it'll give you something to do while Daddy and I are on our vaca."
This from the relationship queen--one divorce and a series of failed relationships.
"You mean a jobless, loser man?
"Something didn't smell right, and I mean literally. I sniffed the air. "Do I smell… Smoke!"
The smoke alarm sounded simultaneously with my realization. My mind flashed back to the horrific vision of my bungalow kitchen engulfed in laughing, licking flames. Flames that danced up the walls and roared at the firemen who tried to douse them as I watched from across the
Ohmygosh, Dad's kitchen was going down, too! With us in it! My pulse roared into overdrive, pounding in my ears. Flames shot from the toaster.
I lunged for the fire extinguisher that I made Dad keep in the pantry. Almost instinctively, I pulled the pin from the trusty Kidde XG41, and blasted the base of the flames from slightly more than six feet back, just like the instructions on the unit said. Just the way I'd drilled after my house became toast. I would have made the fire marshal proud, I felt certain, as I stood there shaking.
Julie stood up, slack-jawed, and came to stand next to me by the foaming toaster, which chose that moment to ding. A piece of frothing toast popped up.
"Toast anyone? Butter? A little fire retardant?" I felt nauseous and suddenly cold. My knees went weak. I started laughing and couldn't stop.
Julie put her arm around me and led me back to my chair. "She's totally cracked up," she said to my father, who'd gone over to inspect the damage.
No damage done, all danger averted, I told myself.
"What were you trying to do?" I said as I wiped my eyes. I was still laughing. "Toast the house!"
Julie's gaze traveled from Dad and the toaster to me. "Sorry. I must have bumped the controls when I put in that last piece of toast." She gave me a squeeze. "It's not funny, Leesa. Come on, buck up."
Dad grabbed the toaster and hauled it out to the garbage. When he came back, he gave me a stiff hug. "Breakthrough to Greatness. No more arguments, kid."
Julie smiled like the picture of the Cheshire cat in our childhood copy of Alice in Wonderland, the picture that always gave me nightmares. She knew she'd won. I wondered what
was next for me--total greatness or life in the looney bin?
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pink' slip', (pingk' slip') n., notice of dismissal from one's job (1910-1915) In reality, a slip of paper that's never pink, an announcement that one's career is on a downward slide. A license to look for work. A stab in the back by a company to which one's been loyal, devoted hours of conscientious work, and plotted a climb up the ladder.
pink'-slip', (pingk' slip') v.t., -slipped, -slip-ping to dismiss from a job: Leesa's ex-best friend Cara pink-slipped her on Friday after buying her lunch. (1950-1955, example from the present)
pink' slip' per, (pingk' slip' er) n.,
1. A light, low shoe, worn mainly indoors, that may be slipped on or off easily, in the color of pink.
2. A person who has been pink-slipped.
--Standard dictionary definitions available online and elsewhere (updated, revised, and expanded upon by Leesa Winsome)