“How is England?” Xander asks Larry one day as they walk into the main building.
“Even with multiple planes bringing out the boxes, it's going to be at least the end of the year before every building has power. And even longer before life gets back to normal. Even with the buildings that have generators they're having to ration power, government buildings are only open every other day. Even Buckingham Palace is having to cut back, whole sections of the buildings have been shut down and only the private living areas have power, and even there it's limited. Mostly lights when the sun goes down, running water so they can flush toilets once a day, and cook if they have any supplies left.”
“How do they. . .”
“Multiple fuse boxes and multiple generators. Just like the cafeteria has its own fuse box.” Scott says as he walks past. “Though I don't doubt Buckingham Palace and the other royal residences will be among the first people to get the boxes.”
“Probably, along with government buildings, hospitals, and prisons.”
“Has Kiara heard about her grandmother?”
“The prison is on lockdown, thankfully they had got in a major order of supplies before the power outage and have their own gardens where the prisoners work. But with the power out this long everybody's in their cells 24/7 and they're on limited rations. If a prisoner gets sick. . .they have to live with it. I'm sure some damn fools would be up in arms at actually punishing prisoners but everybody's in the same boat. There are no open hospitals, there is already rampant deaths thanks to dirty water and sewage not being picked up. . .and they're not even in winter yet.”
“Unless they live out in country manors there will be many more deaths over the winter.” Rupert says. Maybe he should look into snapping up any empty manor homes after all this is over. Amanda who'd arrived the night before with more deeds for Jessy looks over at him and nods slightly. Looking over at Methos they see he's in agreement.
Illyana settles in a chair to read a letter from her brother, smiling as she slides it into her shoulder bag. She'll write to Piotr tonight she thinks as she walks to the cafeteria for dinner.
In his office Rupert is looking at Mr. Stark, Buckaroo, and Methos. “The growing dimension is going well, we have locations to move the buildings if we need to move. . .”
“Hope to whoever we don't have to.” Tony Stark sighs. “Your Houses would be the only ones who'd be able to survive out there without a lot of work. Stark would need a self-contained water and sewage treatment facility.”
“Yes, that is the big sticking point.” Rupert sighs. “Jessy has passed along information she received from Haven about a dimension with severe flooding where people are moving to other dimensions permanently because their animals need dry land.” Rupert sends the files to their PADDs.
“Yes, cattle, sheep, goats, and horses cannot stand in wet ground for any length of time without getting sick. And you cannot keep horses in their stalls forever.” Methos says as he starts to read. “Have you started looking into chicken farms?”
“I've brought into a number of them, along with factories that turn them into powdered eggs.”
“I brought a company that makes them. They would have gone into bankruptcy otherwise since they lost a lucrative government contract. Idiots.” Tony snorts. “I got them looking at other contracts and they're doing very well. FEMA and the National Guard have permanent contracts with the business.”
“Okay, have we heard anything about more power outages?”
“I fear it's just a matter of time unless you are serviced by a small independent power company that has kept up on repairs and maintenance.” Buckaroo sighs. “Unfortunately there aren't that many out there anymore, they were brought out by bigger concerns and they cut costs where they could.”
“Or tried claiming their customers owned the company and passed along their costs to them. I remember reading something in the news years ago about a power plant in Michigan jacking up the prices of the bills two, three hundred percent to make them pay for everything. Since they owned it.” Methos says snidely. The other men nod.
The next morning four PODS are dropped off by the Seamstress building and the boys start bringing out boxes, piling them by a wall as Jessy checks the inventory and opens the thick envelope that had been in one of the PODS, pinning the new patterns to the corkboard and looking everything over.
“Are the suppliers and expos getting back to normal?” Jenny asks as she looks at the pictures.
“Not this year unless they were in an area that already had the boxes.” Jessy says. “Our loving former Governor would be having a hopping up and down screaming fit about tourists not magically flocking to Florida the second we got the boxes but a lot of the area is still recovering. There's empty stores in various cities and small towns that will likely never reopen. Marley was lucky in that they didn't lose anything but Stanley is looking at three or four businesses not reopening.”
Jenny nods. “They'd either be reopened or have a firm date when they'd reopen if they were by now. Schools that were closed this last year are frantically getting in supplies and checking their mechanicals to make sure something didn't go up while they were closed.”
Faith nods as she walks over. “Not here but I saw a story online where a school's boiler went out and the school kids were having to wear their outside clothes in class since it was only in the forties. The boiler was decades old and it would cost over a hundred thousand to replace it. They were looking at getting a millage on the ballot to pay for it, but it would be a lot of money for the homeowners.”
“And of course schools don't have emergency or slush funds to cover this sort of emergency. Or had the damn thing inspected years ago so the money could be put away before it was needed.”
“Of course not, that would be the goddamn responsible thing.” Jubilee snorts as she holds up a dress, looks it over, and takes it into the next room. “Are we having a finishing week?”
“Week after next, we're getting full but not at a stage we need to stop and work on everything.” Jessy says, walking over to look at the other room. “And Max is going to be delayed picking up this first order by about two weeks he said.” Faith looks at him. “He called last night and told me. Anybody else who would come out to pick them up is busy with the same thing. . .something or other to do with the huge orders we got. Since we got the room, I told him to relax and let me know when he'll be out. If somebody is going to be out of room they can put stuff in one of the PODS.” Jenny nods in satisfaction.
“Is this it for the new orders?”
“I don't think so,” Jessy says slowly. “I know we're all waiting for the other shoe to drop for the rest of the US to lose their power and the rest of the world's power grids have to be as bad as Britain's or worse.”
“Especially in underdeveloped countries. But those are the countries that while they need the help the worse, they don't have the infrastructure to accept the boxes or the resources to pay for it.”
“And there are some countries that would rather see their citizens starve or freeze to death than accept help.” Faith snorts.
“China, North Korea, Russia.” Jubilee ticks off countries. Then looks at Illyana shamefacedly.
“Oh I agree, that's why Piotr took me and ran after the deaths of our parents on the collective and Mikhail in space.” She says quietly, saying a prayer for her dead family. “We would not have been bothered by no power on the collective but they would have killed us trying to get us to grow enough food to feed everybody else. Or sent us to the gulags that supposedly do not exist anymore for failing to deliver as much food as they wanted.”
The others shake their heads and hug Illyana. “How is your brother doing?”
“Well, the school has increased the size of their garden this summer thanks to the power outage last fall. There is still shortages on the shelves even in the areas that had power.” The others nod. “And it's only going to get worse since there's still a good chunk of the country recovering from the outages.”
“Or waiting for the other shoe to drop and their power to go out.” Paige mutters from her station. She takes a partial spool of thread from her machine and drops it into a drawer in her station. Each station has a drawer of partial spools of thread to be used in smaller projects or hand basting until they run out. Putting them in drawers keeps them out of sight in case somebody walks into the building but still handy. And if the drawer gets too full they have to sort them out and use them up. Across the room Betty finishes an outfit and removes a now empty spool off the top of the sewing machine, dropping it into the recycling bin by the wall as she walks into the other room.
Jessy leans against the wall, stretching backwards until her back pops and she sighs. Maybe she'll see if she can get in at the spa for a massage after dinner.
“How are you coming along on the bags?” Rupert asks as she settles at the table
“Good, we have a dozen new patterns and I've already been told if the new bags are as good as the ones we've already made to expect as many more patterns next year. They aren't going to waste, I hear that some of the ones we're making are being filled with school supplies and passed out to kids who lost a year of schooling thanks to the power outage. That's in addition to the ones that are being filled with non-perishables for the next big outage. Because everybody is waiting for the other shoe to drop.”
“Amen.” comes from various tables in the cafeteria.
The next few days are quiet as boxes are moved from the PODS into the seamstress building and piles of layers are put together by whoever is taking a break from working on an outfit or sewing the layers already put together.
“Are the schools on track to open in September?” Phillip asks a few days before the fourth of July.
“They damn well should be.” Joyce snorts. The other older adults in the room nod. “They've had months to try to get in supplies before the new school year starts. I'd say they should have supplies since schools didn't open last year but they would have been taken away to be used.” The others nod. “They'll have to reopen on time if they're still getting in supplies or not, they can't have a second year start off on a bad foot, last year was out of their control. . .this time would have been all on their shoulders.”
More nods from the others. “And us?”
“Jessy is picking up one last batch of class materials from the homeschooling store in Miami next week when she goes in for the library, I am running to the other one tomorrow to get more supplies This will handle the students until the first of the year.” Wesley looks out the window. “Have we started making a list of what museums and other attractions we wish to take the children to?”
“We've started one, but the damn power outages shot that plan all to hell.” Jenny snorts. “I'd also like the children to be a little older.” Wesley nods. “The only trip schoolchildren would go to in the first grade would be to a playground, possibly a play area attached to a fast-food restaurant.”
“I'd suggest an outing to a library for their first library cards and possibly story time but most children that age would be doing that at their own school library.”
“And they have their own library of books here.” Phillip says. “Is Jessy handling the closets while she’s in Miami?”
“Yes, she'll be staying in the city for a couple of days. After that she will be flying out to the expo by Vegas since it and the sale are among the few that were unaffected by the power outage.”
“Yes, Larry says a good three quarters of the expos the children normally attend were canceled this year.” Rupert says. “Thankfully we have a good handle on supplies for most of the expos and the others will have nothing new until everything recovers from the outage.”
“As the children have been saying, even with multiple flights it will be the end of the year before there are enough boxes for every building in England. No doubt the country manors are in better shape than the cities.”
“Yes, they can grow their own food. Most have some sort of solar panels. Heat might be a problem but they will be better off than the cities.”
“Yes, not many manors heat with coal or wood anymore.” Methos chuckles. “Even here in Florida we lost people to heatstroke, In areas where it was winter I don't doubt there was deaths from hypothermia.”
“Or carbon monoxide since people will still heat with those blasted charcoal grills even though they are repeatedly told not to.” House snorts as he walks into the room. “You're needed in your office, Mayor Watson is here.” Rupert blinks but gets up and leaves the 'board' room, the others looking at House. “No, I don't know why he's here. I thought everything was running well in Marley.”
“Mayor Watson.” Rupert walks into his office to find Larry pouring the other man a cup of coffee.
“Sorry to bother you Dr. Giles, I know you're busy with running the House and helping the businesses with anything they need to get ready for the sale the 4th. I'm here to go over the final results of the power outage. We are better off than areas that get most of their budget primarily from tourism but it's going to be a couple years before everything is back to normal.” Rupert nods. “And this area is better off than much of the country affected by the last outage.”
“Yes, while some of the smaller stores are opening after Labor Day all our businesses are reopening. Stark was able to stay in operation and those people that did have their jobs cut were able to make money making up food packages or otherwise working with the National Guard. We're going to be having a 'supply' week in mid-August so students can get school clothes and supplies again, I understand that Ms. Michaels is making bags that the government will be filling with school supplies?”
“Yes, Jessy said that this year charities won't have to have fill the bus events so students have school supplies.” Rupert rumbles as Larry returns with a mug of tea for him. “Thank you, Larry. As I was saying, the government more than doubled their orders for the bags and did double the supplies they dropped off for the boxes. I understand there's at least a dozen new patterns and if the shop can keep up with the demand, they'll double the patterns and order again next year. Because like the rest of us they're still expecting the other shoe to drop.” Mayor Watson nods. “Let me come to the reason I came. The recycling drop-off center in town. The company that would normally be picking up the recycling is shut down.”
Larry calls a name from his office. “They're trying not to have to declare bankruptcy thanks to the outage. We use. . .” He calls another name. “Do you need us to pick up the recycling in town when the trucks come for ours? The trucks pick up for Stark at the same time.”
“Please, it will save us that money in the budget.” Mayor Watson sighs. “If the company we use does not reopen we'll look into a contract with your company.”
Mayor Watson calls a council meeting the next day. “I talked to Dr. Giles, he has offered to pick up our recycling when the trucks pick up theirs and Stark's.” The council sighs. “This way it's not stacking up any more than usual and if the company we use doesn't reopen, I'll see about a contract with them.” The others nod. “With the drop-off center only open two days a week and volunteers and prisoners on work-release doing the sorting it's money that we can put aside for emergencies.”
The following week Jessy slides from the driver's seat of the truck and nearly drops to the ground. “Miami is back to normal, traffic was hell.” Ryan had grabbed her hand and nods in agreement as he gets her into the golf cart. “Nothing in the truck that can't wait until the morning.”
“Did the city council scream about all the overtime?”
“Yes, and they sobbed in front of the court that did they really need to pay the police for all the work we did during the power outage? It would destroy the budget. They sobbed like they were dying when they were told yes, yes you do have to pay them for all that overtime they put in. A good half of the officers slept in the jail cells since they were pulling twelve-hour shifts. The government had to ship in gasoline for the patrol cars and other city vehicles a good dozen times. Most of us didn't get to our beds more than twice a week. If that.” He takes her to the door where Larry is waiting for her with a bottle of water and a packet of advil. “Thank you, as I told Ryan Miami is back to normal. Traffic was hell.”
“Morons were used to the lights being out and didn't want to stop?”
“Sounded like it from the five accidents I had to go around.” Jessy mutters. She brings out the receipts and Larry puts them in folders. “Everything's in the truck, Ryan says there's nothing that can't wait until the morning and I agree. I'm going to soak in the jacuzzi and then get something to eat and call it a night.”
The next morning after breakfast people show up to unload the truck, Jessy calling a halt as they get to the stuff for the closets and her own purchases.
“Did you hit the puzzle store?”
“Yep, that's part of that. Did we set up a room?”
“Yes, and we're already seeing some purchases of the puzzles as well as them being put together.” Wesley smiles. Jessy takes her purchases to her home and puts them away.
Jessy grins as she looks over, seeing Maddy and La Belle pull up in the parking lot for the sale. She honks and waves, they come over from their truck and slide into hers. Jessy waves a hand at the thermoses of coffee and bags of sandwiches she'd brought from the House's cafeteria.
“How is your area?”
“Recovering. The boxes finally arrived in our area in February but the National Guard had taken over the school in Marley as a base so people come in, get a hot shower, a hot meal, and charge batteries if they didn't have a generator. They brought out supplies for the school kids last year and plan on doing it again this year,”
“Did you have many girls come into the seamstress shop?”
“No, but that allowed us to finish Max's order earlier than usual. And he brought out a huge order, double what we normally make and more to come. He's working with Hollywood people to fill the goodie bags you see talked about at major events, all the businesses have orders. Even the pottery though in their case it's gift cards to go in the bags. The orders for the bags doubled. . .” Jessy knows the other two women know the bags she's talking about. They nod. “And it's looking to double again next year since the government is filling them with supplies for school kids as well as getting in a stock of them to be handed out during emergencies since everybody is still waiting for the ball to drop.” The two younger women nod again. Jessy knows that every room in the warehouses that aren't full of other stuff is full of food and other supplies and every room has been enlarged to the nth degree. Like the Houses they have in stocks of MREs in stasis in case of emergencies.
The door opens and they enter with the others, splitting up and starting to shop. The next day Jessy parks at the warehouses, nodding at all the changes over the last few years. Tony chuckles as he sees Ms. Michaels walk over. “You were just at the House, I know you aren't going to ask how the area is.”
“Rupert told me about your trip into Miami. Five accidents?'
“That I had to go around. Eight total. Come on people, it's been nearly four months since the boxes got brought out in Miami, traffic lights are back. Pay attention to them instead of thinking 'oh, I'm so special I don't need to stop. You plebes can just get out of my way'.”
Marigold sighs as her granddaughter Maddy makes a rude sound. “It happened here too. Having to pay tickets, pay to fix your car since you were at fault, and having your insurance rates go up made them howl. Won't stop them from driving like idiots and thinking they're all that but it will make them howl.”
“Oh yes, I've had my share of idiot drivers.” Jessy mutters. Marigold gives her a look and she tells the story of what happened to her first car, the idiot who drove across traffic to get to the off-ramp instead of being in that lane in the first place. . .and the others cackle at the howling that she just stole that car that day and already wrecked it, the fool kid who drove into the mall not once but twice and moan at the crooks taking out the traffic lights with a computer virus so they can steal from the armored car.
“So does Rupert sigh at these trips?”
“Yes, but since I generally buy enough to cover the next order that would have gone out for my shop it's not that bad. Most of the time. Sometimes he just gives me looks but those are the trips I generally stock up on stuff that's being cleared out for the next hot thing. Which then turns into the next hot mess.” Multiple nods from people at the tables.
“Your coworker Betty, her friend's mother?
“Still blubbering in prison because her daughter won't put money on the books for her or pay her judgments. Who cares if the other car had the right of way? She had the better car and they should have got out of her way. Who cares if the boy died? Who cares if Betty was held in jail for two weeks without seeing the judge while she flounced around town. No, she's not an alcoholic. . .she just had a couple teensie-weensie afternoon drinks. . .as opposed to her morning and evening drinks.” Jessy snorts. “The old girl is probably sober for the first time in years and like that fool kid who drove into the mall twice absolutely hating it.” Marigold snorts and nods. “She didn't lie about her husband keeping Betty in jail, she just fibbed a little.”
“Just like your mother fibbed a little about how you killed your father and not her?” Tony snorts.
“Exactly. She didn't mean for her husband to go back to prison for parole violations. She didn't want to believe her daughter until she got a letter from her now ex-husband from another prison. She couldn't believe he'd divorce her to keep from losing the Lodge fortune, turning everything over to Veronica. But she couldn't touch it while her mother was being sued, she had to be fibbing about working 40 hour weeks in a factory to pay the bills because she didn't have any training for any other jobs and you can't keep up with bills working part-time at a fast food place.” Nods from everybody around her. “She got used to working a full-time job after a few weeks, her father got out of prison because the courts didn't believe he had anything to do with keeping Betty in jail, nearly the entire police force being arrested for corruption helped.” Snorts from everybody around her this time. “She's not spoiled spoiled but she was sheltered her entire life and having all this happen was a big wakeup call. She dumped her boyfriend who was upset she didn't want to go dancing, to a movie, to a party after working all day. He's now working a full-time job and realizing how damn tired she was.” Nods of satisfaction from everybody. “She's still working because like she said, this is for her. She's taking. . .well she was taking classes for her bachelors two or three classes a semester. I think she might have graduated by now.”
“Yes, it's damn hard to work and go to school even part-time as my cousins whined.” La Belle says quietly. She's patted on the shoulders or arms by various family members. “You had it harder, you were working and going to school full-time.” Marigold says briskly.
“Yeah, but my school had jobs lined up for students, it's not like I was working outside the school and still trying to get in classes.”
“Yes, but you were still getting in at least twenty hours a week, not counting weekends. And you weren't living on campus. You were working full-time summers. Either at the school or driving for the trucking company.”
“I was lucky in that the other women who shared the apartment with me paid extra over the school year to have an apartment already waiting for them since I lived there year-round.” La Belle sighs. “When I graduated the school was able to get another student staying summers to take over the apartment.”
“You're not the first student they had to find a place to live between high school and starting their university classes and you won't be the last as long as foster care kicks students out at the age of eighteen.” Marigold says quietly.
“That long?” Jessy asks. “Two of the men I work with were kicked out of foster care at sixteen. Xander had to get a full-time job to pay for the apartment their social worker put him and Oz in. Oz got a full scholarship to university while Xander got his GED.”
“Sixteen?” Marigold moans.
“I guess it varies by state and if there's a desperate need to get the older kids out so they have the room for younger kids.” Jessy says. “I would have aged out of the foster care system at sixteen too if Rupert hadn't taken me in.”
Pepper mutters something rude under her breath. “People just taking the kids in for the money, once the checks no longer come the kids are out the door. Too many children and not enough resources for all of them.”
Nods from the adults as the food starts coming off the grills and is handed around.
Jessy grins as she nudges Joanne when she finds the other woman inspecting one of the buildings on the college campus that's open for inspection.
“Thinking of the school too?”
“Yeah, and there's not enough room for workstations. And I doubt the electrical system's been updated in years.” Joanne nods in agreement. They shake their heads at the price the bankruptcy court is asking for, no way they'll be getting it. “Look for when it goes up at auction for taxes?”
“Yeah, I'll have the money guys keep an eye on it.” They put in real offers for the land and buildings and head to their cars, detouring to a local restaurant for a meal and to the call the school in New York.
In her office Mona takes the call and nods at what the two women are saying and triggers the intercom after the call. “Joanne and Ms. Michaels looked at the school, it would need a good bit of work including electrical because I don't think it's been updated in years but they both put in offers for the land and buildings.”
“If we get it we can work on the buildings over several years.” One of the others says in another building.
“If we do get the buildings, look at local vocational schools. We might be able to swing it that students do the work for their classes.” Another woman says. In the office Margo nods firmly and sends off a text message to Joanne and Ms. Michaels.
Jessy slumps onto a couch in the hallway of the House, taking off her shoes and rubbing her feet before putting on a pair of slippers. “Joanne was there looking at the buildings with the same thought. I think it would be a good bit of work to retrofit the rooms for machinery, the classrooms were damn small and probably hadn't been updated in years.” She says at Larry's look. “We put in offers for what the land and buildings really are worth, not the nonsense the bankruptcy court was trying to get. I doubt the court will accept them, I told my money guys to look into getting the property when it goes up for taxes. Joanne and I had a late lunch and sent off the recommendations to the school, they sent back suggestions that if the school gets it to look into having vo-ed students working on them.” Rupert nods from the doorway of his office.
A few days later Rupert gets a call from the government in England, listening quietly and saying a few things before ending the call and dropping his head into his hands at his desk. Larry is there immediately.
“I just got a call from England that some old friends of mine died over in England. They left me their property since they had no family, I will be off for a week to go over the inheritance details. In addition to property in England they had property in Scotland.”
Rupert heads off the next morning after talking with Joyce, Mack, and Larry. The House would usually be quiet this week but he wants to leave nothing to plan. Stopping to pick up pallets of boxes and other supplies from the authorities since that area hadn't been reached yet and bringing along a number of personnel to deliver them and set up the accounts he flies to England, his small plane landing on a airstrip the larger planes couldn't have used. The mayor comes out and sobs in relief when he finds out they have boxes. The personnel quickly start unloading supplies into the trucks that had thankfully been refueled with the last of the petrol from the last delivery. The news starts going out and people start gathering in the local town hall, a man checking off names and addresses on the list that had been given him and handing out the boxes as the accounts are created. They take their share of other supplies too.
“Petrol and fuels?”
“All the refineries and other essential services have the boxes and are starting production again. You should be getting a shipment in. . .” One of the personnel checks the records on his computer. “Yes, a convoy of trucks is due to arrive in two days to refill the tanks of your filling stations.” The mayor sighs in relief.
Meanwhile Rupert is heading out with boxes to his old friends manor, his employees sobbing as the boxes are plugged in and the power returns. The rest of the supplies are put away and the cook immediately starts working on a splendid meal to celebrate their power being back.
“Rupert.” A male voice says quietly behind him.
“Ethan, I was surprised to inherit the estate. You're a young man.” He looks at the other man and is saddened. “Cancer?”
“Yep, all those years of sneaking fags is literally going to be the death of me.” He sighs. “Ohh, the doctors say they caught it in time and I might live a full life. . .but I'd rather you get the estate now when you can make plans for everything rather than later and be scrambling.”
Jessy shivers as she walks out of her ship coming back from her trip to Haven. They're in the middle of a storm shutdown and the weather is making her cold. Turning on the heater in her office after checking on the kids she settles in to read her e-mail and sends off a message to her government contract, getting a 'yes, we'd thought of it ourselves, we're working on fabrics and designs now' message back.
A couple days later she puts the children in the playroom and drops into a seat by Larry's desk where she finds him busily working on the computer. “Rupert, do we want to look into commercial accounts for toilet paper and paper towels?”
“Yes, as long as it's not that blasted one ply.”
“Still getting in supplies even with most of the country using the boxes?” She asks.
“I won't bother you then, but the government is talking about more patterns. This time for the backpacks that schools. . .”
“Fill with food for their students?” Rupert says from the door of his office.
Jessy looks at the young person shivering in front of her. “Dear, did you make that outfit?”
“Y. . .yeah?” That wasn't what she had been expecting.
“Are you looking for a job? I own a seamstress shop and while the fabric is cheap, you did good work.” She motions for them to turn around. “Yes, you do good work. Now, are you genderfluid or just crossdressing?”
“I'm . . .I want to be a woman.” She says panicked. But there's no censure in the other woman's eyes.
“What name do you want to go by then? So we can fill out the paperwork for your work permit.”
The door behind them opens and a man hustles in then sighs with relief. “Oh, it's only you Ms. Michaels. One of the others ran to get me when you took Marcia off.”
“Marcia, that's a pretty name. Now, my seamstress shop is outside Marley.” She is stricken, that's not near a bus line. “And from your expression I need to find you a place to stay so you can work?”
“Take her up on the offer kid, her and her godfather have done a lot of good in the communities. . .she's the one the big drag queens and drag kings go to for their professional gear as well as people just off the street. And. . .your Mom took off with her lover, your Dad's vowing to track them down and . . .deal with them. The police are after him now, but. . .”
“Christ.” Marcia moans. Jessy sighs and grabs her phone, dialing the house. “Larry. . .yeah, me. How many empty apartments do we have?” She listens. “Do we have any near Gladys or Maxwell? I'm bringing home a young transgender woman who needs a place to stay. I've already offered her a job at the seamstress shop, she makes her own clothes.” She pulls the phone away from her ear. “How old are you?”
“Umm. . .”
“Sixteen in three months.” Nathan Simmonds says firmly.
“If you went into foster care because your mother left and your father was arrested you'd be aging out soon enough anyway.” Jessy says. “Yes, I know. . .I lost my parents when I was nearly sixteen. We're on the records for emergency foster care if anybody comes looking.”
“Come on kid, let me go get your stuff boxed up. I know where Ms. Michael's place is and we'll get you all squared away. This way instead of dealing with the others when the shelter opens tonight you'll be in your own place.”
“Ummm, I can't. . .”
“Unless you already have your own place housing is provided.” Jessy chuckles. “Now . . .the house is a sex fantasy club but you do not have to be part of it. A good half of the employees do not take part in that side of the House.”
“Now. . .remember if you don't want to stay you can come back anytime.” Nathan says as he looks at the young woman next to him. He's driving one of the big trucks and parks it in the lot beyond the gates.
“Everybody parks here, there's not any parking lots or roads out to the apartment buildings. Everybody takes the golf carts.” Jessy chuckles. “Let's get you settled in your new apartment then we'll fill out the employment paperwork and get a tour of the main house.”
Marcia looks at herself in the mirror later that night after she's been brought back to her apartment. There's maps of the grounds and information on the stores in town, which she won't need to worry about until she has enough money to buy a used car and get her license. She's been enrolled in the local school to get a diploma and Dr. Giles has promised to take her to the bank to start a savings account.
She'd been introduced to the closets of boys and girls clothing, told to pick out whatever she needed for school and to wear during her off times. She'd be splitting her time between the cafeteria, the seamstress shop, the soap-making shop, though it would only be putting the soap on shelves for now, and the candle-making building. Even with the boxes people still buy candles, especially for dinners or to light as they soak in the tub.
The next morning she blinks as she doesn't recognize where she is then it all comes rushing back to her. A quick shower and combing her hair she gets dressed in neutral clothes and hurries out the door, remembering to grab a light jacket and her keys at the last moment. An older woman chuckles and gets in the cart with her.
After breakfast Rupert takes her into town, stopping first at the school to finish the paperwork to enroll her at the school, including having her records sent from the school in Miami and talking about what classes she might like to take from the home-schooling stores.
Over the next few days she familiarizes herself with the House and the buildings, An older ten speed bicycle had been brought out of storage and she uses it to get around. She'd fallen in love with the seamstress shop and had been set to learning where everything was and bringing out supplies for the workers. She'd been relieved to find out everybody starts out that way at the shop and that she could use the machines in the future. And that she could buy fabric and other supplies for her own use, the price list was behind the counter. And use an empty machine.
Jessy looks up as the door of the shop opens and she grins.
“Jim.” She hugs the man whose show she's guested on three times with the others.
“I thought this was your shop.” He looks around in satisfaction at the stations all in use. As he looks around an outfit is inspected and carried into another room where he sees more outfits being worked on in a spacious room.
“Betty, can you fill a dish with seed pearls for me?” Illyana asks.
Betty looks over, sees how many she needs and shakes some out of the jar. Illyana smiles and nods in thanks.
“No use opening another bag if you got them handy.” Jessy says. Jim nods because he can see a box half-full of the bags and another girl pulls a bag from the container next to her as the woman who'd just finished her garment hangs it on a rack and the container that had been next to her station is put underneath it. Jim looks at Jessy. “Every garment we make we lay out everything we need for it in the containers,” she waves a hand at the containers still against the wall. “This way when we start it we have everything we need on hand, no looking for something.”
He nods in satisfaction.
A woman comes in the door. “Jessy, got the buttons here.”
Jessy grins and waves Jim over. “Glass buttons I ordered from glassworkers in Miami. I doubt I'll use them in a garment but. . .”
“They're pretty and that's enough.” He grins.
“Yep.” Looking at the floor Jessy grabs a broom and starts sweeping. Jim grins, remembering her response once to the question whether a business owner should get involved in the work and Jessy's response of 'I wouldn't ask anybody to do something I wouldn't do myself and it needs done'. Most of the others, also small business owners had nodded and agreed with her.
“Do you do any of the sewing?”
“Oh yes, I'm usually at a machine either working on a garment or one of the bags if I'm not being mauled by the muse.”
“Then these are your designs.” He grins.
“Yep, no matter what that fucking fool tried to claim.” Jim looks at her and she snorts, telling him the story. He rolls his eyes.