It was the next day that my phone rang while I was counting the dough I got from squeezing the captain of Lunacy. I ducked into the ladies’ room and made sure I looked presentable before I walked into Laura’s office. A middle aged man sat behind her desk, his ass barely squeezing into Laura’s ergonomically designed chair. He stood when I walked in the door, and extended his hand. I took it, and we shook, as I waited for the other shoe to drop.
“Please sit down, Natalie,” he said, indicating the chair opposite the desk. I levered myself down, and he shoved his butt into Laura’s chair. The nervousness I’d felt on my way was totally gone now, and I had an urge to laugh, but the stern look on his face made me tamp the giggles down.
“I’m afraid I have some sad news,” he said, then made an effort to smile. It looked more like the effect of a mild electrical shock than any real human emotion I’ve ever seen. “However, there is some good news for you, I think.”
“Oh,” I said neutrally.
“Yes,” he said, the stern look returning. “I appears that Ms. Baine has decided to leave us here at Bella Luna.”
“Really?” I said, surprise in my voice.
“Yes,” Cornwell said. “She tended her resignation by email last night, and her things are all gone from her quarters. We assume she took the overnight shuttle back to Earth. Something about needing to find a new challenge, she said.”
“She never said anything to me about resigning,” I said.
“No?” Cornwell said. “I understand you two were close.”
“We were friendly,” I said, warily.
“According to Ms. Baine’s reports, she was showing you the ropes around here,” he waved his hand over Laura’s desk like a magician.
“She did let me help out when we weren’t busy on the docks,” I admitted.
“According to the reports, Ms. Baine thought you would make a good replacement for her when she left.”
I swallowed hard. “That’s very kind of her,” I said carefully.
“Ms. Baine is a professional,” Cornwell said. “I’m sure her judgment is sound, and that is why I would like to offer you a provisional promotion to head of Shipping and Receiving, Natalie.”
My eyes grew wide. I knew what Laura made, and the raise would make a nice addition to the stash I had going. I smiled at Cornwell. “I’d be honored, sir,” I said. “And, please, call me Nat.”