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Exchange of Heart

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Short Story (9800)
Ebook Edition (Available in epub, mobi & pdf.)
Publication date: August 4, 2015
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SKU: T13-1.000247-01 Categories: , , Tags: , , ,

Waitress Michelle Medena was used to the attention she got from men. They were always hitting on her, but none seemed interested in anything but her good looks. Then one night Zak Tover, the teaching assistant in her economics class, sat at her table. With his socialist-themed t-shirts and tendency to leave extravagant tips he was like no one she’d ever met. He seemed to find her beauty of little value.

Zak Tover was completely intimidated by beautiful women and knew better than to try to hit on them. Michelle, however, was particularly difficult to ignore, especially when her class papers revealed a clever mind behind all that loveliness. Still, they come from very different socio-economic backgrounds and Zak knew better than to expect that there could never be a fair trade between them…that was, until Michelle’s wayward brother stepped in with his own radical economic theory and completely altered the exchange rate. (F/M)

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“You did grade this, didn’t you?” she demanded.

“Yes,” he murmured.

“I thought so. You hate it because it’s pro-capitalism.”

He hadn’t thought it possible to escape the captivity of her breasts, but her words got through. When he was suddenly able to meet her gaze, he noticed her eyes were thickly ringed with dark lashes and golden-brown in color, like heated brandy.

Very expensive brandy warming him all the way through.

“I graded your paper on the merits of its argument,” he retorted as coolly as he could. “Your points were weak and you repeated propaganda rather than facts. Like when you insisted that a capitalistic economy guarantees democracy.”

“Propaganda? You’re wearing a Karl Marx T-shirt!” she pointed out. “God, I hate your type. You theorize about how people should live, but you don’t know anything about them. I bet you’ve never had to work a day in your life.”

He felt a pang of guilt and his eyes started to sink down. “I’ve held jobs.”

“Yeah, but did you ever have to worry about losing your home or starving on the streets if you got fired? There was always a safety net under you, wasn’t there?”

True as the words were, they angered him. “So you’re a woman of the people? Fine. Maybe you can explain something to me. Why is a poor person like you supporting a system that so undervalues your worth? Marx had a term for it: Exchange Value. Oversimplifying, it means the importance of your labor. That gold locket you’re wearing…”

She touched the heart-shaped charm as if suddenly afraid he was going to tear it from her neck.

“Miners worked very hard to get that gold to make that locket. But when it came to deciding what the gold was worth, their efforts mattered very little. The cost of the gold was decided according to its weight, purity, how it was valued by the stock market, supply and demand. Not how much effort a man gave to digging it out of the ground.”

Her fingers toyed with the locket and she frowned thoughtfully.

He brought it home. “Shouldn’t the value of that gold be based on how much sweat and pain a worker gave for it? At the very least, shouldn’t the miner earn a share of the profits?”

“So, how much effort did it take?” she demanded. “And did every man at that gold mine work as hard? If you lived in my neighborhood you’d know how many lazy idiots there are. For every one working, there are three doing a half-assed job. Give them a share of the profits and they’ll waste it on beer and card games. Why should I subsidize that? If we’re talking about this value exchange, then capitalism is what works. It allows me to be rewarded for doing more, and punishes those that do squat. It motivates everyone to do their share.”

Her eyes were glowing with fury, with, God help him, intelligence. Beautiful and smart. This diamond looked to be real. He pushed the paper towards her.

“Rewrite this. Include those points you just made. Back them up with valid research on monetary rewards as motivators. That’s exactly the type of evidence this paper lacks. Put it in, and I’ll re-grade it.”

“I will,” she assured him, snatching back her assignment and marching off.

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