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I shifted from foot to foot as I watched the well to do kids at my law school bustle around the office as they waited impatiently for the posting of their grades. My feet throbbed from the worn out soles of my Payless pumps and I spied yet another run in my pantyhose. I sighed. There would be no replacing them anytime soon. I discovered very early on that I was the enemy here and no one would give me their seat, not even the men. Chivalry is indeed dead, at least in the hallowed halls of Washington-Tacoma law school.
This is it, I thought crankily, third year and I'm still the only one without a job offer or fabulous internship. I had dragged my ass through four years of undergrad and three years of law school. Despite my scholarships I had student loans I would probably be paying with my social security check when I was 100, and through it all I held down a job at Toot's, the local Hooter's rip off, I'm sure every town had one and this was ours. I reluctantly wore the obligatory short black shorts, tight white t-shirts and heavy eye make up for the tips, although it was touted as a 'family' restaurant there was still the necessity to hire bouncers. The humiliation was sometimes worth the trouble, especially when it came to paying my rent. I had had a job until about three weeks ago, but the small law firm that had offered me a job after graduation had been bought out by one of the largest firms in the country Viking, Foyle, and Hamerow, LLP. Being the "people's law firm" they were, I found out I was jobless in the form of a letter stating that I wasn't to expect a job with their firm when I left law school.
Yes, I had sat home and cried, felt sorry for myself for a while, but then I called my dad. Charlie patiently listened to me complain and cry for a few minutes before he laid down the law.
"Bells, this is the real world. I can't bail you out," he said. "I'll help you all I can, but honey you're going to have to find your way on your own. You're not a child any more."
"I know dad," I said. Charlie allowed me some time to cry, but not too much; he was a simple man, a man of few words. I had realized that when I was sixteen and moved in with him in the small town of Forks, Washington. But at the same time, though there was always fatherly affection for me, I knew he loved me and cared for me, I loved him very much. He was just a small town police chief with retirement waiting just around the corner; he had his house, a motorboat and a flat screen TV. I didn't want to upset the life he worked so hard for, I never asked him for a dime after undergrad. I knew it would come straight out of his pension.
The door to the administrator's office opened capturing everyone's attention as the hundred-year-old secretary hobbled out; my jaded "classmates" sprang from their seats and clamored towards her. Grasping push-pins in her shaky arthritic hands she slowly stabbed each piece of paper up so we could all see them. It wasn't like Tacoma could put their law school's grades online like they did for the rest of the school; no they had to torture us I'm sure in preparation for the, as Charlie put it "real world". I was elbowed a few times trying to get to the grades, I snickered as I imagined myself trapped in an Abercrombie & Fitch mosh pit. Receiving a few dirty looks from my classmates I finally got to the sheets. I ran my finger down the list until I found the last four digits of my social security number. I passed. Granted, I was never going to make law review, but I passed. I was going to get my law degree so the few bumps and bruises to my ribcage I got from reading my grades were worth it, I passed. The relief I felt was almost palpable.
My shift at Toot's was starting in thirty minutes. I had to go. My Toot's uniform was in the cab of my trusty old red truck so I climbed in and drove out of the parking garage. Toot's wasn't that far away from school so practically minutes later I pulled into the employee parking lot. Carrying my things inside to the employee locker room I changed into the low-cut t-shirt and shorts. I touched up my eye make-up and put my law school clothes and shoes into my locker. Hey, this was much better than stripping for a living.
Putting my hair up into a ponytail I walked out onto the restaurant floor and saw Seth and Embry setting up behind the bar, they were the bartenders slash bouncers for the night. "So, Bella," Seth asked with a huge smile, "Are you graduating?"
"Yes," I breathed.
"Alright," Seth said, holding up his hand for a high-five. He was so tall, I couldn't reach it. "Don't forget about us when you're a big time rich lawyer!"
"Good job," Embry said, walking over and giving me a hug, "Now get out there and start slinging burgers."
Toot's can be a pretty decent family restaurant, I get tipped pretty well. But, it's on the weekends when the college crowd packs the place that things tend to get pretty rowdy. And tonight was a Friday. It took some time but I've learned how to handle it, and there were rules that our bouncers enforced, frequently. The customers were forbidden to grab the waitresses, smack their butt or have any type of physical contact, but there is no law that says they can't look all they want. And look they did. The other girl working the bar section with me tonight was Lauren. Polar opposites didn't begin to describe us, she is a pretty blonde who everyone liked but in reality she was a hateful, gossipy hag-bitch. I'm positive her fake personality, and boobs I suspect, laughing, giggling and flirting with all the customers got her better tips.
The night was moving along smoothly and I was able to keep a pretty good handle on things until some sleazy, mid-life crisis drunk began coming onto to me. "Come on sweet cheeks, don't you wanna quit this job and have somebody take care of you?" he slurred, squinting as he read my nametag, "Belllllaaaa?" His unruly, drunk friends howled in laughter.
"I do just fine for myself thanks," I said, setting down a pitcher of beer. I wanted to say, I've got a law degree asshole and I'll probably be able to buy and sell your sorry ass with what I make next year. Sorry about the size of your dick, and toss the fresh pitcher of beer on him and walk away. But, I'd get fired for that.
He was too busy leering at my cleavage to respond. So, I placed their food on they table and right as I did, one of his friends picked up the pitcher and "accidentally" tipped it down my shirt, causing me to shriek
"Oops," he said. They all burst out laughing. My white t-shirt was now completely transparent and they all start laughing.
"That's it!" Embry growled, hopping over the bar. "I saw that- you're outta here!"
"Yeah, says who asshole?" Lenny Limpdick slurred.
"Guys, we're going to need some help out here," Seth called on the kitchen intercom to the cooks in the back. I ran towards the locker room passing the kitchen on my way.
"What happened out there?" Paul asked, taking off his apron. He was a friend of Seth and Embry's and helped me fix my truck a few times. "Bells?"
"Yeah," I said, bending my shoulders and pulling my soaked shirt away from my body so it wasn't so see through.
"We're on it."
I could hear the loud arguing in the dining room from the locker room. I thanked God that all the men employed here were huge and could hold their own in a fight. We had become like a family and watched out for each other, I smiled at that thought as I peeled off my beer soaked shirt. Why had I put on a see through bra today?
"Hey, Bella," Emily, another waitress said, coming into the back. "Are you okay?"
"Yeah, just starring in my one woman wet t-shirt contest," I said, toweling off my bra.
Emily grinned as she handed me a dry t-shirt, "What a bunch of assholes, I had them last week, I think they're trying to re-live their frat boy days, complete alkies. I'm pretty sure they'll be banned forever."
"I hope so," I said, pulling the shirt over my head. My bra was relatively dry, but now I smelled like a brewery.
"Hey, this is why we get paid the big bucks." I said nudging Emily in the ribs.
Embry and Paul came back into the locker room. "Everything's fine, now," Embry said. "We kicked them out, Claire and the rest of the hostesses know never to give them a table here ever again. You can finish your shift."
"Thanks guys," I said, tucking my notepad back into my apron.
Three am finally rolled around and we were closing up for the night. I was relieved. "Hey Bella, we're having a party out at Quil's tonight," Seth said. "You wanna go?"
"Sorry Seth, I've got to put on my lawyer costume and follow up on my legal advice with the old-timers tomorrow morning." Quil's parties were basically everyone hanging out in his apartment getting smashed and smoking a few joints. There were the occasional hook ups and blow jobs, and in the morning, everyone was hung over. There was a time when I had a very active sex life, but once I got to law school all bets were off. I had been surrounded by pompous assholes who thought they were better than everyone, and made it perfectly clear that they hated me twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, and the prospect of having sex with me was non-existent. I had had a very embarrassing one night stand last December with one of our bartenders and he later quit.
"Sounds like fun," he snorted. "Why would you ever want to be a lawyer, anyway?" Seth asked as I helped him put up glasses from the dishwasher.
"Well, this may sound silly but, I'd like help the world find justice," I said. "It's the American way."
"Good luck with that, Bell," he said. "Good night."
"'Night," I said.
I could feel exhaustion creeping up on me as I packed up my clothes and went out to my truck, I was incredibly tired, but I had almost a hundred dollars in tips in my pocket that would go towards my rent. I dragged myself up the steps to my apartment and Sunny, the light orange tabby cat that lived around my apartment building, slinked up the steps beside me. "Me-owf!" she said in her old-lady-cat voice.
"Hey, Sunshine," I said. I named her that because she was the happiest thing in my life. "Are you hungry sweetie?" Sunny was the skinniest, saddest-looking cat when I first moved here, but when I started feeding her, she filled out beautifully. She probably weighs around eight to nine pounds now and while she probably has fleas really bad, she's actually kind of pretty. I put a flea collar on her and I hope it helps her some. She adopted me, I like to say. I fed Sunny while she rubbed against my ankles. Her food dish is outside my apartment door I can't let her inside because of the no pet policy. I thought that when I got a real job as a lawyer and was making eighty-thousand dollars a year, I'd take Sunny to the vet, get her fixed, groomed and give her a flea dip, and make her a perfectly spoiled indoor cat. However, with the way things are going it doesn't look like Sunny's going to be an indoor cat any time soon.
My apartment is pretty small and located in a building that has seen better days. When I moved in I thought the walls were painted yellow, they were yellow but it was from the last tenants, apparently they were smokers. They must have smoked like chimneys; even with the fresh coat of white paint on the walls you can still smell it. I don't have a TV, but I do have couch from the Salvation Army and one old, ratty recliner that I found in a yard sale on a rare sunny day. They're both pretty comfortable and suit my needs. Charlie let me take my bed and dresser from my room at his house, the only other furnishing in my bedroom is bookshelves packed with books I had read and enjoyed while getting my undergrad literature degree and my law books. The bright little kitchen only has a refrigerator, stove, a tiny bit of counter space and a microwave I bought for about twenty-five dollars that does the job. I wash all my own dishes. It's little, but it's clean and provides me a place to rest my head at night.
After putting my tips for the night into the rent jar and hiding it in my freezer, I checked my cell phone for messages. Angela had called me. She was pregnant for the second time and her son, Will, was getting into everything these days. Jake had some of the guys over from the garage and they were drinking and playing poker. She just wanted to know that I was doing alright and to let me know that she was thinking of me. Angela. Sweet Angela.
Jacob is from La Push and has been my best friend since childhood. He came to Seattle to attend technical school to become an auto mechanic and Angela was attending Washington-Tacoma with me for her undergrad. The three of us worked at Toot's and of course, before I knew it, Angela, the good preacher's daughter, met, started dating and got pregnant by Jake her senior year. She freaked out more over the fact that her father was going to kill her, not the fact that she was pregnant. It was a shotgun wedding, but in name only, because you could truly see the love the two shared and a few months later she gave birth to a beautiful baby boy, they named him William Jacob Black. So now they have Will who recently turned three and another on the way and couldn't be happier. After graduation they moved back to La Push to live on the Reservation where Jake was raised. He wanted his children to have the same natural surroundings and pride in their heritage as they grew. Jake had been one of the best bouncers Toot's had ever had especially when it came to Angela and I, being six foot seven and all- that Quileute hunter in him made Jake pretty scary. Although Embry and Seth could sure give him a run for his money.
I'm sure they were all asleep by now and wouldn't appreciate a late night phone call. Well, at least they should be. I was not.