I'm back! I know. I know. I offer you all a million apologies. I had a pretty shitty late summer/early fall. I went through a break up. Then, I got in a car accident. My insurance company gave me the run around with getting my car fixed. After I got my car fixed, I sprained my ankle really badly and was unable to drive. Needless to say... I haven't felt like typing much. LOL. Anyway, I'm fine now.

FF writers are people too. LOL.


"Bad date?" the receptionist guesses.

"Ugh," I sniffle and walk off.

You have no idea.

I step into the elevator. I must have 'Fuck off' written on my forehead because the man who was behind me took one look at my face and decided to wait for the next one. That was a wise choice. I slip my heels off and think.

What the fuck?

Where did he get off asking all of those personal questions? We don't even know each other. Not really.

The bell rings and walk down the lonely hall to my room and my feet wince with each step. These heels are entirely too high.

"Ahh...shit" Kate asks, takes in my appearance. "That bad. Huh?" she hands me her glass of wine.

"Yeeeah," I accentuate, wiping my eyes and walking through the door.

"What happened?" she asks, catching my dress when I attempted to throw it on the floor.

"Oh God," I sigh, draping my body over the couch and curling into a ball. "We went to dinner."

"Well...it's only 10:30," Kate starts, pouring two of my largest goblets full of wine. "Either the sexy ginger is a minute man or a complete asshole," she hands me another glass. "Judging by the look on your face it's probably the latter."

"Yep," I nod, chugging the wine down in a matter of seconds.

"Talk me through it," she ushers me on and refills my glass.

"Can I just get drunk and feel sorry for myself?" I beg.

"No dice," she shakes her head. "Spill."

I spill. I tell her everything. The nice restaurant. The sexy flirting. The fiasco with the bill. The story about my dad and of course...the part when he wouldn't shut up about it.

"Father of the Year strikes again," Kate's voice drips with sarcasm.

"I guess," I turn on the TV.

"I'm about to act like a bitch," Kate warns. "Are you ready?"

"Have at it," I egg her on.

Whenever Kate decided to dish out a serving of tough love she warned you ahead of time. That way, you had a choice of refusing her advice.

"It's kinda your fault," she tells me.

"WHAT?" I practically shout, getting red wine of my nice cream rug. "How is any of that my fault?

"Let's see," she starts listing on her fingers. "You brought up your dad first. How is it his fault?"

"You weren't there," I counter. "He wouldn't stop asking about him. I mean... we don't even know each other."

"Exactly," Kate smiles, tapping my forehead. "Light conversation about family is first date fodder. It's an icebreaker. You can't blame him for wanting to get you talking about him."

"I told him a quote my dad said," I remind her. "It wasn't an invitation to delve into my family history. When he mentioned his mother I steered the conversation away from her. He should have extended me that courtesy."

"However, you must admit that you're extra sensitive when it comes to your father. Whenever he's brought up you either get really sad or really defensive," she points out. "He had no way of knowing the history you have with your father," she pats my leg gently.

My lip curls. I know she's right. My father is an extremely sensitive subject. I always try to remember the positive things about him. Whenever I think of him too long the bad things seem to overpower them. It's hard to reconcile the man I knew with the man everyone else saw. It took me a long time to get over what happened with my father and what happened AFTER he left. If I'm completely honest with myself, I never got over it.

"I'll admit that he should have picked up the signal to let it go," she relents. "But if men knew what to say...they'd be women," she raises her brow and sips her wine.

"Well it doesn't matter," I set my glass on the table. "I blew it."

"Yeah. You did," she agrees. I twist my body to face her. "I'm not going to sugarcoat it. You exposed your deep-seeded daddy issues on the first date," she sighs. "Smart women don't unload that type of emotional baggage until the man is already in love with her. You blew your load waaaay too early," she looks around awkwardly. "Sorry. It's true."

I did bring it up first. Maybe I'm being sensitive.


"I feel like a huge asshole," I huff.

"You should."

"I should call..."

"No!" she grabs my hand as it reaches for my purse. "He's going to think you're bi-polar," she looks at me like I'm dumb.


"You just yelled at him an hour ago," she deadpans. "He's going to find out that you're crazy."

"I'm not crazy!" I punch her tit.

"Shit like that says you are," she rubs her chest. "Relax, psycho. We're all crazy. The point is to make your insanity appealing... until he falls in love with you," she repeats. "Are you catching on?"

"False advertising."

"No. It's called dating," she smiles. "Garrett still doesn't know that I'm scared of birds."

"I never understood that," I shake my head.

Everyone has a weakness. Superman has kryptonite. The Wicked Witch has water. Achilles had his heel.

Kate is scared of birds. No matter how hard she tries to explain her fear it just makes it sound more and more foolish.

"They go against the laws of nature," she throws her hands in the air.

"How?" I ask. "Birds fly. That's natural."

"Not regular birds," she rolls her eyes. "The weird ones that can't fly," she shivers and looks into the distance. "Ostriches. Emus. Penguins..."

"Penguins," I interrupt. "They're adorable. They have natural tuxedos," I pout.

Who doesn't like penguins... besides Kate.

"They waddle. It's weird," she seethes. "Let's not mention pelicans."

"They fly too," I giggle.

"Yeah...but what's with the weird shit going on with their necks?" she asks. "I feel like they want to eat me. I could fit in that thing."

"Let's not have this discussion," I roll off the sofa and walk to my room. "I have a long day tomorrow."

"Good night, lovely," she waves me off. "Think of it like this. You got back into the dating scene. You can't win them all," she smiles at me.

"Fuck you," I flick her off.

"Give me another glass of wine and you might have a chance," she quickly retorts.

"Yeah. Yeah," I jump in my bed and shut my eyes. "Bitch."

"I love you too."

Sept. 2000

"I'm not sure about this...Steven person," Dad huffs.

"Da-ad," I cry, my head banging against the wall. "It's just a dance."

Steven Jackson is this really nice and reeeaaaallly cute guy in my P.E. class. He asked me to the Homecoming dance. I didn't even think he knew I existed. Of course, Mom started taking pictures at every conceivable angle. Dad took one look at him and gave his trademark look of disapproval. Then, he took me into the next room to tell me how much he hates Steven.

"I don't like how he looked at you," he crossed his arms.

"He looked at me fine," I look myself over in the mirror.

"He gave you a quick once over and..."

"Did you want him to look at me like a piece of meat?" I ask, confused.

"Yes...well no," he changes his answer. "It's just..." he leads off and facepalms himself. "I want the face of the guy my daughter dates to light up when he sees her. I want him to start to look at you like a piece of meat, remember that I'm in the room and then look normal."

"You're ridiculous," I shake my head.

"Look at you," he turns me to face the mirror. I have on a knee length coral dress with an elaborate one shoulder broach. My hair is tied in a simple bun with light makeup. "You're beautiful," he kisses my cheek. "Every time your date sees you he should tell you."

"Not every guy is as romantic as you, Dad," I giggle at him.

"They should be," he hugs me. "You should be able to see his eyes light up like... 'Wow'... when he sees you," he says. "That's how I knew your mother was the one."

"Here we go," I roll my eyes.

"No. I'm serious. When like someone...love someone... he can know she's in the room before they turn around. That's what you want," he pats my head. "That guy is an asshole. I'm sure of it."

"You're sure it's not because he's going on a date with your daughter?" I raise an eyebrow.

"That's part of it," he measure out a tiny distance between his thumb and index finger.

"Bye, Dad," I hug him.

"Okay," he hugs me.

I wake up to the smell of bacon. My mouth starts to salivate.

"What?" I sniff hard.

"Yeeees," Kate waves a plate in my face. "I figured you'd spend the morning feeling sorry for yourself. So, I stayed over to make sure you don't," she smiles.

"Thanks," I give a small smile.

"Get showered and dressed," she yanks the cover off of me and goes back to the kitchen.

I settle on my new knee-length mahogany Gucci dress with my trusted matching pumps. I add some diamond stud earrings and I'm ready.

"It's been fun," she throws the soiled pots into the sink. "I have to pick up Garrett from the airport. Then, we'll be indisposed. By indisposed I mean having sex," she smiles, stealing a pair of my yoga pants.

"Great," I start brushing my teeth. "Flaunt your loving relationship and sex life to your recently divorced friend who just had a terrible date," I tease her...a little. There were some legitimate feelings there.

It's not that I was jealous of Kate per se. I just wanted a love like her and Garrett's. I guess 'envy' is a better word.

"Don't be that way," she pouts and hugs me. "You said yourself that you don't love Peter. You screwed up with the ginger guy but there will be others. You're beautiful. I'd place another bet with you but you don't have any more purses that I want," she holds up my purse to emphasize her point.

"Sure. Whatever," I grab my bag and jacket. "Have my car drop you off at the airport," I volunteer.

"I was going to anyway," she laughs and follows me out the door. "Listen, sweetie. Your romantic life may be a little murky but your professional life is the tits," she boops my nose.

She was wrong.

"Hey, Bella," Bree greets me with a file. "I did some work on the Harrison file. I was hoping that I could talk over some strategy with you later."

"I'm swamped. Let's see if Peter can help you," I lead her to Peter's office.

"Peter," I knock on my partner's office door.

"What?" a gust of wind blows in my face because of how hard he swings the door open.

"I need some help with the..."

"I'm busy," he borderline slams the door in my face.

I tuck some misplaced hair behind my ear and turn around. It appears that everyone in a 10 foot distance saw Peter's temper tantrum. There is a brief silence before everyone goes back to hustling on their cases, a gong sounds and the chorus to We Are The Champions starts to play.

"At least we won a case," I smile and walk back to my office.

"Woah," Bree whispers. "That was..."

"It happens," I shrug and lie.

Peter was never a particularly angry person. He's not the type to take his frustrations out on others. He's more of an 'I need a drink after this shitty day' person. That's what ended our marriage...mostly.

"It's probably a big case or something," Bree smiles halfheartedly. I can tell she doesn't believe me.

"We're having a luncheon with the other first years," I remind her. "We'll have a brainstorming session about each other's cases," I come up with an idea. "It will be good... to get a different perspective."

"Cool. Thanks," she smiles and walks away.

I immediate tell my assistant to send an e-mail to all the associates about the change in plans. I send Peter a personal e-mail letting him know as well. I don't receive a response. That rarely happens. I settle a few cases out of court and get ready for lunch. I see him in the hallway and try to talk to him.

"How is the case going?" I ask. "I know you were busy..."

"It's fine," he cuts me off and steps in the elevator.

"Which case was..."

"The Rate Your Mate case," he interrupts me again. "We decided it was best to go to court."


"Huh?" I lean in closer. I hope I heard him wrong.

"We're going to court," he repeats. "We can win this."

One of our top clients was an app programming company called NextGen apps. They're known for apps that cater towards teenagers and college kids. Last year, they came up with an app called Rate Your Mate. It's like performing a background check on your boyfriend, husband or crush. Did your ex screw your sister? Put it on RTM. Rate your ex's blowjob skills from 1-10. They even have it to where you can tell if your partner's relationship with you overlapped any of his others. Frat boys eat it up like cake. It's all pretty childish.

Since its inception, they've been sued by people who claim their exes lied about them to keep them from getting dates. We handled that without breaking a sweat. However, earlier this year someone filed a suit claiming the programmer stole their idea for RTM. It's like Facebook all over again. There is a lot of evidence supporting the plaintiff. Peter and I decided that it was best to settle out of court. Those guys wipe their asses with $100 bills. They can spare $100 million and not lose sleep over it. If we go to court and lose, NextGen will have to pay anywhere from $300 to $500 million.

Peter is a fucking idiot.

However, I can't tell him that because we're still in the elevator surrounded by 5 different employees. Mommy and Daddy shouldn't fight in front of the kids.

"I'm riding with you," I tell Peter. "Kate is using my car to go to the airport."

"Fine," he huffs.

I wait until we're moving to drop the hammer.

"Why are you changing the game plan for NextGen?" I ask.

"I look over the factors. It's the better option."

"Peter, you don't think NextGen is completely innocent do you?" I raise an eyebrow.

The evidence doesn't put things in our favor.

"It doesn't look good but I can turn it around."

"Peter, NextGen is one of our biggest clients. We can't lose that case. The ripple effect would be disas..."

"Well maybe you're not the bad ass lawyer you think you are," he snips, turning on his phone.

"Maybe you're not as smart as you think you are," I reply, taking his phone out of your hand. "You made a mistake. Fix it," I order.

"We're not married anymore, Bella," he snaps, snatching his phone back. "You don't get to boss me around."

"We talked it over. We decided that..."

"We...we...we...," he rolls his eyes. "There hasn't been enough of 'we' lately."

I look at his face and think about how big of an asshole he is being today. Then, I immediately recognize what this is about. I facepalm myself.

"This is about the divorce. Isn't it?" I sigh. "We agreed we wouldn't let our personal issues get in the way..."

"Why don't you whine to your boyfriend about it," he huffs.

"Boyfriend?" I question. "I don't have a boyfriend."

"We're divorced already," he checks his e-mail. "You don't have to lie about it anymore."

"Peter, I don't have a..."

"You made me feel so guilty about Charlotte," he seethes at me. "You divorced me and I didn't even do anything. Meanwhile, you were the one that was cheating.

"I don't have a boyfriend!" I shout at him.

"Yesterday, Jane saw you with him," he shakes his head. "Do you have any idea how humiliating that was?"

"Jane?!" my mouth opens in shock. "Jane is your inside source. You know we hate each other."

Jane. I should have known she'd use this to her advantage. She had that shit eating grin on her face last night. She probably told me that I was giving Edward a hand job or something. She's a cancer.

"You probably used Char as an excuse to be with him," he ends, spitting out the word 'him' with a venom I never heard him speak before. It didn't escape me that he called that bitch Charlotte, Char. I guess they have nicknames for each other now.

"We went on a date. One date. After we got divorced," I seethe. "I didn't cheat."

"So...the ink wasn't even dry and you're out spreading your legs..."

"Don't you fucking dare!" I slap him. "I'm not that girl. You know I'm not that girl. You're the only guy I've been with and you know it!" I slap him again.

He can accuse me of anything on the planet but I'll be damned if he calls me a whore in a town car that I help pay for.


"How am I supposed..."

"It's clear that I'm not going to win this argument," I sigh. "Apparently, everything I do is wrong. I'll let you blame me for your fuck up," I roll my eyes. "Here. Have a drink," I pour him a glass of scotch.

"Here we go!" he voice drips with sarcasm. "I was waiting for you to bring up Charlotte."

"You're the one who brought Char up," I remind. "It's nice to know you two have nicknames for each other now."

"I didn't do anything," he repeats for the thousandth time. "I haven't even seen her since that night."

He brings it up again. The fact that he can't see where that relationship was going only pisses me off more.

"Oh," I act like a light goes off in my head. "I was supposed to sit and wait for you to cheat on me."

"I wasn't going..."

"You can't see it. You never saw it," I say to him. "How you looked at her... You didn't even notice that I was there. "

"Bella," he grabs my hand. "Please give me another chance. We can start..."

"Stop," I snatch my hand away as the car slows to a halt. "Fix it with NextGen," I open the car door.

As you can imagine, the luncheon was awkward. Peter and I gave sound advice but we refused to look at each other. The uneasiness was palpable. It made some people uncomfortable. I'm sure they'll be talking about it later.

"I'll take a cab back," Peter volunteers.

"Fine," I step into the car.

Can this day get any worse?

I hustle back to my office to tackle the rest of my work. As the elevator opens, one of the people I'd like least to see starts back at me.

"Hey, Renee."