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Surprise Delivery(3)
Author: R.R. Banks



“It was so gross and so totally freakish, I'm telling you,” she laughs. “Blood from the cut on his arm, and piss everywhere – and he was just standing on the bed singing the Star-Spangled Banner like it was perfectly normal!”

Sabrina and I howl with laughter. I'm snuggled up under a blanket on the loveseat and she's doing the same on the larger sofa. She's taller than I am, so it makes sense for her to have the longer couch. We've both got a pint of ice cream in our hands and are happily munching away, chatting about our days.

It's been our ritual to end the day catching up, since we were in school together – minus the ice cream. That's a special treat, only for now and then, so we don't blow up like manatees. We usually only have a glass of wine with our conversation, but on the tough days, we break out the big guns.

What we bring home for our evening chat is usually how we gauge how our day went. Tonight, I brought home the ice cream, which tells her that my day pretty much sucked.

“So, what did you do?” I ask.

“Security didn't want to touch him since he was covered in his own urine, so they hit him with a taser, which knocked him down onto the bed,” she laughs, seeing it all play out again in her mind. “While he was flopping around on the bed, we rushed in and sedated him. But man, what a scene.”

I love hearing her stories from the trauma unit, where she works as a nurse. On another level, though, I'm insanely jealous. It's been my lifelong dream to be a nurse – preferably in a trauma unit. Helping people has always been my passion. My calling. While I love that Bri shares her war stories from the hospital, it also keeps that wound in me open.

Bri and I met when we were both taking classes in a nursing program. It's one of the best programs in the state, which means that it's also one of the most expensive. Between the meager wages, I was making at the time and financial aid, I still thought I'd be able to make it through.

But when my mom got sick, I had to abandon my dream to care for her. She hung on for more than a year – longer than the doctors had expected her to – but finally passed away. By that time, the financial aid money had dried up and I was having a hard time making ends meet. I was literally living hand to mouth, forgoing this bill to pay that bill, and found myself in a hole I couldn't get out of.

A hole I'm still in, to be honest.

It's just a never-ending cycle of having to scrape by just to survive. Just to scratch out something of an existence. I can pay my rent, keep food in my belly, and chip in my share of the household bills, which is something. I sometimes have a little bit left over by the time my bills are paid, but it’s not nearly enough to make up the gap between financial aid and my portion of tuition.

Sadly, my job as a secretary doesn't really give me much more than the bare necessities to survive. At least I'm not starving and homeless. I've got a warm home and a comfortable bed to lay my head down in at night, so I have to count my blessings. Silver linings and all.

But God, I would love to go back and finish out the program. I would love to fulfill my dream and do what I'm passionate about, rather than slog in to work every day, knowing I'm going to be treated like dirt by a bunch of sexist pigs.

You would think, in this day and age, lawyers who work at a fancy law firm would know better than to sexually harass a female employee. But this firm is like an even less well-behaved, less classy frat house, I swear to God. Every day, I'm subjected to comments about my appearance, sexually suggestive remarks, and innuendo with every word out of their pig mouths.

Maybe they just don't care. Maybe they think because they know how to manipulate the law so effectively, they can get away with it. Or maybe, they know just how desperately I need this job and can't afford to do anything that would jeopardize it.

It's like being caught between a hard place and an even harder place.

“So, that was the most interesting part of my day,” she continues. “What about your day? Judging by the fact that we're spending the evening with Ben and Jerry, I'm guessing it wasn't good.”

A bitter laugh crosses my lips. “There are no good days there,” I say. “It's all a degree of suck. And today was really, really sucky.”

“What did the creep squad do to you today?”

I shrug and take a spoonful of ice cream. “Let's see, one of the senior partners asked me to meet him in the file room to take a little personal dictation – emphasis on dick, of course.”

“Naturally,” she sighs, rolling her eyes.

“Then, one of the junior partners asked me if I wanted to slip out for a nooner.”

“Jesus Christ,” Bri exclaims. “You need to get out of there, hon.”

“And go where?” I ask. “I haven't got a degree and no other job prospects. At least I know what to expect from this place and it allows me to pay the bills.”

“Yeah, but it's killing you inside.”

“Yeah, tell me about it. A little more every single day,” I say, wryly grinning. “But what can I do? I can't afford to go back to school and finish the program like I want. I'm just – trapped.”

We both fall silent and sit back on the couches, spooning ice cream into our mouths. She knows the situation and knows I don't have the money to go back to school. And there really aren't a lot of other jobs around that pay what this place does to somebody who's only got a high school diploma to her name.

“We've got to figure something out, Lex,” she says. “We've got to find you a way out of that miserable pit.”

I sigh and fight back the tears of frustration that well in my eyes. “Yeah, I know,” I agree softly, my voice quavering. “I know.”

I take a deep breath and let it out slowly before getting out of my car. It's how I start every day – a deep breath to steel myself before walking into the Phi Beta Asshole frat house that masquerades as a law firm.

I get out of my car and smooth my skirt down. When I first started, I used to wear a lot of cute skirts and dresses that fell to about mid-thigh. But hard learned experience has taught me to wear skirts that fall to my knee – or below – and are far less flattering. I wear as many drab, shapeless outfits as I can, hoping to keep myself off their radars. After all, there are about ten other secretaries in the building and most of them are a lot hotter than I am.

Honestly, I'm nothing special. I'm short – like five-foot-four on a good day. I've got pale skin, freckles, and I'm thick through the hips and breasts. I'm petite but still curvy. My best features – at least, I think they are – would be my long red hair and my eyes. They're a vivid, sparkling shade of green.

Other than that, I'm pretty ordinary. Very ordinary, in fact. Which is why I hate how they bother me so much when they have a stable full of tall, leggy blondes and brunettes – all of whom look like they just stepped out of a Victoria's Secret catalog – to prey on. Not that it makes it okay, but at least the other women seem to welcome their advances or at least flirt back heavily. Office gossip being what it is, I've heard that a couple of the other secretaries have been seeing – or at least fucking – some of the partners. Not that I really care one way or the other. But, when they have gorgeous women, willing to do whatever they want for them, why do they persist in bothering me? I won't do what these men want, nor do I compare with those women in any way, shape, or form. And they're not shy about letting me know that. I'm not part of their clique. Most mornings, I barely get a hello from any of them. In a lot of ways, it's like high school all over again, with the mean girls ostracizing me simply because they don't think I measure up to them.

Except for smarts, actually. They may look better in their short skirts and Christian Louboutins, but I know that I'm easily the smartest of them all – by far. That's some small measure of comfort, I guess.

But that doesn't tell me why the guys all bother me. I don't understand why they all act like creeps around me. It’s like they get off on making me uncomfortable. Even if I was interested in any of them, I know they’d just try to pass me around the whole firm. I’d rather be an outcast. I don't just sleep around – especially not with guys who've proven to be as disgusting and chauvinistic as they are. Overgrown frat boys turn me off like little else.

Using my keycard to open the door, I step in and pull it shut behind me. I let out a small breath of relief seeing the office is still mostly dark and devoid of people. The guys, the rest of the secretaries and paralegals won't be in for another half an hour or so – though sometimes they wreck my plans by coming in early.

I'm usually one of the first ones here by design. For one thing, it gives me a little peace and quiet to catch up on any paperwork I didn't finish the day before. The second is that it lessens the amount of time I have to spend around these people. I know it's only by half an hour or so, but still, it's half an hour without them, which I absolutely treasure.

Flipping on the lights in the office, I make my way to my desk. It sits right outside the door to the office of Preston Harper – the attorney I'm assigned to, and strangely enough, the only one, of the lot, who is decent to me. Never once has he ever said or done anything inappropriate, and he genuinely seems to like me.

It's a very welcome reprieve from the usual free-flowing garbage I have to deal with on a daily basis.

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