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Genre: Romance

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Genre: Romance

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Chapter7 (v.1) - The Quagmire

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: May 04, 2016

Reads: 1258

Comments: 3

A A A | A A A

Chapter Content - ver.1

Submitted: May 04, 2016

A A A

A A A

Chapter 7—The Quagmire

 

“Thank you so much for the lift. The ball seemed to be quite a success,” I tell Jeremy as he walks me to the front door of my apartment.

He lets out a small laugh and shakes his head, “If it wasn’t for your overly-ambitious donation, we wouldn’t have hit ten thousand dollars. Thanks by the way. It’s an important program for our community.”

I jiggle the key in the doorknob and turn the lock. “It was my pleasure. I’m happy to have helped.” Even if I did break the bank. My jealously cost me my little nest egg and now I’m going to have to find a second job to fund my first job. Can’t say I’m too happy with the idea of finding an entry-level position at night. My options are a bar or a strip club. With my dancing background, stripping would probably yield the most profit, but I can’t imagine seeing that going over too well with the family. Even if I don’t tell them, having six brothers, I know I’m bound to run into one of them. The vision of Tommy tucking a buck in my G-string and then realizing it’s his baby sister makes me laugh and nauseous at the same time. I think I’m going to have to stick with the straight and narrow.

The door pops open and I stand in the doorway, prepared to say goodnight. “I had a wonderful time. Have a goodnight, Jeremy.”

I begin to close the door, “Wait,” Jeremy says, stopping me. “I was wondering if you might like to have dinner sometime? I know we just met, but I would really like the chance to get to know you better.”

Do I politely decline? Or do I accept? After what happened on the patio at the ball, I’m hesitant to agree. Obviously, Brent has feelings for me, but his indecision is off-putting, to put it mildly. Accepting would only be leading Jeremy on and he is a genuinely a nice guy.

My taste in men leave a lot to be desired. I’ve always gravitated toward the bad boy or the men that are clearly off limits. It’s probably why I’ve been so obsessed with Brent my entire life. He was always the bad boy. Smoking, drinking, drag racing in high school. But for all of his bad boy tendencies, he’s always had a tender heart. He was there for me when John Malkas kissed me and then told the entire eighth grade that I gave him a cold sore. Poor Johnny boy about shit his pants when Brent met him outside of the convenient store after school with an aluminum baseball bat. Brent beat the shit out of John’s new Mongoose BMX.

Besides being the bad boy, he’s my brother’s best friend and practically a member of the Smith family; he’s perpetually off limits. We might share a history and the sexual chemistry is immeasurable, but I have to come to terms with the fact there is no scenario where we have a future together. “I think I would really like that,” I tell Jeremy, accepting his request. I’m not sure that I’m really leading him on. Maybe it’s time to consider the safer option. A nice guy with a successful career can’t be all that bad.

A boyish grin fills Jeremy’s electably handsome face. “I’ll call you later this week. We can set something up then.” He leans into the doorjamb and wraps one arm around my waist, bringing us chest to chest. His free hand gently rubs my cheek and I can feel his warm breath against my lips. Soft, pliable lips brush against mine, giving the most barely perceptible kiss. He releases me and takes a step back, “Have a good night, Sweetheart.” On his heel, he turns and strides down the hallway to the front door of the building and out to his limo.

My heart skipped a beat when he pulled me in, his chest heaving in tandem with my own. He radiated, warmth and security, everything that I should be looking for in a man. And that kiss was . . . I don’t know what that kiss was. But I’m certainly willing to dig deeper to find out where this could lead.

Brent made his choice tonight. He told me that he didn’t have a date and then brought a woman with a reputation for breaking his heart. He fucked me. Literally. He fucked me, without protection. No concern for my best interests. He could have gotten me pregnant. I told him that I’m on birth control, but only because I know I am unable to conceive. Pregnancy wasn’t really a risk for me in that moment. But he didn’t know that. Selfishly, he took the risk anyway. After being balls-deep inside of me, he ran like the coward that he is and straight back to Cassie. It’s time I get over Brent McMahon and move on with my life. And Jeremy Bell is the perfect way to do that.

 

***

 

On Monday I set out to find a second job to make up for the hit I took on Saturday night. I stopped in at The Quagmire, the bar down the street from my apartment, and as luck would have it, they needed a server.

Tuesday night, I find myself learning the ropes of cocktail waitressing. My liquor license will take at least two weeks to come in and until then I just grab orders and clear tables, while Sarah, the bartender and owner actually serves the drinks.

I went to high school with Sarah. She was a couple of years ahead of me, gorgeous and popular. Homecoming and Prom queen to boot. Long chestnut hair and curvy body made all of the boys’ drool. And apparently, my brother Paul was not immune to her siren call. Whatever happened between the two of them must have been pretty bad. Tommy refuses to tell me and Sarah gives me strict instructions. Walking behind the bar, Sarah shows me the keg coolers and the beer bath, how to wash the glasses and a quick run through of the computer system. “But most importantly,” she tells me, “we don’t serve men with vaginas.” I follow her hand as she points to a picture of my brother, Paul, with his face circled and a line slashed through it. One of these days I’m going to learn this details of that little feud.

The evening crowd begins to trickle in and with each drink served, the night gets more and more interesting. “Johnny on the rocks, sweet cheeks,” some middle-aged balding man informs me as he smacks my ass. I can only hope the tips end up being worth the degradation.

Seventies’ rock blares from the speakers overhead as man after man gives me his order and then his order. “Sorry guy, I’m not into overweight, middle-aged men desperate for a lay,” I tell one particularly stubborn patron. Pointing to the back of the room toward an obvious prostitute with gaping holes in her fishnet stockings and greasy hair, “She’s more your speed.”

His friends laugh at his epic fail and I make my way back behind the bar. “Two domestics and a Jack on the rocks for the losers at table 23,” I tell Sarah as I rip off the ticket from my pad of paper.

“Coming up,” she acknowledges and pulls out two bottle of beer and popping off the caps on the bottle opener of the side of the beer-filled tub. “I don’t know what I was thinking hiring you. Your too pretty and innocent for the likes of this crowd.”

I dunk a tumbler in the soapy sink, running it along the spinning brushes. “You were desperate and I was desperate. A match made in catastrophic heaven,” I remind her.

“I must be certifiable to hire Paul’s sister,” she mutters as she makes her way out from behind the bar, tray in hand.

I continue washing glasses and cut some limes and lemons to try and pass the time and earn my keep.

“I can only guess why you have to work a second job in a dingy bar,” says a tall, dark customer as he settles into a stool across from me.

I laugh under my breath and shake my head, still slicing limes. “Hey Ben. What brings you into my neck of the woods?” I slide over a bottle of beer to my dear old brother. Not a cop, he could care less that I’m serving it illegally.

“I just got off shift after a week at the stationhouse and decided to stop in and have a beer before I call it a night. Imagine my surprise to see you behind the bar.”

“For you and me both.”

“Ballerina, turned yoga instructor, turned cocktail waitress. Interesting career path you’re making for yourself, sis.” He draws a long sip from his beer and sets in down on the bar top. “Tell me this doesn’t have anything to do with Saturday night.”

Choosing to give my big brother what he wants, “It doesn’t have anything to do with Saturday night.”

Shaking his handsome head, he lets out a small laugh. “If that’s how you want to play it, I’ll play. But, if you need money I have some saved up, I’d be more than happy to help out.”

I do need money, but I wouldn’t feel right taking it from my brother, or anyone for that matter. I made my mess, it’s my responsibility to clean it up. “That’s very generous, but I can’t take your money. I’m a grown woman; I can figure this out for myself.”

Turning around on the barstool, prepared to wander the barroom, “Brent’s right. You’re too stubborn for your own damn good,” then ditches me, leaving his words hanging in the air.

What the hell?! Do all of the men in my life conspire to drive me crazy. I can just picture all seven of them sitting around a table, playing poker, taking wagers on the next Chelsea disaster. Well, screw them all. My life hasn’t turned out the way I had expected, but I’ll be damned if I need help from the likes of them.

An hour later, Ben kisses me on top of the head as he leaves for the night. The atmosphere seems to settle to a quiet lull as soon as my brother’s big frame leaves the building. I’m in uncharted territory in regards to my family and the whole thing has me a bit on edge. My phone vibrates in my apron, a much needed distraction from my current line of thought. Signaling to Sarah that I’m leaving the floor, I take my break in the small office in the back of the kitchen. “Hello?”

“Hey, Chelsea. It’s Jeremy. Did I catch you at a bad time? I didn’t wake you up did I?”

I sit down on the hard steel chair at the desk, surprised to find myself a bit nervous to hear from the mayor. “I always have time for you Mr. Mayor,” I tease. Thinking back on the two previous encounters I’ve shared with Jeremy, I realize I’ve never given him my number. “How did you get my number?”

“I’m the mayor. Remember? I know people,” he tells me with jest

“Such power at your disposal, I hope you only use it for good.”

“Only for good. Or for something that I really, really want.”

The static of dead air reverberates through the phone. Is he what I really, really want? I remind myself that I’m giving Mr. Nice Guy a chance. My heart will always belong to a certain local cop, but the reality of our situation tells me that I need to move my life forward. “And what is that you really, really want?”

“A date. Saturday night. With you.”

A week ago I would have known that my schedule is wide open on any given Saturday night. But with picking up a second job in a bar, Saturday night is where the money is at. “I’m going to have to see if I’m available on Saturday. Can I get back to you tomorrow?”

With disappointment he replies, “Um, yeah. Whenever you find some time. Let me know.”

Scared that he thinks I’m brushing him off, I back pedal. “It’s not that I don’t want to Jeremy. It’s just that I had to find a second job and my schedule is still being worked out.”

“It doesn’t have anything to do with the donation you made on Saturday, does it? Because, I’m more than willing to help if you need a loan.”

Maybe Jeremy should join the poker table. He might learn a few things about how to handle a Smith woman. Or more precisely, that you can’t handle a Smith woman. “Don’t be ridiculous. I’m just trying to build up my savings a bit more so I can reinvest it back into my yoga studio,” I lie.

Crash! Bang! Bam! The loud noise jolts me off of the chair. “Is everything okay? What was that noise?” Jeremy asks.

With my phone still to my ear, “Yeah, I’m fine. I have to go. Can I call you tomorrow?”

“Sure.”

“Goodnight, Jeremy.”

“Goodnight, Sweetheart.”

I hang up and make my way through the small galley style kitchen and forcefully push open the swinging double doors. I scan the room to find the source of all the ruckus. Sarah stands in the middle of the room next to a table with three college age guys. All four of them are staring down at the ground.

Slowly, I walk toward my new boss and quickly, I focus in on what has caught their attention. Shards of broken beer mugs and foam drench the red painted concrete floor. Next to it is a table tipped on its side and a young man on his belly, hands secured behind his back, and his cheek smashed into the broken glass, a knee pinning his neck to the ground. I follow the knee of the crusader to his utility belt, then his badge pinned to the left side of his chest. Making eye contact, my lips harden into a firm line.

“Good evening, Little One,” Brent says as he looks me up and down, a charming grin filling his face.


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