A Woman of Conviction Ch 3
My shift is almost over, so I give the tip to Lucian to hide in his pants. I quickly finish clearing my tables, seeing that Irina is with the boys while she waits for Tanya.
Irina is my height with blonde hair that meets her shoulders and ice blue eyes. I can see the dark circles from the late night studying she’s been doing.
“Bella!” I hear Paul shout my name from his office. I feel my shoulders sink. I hate his office; he always corners me and puts me in awkward positions that he knows I’ll have to touch him to get out of. I know that I better get to the office quickly, because if I don’t get there fast enough, it’ll just make the encounter worse. I can feel Seth and Tanya’s eyes on my back as I walk to the office.
The ‘office’ is more of an old cleaning closet with no windows, situated in the corner of the back of the diner. And the only light is right above Paul. Paul is a big guy; easily six feet tall, he was a star football player back in his hometown. He looks the part wearing clean cut clothes and his hair is always neatly trimmed. Today he seems a little out of it, mumbling to himself as he looks at papers on his desk.
“What’s up, Paul?” I try to remain upbeat and calm. But his eyes flicker up and are so dilated that they are black when he looks at me. Shit! He’s back on fucking who-knows-what drug.
He smiles lazily. “Bella, Bella, you are looking quite delectable today.” His eyes sweep my figure and now I need a shower.
I cross my arms to the front of me, trying to guard myself. “Thank you, but did you need something from me?”
Paul hums, looking down at something, then his eyes flicker back to me. “Well, it’s been six years, and I was thinking that maybe you deserve a raise.” He stands up from the desk and walks around to the front to lean on it while his eyes never leave my face.
I can’t help but smile at the idea of a raise. “Really, Paul? That’s so great.”
I feel my stomach turn and my hopes plummet. “But, what?”
“I need more incentive from you.” Paul reaches out and pulls my arms to get me closer. I try to dig my heals in, but it’s futile.
“Paul.” I pause a moment. “Please, my kids are waiting for me,” I plead in a whisper.
He pulls me in closer and takes a deep breath, breathing in my scent. “See you later, Bella.” He pushes me away and goes back to his seat.
I quickly leave his office and hide to shake off my tremors. Getting myself together, I take off my apron and order something quick from Seth and sit down with Irina, Tanya, and my boys.
“Irina, how’s the classes?” I slide in next to Lucian and wrap my arm around him, relishing the moment with my oldest. He is just growing too fast; before I know it, he won’t let me cuddle him like this.
“Good, I’m trying to get an internship at Whitlock’s Law Firm that’s just a block or so down from here.” She runs her fingers through her hair. You can tell she’s stressing about it. “It’s just hard to get past the fucking secretary. She is such a bitch I bet she doesn’t even pass on my resume to Mr. Whitlock.”
“Hey, you’ll get there, babe. If he passes you up, then fuck him, he doesn’t deserve you,” Tanya comforts Irina.
“Yeah, you’re amazing at what you do. You’re going to be one bad-ass lawyer,” I chime in, trying to help comfort her, too.
“Thanks.” She smiles just a bit, but you can see it's still weighing heavily on her mind.
“Hey, you guys should come over. We’ll order pizza, watch some movies. It’ll be so much fun,” Tanya changes topic quickly. I can see Irina’s face lighten up at the thought. They love my boys as much as I do.
“Mom, can we?” Damon’s eyes are wide with pleading to go over there.
“Please,” Lucian whispers. He loves going over there because he knows I’ll eat, and he likes studying with Irina with flash cards. My little genius.
“Now I can’t say no!” I laugh at my childrens’ faces.
“Alright, let’s go then.” Tanya pulls at her girl and I get up with the boys following me.
“Can you take the boys with you? I’m just going to stop by the apartment and pay the landlord and I’ll meet you guys at your place.” I pull out the tip from Lucian’s pants. It’s not like the envelope was hidden well in his back pocket.
“Of course. Come on boys, we can pick the movies out, then.” Irina takes Lucian’s hand and Damon is holding Tanya’s; they go left while I go right.
The street lights are starting to come on when I reach my building. There are always a few creepy characters standing around. The stench of cigarettes and beer waft into my nose, but after so many years it doesn’t have the same gag effect on me it once did.
I go up the two flights of stairs to my apartment door, seeing that it’s partially open. I feel my heart rate increase, my skin heating up as I push it all the way open. “If you’re done robbing me, you can leave now!” I shout into my small apartment, hoping that no one answers.
“Seriously, Bells?” The voice sends chills down my spine. After all these years, he calls me by that stupid fucking nickname to try to disarm me. I’m not a young and stupid teen looking for love and affection anymore.
I storm into my apartment, slamming the door behind me, and glare at my childrens’ sperm donor. He’s aged gracefully. Sharp features, a fade haircut, and new clothes show off that he has money.
“Finally have a job, I see. Are you here to actually help with your boys?” I sarcastically spit at him while crossing my arms.
“I do have an excellent job. And I’m here to talk to you about giving up my rights.” He says it so nonchalantly it breaks my heart for my babies.
I hear the blood pumping in my ears, the heat from being scared spreading because I’m so pissed. “Are you fucking serious?” My hands fall to my sides and form into fists.
“Look, I’m in a good spot in my life. I have a girl, a good job, and an apartment. I don’t need you coming after me for child support or anything stupid like that. I don’t want any part of their lives. My girl doesn’t even know I have kids, and I want to keep it that way.” Jake puts his hands in his pockets and actually looks slightly ashamed.
“Don’t want her to know because you’re afraid she’ll want to get to know them, and make your fucking punk ass be a father. What the fuck happened, Jake?” The tears arrive out of anger. “When I had Lucian, you were all about being a dad. You wanted Lucian. You wanted this life.” I can hear the plea in my own voice.
He shrugs his shoulders. “You know nothing about my girl. And I really didn’t know what the hell I wanted then. Fuck, Bella, I was just a kid.”
I feel my whole body shake with frustration and anger. “Fuck you, I was fourteen years old Jake, I was the fucking kid. I had two kids before I was fucking eighteen. You left us, left us to struggle. Get the fuck out of my home before I call the police. Don’t show your face again.” I turn and go into the kitchen, facing away from him. I know if I look at him any longer I’ll start getting physically violent.
“I’m giving up my rights, Bella. It’ll be easier if you just go along with it.” I hear the door open and shut. After a few more moments I scream in frustration, grabbing the first thing I see and throwing it against the wall.
I cry out, falling to the floor of my kitchen. How could he? How could he not want to know the two kindest, most wonderful children?
Realizing that those same kids are waiting for me to get back to them, I do what I always do. I get up, wipe the tears away, and do what I have to do. Quickly, I gather all the money I’ve been hoarding and add my overzealous tipper’s stack to it.
Why did he tip me that much? Why the hell did I accept it? Oh, God, he felt sorry for me. I shouldn’t use this money, I shouldn’t keep it. But I need to think of my kids, and they deserve this. They need this home and food and clothes. Getting off my high horse, I count what I have and take out what I need for my rent.
I walk down one flight of stairs and knock on the super’s door. Dan, the fifth super we’ve had in the last six years.
“Rent.” I hand him the money and watch as he counts it. “I want a receipt with signatures.”
He smirks. “Of course, Bella.” He walks back into his apartment and grabs a paper, signs it, and brings it to me to sign.
“‘Til next month.” He shuts the door in my face.
“Asshole,” I mutter under my breath.
I leave my building, trying to keep my mind clear of the bullshit Jake just said to me and think of the fun night with my kids and best friends.
“About time.” Tanya pulls me in the apartment. “Pizza guy should be here anytime and the boys picked out Harry Potter to watch for the evening.” She finally looks at my face and frowns.
“Have you been crying?” She keeps her voice low so the boys can’t hear her.
“I’ll tell you about it after the boys go to sleep,” I whisper to her.
She nods her head in agreement. I sigh, wondering what the hell I’m going to say to my kids. Hey, Lucian, Damon. I know you don’t really know your father, but there will never be a chance now, because he’s given up all his rights.
The pizza arrives and we watch two Harry Potter movies before Lucian and Damon are passed out and cuddled on each side of me.
“So, how about we put them in the spare room, and we can talk about earlier.” Tanya picks up Damon while I manage to get Lucian all tucked in the spare room.
I stare at the most precious things that God could have granted me. He doesn’t give me anything else but tough times and no way up, but he did give me them, my boys. I try to get out of my depressive thinking, knowing that there is an inquisition that needs to happen. I silently shut the door.
Irina is pouring wine into three glasses when I return to the living room. “So, what happened?”
“Jake.” I take a huge gulp of the boxed wine and then fill them in on what the sperm donor said.
And the same expression is being shared between Irina and Tanya. “What in the actual fuck?” Tanya speaks first.
“Yeah,” I sigh.
“I think you should take his ass to court.” Irina, ever the lawyer.
“I can’t afford it.” I run my dry fingers through my untended hair.
“I think we drink and go to bed. This is too much to think about.”
The next morning, sun hits my eyes. “Ugh, shit, I have to get to work,” I rasp out to whoever is spooning me.
“Shh,” I hear Tanya scold me somewhere behind me.
“Both of you get up. Bella, we’ve got the boys. I got you clean clothes and breakfast. You have about half an hour to be at work.” Irina is the only one that could drink too fucking much and still be chipper in the morning.
“Shit.” I get up with my hangover, kiss the boys, grab what Irina made, and I get myself to the diner.