A Woman of Conviction Ch 6
My hands keep crinkling the note over and over, allowing the anger I’m feeling to be taken out on the paper. I have to keep it from the boys, which has not been fun at all. Naturally, tears well up every time I read the note:
Agree to my rights being terminated or I start making your life hell. Starting with me calling CPS.
Damon tried grabbing it from me, Lucian then tried while Damon was distracting me. I won with my mother tone and look.
I can’t just toss it out because they’ve been looking through the trash and anywhere they can think of that I might have put it. I’ve been keeping it on me at all times. I want to burn it, but I know I should keep it so that I can use it against him. I’ve been thinking of how to bring it up to Irina to get her help.
It‘s been a week since I found it; time and the boys being busy with football have been the needed distractions to help me keep them from trying as hard to find the note as they did at first.
The first practice after signing up, Edward gave me a heart attack when he gave the boys two bags of clothes and cleats.
“You can’t do this. Kids and parents will think they’re getting special treatment. I could have gotten anything they needed!” I ranted for almost a full minute before Edward covered my mouth with his hand.
“I do this for any member of the team if they need it. Now, the other parents opted out. You didn’t say anything, so I went ahead and got them some gear and clothes for games and practices,” he explained, keeping his warm hand on my mouth.
I felt guilty; I know I should be grateful. And I was, I am extremely grateful. I just feel like a failure that someone else did that and not me. Then when I was watching my kids look at the clothes with the biggest smiles, knowing they’re going to be part of a team and fit in, made me feel so indebted.
The bell from the door of the diner startles me out my reverie. I look over and see my regulars; it must be one thirty and it's all of them today.
“Good afternoon, Bella!” Alice greets me cheerfully.
“Hello, Alice, and everyone else.” I chuckle, starting their usual drink order. “I’m getting your drinks, do you guys need a menu today or you know what you want?”
“Menu,” Rose answers quickly.
I grab up their drinks and menus while they take their normal spot in the diner. “Here we go.” I set everything down for them. I notice Edward is typing on his phone, apparently not really paying much attention. Or so I thought.
“Where are the boys today?” He still doesn’t look up at me as he asks me about my children.
“Damon and Lucian are with Tanya’s partner Irina today,” I answer him coolly. I’m so frustrated with the mixed feelings I have for this man. I love the interaction he has with Lucian and Damon, but I don’t want to set us up for them or me to get hurt. Edward is out of my league.
He nods his head, still not looking at me. I have the urge to rip the phone out of his hands to force him to look up.
But I don’t. “Alright, I’ll give you guys a few minutes.” I smile and walk to the kitchen’s back area to start the dishwasher.
I’m humming to myself when I hear Paul call me from his ‘office’. His voice is slurred, making my stomach turn and every hair on my body stick up. I walk to the office, suddenly feeling a hand grab my wrist. He yanks me in the office and the slams the door closed behind me.
“What the hell, Paul?” I shout at him, trying to pull my wrist away.
He squeezes tighter and yanks me closer to him. His breath washes over my face making me want to faint at the disgusting odor that floods my nose. I feel myself gag.
“I’m done waiting.” He leans in to kiss me. In a panic, I head-butt him, immediately feeling wetness pouring from my nose. As he staggers back a little I bring my knee up and hit him in the balls. Paul finally lets my wrist go.
“You are a disgusting pig. I quit!” I shout at him, then I quickly escape the office. I find a hand towel for my nose, then I search for Tanya so I can tell her to get my tables.
Trying not to let the panic take over, I find Tanya. “Tan!” my voice is muffled behind the towel.
“Bella, what the hell?” Her voice is thick with concern as she comes over to me.
“Paul tried to kiss me, and I head-butted him. I quit!” The panic begins to rise as I explain what happened.
“Shh, it's okay. You go to my place and let Irina clean you up and we’ll figure it out later.” She comforts me, pulling me into a bone-crushing hug. I try to keep the tears at bay and embrace her back.
“I’ll see you after your shift.” I step out of the hug and leave the back area and into to the seating area of the diner.
I see Alice, Rose, Emmett, Jasper, and Edward. Edward is the only one to see me at first. Now I can feel the tears trickle down my cheeks.
“Bella!” Edward gets up from the booth and walks toward me.
I put my hand up and stop him. “I’m okay. Tanya will take care of you guys,” I tell him quickly. I wave to everyone else as they stare at me in stunned silence.
I walk away and down the street, and panic finally hits me. I have no job. How the hell am I going to take care of the kids now? What the fuck am I going to do?
By the time I get to Irina I’m in the middle of a full-blown melt down. Irina distracts the kids with the TV in the guest room while she takes me to the bathroom. I tell her everything that happened while she cleans my nose up.
“I want to fucking kill him. I need to get hired by Whitlock and then I will fucking take everything he owns!” Irina rants, waving her hands around.
“Just drop it, Irina. I need to focus on finding another job.” A job that allows the boys to be there when they aren’t in school, and it must be first shift hours because I can’t pay a babysitter, and of course my kids aren’t old enough to be left alone. I am so screwed.
“Tanya is off tomorrow, and she’ll watch the boys so you can come with me. I’m trying the Whitlock office again, and I heard there’s a personal assistant position available somewhere in the building,” she explains to me.
I stare at her blankly, then I start laughing. “A PA, really, Irina? I have no schooling. And what boss is going to be okay with letting my kids hang out while they wait for me to get off work?”
“You’re going to try. Who knows?” she says, like it’s the simplest thing in the world.
“I don’t want to argue, so fine.” I touch my nose a bit and wince. It’s going to swell and be bruised tomorrow.
Damon and Lucian freak out at the sight of me. “It’s okay, I had a little accident. But I do have to tell you that I no longer work at the diner.” I feel guilty for lying about my injuries, but they’re not old enough to hear the truth. They don’t need to worry, and I don’t want to try to explain Paul’s motives.
Tanya comes home and orders pizza and agrees with tomorrow’s plans. She makes me go in her closet and try on some of the professional attire she used to wear before she started the job at the diner.
After the fashion show and lots of giggle-fits from Lucian and Damon, who are not use to seeing me in nice clothes, I curl up with them and go to sleep. While they’re sleeping, one on each side of me, I pray. I’m not normally one to do so, but I just need some help. Please, God, give me a break. I just want to give my kids a life they deserve.
I don’t sleep much, due to the pain from my nose and the stress of not having a job. The boys are still sleeping when I get up and hop in the shower to wash the yuck of yesterday off. I look in the mirror when I get out; there are dark circles under my eyes, and my nose is slightly swollen with a bit of blue and green around it. I look like a mess. Who would hire me looking like this?
Trying not to overthink it, I pull my hair up and apply some light makeup before putting on the outfit that Tanya loaned me for today.
I walk out of the bathroom and the smell of bacon hits me, then my stomach growls. When was the last time I ate?
I spot Irina at the stove cooking and Tanya kissing her neck while whispering who knows what. Something tells me it’s either sweet or dirty because Irina has a big smile on her face.
“Morning,” I call out, feeling horrible that I interrupted them.
Irina whistles. “You look good cleaned up.”
I feel the blush rise in my cheeks. “Oh, yeah, dark circles and a bruised, swollen nose is the new look,” I say sarcastically.
“Oh, shut it. You can barely see anything. Now let’s get going. I will see Jasper Whitlock today,” Irina announces in a scary, determined voice.
“His name is Jasper?” Jasper isn’t a common name. I have a gut feeling that her Jasper and my regular are the same.
“Yes. I’ve done so much research to impress him and get into the intern position.”
I nod, walking into the guest room and giving the boys a quick kiss on the forehead. I will get a job today.
We arrive at the tall glass building and it’s not far from the diner. Another box checked that this might be one of the group of regulars.
“Okay, his office is all the way down here.” She points to a long hallway to the left of where we’re standing.
The office is gorgeous, and two ladies are behind a big red oak desk looking bored.
“Good morning, I am here to speak to Mr. Whitlock about an intern position,” Irina says confidently.
You can see they both recognize her from the multitude of times she’s been in here. “We told you we gave him the resume but he wasn’t impressed.” The woman with overly bleached blonde hair doesn’t even look up from her nail file.
“I want him to say that to me, then,” Irina grits out.
“No,” she replies in a bored tone.
Before Irina can say anything more, I come up with an idea. “Could you please tell him Bella Swan needs to speak with him regarding my son? Jasper is my son’s coach.” I pray this is the same Jasper.
“Oh, hold on.” She grabs up her phone and repeats the message. “Yes, sir.” She hangs it up, looking back at me. “He’ll be out to get you in a moment.”
I can’t believe my luck. I can help Irina get around these bitches.
“Bella,” Jasper says my name in that southern drawl.
I look to Irina and whisper, “I totally guessed that it was the same guy as my lunchtime regular.” She nods her head, but her eyes never leave Jasper, because she’s on a mission.
“Hi, Jasper, is there anywhere we can speak privately?” I ask with the little confidence I have left, remembering that he saw me yesterday and the shape I was in when I left the diner.
“Yeah, follow me.” He leads us into a conference room. “Take a seat. Everything okay with Damon?” He seems concerned, which makes me feel horrible for using it as a ruse to get Irina in touch with him.
“Yes, I’m sorry, but I really didn’t need to speak with you. You see, this is my friend Irina. She’s looking for an internship and she’s been trying to get into your office, but the ladies out there seem to not like her.”
A smirk graces his lips. “No, they must not, because I haven’t even heard of you, sorry, Irina.”
“Sir, I am the best candidate for your intern program.” She gives him a portfolio with what I assume is her resume and other things showing how amazing she is.
He takes it and immediately opens it and reads it. “You are interested in family law and LGBTQ rights, also?” He seems very interested by this.
“Yes, sir I am.” Her voice gives away her excitement.
“I’ll let you guys talk; I’m going to see if there are any job opportunities around here,” I announce before getting up.
“Top floor,” Jasper tells me, and his smile is even bigger. I don’t question him, I just thank him. It’s not long before I find myself at the top floor where there is a lot of shouting.
Following the cussing, I find myself watching Edward tossing a phone across the room. “Fucking stupid ass people! Where the fuck is that merger file?”
I don’t know what gets into me, but I walk in and grab the phone, putting it on the desk. Edward eyes go wide looking at me. I ignore him and start looking through the crap on his desk. “What does the file look like?” I ask, pulling folders and papers out.
“It should have a heading, reading ‘James Hunter’. It has numbers and sales rates.” I can tell he’s still shell-shocked as I grab a folder that has what he describes.
“There’s that.” I hand it to him, then I start organizing the folders and the desk when the phone rings and on instinct, I answer it. “Edward Cullen’s office, this is Bella speaking, how may I help you?” I hope that’s an appropriate greeting.
“I have a meeting scheduled with Mr. Cullen tomorrow, I just wanted to confirm this,” says the deep voice on the other end of the line.
“May I have your name, please?”
“Okay, one moment please, let me pull up the calendar.” In reality, I hit the mute button and turn to the still unmoving Edward. “You and Mr. Hunter have a meeting tomorrow, yes?”
“Yes, at ten AM.” He can speak, I think to myself as I unmute the phone.
“Yes, Mr. Hunter. I have you right here for ten AM.”
He thanks me quickly and hangs up.
“You’re hired.” Edward walks into his office and shuts the door behind him.
Shit! I am Edward’s PA. I have a job!