Home > Surprise Delivery(4)

Surprise Delivery(4)
Author: R.R. Banks

I sit down, put my purse in the bottom drawer, and boot up my computer. As it gets warm, I run into the kitchen and make myself a cup of coffee. By the time I get back, my computer is up and ready to go, so I sit down and call up my emails. I also take a look at Preston's calendar for the day and jot down a few notes, so I'm not surprised by anything later.

I’m so engrossed in what I'm doing that when the front door opens, and I hear voices, it startles me. I look up and see some of the secretaries and lawyers filing in, their laughter echoing around the office. Putting my head down, I try to shut them all out and focus on the task at hand – but I feel my heart sink into my stomach and I'm immediately on edge.

“Hey, what's up, red?” says a familiar voice. “Lookin' good today.”

I don't need to look up to know who it is speaking – Tyler Kemper, senior partner. He's been trying to get into my panties for as long as I've been here, and it seems like the more I turn him down, the more interested he gets. Which is to say, he's gone from a passing comment here and there, to full-blown harassment over the course of my time at the firm.

I don't look up and I don't respond. It's better that I don't, or else I might let the scathing comment that's on the tip of my tongue fly. And while he can't fire me personally – he'd need Preston's approval for that since technically, he's my boss and not Tyler – the last thing I can afford to do is give him the ammunition to make a case against me. It's something that Preston has warned me about – in a subtle, circuitous way.

I wish Preston would stand up for me and put these guys in their place. He's one of the founding partners and has a lot of sway. I get the feeling he's afraid of the other guys. He's not necessarily part of their little clique. He's a married, family man, so he doesn't go drinking and womanizing with them. He comes in, does his job, and when the day is done, he goes home.

He doesn't huddle in corners with the other guys, cracking misogynistic jokes. He doesn't stand around throwing creepy, lecherous glances at me or the other secretaries. And he sure as hell doesn't improperly proposition any of us. He doesn't really fit in with the overgrown frat boys who run the firm, which makes me wonder why he's still in business with them.

I mean, on one level, I get it. They all went to the same law school and graduated together. They were friends, and of course frat brothers. That connection between them will always be there. But, unlike the others, Preston grew up. He got married. He matured. And now, he has virtually nothing in common with any of them.

Preston knows the pickle I'm in. He knows my situation and I know he sympathizes with me. Part of me thinks he'd be willing to give me the tuition money if I asked, just to get me the hell out of here. But that wouldn't exactly be appropriate, nor would his wife be on board with it. So, he does what he can to shield me from the worst of it and protects me the best that he can.

“So, have you reconsidered yet?” Tyler asks. “About having dinner with me?”

“No, I haven't,” I tell him flatly. “But, thank you.”

“Well, how about we skip dinner and I just have you for dessert, then?”

I clench my jaw and have to force myself to keep my head down and keep working on what I'm working on. But oh, the temptation to stand up and jam the pen in my hand into his throat is strong.

“Come on, Lexi,” he continues. “I've been after you for what, two years now? There's a difference between playing hard to get and being a frigid bitch.”

My blood pressure skyrockets and I feel something inside of me snap. I look up at him with murder in my eyes, a steel core building inside of me.

“You do realize you're opening yourself up for one hell of a sexual harassment lawsuit, don't you?” I hiss through clenched teeth.

A grin crosses his face and there is a light of amusement in his eyes. Amusement! I want to slap him hard enough to give him whiplash and knock his perfect white teeth out of his perfect mouth. I've never felt a rage in me quite like this before and I want to commit unspeakable acts of violence upon this piece of shit.

“Now, now, now, Lexi,” he chuckles, his tone thick with condescension. “Let's not start making idle threats.”

“Who said it's an idle threat?” I counter. “I think I've got a pretty strong case.”

“First of all, you need proof to win your case. You need corroboration of sexual harassment,” he says and gestures vaguely to the office behind him. “Do you really think any of the other girls in the office are going to back you up?”

“I can still –”

“Or surely, you have another form of evidence of this alleged harassment?” he goes on like I wasn’t speaking, his eyes boring into me. “Video? Emails? Anything?”

Slowly, that steel core that was building inside of me begins to melt, leaving behind nothing but a puddle of ruin. I don't have anything corroborating my claim, and he's right – none of those other catty bitches are going to back me up if I file a lawsuit. I'm pretty sure most of them actually believe they can turn the partners they're screwing from fuck buddies into husbands.

“Look, you and I both know you need this job a lot more than we need you. In some ways, we're humoring you by letting you stay. If not for Preston, I probably would have canned your ass a long time ago,” Tyler says, his tone arrogant and smug. “I know you're hanging on by a thread, financially speaking –”

“You don't know anything about me.”

He chuckles. “I do background checks on all of our employees. It's part of the normal vetting procedure, Lexi. So yeah, I do know your situation. Which means, we both know that you're not going to do anything to put this job in jeopardy,” he sneers. “And oh yeah, you can't afford to hire the sort of top-flight attorney that could actually give us a little trouble. You know that we'd bury you in court. Or, barring that, we can drag it out for so long, you'll be living on the street begging for change long before you ever see a dime of settlement money. Take my word for it, even if you do file suit against us, it's not like you're going to destroy this firm. Sorry, but that's just the facts, kid.”

The embers of my rage are still burning, but they're fading faster with his each and every word. Everything he's saying is right and it's true. I hate it – and him – but he's unfortunately not wrong. He has me over a barrel and he knows it – a fact that he absolutely loves.

“So, let's just cut to the chase,” he says, his eyes growing as hard as his voice. “It's kind of cute and a little bit of a turn on, honestly. Eventually though, I'm going to get tired of this little hard to get game you've got going on. I'm amusing myself with some of the others at the moment, but I still plan on getting a taste of you.”

“I'm not going to –”

“Eventually, we're going to find ourselves at a point where you're either on your knees like a good girl, doing what I tell you, when I tell you to do it, or you're going to find yourself hitting the bricks looking for another job. And do you really think you're going to find a job that pays what we do with your background and your limited – education?”

The tears well in my eyes and my heart stutters in my chest. I want to punch him in the mouth and storm out the door. But I can't. If I do that, I may as well just start panhandling the moment I do because I’ll be broke. I have no backup plan. No safety net. I have no family or friends I can fall back on for help and I can't be a burden to Sabrina.

If I give in to my desire to exact my revenge on this asshole, I'll pay a heavy price – a price I can't afford to bear.

“Good morning Alexis. Tyler.”

I look up at the sound of Preston's voice as he strides toward us and try to compose myself quickly. I don't want him to know I'm on the verge of tears, nor do I want to cause a scene and put myself in an awkward position with Tyler. That would only lead to a lot of awkward questions and a tense situation for all of us.

All the same, Preston's timing couldn't have possibly been better.

“What's up?” Preston asks.

“Oh, just saying good morning to Alexis here,” Tyler says, his eyes flashing a warning to me.

Preston nods. “Good,” he says. “Looks like you've done that, so you can probably head to your office now.”

The air between the three of us is tense as Preston and Tyler stare each other down for a long moment. Preston isn't stupid – he's probably the smartest of all the partners – and he knows what's going on. He knows exactly why Tyler is looming over my desk and is letting him silently know that he knows. Tyler doesn't look like he cares a whit, not with the cocky smirk tugging one corner of his mouth upward.

Without a word, Tyler turns and heads to his office, closing the door behind himself with a little more force than is necessary, the boom of it slamming, echoing around the office. Tyler's a partner, but because Preston is one of the two founding partners of the firm, he outranks him – a fact that never fails to irritate Tyler.

I have no doubt the others have been searching for ways to oust Preston from his own firm, but as of yet, they haven't made a move. And it probably has something to do with the fact that Preston is the one bringing in the lion's share of the money. Each and every month, he has the most billable hours and he wins far more in settlements and jury awards than the others.

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