52-Week Writing Challenge: Week 48
NaNoWriMo is over, but the writing continues. This is another excerpt of my WIP, Sacrificial Daughter, currently at 62K. This is part of a memory Ana has which led to major changes in her life and changed its direction.
Analeigh exited Dot’s Five & Dime clutching the bag which held her new spiral notebooks and pencils. She headed for home, eager to get to the solitude of her bedroom and add to her story Sadia, the Beloved African Princess.
Excited, Ana planned the wedding scene between Sadia and mighty warrior, Manu Owon, in her mind. She didn’t hear the group of girls approaching her from behind until they surrounded her.
Macy Burford and Judy Lake each gripped one of Ana’s elbows, pulling her along at a brisk pace.
“What are you doing? Let go of me!” Ana pulled and tugged to break free, but stopped when she felt Macy’s nails dig into her skin through the thin jacket she wore.
“Aww, calm down, Analeigh. We only want to hang out with you,” Judy cooed.
“No, you don’t. We’re not friends. Let go!” Ana stopped, trying to wrench herself free, but a sharp jab to her left shoulder caught her off guard. She turned her head to find Angela Feltner glaring at her. Next to Angela stood Corinne Beeman, her eyes filled with sympathy and fear.
Macy jerked Ana forward. “C’mon. We don’t have much time.
“Where are we going? Macy, what do you want from me? Just let me go. I won’t tell anyone.”
The taller girl scoffed and responded through gritted teeth.
“I don’t give a damn who you tell. No one will believe the town whore’s bastard daughter.”
Ana accepted what her mother was long ago. She could do nothing to change it. But being reminded of her anonymous father stung.
“Macy, just let me go. Judy, please. I have to get home before dark.”
Angela giggled. “Why is that, Analeigh? Do you have to help your mama service her men? Is that it, Analeigh? You raising your dress and spreading your legs for a long line of men every night?”
Angela clipped Ana’s shoulder with a balled fist.
“Don’t call me disgusting… that’s your mama, not mine-”
“And what she does has nothing to do with me.”
Despite the late afternoon’s cool breeze, perspiration trickled the length of Ana’s back, fueled not by fear but anger.
Where were they taking her? What did they want? What gave them the right to control her?
The group reached the corner and turned right on Mt. Pleasant Boulevard.
“Shut your mouth and keep moving.”
Jaywalking, they crossed the desolate side street.
Ana realized they were heading straight for the back entrance of Symphony Park.
“Why are we going to the park? C’mon, you guys, let me go. Please?”
“We want to spend time with our friend, pretty Analeigh Sellers. We want to know how you always have the answers and get all those A’s. You doing special favors for teachers after school, Analeigh?” Macy smirked, marring her plain features even more.
Once the group was through the gate, Macy shoved Ana to the ground.
Ana threw her hands out and caught herself, her mouth mere inches away from the dirty, cracked cement. Pain shot through her wrist and heightened her anger.
“What the hell do you want?”
Macy leaned toward her. “If I had my way, you’d die, Analeigh. You and your slut of a mother make me sick.”
The crazed look in Macy’s eyes confused Ana, but anger won out. She kicked her leg out, catching Macy in the shin. Ana rolled to the right, missing the hard stomp of Angela’s booted foot.
Ana jumped to her feet, ignoring the pain of her injured wrist.
“Why do you hate me? What did I do to you? None of you even know me.”
“Pretty Analeigh. Smart Analeigh,” Angela mimicked. “You’re a whore’s daughter, which makes you a whore. But the boys and teachers think you’re so wonderful.”
Ana shook her head, her eyes full of sadness.
“You’re wrong. No one thinks I’m wonderful.”
“It doesn’t matter,” Macy bellowed. “None of it matters.”
All eyes were on Macy as she pulled a large pair of silver-plated scissors from her bag.
“You need a haircut, Analeigh.”
Olivia Chandler was exhausted. She had too many open cases for one attorney with little backup. The Chandler Group attorneys were all carrying multiple cases. Olivia was grateful business was good because it meant children weren’t being shut out of the conversation on their care. But it also meant families were splintered and bickering… and sometimes it had nothing to do with the minor child involved.
She needed help.
Olivia had witnessed Glendon Kane in the courtroom firsthand and found him to be an adept litigator and brilliant legal strategist.
And too good for Borst & Peckham.
On impulse… and one hundred percent out of character, Olivia called Glendon and invited him to an early dinner to discuss a business matter.
“Thank you for accepting my dinner invitation, Glendon.”
She could see the fatigue lining a brow far too young for such things.
He gave Olivia a genuine smile.
“As if I’d say no to you, Olivia. Beautiful women don’t ask me out every day.”
“Oh, Mr. Kane. That is not the story I heard.”
The attorneys shared a laughed. Glendon raised his hands in defeat.
“Okay, Okay, Women do ask me out. But I never saw myself sharing a meal with the great Olivia Chandler.”
She smirked and waved him off.
“Don’t even try it. My office manager doesn’t miss much of the courthouse grapevine. I think she may even be responsible for half the info making the rounds, and she says you’re pretty popular with the ladies.”
“Ah, the magnificent Margot.”
“She’ll love that you called her magnificent.”
“She is. But tell her most of my dates never get further that one or two dates. And a third date is unheard of.”
Olivia sobered, not wanting to ask why but curiosity… and empathy showed in her eyes.
Glendon laughed and shook his head.
“Fortunately, it’s not what you think, Olivia. The problem is women find out I work for B&P and they see dollar signs. But when they find out I’m a low-paid associate, their interest fizzles.” He pointed to his face. “Not even these amazing good looks can keep them around.”
Olivia slid her wine glass aside and folded her hands on the table.
“I heard about the Getner lawsuit… and the blame being laid at your feet, Glendon.”
His smile caught Olivia off guard. She frowned.
“Yeah, the last couple of days weren’t the best. This was not a difficult case, but dumb and mega-dumb kept sticking their noses in where they didn’t belong. Paulina Getner did file a lawsuit. And I can’t say that I blame her, but she and I talked… again, and I’ve negotiated a good settlement. Now all I have to do is get Tanner to issue a public apology.”
Olivia shook her head in disbelief.
“Why do you do it, Kane? You’ve more than put in your time. Why do you stay? Your record is exemplary. Any firm would be lucky to get you.”
“B&P have just enough money to keep me invisible in this state. The larger firms are owned by their friends and the smaller firms are bullied into ignoring me. My meager savings are not enough to start my own practice… so I remain the whipping boy.”
“There are forty-nine other states.”
“But my dad is here. It’s just been he and I for the last twelve years. He’ll never leave the home he shared with my mom… and I’ll never leave him.”
He sipped his wine.
“So, B&P’s money keeps me locked in even though they only toss pennies my way.”
Unable to keep the smug look from her face, Olivia Chandler leaned back, her head tilted to the side.
“Maynard and Samuel’s millions… and their connections don’t scare me.”
Glendon Kane’s face brightened.
“Olivia? Are you offering me a job?”
Incredulous, Kane scrubbed his hand down his face. Returning his gaze to Olivia, he searched for the words.
“The Chandler Group… wow. Your reputation is flawless and you guys do some awesome work.”
Glendon abruptly held his hands up.
“You realize Maynard and Samuel won’t just let me walk away?”
“Are you in the middle of a contract with them?”
“No. My last contract ended over five months ago. They’ve been slow to write up another because they don’t want to make me a partner… or increase my pay. I’m still working under the terms of the contract we signed two years ago.”
Olivia leaned forward.
“You let me worry about those two. I need help, Glendon. I love my job, but my current caseload is out of control. I don’t have the time to train or hold anyone’s hand. You’re amazing in the courtroom… a force to be reckoned with. Your concern for your clients is genuine and you’ve won some near-impossible cases because you weren’t afraid to buck the system. I’m sure your billable hours are more than those four doorstops combined.”
Her face softened.
“Come to work for me… after the appropriate notice to Borst, of course. I’ll have something drawn up in the morning, but it will include a significant pay increase, an expense account, full medical… and no weekends.”
“Olivia, you had me at “Come to work for me.””
Olivia Chandler laughed. “Seriously though, Glendon. Email or call Margot in the morning with your particulars. We can meet for a late lunch or another early dinner to go over the contract. You can give Borst notice by the end of the week.”
Kane reached out and grabbed Olivia’s hand, firmly shaking it.
“At this point, Olivia, the wording of a contract is not an issue. You’re respected and held in high regard in the state’s family law system and internationally in the public interest community. I appreciate the opportunity… and honestly, I think you’re saving my life.”
She gripped his hand, returning his handshake.
“Glendon, we’re saving each other and I look forward to working with you. Now, let’s order a couple of those thirty-two-ounce Big Texan steaks and see how much we can eat before we get sick.”
The attorneys chatted and joked amiably. Olivia relaxed, proud of herself for following her first thought and offering the harried Glendon Kane a position.
Maynard Borst and Samuel Peckham would be furious. They would be full of piss and vinegar and issue empty threats, but Glendon would come to work for her… that she was sure of.
Her workload would lighten and she would have free time. Something she’d never wanted before, but there was no Bruce Bellamy before. Olivia looked forward to spending more time with Bruce and his huge, loving family. She felt like she was a part of something important and she liked it.
Glendon was laughing and telling a story from his law school days as Olivia said a silent prayer for her future with Bruce… and that she didn’t do anything to ruin it.
Knowing the outreach center was in west L.A., Quinn found it after only two searches.
Finally acknowledging a Clinton Clark did receive occasional treatment there, the kind, but resolute center director, Vince, would not give Quinn any more information as he walked her to the door.
“Please understand, miss. Most of our vets experienced trauma that has yet to end for them. Some are at the lowest points in their lives and vulnerable. All sorts of folks come in pretending to be family or close friends… just to get a signature on divorce papers, land deeds, and bank accounts. One poor fella thought he was updating his son’s insurance, when in fact, he was signing away his parental rights.”
Quinn couldn’t hide her stunned expression.
Vince rested his hand on the door handle. “I know it sounds deplorable… because it is. But those kinds of situations happen more than the public is aware of. We have to do what we can to protect our vets.”
Quinn thanked the man as he held the door for her. She was glad Clinton had someone looking out for him, but Quinn was determined. She would see her brother.
She talked with Mike Matthews during her drive home. Giving him the short version of her evening, Mike didn’t give her a chance to ask for time off.
“Take all the time you need, Landon. You’ve always got my back. And besides, without you here putting out all the office fires, I get to see what the rest of this team knows… or doesn’t.”
They shared a chuckle before Quinn ended the call, grateful for a boss like Mike.
Quinn was grateful again when she pulled into her South Pasadena driveway, but for a different reason.
Oscar had not returned from her parents’ home yet. Entering the mud room from the garage, she hoped he would opt to go to his parents’ home instead of coming home at all.
Entering the mud room from the garage, she hoped he would opt to go to his parents’ home instead of coming home at all.
Or to see his newest side piece.
The revelation of his latest affair and his limp, unapologetic apology changed Quinn Landon.
It wasn’t Oscar’s first affair, but it was the first time blame was laid squarely on her shoulders by her parents.
They reasoned if Quinn quit her job and left the stresses of work behind, she’d get pregnant, and Oscar would be happy.
Finding an airline ticket stub and hotel receipts from San Diego were the swan song for the Landon marriage.
It was insult enough Quinn knew the trip was funded by money from their joint account… the money she worked for and saved… but it was the same weekend Oscar backed out of their planned trip to northern California for a jazz festival.
Oscar Landon had no intention of changing his adulterous ways.
She made a turkey sandwich, grabbed a bottle of Perrier and headed for her bedroom. Making sure the bedroom door was locked, Quinn wolfed down her sandwich and took a quick shower. She threw on her favorite Green Bay Packers jersey and placed a pair of jeans and a light sweater for tomorrow at her dressing table.
Making sure the bedroom door was locked, Quinn wolfed down her sandwich and took a quick shower. She threw on her favorite Green Bay Packers jersey and placed a pair of jeans and a light sweater for tomorrow at her dressing table.
Quinn spent the next two hours in her work email—responding to inquiries and clearing up pressing matters.
Her eyelids became heavy as fatigue washed over her.
Activating her out-of-office email response, Quinn placed her tablet on the nightstand and crawled into bed. She had almost drifted off when she heard the front door. Moments later, there was a soft tap on the bedroom door.
Ignoring her husband, Quinn turned over and let sleep take her.
Awaking before her alarm clock sounded five short hours later, Quinn laid in bed staring out her east-facing bedroom window as the sun began its ascent. The golden rays peeking through the trees energized Quinn and gave her strength.
She would call Morris Dabney next week. This time, Quinn would go through with the divorce. No amount of badgering or guilt trips from the Clark and Landon families would stop her this time.
Quinn rose and made her bed as she organized her thoughts.
She couldn’t remember what it felt like to love her husband unconditionally. Oscar’s endless lies halted Quinn’s love from growing. His disrespect of her and their marriage vows broke her heart and soured the happiness Quinn once enjoyed.
But it was Oscar’s determination to play the victim and join their families in blaming Quinn for his many dalliances which turned Quinn’s once full heart to a hardened pebble, beating enough only to maintain her existence.
Slipping into her jeans and sweater, Quinn found her favorite dark brown hiking boots in the back of her closet.
Dressed, she stood in front of the window lost in thought.
She needed to put the house on the market. She didn’t want any memories of any time shared with Oscar Landon and he couldn’t afford the house on a school administrator’s salary.
The loud chime of We Are Family snapped Quinn from her reverie.
Not in the mood to talk with any of her family, she grabbed her keys, put her phone on silent and headed for the outreach center.
Nothing would stop Quinn from seeing her brother today.
"Never forget it is real people who live out such tales and bear the price of the telling, in grief and guilt and sorrow". -Jacqueline Carey
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