Holy hell look what showed up on doorstep.
You should have hit him.
Deja sighed and shook her head this was part of the problem with her life. Keep making suggestions like that, and I’ll put you in the cage with her.
That part of her that was prone to handle everything with violence shut up.
She looked down the street in her neighborhood; she was out job hunting. The job she had at a prestigious doctor’s office ended two months ago. No hard feelings they said as they gave her two weeks’ severance pay and told her she would qualify for unemployment.
Thanks, she thought privately, but how am I supposed to pay my bills on unemployment when I’m barely making ends meet with your stinking job? All right maybe her thoughts had been a little more volatile than that, but she kept it together. She wasn’t the only person who lost her job in this purge, and she refused to cry, slobber, and beg like some of her co-workers. Single co-workers with mouths to feed. Yeah, the thought made her wish she could make her ex-employers feel some of their pain. Instead, she was walking down the streets in her neighborhood looking for a job. Anything would help.
It’s not as if she waited until the last minute to look for a job; no she started the day after she found out. Jobs in her career were rare, and it seemed like every physician’s office that might have hired her was going through an internal purge. “Times are hard,” they said along with, “were not hiring at this moment but we’ll keep your application on file.”
Yeah, thanks, I hope I’m still around by the time you start hiring again.
That was her sarcastic side. Deja used to be normal or at least she liked to tell herself that. She didn’t have these different sides of her personality that liked to talk when no one was talking to them, but over the last couple of months the strain was too much, and she was sure she snapped.
She stopped, and she ran her hand over what she was wearing. Tim’s was a bar in need of a waitress. She was a woman in need of a job; it was perfect. Yeah, so she was a plus size woman that didn’t stop men from commenting on her ass or her tits so…why not give her the job? She was dressed in a very eye-catching outfit. The skirt was short and trendy, and her blouse pulled across her chest emphasizing her breast.
Tim’s bar was on a busy street, but the bar itself was small and intimate. She knew that from listening to people who were patrons there. She never went to Tim’s. The place was a concrete jungle with a large glass plate window, a neon sign that said beer and featured the silhouette of a curvy female, whatever it took to sell beer.
Ignoring the cigarette butts surrounding the side of the building and the smell of day old beer she opened the door and went in. She armed herself with a smile and confidence thinking this could be her new job.
The lights were on low, and she could barely see even though it was only three pm. There was only one customer occupying a stool talking to the bartender. The customer turned to look at her, giving her a once over before turning away. She sighed, it didn’t take much to know he didn’t appreciate her extra curves.
“How can I help you, ma’am? You want a drink?” The bartender seemed nice enough, although he wasn’t making her feel welcome. He stood somewhere under six feet with blue eyes that said he didn’t care. He had muscles that said try me; she bet he also worked as the bouncer and a personality that told her he found her an inconvenience. Buy something or leave.
She pulled herself up as straight as she could five eight might not be intimidating until she put the force of her personality behind it.
“There’s a help wanted sign out front, and I came to apply for the position.”
The man sitting at the bar drinking his beer choked on it and was too busy trying to laugh to stop choking.
The different parts of her personality all stopped to watch him plotting violence. She wrangled them in and sat on them. The only thing she could do at the moment.
“Sorry Ma’am,” the bartender said. “We’re not looking for your type.”
Her type? Was he talking about the color of her skin or the size of her body?
“My type,” she tried to repress her anger “Can you be more specific? Is it the darkness of my skin or the size of my body that offends you?”
“As I’m sure you know it’s against the law to reject a potential hire based on the color of their skin or the size of their body. I, on the other hand, can look at you and tell you haven’t had experience waitressing. We need someone with experience.”
His manner was respectful, but his eyes and his demeanor said ‘hell no, you won’t be working here.’
“Of course, if you have references.”
Can I hit him now?
No, no, no! She was going crazy.
“Thank you for your time I don’t have references, and I must have missed the experience needed part on the sign.”
“Don’t worry about it, doll.”
She turned and walked away paying attention to the floor that was sticky and in need of both a broom and a mop.
The guy at the bar said a little too loudly. “This is a bar right, not an all you can eat buffet. Why doesn’t she look for a job at one of those?”
She walked out the bar keeping her head high until she walked down the street and stopped in front of the Crawford. It was a huge mansion that was now a museum. There was an iron fence made of very nice spikes that went around the ground. She leaned against it and tried to spend some time figuring out her life.
She was jobless and soon wouldn’t have a place to live. Her landlord sold her apartment building to up and coming entrepreneurs looking for graduates with high paying jobs. The people who bought it were going to make some changes throw some money at it and then rent it out for twice what she paid now. They’d make a fortune, and she would be homeless.
Gentrification. The ugly word that no one would say but everyone was thinking. Deja lived in a building with single mothers, most of them keeping their heads down and trying to provide for their children.
The part of her she placed in the cage was shaking it making her terrified. This was the ugly truth most people didn’t understand. They thought the slide into insanity was instantaneous, but it wasn’t. It was a slow slide one that she was fighting all the way. One day she expected to be in one of those little rooms where the nice nurse would bring her meds then check her mouth to make sure she swallowed them. She would get three meals a day and even a nice little bed to sleep on. But what about now? Now she had to make sure she had food and a place to lay her head.
In her opinion, the slide into insanity was either helped or hindered by how well you could take care of yourself. In her life, she couldn’t figure out which one was winning. Standing she glanced at her watch it was only three forty-five. There was still time to keep walking and looking for jobs. She left Second Ave. Obviously, she wasn’t going to find anything on the main drag.
She turned down some street she didn’t know the name of and didn’t care to and started walking. The houses in this neighborhood were nice. Upper middle class. The people who lived here were surrounded on three sides by less desirable neighborhoods. Every day the residents held their breath and prayed that the other neighborhoods would not spill over into theirs. It had been this way for years. She didn’t think it was going to change anytime soon.
The homes were picture perfect with manicured lawns along with cute chairs and tables out on the porches. Some of the neighbors were even out talking giving her that look as she walked up the street. No one looked too long because they knew her from the daily walks she took. One or two neighbors even smiled and waved making her feel a little better.
When she got to the end of the block, she knew she would have to make a right because the street dead-ended. Except today it didn’t.
“No,” she whispered while pinching herself the pain helping to clear her head. She wasn’t ready to be locked up. She wanted a chance to make her life right. There was still a possibility she could be normal, meet a man, have wild sex, marry and have kids. Was that too much to ask out of life?
Don’t do it. Don’t walk down this street. Turn Deja don’t do this to us.
That was the side of her that was scared of everything. She refused to allow her feet to hang over the bed at night just in case there was a monster under there waiting for them. Honestly, she should listen to that voice but she worked a dead end job for twelve years, and they repaid her loyalty by downsizing her. She was tired of being scared.
Put one front in front of the other. So what if she was singing that Christmas song softly to herself, it did seem appropriate. Deja wasn’t in her upscale community any longer. She just wasn’t sure where she was. The houses were big with lots of room. It was like the residents didn’t do anything small. She walked two blocks until she saw what had to be a gentlemen’s club because nothing that fancy could be considered a bar.
The building had class. It had several steps that led up to it with columns on each side of the porch. The image of a man in fine gray pants with a crease down the middle sitting on some expensive high back wicker chair with his long legs crossed and an imported cigar in his mouth teased her.
There was no neon sign that said beer with a silhouette of a woman in the window. But there was a nice sign that said they needed a waitress—with experience and a bartender they were willing to train.
She could learn to tend bar. All the voices in her head started talking at once as she stood frozen at the bottom of the steps debating whether she should walk up them or not.
“Holy hell looked what showed up on our doorstep.”
Declyn raised his head and looked at Enzo his beta. Nothing usually got a raise out of him. He was way too calm to let anything ruffle his coat so that comment while not high strung still caught his attention. He stood and crossed the room looking at the security cameras.
The beauty standing in front of them wasn’t one of theirs. Where had she come from and could Declyn get a female like her for his own? Shit, hell no, she had to go if she already had him wondering if she had a sister.
“She can’t stay Enzo no humans allowed. You know that.”
“I know, but she crossed the barrier. It had to open up for her. The fact that she was allowed in means there is something different about her.”
Shit, shit, shit! Declyn cursed silently. He knew that look. Heck, they all knew that look and wished more of their males wore it, but it was impossible. They weren’t staying on Earth a rescue ship would come for them.
It’s been four hundred years. An insidious voice that Declyn hated whispered in his head.
Unfortunately, the voice was right it had been four hundred years. No one was coming for them. What did it matter in the war that one battalion of highly trained soldiers went missing? They were probably presumed dead. That wasn’t the issue. No, the issue was, he had two hundred females and two thousand males.
How are those numbers working out for you? The voice was taunting him.
Both he and Enzo took a deep, bracing breath as the female placed her foot on the first step. Life was never going to be the same again.