I knelt on the floor, a pillow underneath my knees. Blindfolded, I listened hard, waiting for a sign of what was to come. Only the hum of the hotel air conditioner met my ears. Seconds passed, then a minute. Finally I heard the door open and then click shut. Footsteps, muted on the carpet, sounded from behind me, and I felt, rather than heard, a male presence pass by my side and come to stand in front of me. Close, so close I leaned backward slightly. The sound of a zipper being drawn down filled the silent room.
Four months earlier.
I decided to break off my engagement on a Wednesday night at 2:20am. I was drunk, past the point of walking a straight line, but not yet to the point of slurrying my speech. Drunk wasn't the best mindset to be in to make a life altering decision, but a truth that had evaded my self conscious for the last two years had finally ripped back the thin curtain I had always shoved it behind and now stood front and center in the middle of my head, waving its arms and screaming. Luke was not the one for me.
I met Luke as a sophomore in college - emotionally vulnerable after the first "love of my life" unceremoniously dumped me 2 weeks after taking my virginity to run off with a 17-year old blonde, pink toe-nailed, California princess. Luke was quiet, brooding, a sensitive soul who seemed absolutely terrified of me. I was bubbly, beautiful, and determined to get over my heartbreak the college way - partying myself into oblivion. I hunted Luke down, like a lioness would do to a vulnerable baby antelope, making my soul occupation getting Luke to fall completely and hopelessly in love with me. Which he did, putting me on a pedestal and worshipping daily at my whim.
I demanded a proposal within six months, which he did willingly (I think), and we began to plan a life together. This life plan was hampered slightly by the fact that Luke was a dreamer - with high goals but little follow-through. He enjoyed spending time with me, but little else. He worked in construction, and not in a management role, as I had originally thought, but as a laborer. My bubbly persona started to turn into more of a nagging mother role. It wasn't long before my self-conscience starting poking me with a sharp little pointy stick. I had ignored the annoying pokes for the last 12 months. My self-conscience had had enough of waiting.
It is weird the things that enter your head during a break up. I sat on my bed, with Luke sitting next to me, and I wondered why I had never purchased a chair for my bedroom. I had a desk, along with the typical bedside table, and of course, bed - but no chair. A chair would have made this situation easier - sitting next to Luke on the bed would be too intimate, his pain was too close, and I knew I would have to fight to keep from reaching over to comfort him. But enough procrastinating. I stood up, wobbled slightly, and turned to face him. I took a deep breath and delivered the bad news. I think my dramatic breakup speech was hampered slightly by the fact that we were both drunk, but I tried my best to be compassionate, coherent, and firm. I accomplished at least two of those objectives.
Luke turned out to have a streak of stalker in him. As much poking and prodding that he had needed to bathe, balance a checkbook, and show up for work- it turned out he needed little or no encouragement to spend every waking moment trying to convince me to come back to him. In retrospect, maybe I should have spent less effort trying to get him to fall in love with me. I might have overshot that objective.
After two weeks of avoiding my home, work, and any place I had ever frequented during the last two years, I decided to leave my crappy apartment and even crappier job and start fresh. It was good timing. Intern season was starting.
My internship at Clarke, De Luca & Broward began Monday morning at 8am. I sat in the Human Resources offices with eight other interns and waited for my attorney assignment. Our internships would last for one semester; during that time we would be assigned an attorney, and for the most part, would be their personal bitch for the next 10 weeks.
I had heard the stories. Liz Renfield, one of the junior partners, once made one intern cover her gynecology appointment - the intern had to sit in the cold stirrups and undergo a full exam - just so Renfield could make a depo and continue her birth control uninterrupted. Hugo Clarke is apparently the dream assignment - he takes interns under his wing and pretty much guarantees you a salaried position after graduation. Brad De Luca is a skirt chaser, Robert Handler a drunk, and Kent Broward will drown you in work. There were a few new attorneys that hadn't yet built up a reputation, but I was sure that they would have one soon enough.
"Miss Campbell," the receptionist barked and waved her hand, beckoning me. I stood, smoothed my skirt, and strode to the front. I was nervous, but tried to appear calm and collected. I came to a stop in front of her and waited. "You will be assisting Attorney Kent Broward," the throaty voice of the receptionist stated. "After orientation, report to his office, fourth floor." She dismissed me by turning back to her stack and calling the next victim, Jennifer Hutchinson. I turned and walked back to my seat, passing Jennifer on the way. She gave me a tight, nervous smile which I returned.
I sat down on the plastic-wrapped seat and exhaled, releasing the breath that I had not been aware I was holding. Attorney Kent Broward. I could have gotten worse. Broward works long hours, and expects his interns to do the same, but at least I will get good, solid training. If I impress Broward, I should have no problem getting a strong recommendation for law school. Word was that Broward was tough, but not unreasonable, and fair. I heard in the background Jennifer's assignment called out, she had received Liz Renfield. Tough break.
Orientation passed slowly, a boring drone of questionnaires, forms, and informational videos on topics such as equal opportunity and sexual harassment in the workplace. We had a catered lunch in an empty conference room, cold ham and turkey sandwiches with chips. I munched on a Lays chip and listened to the idle chat. The conversation seemed to center around drinks after work today, and where everyone wanted to go.
"Hops Grille. Julia - that work for you?" Trevor, a lanky red-headed leaned forward me as he asked the question.
I shrugged noncommittally. "Hops works for me, if Broward lets me out in time," I said. I didn't expect to make many happy hour events, at least not for the next 10 weeks. I could probably cross off any social events period, until my internship was over.
"I'm sure Broward will let you off early today- it is the first day, after all," Todd Appleton, a handsome, well built, athletic-type said, staring into my eyes from across the table. I smiled at him, and sensed a connection. Hmmm….that might help the next few months pass quickly.