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Claiming Her At The Bar
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I’m a prisoner to their male desires.
But after the Second Star was held up by criminals, I was whisked away by my captors to a completely different setting: The Billionaires Club.
Working at their elite underground bar, I was expected to do all the usual waitress things.
Wear glittery outfits.
Clean up questionable goopy spills.
And keep the dominating alpha males happy by any means necessary.
The problem is that I’ve fallen in love with one particular billionaire: Mr. Carmichael.
I shouldn’t feel this way.
After all, they’re forcing me to work here.
But Mr. Carmichael’s got me twisted around in the best way possible, and now it’s too late because I’m having the alpha male’s baby.
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The Second Star Diner really sucks, that’s for sure. As I stand at the server console, trying to figure out how to punch in an order for our new TripleMeat TripleCheese Slamburger, my boss wanders by and sneers at me.
“Yo Gemma, is putting in orders a little too tough for you? It doesn’t take a college degree, but wait a minute,” he said, snapping his fingers. “You don’t have one, right? In fact, you don’t even have a high school degree, right?”
I freeze as my heart starts beating hard and fast. Jimmy knows that I don’t have a high school degree because he’s seen my job application and resume. It states right there up at the top that I have nothing more than a GED, earned after a lot of time hitting the books on weekends. So this asshole is just trying to bait me. He’s trying to get a rise, all the while making me feel bad about myself.
And it’s working, to be honest. My temperature rises even as the tears begin to form hotly behind my lids. I desperately want him to get fired, but that’s nothing but a pipe dream. Jimmy is the owner’s nephew, and he only got the manager position because of nepotism. So I swallow hard before turning in his direction.
“This order console is new,” I say casually, gesturing to the iPad mounted on the counter. “It’s no big deal, I’ll figure it out.”
“You sure?” Jimmy sneers again. “Looks like you’re having some trouble adding up those figures.”
It’s true. Numbers have always bewildered me, but it’s not because I’m dumb. It’s because I have dyslexia. So yes, letters tend to blur before my eyes and jump all over the screen, with p’s turning into q’s all the time. But still, my dyslexia isn’t his business, and I wasn’t about to share information about my learning disability with this guy. It would only amp up the constant harassment and snide jokes. So I tried to smile calmly again.
“I don’t have a college degree, but I’m hoping to get my BA someday,” I say in what I hope is a neutral voice. “I have a lot of respect for higher education, and look forward to taking classes.”
“Oh please,” wheezes Jimmy while leaning over the counter. “We both know you’re not going back to school. You. Don’t. Have. A. High School. Degree. They don’t admit people like you. Get real, Gemma. College is for people with brains and money, and that’s not you. I know how much you make here. You’re poor. Besides, they’d never take you, so it’s not even money that’s the issue. It’s you.”
I freeze, stung by his words. How can someone be so mean? He must have thrown three different insults in that tirade, and besides, what he said isn’t true. People who have GEDs get into college all the time. It can be a little harder because you have to do two years at community college first, but I’m willing to put in the time.
But he’s right. How would I pay for college? There isn’t exactly a magical fund made of money labeled “Gemma’s College Stash” lying beneath the rainbow. People say that you can apply for financial aid, but everyone knows that it’s hard to get, and even if you do get some aid, it’s usually not enough. Plus, how would I pay it back? What kind of job would I get that could help me pay down tens of thousands of dollars in student loans?
But Jimmy doesn’t need to know that I’ve had many of the same thoughts myself. Instead, I shoot him what I hope is a freezing smile.
“I’m signing up for classes at Evergreen shortly,” comes my tight voice. “I’ll get an Associate’s and then try and transfer somewhere for my Bachelor’s.”
My manager doesn’t even hear the ice in my tone. He leans over the counter, smirking, and leers at me. It’s a disgusting sight. The fat man is pasty and flabby from eating too many fries, and right now his big belly is literally smooshed like giant paunchy cushion against the plastic countertop. I avert my eyes in an attempt not to be grossed out.
“Please,” he wheezes again. “Save the ‘holier than thou’ speech. You’re not going to get through Evergreen. Credits there cost a hundred bucks each, and each class is something like four credits. You can’t afford that on a waitress’s salary.”
This is the time to demand a raise, but I keep my lips sealed tight because one, it’s not like Jimmy has the authority to give me one, and two, I’m a senior waitress making ten bucks an hour. I’ve already hit the top of the pay scale, and unless I take on more shifts, there isn’t going to be more money coming my way.