"BEEP BEEP BEEP!" The alarm went off at 5:30 AM. But Ember had
been losing so much sleep lately that her hand automatically flew
out from under the covers and turned it off, with not one
coherent thought going on inside her tired head. Ember had lately
been worrying that her college law degree had gone to waste. Jobs
were scarce, as she had quickly found out. The rent was due, two
months ago, and she was sure her milk shouldn't have the same
consistency as cottage cheese.
Embers mother, Delores, had offered to loan Ember some money,
until she got back on her feet, but Ember hated accepting money
from anyone but a bank. In the last year she'd been forced to
take out two separate loans, just to keep her apartment and pay
An hour and a half after her alarm had gone off, the phone
started ringing. Ember groaned and angrily snatched the phone off
"Hello???" She angrily snapped out.
"You do know what time it is don't you?" Her best friend, Claire
Verlindin responded. Ember looked at the bright red letters on
her clock that read: 7:02. She quickly shot up in bed and started
to take off her pajamas.
"Oh shit! I must have turned my alarm off again. Damnit, damnit,
"I'll try to cover for you, but hurry up. Mr. Donnellson is
expecting you in half an hour!"
"I know. Oh shit Claire, this is the only job I know of, I'm
counting on this one!"
"Well stop talking and go get ready, it's a 20 minute drive. Now
"Okay, thanks! Bye!" she said, hopping around trying to get out
of her pajama bottoms.
Ember sprinted to her bathroom, quickly rinsed last nights sleep
off her body, then toweled off. And as all women do, she took a
few minutes to look at her naked body in the mirror. She had
never considered herself pretty, but she had to admit that she
was at least as good looking as the average woman. Perhaps even a
tiny above average, but not pretty. She knew her breasts were too
small, but she'd given up caring. Her butt was bigger than most,
and something she and also stopped caring about. What was the
point in worrying about something you couldn't change? She
asked herself. She was taller than most girls and stood at a
height of 5'10". She had often been criticized on middle school,
and called mean names because her growth spurt had kicked in a
little faster than all the other girls and had kept going. But
that too, she had also learned to accept. Besides, she
told herself, I can reach shelves that they can't.
Ember quickly applied a coat of mascara to her long lashes and a
coat of her usual red lipstick to her full, but not too full
lips. She was never a fan of putting on a lot of make-up, and so
she was already finished with that part. She pulled on her lacy
red underwear, the cute but comfortable ones, and her padded red
bra. Then she pulled on her panty hose, her black pencil skirt,
and put on her favorite red blouse. The blouse pulled in at the
middle, showing off the tiny waist that lay beneath and had a
neckline that revealed only the promise of more to come, without
actually revealing anything. Ember has always been a modest
woman, and was not a fan of exposing yourself to any man that
wanted to look down your shirt. Since Mark, nobody has seen me
exposed and nobody has touched me. But she was not going to
dwell on the past today. She had a job to go to! She quickly
tugged on her form-fitting calf-high boots and sprinted out the
It wasn't until she had gotten in her Impala that she realized
she had not done anything to her hair. In fact, it was still in
the curlers she had put in the night before. As she was driving
to the office, she began to slowly, one by one, take out all the
curlers. When she was done she used the comb she kept in her
purse to straighten out the extra frizzies on top, then pulled a
bit of hair to the right side and put in two bobby pins. She then
tousled her bangs and swung them to the right ride as well. She
quickly parked in front of the brick building that looked more
like a house than a law firm. It probably had been someone's
house a long time ago.
Ember stepped out of the car, once again breathing in the icy
cold Michigan air. Carefully, very carefully she stepped out of
the car for fear of her boots slipping out from under her on the
thick ice below her, as the parking lot hadn't been iced yet. Her
heavy briefcase slipped down her shoulder and she pushed it back
up with a natural ease that only comes with repetition. She
looked down at the elegant, silver wristwatch on her slim wrist.
"Oh shit." 7:42. She ran towards the front door, sliding half the
"Oh thank god." Claire breathed out from behind her receptionist
desk, "I was starting to think you wouldn't make it in time."
"I'm still fifteen minutes late." Ember replied, breathless.
"After you speak to Mr. Donnellson I'll give you a personal tour
of the office." Claire offered.
"Sounds good. That is, unless he fires me for being late on the
"Oh, he's not that bad. Plus, he knows you're my friend so you're
automatically entitled to an extra chance."
"I don't know."
"I do. Now go wait over there," she said, pointing to the tiny
waiting room, which looked to have once been the parlor room.
"Yes ma'am." Ember said, giving Claire an enthusiastic military
As Claire picked up the phone to notify Mr. Donnellson that Ember
had arrived, she took her place in the waiting room, picked up
one of the magazines and began reading. Two sentences later
Claire called her name and let her know she could go on up to Mr.
Donnellson's office. As Ember walked up the narrow stairs her
boots made a click clack sound that announced her presence. She
reached the top of the stairs and admired the cherry wood floors.
The layout on the second floor was much like the typical three
bedroom house, with all three bedrooms being turned into offices,
the master bedroom belonging to the man who started the firm, Mr.
Samuel Thomas. The smallest room, being next to Mr. Thomas's
office belonged to his secretary, the sixty-two-year-old who
owned numerous cats and never spoke to anyone but Mr. Thomas, but
she knew her stuff.
The room Claire had directed her to was the last one at the end
of the pale blue hallway. It was very quiet and the click clack
of Embers boots was the only noise to be heard other than the
sound of someone typing away on a keyboard in an office she
passed. Every door of the three offices was closed. Ember
suddenly felt a little frightened. Why am I scared? There is
no reason to be scared…well, other than the fact that there is a
chance I might be fired on my first day working here. Which means
I wouldn't have the rent, or groceries, or electricity, or
running water. Shit.
Ember took faster, more powerful steps down the hallway, as she
usually did when she was scared or angry. She came to the last
door and softly knocked. "Come in."
The first thing she saw was a desk in the middle of a
creme-yellow room. There was a dusty, and quite ugly, fake plant
in the far left corner of the room. Towards the back of the room
was another door, which was propped open by yet another ugly fake
plant. The name plate outside the office said: "James Donnelson,
Attorney at Law." She quickly walked in his office.
"Good morning." Ember said with a smile, hoping she looked
convincing enough for him to keep her.
"Oh, so you did decide to come to work," Donnellson remarked in
an obviously annoyed tone, as he set some papers down on his
mahogany wood desk.
"Yes sir. I'm sorry. I was just running a little late this
morning. It will not happen again." Ember knew her chances
weren't looking good and silently prayed to the universe for Mr.
Donnellson to keep her on board as his secretary. Please let
me get keep this job!
"It better not. Because if it does again…" he foreshadowed he
"Yes sir, I understand." I'm going to need a louder alarm
clock, She noted in her mind to stop by Walmart on her way
home that night and get a new alarm clock with the last ten
dollars she had been saving for her a celebratory dinner with
"Now, let's get down to business. Your desk is the one you saw
outside over there," he said, gesturing over to the desk she had
seen on her way in. "Feel free to jazz it up and whatnot. The
last secretary was not much for decorating, as you can probably
As Mr. Donnellson started to go into a rant about how unfriendly
and mean the old secretary was, Ember got a good look at her new
boss. The man was a contradiction. His very expensive, black
suit, blue paisley tie, clean, shaven face, and Italian leather
shoes dripped sophistication, importance and responsibility. But
his bright blue-green eyes, light brown, bed-head hair and
beaten, old, leather bracelet all licked at fun and adventure. He
was about six foot exactly and wore cologne that smelled of musk
"What is your name again," Mr. Donnellson asked.
"Ember Forbes, Mr. Donnellson."
"Alright Ms. Forbes,"
"Call me Ember, please."
"Alright, Ember." Mr. Donnellson corrected and walked over to
her. He very lightly reached up to her hair and pulled something
"I think you forgot something."
Ember looked down and in his hand he was holding one of her hair
Later that night Ember set her alarm clock, crawled into bed and
cuddled into her covers. That night her head was filled with
nightmares about her stepfather, Mark and the things he used to
do to her. The same things Ember had sworn to herself would never