My Top 5 Romance Genre Pet Peeves

It’s easy to forget about a plot hole or repeat the same phrase twice when you are writing a novel but there are some mistakes that bother me more than any others. Here are my Top 5 Romance Genre Pet Peeves of 2018.

 

  1. ONE. The word wanton used to describe every physical interaction between the two main characters.

 

I am guilty of using this adjective myself but I try to be as sparse about it as I can be. It’s not that it is a bad descriptive word, however, romance authors use this way too much! I call it a “bandwagon” adjective because once one author has a successful book with a off-road word then other writers start to overuse it in order to give their book the same feel. The same could be said about other words such as moot, insatiable, and musk. Musk alone makes me want to gag; it’s almost as bad a moist but with a slightly better aftertaste? I don’t know.

 

Plus, every time I read the word wanton I want a wonton soup. Kind of a mood killer if you ask me… Or is it? Bun, dun, dun!

 

  1. TWO. Saying the main female character is strong and independent until she meets the main character and suddenly becomes insecure and obedient.

 

Character X is an independent lawyer/ doctor/ manager/ nurse/ insert job here that is fine with being single because she doesn’t take BS from anyone. Until… tall, dark, and handsome walks in and tells her how to dress, what to say, who to see, where to go, all because he is what? He’s attractive? Rich? Authoritative? … How about no.

 

Why do so many authors go to so much trouble to make a female character appear confident in the beginning and then tear it all apart without admitting it? It’s okay for the character to change or to become “dickmatized” but don’t act like this dynamic shift isn’t occurring. Own it. Change it. Take back control. I understand that all women have an underlying deep-seated need to be cared for by someone that will love and protect them (don’t we all), and it is okay for a dominant character to become submissive in the bedroom but quit allowing characters to lose who they are outside of the bedroom! Let’s have a little emotional backbone stay in tact, please.

 

  1. THREE. Body image. She is thin but has a big butt, natural boobs, long hair,  with crystal eyes and plump lips, and she still can’t find a man? Boo, hoo. I feel so bad for her

 

There is nothing wrong about the girl I just described, but please don’t write like she has no idea how attractive she is. It’s hurtful to the integrity of the author and also the body image projected onto the reader. If someone that is described as socially perfect with no ulterior flaws really can’t see their worth than there is no help for the rest of us. A little confidence in a character goes a long way to me when I am reading a novel. Maybe she looks perfectly fine but is a pyromaniac, or maybe she is OCD to the point of no return. She is the girl that all the guys want but she will burn your shit to dust and then organize it into small equal piles. I don’t care what it is but please quit writing characters that have no physical flaws to everyone else but then all of a sudden when she meets the guy she turns into the white swan. This is not Swan Lake, we don’t all turn into vixens once we catch the eye of a bad boy (maybe we feel that way but let’s be real, we don’t go from plain to daymn overnight).

 

  1. FOUR. The two meet and everything starts progressing but what happened to their jobs??

Is there some unwritten romance rule that I’m not privileged to that states once the main characters start interacting that work ceases. I’m not saying I want to read a bunch of boardroom scenes but a little subplot here and there only makes the story that more addicting.

 

Maybe I’m just bitter on this one but how are their bills getting paid or companies being run? You can’t have a workaholic male just up and quit his job out of nowhere! And without discussing taking a leave of absence. Is the reader supposed to assume that all obligations prior to sex are null and void once they hook up? And for that matter don’t take away the success of a female character building a name for herself and then put it on hold because she met someone new.  

 

  1. FIVE. The over exaggeration of animal attraction in the air between character x and y, then pretending that other people can’t notice it.

 

“He looked into my eyes and I could feel him pouring over my body with his lingering gaze. No one in class saw his visceral need to take me on his desk but me as he talked about statistical risk and reward. I noticed his lip quiver when I bit my own in shame. I felt so dirty being in the middle of the lecture hall and all I wanted to do was push him to his limit the same as he was pushing me.”

 

  • Okay, honestly I just came up with that and it wasn’t that bad, however, it stands to remain that this is illogical and completely ridiculous. If my professor was staring at some girl intently I would notice, especially if he is cute.

 

The same goes for any person looking intently at another person in general. Flirting is flirting and if you want to write about being your characters being stealthy when it comes to showing admiration for another then at least have it be less socially evident. Don’t rely on the characters staring at each other because it is creepy. Don’t be that person that writes a stalker and not a lover. It’s not a good look.

Her Lifeline by L. A. Casey – Book Review

Her LifelineHer Lifeline by L.A. Casey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Her Lifeline by L. A. Casey

This novel is filled with heart-wrenching moments and a pureness that can only be encapsulated by a talented author. Set to be released January 24th, 2019, L. A. Casey does an excellent job in character development and plot build up. Although parts of it were hard to read because of the Scottish vernacular used, it was a welcome change in my UK reading experiences. The tone of the novel was genuine because of the language used (and you know I love a good accent) which left me wanting more.

If you are looking for a book that has a good build (and a plot that doesn’t involve the characters spending 80% of the book humping like rabbits) then this is a great choice for you. The emotions are genuine and Ward Buckley will have you blushing over and over again.

I love Erin’s strength and her presence in the novel. She doesn’t just forgive Ward but she makes him work for it (as she should). One thing I would have changed would be to delay the “kitchen” scene a little bit further along in the story because they went from 0 to 100 real quick. That’s all I will say for now because I don’t want to spoil it for the rest of you. L. A. Casey just made her way on my author watch list of upcoming romance writers in 2019.

Criticism:

Whiskey? Really? Out of all the random nicknames/ pet names for a character you go with Whiskey? Alright. Not my first choice but I could see where the author was going with the symbolism… even though her mom is an alcoholic… if my mom was an alcoholic I wouldn’t want the pet name of my lover to be a hard liquor. Just sayin’.

I stand behind my review in that I love the story and the writing behind the story, however, I think at points the book dragged on. The ending that she chose was phenomenal but I was distracted by the way in which she summed up her chapters before the finale. There were multiple times reading it where I thought I could stop and be content with the end of the story. Before Tommy died I got the impression that the writer was content at the ending of the story and didn’t want to continue. Then, after Tommy died I understood that there were more plot holes the author wanted to fill. Although this bothered me on a literary level I think the plot and the characters remain strong and the events are very true to how I feel reactions would be in real life. A+

Summary (in my own words with no spoilers):

When disaster hits Erin’s life the first time, the man she always relied on wasn’t there to pick up the pieces. After a decade of no contact, disaster strikes Erin again only this time the comfort she so desperately craved from Ward Buckley is the last thing she wants.

Tommy Saunders is Erin’s brother and Wards best friend from their childhood in Scotland. They had dreams to build an app (Friendzone) that would change the technological world forever. Hours of designing the app and planning for college all changed in the course of a few seconds when Mr. Sauders is killed in a tragic car accident. When Tommy decides to stay with his grieving family instead of heading off to university (uni), Ward, determined to run from his sinister past sticks to the plan. Erin sees him as a traitor and curses the day he left them for good. Only it wasn’t for good…

Now Tommy is in a serious accident of his own awaiting life-saving surgery. Ward a self-made billionaire and founder of Friendzone gets the message, he leaves his life in London behind to help the man he once called a brother. Although his tensions are noble, his cause is lost on Erin Saunders who rejects him at every turn. Will he prove to be the man that once

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Another Year Older, Another Year Better – A reflection on my 27th year on Earth.

47680246_10156171522572104_601360322690809856_nThis weekend I turned 28 years old and I feel ancient. I know, the rest of you are rolling your eyes saying that 28 still young and you are right. Relatively, 28 is young. My soul, however, is tired. I feel like I have lived the life of an old woman that has seen too many wars.

Over dramatic much?

Yeah, I know. The curse of being a writer. (That, and I have recently been binge-watching “The Last Kingdom” on Netflix because finals are over and “Game of Thrones” season 8 is taking too long to start up again!) The stories I have written have done nothing to help with the dramatics in my life but it has also forced me to grow in ways I never thought I would have. Now, I see things from multiple perspectives. Things that I would never have concerned in the past are now stories in my head in which a piece of me lives in an altered universe. I can see the logic of antagonist more clearly than I can the protagonist at times, and when I see another heartbreaking a part of mine breaks along with it.

What does this have to do with anything?

The point of it all is that this year, at this point in my life, I have realized that writing is more to me than a hobby or a means to gain notoriety. Writing is as important to me as it is to breathe and reading is like the water I must drink to stay alive. This is not a practice I could ever so simply stop because I’m sure I would go insane. There is always a story in my head, a character I wish to recognize, a point of view to highlight a fresh insight.

In 2018 I have accomplished so much and have so little to show for it. I fear that I will never be traditionally published. I fear that no one will read my writing. I fear that I am not enough. I am still waiting for publishers to send back word of my fate and every day that passes I hold my dreams on my sleeve.

My Inspiration to Keep Going:

Even though this weight is pressed on my shoulders I’m not going to let it bring me down or stop me from continuing to pursue my dream of being traditionally published. So with this, I am going to leave you with two literary nerds that have inspired me to continue this year.

First is David Foster Wallace, a great writer taken from us too soon. His commencement speech for Kenyon’s college class of 2005, “This is Water” is an video clip that will haunt me forever in the best sense possible. I share this not only to inspire but to explain my train of thought in this reflection of my 27th year on Earth. I hope his words stay with as they have for me.

 

And another one of my best friends Olivia McKintosh who has constantly been an inspiration to me to start a blog and social media platform. She has had the blog Olivia Reads a-Latte for a few years reviewing YA and NA books, and now has a successful Vlog on YouTube where she shares book reviews, book journaling tips, and organizational tricks for every girl (or boy’s) private book collection. With a pumpkin spice latte in her hand she is fearless and my literary cheerleader (love you boo!).

 

Review: Gentlemen Sinner by Jodi Ellen Malpas

Gentleman SinnerGentleman Sinner by Jodi Ellen Malpas
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Jodi Ellen Malpas has done it again, this time she has taken her story telling to the next level. In this new novel to be released in the US on Feb 5th, Theo Kane will take the stage as the new dominate protector of Izzy White a nurse from London with a sorted past. This book had me reading faster than my eyes could keep up! I expect many good reviews to follow to this book and recommend it to all that seek safety in the arms of bad boy.

Critiques: The only thing I would change is the repetitiveness in the description of how she feels about him after just meeting him. Although this is a minor detail I found myself rolling my eyes repeatedly when she mentions that she feels safe with him although she knows he is dangerous. We get it. He is a dom but not a woman beater. Noted. That being said I truly enjoyed this read and cannot wait to hear what others thought. Jodi Ellen Malpas, you go girl!

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NANOWRIMO FAIL: The chapters I completed. ~College Romance~~Professor~

romantic-musicChapter 1

Senior year.
Today is the day I have been looking forward to for a long time. I spent my full eight days of summer vacation left after summer school ended dreaming about what today signified; I was almost done.
I’m what they call a “super senior” because I took a few years off between community college and university. I was from the socioeconomic bracket of the lower middle class. My parents made to much for me to have aid and too little to pay for my tuition. I’ve spent years mopping up greasy floors, wiping down dirty tables, and waiting on rich frat boys for a lousy 10% tip, and yet, this was the year I knew all that would change. I was so close to the finish line I could taste it and nothing was going to stop me.
I came out of my room and found my roommate Claudia at our kitchen table with enough makeup to slap war pain on an army.
“Look at you back at home, what have I done to deserve this honor?”
Claudia has been MIA all summer since she started dating Adonis Brooks from the football team. They went on an honor society trip at the beginning of summer and the rest was history.
She looked up and me and frowned, “Shut up! You know we always have breakfast together on the first day of the semester. It’s tradition.”
I looked on the island and there was fresh coffee and pastries from our favorite cafe down the street. “When did have time to go to Margot’s?”
“When I snuck out of Adonis’s dorm room this morning.”
I clutched my invisible pearls, “You got up early just for me?” I ran over and hugged her neck careful not to smudge her makeup.
“Yeah, yeah, yeah,” she laughed, “Don’t feel too special, 50% of my makeup is over here.”
She wasn’t kidding. The spent the majority of her paychecks on makeup and lattes. If it wasn’t for her step-dad owning a car dealership she would be in worse shape than me.
I gave her a loud kiss on the head before I gravitated to the dark roast she picked up for me. “I don’t care what any of the bathroom stalls say about you, you’re the best!”
“Fuckin’ A.” she mumbled begrudgingly under her breath.
I brought the loot she bought for breakfast to the table and divided up the plunder.
“Senior year, huh?” She asked as she applied more mascara. Her mouth was shaped like she was sucking on a lemon to get the angle just right for optimum gloopiness. “Are you going to let me do your makeup this time or do you want to look like one of those intellectual girls with no self-esteem?”
“I take offense to that statement,” I responded between bites of my blueberry muffin, “I am an intellectual girl with no self-esteem.”
Even though she was the one that said it first, she still kicked me under the table. I rubbed my shin but didn’t say anything. We sat in silence for a few minutes eating before either of us tried to start another conversation.
“How is lover-boy doing?”
I called Adonis lover-boy because he was completely consumed with her every time I saw them together. I was happy for them, I really was, I just wish they didn’t insist on spending all of their free time together. It left very little room for our traditional margs and carbs nights after class.
“Adonis,” she annunciated, “is doing good. Their first game against South East is next week. The coach thinks he could have a shot at pro if he works hard this year.”
“That’s cool. You could be a trophy wife if you play your cards right.”
“Excuse me, I was always going to be a trophy wife.” She moved on to apply eyeliner, “He knows a lot of single guys on the team.” she hinted. “Guys with muscles, and limited college debt.”
“Look at the time,” I sprung up from my chair, “I better get going if I want a chance at a decent parking spot.”
I jogged to my bedroom before she could say anything and put my tablet in my bag. Claudia was still talking to me from the other room but I wasn’t in the mood to hear it. That’s the unfortunate thing about happy people, they feel the need to spread their joy as if it was a cosmic pyramid scheme. I looked in the mirror and immediately regretted it because it triggers my anxiety to skyrocket.
I was pretty. I wasn’t blind to the fact that guys stared at me or would flirt with me at work. During my time at FSU, I had more than a few guys give me their number or ask me out on a date. Sometimes I would take them up on it but it never worked out, because school and work have consumed my life for the past three years that I have had no time or energy to put into a relationship. The last guy I dated, Ben, cheated on me with a girl in my economic class then tried to blame it on me because I wasn’t, “catering to his needs,” meaning, I didn’t sleep with him. Men suck.
That’s why I’ve been seeing a guy from the MBA program that I met at work. He is busy and I am busy so it works out perfectly. We don’t put labels on things, although I’m sure saying that it’s a booty call wouldn’t be out of the realm of accurate. Our only rule is that no one knows about us. We act like perfect strangers on the seldom chance we see each other on campus, we don’t friend each other on social media, and we have a system for when we want to meet. Claudia doesn’t know and I intend on keeping it that way.
I put on gold earrings that looked like roses and headed towards the back door. Claudia was there with her hands draped dramatically on her hips. “Listen, I know I haven’t been here very much this summer and I’m sorry. I have been so wrapped up in Adonis that I have let my duties of being your best friend.”
“You don’t have to be sorry,” I gave her a hug, “I’m just glad that you are happy.” I pulled back so she couldn’t see the water that was beginning to pool in my eyes.
“I know that you are hella busy learning how to rule the world but could we please go out like we use too?”
“Ah, yeah, margs and carbs! I’m off work tomorrow night. Could I pull you away from lover-boy?”
She moved away from the door and went back to our disaster of a kitchen table. “Yeah, it’s always good for your man to know that you are in demand.”

Chapter 2

Parking was a nightmare and the Florida sun did nothing to help my mood. Sweat was dripping down ever surface of my skin and I said a silent prayer of thanks for deciding not to wear makeup.
I was able to work my schedule to only have to come in the mornings so that was I could work a full dinner shift at the restaurant. Most of my classmates were able to schedule classes on all of their days off I knew my paycheck would suffer if I had to miss too many nights. That was where the real money was, even on weekdays the Blue Steak Haus was packed with people ranging from business dinners, family celebrations, to elaborate dates.
The first class of the day was taught by a senior professor at the University. He was loud and dull and like most senior staff talked more about himself than on the material we would be starting on. I made a note to read all the material he required because he didn’t seem like the type that would put a lot of content into his lecturing.
“Hey Gwen,” Katie called from across the room of my next class. This room was significantly smaller than the lecture hall of the last one and was in more of a traditional style with rows of desks lined in rows.
A group of other business majors I have had previous classes with were in a cluster around Katie. “Hi guys,” I announced. “What’s up?”
I passed an unfamiliar face as I walked down the aisle and had to stop myself from staring. This guy looked nothing like the other guys in the class, he didn’t just pull off the traditional business student look, he owned it. He wore grey slacks with a form-fitting white collared shirt tucked into his trousers. His dress shoes were polished and sat expectantly next to a black briefcase. I must have studied him a moment too long because gray eyes looked up at me and my knees slightly buckled.
“Hating my life,” Tran replied from behind his laptop screen and drew my attention back to my friends behind him.
I shook my head and offered a half smile as I walked past him.
“Ignore him,” Katie said, “He has Leffingwell for the third time in a row this semester.”
“Yikes,” Leffingwell was a good professor but he was a beast when it came to assigning work. I survived by only having to suffer through one semester of his but it was the longest one of my life. At one point Claudia had to drug me with her mother’s Ambien just so that I would stop pacing my room and going off on quarterly rants for my hypothetical business. It was bad.
I took the seat in front of Katie, the only one left which happened to be behind the sexy guy and began to unload my tablet. “Rumor has it that this professor is a new MBA grad that just moved here from NYU,” Eli whispered. He was sitting next to Katie and has had a crush on her since my second semester here. Then again almost all the guys in our classes had a crush on her. We were part of the twenty percent female population in this major. Resources were limited if you had a thing for a business-minded- partner.
She ignored him completely, “Did you read the syllabus? We have to read almost 150 pages and write a 6-8 page summary every week, not including everything else he has already assigned.”
Tran made a whimpering noise across from me as he began to type more furiously than before. “Relax guys, I don’t think it will be that serious.”
“Didn’t you read the updated roster this morning, his last name is Volkov. He’s Russian.”
“Eli, the cold war was over in the ’90s,” Katie interjected, “I think we can back off of the stereotyping and focus on this insane syllabus.”
“It’s insane because he’s Russian,” Eli mumbled.
A girl wearing a sundress came into the classroom and started writing information on the board without saying anything. I looked at my phone and saw that class would start in two minutes, just enough time for me to look over the syllabus. Katie was right, this agenda was intense.
“What shitty human being assigns this much homework?”
The guy in front of me stood up and turned around to face us. “The same shitty human being that expects their students to actually work in their class.”
My face paled and I could feel the tension surrounding me.
The room was so silent that I certain everyone could hear my heart pounding outside of my chest.
“What is your name?” he commanded.
I didn’t answer, I couldn’t.
“I know you aren’t deaf, that was evident when you and your classmates decided to make judgments before hearing my proposal.”
Fuck.
He moved to the front of the class and stood behind the podium, “Take this as the first lesson students, always assume the client is listening when you are in mixed company.”
Whatever attraction I had towards this man was filtering out and being replaced with contempt.
“This is Negotiating Business Affairs 4342, and if you aren’t planning on working while in my class than I suggest you drop now and try to find an alternative replacement for graduation.” He motioned to the girl in the sundress with chalk on her hands, “This is Ms. Pierce and she will be my teaching assistant for this class. You will treat her with more respect than you do me,” he was looking at all of my friends this time instead of just me.
He told Ms. Pierce to take the role as he watched us like a hawk making sure to write on his notes everytime she got to one of us on her chart.
We were on the shit list, compliments of my fat mouth.
I made it a point not to look at him for the rest of the time remaining and bolted towards the exit as soon as he dismissed us. I wasn’t going to give him the satisfaction of being able to force me to apologize.

Tuesday nights were college nights, and one of my busiest nights of the week. It only made my Wednesdays off that much sweeter when they finally came around. I tried to shake off Dr. Volkov all day but his condescending tone rang through my head. Who the hell did he think he was? Maybe Eli was right, being Russian must of meant something for him to acting like such an asshole.
Katie had been texting me all day, she couldn’t get over it either but her focus was less on him being an asshole but more on him being a gorgeous asshole. An argument that I refused to agree to even though she was right, he was gorgeous. All jerks are. It’s some unwritten rule that unless you are from a fairytale or were part of a romance novel that all hot guys were jerks. It’s a big cosmic joke that few of us have been privileged to find out before we end up pregnant, or worse, in love.
Claudia wasn’t home when I got back to our apartment to change for work but I didn’t mind. I wasn’t in the mood to be around someone happy. I put on my makeup with a vengeance and I was starting to look less and less like myself. It was something I hated doing but the more makeup I wore, the better the tips were. It kills my inner feminist wilds to believe that this statistic rang true while being a waitress, but the facts didn’t change. I needed money to pay rent, car insurance, and my phone bill. Adulting sucks.
My shift started off normal enough, I waited on tables, added new beer bottles to tables as fast I removed empty ones.
“Gwen, I got a live one for you.” Cheryl’s voice rang in my ear from my earpiece.
I pressed my button for the microphone to work, “A request? What’s the count?”
“Six top, they look like professors. Asked for you by name this time.”
Lucky me. “Copy,” I replied as I grabbed a tray of steaks for one of my tables.
The best thing about Thursdays were the crowds, and the worst thing about Thursday was the crowds. Every week I looked forward to the money but dreaded how bad my anxiety would run by the time the night was over. We have had a high turnover at the restaurant but I had worked there for a year now and have made it be a top server. It wouldn’t be long until I was promoted to work at the bar.
I brought the tray of food to my first table and made sure to smile at each individual person as I gave them their food. It was a pair of couples on a double date so I made sure to give the bulk of my attention to the women. That’s something I’ve noticed while waiting tables, the friendlier you are to females on a date, the better the tip is compared to when you flirt with the guy. No girl wants to feel intimidated while on a date.
I went to my new table and stopped in my tracks, Dr. Volkov was sitting at my table with a group of professors from the College of Business. His blond hair was still pulled back in a slick ponytail but he looked more casual in jeans and a black t-shirt. I made it a point not to look at him as I approached the table. He was with my regulars and I wasn’t about to lose a 20% tip from a six top because of this morning.
“Ah, Gwendolyn!” Professor Samson greeted loudly for all the table to hear, “I was hoping we would get your section tonight.”
“I heard I had a request, I would have thought twice if I would have known it was you guys,” The older men at the table laughed and professor Samson cackled. I hated myself.
“Hey, it’s not us!” he exclaimed, “It’s always Charlie with his garlic allergy that makes a mess of things!”
Professor Rubin, “Charlie”, pipped up, “Don’t listen to him, he got lucky on a low-level investment and hasn’t been the same since the NASDAQ opened this morning.”
“Did you?” I asked and tapped him on the shoulder with my ticket folder.
He smiled proudly, “Why yes, I did.”
“In that case where is Mrs. Samson?” I asked, “She should be celebrating here with you fellas.”
“Oh, she’s celebrating, a night without dealing with him.” Another professor at the table answered.
Howls of laughter and ramblings continued at the table and I counted the seconds until I could get their drink order and leave.
“No, my dear,” Professor Samson answered, “Her and I are set to celebrate tomorrow night. Tonight is for Shane. Gwendolyn this is Dr. Shane Volkov, he is the newest face in our department.”
I looked up and so those grey eyes studying me again like they had this morning. I did my best to force the most genuine looking smile I could pretend to make. “Nice to meet you, welcome to the University.” I didn’t acknowledge that I already knew who he was and that he, indeed, was an asshole but instead took the higher road, the one with a tip big enough to make up for the frat boys that are going to stiff me with a 3%er. “Well, since you are the guest of honor, what can I start you off to drink?”
He must have gotten the hint that I wasn’t in the mood to discuss that we knew each other already. “Jameson, straight please.”
“One or two fingers?” I asked.
“Two, to start,” he answered and heat started to pool in my middle. Fuck my vagina for betraying me near this douche.
The heat must have shown on my face because the corner of his mouth perked up in a smirk. I ignored him and retrieved the other orders and bolted from their table.
I went to put them into the computer system and JoNathan came up from behind me.

“Ohmigod, do you see that man? How did you not melt when you took his order?”
“What man?”
“Blonde pony with the black muscle shirt, you just came from their table.”
“Oh,” I didn’t look up from the screen as I printed a ticket for another one of my tables, “I must not have noticed.”
“Do you think he is a breeder or a receiver?”
That earned me to laugh out loud, “I have no idea, but if you want to take them their first round of drinks you’re more than welcome to feel him out.”
He kissed me on the cheek, “You’re the best.”

The rest of the service went the same way as before, they made jokes, I laughed, they ordered, JoNathan took them their food. My other tables were starting to take up the majority of my time as the late dinner rush was filtering in and I wasn’t able to think about anything but my tables. It was the escape I needed to relieve the tension from this morning. Replacing one ball of stress with another was my specialty.
A couple of guys sat at the only high top in my section and it was obvious that they had been pregaming.
“Hey guys, my name is Gwen and I’ll be your server today.”
“Hey baby,” the first guy said in a southern accent typical from students that grew up in the northern border of the Florida and Georgia. “What is a fine thing like you doing working in a place like this?”
I chose to pretend that he said something less infuriating.
“What can I get you started with to drink today?”
“Yeah Slick,” another guy at the table said, “A girl as pretty as you should be at home waiting for their man to come home.”
I bit my tongue so hard I thought it would bleed.
“Every Tuesday is college appreciation night so our lagers are $2’s off and we have $3 well drinks until 11 pm.”
“Three buds for us baby, and a shot of tequila for yourself.” The third guy said with a wink.
The night is almost over, I repeated to myself. You just have an hour and a half left. “Three beers coming up.” I turned to walk away and felt a swift smack on my ass. I paused not knowing what else to do.
“That’s not the only thing that’s comin’ up.” Loser number one said.
It was clear that the other tables had heard and I was undeservingly embarrassed. If it hadn’t of been for a waitress last month getting fired for slapping a customer I would have done just that. Instead, I was going to the kitchen manager to have them kicked out.
I told the table next to theirs that I would be right with them as I headed towards the back. I didn’t even make it to the kitchen door when I heard a crash.
“Damn man, what the hell is your problem?”
Dr. Volkov had slammed the guy that slapped me face first into the table. I rushed back over to the table, “What the fuck are you doing?” I asked in a whispered yell. If people weren’t looking at me before they were now.
“Apologize,” he said deeper than I had heard him speak before.
The guy with a bleeding face tried to take a sloppy swing at him but he grabbed his hand and twisted it behind the guy’s back. “Apologize,” he said again.
His other friends were about to get up but all the professors were already up and stood behind Dr. Volkov. It would have been funny seeing the motley crew of business professors surrounding the table of drunken’ losers it the situation didn’t involve me.
“Stop,” I pleaded, “They are drunk, just let them go.”
Dr. Volkov acted as if he didn’t hear me.
“Listen to the little bitch,” bloody loser number one growled.
That wasn’t what he wanted to hear so he did something to the guy’s hand and I could hear bones popping. The guy howled in pain.
“What is going on out here?” Ralph, the kitchen manager said from behind me.
The sound of smartphones shuddering made me wince more than the guy with a newly crumpled hand.
Dr. Volkov said something in Russian under his breath and the guy’s hand cracked once more.
“I’m sorry!” the guy yelled.
“And what is it that you are sorry for?” he prompted.
When the guy in his hold didn’t say anything Dr. Volkov started to move again but the guy stopped him in fear of pain, “I’m sorry for giving you trouble.”
“And?”
“And for smacking you on the ass.”
“Gwen, this guy did something to you?” Ralph asked.
I didn’t speak, I couldn’t. Instead, I ran to the back of the kitchen to the back exit. I needed fresh air.

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L. R. Rutherford.