Broke. Lonely. Homeless.
I never would have guessed that within a year of passing my Bar Exam, I’d be all three of those words. A year ago, I was looking at a bright future with a loving husband and the promise of a blooming career in law. Nothing could stand in my way; I was on top of the world.
How naive of me.
Countless hours of studying to take my exam so I could become a practicing lawyer didn’t stop me from connecting with one of my colleagues. Devon. He was dashing, tall, dark, handsome, everything the romance novels tell you should make your heart flip in your chest. And oh it did. From the moment he flashed that brilliant smile, he could have asked me to jump off the local bridge and I’d have nodded my head like an idiot. Instead, just a few short months later, I was nodding like an idiot when he asked me to marry him.
Our relationship was the envy of everyone we went to college with; all the ladies had pursued Devon in one fashion or another, but somehow I had caught his attention. Me, the girl from a tiny town in the middle of nowhere, had managed to snag the most eligible bachelor from one of the most powerful families in the city. Now we were tying the knot together and making our life together official. I was on cloud nine and I felt untouchable.
Everything was grand; we both passed our exams, started practicing in law and even purchased a house together. Though we were both practicing lawyers, we were affiliated with separate firms and worked different hours. Most nights I was home alone while he worked, or so he told me. A part of me knew it was a lie from the beginning, but the hopeless romantic in me silenced the pessimist.
One particularly gloomy day, my boss asked me to stay late, and I conceded with the thoughts of looming student loans that needed to be paid off. A quick call to Devon to let him know I’d be a bit late coming home was met with the answering machine. It wasn’t completely strange for him to not pick up, so I brushed any negative thoughts aside and left a message: “Be home in two hours. Working late. Just order out and I’ll be home soon. Love you.”
Surprisingly the work my boss had dropped on my desk took half the time, and before I knew it I was on my way back home. I didn’t think about how strange it was that most lights were off in the house when I returned, nor that Devon didn’t greet me at the door as he usually did. And I didn’t think about the lack of take-out food though Devon hardly refused an excuse to order out. But the sounds that came from upstairs let me know my husband wasn’t home alone.
Pushing the bedroom door open, my feet rooted to the floor at what I found there. No, he certainly wasn’t alone and it looked like he was getting along quite well with the company he was holding. I didn’t even think as I turned away and grabbed up my purse, hearing his shouts following me down the hallway as he stumbled from the bed, clutching the sheet to his waist to maintain what little dignity he still had. I only stopped when his hand clutched my arm and spun me around. Tears ran hot down my cheeks and I still hate myself for that; they were wasted on him.
Pleas poured out of his mouth for me to stay, don’t go. How could he ask that of me now? After he broke his marriage vows, I was all but deaf to his begging. But the last thing he said to me made my blood run cold. “You’ll regret this.”
I didn’t understand what he meant at first; regret what? I wasn’t the cheater, the liar, the one who had broken my vows. He was! In a fury, I left and vowed I’d make him pay. That was the biggest mistake I’ve ever made.
Months of arguing between divorce attorneys seemed to get us nowhere. What I didn’t know was he had a plan for something much greater, a plan to destroy me from the inside out. With all the power his family held in the city, he managed to rip my license to practice out from under me and blacklist me from every firm within a one hundred mile radius. I couldn’t step foot in any firm without them promptly turning me away. I was ruined.
In the divorce, he took everything. Every last square foot of the house, every possession we shared was now legally his. Turned out to the streets with no livelihood and student loans piling up, I had no choice left. I had to find work, even if it wasn’t in law.
I’d underestimated Devon’s power though, or at least the influence his family had throughout the city. Even jobs offering minimum wage had somehow come across my name and refused to call back. I wasn’t too proud to flip burgers for some cash but even that wasn’t an option.
After an especially tiring day and evening of trying to find a job only to be turned away, I found myself on the seedy side of the city. Neon signs flickered and buzzed, advertising “Gold For Cash” “Pawn Shop” and “Girls Girls Girls!”. The last one had me thinking; Devon was out to ruin me and if I knew him well enough, I was willing to bet he’d left only one avenue open for me; only one way to find out.
Pulling my jacket a little more tightly around myself, I pulled the door open under the bright pink “Girls Girls Girls!” sign and let myself in. It was certainly a place I wouldn’t normally traverse, especially by myself, but my options were becoming quite clearly limited. Swallowing my pride, I asked to speak with the manager, who motioned me back into his office. The smell of cigarettes was chokingly heavy but I did my best to ignore it.
A few short questions and a couple nods of approval, and I had the job. Triumph wasn’t exactly what I felt in that moment, but knowing I’d have some food on the table soon at least stirred something close to content in my belly. The thought of dancing around in skimpy outfits for strangers wasn’t that appealing but it was clear this was my only option left thanks to Devon.
Maybe now I could start building my life back up, one small piece at a time.
♥️ Profile art by Mesmer
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♥️ Coding, sign and story by Celestial
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