Arianna briefly glanced at the table and felt a little apprehensive about taking the orders of a group of eight men sitting around it. It was her second day at this job as a waitress at Fuel Bar in Las Vegas.
Her father, Brad Willis was an alcoholic and had written off major shares of his financial firm to a friend of his in his drunken stupor, thirteen years ago. She was too young to know the man who betrayed her father later and finally took over their whole company. Ever since, her father took to the bottle and resorted to violence every now and then upon her mom, Cecilia Willis, for money. Then came the fateful day, two years ago, when her mom succumbed to her death after a fatal road accident while returning from work. After her mom's death, all hell broke loose as her father's wrath came upon her. She was too young to go anywhere and quietly took in all punishments that her dad meted out to her. Acute poverty led her to drop her studies.
Being only sixteen, the only work she found was at a small library. The pay wasn't much yet that was all she could get. Then after a year, she got a waitresses job at a small cafe which she took up in the evenings. Although she juggled two jobs, yet the pay wasn't enough and most of the times her father snatched the money away from her after beating her up.
Her best friend Isabella Harrington, who worked at the cafe with her, informed her about this job and she left her job at the library and joined here. She had never gone to a bar in her entire eighteen years of life and the rough crowd made her cringe. Still the money was good and she needed it badly.
"Earth to Aria. Frankie will yell if he sees you standing idle," said Della, another waitress who worked with her. Frankie Radford was the middle aged owner of the bar who always growled at them and was a tough taskmaster. He was never pleased with anyone or anything. Arianna had a tough time convincing him that she was fit for the job. He would give her the job only if she could prove her worth in two weeks time. So here she was trying hard to prove to him how fit she was for this job. Since she the youngest, all the girls helped her out and she was grateful to each one of them.
Arianna came out of her daze and rushed over to the table she was yet to attend. She felt a hot gaze upon her as she approached table 45. Her eyes met with a pair of blue orbs watching her intently. She immediately looked away not wanting to give away any false indications. "Good evening sirs, what can I get you all?" She said in her sweet, melodious voice. She was acutely aware of the blue-eyed guy who was staring at her, sitting opposite to where she was standing.
"Are you on duty at our table?" Asked one of the men rudely, pissed off at her already. "We've been here for twenty minutes already and no one took our orders yet," he grunted. They looked like distinguished and important customers who weren't used to waiting.
Arianna gulped and looked at the man. He was around twenty-two just like his friends and looked heftier than the rest of the men in the group. "I'm sorry sir. It won't happen again. I'll get your orders immediately," she said with a polite smile although her heart was beating fast due to nervousness. She just crossed her fingers and hoped that he wouldn't report her to Frankie. She needed this job very badly.
"Let it go, Samuel," said the blue-eyed guy in his deep husky voice. She looked at him and smiled to thank him. His blue eyes twinkled as he stared back at her. She was grateful that the matter wasn't reported.
They gave their orders and she hurried away to get their drinks. She quickly prepared the drinks, dicing her own garnish for the cocktails ordered. She then carried them to their table with a fake smile plastered on her face.
She could feel his hot gaze again upon her as she approached their table. Trying hard to concentrate upon her work, she served the drinks to everyone. They laughed and shouted out crude jokes but she turned a deaf ear to everything.
"What's your name babydoll?" Asked one of them as he caught hold of her wrist.
"Sir please enjoy your drink," she said, trying to get free.
"I want to enjoy you," he said, not paying any heed to her answer.
"Sorry sir, I'm not on the menu. I will leave you to enjoy your drinks. Is there anything else that I can get you?" She spoke the rehearsed words like an automaton.
"Nolan, let go, she said she's not interested, " said the blue-eyed guy, his expression furious.
"What Laurence? You're being a p*ssy now. It's fun, c'mon, " said the lecherous man.
"I said let her go," the blue-eyed guy got up and caught hold of Nolan's collars. But he extricated himself and looked at her with a look full of lust.
"Whore, I want to eat and drink you. Do you understand what I mean?" Asked the man, laughing at his own jokes. The blue-eyed man punched him and the drinks fell to floor, glasses shattering. Other customers turned towards them, staring at the awful scene. Nolan dabbed at the blood on his busted lips with his sleeves.
Arianna sighed. She felt like throwing the drink onto Nolan's face. She closed her eyes and counted to ten. It calmed her down and she opened her eyes and yanked her hand free.
"Is that how you treat all women sir? I'm working here out of compulsion. I'm not here for fun. There are many women available for that. I'm sorry I'm not interested. I'm being nice to you, so please let me do my job," she said, walking away.
Her dignity was not to be trampled upon. She might be just eighteen, a school dropout, a victim of abuse, but her lonely fight for survival had taught her one thing and that was to stand up for her own dignity. After that speech which left them gaping at her retreating back, she knew that she would lose this job. They would surely complain to Frankie out of anger. All men were the same. They always conclude that all women were available and if they were proven wrong, they go out of their way to teach the woman who defied them a lesson. It boosted their male pride.
She changed into her street clothes and packed up her stuff anticipating a call from Frankie any minute. In ten minutes, Frankie's voice boomed in the staff room. "Arianna Willis report at my office now."
She took a deep breath and walked up the stairs to Frankie's office upstairs. Knocking softly, she opened the door when she heard the distinct sound of Frankie's voice, giving her permission to enter.
She saw the man called Nolan sitting inside Frankie's office with an evil grin on his face. "Ms Willis, you were under observation for two weeks you've failed me on your second day. What do you have to say about it?" Asked a furious Frankie.
"Sir, I have done nothing wrong. I'm here to work not be insulted and called a whore. If a customer sexually harasses me, I have a right to defend myself," she said, with conviction.
"Then go and work in a school. At a bar, these sort of things do happen. So I want you to apologize to Mr Young immediately. He and his family are one of our oldest patrons and I cannot afford their wrath," said an angry and displeased Frankie while Nolan Young sat looking at her with a smug expression on his face.
"I haven't done any wrong and I won't apologize," she said stubbornly without wavering an eyelid. Frankie stared at her with disbelief. He had never expected such a fragile and delicate young girl with an angelic face to have such determination and spirit.
He shook his head with disappointment. "Then I'm sorry, you can't continue here. You're sacked. I won't pay you a penny since a lot of damage has occured because of you. You may leave," said Frankie.
Arianna turned and walked out of the door, down the steps to the staff room. She picked up her stuff and walked out of the bar, without a backward glance. She was jobless again and would now have to face her father's wrath. She closed her eyes imagining the scene at home.
"Oww," she collided with a wall. God this was the worst day ever! Opening her eyes, she was lost in the hot eyes of the blue-eyed guy who had stood up for her at the bar.