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Author’s Note: This story is a collaboration with my editor and friend, Harvey. We hope you enjoy it.
– – – – –
March 16th, 2020
I nervously tapped my foot into the carpet of the expansive convention hall of the Bellagio casino. I was sitting on an uncomfortable folding chair along with 300 of my co-workers. I tried to hold back a yawn because I’d ended my shift at midnight and was told before I left that there would be an 8:00 am meeting the following morning. When management called all employees except those working on the casino floor for a mandatory meeting there was no way the news would be good. It was rumored that Brad Jenkins, the head of casino operations, had an important announcement to make, and I was dreading whatever he was going to tell us.
I’d been working for the last five years as a cocktail server. It wasn’t the greatest job, but I made good tips and was able to support myself. I had a nice car and a small one-bedroom apartment on Tropicana. Even though I’d graduated high school, going to college never interested me. That was the nice thing about growing up in Las Vegas; I didn’t need an advanced degree to work in the service industry. I was tall and pretty, and I could act flirty when I needed to in order to get good tips. I didn’t even mind the occasional roaming hands by men old enough to be my grandfather as long as they gave me a green chip in compensation.
“So what do you think this is about, Kenna?” my best friend and coworker, Darlene, asked me.
“I don’t know, but I don’t have a good feeling about this.”
Mr. Jenkins appeared from almost out of nowhere and walked up onto the makeshift stage. He tapped the microphone a couple of times, checking the sound and producing an irritating, screeching feedback that immediately got everyone’s attention, and the room went silent in anticipation.
“First, I’d like to thank each of you for your attendance this morning; I know it was short notice.” He took a deep breath and collected his thoughts before dropping the bomb on us. “We received word from Governor Sisolak last night that effective Wednesday, March 18th, we will be required to cease all casino operations due to the Covid-19 pandemic.”
A large collective groan could be heard from the entire crowd and my stomach immediately began to churn.
He continued, “This not only affects us but all other casinos in Clark County as well as the entire state.”
Darlene turned and whispered into my ear, “Did you expect this?”
“Unfortunately, yes,” I replied.
I’d been watching the news religiously, something I rarely did, and there had been rumors swirling around for a week that the governor would put the state on lockdown. My worst fears were realized.
“For the next two days, if you’re on the schedule we expect you to work your shifts; but we will close the doors at midnight Wednesday morning.”
There were murmurs and whispers throughout the entire convention room, and he gave the crowd several seconds to settle back down so he could continue talking.
“Our human resources department will be contacting you via our email system to give you updates and information concerning the procedures for filing for unemployment. I wish I had more information to give you, but at this time that’s all I know. I want to thank each of you for your dedication and service to MGM Resorts International; thank you.”
I looked over and saw tears welling up in Darlene’s eyes. “What does this mean, Kenna?” she asked.
“It means that for the foreseeable future we’re all pretty much fucked.”
My stomach was churning and I was fairly certain I’d have to make a trip to the bathroom, because suddenly I wasn’t sure the bagel I’d eaten on the way here was going to stay in my stomach. Because of my current schedule, my two days off were Monday and Tuesday, which effectively meant I was now unemployed. I took a moment to take stock of my situation.
Basically, I was broke. I had no savings to speak of, and my reckless purchases of clothes and shoes were now coming back to haunt me with a vengeance. I’d been looking into enrolling in the 401(k) program, but I’d stupidly procrastinated and put it off. I’d just paid my rent, but without a paycheck and tips I had no way to pay for next month. If I was lucky I’d be able to pay my car loan and make minimum payments on my maxed-out credit cards once I was drawing unemployment. However, in two weeks I’d have no way to keep my landlord at bay and buy food.
“I have to go, Darlene, I’m going to be sick. I’ll call you later.”
I barely made it to the restroom before emptying the contents of my stomach into the toilet. After I vomited, I sat on the commode as tears ran down my cheeks and I started to sob uncontrollably. I needed help, and the only man I could ask was someone I hadn’t spoken to in over two years. As if things couldn’t possibly get worse …
– – – – –
“Thank you for letting me take you to halkalı eve gelen escort lunch, Daddy, I’ve missed you.”
I sat across from the only man that I could never find a way to get along with. He’d agreed to meet me for lunch at his favorite restaurant in Summerlin, the Vintner Grill. Because it was almost 70 degrees, I’d chosen to wear a little white sundress and my favorite pair of Charter Club Ginifur wedge sandals. I’d hoped that my pretty little sundress and sexy shoes would put him in a good mood; of course, I was wrong.
He shot me a skeptical look. “I heard about the lockdown on the news this morning and I expected to hear from you, just not this soon,” he said gruffly.
I sank down in my chair and tried to keep the tone in my voice light and upbeat. “I just missed you and I wanted to … you know … reconnect and see how you were doing.”
A little grin broke across his face. “I think that’s bullshit, but I appreciate the lie, it’s a nice touch.”
I ran the tip of my finger around the rim of my wineglass and our eyes uneasily met.
“I lost my job this morning and I … I need help.”
He took a sip of his wine. “The last words you spoke to me, let’s see if I remember it correctly, were that I was an ‘arrogant prick who wasn’t even generous enough to buy his only daughter a decent Christmas present’.”
“I’d been drinking and I … I … I’m sorry.”
“I planned that Christmas party for months, all of my friends and business associates were there, and my own home was the place my spoiled-ass daughter chose to make a scene.”
I looked down and my shoulders slumped.
“Where the hell did I go wrong with you? Your brother chose to do something meaningful with his life and follow me into the legal field, and you … you …”
He took a deep breath and tried to calm himself. His face was turning red and the veins in his neck were actually beginning to pop out. I’d known this wasn’t going to go well, but I’d had no idea it would be an absolute disaster. Instead of taking his shit, I decided to go on the offensive; it couldn’t hurt, right?
“You always loved Kyle more than me; he was always your favorite. You helped him get into your law firm, and after he passed the bar you looked out for him, guided him; you never did any of that for me.”
“I pulled strings with the board of regents to get you into UNLV despite your shitty grades, and how did you repay me? By refusing to register for classes. Instead you chose to work at that fucking casino, wearing that slutty outfit and bringing people drinks. I gave you every advantage that I gave Kyle; he just chose to use them and make something of himself, unlike you.”
“I … I …”
Everything he’d said was true, and I had no reasonable retort. Even if I could find something meaningful to say, it would only make the situation worse. Further infuriating the man who I’d hoped would help me wasn’t a smart move, and I decided to remain silent.
“You were always a spoiled, entitled bitch, and somehow … you think that’s my fault.” He took another sip of his wine and collected his thoughts. “Maybe it was my fault; I had no idea how to raise a girl. Kyle was driven, ambitious … he was like me. We have qualities that I know now you don’t possess.”
Confronting him head-on wasn’t working. It’s time to try another angle. Maybe I could extend an olive branch … maybe that would get me what I want …
“You did the best you could after Mom died; I know you tried.”
His demeanor softened and the handsome lines on his face seemed to dissolve somewhat.
“Your mother would’ve been able to reach you, make you a proper young woman, help you to become something more than you are now.”
When I was 13 we’d lost my mother to breast cancer and I’d always blamed him. He had money, power, influential friends, and he couldn’t save her. I knew now those thoughts were unfair, but part of me still held them. Our family was never the same after her passing. Kyle worked through the immense grief by concentrating on his studies, becoming an honor student, and graduating with high marks in college and law school. I chose a different path; I rebelled against his authority, smoked pot, wore provocative clothing, engaged in promiscuous sex, and almost got kicked out of high school twice for my bad behavior. Only his influence with the principal and the school board saved me from being expelled.
My grand slight was the job I chose after graduation. After he cut me off financially and kicked me out of our home, I chose a job that I knew my father would hate just to spite him. His law firm did tax and business consulting for some of the big strip casinos and he knew what occurred on the casino floor — the barely-there uniforms we were required to wear, the flirting, and the overt gawking by the players. He’d always hated my job and that had been exactly what I’d wanted.
Our conversation halkalı grup yapan escort was briefly put on hold when the young, pretty server brought our meals. I’d chosen the Cobb salad and my father had decided on sea bass. I noticed my father’s eyes stealthily move up and down her tight body as she walked away.
“Why don’t you just cut to the chase and tell me what you want.”
I looked down sheepishly, then our eyes met. “I need money to help pay my bills.”
“You make good money; you mean to tell me you have nothing saved for this type of emergency … one you had to know was coming?”
I could feel a little tear come to my eye and I quickly wiped it away. “I don’t have any money and I don’t have any way to support myself … I need your help.”
“So what do you want, a blank check, a bailout? That would only be condoning all the bad choices you’ve made.”
“I just need a little money and I’ll pay you back with interest once I’m working again.”
He took a sip of his wine and looked thoughtfully into my eyes. It was almost as if I could see a plan developing as the wheels in his mind began to turn.
“I’m not going to give you any money. However, I’m not going to be the reason my only daughter is homeless and out on the street. I’ll let you move back home with me.”
I was out of options, and I knew it. I’d thought about asking my brother for money, but I knew my father would pressure him to refuse me. Additionally, my relationship with Kyle was almost as toxic as the one with my father. I had a few friends I worked with, like Darlene, but they were more like acquaintances. Asking them to let me move in would be a huge imposition, especially since they were going to be just as financially strapped as I was. There were a couple of guys I was fucking since I’d ended my latest relationship, but they were more like booty calls and not even boyfriend material. Asking them to let me move in would be even more mortifying than going to my father for help. He was my only hope and I was at his mercy; I had to swallow the little bit of pride that I had left.
“Okay, thank you, Daddy,” I said timidly.
– – – – –
A week later I’d packed up my apartment and loaded the last of my belongings into my Land Rover Evoque. I’d been renting a furnished apartment, and except for a few small kitchen items I realized that I didn’t really have many things, aside from my expansive closet that was filled with my clothes and shoes.
After driving down Tropicana, I got on Interstate 515 and took it west through the spaghetti bowl to Summerlin. I’d always hated where I grew up because it was full of snobs and assholes, people just like my father and brother. As I drove I reflected on the precarious state of my life.
I’d definitely hit an all-time low. Moving back in with my father at the age of 23 wasn’t what any adult child wanted. But until the lockdown was over and I could return to work, living with my dad was the only option I had. We’d never gotten along well — he was a very authoritarian father and I reveled in playing the role of the rebellious daughter — but maybe it would be different now since we were both adults.
I’d thought of asking my 26-year-old brother Kyle to let me move in with him but I knew it wouldn’t be long before we were at each other’s throats. He’d received a degree in computer science and gotten a good-paying job while he worked his way through law school. Unlike me, he was able to work remotely from his apartment at my dad’s law firm, which kept him employed. I knew he had a spare bedroom but he used it as a home office. He’d always been so judgmental of me, and I knew it would be pointless to ask him for help. Staying with my dad seemed like the lesser of two evils.
Several months before my mother passed she was high on pain pills and revealed that my father was very sexually aggressive. She never revealed any details, but I had the sense that she’d done whatever he wanted; I never knew whether that was because she enjoyed it, or if she went along just to keep him happy. Regardless, I reasoned that at the age of 52 those days were probably pretty much behind him. I had no idea how wrong I was.
I must have inherited the high-sex-drive gene from my father, or maybe from both parents, but that was certainly part of my rebelliousness as a teenager. My latest boyfriend had shared my enthusiasm, although perhaps not to the same degree. I loved dressing up and looking good for him when we went out, and of course there was the skimpy little outfit I had to wear at work. I also did a little harmless flirting with the predominantly male players in the casino, which helped increase my tips. I was on my feet all day at work and I wore three-inch heels to emphasize my long, shapely legs. It was something the players appreciated and it definitely helped me get better tips than my coworkers. When I dressed for a night of clubbing I always wore halkalı masöz escort my four-inch stiletto heels to show off my legs, which gave me some additional height so my six-feet-two-inch ex and I would look good together.
I never revealed this to anyone, but sometimes I’d do a little more than flirting with the players. I’d never went as far as having sex with them, but when I was in the mood, or I needed money, a couple of black hundred-dollar chips would get me into their room for a blowjob.
As sometimes happens, the newness, the excitement, the passion, the edginess gradually faded away between me and my now-ex boyfriend. Familiarity didn’t breed contempt, but it did bring … routine. After a while it got increasingly difficult to work up any enthusiasm for going out with him and especially for having sex with him. In the end, that was really the death knell for our relationship.
The break-up was mutual, and because we’d never lived together it was easy for us to go our separate ways. The downside of ending our relationship was that I’d been masturbating much more frequently, not every day but several times a week, to help alleviate the cravings that my high sex drive brought on. However, touching myself didn’t come close to having sex and wasn’t nearly as satisfying. I needed a man, and being horny all the time just seemed to make me bitchier than usual.
I took the exit to Summerlin Parkway and made my way to the gated community of Queensridge. Almost instantly my stomach began to nervously churn as I pulled up in front of my father’s home. I thought of getting everything out of my SUV, but decided against it. Hesitantly, I walked up to the front door and rang the bell. About a minute later, my father opened the door.
“Come on in,” he said gruffly.
I stepped into the foyer of his large house and discovered that not much had changed. The walls were painted a light brown and the white marble flooring was broken up by small specks of brown coloring. Of course, the house was spotlessly clean, just the way he’d always demanded. There was a large spiral staircase in front of us that led to the upper floor and was decoratively ornamented with a wrought-iron rail.
“Which room do you want me in?” I said hesitantly.
“You’ll be in your old room upstairs, but we need to talk about a few things first; follow me.”
We made our way down the long central hall to the large kitchen. Again, nothing had changed decoratively. The light-brown oak cabinets perfectly complemented the stainless-steel appliances, and the big picture windows looked out over the expansive backyard that was set against the golf course. We had a large one-acre lot complete with a beautiful in-ground pool, hot tub, and a small waterfall.
“Have a seat,” he said while pointing toward the kitchen table.
I nervously sat down on one of the chairs. I immediately regretted my choice of clothing when my short little jean skirt rode up my thighs, and I quickly tried to pull some of the denim material down to cover up just a little. It was a warm day and I’d worn a little tank top with my Cocobelle gilded leather sandals. He poured a cup of coffee without offering me one and then sat in the chair beside me.
“There are going to be some rules you’re going to abide by for as long as you choose to live here.”
“Okay,” I said hesitantly.
“From what the experts say, this virus is very contagious, so I’ll be working from home and doing something that they’re calling social distancing.”
I looked skeptically into his eyes as he continued. “You’re not going to be going out, I don’t want you bringing the virus back home and getting me sick.”
I gasped. “You want me to be a shut-in?”
I had a very active social life. I loved going to the strip and partying and clubbing with my friends. However, I knew all the good clubs within the casinos were already shut down, so going out was really a moot point.
“Okay,” I said even more reluctantly.
“You’ve never been able to cook for shit, so I’ll be doing the cooking. You’re going to be serving the food and cleaning up the kitchen, and just as your mother did I expect you to dress up for dinner.”
My jaw dropped open. “What about Maria? She’s always cooked and done the cleaning.”
“Not anymore; there won’t be anyone in this house besides me and you, so you’ll be doing the cleaning as well.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me.”
Our house was just a little over 7,500 square feet, and even though I knew a lot of that space went unused I reasoned that cleaning the house would be taking up a lot of my time.
“No, I’m not kidding. I expect you to contribute, to pick up after yourself and help keep the house neat and running smoothly. You’re not too old to be punished, and if you don’t keep up your side of the deal there will be consequences.”
A shiver went down my spine when he said the word punished. Who the fuck does he think he is … threatening to punish me? I quickly felt my blood begin to boil. I couldn’t believe he was actually threatening me with some sort of discipline if I didn’t abide by his rules. However, as I looked into his unwavering eyes, I knew he was serious, and if I refused these conditions he set I’d be back out on the street. In the end, I had no choice but to relent.
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