“You look really pretty, Babe. Why so dressed up?”
She looked at his black-eye. It was even darker.
Sharlee still had Noah drop her off at the college, but she didn’t remain on campus for long. She didn’t want him to know that she was looking for a job until after she’d found one. She had decided to skip her classes that day and begin her search.
After a couple of hours, Sharlee began to feel discouraged. She could only work part-time and she would need to earn enough to equal or at least come close to what Noah earned from the nightclub. However, she was being told over and over again by prospective employers that they needed someone with experience. She realized that not having any work experience at all would make it difficult to find a job, but she hadn’t considered the fact that in Bridgeport there were a lot of better qualified candidates for the jobs that she wanted.
She knew though that she could not give up. Noah was killing himself working two jobs so that she could go to school and not have to get a job. Sharlee left out of an office building trying to decide where to go next.
“Excuse me, Miss.”
Sharlee started to walk away, but he walked behind her. He pulled out a brochure. “Here, take this brochure, and you’ll see what I mean. You don’t have to have any work experience at all, and I’ll teach you everything you need to know.”
Sharlee thanked him and took the brochure. It was advertising for cocktail waitresses and exotic dancers at a nightclub downtown. The amount of money that the positions paid would be just what she needed, but she knew that there was no way that Noah would agree to her taking either of those jobs. Besides, she wouldn’t feel comfortable doing it either.
She decided to go back to the campus and check the bulletin board in the student services office to see if there were any new jobs posted. There was one there. It was for a waitress at a restaurant called Hooters. It didn’t require any previous experience and with the hourly wage and tip offered, it would pay what she needed. Maybe not quite as much as Noah was earning, but it would be enough.
She wondered why the pay was so good. She flipped the flyer over and saw the answer. The uniforms were a low-cut tank top and tight shorts. However, it said that the restaurant catered to all types of people including families, not just men. It asked the question, “What’s wrong with being served by an attractive waitress? It makes the dining experience even better!”
Even though it wasn’t what she imagined for her first job, Sharlee decided to look into it. She went to the campus library and applied over the internet. She printed out a brochure to show Noah. After about fifteen minutes, she received a call and they wanted her to come in for an interview the following morning. She debated the best way to tell Noah.
When Noah came home from the repair shop, he was still tired, but he was looking forward to spending a little bit of time with Sharlee before he went to the club. Sharlee had dinner ready as she usually did when Noah came home from the repair shop. They only had forty-five minutes until he had to leave for work at the club.
Noah looked at in surprise. “What’s this?”
“You’re working yourself to death, Noah. I’m getting a part-time job. I searched for one today, but it didn’t go well. I was told over and over again by employers that they needed someone with experience. The jobs that don’t require much experience don’t pay enough. I got so frustrated that I told one man that if he’d give me a job, I could get some work experience. “
“He told me that the problem is that I’m so young, and I’m just starting college. He said that after a year of college it will be easier for me. That doesn’t help me now though. A man gave me that brochure today. The pay for those jobs is what we need.”
Noah looked up at her wondering if she was serious. The brochure was advertising for strippers, pole dancers and cocktail waitresses. She had to know that there was no way that he was going to let her do either of those things no matter how much she argued. He looked at her face closely. She knew that. There must be another job that she really wanted and didn’t want him to say no. He decided to teach her a lesson about playing games with him.
Noah stood up and then couldn’t hold in his laughter at the expression on her face. He folded his arms. “Sharlee don’t try to play games with me. You know that I can read you like a book. Okay, what’s the job that you really want?”
Sharlee hated that he could read her so well. She showed him the leaflet for the restaurant. “I have an interview set up for tomorrow morning. If I get this job, then you can quit working at the club. You won’t be as tired, and we can spend more time together. I didn’t marry you for you to take care of me. I love you, and I want us to be partners in building our lives together.”
Noah closed his eyes, thinking. He knew that Sharlee was right. However, he didn’t want her to work while attending college, but maybe she wouldn’t have to do it for long. “I’m going with you for that interview tomorrow. I don’t like those uniforms and I want to check the place out.”
“I’m sorry things aren’t working out the way that I’d planned for us.”
The next morning, Noah took off from work and went with Sharlee for the interview at the restaurant. As far as he was concerned, the location could have been better. It was located in a transitional part of town that the city council was trying to revitalize. Also, he still didn’t like the uniform that Sharlee would have to wear. When he’d complained, Sharlee told him that it covered more than her bikini did.
Lee Taylor was the owner/manager of Hooters. He thought that Sharlee would do very well. She had just the look and personality that they were looking for, and he thought that the other employees would like her as well. He showed her a chart. “This is what you will earn hourly and this is an average of what the girls earn in tips. You can make much more than that in tips depending on how well you do with the customers.” He gave her a work schedule, and Sharlee accepted the position.
“Oh, that’s great! Bring him in. I’d like to meet him too.”
“What exactly will Sharlee do for the customers?”
Sharlee flushed in embarrassment, but she knew that if she didn’t allow Noah to ask his questions, they would have a big argument when they returned home. He would not want her to take the position, and she would insist on doing it anyway. It was better to relieve his mind now.
Lee answered. “Only what a normal waitress would do. Take customer’s orders and serve them their food and drinks. The only difference between Hooters and other restaurants is that our waitresses are easy on the eyes. Why shouldn’t you have good food and an attractive waitress?”
Then he said to Noah. “All of our busboys are guys. One of them is in the dining room at all times. Only very rarely have we had a customer get out of line and then that customer is no longer permitted on the premises. The safety of our employees is very important to us. As a matter of fact, the girls who work here walk together to the subway every night after we close.”
Noah and Sharlee went outside the office and Carrie turned to Lee. “Lee, I want this girl. She has just the look we need to draw in more customers. She will of course appeal to guys with that figure and her blond hair and big green eyes, but she will also appeal to women and families because she has a such a sweet personality.”
“Let me talk to him when they come back inside.”
“Noah, do you mind if I call you that?”
“Of course not.”
“I can understand your concerns. Sharlee seems to be a very sweet young girl. We don’t want that to change. She is just the type of young woman that we want working for us. What days are you off from work?”
Carrie looked at her husband. “How about if we agree to give Sharlee Sundays and Wednesdays off. We don’t usually give new girls two days off, but we’d really like Sharlee to work for us.”
After a few more questions, Noah gave in. Sharlee would work from 6:00 to 10:00 pm on Monday’s, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays. She’d work three Saturdays a month from 8:00 to 2:00, and she’d be off on Wednesdays and Sundays. They would be able to spend much more time together and Noah wouldn’t be under so much stress. However, he intended to keep a close eye on Sharlee to make sure that school and that job were not too much for her either.
Sharlee was so relieved when he made the call and that he would not have to return there.
That night when they made love, she saw an immediate difference in Noah. He was relaxed, and she felt close to him again. She hadn’t realized it before, but she had begun to feel that he was closing a part of himself off from her. Now that barrier was gone, and he was once again her Noah. She knew for sure now that taking that job had been the right decision.
A few days later, Sharlee and Noah were relaxing together watching television. Sharlee’s eyes widened in shock at what she was seeing. There was a story on the news about the club where Noah had worked.
“Noah that’s the Brownstone!”
The newscaster said that two of the bouncers were shot and one was killed the night before. Authorities believe that it was a clash between the club owner and a gang leader over drugs and turf.
“That could have been you Noah! You could have been killed. Please promise me that no matter what, you will never take a job in a place like that again!”
At first, Noah didn’t make the promise. He’d do whatever it took in order to take care of Sharlee and make sure that she had the things that she needed. But as he felt her trembling, he realized that just as much as her safety mattered to him, his mattered to her. He didn’t have the right to jeopardize his life now that he had married her. He’d never looked at it that way before. She belonged to him and he belonged to her.
“It’s alright, Sharlee. I promise that I won’t do that again.”