My New Step-Dad

By: Alexa Riley

 BRUCE

“What am I supposed to do with a seventeen-year-old girl?” I asked, leaning forward, placing my elbows on the desk. “I’ve never even met the girl.” It’s been a long fucking week and now this. I can feel the tension snaking up my spine, which I’m sure will lead to a massive headache that will fuck up my whole day.

“You’re now her legal guardian, so you better figure out what you’re going to do with her,” Jim, a junior associate at the firm informs me. I have the urge to throw him out of my office or just fire his ass, but this isn’t his fault. This was my own doing. I knew Debra, my ex-wife, had a daughter, but I’d never met her in the two years that we were married. Hell, I barely knew Debra outside of a working environment. Sure, we were married, but it wasn’t your typical marriage.

I was racking my brain, trying to remember everyone who attended. The funeral actually looked like a work meeting more than anything. The small group in attendance was made up of people she worked with and a few clients. I don’t know why I didn’t notice that before. No friends or family showed up, only other lawyers from the firm, but it made sense, neither she nor I had lives outside of this office.

Debra’s father, Steven, had passed last year, and he was the only family member I’d ever met of hers. Steven used to be a senior partner at the firm before I took his place. The thought of Debra’s daughter not being at her mother’s funeral never crossed my mind. Debra only talked about her daughter a handful of times in the five years I knew her. I can’t even recall a time when she went to visit her, and I know her daughter never came to our penthouse.

“When will she be arriving?” I ask while pulling up today’s itinerary on my computer. My schedule, as usual, is a mess and completely full.

Ever since making senior partner and taking over Steven’s caseload, I work fifteen-hour days. He’s the reason I’m in this situation now and having to become a guardian. It should’ve been him taking in a seventeen-year-old girl. She’s was his granddaughter, after all. But now that he’s gone, I’m the only one who’s left.

It hasn’t helped that we haven't picked a new lawyer to take Debra’s place at the firm since she died. She’s only been gone six weeks, but someone needs to be hired fast. She carried a giant workload on her own, and even distributing it amongst the staff, it’s more than we can handle on top of our own cases.

I met Debra when I joined the firm fresh out of graduate school. She had already been with them for years. Her father was a senior partner, so it was a no brainer what law firm she wanted to make partner at. I always knew there was no other firm I wanted to work for. I’d only heard great things about the place, it was known to be the best and my own father really pushed me into joining them. He and Steven had gone to college together, but my father went politics, something I had no desire to do.

After I walked in the door, we both made strides to get to the top. She’d already been trying for years but wasn't making much progress. Case after case, we always got paired together. We were both dedicated and worked hard for years, earning our chops and making a name for ourselves. But Debra was constantly passed over for promotions because of her sex and because of her name.

If she was given a promotion it always looked like it was favoritism, so instead the bump would go to me. This frustrated both of us, as we were both friends and colleagues and each giving more than one hundred percent. It’s never fair being a woman in this line of work, and after a few years, we hit a roadblock.

The firm decided to create a new opening for a partner and I was being groomed to take it. I knew that Debra deserved it as much as I did, but I wasn’t sure what to do. Then one day Steven took Debra and me aside and we came up with a plan.

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