It was Charlie’s dream to live what she referred to as her “ideal life”. Love, sex, money and freedom. Her sex positivity was the largest key on her ring of self expression. She said hello with kisses and goodbye with orgasms. There were no boundaries in her world. Only new memories to be made…moments in which she would rise like a phoenix, erasing painful memories with every moment she seized. After a frustrating day in the office, she liked to stop for drinks at the W Hotel in West Hollywood, on her way home. She sat alone at the bar, the gold embellishments along the seams of her 6 inch heels glimmering against the dim lights of the Hotels Jazz Lounge; Music from the live Jazz band carrying away the stress of her day. She was exhausted from a long day at work. A merger she’d been working on for months had not gone as planned. How many damned times would she have to wine, dine and kiss this clients ass before he decided that her firm was the best suited to represent his business?

“ He’s such a fucking pig.” She mumbled under her breath as she sipped from her glass of Jack Daniels and Coke, shaking her head in silent, half humored amazement. Charlie liked her liquor the way she liked her women; smooth, dark and strong. Jameson, Jim, and Jack were currently the only men she was she was interested in. Normally, she’d have a Jameson with a spritz of Canada Dry and lime when she wanted to cool down from a long, productive day- but today, good gawd, this fat asshole was not budging. He was stringing her along like some puppet and she found it insulting. Charlie had a Bachelor’s Degree in business development, with a minor in Political Science and a Masters of Fine Arts in Entertainment Law. A legacy member of the historic Deltas, Charlie stomped harder in her pumps than Olivia Pope ever could, dressed as if she were sitting front row at paris fashion week and could out negotiate any of the men in her firm. Charlie was an unstoppable shark and she knew that she could take Edward Cane’s hotel chain from million dollar tabloid bait to a billion dollar international empire in no time; But she needed to put her foot down. Her patience was wearing thin and she didn’t know how much longer she could stomach the misogynistic comments, micro-aggressively fetishizing remarks and blatant bigotry. Today, in particular, had been much heavier than she had been prepared to carry.

“Are Black women as magic on their knees as they are in the papers?”

She replayed Edward Cane’s comment during their meeting, over and over in her head like the highlight reel of a bad sports game. She dealt with this type of ignorance and disrespect everyday. She was used to it, but thick skin doesn’t make things easier to swallow.

You’ve got to be fucking kidding me… This bald bastard doesn’t know who the hell he’s even dealing with... She thought to her herself, shaking her head in disbelief

I hate being alone with him. If my name were Tom, Dick or Harry he’d have some damned respect… She thought.

“These men are always trying me.” She scoffed to herself aloud as she took a small, slow sip of the last bit of her drink.

Finishing her second glass and barely feeling a buzz, she knew that she needed something stronger; Jack just wasn’t doing the trick. Charlie wasn’t much of a drinker but, tonight, the only thing that could calm her nerves was a smooth bourbon. She drifted again, falling deeper into the rabbit hole of memories of her meeting with Mr. Cane, earlier that day.

“Well, Mr. Cane. What’s magic is the new developmental outline we’ve come up with. Our 30, 60 and 90 day business plan for Cane Enterprises will take you international. We’ve got mergers lined up with Billion Dollar investors from Dubai and Iran. We want your hotels to to be the face of the new middle east. Our goal is to further commercialize certain untapped areas in middle east and bring in new capital from generations of wealth. Your hotel chain will be the homestay of choice to power players, politicians and world leaders across the globe. All you have to do is sign on the dotted line and we can get started. I understand that your lawyers have reviewed the documents that our team prepared for you?”.

I wonder if that fat asshole even heard a word I said while he was looking down my damn blouse.

It was hard being a black woman in a field which wreaked of male privilege and subpar, over compensating egos. She was smarter, sharper and better qualified than many of the men she worked with, but she always had to reach above and beyond with every acquisition, just to be counted equal.

Fuck him and his fragile ass masculinity. He probably wouldn’t even be able to get it up at a brothel, after a double viagra on the rocks.

She rolled her eyes to herself and motioned for the bartender to come over to her. The bartender who had been serving Charlie the entire night, was a buttery brown woman with long, golden locs which draped her face and danced against her tiny waist. She’d been gently touching Charlie’s hand all night, tossing her winks and insinuative smiles; making it clear that she hoped to serve her more than just drinks. Two Jack and Coke’s into her evening, she’d noticed the overly attentive bartender, but was too deep in thought to give her any attention, beyond a half forced smile.

“Can I get you another Jack and Coke?” The bartender asked.

“I’ll actually take a Bourbon. Neat.”

“Mixing? You sure about that sugar?”

“Oh I’m certain.”

“Rough day?”

“Rough week…” Charlie chuckled half jokingly.

“Well, If you need something a bit more smooth to help you relax, I’m off at 2am” the bartender said flirtatiously as she slid Charlie another drink, on top of a napkin.

As she sipped, she noticed that the bartender had written her phone number on the napkin with the words “Call me when you’re ready to forget.” She felt wetness form between her legs. She closed her eyes and imagined the relief that would accompany of the warmth of the bartenders tongue, where wetness had now formed. Charlie pushed back her thoughts and tried to choke down the temptation with a hard swallow of her bourbon.