It had been one year! One whole year since she had left him, the man she had been with for nearly seven years. The man who violated her, broken her mind, and gaslighted her in subservience. She was free now, free to make her own decisions even if they weren't the most helpful. The redhead could almost scream with excitement. She had since moved out of her parent's place, to a small one bedroom apartment downtown. The main attraction to this apartment, was it was within walking distance of her favorite pub.
Amanda had become a bit of a fixture at the pub, visiting most nights that she wasn't out at the clubs or some wild house party. Tonight was to be no different, she sat in her room curling her red hair... sipping at a glass of red wine. She had been sipping for a few hours already, but she was about ready to head out for her 1 year anniversary of divorce. At six months she had gotten a rather inappropriate tattoo in tiny script along the left side of her upper ribcage. 'Fuck you Nathan' in Times New Roman, measuring just over an inch long.
That was not her first tattoo, she had several... She was slowly covering them with bigger pieces, as some of them were gang related... the others reminded her of Nathan. Which was a no fly zone, anything that brought him to her mind had to go.She laughed thinking about it, She was still scared he would pop up in her life. She couldn't control it, so the best she could do was... laugh and hope it didn't happen. That the court ordered restraining order would be enough to scare him away.
When she was done getting ready she stopped in front of her full length mirror. She was dressed to kill. A rich burgundy, and strapless dress clung to her petite body, revealing most of her thighs. Her curls looked amazing, and framed her make up perfectly. "Looking good girl!" She said with a big smile across her deep red lips.
She made her way down to the pub, only across the street and around the corner. "Dotty! I want my regular please, please!" She said as she made it to the bar, flagging down her favorite bartender. "I'm celebrating, girl! Don't hold out on me!" She pleaded. No matter how much perfume she put on, there was always a soft hint of weed following Amanda.
"And, what are we celebrating tonight, Amanda?" the older lady asked with sly smile, "That it's Tuesday? Cause yesterday you were celebrating Monday." She chided Amanda with a soft chuckle. "One glass of red wine, and a shot of fine tequila. Coming right up." Sthe bartender rolled her eyes.
Amanda smiled, and clasped her hands together thanking the bartender. "Your a sweetheart. I'm celebrating my divorce!" She said with a loud laugh. "One year of freedom down!" She chuckled, Taking the shot as soon as Dotty finished pouring it. "Another!" She cheered taking her red wine.
As the night rolled on, Amanda had snuck off to the backdoor to smoke... or the bathroom, where she allowed herself to take the last half bar she had. Inhibitions were gone, in a few hours... and by closing Amanda could barely speak separate words. Amanda was on the bar, giggling and singing into the bottle of Tequila.
It didn't take long, for her escort to downtown to arrive. "I didn't dooo nuffin, officers."
Leslie had been sober for exactly eleven months, and hit a road block as a different anniversary came. Some cases stick with you and this one had been brutal. And she failed, so she turned away from the bar or liquor store and went to an emergency AA meeting. It wasn't her usual time or group but it helped. She was leaving the meeting when she got a phone call. "Hey Dot! How's my favorite bar tender?"
"Hey Les, I'm alright, miss your ugly mug around here. Listen, I have a favor. I know you are not a beat cop any more, but I have a 10-51. Only she's a sweetheart and celebrating a year away from an abusive ex. She party a little too hard and doesn't want to go home but I do. I don't want to get her in trouble, she's really a good girl. Just struggling." Leslie could hear her old friends stress.
"Hey hey okay calm yourself. You know me Dot, I got you. Need to get the car I'm just leaving an emergency meeting and have my bike give me twenty." Dot came back with a concerned "Oh honey are you okay. I can call the beat guys if this is a problem."
"No problems. Just anniversaries I guess. I'll be there." And she was. Entering the bar wasn't an issue, she came by for coffee sometimes too chat and play some pool. The smell didn't make her thirty or sick like it used to. She could almost reclaim this space as hers without the link to booze. She didn't need Dotty to point out here party gal, they were the only two people left in the bar.
At the strangers words she offer a soft smile, "No of course you haven't done anything wrong, but I still need you to come with me. Will you do that for me?" She was soft and gentle, ready to catch the drunk woman should she over balance. "See Dotty here is tired and wants to go home now. So will you come with me please? I'll take you someplace you can be safe and sleep off the hangover. How'd that sound?" She refrain from using terms of endearment, thanks to Dots comment about a toxic ex. It would do no good to trigger the young lady.
As with any none aggressive drunk she was gentle and talked her into letting Les take her away. She didn't cuff the woman, there was no need for that. Just gentle guiding hands to get her to her car and soft voice as she let her know she's going to put her seat belt on. She offer an unopened bottle of water even though she's had her drink a glass in the bar. "Okay, if you start to feel sick hug this bucket for me please?" This was her personal car and she didn't really want to clean vomit out.
Once they had made it to the station she was again soft hands and gentle voice, as she took her to the drunk tank, there was no one in the ladies so she was able to settle the woman on a bunk and got her a blanket and bucket. "Alright. Now you just rest here. It gets better, it takes time but all things do. It's worth working for. Someday you will be happily and safely in love with someone who will worship you. Just hang in there." She tuck her in and left.
In the paper work she detailed that the pick up was extremely agreeable and nonviolent. But judging by Dots concern, she added that some therapy might be helpful. She'd been thinking psychiatric therapy, not alcoholism therapy. The uniform manning the desk asked so she answered, "oh she wasn't causing problems, just an old friend who was ready to go home and didn't want to bother you guys with a boring pickup. Dotty knows you boys like the rowdy pick ups. But be nice to get will ya? She's been through the ringer. Give me a call if you do have problems though Sean. I'd rather handle it if she's upset, my fault she's here type deal. If she gets abusive you don't deserve it."
"You are an odd one Clay you know that?" She smirked
"Course I do. Gotta keep you lot on your toes don't I? If I was 'normal' I wouldn't be nearly as good at my job." She'd said normal in a bored drawl.
"Maybe but you wouldn't be single anymore." He grumped then gulped because the look on the detectives face was a cross of hurt and murder "wait Les I di-"
"You all think I don't hear you whispering about poor old Clay, girl just can't get it together. Going to be sad and lonely til some smuck gets lucky and kills her. Ever think I'm perfectly okay with that and just counting the days till someone gets fucking lucky?" Sean the big mouth uniform cringe then recoil when her offer of aid was withdrawn "and I take it back, if she gets angry and abusive don't call me. She's your job to protect. I find a hair out of place, I'll have your job are we clear uniform?" What he said had hurt her when she was already struggling, she didn't normally attack like this but he'd crossed a line. Calling her out for being odd didn't matter she liked that about herself, but calling out her emotional struggle was uncalled for and it took her back to the streets where she had to hide everything about herself to be safe. She should be safe feeling sad and lonely in her place of work, but apparently that wasn't the case because she hadn't exaggerate. She had literally heard those words spoken by coworkers. Leaving the station she really wanted a drink again. But it was late... Or very early, and her mentor was out of town. She drove home and climbed out onto the fire escape with her pipe and a bag of weed, and found herself wondering about the redhead.
Amanda eyed the short haired woman who approached her, before listening to the words she spoke. "You want to go home Dotty?" She asked confused, and a drunken smile crossed her face. "I just want to enjoy being free!" She said with a laugh, and twirl catching herself on the bar for balance... She had long ago ditched her heels, but she couldn't remember where.
"My apartment would be safe place for me to sleep, just wish I had someone to warm the pillow next to me... after we were done, wearing ourselves out." She said with a loud laugh, running a hand through her red curls to fluff them up. "You gonna take me home, Miss Officer?" She asked, trying to be sexy... but a hiccup that almost turned into more, ruined it.
"I'm so dizzy." She said sitting on the stool at the bar. Another hiccup, "Maybe I did drink too much." She said with another hiccup. "b-Bucket!" She said with another hiccup. When Dotty quickly provided a metal ice bucket, It was right on time. Amanda hugged the cool bucket and upchucked.
Another hiccup, "Maybe I shouldn't have twirled." She groaned, fight the urge to upchuck again as another hiccup came. After drinking a glass of water, and eating some crackers that dotty gave her. She let the officer guide her to the car.
As the door shut Amanda was almost in tears, but instead of crying she had to focus on not puking as the car took off. "I'm such an idiot." She said with a small hiccup, as the woman helped her from the car. "Look at me, I'm pathetic." She said, the words rushed by another hiccup.
When the officer laid her down, her tiredness finally hit her. "Tell Dotty I'm sorry." She mumbled, as the officer helped her into the bunk. "I'm just an idiot who drank too much, among other things tonight." She added, with another hiccup. "I'm just so happy to be free to live, but also... I got this whole in my chest, and alcohol helps me forget about it." She grumbled, into the pillow... obviously seconds away from passing out.
The next memory Amanda had was her stomach lurching... Thank god for buckets! She thought, as the full effect of her night of partying finally started to catch up with her. It took her a second to collect herself, and remember where she was. "Fuck." She mumbled, "Oscar is going to be pissed if I miss work." She said her first thought on her job, which she did enjoy.
She stood from her bunk, with a groan. Fuck her head hurt. The throbbing pain in her temples made being conscious almost unbearable. "Hello! When can I leave, I have work at 9:30." She called from the bars, to the officer at the desk. "OI!" She tried again to get his attention. She sighed leaning in against the cold iron of the bars.
Leslie was all soft smiles and kind eyes, so was Dot who nodded at the question. "Yeah honey, I closed up an hour ago it's past my bed time." Both women reach for her as she started to fall but Amanda caught herself. Leslie blush a little, a tumble in bed with someone who'd stay sounded nice. "Would you-?" She actually start to ask forgetting herself but then the poor woman was getting sick.
Dot gave her a cool wet wash cloth she used to cool the back of the redheads neck while she was being sick. Les held her hair out of the way, subconsciously noticing that it was soft and smelled nice with the lingering smell of pot. The officer remain near as she sip her water and nibble crackers, gently rubbing her back. "I'm glad you are free to live you life, but doing this too much is only going to cut it shorter. You seem like a lovely person, you have so much to live for."
She hadn't meant to upset her but that's what appeared to be the case when she got in the car to find Miss Briar in tears. She gave her some tissue and said. "For what it's worth, I don't think you're an idiot or pathetic. I think you're hurting and this is how you cope." She lightly pat her hand at a stop light. "You'll be okay." She tried to soothe. She was careful with the woman tucking her into the bunk, and get heart broke. She knew all about trying to fill or forget the holes. For a moment she was not a professional but a fellow in pain. "You'll not remember in the morning, but Dotty Already forgave you, and we don't think you're stupid for trying to make the pain stop." She gently tuck hair away from her face once Amanda was properly situated on her side. Just in case she was sick in her sleep, she didn't want her to choke on inhaled hair either. "You are a lovely woman who deserves to be happy and safe."
Maybe seeing another in pain was why she snapped, a reminder of her own pain. But she'd been honest too. It wasn't just the beat cops that talk shit when they thought she couldn't hear, her fellow detectives thought the same. Forever sad and lonely Clay. She bury herself in work, why would starting a relationship help? When she could be killed at any moment? Why risk that, making someone love you then leaving them because some crazy person rather kill cops than do time? (Answer? Everyone needs the support of loved ones.)
The uniform behind the desk hurry at her call, Clay had looked pissed and he'd rather not show up in six months dead and rotten. He brought the lady in red a bottle of water, aspirin and a travel size mouth wash. "Clay said I was to take care of you. It's about a quarter to seven am. I was going to wake you in fifteen minutes. You're free to go. Clay said you weren't a flight risk so expect a court summons in the mail. You were no combative so I'd expect AA meetings no fines." He held a bag of her personal items, including her shoes, but also a cheap pair of sneakers. The note in the right shoe was neatly written. 'Hangover with heels sucks, have some flats and don't be so mean to yourself. Hydrate and get some protein in you. It'll help. Good luck.' with a simple sketch of a smile and thumbs up emojis.
Leslie had fallen asleep eventually, and woke tired and stressed. She sat rubbing her face for a moment. Wondered about the red head. Miss Amanda Briar according to her ID. Wondered how she made it through the night, how she was, if she'd get help. Wondered if she take her advice or throw away the flats and note alike. With a yawn she Rose too start her day, shower to wake up coffee eggs bacon and toast. Then she was dressed and ready for the day, taking her motorcycle to work. Helmet under her arm she walked into the office. She was on her way to the drunk tank when the office from last night timidly said. She's already gone, left about half hour ago. Work." She grunt and turn on her heel to go to her desk. Of course the woman wouldn't hang around to be checked on, she had her own life. Stupid sad and lonely Clay. She could hear it now, detective brought in a drunk girl, arrange favors for her, poor pathetic Clay, the lady didn't even hang around to say thank you. She groan and put her head in her hands. "Get it together you stupid loser" she growl at herself before getting to work.
This wasn't the first time in her life, Amanda had ended up in the drunk tank. There had been a night in her marriage where her and Nathan, and been picked up... Drunk and high, screaming at each other. She also knew that this treatment was above and beyond what normally happened. She was thankful for the mouthwash, and the aspirin. The shoes, and her shoes! She was thankful to see her heels, but even more so the sneakers.
She took the items and sat down on her cot. She pulled on the shoes, after reading the note. The officer that had brought her in last night, had definitely went above what was normal. She bit her lip, and stood up. She thought about looking for and thanking the officer that had helped her into a warm and safe bed... but couldn't face the woman.
"Thank you." She said to the officer at the desk, and rushed out of the station. She made it to work, barely late... her boss didn't even notice. She was super thankful, she didn't want to have to explain her night. She had stopped at home to shower, and change.... She decided to opt for comfort over form today. She was wearing a pair of black overalls, with a light blue blouse under them. She had decided to stick to shoes. She was normally much more dressed up, but her boss didn't question her when she explained... Comfort was a priority today. He just laughed knowingly, "We all have those days, if you want to dive out early just let Jeanine know to cover your phone." He said patting her desk with some folders, before laying them in her "In" tray.
Thank God. She thought leaning forward against her desk, as he walked away. Her boss had never given her shit, and had always been super flexible with her schedule since leaving Nathan. She started to enter the new accounts, or update old ones... It was pretty braindead work for her these days. She would answer the phone when it rang, and connect the caller to the person they needed to talk to.
Her mind wandered to Dotty, and around lunch she made a phone call. She ordered Dotty lunch, and had it delivered to the bar. She called up there to apologize. "I'm sorry about last night, Dotty. I was such an idiot. I haven't gotten that trashed in a long time, I'm super embarrassed." She said sitting down in her car, to talk to Dotty, without being heard by her Co-Workers. "Would you give me the name of the officer who picked me up last night? She really went above and beyond for me, and I should thank her."
Amanda scribbled down the name, and thanked the bartender. "Enjoy your lunch, So sorry. Love ya! bye!" She said hanging up the phone. Leslie Clay She read the name off the paper. She bit her lip, debating on lunch or flowers... She settled on both, and sent the officer... A huge burger from Helmsman Burgers, a famously Blue Burger joint, and a bouqet of flowers. The card read....
Thank you, For everything you did. Your kindness, let me continue my new life... After a night of being low.
Leslie was thankful for a day off paperwork, her last case had been brutal even by her standards. Street kids have a whole different comprehension of the evils of man. Closing that case had not given her as much closure as she would have liked and it was pushing her, this emergency AA meetings. Those feelings and thoughts pushed the pretty redhead from last night out of her thoughts. So she wasn't actively wondering if she was okay, not just last night but the talk of freedom to live. Was someone hurting her? Was she propositioning her last night or asking for a ride? She wouldn't want a tumble and cuddle, not with Clay. So stop wondering.
She had a few phone calls, double checking some things or getting stuff sent to her. Some complain about the paperwork but she likes it. A good paper trail for a case was as important as her firearm on the streets. This was how she helped people, helped save lives and get justice for those she couldn't. Her notes were meticulous, detailed and color coded, she was good at body language and danger assessment.
Throughout the morning working on paperwork her mood improve some, until the otherwise quite space scratch with the tone of a secret 'Did you hear about Clay yet?' she ground her teeth and put her pen down so not the break it. Tone icy she shot to her feet and slammed her hands on her desk and hiss at the man and woman by the coffee pot but it got the rest of the room too. "If you're going to talk shit have the damn decency to say it to my face. So fucking what?! I brought a girl in for drunk and disorderly. What's the big deal?! Dotty asked me a favor." They all knew Dotty, before she got her own bar she'd worked at the cop bar. "Dot said she was a nice kid and she knows some of the beat cops like to toy with the sweet ones. Which if I ever find out who's doing it Im taking to the director. Now stop fucking talking about my like I can't hear you I'm in the same damn room for Christs sake. She sat hard and tired.
Sometimes she loved her job, when it's a good day and the make the same and catch the bad guy. Even when it's a paperwork day was pretty good. But then there were days like today, already drained for a previous case that had no happy endings. Then add the ache of the daily lonely gap that her coworkers just love poking at with hot red pokers. She ached and if it wouldn't make it look like she was running away, she'd have gone out for a smoke. Strictly tobacco on the clock. Instead she hunker back down into work. A different Uniform officer from the one she'd snapped at called through the archway from the lobby "Detective Clay?!" She ignored it, if the new kid wanted her attention he could call her desk. Which he did
"Detective, detective!" He chant excited
"What?!" She snapped
"You have a delivery!!" His excitement reflect her confusion. She didn't get deliveries. She hung up the phone and stalk to the front desk, and froze. There was a lovely arrangement of flowers waiting. Still frowning she collect the vase and gave a small sniff of the flowers, to see lunch too. Her stomach growl and she realized it was lunch time. Taking both back to her desk she sat and turn the card over in her hands a moment before reading it. At the words she got a small smile. She didn't do it for the thanks, but it was nice to be appreciated. She tuck the card away from prying eyes, settle in and ate the burger gazing at the flowers. The small smile only show in the corner of her eyes.
Amanda's boss checked on her three times after lunch, making sure she didn't want to go home... but She wanted the braindead distraction of entering information into the computer. She didn't want her brain the think about last night, or how she was completely falling apart inside. Looking back, that probably wasn't the first time Dotty had been on the edge of making that phone call. It made her feel a bit sick, to think about how much she was letting her life go.
She sighed, maybe the group meetings would help. She was bound to receive some kind of summons for her behavior. About 45 minutes before she was supposed to leave, she was sent home... She didn't argue, because she knew her work family was just concerned for her. She sat down behind the wheel of her car in silence.
The void of sound haunted her ears, it was unbearable. She started her car, and turned the knob for volume all the way up. The music that poured from the speakers vibrated her body. Atleast the car wasn't quiet anymore.
She drove home, she unfastened the buttons holding up her overalls and made her way to the couch. She collapsed onto the cushions with a flump, landing on her back head resting on one of the armrests. She reached behind her head, and fished in the sidetable drawer... where she kept her stash of fun stuff. She found the little ziplock she was looking for and her lighter. She laid the bag on her chest, and pulled out one of the joints in the bag... She always kept a few rolled, just incase she needed on NOW.
She chuckled to herself, as even that thought turned dark. It had been a long time coping mechanism for dealing with Nathan's bullshit, Sometimes it was a sobbing blunt locked away in the bathroom... knowing that when she left the safety, she was going to get beat. Sometimes if was a post asswhooping pain reliever, or he would always expect her to have some ready whenever the urge to have a smoke hit him.
She sparked her lighter, and inhaled... turning the end of the joint into a glowing ember and filling her lungs with smoke. "Alexa turn on Living Room TV." She said after a long exhale. The TV popped on, and Amanda sighed again. Despite her waning hangover, she wanted another drink... Would Dotty even serve her today, that's unlikely.
She took another drag, thinking about... surprisingly about the blurry figure of her rescuer, Miss Leslie Clay Detective Extraordinaire. "I hope I didn't say anything embarrassing last night." She said with a chime of real laughter, maybe she would have to ask Dotty about it... if she ever got around to the bar later.
Amanda was right to think she's be getting a court summons, ordinarily because of the way the system works this could take months. However a certain busy body who was paying attention to a certain Detective push the paperwork forward so is she would be getting a letter in the mail in the next couple of days. While Leslie believed all of her co-workers judged her and talked behind her back about being forever single, there were a handful that wanted to see her happy. So the pretty girl who got special treatment from the detective would be forced into AA within the week. Her summons would arrive, her court date would pass. (The judge listen to her side but would still send her to group therapy, without telling her about another young woman who was hurting and needed help. He'd handle Leslies case last year.)
The detective was blessed with a full day of paperwork she did not get assigned a new case and was able to go home at a reasonable hour. However she was also cursed with gossip hound co-workers. She shouldn't be surprised they were detectives, they detect things. However she did not appreciate everybody commenting about her lovely flowers. She was constantly telling people I helped a friend and this is the thank you it wasn't until she said that she had been helping Dotty that people left her alone as if they had forgotten her outburst before lunch. That seemed to be a trend. She would say something and mean it and people would forget that she said it. That's why she loved Dotty, she listen and remember.
That is how she found herself at the bar again after work. Sliding onto a bar stool she gave a finger wave to Dot who was busy with someone else at the moment. She sighed and put her chin on her fist and waited when it was her turn the bartender greet her and said, "I'm sorry honey but if you're looking for her she's not here."
Sad smile Les shrug "that's okay. Likely knows you won't serve her annoying with booze right now. I actually came to see you." Dot raise an eyebrow. "No no, I haven't fallen off the wagon, I just... You listen. You remember." Leslie ran a hand through her hair and sigh, "old complaints, they just... Don't." She heave a sigh and put her face in her hands. A moment later the soft clatter of a glass hitting the bar top made her look up a piping hot cup of tea set before her.
"Go on honey. Tell me about it." Dot said and Les did. She told her about how her co-workers kept talking about the redheaded damsel from the night before. But it wasn't that they were teasing her she could handle that, the fact that they couldn't say it to her face and had to say it when they thought she couldn't hear it really upset her. She rejected the concept and insist that she was just being too sensitive, but Dotty cut her off. Her feelings were real and valid, no one likes having people talk about them like that.
After her first cup of tea she finally asked, "the girl last night. Amanda?" She frown, was this not the same thing she'd been complaining about? Talking about people, but she wasn't there to hear? Instead of asking about her she said a soft vulnerable, "she sent me flowers and lunch. As a thank you. I didn't think she'd remember me."
Dots heart broke for her long time friend. "Oh honey. Knowing you she remembers being pampered, taken care of as you are so good at. Because you are a good care taker. She's ashamed of her behavior." Leslie let her shoulders sag. "Care but not the face. Just my luck, first woman in years asking if I'm taking her home and she won't even remember my face. Typical lonely Les. Thanks For, I knew I shouldn't have gotten my hopes up."
"Les wait!" Dot called after the detective who gave a shake of her head and a sad smile. "I'm fine. Dot, take care. I'm just a call away." Waved and left. Hands Shove deep into pockets walking to her bike thoughts bitter, of course the pretty stranger wouldn't remember her, that was too much to ask for, a knight in armor for the damsel. she was maybe a little reckless on the way home but her little bike wouldn't hurt anyone if she got hit by a car, or maybe a dump truck.
Brooding dark thoughts she crawled under a blanket on the couch and went straight for the decorated tackle box. She'd never been much for rolling, though she had papers and wraps on hand. (Old habit, she'd not had smoking buddies in a long time) no she prefers a piece, pipe or bong. She packed a bowl into a green silicone pipe called Wonda. After a deep pull she curl in on herself more and sigh the exhale. A good indica to get her to sleep. "She was drunk and wanted to go home, not invite me into her bed. I know better than this." She yawn and cap the pipe after a last long draw to tired to knock out the ashes. Curled in on herself and slept on the couch.
Amanda was just coming back from a jog, He week had been hectic. Work had picked up for a busy season, and she had taken to working out again. She had went back to Dotty's bar a few days later, but kept herself in check. To be fair, she was smoking a bunch more these days. She apparently had said some embarrassing things the night of her lapse in control. She was actually kind of glad she couldn't remember much about the officer who had taken her in.
She stopped by the mailroom at her apartment, and picked up the stack of mail. "Who even sends mail anymore?" She said with a soft laugh, that quickly faded as she saw the top letter. It was a court order, for some group therapy. She groaned softly, reading that she was expected at her first meeting this afternoon.
She tossed the rest of the letters onto her kitchen table, and started to pull off her workout clothes on the way to the shower. She turned the knob for hot water, "Group therapy... Like it really want to air my dirty laundry to a room of strangers." She sighed softly, letting the warm water relax her tense muscles. She knew that therapy was probably something she should have been going to for awhile, if she had been doing it... maybe she could have even avoided this situation.
After her shower, she dried off slipping on a pair of cotton shorts making her way to the couch. Her hair wrapped up in a towel, and not bothering with a shirt. She flopped down onto the couch, she fished the bag from the drawer. She was glad she kept these pre-rolls handy.
An hour or so later, and two finished blunts in her ashtray... she stood from the couch, "What does one even wear to group therapy?" She asked with a chuckle. She still wasn't happy about having to go, but she was at least in a better mood now. She pulled a soft yellow sundress from her closet, it was decorated with sunflowers. She found some wicker slides, and pulled her hair into a pony tail.
She set up an uber, and had another blunt while she waited. She couldn't curb her nerves though. When she arrived at the address, she wished she had stopped for a coffee. As the third smoke, was really making her a bit drowsy. Wouldn't that be a good first impression if she fell asleep in her first meeting. She didn't look anyone in the eyes, and kind of avoided joining any of the small groups of people waiting for the meeting to start. Gods, she wanted a drink... Something to bite away the nervous jitters she had, as well as balance out this embarrassment she was feeling.
Leslie had had a busy week as there had been a particularly violent murder. Where she would have normally gone to the bar for a drink to settle her nerves, she'd smoke a bowl or three before bed. She had to be responsible, as an adult and law enforcement, no smoking and driving. She went to visit Dotty a couple of times, around lunch to visit and enjoy a meal. Dots partner who ran the kitchen made some mean wings and fries, secret ingredients for both the wing sauces and and fry seasoning. If she didn't spend so much time training and working out she'd be a stereotypical fat cop with a doughnut.
She'd not asked Dotty about the redhead after the first time. She's okay and not overindulge. That was the end of her business and she shut down any lingering thoughts about her. Or so she thought. She'd needed to go to several emergency AA meetings and called her mentor, it was a nasty case and she couldn't go into detail about it but just talking about how it was affecting her helped. She really wanted that one year token. They caught the guy, and she didn't at all feel bad for roughing him up. He'd jumped her and beat her pretty good, she had a black eye and busted lip.
Leslie sat off to the side nursing a cup of coffee. They had all chip in to get a Keurig so they had good coffee to go with the doughnuts and danish. She'd come from work so was dressed in black slacks a forest green button down her leather jacket was on the back of the chair. Tired eyes track the others, until a familiar stranger walked in. It was her redhead damsel in another pretty dress. She looked tired too. She could approach and reintroduce herself, or observe. However she wasn't in the mood to watch someone be uncomfortable.
Rising from her chair she went to the snack table and prepared a cup of coffee. Armed with a handful of sugar packets and those little creamer cups she approach. "Hi." She spoke softly to not startle her. "Looks like you could use a coffee, names Leslie. Welcome, I promise we aren't scary, despite appearances." She couldn't be bothered to cover up the bruises. The first time is always a little awkward, bunch of strangers and all. But if you let us we can help." She spoke earnestly and open offering the sugar and cream.
Sometimes a veteran of the group would share why they came to AA when there was a new face. It help to ease some when they felt embarrassed by thier own reasons. Leslies tale was worthy of shame, she'd gotten herself wounded, almost killed. Her partner saved her ass getting wounded when she walked into a trap intoxicated. Leslie already knew why the redhead was there, and thought there was no shame in her being there. SHE hadn't hurt anyone. Embarrassed it happen maybe but she'd not hurt someone to end up here.
Amanda made her way inside as everyone else did, she saw the snack table and Keurig. Immediately thankful to whoever decided this was a good idea, though it was very crowded at the moment. She chose a seat in the back, which she was sure marked her as a newbie... likely these people knew each other rather well and she would stick out regardless. Her bright yellow dress seemed a little out of place, aswell.
She pulled her ponytail around the the front of her shoulder, She brushed through it with her fingers. She caught the woman approaching out of the corner of her eye, and turned. She was tall, with short hair... A professional of some kind, judging by her outfit. The bruises were a bit concerning, just what had this woman been through.
"I might have stress smoked a little too much before coming here." She said with a bright smile, flipping her hair back over her shoulder. She accepted the coffee, setting it down on the chair beside her... She added some sugar and creamer, "Thanks for bringing to sugar and creamer, I can't stand black coffee." She laughed nervously.
"I'm Amanda." She said softly, taking a sip of her coffee. She didn't know what to say about the help... She didn't feel like she needed help. She didn't want to rely on someone else, or a group of someones, to fix her. "Thanks, I'll keep that in mind." She said softly, looking at the cup. "I just got a little over Zealous, on the anniversary of my divorce."
She fidgeted with the edge of her cups lid, "I made a fool of myself, and that's on me not the drink."
Leslie smiled some at her explanation, and took a seat one chair away so not to crowd her. "That's understandable, I get it, heck we all do. Most of us have switched from booze to smoking, but shh don't tell." She spoke the last bit in a stage whisper. Wanting her to understand there would be no judgement for smoking. She offer a warm smile at the thanks. "Of course. In my line of work they expected me to take it black and bitter." She tilt her own cup just so to show a slightly lightened coffee, just one cream. "I put so much sugar in it I should be diabetic, but I work out all off."
She offer her hand to shake when Amanda introduced herself. "pleasure to meet you." And have you remember me. "Congratulations on the divorce if you were celebrating it. Nothing at all to be ashamed of, when life is hard sometimes you have to party harder." Then softer for Amandas' ears only. "We can help with more than the drinking, for a lot of us there are underlying reasons for turning to it. Me? Crappy childhood left me too damaged for relationships, stressful job so I turned to the bottle for comfort, can't talk about the job in detail but talking about growing up helps. Marias entire family have addiction personalities and it helps her to talk about that. Matt lost his wife to cancer, no other family so we are his family."
The once affectionate Leslie would have offered a hug or supportive hand, this closed off one kept her hands firmly to herself. "Making a fool isn't so bad as some of us. DUIs where people got hurt, were we got hurt, or the people we care about got hurt." Besides she'd been a cute if upset drunk. "You're just a probie anyway, court order right? Let's me guess first time non violent offense with a lot level of alcoholism if it was just cutting a bit too loose," she ticked off her points "Hmmm 90 meetings are for bad news, so I'm going to guess the suggest a minimum of 15 but ask that you hang out for three months or so? Could be worse, they could have sent you to a live in rehab center. This what you still get to live your life."
She didn't have her gun or badge at the moment but to some her body language said cop, rather than it sounding like she'd experience it. Neither she not Dotty really thought Amanda was on a fast track to destruction, but alcoholism would land her there eventually. If she understood why she drank, why she over drank, then self destruct could be avoided. Leslie herself knew if she start to drink again it was over. So she like most of the others in the room were lifers.
Renee came in then in a flurry. "Sorry sorry all, you know how it is. Let's get started I've already run into the hour." The short woman bustle to get some coffee as she spoke. "So we have a new face joining us everyone please welcome Amanda." Dark eyes glint some seeing Leslie near the newb, such a Leslie thing to do. The room had settle and everyone said, "welcome Amanda!" She took her seat and continue, "since we have a new face why don't we go around and introduce ourselves, I'm Renee, I'm the facilitator for this group, and a mentor to a few, and I'm thirty years sober."
They went around the room people telling their name and sobriety. Until coming to one man who tearfully told them he'd fallen off the wagon. At the end of the hour Leslie turn to Amanda and asked, "so on a scale of zero to ten how overwhelmed are you?"
Amanda did not speak during the meeting, she felt a little out of place still. She listened to the stories, but didn't feel like she related to any of them. She held her coffee and looked down at the brownish liquid, swishing it around the cup as the meeting came to a close. Was her drinking some kind of fast track to self destruction?
She flipped red curls over her shoulder again, surely she could look after herself. She was deep in thought when the woman next to her turned and asked how lost she was. She flashed a bright and practiced smile. "I'm sort of lost, but..." She trailed off, biting her bottom lip she turned her focus to her coffee.
She set her coffee down, and stood from her seat stretching her legs and arms by tip toeing and reaching for the ceiling. "I'm just realizing that I may have lost my path somewhere... Even so, I don't want to put myself in a position of being dependent on someone else." She said with a soft frown.
"I let myself need someone for too long, when all I needed was myself." She said, flopping back down in the seat. "I needed him to the extent of ignoring the signs, problems, and advice of people close to me. It got me hurt, more than a night of jubilation at Dotty's." She laughed, "But on the other hand, I've relied on my co-workers and family relentlessly since leaving him... It's about trusting the right people, and I'm just not sure I trust myself to pick them out." She finished rambling, and turned another smile to Leslie.
"So I'm a bit lost, but I'm not sure alcoholism is the type of lost I am." She said, feeling like she may have just said something insulting. "I'm sorry. I don't mean to down play the seriousness of the condition." She mumbled, turning back to her coffee.