Disclaimers: This is my first attempt at an Uber, so, be nice! The story is mine all mine, with some borrowed references, of course. Im not into instant gratification stories, so if you are, you might not like this one. However, it will be worth the wait.
Stuff: This is a story about two women who eventually find their way to each other. There will be heartache along the way, but rest assured, these characters end up where they belong.
Other Things: Let me know what you think. My lovely girlfriend has been reading this for me and I have a feeling shes being way too nice. I really like it though .Heehee
Okay, enough said ..
Bernadette was used to being in charge. Shed gotten used to it early in life being the first-born of 4 children. Her parents were wonderful, caring people, but living where they did in California, they worked multiple jobs to keep a roof over their heads and food on the table. That left Bernadette to watch her siblings as soon as she was old enough to cook macaroni and cheese.
Shed grown comfortable with being needed by others and with that she found herself constantly being the one people called. Take for instance her youngest brother Matt. Shed pretty much raised him and she was definitely more of a mother figure than a sister to him.
So, naturally, when Matt had asked if his sister could join him for his 21st birthday party, he also asked if she could be the designated driver.
"Jeez 21 years old. That makes me.. 29, again!" Bernadette happily mused as they headed towards the first bar of the evening. "Bernsy, are you that old youve forgotten we are 12 years apart?" Matt chuckled as she gave him an affectionate pinch on the cheek he halfheartedly tried to duck out of.
"Look, young man, it aint nice ta mess with ya elders. Now I want ya ta behave or well be havin us a little talk." He grinned widely at his sisters very poor impersonation of their cranky grandfather Chase, who passed away some years ago. They loved him dearly and impromptu impersonations brought back fond memories of the old cuss.
Their twin blue eyes sparkled as they pulled into the first bar of the night called the Post. It was a weekend warrior bar where middle-class men and women would stop their beloved Harleys and Yamahas after a day trip up and down the Southern California stretch of Pacific Coast Highway. It was pretty crowded on this warm September night; the sounds of a popular blues band emanating from the building.
Bernadette walked into the bar after Matt and watched him greet his buddies. She recognized Sean and Pete from the basketball court where shed sometimes play pick up ball with Matt. She knew the rest, Clay and Alex, from work.
As she continued her walk towards Matt and his friends, she tensed and froze when she felt a heavy hand on her shoulder. But before she could spin around and confront whoever it was, a big toothy grin invaded her personal space.
"Mark!" she exclaimed giving the tall man a hug. "When did you get in?" she asked, a little breathless at the surprise. "Pretty much now. I figured you guys would stop here first." He turned in the direction she was heading in when he approached her and searched for a familiar dark head.
"Hes over with his buddies. Come on, lets go join him."
Bernadette took a moment to look at her middle brother. He looked a lot thinner than his usual svelte self and she made it a point to ask him about it later. She imagined though that it had to do with being stationed abroad for 6 months with the Navy. She smiled to herself remembering what a picky eater he was.
He was right between her and Matt in age and was probably the best looking of the men in the family. Not to say any of them were not good looking though. The entire family with their chestnut brown to midnight black hair and cereaulean blue eyes were quite beautiful in their own right. But it was Mark and Bernadette who looked the most alike with the darkest of hair and the lightest blue eyes of the bunch. The contrasting colors coupled with their chiseled features made them quite striking.
You wouldnt get either of them to say it about themselves though. It wasnt out of modesty either, they just didnt think like that. Growing up the way they did, aesthetic beauty just wasnt considered any kind of asset. Thick skin, physical strength and sense of humor were.
"Well, look what the cat drug in!" Matt exclaimed upon seeing his older brother. They hugged each other slapping the others back like only men do. Bernadette chuckled at the two of them. Im really glad hes here, she thought.
"So how long are you back?" asked Matt as he handed Mark a beer. "Five months. Ill be off to Japan next." Matt seemed to digest this info in stride but Bernadette was a bit disappointed. "How long will you be stationed there?" she asked. Mark caught the tone in his big sisters voice and gave a small smile before answering.
"Probably about a year."
She looked down at her beer for a moment and then nodded acceptingly as she met his eyes.
"So how is work going, you two?" Mark asked his siblings, changing the subject.
"Good. Except my boss works me to death." Matt smirked as Bernadette rolled her eyes.
"Youd have to show up on time for me to work you to death!" Bernadette countered back. "Hey! Im not late that often." He trailed off weakly.
"Never was an early riser, this one." Mark said as he wrapped his long fingers around the back of Matts neck playfully.
"You guys still working on that commercial building on Truitt Street?" Mark asked Bernadette as he released his little brothers neck.
"Nah, we finished that up about two weeks ago, thank God!" Bernadette sighed. "Some people just cant handle having a female foreman, especially on a big project." Matts friends nodded in understanding. After swallowing a drink of his beer, Alex chuckled, "Boss, I was sure you were gonna wrap a piece of rebar around that subcontractors head when he called you girl and asked where the foreman was."
"He wasnt even the worst." Matt said shaking his head. He was just about to say something else when he caught a subtle "shh" motion from Bernadette. He recovered quickly by waving over the attractive waitress for another round.
Bernadette knew that it made Mark a little uncomfortable to hear how some men in the construction field would give her a hard time. Hed worked a few years in construction when Bernadette was just getting started and when they were on the same site, he witnessed first hand how men would treat women they thought didnt belong on a site.
Bernadette, he knew, was more than capable of fighting her own battles. Being her brother made it hard not to teach the chauvinists a lesson though. He remembered a time when it was particularly bad and he was ready to go to the foreman. Shed told him not to.
"It would only give them more reason to say I shouldnt be here. If I keep my head down, work hard and take no shit from these guys theyll figure Im not going anywhere and theyll eventually leave me alone."
Shed been right. Even a few of those same guys work on her crew now.
"Matt you have to."
"You cannot sleep in my car. Youve already christened it once tonight. You are not going to puke in my car anymore." Bernadette turned to her brother slumped over in the passenger seat and began to poke him in the ribs. Not hard, but enough to annoy even a very drunk 21 year old.
Shed dropped off everyone else with assurances that their cars would be safe in the parking lots until they were sober enough to get them.
Mark had gone home after the second bar to get some sleep. He stayed true to his word and had had only one beer at the first bar so he could drive home. Bernadette felt an odd sense of pride at her middle brother. He hadnt always made good decisions when he drank. I guess the Navy is doing him some good, she thought.
"Bernsy The world is spinning very fast and "
"Oh no you dont, brother, not again!" Before Matt could expel anymore of the contents of his stomach, she leaned over and opened the car door. Just as Matt was about to fall headfirst into the driveway she grabbed him around the waist and let him pollute something other than her poor truck.
"Dont worry, Matt, youll feel better in the morning!" She sang to him as he leaned his head against the car doorframe and groaned.
"I feel like shit."
Bernadette chuckled as a boxer-clad Matt came staggering out of her guest room. His chestnut hair, which was usually well kept, was sticking out and up like Lady Libertys crown in a tornado. Tiny red veins surrounded his blue eyes and he had a bruise shaped like a perfect circle between his eyes from where he fell against the door lock in the truck.
After she filled him in on the previous nights activities and just how embarrassed he should be at work tomorrow, she took pity on him and made him some toast and coffee.
He ate it gingerly at the table while Bernadette stood at the kitchen counter reading the paper and sipping her coffee. She paused to look at him every once in awhile, marveling at the speed in which her little brother had grown up. Hes still such a kid though, she thought to herself with a smile.
"Hey, I found this phone number in my pocket." He said when he came out of the shower. Hed gone back to bed for a couple of more hours and finally felt human enough to shower and dress at about noon.
"Yeah I think I remember you asking a girl to dance."
"Oh." He said casually. 3,2,1
"OH!! I didnt dance Did I?" His look of utter panic sent her into a laughing fit so hard, she had to breathe deeply to calm herself.
"Oh, brother, you tried." She began laughing again at the vision of this pretty little blondes eyes going round as saucers as her brother began dancing.
"Hey, I must not have sucked that bad, she gave me her number, see!" He looked at the number and then turned it around to read the back. "Her name is is Charles Lucas, dance instructor?"
Matt could only stare slack-jawed as his sister convulsed on the floor in laughter.
"Shut up." He pouted as he turned and headed back to the guest room.
"Rand!" Bernadette heard her last name being called out tersely and new immediately who it was. She looked up slowly from the blueprint she was studying, confirming what she already knew. She was hoping to have a morning without "Type A", the nickname shed given the new building project owner she was working for.
His name was Kratt and he took anal to a whole other level. Her budget proposal for his small industrial warehouse with a built in office had been returned to her not less than three times for what she thought were extremely ticky-tacky reasons.
Yes, it was his money, but revisions that took off $21.23 from the budget? It wasnt worth the time for him to drive to the site and harass her about it. He keeps this up and Ill never be finished with this, let alone get started.
He had in his hand what appeared to be the latest budget shed proposed. With a deep sigh, she set her pencil down on the blueprint and began walking to meet him.
"Morning." He called out as she neared him. "I like this one, lets go with it." He said quickly, handing her the file.
Thank God, thought Bernadette.
"How is next Tuesday for you?" He asked, surveying the ground that already started to be grated.
"Sounds good. My crew will be finished with some touch ups tomorrow at the other site so well be set to go."
They shook hands and he was on his way to his mid-sized luxury car. Even though he was a bit high-strung, she liked the fact he hardly noticed she was female. A female foreman at that. It made her hope the field of construction was changing, if only a little.
She had been around construction sites since she was very young. One of her dads jobs was as a brick layer and she had sometimes taken her younger siblings down to see him or to bring him lunch during the summers when he worked close by.
As shed grown up, she realized she enjoyed watching the process of structures being built. To start with nothing to foundation, framing, roofing the whole process fascinated her.
When her father had begun teaching her how to repair simple things around the house and build cages for her pet rabbits, she knew this is what she wanted to do with her life.
Her mother had had a hard time with it at first. It was unlady like. Deep down though, Bernadettes mother knew she was fighting useless battle. For one, Bernadette was never lady-like to begin with. She excelled in math; she enjoyed team sports and hadnt worn a dress since she was six years old.
Its not that she didnt enjoy being female, she did. It was rather fun to show boys up who dismissed her just because she was a girl. The boys who didnt dismiss her usually ended up admiring her for her strength and beauty, but the latter reason would always be lost on her.
Try as they might, they could never get a date with the elusive tomboy. She wouldnt give them the time of day. Of course this led to nasty rumors about her sexual orientation. The boys couldnt fathom that she just wasnt interested in them because of their immaturity or personalities, not their gender.
She dated a few times after graduating high school before having a long-term relationship with a man named Chuck she met while taking a drafting class at the community college. They dated for a few years and he really helped her get her foot in the door of the male-dominated world of construction. Theyd been together for about four years when he decided to take a job as a construction manager for a large company in Virginia. Bernadette could not imagine leaving her family or California for that matter and decided to stay.
Even though it was Chuck who got her her first couple of jobs, her rise to foreman was all her own doing. She always showed up on time, worked hard and learned as many skills and trades as she could.
She ran into the same type of men she did in high school but largely ignored them and let her actions speak for her. More often than not, she was more skilled than the ones making the insults and usually the foremen she worked for caught on to that.
There was only one time she really had to address one of the men, with her fist, and that was because he groped her ass. Not only did he have to endure the ridicule of his fellow construction workers, he had to explain the shiner to his wife.
She had made her way up to foreman about 4 years after starting to work full-time for a large construction company in her city. Her foreman at a couple of her jobs took notice and began grooming her to take over for him.
That was about 10 years ago. Now she had her own crew that treated her just like any other foreman. Except when they sensed a property owner or financial monkey suit was giving her a hard time. They would never say anything; theyd just make sure these guys would see a well-oiled machine of a construction site, which, even to the monkey-suits, would signify a good foreman.
Continued in Chapter 2
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