Maria felt like she was living a dream as she enjoyed a great new job and an unexpected romance. It all comes crashing down when her spiteful boss decides to get rid of her.
Maria wept as she hugged her son, Lucas. “I’m so proud of you, my darling! When I found out I was pregnant with you, I never could’ve imagined you’d do so well in life. And now you’ve graduated from law school magna cum laude!”
Lucas smiled wryly at her. “Wow, you make it sound like I was hopeless,” he teased.
Maria playfully slapped his arm. “You know what I mean. I was only sixteen…still a child myself. It was hard becoming a mom so young, and I know I made plenty of mistakes, but you’re my pride and joy, Lucas.”
Lucas kissed Maria’s cheek and then ruffled her hair. They had an odd relationship since he’d been raised in his grandparents’ house while she finished high school and community college. At one point, they’d been simultaneously getting ready for school together, almost like siblings.
“I’m going to miss you.” Maria sighed. “I’m happy you have a job already, but I wish you were staying here, not moving to the city.”
“I’ll be back to visit. It’s only an hour’s drive, you know.”
Maria smiled at him as they walked arm-in-arm across the college’s manicured lawns. The sun shone down, and the air smelled fresh and sweet. It was the perfect day for Lucas to start the rest of his life.
Five years later, Maria walked through the glass sliding doors of the big company where she’d recently been hired. Although she was forty years old now, Maria had dedicated so much of her youth to raising Lucas that she felt like life was beginning again.
That feeling hit her particularly hard when she was introduced to her new boss, Allen. Electric heat pulsed through her when she shook his hand, and she couldn’t tear her gaze off his handsome face.
“It’s great to have you on board, Maria,” Allen said. “I loved your resume, and I have a feeling you’re exactly what we’ve been missing around here.”
“I’m happy to be with you…working with you. I mean, this is kind of a dream job for me.”
Allen grinned, and Maria melted. She didn’t hear a word of what he said next as she admired the neat trim of his beard and the way his arms moved beneath the fabric of his shirt.
“Let me show you to your office,” Allen continued. “You’re right next to me, so I can keep a close eye on you.”
He winked at her, and Maria’s heart somersaulted. She had to get a grip on herself! She stopped herself from ogling his rear as she followed him down the glossy tiled corridor. Maria didn’t want to get caught up in a workplace romance. Too many of her friends had been burned that way, and she didn’t want to become one of them.
Maria soon realized that the heart wants what it wants, no matter how ill-advised those desires might be. It didn’t help that she often caught Allen coyly watching her or that he didn’t wear a wedding ring.
It started with shy smiles and casual jokes over morning coffee. On the days when they worked on proposals together, their legs often brushed beneath the table. None of it was serious until the day Allen called Maria into his office to update her on a big project.
“We got the contract!” Allen beamed at her.
Maria’s dream job in the company quickly became a nightmare.
The hug was impulsive, a spontaneous outburst of joy at their shared success, but once they were in each other’s arms, neither Allen nor Maria wanted the moment to end.
“I’m sorry,” he whispered in a husky voice, “we shouldn’t…”
“Yeah,” she breathed, her gaze locked on his.
They were so close she could feel his heart racing like hers. The leather and wood scent of his cologne filled her senses. His fingers were like fire as they traced the contours of her face.
That first kiss was fireworks and magic. Her insides turned to cotton wool when he pulled her closer. It was the start of a whirlwind romance that played out behind shut doors in the office and hotel rooms across town. Allen and Maria’s love burned bright and hot, but something unexpected turned their passions to ash.
“You can’t be pregnant.” Allen hunched his shoulders and buried his head in his hands.
“I know we didn’t plan for this baby, but we can make it work,” Maria said, putting her hands on his shoulder.
“No, we can’t.” Allen stood and began pacing across his office.
“I love you, Maria, but…but we can’t do this anymore. We can’t be together because I’m married.”
Maria stared at him. It felt like the world had stopped spinning. “But, you don’t have a ring…and no family pictures!” she blurted, gesturing to his desk.
“I prefer to keep my business and personal lives separate,” He mumbled, running his fingers through his hair. “I’m so sorry, but I think we can both walk away from this with newfound wisdom. Everyone makes mistakes, right? Of course, I’ll pay for the termination.”
“No!” Maria folded her arms across her belly. “I’m not going to do that, Allen.”
Anger cast a dark shadow across Allen’s face. “You need to be smart about this, Maria. Following through with this pregnancy will be a big mistake.”
“The only mistake here is you.” Maria strode toward the door. She couldn’t believe she’d been dumped by the father of her child for the second time in her life!
The following months brought some of the darkest days in Maria’s life. The look her parents exchanged when she told them she’d been left with a baby again broke her heart. She couldn’t bear to tell Lucas he was about to become a brother either. He looked so happy on his social media pages…how could she burst that bubble with this news?
Maria’s dream job in the company quickly became a nightmare. Allen no longer worked with her on proposals. Instead, he made her do all the work alone. He would then read through it and return the drafts with pages of comments for things she needed to change. Every task she was given ended up being done three times because of this.
“By the time I’m finished with them, that jerk boss of yours will never be able to get another job.”
She couldn’t talk to him at all, not even about work-related topics. He’d brush her off and say she should send an email, which he usually ignored. His attitude only became worse when Maria started showing.
“Congratulations!” Amy from accounting took Maria’s hand. “I didn’t realize you were married. When—”
“The Johnson proposal needs to be finished today.” Allen appeared out of nowhere and hustled Maria back to her office.
“I wasn’t going to say anything about us,” Maria muttered to him.
“The office is a place for work, not small talk!” Allen snapped as his face turned blood red.
Allen did nothing to lighten Maria’s workload as her due date approached. Instead, he piled on work and often made snide comments about how she’d brought this on herself. Maria often went home in tears, but still, she hesitated to tell Lucas about her pregnancy.
One day, Allen burst into her office to complain about the latest proposal she’d worked on. A sharp pain started in Maria’s lower back while he shouted at her. He ordered her to do the work again and was leaving the room when Maria’s water broke.
“The baby’s coming!”
Maria was rushed to the hospital. After a short but intense labor, she gave birth to a healthy boy, who she named Riley. Although she’d toyed with the idea of giving the baby up for adoption, one look at Riley’s sweet face vanished the thought from her mind.
Maria brought Riley home a few days later. She’d been granted six months’ maternity leave, so she had plenty of time to bond with her baby and catch up on what Lucas was up to via his social media accounts.
The following Monday, Maria got a nasty shock. Her company called to tell her that she’d been fired! She’d never reworked the proposal Allen was shouting at her about when she went into labor, so he’d fired her for poor performance.
Maria burst into tears. She was sobbing so heavily that she never noticed the man who’d entered her house.
“Mom?” Lucas rushed to Maria’s side. “Why are you crying, Mom? What’s wrong?”
“Lucas! What are you doing here?” Maria looked up at him in shock.
“I came for a surprise visit.” Lucas’s eyes grew wider and wider as he noticed the baby in his mother’s arms and the baby items in the room.
“It seems like I’m the one getting a surprise, though. Whose baby is this?”
Lucas’s chest tightened with rage while Maria told him everything that had happened to her. His blood was boiling when she finished, and his hands were curled into fists
“It’s illegal to fire you when you’re on maternity leave,” he said. “By the time I’m finished with them, that jerk boss of yours will never be able to get another job.”
“You’re scared your dirty little secret will come out. A judge will find this very interesting when I take you to court.”
“Lucas, don’t.” Mom hung her head. “I couldn’t live with the scandal this will cause.”
“I won’t let him get away with treating you like this, Mom. Besides, I’m a big brother now. It’s my job to protect that little guy.” Lucas hugged his mother tightly and kissed his brother’s forehead. “But I promise I’ll be discrete. Just leave everything to me.”
Lucas walked up the steps to the company his mother had worked for with a heavy heart. He felt enormous guilt that she’d chosen to shoulder these burdens alone instead of contacting him. He was also disgusted by the way she’d been treated.
“You’re about to get the surprise of your life, Allen,” Lucas muttered as he entered the elevator.
An hour later, Lucas sat alone in the back of a boardroom. Every seat at the conference table in the center of the room was occupied by shareholders and top company executives, except one.
All eyes turned to Allen when he entered the room. He apologized for being late and seemed confused when everyone continued to stare at him.
“Is something wrong?” Allen asked as he took his seat.
“Take a look at the documents in front of you, Mr. Walsh,” the company CEO said.
“You’ve been accused of illegal job termination.”
“What?” Allen blanched as he looked through the documents. “This is a lie! I fired that woman because she was lazy and sloppy. Her getting knocked up had nothing to do with it.”
Lucas cleared his throat and stood. “I beg to differ, Mr. Walsh.”
Lucas couldn’t keep the smile off his face as he watched Allen squirm while he introduced himself and listed his credentials. He recited the law for the entire room, then demanded that Mom be reinstated in her old job and compensated for emotional distress.
“No way.” Allen shook his head. “She didn’t perform her job, and that’s why she was fired. The rest of this is irrelevant.”
“Is it not true that she failed to complete her work because she went into labor? Likely due to the stress caused by you shouting at her, Mr. Walsh?”
“Now hang on a second—”
“And is it not true that she wouldn’t have fallen pregnant if you hadn’t had an affair with her?”
A collective gasp traveled around the boardroom. Allen’s face turned bright red.
“Not only are you guilty of illegal termination, you’re also guilty of gross misconduct. That’s the real reason you want to fire my mother, isn’t it? You’re scared your dirty little secret will come out. A judge will find this very interesting when I take you to court.”
Allen hung his head. He didn’t say anything more, and he didn’t need to. The guilt was written across his face for all to see.
Allen was fired that same day. Maria was not only reinstated but promoted to Allen’s position after the company directors learned how much of Allen’s work was completed by her.
Lucas celebrated with Mom and baby Riley. He decided to move back to town to be closer to his family and commute to the city when it was necessary.
What can we learn from this story?
A loving family will always have your back. Although Lucas and Maria hadn’t spoken much recently, he was ready to champion her when he discovered she needed help.
Always stand up for what’s right. Every act of kindness and every moment we fight for justice contributes to making the world a better place for everyone to live in.
Share this story with your friends. It might brighten their day and inspire them.