He lifts his hands, weighing the options. “Let’s see . . . take Shaw’s money . . . or go home to the stunning wife who’s been sexting me all afternoon? No contest. I like you, man, but I’ll never like you that much.”
We hug briefly, slapping each other’s back, both pledging to do this again soon.
That’s when my cell phone chimes. I pick it up from the table, read the message, and curse.
As Drew retrieves his briefcase from under the table, I hold my phone out.
He laughs at me. “For your sake, I hope she’s as good with a stick as she claims.” He pauses, then grins. “But I guess you already know she is.”
With a final smack to my arm, he heads toward the door. “Later, man.”
“Give Kate my best,” I call after him. “And my card!”
He doesn’t turn around, doesn’t break his stride, but just raises his hand, with his middle finger extended loud and clear above his head.
There’s an energy in a courtroom just before a verdict is read, a static that crackles in the air. It’s a shared, breathless tension, the same the Romans must’ve felt at the Colosseum as they waited to see what direction Caesar would point his thumb. Your pulse pounds, your blood hums, and the adrenaline surges. It’s exciting.
As addictive as really fantastic sex. The kind that leaves you marked, sore, and exhausted—and you can’t wait to do all over again.
I always knew I wanted to be an attorney. As I was growing up, I watched shows like L.A. Law, where female litigators possessed rapier wits, wore stylish suits with impeccable hairstyles, and worked in glass and chrome offices in the sky.
Education was the highest priority for my parents, because they had had such limited access to it themselves. My mother left the poverty of her home village in Pará for the relative opulence of Rio de Janeiro when she was a young girl. But she escaped illiteracy only after meeting my father, who taught her to read when she was sixteen years old. Together, they emigrated to the United States and became the very definition of the American Dream—building a thriving business, rising through the ranks of the middle class to prosperous wealth. Keenly aware of the opportunities their hard work afforded their children, they impressed upon each of us—myself and three older brothers—that education was the key to unlocking all doors. It was a treasure that could never be stolen, the most durable safety net. It’s no accident that we each went on to pursue professional fields: my eldest brother, Victor, became a doctor; the next, Lucas, a CPA, and Tomás, just a year older than me, an engineer.
“Madam Forewoman, have you reached your verdict?”
Our client Pierce Montgomery’s simmering attention is blatantly not on the woman who’s about to announce his judgment, but instead trained squarely on my chest. It makes me feel dirty in an unenjoyable way.
There’s a nice hot shower in my future—to rinse off the sleaze.
“We have, Your Honor.”
Going in to criminal defense, I knew the high probability of having to work with scumbags like Montgomery, but that didn’t deter me. Because I was the youngest in my family, and the only daughter, they were highly protective. But instead of restricting me, that protective instinct drove my parents to make sure I was capable and prepared for whatever life may throw at me.
Opportunities, my father would say, have to be seized with both hands, because you never know if they’ll come again.
He’s the one who taught me to be fearless.
Opportunity is all he’s ever wanted for me. More than a husband or children, he wanted me to have the chance to go anywhere. Do anything.
Being raised in Chicago gave me an edge. It’s a beautiful city, but like all urban areas, it has its dangers. I learned early to move fast but stand my ground, to be on guard and generally distrust unfamiliar people until they prove otherwise.
In short, a leering, skeevy son of a senator like Pierce Montgomery doesn’t intimidate me. If he ever tried to touch me with more than his eyes, I could bring him to his knees with the turn of my wrist.
Simple as that.
“What say you?”
Here we go. Moment of truth.
From the corner of my eye I see Stanton’s broad shoulders rise ever so slightly as he inhales . . . and holds his breath.
Just like I do.
The forewoman rattles off the case number and the charges, and then she utters the magic words: “Not guilty.”
Hell to the yes! Whoot fucking whoot! Let the mental fist pumping commence!