Much like with touchdown-scoring NFL players, excessive celebration in the courtroom is frowned upon, so Stanton and I restrain ourselves to glowing, congratulatory smiles. But both of us know this is huge, a win that’s a stepping stone to the kind of notoriety enjoyed by Cochran, Allred, Geragos, Abramson, and Dershowitz—the League of Everybody Knows Your Name.
Montgomery thanks Stanton with a handshake, yet manages to make even his gratitude sound supercilious. He turns to me with open arms—expecting a hug of course.
Because I have a vagina.
And like so many, he functions under the belief that penises shake hands, vaginas hug.
Not this one, buddy.
I extend an unyielding arm, which makes my point and keeps him out of my personal space. He settles for the handshake, but adds a leering wink.
And the hot shower beckons louder.
When we step outside the courthouse, reporters are waiting. Local, not national. Not yet. Like I said, stepping stone.
Stanton, being first chair, fields the questions with a well-practiced mixture of charm and egotism—lawyers don’t do modest. But he gives me my due, referring to “our” defense, mentioning how “we” were confident of the outcome from the very beginning, highlighting our firm like a good little soldier, and stressing that every client of Adams & Williamson would receive equally stellar representation.
While he speaks, I take a moment to admire him—because he’s so easy to admire. His jade eyes glitter with excitement and afternoon sun, framed by dense, surprisingly dark lashes that women would kill to have. A few rebel strands of thick, golden hair—Robert Redford, Legal Eagles kind of hair—fall over his intelligent brow. A Roman nose and high cheekbones give him a strong, noble look, but Stanton Shaw’s all man—not a hint of pretty boy here. I think my favorite part is his jaw. It’s porn worthy. Rugged and square with the perfect amount of scratchy, blond stubble to conjure images of sexy late mornings and warm beds.
He stands at six foot two—just four inches taller than I am—and his long legs and broad torso are a tailor’s dream. It’s the kind of body that was made to wear a suit. His voice is deep, a melodic baritone with the barest hint of southern lilt that during cross-examination can slash like a scalpel or mesmerize with the comfort of a bedtime storyteller. But it’s his smile that draws you in, that disarms. Expert lips that make you want to laugh when they do or provoke the dirtiest of thoughts when they slide into that lazy, lopsided smirk.
The smirk and I are well acquainted.
“. . . isn’t that right, Ms. Santos?” he asks, and the reporters’ gazes fall to me expectantly.
Shit. I have no idea what he’s asking. I was too busy staring at the jawline—damn you, jaw—remembering how its bristles scraped my inner thigh, making me purr with the satisfaction of a feline enjoying her favorite scratching post.
But I recover smoothly. “Absolutely. I couldn’t agree more.”
The reporters thank us, and while our client climbs into his chauffeured car, Stanton and I decide to walk the few blocks back to the office.
“Where’d you go back there? You zoned out,” he says with a ring of amusement that tells me he’s already guessed.
“I’ll give you detailed instructions later on,” I reply as Stanton opens the door to our building for me.
Abrams & Williamson is one of the oldest law firms in DC. The building itself is only ten stories, adhering to the Height of Buildings Act of 1910, which prohibited construction of any new structures that would be taller than the Capitol dome, save for a few limited exceptions. But what the building lacks in stature it makes up for in historical grandeur. Polished mahogany gleams beneath overhead lighting, designed to highlight the handcrafted moldings that decorate every wall. A restored marble fireplace welcomes visitors with its perpetual light as they walk to the huge walnut receptionist’s desk.
The longtime receptionist, Vivian, is in her fifties, her flawless white suit and blond updo providing the perfect first impression of experienced elegance to all who enter.
She smiles warmly. “Congratulations to you both. Mr. Adams would like to see you in his office.”
News travels fast in DC, making high school gossip grapevines look as slow as dial-up Internet. So it’s no surprise that word of our win has already reached our boss’s desk. However, impressive win or not, Jonas Adams, founding partner of our firm and direct descendant of our second president, would never descend from his top-floor perch to offer congratulations.
He summons us to him.
On the elevator ride up, the same eager excitement bubbling inside me emanates from my colleague in crime. We’re immediately ushered into Jonas’s office, where he stands behind his desk, speedily sliding folders into a worn leather briefcase. His resemblance to his founding father ancestor is nothing short of uncanny—a bulging midsection accessorized by the gold chain of an antique pocket watch, round spectacles balanced on a pointy nose, and white tufts of hair combed over in an attempt to cover the bald crown of his head, which is as shiny as the hardwood floors we’re standing on.