“No, I’m just here for the cheese balls.”
As I pour coffee for Stanton and Jake, there’s another knock at the door—this time it’s Brent.
He walks into my living room, and though I already suspect the answer, I ask anyway. “What are you doing here so early?”
“It’s Sunday,” he explains, like he’s stating the obvious. “Cheese balls.”
And this is how traditions become traditions.
We sit around the table, finishing breakfast, when Stanton tosses a roll in the air for Sherman to catch. “Your dog’s getting kind of fat, Soph.”
I rub Sherman’s back and come to his defense. “He’s not fat! He’s just . . . big boned.”
Brent cocks his head appraisingly. “I don’t know, I think Stanton has a point. You may want to up his exercise regimen. You don’t want the other dogs at the park bullying him—calling him Fatty McChub-Chub.”
I frown at them both. “I have a dog walker come by three times a day.”
Jake chimes in. “I don’t think you’re paying her enough.”
Men are harshly straightforward. Mean, even. In a courtroom, these three guys are capable of being the epitome of tact and charisma. But among friends—they’re sledgehammers. Maybe it’s because I grew up with brothers, maybe their thought process rubbed off on me, but there’s something about that honesty that’s appealing. Comfortingly simple.
It’s that XY chromosomal directness that brings on Stanton’s next comment. “Did anyone else notice that dipshit Amsterdam staring at Sofia’s ass at the softball game yesterday?”
“I did,” Jake says, raising his hand.
“Like it had the cure for cancer written on it,” Brent adds.
Richard Amsterdam is a contract attorney from Daily & Essex, another notable firm whose team we played—and beat—yesterday. He’s in his late thirties, successful, attractive, and has a reputation for fucking anything with a pulse.
“Must’ve liked what he saw.” I stand, bringing the dirty plates to the sink. “He asked me out after the game. Dinner and a show.”
“Ah.” Brent nods. “Dinner and a show—classic code words for ‘alcohol and an orgasm.’ ”
“I don’t like Dick,” Jake says, chewing on the last cheese roll. “He goes through secretaries like I go through condoms—can’t trust a guy with such a high turnover rate in this economy. Something’s not right there.”
“What’d you tell him?” Stanton asks, frowning at me.
“That I was too busy. Which I am, golf lessons notwithstanding.”
His eyes brighten. “Oh . . . good.”
I can take the direct approach, too. “Why is that good, exactly?”
The corner of his mouth pulls up into a bashful, lopsided grin. It makes me warm and tingly in all the right places. “You can do better, Soph.”
Wednesday morning, I’m in the US Attorney’s Office, engaging in the rudimentary but exciting behind-the-scenes activity that prevents the court system from grinding to a screeching fucking halt: negotiating the plea deal. It’s a common, everyday responsibility—but where the exciting comes in is the thrill of bargaining. I know my client is guilty, the prosecutor knows it too, but it’s my job to convince them to take the easy win—that the time and money saved by the taxpayer is worth the lesser charge and reduced sentence.
I follow Angela Cassello, a short, red-haired firecracker of an Assistant US Attorney, down the bustling hallway. “He connects people with the same interests, people looking for specific physical attributes in a partner, who don’t have the time to vet a potential companion,” I explain.
Diplomacy at its finest. Also known as a crock of shit.
“He’s a pimp,” Angela argues. “Just because he’s rich doesn’t make him any less of a pimp.”
“He’s a matchmaker.”
“Ha!” she counters, not slowing her brisk pace. “And next you’ll be telling me drug dealers are pharmacists.”
That’s actually not bad—I may use that in the future.
“Look.” I lean against the wall, forcing Angela to stop beside me. “He doesn’t work with underage girls, he doesn’t cross state lines, there’s no claims of abuse. This is a guppy, Angela—a harmless, victimless fish. You’ve got sharks to fry. If this were Nevada there wouldn’t even be a charge.”