Sofia sticks another note in my face.
Get a grip!!! Make a plan!! State your points or you’ll lose her.
It’s the last words that slap me in the face—right on point. I scrub my hand over my face and breathe deeply, feeling like I’ve run a marathon.
Jenny’s voice is cold as ice. “I have to go to work. We’ll discuss this later.”
“I’m coming home, Jenn,” I tell her.
She turns panicky. And I can almost see her flailing her arms, the way she does when she’s upset. “No! No, Stanton—you stay in DC and just . . . cool off. I’m workin’ twelve on, twelve off for the next three days. I won’t have any time to see you . . .”
“I’ll be home tomorrow,” I insist. “That gives you twenty-four hours to tell James Dean you’ve made a terrible mistake.”
“Or what?” she challenges.
“Or I’ll kill him,” I tell her simply. “I swear on Jesus, either break it off or you’ll spend your weddin’ night with a goddamn corpse.”
“Necrophilia is so 1987,” Brent comments.
And Jenny hangs up on me.
I slam the phone down and fall into my chair.
“Shit.” I push a hand through my hair. “Motherfucking shit! My girl . . . my girl’s gettin’ married.”
It’s only then, when I say the words calmly and aloud, that they sting. But before the pain rises, Sofia makes a disgusted sound in the back of her throat.
“What in God’s name was that?” she asks with derision.
“That was the Iceman melting,” Jake answers.
She ignores him, stepping closer, arms folded, eyes hard. “You are a criminal defense attorney, Stanton. A professional arguer. And that was the most pathetic display of arguing I’ve ever seen.”
“This isn’t a case, Sofia! This is my fuckin’ life.”
She spreads her arms. “The whole world is a court case . . . and we’re all . . . defendants.”
Brent squints. “I don’t think you’re using that quote correctly.”
“Did you really think calling her up and yelling at her would score you any points? If anything, you just set yourself back. If you called me stupid, I’d tell you to go fuck yourself.”
“I don’t know what I was thinkin’, okay!” And with more scorn than I intend, I throw out, “And Jenny’s not like you.”
But Sofia’s not perturbed. “Obviously she’s a little like me, since she hung up on your sorry ass. But the question you have to ask yourself is—what are you going to do about it?”
She’s right. I have to get out in front of this—make my case, hold my claim, get my shit together. I have to talk to Jenny—better this time—and convince her not to get married. And I can’t do that from Washington, DC.
“I have to go home. I have to see her—face-to-face. Find out what the hell’s been going on. I have to fix this.”
Sofia puts her hand on my shoulder. “Take it one step at a time—build your case. Win her over to your side. Be charming. Be . . . you.”
I stand up. “I’m going to human resources, to get time off.” I look at the three of them. “You’ll cover for me?”
Before I step out through the door, Sofia’s voice stops me. “Stanton.”
I turn back. Her eyes are encouraging, but her smile seems . . . forced. “Good luck.”
I nod. And without another second of hesitation, I get ready to go home.
I haven’t lifted my head from my laptop since I walked through the door. My heels lie discarded beside the entrance, my damp beige trench coat is strewn across the floral armchair where I tossed it, my umbrella is propped in the corner, dripping. Sherman’s stretched out in front of the picture window, his big browns eyeing the raindrops that pour down the window pane. Elton’s Greatest Hits 1970–2002 has been playing as I draft one motion to suppress evidence, another asking for change of venue, and still a third—a response to the district attorney’s attempt to charge my seventeen-year-old client, the son of an esteemed lobbyist, as an adult for drug possession with intent to sell.
The back of my neck aches as I roll my head, trying to loosen the protesting muscles. I set the computer on the couch cushion beside me and rub my shoulders as Elton croons “I Want Love.”
And it’s then I finally let myself think about all the things I was using work to avoid.