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Associated Press, June 27, 2012

Estranged Wife gets almost half a Billion in Divorce Settlement

Yesterday the gavel fell in what many will call the Divorce Settlement of the Decade. Martina Bennington, wife of oil tycoon Frank Bennington, was awarded a $420 MILLION dollar settlement after a 13-month trial. Mrs. Bennington was awarded the large purse in part due to her sole custody of Bennington's three children, but also due to her "substantial contribution" to his wealth accumulation. It is unknown how Mrs. Bennington who was living on a teacher's salary prior to marrying, had substantially contributed to Mr. Bennington's wealth. This is just another feather in the cap of Brad De Luca, Mrs. Bennington's divorce attorney. This is the third $100M+ settlement this year for Mr. De Luca, a fact he has avoided in interviews. "Mrs. Bennington requests privacy at this point in her life, but is satisfied with the terms of the settlement," De Luca stated, in a press conference after the hearing.

Martina Bennington had been separated from her husband for the last 18 months of her marriage, and was rumored to be dating local businessman Richard Davis. The Bennington's were married a total of nine years.

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I didn't hear from Brad again after I hung up from him. The weekend passed uneventfully, me spending Saturday cleaning my room (oh joy), and Sunday working on photo scrapbooks with the girls. I wasn't really sure if Brad was mad at me, or if I was still supposed to be mad at him,. It had been a little childish of me to hang up on him, but I was fresh off Broward's admonishment, and seemed like the easiest thing to do. Monday was coming up, and I wondered if he still planned to take me to dinner. I also didn't know if I wanted to go. Well, I knew I wanted to go, but didn't know if I should go.

You can only screw with your mind for so long before it will just up and quit on you, walking out the door holding her middle finger up. I think I was close to that point. I knew what I should do in the Brad department. It was so freaking obvious and easy. Stay away from him. Old Julia would have not hesitated; she would have walked down that path and not looked back. New Julia really really wanted to tell Old Julia to go to hell.

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Monday I listened for my office phone to ring, hoping for De Luca's call. It didn't come, and I worked till 10pm in my silent and lonely office. Broward stayed late also, and we worked in and out of the conference room, all of the mediation prep files laid out on the big conference table, us passing each other silently in the halls. At 7:30, I stuck my head in his office and asked if he wanted me to order dinner.

"Yeah," he said, distracted by the document he was highlighting. "Have one of the couriers go get us something. Subs, if possible."

"What kind do you want?"

Silence, then "What?"

"What kind of sub do you want?"

"Oh. Uh, meatball on wheat. With provolone." I withdrew my head from his office and walked back to mine. I got on the phone and tracked down Jerome, our night security guard, the only person we had resembling a courier at that point in the night. I told him I'd call it in if he'd pick it up. I went ahead and got his order also, then called the local Jimmy Johns.

At 8pm, I heard the elevator ding and walked out to the lobby to meet Jerome. From behind the East Wing doors, I could hear voices and see lights. My brow furrowed. It was odd for anyone on their staff to work past 6 or 6:30. I helped Jerome by grabbing one of the bags, and he followed me to the conference room, where I had cleared off a section of the table. "Want to eat here with us?" I asked.

"No, I appreciate the offer, but I need to be back at my post." Jerome gave me a quick smile and held up one of the bags. "Thanks for the sandwich."

"Sure. Thanks for picking it up." I hesitated, wanting to ask what was going on in the East Wing, and who was still there. I refrained, and just sat down instead. I laid out the sandwiches, and went to the kitchen to get drinks. "Food's here!" I called out to Broward, who nodded and held up a finger.

I sat down in the conference room and unrolled my philly cheesesteak. Cracking open a Dr Pepper, I ate, enjoying the chance to relax. My neck was killing me, and I rolled it a few times, trying to get the kinks out. I heard Broward come in behind me, and I lifted my chin in greeting and pointed to his sub, which I had laid out on a plate with a napkin.

"Thanks Julia," he said, settling down and unwrapping the sub. I slid a Coke down the table to him.

"What do you normally do for dinner?" the words popped out before I thought them through. He looked up at me quizzically, sub in his mouth. "I mean, you always work so late - till at least eight, and it doesn't seem like you pack a dinner…"

He shrugged and wiped his mouth. "Claire - my wife, she makes a plate for me, keeps it in the fridge. I eat it when I get home. We've been married 12 years; she's used to my schedule."

"Do you always plan on working such long hours?"

He stared at me for a moment. I'm not sure if he was thinking or just staring, but finally he responded. "At the moment, I work to live. We are very cautious with our spending, and set aside ample amounts for retirement. In nine or ten years I plan on retiring, to either North Maine or the outskirts of Chicago."

I nodded, trying to think of something to say other than "BORING." "Sounds nice."

"We are really excited about it. Claire is a stay at home mom and when the kids graduate, then me and her are really looking forward to some one-on-one time, a chance to get to know each other more." Something I would have thought you would have done during the first 12 years of your marriage, but I'm not really the person who should be giving relationship advice.

"How long have you worked here?"

"Let's see now - eleven years. Been a partner for nine. I worked at another firm - Daly & Fountain before here - perhaps you've heard of them?"

I nodded even though their name drew a blank in my mind.

"I thought so. They are a big firm, though not as big as us."

"Why did you choose to come here?"

"Well, at the time it was just Clarke Law Firm, and I knew that a partnership opportunity was in the cards." I ate my sub quietly. The absolute last thing I wanted to do was have the conversation turn to Brad. Which, of course, it did next.

"I became partner after two years and considerable effort. Back then, it took more than large billings to gain partner status." His contemptible tone just asked for a response, but I stayed far away from the low hanging fruit and took another bite of cheese steak. The silence grew, and he finally continued unaided.

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