“Your compassion for me is heartwarming. But I’ll tell you the same thing I told you three years ago. The last thing I need from a piece of shit like you is advice. Don’t be pissed just because some of the biggest names in town are coming to me for representation. The Genovese turnover was handled perfectly, and I haven’t heard any complaints from the Magianos so far.” His smugness was infuriating, if only for its stupidity. It was unbelievable that this level of self-destructive egotism came from someone with an Ivy League education.
“This isn’t a dick-measuring contest, Kent. This is about being smart. Fuck our history, forget your hatred for me for one humbling, intelligent moment. You need to get out. Before they take you out.”
Kent snorted, and then there was pure silence for one long, sobering moment. When he finally spoke, there was an equal level of sadness and disgust in his tone. “I don’t know if that’s even possible.”
Brad didn’t know if Kent was referring to his ability to forget their history, or his ability to quit his current clients. It was a moot distinction, because he was right on both counts. It probably wasn’t possible.
* * *
THE SECOND SHOE off, I crouched in my bare feet on the soft carpeting, my head tilted toward the door. My blistered ankles forgotten, I tried to understand what Broward was so angry about. This man speaking, the cold, scornful tone, wasn’t the Broward that I knew. And he had mentioned the Magianos as though he was working with them—or for them. I realized it had been a while since Broward had spoken, and I rose, suddenly panicked, and moved silently down to my office, settling in behind my desk and placing my heels on the floor. Then I leaned back in my chair, looking up at the ceiling and thinking.
The Magianos. It could be a different family. It was probably a common enough name, but in this town, that name translated to one thing: sleeping with the fishes. Broward, with his fastidious flossing, his perfect 2.5-kid family, was as far from a mob attorney as I could ever imagine. Must be a different client, or I had misheard the conversation. I pushed aside my fears and sat up, unlocking my computer and diving back into work.
* * *
SINCE IT WAS the last week of interning, the eight of us decided to grab lunch together on Tuesday. Broward had left at ten that morning, stopping briefly in my office on the way out. His face had been hard, no reason offered for his departure, and I had nodded meekly and returned to my work, waiting for the sound of the wing doors to close. Then I had stood, trotting down the hall to his secretary Sheila’s desk.
“Mr. Broward just left, but he didn’t say how long he’d be gone. Do you know when he’ll be back?”
She turned, her face scrunched, an expression that amplified all of her wrinkles. “Julia. I don’t know where he headed. He had me clear all of his afternoon appointments. Why? Do you have a question regarding one of the files?”
I blushed. “No, just wondering if I could join the other interns for lunch. We were going to run up to the Chinese restaurant up the block.”
She smiled. “I don’t think he’s coming back until this afternoon. You go on and have a good time.”
I shot her a grateful smile. “Thanks.”
“Oh, and, Julia?”
Something in her tone made my stomach clench. “Yes?” I asked casually.
“I want to apologize. I was a little cold to you when you started, but you have been an excellent addition to our team. I was wrong to judge you, and I’m very excited about you staying on.” She smiled brightly at me and I somehow managed to nod in response.
“Thank you, Sheila. I appreciate the opportunity.” I fled her office before she had a chance to say anything else, moving quickly to my desk and sinking into my chair. Getting accolades for not living up to her expectations felt a little sour when I had gone exactly where she had hoped I wouldn’t. Flat on my back, underneath Brad De Luca’s gorgeous, sinful body.
* * *
LATE THAT AFTERNOON, I worked in my office, typing up corporate documents at a furious rate. I wanted to leave relatively early, if at all possible. The girls and I were going out for drinks at nine, and in the interest of keeping their friendship, I really wanted to be on time. Finally, I reached a stopping point and stood.
Broward had returned around three, walking straight to his office and closing the door. After a lunch out, I didn’t really have grounds to ask for an early night. But there was a chance he wasn’t aware of my lunch. I shifted on the soft carpet, trying to get up the courage to go into his office.
That ended my internal debate. I stepped quickly out into the hall and into his doorway.
“Will you tell Sheila to dismiss the staff at seven?”
“Today?” A stupid question, but this was so far out of normal behavior that I was confused. Talk about good luck.
“Yes, Julia. Tonight.” He gave me a pointed look, his face irritable, and I hesitated before speaking.
“Just the support staff, or the paralegals also?”
He waved his hand in the air dismissively. “Everyone. The whole wing. She’ll know what to do.”
“Certainly. Is there anything you need me to take care of before then?” I shifted my weight, knowing that I should get the hell out of there before he changed his mind.
“Your normal duties. Just tell Sheila.” Irritability was definitely in his voice now. Great.
He grunted in response, and I fled his office, doing a little dance when I reached the privacy of my own. I reached for the phone and dialed Sheila’s extension.
* * *
AT 8:05 P.M. I leaned against the linoleum counter in my kitchen and rolled my eyes at my roommate. “I don’t give a damn if she was a bad lay—you don’t abandon a chick and then expect Zach and me to babysit her all day.”
“I would’ve given a bad lay a ride, Jules. This girl was crazy! She was talking wedding plans!” He pounded his fist on the counter to emphasize his point, and a spoon bounced off the counter and landed on the dirty floor just as my phone began to ring.
Through a mouthful of chips, I answered on the fourth ring.
“Yes?” I said playfully.
“Nice to talk to you, too,” Brad’s smooth, sexy drawl sounded through the phone.
I grinned, the motion carrying through my tone. “Don’t give me that. I’m in the middle of something very important.”
He chuckled. “Likely. Are you at the office?”