But to Brad’s surprise, Joseph merely rocked to the balls of his feet. His gaze didn’t waiver off the glass, and no amusement rumbled in his chest. “You know,” he answered with quiet reflection, “I didn’t used to know the difference between a bass, a crappie, or a trout, and I didn’t give a damn. Now, I can tell you what’s on the line by the way they bite. And I like knowing something that useless.”
Brad shot him a puzzled frown.
“I like it because it’s stupid and crazy and something an old wrinkled bastard would teach his grandkids.” He turned to Brad, leaning a shoulder on the thick glass pane, a wry smirk twisting the corner of his mouth. “I didn’t plan on learning it. I went fishing because Mandy asked, and I all I heard was another way to have her naked. I spent the whole damned second day throwing worms in the water, in the goddamned rain, while she read a book in the rental cabin. I caught the worst cold of my life and didn’t have sex for a full week.”
Brad covered his laughter with a cough. “Did you catch anything?”
Warm affection lit Joseph’s green eyes. “A bass, a bluegill, and a woman who made sure I had Kleenex, Vicks, and homemade chicken soup.” With a shake of his head, he chuckled again. “Ask me a year ago if I would have wanted to learn how to fish and I’d have told you I’d rather stab nails in my eyes. It’s the crazy, illogical things that have no explanation, but you can’t stop from doing, no matter how insensible they are.”
Like convincing Cassie to open up, even when he knew he shouldn’t. Brad flinched inwardly. God, he missed her.
Joseph set a reassuring hand on Brad’s shoulder. “Sometimes, you just…know.” He released him with a firm squeeze. “Now, back to why I dropped by. Randall invited you to the dinner party they’re throwing for Mandy and I, right? It’s tomorrow night at eight. Randall’s invited everyone to his house. You’ll be there?”
“Yeah.” Brad pulled himself from thoughts of Cassie and pushed away from the window. “I’ll be there.” He already had flight arrangements made. It would be a grueling day of travel, but he didn’t dare miss the reception.
“Got plans tonight? Mandy’s having some friends over from work. Want to drop by?”
Brad’s gaze dropped to his desk and the cell phone tucked beside his piled up, neglected work. The Cooper case aside, he had more important business to take care of. Things that didn’t make sense but threatened to pull him inside out if he didn’t do something. He wasn’t entirely sure what that something was, but he couldn’t go another day without hearing Cassie’s voice. “No,” he answered slowly. “I have a flight to catch. Court tomorrow.”
Everything inside Cassie trembled as Brad made his way down the courtroom aisle and seated himself at the table established for opposing counsel. She kept her gaze focused on the solitary paper in front of her nose, unable to look at him for fear she’d either erupt in fury or break down in shameful tears. One glance at that handsome face would be her eternal undoing. But she felt his approach as surely as if he touched her.
Stay focused. He walked out on you.
“All rise,” the bailiff announced.
Repeating the mantra in her mind gave her the ability to lift her head and rise on unsteady legs as the judge entered the courtroom. Brad cleared his throat and the sound ricocheted through her. She gripped the edge of the table and willed her knees not to give out. Until now, she’d thought ignoring his constant text messages and phone calls had been torture. Now, those attempts at contact were mere beestings compared to standing beside him, wanting to hate him every bit as much as she wanted to fall into his arms.
Judge Larker, a man who’d presided over a number of Cassie’s cases, motioned to the small gathering inside the courtroom. She’d pressed and pressed until he finally agreed to the sensitive nature of the hearing and barred everyone but counsel, Jennifer, and Anna from the proceedings. He gave Anna smile that added youth to his aging features before speaking.
“You may be seated.” As they all sank into their seats, his focus swung to Brad, drawing Cassie’s along with it. “Counselor you have voiced an extremely serious concern.”