“And then she was like ‘you’re my competition,’ and I’m pretty sure she called me an airhead at some point,” Tia ranted angrily. She sighed, pinching the bridge of her nose. “Sorry. I kind of went off on you there.”
“No, it’s cool,” I chuckled easily. “Although, I was pretty sure you weren’t going to like it there very much.”
She frowned at my comment, confused. “What would make you say that?”
“My ex works there. I think you had the pleasure of meeting her.”
“Who is it?” she gasped.
Tia shot me an incredulous look of disbelief. “No,” she stated. “No, I don’t think so.”
“Are you telling me who I did and didn’t date?”
“I just… You two don’t…”
“Match,” she answered. “She’s so competitive and… Well, mean. You seem way too nice to ever date a woman like that.”
I shrugged my shoulders, smirking. “Yeah, well, the heart wants what the heart wants. We dated for about two years.”
“I don’t believe you.”
I laughed, pleased by her adamancy.
“How did you two meet?” she asked, taking a sip of her red wine. It’s a cheap bottle of Montoya Cabernet, but she seemed to be enjoying it. I didn’t want to kill her buzz, either, so I drank it in silence.
“We fought a case together. Well, against each other,” I explained. I reminisced momentarily of the first time I fought Eliza in court. The client she was representing was a real asshole, but just because a person’s an ass, doesn’t mean they don’t deserve legal representation to keep their butts out of jail.
“You’re a lawyer?” she gawked.
“Did I not mention that?”
“No.” She pressed her pretty lips into a thin line, suddenly clamming up a bit. “Where do you work?”
“I’m a senior associate with my father’s firm. Maybe you’ve heard of it? Peterson Holt & Tult? Terrance Peterson’s my father.”
Tia’s jaw fell open as she slammed her hands down on the table, rattling the cutlery and glasses on its surface. “No freaking way,” she gasped. “Are you serious? That’s one of the top law firms in the city!”
Tia slumped back into her seat. “Why didn’t you just tell me that?”
“I didn’t want you to think any less of me,” I admitted. “All my life, people sort of judge me because of who my family is and the wealth that they have. I worry that most people assume I get everything in life without working for it. I wanted you to get to know who I was first, I guess.”
I didn’t know why I was telling her this. It was just super easy to talk to her. And the way she watched me intently let me know that she was actually listening. Not like Eliza, who used to nod along. She heard me, but she never listened. Maybe that was the difference. Maybe that was why it was so easy to open up to Tia, even if we had only known each other a day. She seemed genuine and bright. She was ambitious, yes, but she was kind and sweet in a way Eliza never had been. Eliza was always looking for another stepping-stone, another situation she could take advantage of to improve her own status.
“I guess that’s fair,” she finally said. Her voice was soft, gentle.
I sat back, leaning against the chair. “Tell you what,” I started.
“Why don’t you come work for me?”
Tia laughed, bright and bubbly. It was music to my ears.
“What?” she giggled. “First you let me live with you, and now you want me to work for you?”
“I’m serious,” I chuckled. “I always say that first impressions are first impressions for a reason. If your first day at Richardson & Sachs was shitty, who’s to say it’s not going to stay shitty?”
“Is that why you greeted me in your bath towel?” she quipped. “First impressions?”
I smiled, lips stretched ear to ear. “That was an accident,” I lied. “You caught me in the middle of a shower.”
“Oh, sure. I believe you.”
She clearly didn’t believe me.
“My firm offers very competitive salaries.”
Tia picked at her nails nervously, a little tick that I had started to notice. I found it cute how fidgety she was when she was unsure.
“I’m sure today was an off day,” she reasoned. “Who starts work on a Thursday?”
“We also have an onsite gym and great health and dental benefits.”
“You and your sister are way too generous, you know that?”
“Don’t be so proud. I’m sure you’d be great with my father’s firm.”
“I can’t accept any more handouts,” she mumbled, her expression falling slightly. My heart twisted in my chest, unsettled by how upset she had suddenly become. “It wouldn’t look good for me to up and leave after a day working there. I don’t want that affecting my career.”
Ah, there it was again. Career, career, career. Molly really had been right about this woman.
I laced my fingers together and placed them on the table, leaning in to capture her attention once more. “How about this?” I started. “If your second day is as bad as your first, then come and work for me. Maybe you’re right. Maybe today was an off day for them. But if not, we’ve got a junior associate position open and waiting for you.”