Breaching the Contract

By: Chantal Fernando

chapter 1

I TRY NOT TO LET my nerves show on the outside, but the truth is, I’m a little intimidated right now.

Okay, more than a little.

A hell of a lot.

But this is what I want to do, and I need to make it happen. Failure is not an option, nor is showing any weakness.

Jaxon Bentley is one of the top criminal lawyers in the country, and luck was on my side when he hired me as an associate at his firm. Others would kill to be in my place now. Getting an associate position at Bentley & Channing—one of the best law firms around—is a highly coveted job among my peers. They’ve actually never hired an associate directly out of law school before, so when this opportunity came up, everyone applied. I’m still not sure how I landed it. I mean, I know I’m smart, and hardworking, but there was some seriously stiff competition for this position. I run my fingers down my beige pencil skirt and shift on my feet. I hope I look the part. My block heels are already hurting my feet, even though I thought they’d be the safest option. I know there are no rules that say women have to wear high heels with their business attire, but the receptionist is in a pair higher than I could ever dream of walking in, so I’m glad I went with mine over the practical flats I was longingly eyeing this morning.

“Katerina Dawson,” Jaxon says as he enters the conference room, offering me his hand. “Nice to see you again. Congratulations on graduation! I remember what it felt like to finally finish law school.”

He’s handsome, with his gray eyes, dark hair, and stubble, not to mention his charming smile, but he’s not really my type. He exudes confidence and power, and one day I’d love to give off the same vibes.

“Nice to see you too, Mr. Bentley,” I say quickly, offering him a warm smile. “Thank you again for choosing me for this position. I can’t tell you how excited I am to be working with you.”

Mr. Bentley smiles. “Top of your class and editor of the law review, it would’ve been stupid of me not to choose you. And I’m sure as you’ve heard, Katerina, I don’t make stupid decisions.”

I try to hide my smile at that, and wish I could say the same. “Yes, of course. And please, call me Kat.”

No one calls me Katerina except for my father, and usually only when I’m in trouble.

“Kat,” he says, as if testing the name on his tongue. “Call me Jaxon. I hope you’re ready. This job won’t be easy, and it’ll test all your limits and everything you’ve studied over the last few years, but going by who you are on paper, I think you’ll be able to handle it.” He hands me a file. “This is the Curtis case, one I’ve agreed to take on. I want you to learn everything about it from top to bottom, because this case is going to be your baby, and you’re going to help me win it.”

“No pressure then,” I joke, unable to stop myself. He’s handing over a case to me? I just finished taking the bar exam and now I’m being given a case. Holy crap. It’s surreal and both exciting and scary. This is everything I’ve been preparing for, and my first chance to prove myself outside a student setting. This is not something I’m going to fail at. He couldn’t have said it better—this case is going to be my baby. And I’d never fail one of my babies. If I had any. Okay, going off topic now.

“You’ll learn to use the pressure and thrive off it. No pressure, no diamonds, right?” he says, lips twitching.

His lip twitches as he guides me down the hall and gestures to the door. “This is my office.” He keeps walking, and I follow him to the door next to his, which he opens, displaying an empty office. “And this will be yours. I’m here if you need anything, and my door is always open to you. Or you can always call me by pressing two on the phone. I know we discussed this during the interview process, but as a reminder, we do things a little differently here. You won’t have a secretary, so you’re responsible for drafting your own briefs and correspondence. However, Yvonne, our office secretary, can help you with things that are urgent. We also have an intern, Callum, who can help with any legal research you may need. This may seem like a lot of work, but for now you’ll be working on my cases with me, and at the moment I have only a few clients, since they’re high-profile.”