Off Limits(8)

By: Lola Darling

I’m not the biggest social person around. And I have to focus on my career right now. Especially with so much happening for me.

“So much worse.” I pull out the Ben and Jerry’s with a triumphant hah, and kick the fridge door shut with one stockinged foot. “You remember that one creep I told you about? The one who’s slept with like, half the office at this point?”

“Ben the slutty intern?”

I laugh. “No, he’s long gone. The other one. Max Davis. The one who’s Stuyvesant’s chosen favorite, gets first pick on all the best cases usually?”

“Not ringing a bell, sorry Chlo. I can’t always keep your work frenemies straight, you know, when they change every other week.”

I pull open a drawer and fish out a spoon. “No, you remember this one. He asked me out one time, for a beer after work? Right after I heard from Martha that he’s dating Melanie what’s her name from rights management?”

“Ohhhh, God, that guy? Ugh, yes, I remember. There’s dipping your pen in the company ink, and then there’s trying to double dip.”

“Talk about shitting where you eat,” I agree as I stab my spoon heartily into the ice cream container. Screw bowls. Again, it’s not like there’s anyone else here for me to impress or offend. “Anyway, they’re putting me on a new case. Big, high-profile one.”

“That sounds like good news?” Heather says, and I hear the tentative note in her voice as she waits for the But.

“I’m paired with him on it.” I scoop out a healthy serving, and stuff a mouthful onto my tongue as Heather makes all kinds of indignant groaning noises on the other end of the line. The vanilla and fudge flavors melt together on my tongue, somewhat ameliorating my terrible mood. However, I probably took too big a bite, because the cold starts to pool against the roof of my mouth and sends tendrils of pain shooting into my forehead.

Ugh. Brain freeze.

I keep eating the ice cream anyway, wincing as I do.

“How much say are you going to have? I mean . . . okay, so he’s a manwhore and a bit of a creep. But you said he’s Stuyvesant’s favorite, right? Kind of like how you’re Paul’s fave? So maybe he’s a good lawyer, even if he’s a shitty person. You can stick it out for one case, right?”

Trust Heather to always look on the bright side. She has a point, though. For as notoriously judgmental, aggressive and condescending as Anthony Stuyvesant is, any protégé of his must at least be competent in the courtroom. “True. It’s just . . . ugh, this is going to be a long one, I can already feel it. I spent all afternoon buried in the files. I’m just not loving the fact that not only will I have to work overtime and weekends for yet another month, I’ll have to do most of it with someone I don’t like.”

“For a month? Really?” There’s a new note in Heather’s voice now. Hurt.

I blink a few times. Shit. What have I forgotten now? “Yes, probably. I mean, I’m just guessing. I guess it depends on how the case goes. Why?”

Her voice goes small and quiet. “Did you forget about our plans on the twentieth?”

I chew on the corner of my lip, even as I whip my Blackberry from my purse. “Of course I didn’t forget,” I say, speaking slowly to stall for time as I scroll frantically through my calendar.

“I know that voice, Chloe MacIntyre,” Heather snaps. “That’s the I’m double-checking right now voice.”

“It is not!” I protest. Aha. Twentieth to the twenty-first. Shit. Weekend away at the spa Heather found a coupon for. It was supposed to be our impromptu girl retreat. Nails, hair, massages, facials, the works. Plus, they have a Jacuzzi thing with all these salt crystals or something that was supposed to feel like heaven floating around in. “I was really looking forward to the spa weekend. I mean, I am really looking forward to it, assuming I can finish enough of the case by then to—”

“Ugh. Forget it. Why do I even bother, Chlo? Honestly. It’s like being friends with a robot. No, not even a robot—I’m pretty sure even robots power down for a couple hours at a time. Do you even remember the last time we had a conversation in person, face-to-face?”

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