Unbreakable(10)

By: Emma Scott


He rocked impatiently in his work boots, his hands jammed in the front pocket of his jeans. I thought the conversation was over but he was still half-turned to me. Nothing wrong with small talk. Passes the time. A good excuse. Plausible. No objections. But the simple fact remained that I wanted to talk to him, to keep looking at his handsome face, and prove I could do so without melting into a puddle. I put on my jury-face, the one I wore when I didn’t want anyone to see how some bit of testimony landed on me.

“So what line of work are you in?” I asked.

“I’m in construction. A journeyman.” Cory said. “It’s sort of like an apprentice to a general contractor,” he said, answering my confused look. “You have to pile up a bunch of hours doing that first before you can become a contractor yourself.”

“Never heard that term before, journeyman,” I said. “Sounds rather exotic. Nomadic.”

“Yeah, well, it’s neither. Not unless you count driving to job sites nomadic.”

The line moved ahead by one person. I noticed that Cory and I were no longer standing tandem, but side-by-side.

“What exactly does a litigator do?” Cory asked. “Litigate…that’s argue, right?”

“Well, yes. I’m a trial attorney. I specialize in personal injury, and some medical malpractice when it relates to product liability.”

He scratched the light stubble on his cheek. “So if someone’s pacemaker blows, you’re there to win them some money?”

I bristled to hear my work spoken of in such black and white monetary terms, even if that’s what it often boiled down to. I straightened to my full height and still only came up to Cory’s chin. “Something like that.”

A shadow seemed to pass behind his eyes. “You don’t happen to do…what is it? Family law?”

“No, but there’s an attorney in my firm who does. Would you like his number?”

Cory looked as if he were about to say something, changed his mind, and said instead, “Nah. I’m good, thanks.”

The line inched forward and a silence fell between us, though Cory hadn’t resumed his spot ahead of me. For lack of something better to do, I checked my phone for any news from Abed. Nothing.

“No news is good news, right?” Cory said, watching me return the phone to my bag.

“Usually, though I’m hoping for some,” I said. “A short jury deliberation usually means a guilty verdict.”

“You’re in the middle of a trial right now?”

“Just finished closing arguments today.”

“And if they come back guilty, that would be good for you?”

“Yes,” I said. “Very good. It’s probably the most important case I’ve taken on, in terms of…uh, reward.” I waved the last word away. “Anyway. I’m expecting the call that says the jury is done deliberating.”

“Could come at any time, eh?”

“The sooner the better.”

“Well, if you get the call and have to bail, I’ll hold your place in line. It probably won’t have moved anyway.”

“Probably not.”

I smiled and he smiled back. The bank’s air conditioning was working overdrive against the Los Angeles summer heat, but I felt warm all over. And good. It felt nice to stand beside this handsome man and bask in his smile. I was in Business Mode for so many hours in the day, at work, at the Courthouse, even with the Posse—our talks often felt like sparring matches instead of friendly conversation. But now, it fell away like a stiffness loosening in my limbs. I did yoga four times a week to keep the stresses of my job from wrapping me tight and squeezing. Talking to Cory Bishop for all of five minutes had the exact same effect.

We stood in a comfortable silence, and I glanced here and there before venturing to make eye contact again. I caught him watching me, filling his eyes with me, and then he grinned and rubbed the back of his neck, sheepish and charming and beautiful.

“Hey, listen—” he stopped, froze, really, and whatever he had been about to say was lost forever. His eyes widened at something over my shoulder. I started to turn but he grabbed me, shoved me roughly behind him.