Life evolves as two competing female litigators at the same law firm test both the depth and character of their personal and professional rivalry.
The fourth in the Evin and Elizabeth Series: 1. A Million Dollar Lady, 2. Evin’s Revenge, 3. Little Em And now 4, Lady Litigators
Disclaimers: These characters are entirely fictional and are not based on any real person’s life, living or otherwise. All characters are the sole possession of the author and the story may not be reproduced, posted or sold without the author’s consent.
Warning: These characters are fictional and don’t have allergies, heart attacks or choke to death unless the author deems it. In real life, it’s prudent to remember to never, ever, ever use any food against another person, particularly peppers. If you want your friends to have a “Holy Crap!” experience, take them to a Chili Cookoff. There are many humorous examples online of what transpires at those events.
Violence: Nobody dies.
Language: Blimey. It’s minimal. A little run-of-the-mill swearing.
Subtext: Yes, between two adult women. If you’re not old enough or if this type of fiction is illegal where you live, read no further.
Acknowledgments: For the Lady of the all consuming shadowed smile.
by b soiree
TEMPEST IN A TEAPOT
“Did you get the pepper taste out of your teapot?” Elizabeth’s sweet, young secretary Angela asked, looking up from the coffee urn in the employees’ coffee room. She and Elizabeth were the only two there at the moment.
Barely twenty-one, Angela was delighted to have acquired a job in a law office. The young woman filled her cup with coffee, ripped off the “February 14” from the day calendar on the shelf and watched Elizabeth take her tea pot out of a bag and place it on the counter.
Angela wadded the paper in her hand and tossed it in the trash. A smile creased her lips when she thought of the night before. Her current boyfriend had taken her to dinner at the local steak palace for Valentine’s Day. It had been fun. But now it was past.
“Yes. I ran it through the dishwasher several times.”
“You know what I don’t understand? It’s a complete puzzle to me,” the young lady carried her coffee to the table and sat down. Her young face oozed sincerity, “I mean, why would Ms. Sinclair do something like that? Evin’s so...so beautiful, and smart and talented and her voice is so...” Angela shivered, “captivating and everything. I mean, she’s so personable when she talks to any of us alone. And she tries to make everyone feel...well, special.” A dreamy, far away look crept across her face.
Oh, godfrey. Not Angela, too. Is there any female in this office immune to that blue-eyed demon’s charm? Elizabeth got out two tea bags and put them in the pot. She added hot water and put on the lid to let it steep. Except me, of course. I was able to turn that beauty down on her dinner invitation last night. After that kiss she sprang on me beforehand, too. And didn’t that just twist her knickers. Yes, things were moving right along according to Elizabeth’s master plan. So far, anyway.
“It must be her sense of humor, wouldn’t you say?” Angela questioned. She lifted a stirrer from a cupful on the table and listlessly stirred her coffee between sentences. “That must be what it is. You’re new and Ms. Sinclair’s trying to make you feel comfortable. Using humor, see? I mean, I know she’d never try to do you any real harm. Not Evin.”
“You don’t think so?”
“Gracious, no! Everybody knows she gets really demanding around
the office sometimes, but that’s part of being so gifted, don’t you see? I
mean, she has a reputation for being hard as nails, a cutthroat even.” She
looked up instantly, “And that’s a good thing.”
Large brown eyes gazed at Elizabeth. Angela ran a hand through her straight, shoulder-length brown hair. She gave her head a little toss to flick her hair back. “My boyfriend, uh, he’s pre- law, anyway, he says she’s really famous for being real aggressive and..and ruthless even. He says she’s, well, she’s one of the very best, most successful lawyers in the whole country. But I told him she was really sweet, one on one. I mean, Ms. Sinclair and I talked in the lady’s room one day and she was just as sweet and dear as can be.
“It’s an honor just to work for the same company even.” The girl put the end of the stirrer in her mouth and chewed a minute. “I think she’s just trying to make you feel at home. Don’t you think so?”
Pepper juice in my teapot to make me feel at home. “Riiiight,” Elizabeth replied. “Want some of these?” She rose, grabbed the box of sugar cubes nearby and passed them to her secretary, knowing the girl used them. Then from another sack she removed a cut-glass sugar bowl of lumps and put them on the table. She glanced at the clock before whisking the sugar cube box up and putting it into the cupboard. Almost time for the brunette to arrive.
The girl stirred the two sugar lumps she’d put in her coffee and smiled at Elizabeth. “You were such a lady, Ms. Montigue. Why, you didn’t appear all that bothered by the pepper juice. I mean, you didn’t even cough or spit much or anything.”
Elizabeth snickered. “Please, call me Elizabeth. I guess I’m just used to cooking with hot peppers. I love them.”
“Well, not in my tea. But, yes,” she looked over at the wide eyes of the young woman. “And I adore chili cookoffs. Some of those southern contests can burn a hole right through your... memory. They leave a lasting impression.”
“Gosh, Ms. Sinclair eats those peppers raw. Have you seen her? I mean, she bites right into them at lunch time and smacks her lips. Ewww. I can’t stand them. She says she likes the really, really hot ones. Gets her ready for court, she said. A fire-breathing dragon, she said. That was pretty funny. I’ve never liked hot peppers myself. I don’t see how she can do it.”
“She has many talents,” Elizabeth murmured. “Or she’s showing off.” Or she doesn’t really know hot, the small blonde mused to herself.
“I guess...I don’t know, you were really good about the pepper juice and everything. There are people that would have been really upset. I mean, pepper juice in their teapot. Course one can’t really do much about that now.”
Elizabeth smiled with satisfaction. “Why Sugar, of course you can. You fight fire with fire.” She heard a commotion from the elevator and knew the tall beauty was on her way. “Stars! Look at the time. Let’s get back.” Elizabeth grabbed her cat-shaped teapot, rose colored tea mug, and hustled her secretary back to their office.
A formidable prospect greeted the besieged when the raging torrent stormed from the elevator. The tall beauty glanced around the shrinking thrall, scouring the room for people to intimidate. Her Valentine’s Day had not gone anywhere near as well as she’d hoped.
Only a blip on the screen of life, she grumbled. Still, she could not rid her mind of the sight from dinner the night before. The small blonde had not only turned Evin’s dinner invitation down but was there at the same restaurant! And she was being fawned over by that amber-haired little...bimbo! So what if the bimbo was gorgeous and glamourous and ever so attentive. There are thousands of women like that out there. Thousands! Elizabeth probably found that one on some street corner.
Of course, her own last minute date was graciously endowed and well schooled in the art of satisfaction. Normally a more than delightful prospect. But she hadn’t nipped Evin’s lip like Elizabeth had. Good thing, it was already sore. A distinct and palpable feeling of dissatisfaction, however had fallen over the senior partner’s evening. Somehow life had seemed so..mundane somehow. It had lost its cachet!
And when she thought of that amber-haired woman’s swollen lip as she pawed Little Em, well, the feeling fomented into a raging torrent, she knew not why. But then, knowing why had never been that big on Evin’s list of ‘to do’s’. She preferred to swing with the moment.
“Tie that bloody shoe!” Evin demanded of a well-dressed young man working quietly at his desk. The man’s shoelace had not quite come undone, but it was loose. His hands instantly dropped to the offending item and he bent to adjust it. “We’re not running a whorehouse here, you know.”
“A whorehouse?” the man exclaimed, sitting upright with a jolt. Never in his wildest dreams would he consider that one of the most highly regarded law firms in the whole north might be considered a “whorehouse!” His eyes widened. “Uh, no ma’am,” he muttered. Then realizing that might be the wrong answer, he added, “Yes, ma’am.”
“Oh, don’t try to impinge on my good nature,” Evin growled, moving on.
Like the endless, squalid undertone of a far-off storm, the small blonde heard the voice heading toward the coffee room.
“Tall, dark and dangerous is in the building...,” she smiled to herself. “Let the games begin.” She moved out by Angela’s desk to go over the day’s schedule with her. That was one place that had a good view of what was happening. And Evin would have to pass by there to go to the coffee room.
Elizabeth threw a quick glance down toward Evin’s secretary. A wink was returned but quickly the blonde brought her innocuous looking green eyes back to her own area as the blue-eyed woman blew into view like a murky and sinister tempest.
“LIT....tle Em,” the tall brunette said with an implacable and imperious manner. “How was your meal last night?”
“Fabulous! Thank you for asking,” the blonde said, putting down her papers and stretching. She grabbed her mug and walked directly past the tall woman and into the coffee room, leaving the brunette standing by her secretary’s desk.
“Good morning, Angela. Don’t you look lovely this morning,” Evin purred, running a finger along the edge of the girl’s desk.
“Thank you,” Angela blushed.
Evin turned and followed Elizabeth into the small room, grabbing her own cup as she entered. She scanned the item with deliberate care as though she worked for the FBI, rinsing it in the sink and drying it carefully with a paper towel, patting it painstakingly and checking for any sticky substances before pouring her own cup of coffee.
Elizabeth, did much the same, glancing inside her tea cup even though she had just brought it with her from her office before she put it under the hot water. She carefully examined the metalic tea packet before ripping it open and adding a small bag of her favorite flavor of herbal tea.
She had her pot in her office. She’d need to brew a fresh cup here.
They were a cautious lot. Both smelled their beverages and put a finger in, drawing said fingers to their mouths to test them before proceeding.
Angela, Elizabeth’s sweet young secretary wandered in to join them, a coy smile of welcome sent Evin’s way. Evin winked. The girl casually poured a top-off in her cup of coffee and sat at the round table beside her boss, totally unaware she was really in the midst of a battlefield. Evin warily sipped her black coffee. Yes, it tasted fine. She sat on the other side of Elizabeth.
Both Evin and Angela reached for the sugar bowl of cubes at the same time. The secretary’s head turned quickly to Elizabeth when the small blonde put a hand under the table onto the girl’s knee and squeezed. What in God’s name was her boss doing?
Evin looked at them both querulously.
Elizabeth immediately jumped to her feet and stretched again. “Oh, I just feel marvelous today,” she preened. “Ever feel like that?”
Evin looked away, grumbling in disgust and Elizabeth immediately grabbed that opportunity to shake her head “no” to the secretary, who’s hand was on a sugar cube. The girl dropped the item back into the bowl as though it were hazardous waste.
Elizabeth casually sauntered to the door with her cup of tea in hand.
Evin watched her walk. The small blonde did have a cute tush. Evin made a face regarding Valentine’s Day and dumped two lumps into her cup. She normally added one, but decided she’d drown her troubles in sweets and made it two. She took a stirrer and stirred absently.
Elizabeth inhaled deeply of her tea’s scent, then sipped daintily from her cup. “I just love Valentine’s Day,” she purred. And cousin Gia did a fantastic job of acting like my besotted lover last night in front of Evin. That was fun.
“Humph,” Evin snorted.
“Come along, Angela,” the small blonde said to her secretary, green eyes watching Evin’s every move. “We have so much work to do. I’ll need to schedule more of the two assistants’ time to work on this Gardner and Edlestein case. Jacque said they were long time clients and the CEO’s a very good friend of Jerome’s. We don’t want to leave any stone unturned in our search for justice.”
Evin smirked in return, but didn’t let Elizabeth see her grin. That case is a flat-out loser. I’m surprised you haven’t figured that out yet. But then, maybe you aren’t as good as you think you are. She’d have felt sorry for the little blonde, if the maddening pixie hadn’t turned her down the night before. Ha! Serves her right. After all, NOBODY turned Evin down.
But the partners had added a comment when they’d assigned Elizabeth her case. “It will be good to have a ‘gentle hand’ on this one,” Jerome had said. Evin had scowled at them both at the time. But, knowing what she knew about the particulars, calling in a priest to give last rites might have been a better choice. She chuckled.
Evin was deep into preparations for the Beezis Synergetic Company, a firm she’d be going to trial with early in March. That was another of their longtime, important clients. And that particular trial would be a real feather in her cap. She had a very strong case. She could win big, really, really big, with it.
Angela bounded up and scurried after Elizabeth as the blonde headed back to her office.
“Gentle hand, my ass!” Evin said watching the departing pair, remembering Jerome’s words. “The pixie from hell! Ha! This is a legal office, hard ball for crap’s sake!” She turned back to the empty room, “That means war! Pure and unadulterated! It takes a warrior like me....” she brought her cup to her lips...
“Stop!” Elizabeth shouted from the doorway where she had hastily returned. “I can’t let you do that.”
“HA!” Evin spun in her chair, her cup frozen near her lips. She lowered the cup slowly. “What?” she asked suspiciously, her eyes narrowed.
“Don’t drink that!” Elizabeth said, a worried look on her face. “This is too childish! I can’t go through with it!”
Evin looked at the cup with a little smirk. The woman couldn’t go through with it, huh? Ha! I knew it all along. She can’t stand up under pressure! “You put something in my coffee? How?”
“My cousin’s pepper invention disguised as sugar cubes. Don’t drink it.” She pulled out the chair beside Evin. “It’s too hot for you.”
“Whoa! Excuse me? Too hot for me?” Evin chortled. “For me? The woman who bites peppers with her bare teeth and laps up the juice?” She warbled her eyebrows, letting Elizabeth know she might be speaking of other matters. Elizabeth ignored it. “I hardly think so,” Evin scoffed. She intended to rise to THAT challenge. She was a hot pepper eater, after all. A fire-breathing dragon.
“No.” Elizabeth sat down beside her. “Don’t do it, Evin. It’s too hot for you...for anyone.”
Evin put the cup down, dipped a long finger inside and slowly stirred until her finger dripped with coffee. Suggestively she waggled her brows again as she opened her mouth, tilted her head back and let it drip provocatively onto her long, erotically outstretched tongue.
Suddenly her throat and mouth became ragingly hot, as did her nose. She could barely breathe. Her mouth was bathed in what felt like liquid fire. She hopped in two mammoth steps to the sink, knocking over two chairs on the way, and began to spit into the sink, gasping for breath. She tried to get sips of water from her hand under the sink spout, but ended lowering her head awkwardly and drinking directly from the tap.
“Oly ap!” she exclaimed again, trying not to move her tongue as the cool water poured over it.
“I warned you,” Elizabeth said, sitting calmly at the table watching.
“You all right?” a worried face at the door asked. It was Evin’s secretary, Mildred, who stood with clasped hands. “Should I get you something?” Behind her stood several worried looking people from the outer office who had heard the commotion.
Elizabeth jumped up, “Quick, does anyone know the Heimlich maneuver?” Her face was etched with grave concern although she was finding it hard not to laugh. Two of the paralegals stepped forward into the room to help Evin.
“I do,” they each said at the same time. They would come to the rescue.
Evin unbent at the sink to an upright position, tears running down her cheeks from the heat and coughed, prefacing each cough with a little gag. “On’t even ink a’out it!” She warned. Her eyes held a look of deadly warning that instantly stopped the two from moving closer. “Uch me an die!”
“Why, Sugar, you don’t want the Heimlich?” Elizabeth leaned against the table, fluttered her eyes then let out a large sigh, “Well, I am so glad. What a relief. I’m sure I speak for everyone here when I say how happy we are that you don’t need it. You had us all worried there for a second.” The look on her face was totally angelic.
“O! O Eimlick!” Evin snarled in her direction.
“Good, we’re all relieved.” Elizabeth moved her hand to her chest. The crowd stayed warily in the doorway, the two paralegals edging back to join them. Elizabeth stepped toward Evin, squinting heavily.
“But Evin,” she said worriedly, “Your face is so red, is that a rash breaking out, Sugar?” Now people moved forward into the room to get a closer view of Evin’s face. Evin hated being crowded.
You could hear the tall beauty growl. She saw the mischievous smile on the small woman’s face, and couldn’t help thinking how cute the woman could be if she wasn’t trying to kill someone. She had to appreciate the viciousness of this event. Attempted murder by pepper juice. Not out of the realm of possibility, actually. Perhaps she should sue.
Angela watched openmouthed. Was that her sweet, innocent boss doing this? Was that possible? Evin’s secretary, Mildred, on the other hand, nodded wisely, tipped her head toward Elizabeth, touched her forefinger to her tongue and marked an invisible line in the air, giving a point this time to Elizabeth. “You’re even,” she mouthed.
Elizabeth grabbed Evin’s cup and walked over by the sink next to the tall woman where she emptied the cup in the sink, added soap and scoured it out under the running water. She reached around and patted Evin’s back with a wet hand. She sent a very pleased smile to the crowd, “She’s going to be just fine, everybody.” Then she winked at the tall woman. “Just fine,” she repeated.
Evin began to blow air out of her lungs as a dragon might do, letting the air cool the roof of her mouth. Tears still streamed from her eyes.
“Gracious, she must have swallowed the wrong way,” Elizabeth said sympathetically moving back and getting the sugar bowl, replacing it on the table with the box of sugar cubes from the cupboard. “I hate when that happens, don’t you?” The others nodded their heads in agreement. None paid particular attention to what she was doing. They were all watching Evin. Except Evin’s secretary. She noticed everything.
The small blonde slipped a ziplock bag from her pocket and poured the contents of the sugar bowl in it. She zipped it shut and sat it on the counter then edged the brunette aside to wash the bowl out. She grabbed a paper towel and looked closely at Evin’s face while her hands dried the cup. “You look much better now, though. Should I wipe your brow with a cool washcloth for you?”
Stern blue eyes glared back at her. “On’t ouch me.”
“Just trying to help.”
Angela stood at the door, wide-eyed, having viewed the entire spectacle. Obviously she had no concept of what constituted out and out warfare! She appeared totally confused. Elizabeth looked at her. Poor child. She has no idea what she’s in the middle of. The small blonde grabbed the ziplock bag and moved to the young woman.
“Put this in my bottom desk drawer, please,” she said softly to her. Angela could only nod wide-eyed. “Fight fire with fire, Sugar,” she whispered. Then she turned back to the others with an innocent grin.
Seeing that Evin was all right, the others filtered into the room, filled their coffee cups and prepared to go back to their desks. Elizabeth sat smiling with her tea cup in hand as in the background Evin could be heard sniffing noisely, curtailing her running nose, and wiping her eyes with her sleeve.
“Don’t want you all choked up like this, boss. Sure there’s nothing I can do to help?” Mildred asked, righting the chairs the tall woman had knocked over. She dug in her pocket and removed a wad of tissues that she handed Evin.
Evin scowled at the woman before blowing her nose. Much of her body had turned liquid, it seemed. Melted no doubt.
Mildred raised her hands in supplication. “Hey, don’t look at me like that, Evin. I’m totally innocent here. Course, I didn’t put something in somebody’s tea pot to start this all off. Uh, if you think of something special you want me to do, just let me know. I am always at your service,” the secretary smiled and refilled her coffee. “That’s what secretaries are for.”
“You’re NEVER totally innocent,” Evin exclaimed. “I know exactly who you are. You can’t fool me.”
Her secretary laughed wickedly and walked out with her coffee.
Evin sat down beside the seated Elizabeth, who played with her half empty cup of tea. The brunette turned to the small blonde, sniffed then growled in a whisper. “You could have killed me!”
“No such thing,” Elizabeth smiled sweetly as the others filed back to their desks. She ticked the items off on her fingers. “First, I warned you. You chose not to listen to me. Second, there was only a tiny amount there. Third, if you hadn’t been trying to show off, you wouldn’t have put so big a drop in your mouth to taste. It was kind of cute, actually, but as you found out, it doesn’t take much to make a lasting impression.”
“How do you know about peppers?” Evin grumbled, wiping her watering eyes again.
“Darlin, you should never get into a pepper contest with a good old Cajun gal. You may think you know hot...” she lifted a brow and shot a sexy look at the tall brunette who looked back in puzzlement, “but you don’t know nuthin.”
What? What is she saying? “Wait a minute. You thought it was cute?”
“It was sort of.”
Evin’s brows turned into a scowl. “I could have been allergic! People die from eating peanut butter for cripe’s sake.”
“I’ve been here in this room and watched you eat peppers day after day. You’re not allergic!”
“I could have choked to death or had a fatal heart attack.”
“Anyone else and I might have worried. But you, Ms. Sinclair, are much more likely to GIVE someone a heart attack than get one yourself.”
“Juvenile!” Evin muttered at last.
“Yes, that it was. And for that I apologize. So, since we’re even now, let’s call it quits on this. Deal? It is juvenile.” She put her hand on Evin’s wrist. “All right?” The hand felt warm and welcoming. And there was that soft, powdery scent of her perfume.
“Must you ALWAYS get even?” Evin asked incredulously, well as incredulously as she dared considering her own penchant for such things.
Green eyes stared at Evin. “Absolutely,” the blonde answered.
“I didn’t know that about you.”
“Well, now you do.” Then the small woman smiled. “But I’m willing to give this nonsense up, if you are.”
Evin looked deeply into Elizabeth’s mystical emerald eyes. They were quite entrancing actually. They looked almost...friendly. She considered kissing her again. “Why didn’t you go out with me for Valentine’s Day?” she asked instead. “First you said ‘maybe’. Then you turned me down. What gives?”
“I expect to be treated like a lady,” Elizabeth replied seriously, gazing back into Evin’s incredible blue eyes. “A lady named ‘Elizabeth’.” She emphasized the ‘Elizabeth’ part. She’d be darned if she’d explain what Evin should already have picked up on...that she wouldn’t stand for being called “Little Em.
Evin laughed and broke the trance. “Why Little Em, I’d have treated you like a lady. Ask anybody. I don’t get complaints from any of my lady friends, ever.”
Elizabeth stood. Evin didn’t get it. Well, Elizabeth could be patient. “I have work to do, Evin. See you later.” She turned and left.
Evin watched the entrancing sway of the blonde’s beguiling hind end as she moved toward her office. Oh, yeah. She had a very cute tush. The tall brunette leaned her chin on her fist as she watched. She pondered. So you always get even, huh? she thought. Interesting. She thought of the blonde’s innocent appearing smile that was used to such advantage. There’s deviousness and steel behind that smile. Deceptive as the day is long! Then a wide grin spread across Evin’s face. HA!, a worthy opponent. A very, very worthy opponent. She laughed.
Hallelujah, life’s cachet had returned.
More to come? More than likely. Watch for part 2.
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