Disclaimers: The characters in this story are mine. This is a 'uber' story, set in today's timeline, and some of the characters may bear a more than a slight resemblance to certain other characters we all know, but which are not owned by me. Any similarity to real people is purely coincidental. The location is Orlando, Florida. This is a character driven piece. There is no plot. There is no violence, nobody is trying to kill anybody else, nobody is chasing anybody else, nobody is ..well, you get the picture. The backdrop is a law firm, and sometimes law firms can be rather routine places to work. This story brings two people together in that environment who end up making each other's lives anything but routine.
Subtext Disclaimer: There is subtext here, too. This story deals with the growing attraction and eventual deep, profound love between two people who happen to be of the same gender. Although there are some scenes depicting the physical expression of that love, there are no graphic scenes here. If that is what you're looking for, you might want to read something else. This is simply a story about soulmates finding each other again.
Feedback: This is my first attempt at fan fiction. Comments are always welcome. Let me know if there's something you especially liked or didn't like. I can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Written by KM
Jess came in to work early Monday morning and made her way up the elevators to the Roberts & McDaniel office suite. Unfortunately, and much to her displeasure, she had a stack of client invoices waiting for her when she first stepped foot into her own office. Is it the beginning of the month again? She let out an audible groan. Damn. Don't they know I have a trial? She set her briefcase down and powered up her computer. Somewhat preoccupied, she sat down at her desk, and took a moment to gaze out the large floor to ceiling windows, watching as the early morning sun bathed the city in golden light. This was her favorite part of the day, and quite often allowed for some meditative and contemplative thinking. Today seemed to call for such contemplation.
Her mind reflected on the events of the past weekend, and she mentally chastised herself for her impulsiveness. Living together? What the hell were you thinking, Jess? But, that was just it, though. She wasn't thinking. She was feeling, and that was getting her into all kinds of trouble. If she and Robin lived together, it was just a matter of time before someone else found out about their relationship, or at least became suspicious, and then ..then what? Then the firm would know, and if the firm knew, then there could be serious repercussions. You're walking a fine line, here, Jess. Watch it. It was true that she had avoided the issue for far too long. Ignoring it was not going to make it go away. It was time for some serious thinking on the matter. The computer beeped signaling that her e-mail messages had finally loaded, and she briefly lost her train of thought. She took a moment to send Paul an e-mail reminding him to prepare a motion for her to review and sign before mid-week, and then she once again settled back into her burgundy leather chair and let her thought processes resume.
So, if the firm found out about their relationship, there could be repercussions. How serious the repercussions would be was still up in the air. Robin would be fine, though. It was Jess that stood to lose, here. I'm the senior party. I take all the risk. Then again, even if the firm knew, she might be able to work around their concerns. Jess thought about that. The firm's concerns would mainly revolve around the issues of favoritism and lack of objectivity. I know that I can't be objective when it comes to Robin. Jess picked up her pen and tapped it lightly on the cherry wood desk, mentally considering whether it all was worth it. Was her relationship with Robin worth the risk? Surprisingly, without much thought at all, Jess had her answer.
The clang of the early morning freight train passing sixteen floors below chose that particular moment to make itself heard, and despite Jess's seemingly definitive answer to the previous question, mental alarms went off inside her mind. She lifted an eyebrow and stared out the window at the rooftop of the building next door, warring internally over a nebulous thought, as the clanging of the freight train droned incessantly on. Her mind, once again, gave in to the errant thinking.
You should be very proud of yourself.
'I thought I told you to go away.' The alternate internal voice was a bit testy this morning.
Well, it seems you've been quite the selfish one.
'I don't know what you're talking about.' The alternate internal voice initially attempted evasion.
Of course you do. You might be martyring your career. How noble of you.
'I have my moments.' The alternate internal voice became flippant.
But did you discuss all this with Robin?
'Don't need to. Robin will be fine. I'm the senior person involved. I take the risk.' The alternate internal voice pompously assumed all responsibility.
Is that so? She takes no risk? Wouldn't she feel guilty if something were to happen?
'I'll handle all that.' The alternate internal voice assured. 'It's my decision.'
Your arrogance is not becoming. Don't you think she deserves to know what you've been keeping from her?
'Why, so she can worry? That serves no purpose.'
So, you don't think she should know the risk involved to you professionally? Is that it?
'I'm protecting her this way.' The alternate internal voice responded weakly.
That's irrelevant. You've been keeping this from her, and you've been doing so for quite some time. Why?
'Hello. Is anybody home in there? I already told you.' The alternate internal voice attempted mockery and reiterated the previous statement. 'I've been protecting her.'
No, you've been selfish. Admit it.
'Listen, I don't have time for this. I have a trial next week. This will just have to wait. However, the alternate internal voice just couldn't resist trying to have the last word on the matter. And I have not been selfish.'
You aren't fooling anyone. You thought if she knew, her good heart would not permit your relationship to continue, knowing your career was at risk. So, you selfishly kept it from her.
'I have not been selfish.' The alternate internal voice protested vigorously.
You were afraid she'd end it, if she knew. You didn't want it to end.
'I was not being selfish.' The alternate internal voice was righteously indignant. 'I was protecting her.'
If you believe that, then you are even more delusional than you were before.
'I have a headache, now. Are you happy?'
You need to come clean. Tell her everything and let her decide.
'It's turned into a full-blown migraine. I'm seeing spots.'
The alternate internal voice groaned. 'I'm feeling nauseous.'
Tell her. Or do you want to persist with your selfishness?
'Is there something in the water, here? How many times do I have to tell you that I am not being selfish, I'm just protecting her?' The alternate internal voice, it seemed, simply refused to admit the obvious.
Fine. Call it what you want, but fix it, before things go any further.
'What do you mean, before things go any further?' The alternate internal voice feigned innocence.
You know perfectly well. You're getting 'really close'. Just think about what that means.
A moment's silence. 'Oh, alright.' The alternate internal voice finally relented. 'You win. I'll tell her.'
'Can I be sick, now?'
Robin sat bleary-eyed at her desk, having poured for hours over everything from financial records to deposition transcripts to calendar entries. The trial was the following week, and it seemed that she was no closer to finding what she called "the missing link", or the reason why the opposing side did not want the mystery witness to appear for deposition. I know I'm missing something. She swiveled in her chair almost playfully as she contemplated all known facts about the case. The opposition was accusing RSJ Industries of unfair trade practices in awarding bid contracts on new and prospective research and development initiatives for its pharmaceutical division. The opposing side, Grayson Carlton Corporation, was not awarded the bid on a particularly lucrative and experimental cancer treatment drug protocol project. Grayson Carlton was now claiming that the bids were fixed, and that RSJ virtually handed the contract to a well-known competitor in the field. Anne Carver, Grayson Carlton's comptroller, prepared the initial work-ups for the Grayson Carlton bid. RSJ, of course, denies all allegations of wrong doing. Be all that as it may, Robin had the gut feeling that what she was looking for was right in front of her. The facts were the facts, but sometimes cases were won and lost on things other than the facts.
She finally put the documents aside, and stretched her arms high above her head, groaning at the stiffness the lack of activity for the better part of the day had caused. She shifted her head from side to side to shake out the cricks, and then powered down her computer, packing her briefcase with a few small items to take with her that she hadn't gotten around to during the day. She really wished that she had joined a health club when she arrived in the city so that she could work off some excess energy and help her mind to focus. But there hadn't been time for all that, so she satisfied herself that she would perhaps take a jog around the apartment complex instead, not entirely relishing the prospect. Considering that it was the first week in December, it had been exceptionally warm and rather humid. The city was preparing for the holidays, with Christmas tree vendors on practically every corner around town, and the weather, it seemed, simply refused to cooperate. It's kind of hard to think about Christmas trees in 80 degree weather.
Robin turned off the light to her office and made her way over toward the elevators. She intended to just get on the next elevator and head on home, but a curious yet somehow familiar magnetic pull caused her to take a slight detour mid-stride. She strode non-stop through the lobby and past the reception area, down the long hallway toward a certain office with a particular wood door partially closed. All staff had since departed and, save for the cleaning crew, most everyone had left the office. Robin knocked lightly on the door, hearing a mumbled response from inside, and then opened the door fully.
"Hi." Robin stuck her head inside the office. "Working late tonight?"
Jess looked up from her stack of client invoices and grimaced. "Unfortunately. I hate the beginning of the month." She sat back in her leather chair. "Come in for a minute."
Stepping inside the office, Robin closed the door and sat down in the chair by the window, idly noting that darkness had already enveloped the city, and mentally canceling her jogging plans. "It's been a long day."
The junior partner leaned forward, perching a slender elbow on the top of the cherry wood desk. "So, tell me how it's going. Anything yet?"
Robin could sense the slight urgency in the tone of the voice, and then blew out a breath in frustration. "Nothing." She ran her fingers through her short blonde hair. "I'm going home. I just can't look at that stuff any more tonight. Maybe tomorrow I'll have better luck." Robin fidgeted slightly. "I just feel so restless all of a sudden."
"Hey, I got some good news today." Jess changed the subject and stood up, walking over to her book shelves and pulling off a black three-ring binder.
"What is it?"
"After the trial next week, I was scheduled for another smaller trial the first week in January. I was actually going to ask you to help me with that one, as well, but I found out today that it's been continued until March. I'd still like you to help me with it, though." Jess flipped through the binder until she found the index. "This is the case binder, so after we get through this trial next week, feel free to come get this from me. I had one of the paralegals put it together. It has all the key documents, the key pleadings, the discovery responses and the background search information. Just look it through, and then if you think there's something else we need to do, let me know. We have plenty of time, now." Jess looked at Robin apologetically. "I'm afraid I haven't paid much attention to this other case, with preparing for the current trial and all."
"No problem." Robin fidgeted again.
"Am I keeping you from something?" Jess asked concerned. "I didn't mean to keep you if you had something to do."
Robin shook her head. "No, I was going to go jog for a little while, but it's already dark outside. I wanted to get some exercise in. I guess I'll just have to plan better next time."
A dark eyebrow slowly arched. "Do you swim?"
"What?" Robin asked, quite perplexed.
"Do you swim?"
The associate considered the question. "Um ..yes?"
Jess grinned decisively. "Well then, use my pool. You have the key and the alarm code. Just let yourself in."
Blonde eyebrows furrowed. "Um, Jess, it's December." She wondered if Jess hadn't been staring at client bills for just a little bit too long. "It'll be too cold, don't you think?"
"Nope." Jess looked quite pleased with herself.
"Nope? Why not?"
The junior partner now grinned smugly. "Heated pool."
"Oh." Robin appeared to be considering the idea. "You wouldn't mind?"
"Nope." Jess resumed her seat behind her desk. "Feel free to use it whenever you want. Just turn on the flood lights out back. The switch is just outside the sliding doors." She set the binder down precariously on the edge of her desk. "And Robin," she leaned forward, "if you get too chilly out there, there's a Jacuzzi inside you can use if you want." She smiled sincerely. "In other words, my house is your house, okay?"
Robin smiled. "Okay, thanks." She tilted her head to one side, appearing to contemplate something for a moment. "So, how late are you working tonight, anyway?"
Blue eyes narrowed. "Did you have something in mind?"
"Nope." Robin stood up and walked toward the door. "I'll just be swimming." She turned the door handle and then walked out of the office, quickly poking her head back around the corner a second later. "Or in the Jacuzzi." Robin winked and then disappeared around the corner again.
Jess pulled her silver Mercedes into the two-car garage and then entered the house, apparently finishing up with her billing chores in record time. A small light was on in the kitchen, and she made her way over to the sliding doors, seeing the flood of bright light shining in haphazardly through the glass. She stopped and looked out the glass doors into the screened-in enclosure to find a petite form swimming laps in the kidney-shaped pool, a blonde head rhythmically popping up and then back down under the surface of the aqua-blue water. Jess watched for a moment, then opened the door and stepped outside into the pleasant evening air. The swimmer was apparently oblivious to the watchful observer. Jess stood quietly, admiring how poised and strong the swimmer's strokes were, as they cut through the water with barely a ripple.
Robin continued with her laps for several moments before finally stopping and wiping the water from her face. She looked up through her somewhat chlorine cloudy eyes, and saw a tall figure standing in the corner by the sliding doors. "So, how long have you been watching me?" She grinned.
"Long enough," came the reply. "How long have you been at it?"
Robin swam over to the nearest edge of the pool. "I've been here about a half hour. Did you finish your work?"
"Yep. I whipped right through it. It seems I had some additional incentive to complete it rather quickly." Jess grinned and couldn't help but take notice of the sleek little aqua colored one-piece swimsuit Robin was wearing. "You seem to be an excellent swimmer."
"I took lessons since I was six." Robin splashed about a little and then swam the length of the pool underwater, coming up for air on the other side.
Jess was fixated on the one-act performance. "Show off."
"Care to join me?" Robin leaned her arms back against the edge of the pool. "The water's warm."
Jess considered the offer. "You won't try to dunk me, will you?"
A blonde eyebrow raised mischievously. "Of course not."
"And you won't try to race me or anything like that, will you?"
Robin sat on the steps. "Nope." Since I'd win.
"Good." Jess turned to go inside to change. "Because I'd win if you did."
Robin smirked. We'll see.
A few moments later, Jess stepped out of the house wearing a black one-piece swimsuit, which as far as Robin was concerned, certainly accentuated all of Jess's attributes quite nicely. Very nicely, indeed. Jess set a towel down on a nearby chair and stepped into the pool, pushing off the edge and swimming slowly in Robin's direction. "This feels nice. I ought to try night swimming more often." Just then, Robin ducked under the water and swam down around Jess's feet, grabbing onto Jess's legs and taking them out from under her. Jess sunk under the water, then quickly reappeared, brushing the water from her eyes. She glared at Robin rather playfully. "You're dead."
Robin backed up. "Now, Jess. I was just having a little fun." She backed up some more, giggling lightly. "You were already in the water, so I just helped you along a little." Now, Robin was backed up against the side of the pool, and she had no where else to go.
Jess approached. "I'd be very worried, right now, if I were you, Robin." She put her long arms on either side of Robin and latched onto the edge of the pool with each hand, effectively trapping the younger woman. "You're in a very precarious situation." She stepped closer until Robin could feel her breath. "Because I have you just where I want you."
"Where's that?" Robin nearly croaked out the words and then swallowed, acutely aware of Jess's proximity. She could see the beads of water dripping from Jess's chin and down her neck toward other very interesting areas.
"Right there." Strong arms reached out with lightning quickness and picked Robin up, whirling her around and throwing her out toward the middle of the pool. Jess waited in amusement as Robin resurfaced.
Standing up in the center of the pool and wiping the water from her eyes, Robin shook her head defiantly, staring at Jess as if in challenge. "Just for that, I'll race ya to the stairs." She didn't wait for an answer as she took off toward the stairs. Suddenly, Robin felt one of her ankles being grabbed from behind, as she was pulled firmly backward.
Jess pushed on ahead and was the first to claim the stairs. "I won." Jess grinned and declared victory, sitting herself down on the lowest step.
"You cheated." Robin sat one step higher. "No fair." She let her toes rub against Jess's knee.
"Payback for dunking me and racing me, both of which you said you weren't gonna do." Jess turned her head to look at Robin, and then suddenly, almost as if by instinct, she pulled Robin down to straddle her lap. The lapping water reached just below their shoulders as they sat facing each other. Azure eyes stared almost hypnotically into green, as Jess lightly ran her fingertips up and then back down the sides of Robin's swimsuit under the water, memorizing every slight curve in the process. Jess finally moved her hands around to Robin's lower back, and then slid them lower still, guiding Robin closer and closer. She pressed the younger woman to her, and claimed her lips in a searing kiss.
Robin brought her arms around the strong shoulders, all at once lost in the sensual nature of the kiss and the electric touch. As they held each other close, their breasts rubbed one another's through the light fabric of their swimsuits, and Robin felt herself start to respond, gently rocking her hips as the kiss intensified and progressed. Finally, breaking away and coming up for much-needed air, she leaned forward as Jess took a delicious petite earlobe into her mouth. Robin was barely able to form a coherent thought. "Uh ..um, Jess." The sensations were becoming a little too overpowering. "Jess." She pulled back slightly and tried to breathe. "We need I need to slow down."
Jess pulled back completely, taking long, deep breaths to try to calm her racing heart. "Oh, God." She leaned forward again and rested her head against Robin's forehead, swallowing audibly. "That was really ..intense."
Jess gazed up and whispered. "I've never felt that before."
Robin regained her senses and kissed the ragged wet bangs on Jess's forehead. "Me either. I almost lost control for a moment." She smiled. "You have that effect on me."
Jess tasted a water drop on Robin's jaw. "And you definitely have that effect on me." We need to take things slowly here. She gently propelled herself and Robin into the middle of the pool. "So, want to play some more, or are you all pruny?"
Robin studied her hands. "Pruny, but I could still play. What did you have in mind?" She took notice of the now mischievous glint in the cerulean eyes looking back at her.
"Well," Jess set Robin down so her feet touched the bottom of the pool. "There's this little game called 'Dunk the Associate' which is really a lot of fun." A playful eyebrow shot up. "Shall we try it?"
Robin backed away slowly as Jess advanced. "No, I don't think so, Jess."
The young associate's protest was too late. Jess took one leap and pounced on Robin, taking them both underwater and then back up again. One of Jess's hands quite unintentionally grazed the length of the front of Robin's swimsuit as the taller woman sought to securely wrap her arms around the slim waist from behind. Jess had no doubt about what she felt in that split second of intimate contact, and she shuddered momentarily as her mind struggled to shake free of the electrifying sensation. Get yourself out of the water now, Jess, before you lose control again. She turned Robin around to face her, holding her at arm's length. "Give up?"
"I ..um ..I .." Robin stammered, still tingling from Jess's inadvertent touch, as she stared, somewhat dazed, into magnificent blue eyes. "I surrender."
Oh God. Get out of the water now, Jess. "Good. I always win at that game." She winked and then glanced at her own fingers. "Now, I'm the one who's getting all pruny. Are you ready to head back inside?" Jess thought she maneuvered into the question rather well.
"Yeah." Robin responded nonchalantly and swam to the side of the pool. "But next time, we play another game. It's called 'Capture the Partner'."
"Really?" An intrigued smirk. "And how do you play that particular game?"
"Easy." Robin stepped out of the pool and wrapped her towel around her shoulders. "You make the partner swim across the pool, giving them a little head start, and then you race to catch them before they can reach the other side. It's really a lot of fun."
"I see. And if you catch the partner before they reach the other side, then what happens?" Jess climbed out the water and picked up her own towel, throwing it around herself.
"Then you've captured them and they're your prisoner." Robin smiled smugly. "And, of course, you get to interrogate them."
Interrogate them? A dark eyebrow arched above wet bangs. "Is that so? And what's involved in this ..interrogation?"
Robin opened the sliding glass doors and turned to look at Jess with amused green eyes. "Well, let's just say that when you're finished interrogating them, they're in no position to offer any further resistance." She ducked inside and headed toward the guest bathroom for a quick shower, leaving Jess standing mutely.
Can I surrender now?
After taking quick showers, Jess and Robin ordered a pepperoni pizza for dinner, and ate the entire deep dish pizza pie. It seems that both of them had worked up quite an appetite in the pool earlier, and they were both famished. When they had finished eating their pizza, they sat cozily on the plush sofa, cuddled together. One small lamp on the opposite side of the room provided the only light, as Jess gently stoked Robin's blonde hair, and every so often tenderly kissed the light eyebrows.
"Did you enjoy your swim earlier?" Jess pushed a short strand of blonde hair behind Robin's ear.
"Yeah. Thanks for letting me use your pool." Robin played with the hem of Jess's t-shirt.
"Well, I told you that you can use it anytime you want." Jess smiled warmly. "You can come over anytime you want, you can stay over anytime you want, you can be here as often as you want. You can .." Live here. She suddenly caught herself. Damn. Don't push it with her, Jess.
"I brought a few things over from my apartment." Robin looked at Jess shyly. "I was wondering if I could keep them here. It's just a few changes of clothes, a nightshirt and some bath items. I put them in your spare room. Is that okay?" Robin didn't want to appear too forward or give the impression that she intended to move in tomorrow.
"That's perfectly okay, unless you want to use another room. We could move things around, you know." Jess found herself curiously quite eager to have Robin there full-time. It was an uncontrollable desire, although she didn't have a clue as to why she wanted to upset the normalcy of her own life. She mentally warned herself again. Don't push it, Jess. "Whatever you'd like to do, Robin. It's okay. You're in charge."
"Good, because I'll just use the spare room for now." Robin replied happily. "Don't move anything around just for me." A petite hand now made its way to Jess's arm and lightly stroked the smooth skin.
Jess lost herself for a moment at the tingling sensation from Robin's touch. She then nuzzled Robin's still damp hair, taking in a deep breath. "I love the way you smell."
Robin giggled. "I'm flattered. I think."
Jess took another deep, and this time audible, breath. "You smell like raindrops."
Robin giggled some more. "It's the shampoo."
"Nope. It's definitely you." Jess sighed. "I could just hold you like this forever." She became pensive. "You know, from here on through the trial, it's going to be very late nights for us. We won't get to spend any time together except work."
Robin frowned slightly. "I know. But when the trial's over, I guess we'll just have to make up for lost time then, won't we?" She mentally pondered the implications of that thought.
"Definitely." Jess ducked her head and gave Robin a lingering kiss. "Hey, I forget to ask you if you got a chance to call Dr. Richmond today."
"No." Robin fidgeted.
"Oh." What's going on? "I just thought that you said you wanted to talk with someone about things."
"I do, but I think I'll wait until after the trial is over so I have more time to devote to some sessions." I don't want to think about this right now.
Jess placed her palm against Robin's cheek and turned the blonde head toward her own, speaking gently and without admonishment. "Okay, but then you'll call, right?" Do not let her avoid this. You'll regret it if you do.
"Right." Robin did not sound convincing and fooled no one.
For the moment, Jess decided to let it go, and instead shifted her body to lie back lengthwise on the sofa. "Come here." She gestured toward Robin.
Robin slid down partially on top of Jess as she rested herself back against the cushions. She lightly wrapped her arm around Jess's waist and placed her head on Jess's shoulder. It was so safe this way. She didn't have to think about anything else except being surrounded by the warmth of the body next to hers. She idly traced figure eight patterns on Jess's t-shirt over her stomach, then moved her hand downward toward the hem of Jess's shirt, fingering it indecisively. "Can I ..um ..?" Robin didn't quite know how to phrase the question.
"Can you what?" Jess seemed confused.
Robin tilted her head up to look shyly at Jess. "Can I put my hand your stomach?"
Jess chuckled. "Yes. As I recall, you've done that already several times. I specifically remember one morning a while back when you seemed to find my stomach quite fascinating." Her breath suddenly caught as the petite hand in question slowly slid its way underneath her t-shirt to rest on the smooth skin. "And it always feels really good."
"Your skin is so soft." Robin brushed her thumb lightly back and forth across the warm flesh.
Jess was quite distracted by the touch, but she needed to discuss something with Robin, and considering their shenanigans in the pool earlier, and where Robin's touch was leading her right now, this was probably the best time to bring the subject up. Before things go any further. She grimaced, knowing full well the chore ahead. "Um, Robin?"
Robin continued rubbing Jess's stomach lightly, and delighted in the feel of the silky skin under her hand. "Yes."
It was unbelievably hard to do, but Jess managed to focus her thoughts and became very serious. "I think there's something we should talk about."
Robin abruptly looked up and shifted herself up on one elbow, her free hand still maintaining contact with Jess's stomach. "What is it?" She was surprised by the serious tone.
Jess tried to approach the subject cautiously. "I ..um ..know we talked about keeping things quiet, just between us, and I still want to do that. I think that's the best thing." She paused, trying to order her thoughts. "And I know our concerns were based mainly on the fact that our relationship is ..unconventional, for lack of a better word." She fixed her eyes on sea green and took a deep breath. "But if someone were to find out, I ..um ..haven't told you about all the possible consequences." She mentally braced herself for the expected reaction.
Robin raised both eyebrows in slight alarm, taking her hand from Jess's stomach and reaching up to place it firmly on Jess's chin, tilting it toward her. "What do you mean?" Robin asked the question a bit uneasily.
Shit. This is hard. My headache's coming back. "I admit I've been trying to avoid telling you this." Jess sighed. "But there is really no way around it. There is something you should know." Blue eyes quietly regarded green before continuing. "If someone at work were to find out about ..us, the firm may have some concerns. They don't care about personal relationships outside of work or among peers, but when it comes to those who have supervisory responsibilities over someone else, they consider it inappropriate." Jess said the last part matter-of-factly.
"Supervisory, as between a partner and an associate." Robin drew the conclusion unhappily.
Jess stroked the blonde head and nodded with regret. "Yes. Do you understand why?"
Robin nodded back. "They think the supervisor wouldn't be able to be objective in giving evaluations." She then shook her head. "But you're not the only one who has supervisory responsibilities over me. All the partners and the Management Committee do. It wouldn't be just you." Robin tried her best to argue.
"That's true, and that would be a good argument in our favor." Jess sighed again. "But realistically, Robin, there are probably only two possible scenarios if the firm were to find out." She hesitated. "The best case is that they would most likely assign you to work with someone other than me from that point forward."
Robin closed her eyes and frowned. "Okay. And the worst case?"
Jess took a deep breath, not really able to avoid the issue any longer. "The Management Committee could reprimand me for inappropriate conduct."
At this point, Robin's eyes grew very wide in clear anxiety. "What?" Stunned disbelief crossed her face. "And what, specifically, would they do if they reprimand you?"
Jess's voice carried no emotion. "Censure me, suspend me or remove me from the firm." She now shifted her gaze toward the window, unable to look at Robin.
All at once, Robin felt as if the air had been sucked out of her lungs, and she felt her composure give way. "Because you love me?" Her eyes welled up, and she abruptly climbed off the sofa and backed away, as if she had been burned. She stood staring mutely at Jess for several moments before bringing herself to speak once again. "Why didn't you tell me this before?"
Jess was silent. Why were there so many obstacles?
"Jess, this is your career, here." Robin was mortified and her tone of voice was very agitated. "I would never have done I would never do anything to jeopardize that for you. I would never do this to you." Robin stared up at the popcorn ceiling and tried to think calmly, and then focused her attention back toward Jess, speaking in a shaky voice. "When we talked before about the chance that people could find out, you never said anything." She paused. "And then when we saw Harry at the restaurant and I was worried about him seeing us, you still never said anything. Why, Jess?" A tear finally fell. "I had a right to know I was putting you at risk."
Jess sat upright on the sofa but otherwise remained silent, still maintaining her gaze at the window. You screwed up, Jess.
"Jess?" When there still was no response, Robin began to realize that there might be something more going on. She calmed herself and went back over to the sofa, kneeling down to face Jess. Her tone of voice now softened somewhat with concern. "Jess? Will you talk to me, please?"
The dark head turned cautiously from its gaze at the window and nodded. "What do you want to know?"
"Why didn't you tell me?" Robin's voice was calm and unaccusing.
There was another long silence, and then Jess took a deep breath, before finally speaking very slowly and very quietly, the profound regret evident. "I was willing to take all the risks. I was willing to risk everything to be with you. God help me, Robin, I was." Jess swallowed. "But I didn't think you would allow that." She smiled with quiet fondness. "Your heart wouldn't let you." Now, her voice hardened somewhat. "In the back of my mind, I always thought that what we have would never last. I thought that you could never really want to stay with me. You would be gone sooner or later, and the risk really wouldn't be a factor."
Robin began to understand. "You thought all along that I would eventually leave."
"Yes." Jess felt suddenly very ashamed. "And so, I thought that if I brought all this up, you would .."
"I would leave sooner." Robin finished the thought. "I would end it."
"Because I wouldn't want to place you at risk."
Jess hung her head and whispered. "Yes." She then looked up at Robin with deep regret. "I was wrong."
Robin thought long and hard about all of this. It really wasn't surprising, given Jess's fears stemming from James' betrayal and his leaving her. But Robin also had to consider that, most likely, what Jess said was at least partially true. Robin probably never would have entered this relationship if she had known she was jeopardizing Jess's career, or acted on her feelings, or kissed Jess that first time after they returned from the beach. She probably never would have continued to see Jess outside of work, or carry on with their little sleepovers, or let herself ..love her. As if I even had a choice. But none of that mattered now. The truth was that Robin did, in fact, love Jess, and they were, in fact, in a relationship for better or for worse. For better or for worse .."Can I ask you one more thing?" Robin's tone was even.
Jess nodded. "Yes."
"Why did you mention this now? Was it because I told you that I loved you and that I wouldn't leave you, and so you felt safe enough to tell me this?" It came out harsher than Robin intended.
Jess closed her eyes in genuine pain. "No." She turned to stare intently into sea green eyes and spoke with conviction. "I would never trap you like that, and coax a promise out of you that you would later feel guilty about."
Robin flinched. "Jess, I'm sorry. I didn't mean .."
"Shhh. It's okay." Jess interrupted softly. "Let me finish saying this, okay?" Blue eyes softened and a small smile appeared on Jess's face. "I told you now because I am very serious about you, in case you haven't guessed, and I feel that we, together, are getting very serious. I've asked you to live here, and in the pool before, we almost .." She blushed in spite of herself. "I want you to know everything. I want you to know fully what lies ahead before we ..go any further. You deserve that. I didn't want you to find out later, and then feel betrayed. I know what betrayal is, Robin, and I will not do that to you, even if .." Here, she looked firmly into those sea green eyes and took Robin's hand in her own. "Even if you decide not to allow me to assume the risk involved in continuing our relationship."
"Okay." Robin nodded.
Robin nodded again. "Okay. Together we assume the risk. What happens to you, happens to me."
"No, Jess. We do this together. We are in this together, for better or for worse." Robin lifted Jess's hand and brought it to her lips, kissing the knuckles gently. "I will not lose you." The edges of Robin's lips slowly curled in a small, shy smile. "And in case you haven't guessed, I am very serious about you, too."
Jess smiled warmly and took the younger woman into her arms, hugging her in a tight embrace. "You are absolutely amazing." She pulled back and focused on Robin's beautiful face. "But you know I will try to protect you. I won't let you suffer if I have anything to say about it."
"I know." Robin replied simply.
"I love you."
"I love you, too." Robin checked her watch and gave a small sigh. "It's late, and I shouldn't stay tonight. After the trial, we can talk about my staying over more, okay?"
Jess nodded, a little dejected but knowing it was for the best. "Alright. We can't be distracted right now." She walked Robin to the door. "But I still wish you weren't leaving."
Warm green eyes regarded her for a brief moment. "I'm not leaving, Jess. I'm just going to my apartment. Just so you understand the difference."
"Good." Robin gave Jess a gentle hug. "Goodnight, Jess."
"Goodnight. I'll see you tomorrow." Jess closed the door, and somehow, everything seemed to fall into place. She and Robin were in this together, for better or for worse. Jess arched a dark eyebrow at the seemingly benign phrase.
For better or for worse.
Robin filtered through the mountain of trial exhibits, looking, for the millionth time, for any clue as to what opposing counsel was trying to hide. Finally, having no success, she got up from her desk and headed over toward the coffee maker. Ah, chocolate macadamia nut flavor. She poured herself a cup and made her way back toward her office, stepping around a few perennial heads in whisper mode positioned seemingly innocuously near the copy machine. As Robin rounded the corner, she unexpectedly spied Paul rushing angrily down the hallway, apparently muttering something unfit for polite conversation under his breath.
"Paul, what's the matter?" Robin caught him mid-stride.
He nearly kept on walking but stopped and grimaced most unpleasantly. "How do you stand it?"
"Huh?" The confusion on Robin's face must have shown clearly.
"How can you stand working with her? She just bit my head off for no reason." They approached Robin's office and went inside.
Robin closed the door. "Who are you talking about?" She asked the question even though she was quite sure she already knew the answer.
Paul sat down in a nearby chair. "Jessica. She can be such a .." Paul stopped abruptly. "Sorry."
There was a momentary silence, and then Robin sat down behind her desk, picking up her favorite pen and twirling it in her hand. "So, what happened?" She spoke softly.
"Jessica wanted me to prepare this motion and have her review it before filing it." He waved the motion he was referring to in his hand. "The deadline to file it is tomorrow, and she needs to look at it so I can make the changes, if necessary." He stopped and ran his fingers through his slightly graying brown hair. "So, I went to go find her because she wasn't in her office."
"We have a trial next week, and I know she's in a meeting with the client right now." Robin grimaced. "You didn't interrupt her meeting, did you?"
"I had no choice." Paul raised his voice in exasperation. "She wanted to look the motion over before it was filed." He sat back in the chair. "So, anyway, after I found her, she pulled me outside the conference room door and reamed me out in the middle of the hallway. I'm sure half the office heard it. She's the one who wanted me to prepare the motion for her to review, and then she gets all bent out of shape about it."
"She's under a lot of pressure right now." It was all Robin could think to say.
Paul sat with an incredulous look on his face. "You're not defending her are you? Come on, Robin. Surely, you must've gotten on her bad side a time or two by now. Everyone has. Ask Keith or Michelle, or especially Mark. They'll tell you."
Robin sat quietly for a moment processing the information before responding. "Um ..I guess I just haven't worked with her long enough to experience that side of her." She then forced a laugh. "But I'm sure my time will come, though." Robin twirled the pen faster in her hand. It seemed that pen twirling had become a nervous and common habit of late.
"It's amazing you've lasted this long. I don't know how you could have worked with her all this time and not have been chewed out." Paul snorted. "She must like you."
Uh oh. Robin stiffened. "Uh, no." Think. The pen tumbled helplessly from Robin's fingers, and she leaned forward to pick it up, slightly embarrassed. "I mean, I'm sure it's just a matter of time before I do something she won't like." Robin didn't at all like the direction this conversation was taking. She set the pen down deliberately on the desk.
Paul went on with his musing, quite oblivious to her plight. "Or maybe she just knows she has to be nice to you. I mean, face it, no one likes to work with her much. She probably thinks if she doesn't get along with you, then she won't have anyone to help her with her cases." He was more or less just offering commentary on how difficult it was to work with Jess, not implying anything more.
Robin resisted the urge to pick up the pen again. "I'm probably not the best person to judge that since I haven't been here very long." She felt quite uncomfortable now and just wanted the conversation to end. "Listen, I'm meeting with Jess and the client later today. If you want, I can give her the motion for you."
Paul stood up. "Well, it's worth a try." He handed the document to Robin and proceeded out the door. "Thanks."
Not a second after Paul left her office, Robin plopped herself back down in her chair and blew out a deep breath. What was that all about? While it was true that Robin had never experienced Jess's full fury, she had indeed heard stories. And she certainly couldn't deny that it did seem strange that everyone else, at least once, had the occasion to be on the receiving end of that fury. This led to an uncomfortable question. Was Jess giving Robin special treatment? I hope not. It would only serve to raise suspicions which would not likely go unnoticed for long, considering the office gossip mill.
Robin bit her lower lip lightly and swiveled to gaze out the large windows of her office, the choppy waters of the lake below capturing her attention. A cold front was blowing in from the north, and she continued to gaze out her windows, watching the light gray clouds move rapidly across the sky. She mentally considered whether to approach Jess with this matter. After all, Jess might not consciously realize that she was perhaps treating Robin differently than everyone else. Robin frowned. Now's not the best time. Jess is preparing for trial. But to delay the issue any longer was probably not the best idea either. She needs to know. Otherwise, it would just be a matter of time before someone became suspicious, and then ..well, and then it would be confirmed that the firm's concerns were true. Someone in a supervisory position could not be capable of being objective with someone with whom that person had a personal relationship. And if that happened, Jess's career could be in jeopardy. It was that simple. And that dangerous. And that unsettling to think about. I'll talk with her after our meeting today.
"So, what do you think, Phil?" Jess had spent all day meeting with Phil Jones, Vice-President of Legal Affairs for RSJ Industries, and had just presented the general concepts of her legal argument to him. "Do you think the jury will buy it?"
Phil nodded cautiously. "I think it's the best we have. We've got to keep it simple, though. No high finance talk, just the basics."
Jess turned to Robin who had joined them for their afternoon session. Robin had earlier given a presentation of the chronology of events and a brief summary of their factual exhibits. "Can you give Phil a copy of the chronology and the summary of events for him to take with him tonight to review back at the hotel?"
"Sure." Robin nodded and left the conference room to have the requested copies made.
Jess concluded the meeting. "Okay, Phil, why don't you go back to the hotel and review the documents. I'll be here late tonight. Call me if you happen t think of anything else." She stood up and gathered her papers. "Tomorrow we'll prep you for your testimony."
The conference room door opened a moment later, and Robin stepped back inside with the necessary copies. "Here you are, Phil. Let me know if you want to add anything."
Phil took the proffered documents. "Thanks, I will. What time do you want me here tomorrow, Jess?"
"Let's say about 9:00, and then we can get started." Jess looked over toward Robin for a moment. "Robin will be joining us, as well."
"Alright. Goodnight, then. I'll see you tomorrow." Phil exited the conference room and made his way toward the elevators.
With considerable concentration, Jess watched him leave and then glared at Robin. "Come with me." Jess strode abruptly out the door and headed toward her office.
"Okaaay." Robin muttered half to herself and followed Jess down the hallway.
Once inside Jess's office, Robin closed the door and took a seat in the chair by the window, watching faint outlines of the twinkling of the street lights below in the dark through the reflected glass. Jess dropped her papers on the cherry wood desk and turned to stare unseeingly out of the same window. "You haven't found anything yet?" Jess's tone had a slightly hard edge to it.
"Um ..I've been through the documents five times, Jess. I just don't see anything." Robin shook her head. "I was so sure I'd find something."
Damn. "Well, tomorrow we're prepping Phil, and I've got to have something to rebut their case with." Jess ran long fingers through her dark hair and sighed heavily. "Without anything else, I'd say the case has less than a fifty-fifty chance."
Robin's eyes grew very wide. That's all? "I won't give up, Jess. I'll keep looking."
"Yeah, well I think it's just a little too late for that now, Robin." Jess snapped. There was a momentary silence, and after a second to register the stunned look on Robin's face, Jess's expression softened. "Um ..sorry." She sat down in her burgundy leather chair. "I'm just really frustrated with this case right now and I shouldn't be taking it out on you."
"Don't worry about it, Jess." Robin's voice carried an air of understanding and even a hint of sympathy.
Jess felt, rather than heard, the soothing words. How does she make me feel better like that? "It's amazing you put up with me sometimes."
That's just what Paul said. "Uh, there's something I wanted to discuss with you, Jess." Robin stared back across the desk. "Now is probably not the best time, but I don't think it can wait."
The leather chair Jess was sitting in slightly squeaked as she leaned forward and raised both eyebrows warily. "What is it?"
"I saw Paul earlier." It was a lame beginning, and the young associate knew it.
"He mentioned to me about your um ..discussion with him in the hallway." Robin braced herself.
"I don't think he should have interrupted you, but your reaction did seem harsh."
"And?" Jess waved her hand in front of her. "You thought you would, what? Plead his case?"
This isn't going well. "No. I told him I'd give you the motion to look at." Robin handed the paper to Jess. "I know you want to review it before it's filed tomorrow."
Jess fished around in her desk for a paper clip to play with. "Okay, is that all?"
"No. Um ..he said something to me, and I got a little worried." The associate regarded the junior partner and spoke softly. "He said that you have been a bit harsh sometimes with pretty much everyone."
A frank smile appeared on Jess's face. "That's not exactly a news flash, Robin." She unbent the paper clip.
"Well, it seems that you have been a bit harsh with everyone at one time or another. Everyone except ..me." Robin released the breath she was holding.
And somewhere in the dark recesses of Jess's sometimes meandering mind, a faint light appeared. "So, what, exactly, are you saying?"
Robin responded bolder than she felt. "You might not be aware of this, but I think you're treating me differently than everyone else."
A dark eyebrow shot up. "Because I'm not so 'harsh' with you?" Jess absently jabbed the tip of the paper clip against her legal pad.
"Yes." Robin's eyes narrowed, and she gazed straight ahead into deep blue. "I expect you to treat me the same as you would anyone else. I require no special treatment. If I make a mistake, I expect you to let me have it. All of it, Jess." Robin's gaze softened again. "I don't want anyone becoming suspicious of us."
The light was already shining brightly in Jess's mind at that point, and she knew fully well what Robin was saying. "But I just snapped at you, didn't I? Doesn't that count?"
Robin gave a half smile at the crack. "No, since you immediately apologized. Did you ever apologize to anyone else?"
Jess pursed her lips in thought and then mumbled. "No."
"See my point?"
Jess nodded slowly. "I hadn't realized that."
"And some people might think it a bit strange, and then get a little suspicious. Do you know what I mean?"
Jess nodded again, and then threw her now completely unbent paper clip into the trash. "Okay. So, let me see if I understand this correctly. You want me to ..let you have it more often, right?" Jess held a bit of mirth in her blue eyes.
Is she teasing me? "Yes. You should definitely let me have it, especially if I deserve it." The associate got up and walked around behind the desk and stood next to the junior partner's chair. "And I mean you better let me have it good."
"Well, it just so happens, Robin, that letting people have it is one of my better skills." Jess grinned. "I'll make sure you're not neglected in that department."
"Good." Robin stepped around the back of the chair and placed her hands on Jess's shoulders, massaging them gently. "Because I definitely hate being neglected." Petite hands then made their way to the back of Jess's neck and continued the massage, kneading tiny circles. "And I definitely expect you not to hold anything back."
The neck and shoulder massage was doing wonders for Jess, and she bent her head forward to allow more of the massage to continue. Robin's hands, it seemed, somehow knew exactly where to press to work out the kinks, as the young associate continued to knead the junior partner's shoulders and neck. The touch was gentle, and firm, and delicate, all at the same time, and Jess luxuriated in the feel of it. Reaching up, she grasped Robin's hand and gently pulled her around to sit down across her lap. Blue eyes fixed on green, as Jess brought one hand up to brush blonde bangs from Robin's forehead, trailing her fingers down to rest lightly against a fair cheek. "I promise I won't hold anything back." Jess whispered.
"Good." Robin brought both arms around Jess's shoulders and leaned into the touch, looking up and locking sea green eyes onto cool blue, suddenly and helplessly held captive by the intense gaze. She leaned in and gave Jess a light kiss. If someone were to walk in here right now, we'd be in real trouble. Robin slowly stood up and cleared her throat, grasping one of Jess's hands in the process. "So, we're clear on our discussion, right?"
"Right." Jess smiled. "I'm supposed to let you have it if you deserve it, and I'm definitely not supposed to hold anything back." She arched a dark eyebrow. "Have I understood you correctly?"
"Good." Jess stood up. "Because after the trial is over, Robin, I plan on making sure you get everything you deserve." She winked. "And then some."
It had been a late night. Both Robin and Jess had stayed at the office preparing for the trial until the early morning hours. Robin entered the office building a little before 9:00, having gotten little sleep, and scurried up the elevators just in time for her meeting with Jess and Phil Jones. They all dutifully and tediously spent the entire morning preparing Phil for his testimony based on the case thus far and discussing trial strategy. After a brief lunch break, Jess went down the hall to check on the status of the pre-trial motion preparations, most of which Keith was handling. Robin went downstairs to the delicatessen to grab a sandwich to go, before deciding to return to her documents.
Robin entered her office, sandwich in hand, and sat down at her desk, briefly perusing the new e-mail messages she had received during the morning. Noting that her in-box was once again overflowing, she quickly leafed through its contents, managing to do so one-handed while her other hand was otherwise engaged in unwrapping her chicken salad sandwich. One particular item caught Robin's attention. What's this? She took a bite of her sandwich. Then another item caught her attention. She pulled out the fax papers from the pile of documents she had accumulated in her in-box and studied them intently as she ate. A large smile slowly edged its way across her face. I got it. The smile widened further, and in no time at all, Robin picked up the phone and had the receptionist page Jess.
The phone rang back almost immediately. "Jess? It's Robin."
Jess was still in her meeting with Keith. "What is it?"
"I found it." Robin grinned mightily to herself.
A momentary pause. "Um, you found, what?"
"It. I found it. When you're finished with Keith, stop by my office and I'll show you, okay?" Robin tapped her desk lightly in exuberance and noted the time on her watch. "Whenever you're free, just come on down," she added a bit nonchalantly.
"Okaaay." The suspense was absolutely killing Jess. She abruptly adjourned her meeting with Keith and strode purposefully down the long hallway and around the corner to Robin's office, knocking lightly on the closed door. Hearing the muffled voice indicating she should enter, Jess quickly stepped inside, closed the door, and sat down in the chair opposite Robin's desk.
"Boy, that was fast." Robin grinned, looking at her watch in slight amusement.
"You were timing me?" Jess raised both eyebrows in mild surprise. "I didn't know I was that predictable." She half mumbled to herself and arched a dark eyebrow. "So, you said you found it. Care to share with me what 'it' is?"
"Yes." Robin rummaged around on her desk. "Look at this." She presented a document to Jess for inspection. "Exhibit "A".
"Okay. This is Anne Carver's resume." Jess casually perused the document.
"Correct. Note her educational background." Robin sat back in her chair, crossed her arms in front of her.
Jess studied the document further. "Undergraduate from University of Maryland, MBA from Harvard Business School. Okay."
Robin smiled. "Right. Now, look at this." She handed another document to Jess. "Exhibit "B".
Jess studied the second document, as well. "Fax from the Office of the Registrar, University of Maryland." Instantly, Jess's eyes lit up and she glanced over the top of the paper across the desk at Robin. "You're kidding me?"
Robin now had a full grin on her face. "Nope. And it gets better." She handed Jess a third document. "Exhibit "C".
Jess took the document and studied it in similar fashion. "Fax from the Office of the Registrar, Harvard University Business School." She raised another eyebrow and looked again at Robin. "Unbelievable." She shook her head. "No wonder that weasel of an opposing counsel didn't want us to take Anne Carver's deposition. She .."
"Falsified her credentials." Robin finished. "She never graduated from either school." The blonde head shook in clear disbelief. "That's pretty bold."
Jess nodded. "Yeah, but you'd actually be surprised at how often that happens. I once found out about an expert that all the firms in town used on their various cases. He testified at dozens and dozens of trials and had an impressive list of credentials. Turns out, someone deposing him decided one day to check out his credentials, and found that absolutely none of them were real, including his published papers. Not one lawyer who had offered him up as an expert at all those trials had ever checked his credentials previously."
"What happened?" Robin was fascinated by the story.
"The guy got wind that someone was on to him, and ran out in the middle of the night right in the middle of a trial. The lawyers on the case went to his hotel in the morning to pick him up for court, and he was gone." Jess chuckled. "It was quite an embarrassment, to say the least, and especially so when your own expert skips out like that. The moral of the story is that you should never take anything at face value. You never want to be surprised."
"So what are we going to do about Anne Carver?"
Jess pursed her lips in thought. "First, get the registrar's offices at both of those schools to overnight to you certificates of non-attendance so we can offer them into evidence at trial."
"Okay. Then what?" Robin looked over at Jess eagerly.
The junior partner had a decidedly feral grin on her face. "Then you and I are going to sit down and write the script."
"The script?" Robin was confused.
"Yep. Whenever I prepare to cross-examine a witness, I always write a script. It's basically what I'm going to ask and what the witness is going to say, and it sets forth the order I'll ask each question." Jess grinned again. "It always works."
Robin now understood. "Ah, so that's one of the reasons you wanted Anne Carver's deposition taken. So that you would know what she was going to say and you could put it in your script." Robin furrowed her brows. "But we never took her deposition."
"Doesn't matter. We have something better." Jess held up the fax papers. "We have these." She stood up and walked over to the window to look at the sparkling lake below. "Opposing counsel was probably going to put her on the stand and just skirt around her background." She turned around to face Robin and rubbed her hands together. "Now, we've got him. He never should have tipped us off."
"So, does this improve our chances?"
"Significantly. Anne Carver is one of their major witnesses, and now we can show that she has absolutely no credibility at all. The jury will eat it up. Whatever she says can't be believed. Not only that, but she's apparently not even qualified to have prepared the initial bid for the contract." Blue eyes stared warmly at green. "I didn't mention to you to go ahead and check her credentials, but you had the instinct to do it yourself. That was good work, Robin."
Robin blushed at the praise. "Thanks. So, are you going to tell Phil?"
"You bet. Come on." Jess stepped toward the door but stopped abruptly as Robin walked closer. After checking to see that the door was still satisfactorily closed, Jess impulsively leaned down and gave Robin a small kiss.
"What's that for?" Robin's eyes twinkled.
"That's for doing such a good job. I believe in rewarding good work."
"Oh." Green eyes fixed on blue. "Do you reward all the associates you work with like that when they do a good job?"
"Nope. Only certain ones."
Robin reached down and grasped one of Jess's fingers and held it between her own. "And how do you determine who those certain ones are?"
"They have to meet very strict criteria, Robin. Im quite selective." Jess leaned casually back against the desk.
Robin entwined their fingers. "And what might that very strict criteria be?"
"Well, first, they must display outstanding buttering up techniques." Jess grinned. "Second, they absolutely must insist on playing hooky from time to time. And third, and very importantly, they must be willing to give neck and shoulder massages on a moment's notice."
"I can see how that would certainly limit the field." Robin stroked her chin with her free hand, as if in deep thought. "Still, there could be several people who might fit that criteria as you've defined it."
"Oh, I forgot to mention the most important requirement."
"Their name must be Robin Wilson." Jess grinned warmly.
"Well, now, that does narrow the field significantly." The young associate nodded pensively. "Has anyone ever met this criteria before?"
The junior partner shook her head. "Nope. You're the very first one to meet all the specified criteria. That's quite an accomplishment."
"Thank you. So, are there any additional rewards that I should be aware of?"
"Yes. There are very many additional rewards, Robin, but before I can officially present them to you, we must be in a more ..appropriate setting."
"Ah, then I guess I should advise you that I plan on doing a good job quite often." Sea green eyes met blue. "You see, I intend on collecting all my rewards very frequently ..in the appropriate setting, of course."
"Of course." Jess spoke with amusement. "I am duly advised of your intent, counselor." She smiled. "Rewards, appropriate setting, frequently. Got it."
Robin laughed gently. "You are so funny." She smirked. "You're also very hopeless."
"Am I?" A perplexed look. "I don't think you've ever mentioned that to me before." Jess broke into a wide grin and shook her head. "Alright, kiddo, come on. We've got a client waiting to be told our good news."
"Right." Robin walked over to the door. "Hey, Jess. Do we get to rehearse your script when it's finished?"
"Can I yell 'cut' at the end?"
Early Saturday morning, Jess woke and readied herself to go back to the office. Trial preparations were in full gear, and later in the day, she was scheduled to meet with several witnesses to prepare them for their trial testimony. She busily showered and changed into casual twill pants and a light sweater. As she packed her briefcase with all essential items, she heard a horn honk from the street outside. What's going on out there this early? She strode through the living room and into the foyer, opening the front door curiously. What she found was a blue Miata sitting idly at the curb in front of the house, the motor still running. A slim hand waved happily from the driver's seat toward the doorway, as Jess stood in continued stunned curiosity.
"Get in." A voice called out from the car.
"What?" The tall figure stepped further out of the doorway and onto the front porch.
"You heard me." Robin beckoned again. "Get in."
"Why?" Jess hesitantly made her way down to the car. "I've got to go into the office today."
"I know, so do I, but we have to eat breakfast first, and I know you didn't eat, did you?" Robin eyed Jess suspiciously, hearing no response. "I didn't think so. You probably have no food." She smirked, hearing no response again. "We're going to eat breakfast, so will you get in, please?"
Jess was helpless to resist. "Oh, alright." She mumbled playfully. "But we won't take too long, right?"
"Right. I will have you back here in plenty of time for you to get to the office before the witnesses arrive." Robin placed her hand across her heart in a playful attempt at seriousness. "I promise."
"Fine. Let me lock up and set the alarm." Jess looked back over her shoulder. "You're impossible sometimes, you know that?"
Robin grinned. "I learned from the best."
After Jess finished locking up the house and setting the alarm, she unlatched the car door and settled her long frame inside the Miata. "You know, these cars weren't made for tall people."
Robin headed down the street toward the main highway. "Jess, when I bought this car, I wasn't thinking about tall. I was thinking about me." Robin stopped her explanation abruptly. "Okay, Jess." She sighed." Just say it. Get it over with, please. I know you're dying to say it, so just go ahead."
The dark head shook vehemently. "I have absolutely no idea what you mean."
"You know exactly what I mean, and you are going to say it anyway, so stop denying it, and just get it over with." Robin stopped the car at the red light.
"No." Jess pouted slightly. "You took all the fun out of it."
"Jess ." A blonde eyebrow rose expectantly. "Say it."
"No." Jess was defiant about it and stared straight ahead. "The light's green. You can go." A beat. "Shorty."
Robin narrowed her eyes as she pulled through the intersection. "You are so mean to me. And I even knew it was coming."
Jess suppressed a chuckle. "Payback for kidnapping me ..again. That makes two kidnappings for you and only one kidnapping for me. I think we need to readjust the kidnapping schedule."
"I wasn't aware that we had a kidnapping schedule." Robin pulled into the Breakfast House restaurant.
"We do. You kidnapped me last time, so it was officially my turn to kidnap you."
Robin got out of the car. "So what you're saying is this. The kidnapper cannot kidnap the kidnappee if the kidnapper did the kidnapping last."
Jess had to think about that for a moment. "Correct." I think. She and Robin walked inside the restaurant and waited for the hostess to seat them.
Once situated at their table, they perused the breakfast menu thoroughly, with Robin deciding on a combination of pancakes, bacon, eggs, toast, hash browns and coffee, and Jess simply deciding on Belgian waffles and sausage.
"Are you going to eat all of that?" Jess eyed Robin's plate when the food arrived.
"Yep. Why? Want some?" She pushed her plate across the table toward Jess.
Blue eyes studied the amount of food on Robin's plate. "Me and what army?"
Robin took her plate back and shook her head. "Well, I'm hungry." She poured some syrup on her pancakes.
She's the most adorable thing I've ever seen. Jess gazed for a moment across the table, almost hypnotized at the simple sight of Robin eating. It was the strangest feeling of total and complete comfort. Comfort. That's what it was. It was comfortable. Being with Robin was comfortable. They were comfortable ..together. Could they be comfortable together forever like this? Forever together? Jess had never talked with Robin about the forever together part. Part of her mind mulled that thought over. Does Robin want forever together, too? For that matter, is it really possible to have forever together?
"Jess?" Robin glanced across the table. "Jess?"
Startled from her musings, Jess lifted a dark eyebrow. "What?"
"Your food's getting cold. Where were you?"
"Um ..just thinking." Jess poured syrup on her waffle.
"I see." Robin sipped her coffee. "About anything in particular?"
About everything. "Just about what lies ahead." Jess was deliberately vague. Now was not the time to get into any serious discussions. "We have the trial, and ..everything."
Everything? Green eyes reached out across the table, capturing blue with an unsurpassed warmth, as if those green eyes knew exactly what questions lay hidden beneath the azure surface staring back. "Don't worry. You and I will handle the trial and .everything together. You can always count on me."
Always. "Good." Jess smiled. "Are you sure you're going to eat all of that?"
Robin glanced down at her half-eaten breakfast. "I've just begun." She whispered to Jess conspiratorially. "I might order a second plate."
"What? How could you eat .." Jess was speechless.
"I'm a growing girl. I need my strength." Robin didn't really intend on ordering a second plate, but enjoyed teasing Jess just the same.
"Strength for what?" Jess was confused "The trial?"
"Yes, among other things." Robin suppressed a grin.
Robin nodded seriously. "Right, other things."
Green eyes twinkled. "Such as other things that might come after the trial, of course."
"Other things that might come after the trial." Jess furrowed her brows in thought.
"Right." Robin was enjoying the continued teasing.
"And would those other things happen to involve me in any way?" Jess took a bite of her waffle.
"What if I'm not interested in these other things."
"You'll be interested." Robin responded nonchalantly.
"You seem pretty sure of that."
"Yep." Robin sipped her coffee.
Jess sat back in her chair and regarded the younger woman. "And you're sure of this, why?"
"Because I know how interested you are in rewarding those who do good jobs."
"So, I plan on doing a good job at the trial, and after we win, I'll need to collect my reward." The blonde stated all of this matter-of-factly.
"Okaaay." Where is this going? "So?"
Here, Robin grinned. "So, the reward I had in mind involves ..the other things." She winked playfully.
A moment of silent contemplation. Oh. Jess nodded and then impulsively looked around for the waitress. Maybe I should order a second plate, too.
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