Trial of Conscience

By Troubleshooter

Chapter 4

Long legs dangled over the bow of the boat as pale blue eyes watched the boat traffic in the marina.  The sun was shining brightly and a light breeze with just a hint of crispness played with her hair. “What’s bothering you?”  Sydney’s question to her on Thursday had run through her mind all weekend as if it were caught in an endless feedback loop.

What’s not? she thought wryly.  In the space of less than a week, it seemed her life had gone from order to chaos, leaving her decidedly unsettled.  She didn’t even go to work on Saturday, instead taking the boat out to fish.  The quiet time had been good, but the answer to Sydney’s question remained the same.  Everything.

Of course, that’s not what she had told Sydney.  The only thing she shared with Sydney was her concern about the lack of progress in discovering any information helpful to their case.  That seemed to have momentarily appeased Sydney and Evin had quickly gotten her involved in reviewing the big board and searching for a connection.  Hours later, the search proved fruitless.  A fresh set of eyes, Sydney’s, had failed to pick up on anything they might have missed.  At least it stopped Sydney from asking more of those damn questions.

Feeling unsettled was not a condition Evin Moran often found herself in.  She groaned internally.  Why the hell did I get involved in this?  ‘You’re kidding me, right?’ her little voice asked sarcastically. I could just walk away from this.  ‘Yeah, and the sun’s gonna set in the East. You never could pass up a challenge.’  An audible grunt of agreement.  The only good thing about arguing with yourself is that one of you is gonna win. 

She didn’t know which was worse, feeling this way or not knowing why she was feeling this way.  The why, I think.  Yeah.  Definitely the why.  If I knew why, I could do something about it.  All right, Moran, so why?   

Is it this damn case?   Admittedly, she had gotten off to a rocky start with both the case and Sydney.  She had reacted strongly to Rayburn’s ambush.  Then she had assumed that the law student had screwed something up, but, much to her surprise, Sydney had covered all the bases.  There’s a couple of things I would have done differently, but...she actually did a pretty good job. 

The more she delved into what seemed to be such a simple case, the tighter her gut had gotten.  Rule number three, Moran.  Nothing is ever as it seems.  She knew, down to her very marrow, the course this case would eventually take if only she could put the pieces of the puzzle together.  She had suspicions.  Strong suspicions.  But no facts.  She knew she would unearth the facts, hopefully sooner than later.  She was running out of time.  Then it would be her against them, in a fight she had no doubt she was capable of fighting.  The only problem she had now was that she didn’t know who to fight, yet. 

She squinted her eyes as the sun reflected off the hardware of a Sea Ray docked in a slip.  Is the case just bringing up bad memories?  A snort.  Without a doubt, but I can deal with it. ‘Yeah, sure you can.’  I can handle it.  While this case was similar to Landau, in many ways it wasn’t.  At least nobody tried to shoot anybody in that one.  Besides, it hadn’t really been Landau back then.  It had been everything else.  Landau had probably kept her sane, giving her something to focus on while everything else around her shattered into sub-molecular particles, none of which she had been able to put back together.   

It had been a long time since she had been involved in a case like this.  Andrew’s comment on Wednesday stung, harder than she had imagined it would.  “Since when did you start caring about your cases again?”  She had thought long and hard about that comment, finally admitting to herself that she hadn’t really cared about a case in a long time.  She cared, but it was about her, not the client.  Her pride wouldn’t allow her to do anything but the best job that she was capable of.  And she cared about winning.   

But really care about a case?  No.  Because that meant caring about people.  Because that really was what a case was.  A certain set of facts gave rise to a legal right of action, and central to those facts were the people whose lives were intertwined with the case.  She had detached herself from those feelings.  From personal involvement.  From having the outcome matter on any level other than her pride.  From having it affect her life outside of the office. 

She mostly just felt empty.  There was no sense of the fulfillment that she had experienced with Landau and a lot of the cases early in her career.  Now she was a hired gun, working for the highest bidder.  If you could afford her, she was as lethal in a courtroom as any killer.  Her weapons were words, but they hurt no less, destroying all that stood between her and winning.  The fact that her client benefited was really incidental to her.  It was all about her— her need to win, her need to be the best.  If she could win it all, maybe then the pain would go away.  The problem was, she didn’t know what ‘all’ was. 

A gull seemed to hover for a moment, then dove at the water, snatching an unsuspecting fish.  A fleeting thought of commiseration went to the fish, wriggling and trapped in the gull’s beak.  Know how you feel, buddy.  The sound of the water gently lapping at the hull of the boat floated to her ears.  “Shit.”  Do I care?  The answer her mind supplied made her shake her head.  Why?  She wasn’t sure if she cared out of concern for the Dolese family or if she was seeking the satisfaction of destroying the unknown enemy.  Nor could she determine why, of all the cases she had, this particular one mattered.   

On Wednesday Andrew had made her so angry that she swore to herself that the sole focus of the upcoming weekend would be to get drunk and get laid.  It had been a long time since she had done just that, close to a year in fact.  An escape, if only for a little while, and maybe, just maybe, she had reasoned at the time, Monday morning would see her feeling in control again.  But here she sat, at three on Sunday afternoon, having failed to carry out her plan, at least not yet. 

She had called Tom on Wednesday evening, to find out if he was going to be working Sunday afternoon.  When he had replied that he was, she promised to meet him so they could catch up on the last couple of months.  She met Tom in college, hitting it off immediately, he as wild as she.  He had graduated a year before Evin with a BA in Arts and Theater.  He had opted however to pursue his other talent, namely that of bartending.  He worked the prime shifts at the dance bar in New Orleans, which also happened to be the place to be if you’re gay.  Usually, they went out to brunch or dinner once or twice a month, but Evin had canceled the last three outings scheduled with him.   

Now that the time had come for her to get ready, she was having second thoughts.  Part of her wanted to go, her mouth salivating in a Pavlovian response to memories and feelings that stirred within her.  The ‘wild child,’ as her mother had referred to her so long ago, was something that she had buried, or at least tried to.  But on occasion, the wild child would surface, and she wasn’t sure that now would be a good time, particularly with the way she was feeling.  Her mind thought of a thousand excuses she could offer to cancel, but each time the guilt at not seeing her friend in more than two months rejected the excuse.  And, she had to admit, the little murmurings from the wild child weren’t helping. 

I can’t believe I said I’d go to Tea.  This is really, really, really not a good idea, Moran.  Every Sunday afternoon, for as long as Evin could remember, the Bourbon Pub/Parade hosted what was called ‘Tea Dance.’  It was a glorified beer bust, with free draft beer in the dance part of the bar, on the second floor.  If you were gay, anywhere within a one hundred mile radius of New Orleans and out on a Sunday afternoon, it was mandatory that you at least put in an appearance at Tea.  Quite a lot of straight women and a few straight men showed up there as well.  She and Tom used to drive into New Orleans every weekend when they had been at LSU, spending the majority of their time cavorting around the French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny, always ending up at Tea.   

Another gull swooped down, neatly plucking a small fish from the still waters of the marina.  She watched the gull absently as the bird dove again.  Sydney Parker.  Now there’s the real problem.  She had experienced such a strong, intense reaction to the law student.  Responding with what was always her first line of defense, walls were reinforced, the aloof personae firmly set in place, and the vaunted focus made laser sharp.  More than enough to keep everything at bay.  At least it always had been until Sydney Parker showed up.   

Then came the confusion when it didn’t work.  Her primary defense had failed her, so she went to defense number two.  Get angry.  At everything, including Sydney.  And that hadn’t worked either.  So here she sat, feeling out of control, and that was something she didn’t tolerate well at all. 

The brilliant mind that thought and reasoned so logically couldn’t make sense of any of it.  Feelings crashed over her like the waves pounding the seawall.  It wasn’t the fact that she was sexually attracted to Sydney that was causing the problem.  She had been sexually attracted to a lot of women.  She either acted on it or she didn’t.  No other considerations.  Just sex. 

But Sydney.  Now that’s a different story.   A smile crossed her face involuntarily.  Sexually attracted to Sydney?  Oh yeah.  Without a doubt.  But it was so much more than that.  Her responses to Sydney came from deep inside her; from places she hadn’t known still existed.  She had worked so hard for the last eight years at walling those places off, at burying her feelings and her needs so deeply, that it shocked her when they began to surface.   

Her rational mind protested that it was not possible for anything to penetrate through the walls.  Too much work had gone into building and reinforcing them.  Too much time had been spent pouring layer after layer of concrete around her heart and soul.  Yet here she sat, knowing beyond a shadow of a doubt that, for some inexplicable reason, Sydney had torn through the concrete walls like they had been made of paper.   

Sydney made her feel, made her think, made her want.  Me, the self-absorbed, egotistical asshole that I am.  I actually care about her.  I want to know everything about her.  I want to wrap her in my arms and hold her and never let her go.  I want to take care of her and protect her.  I want to make her happy.  And I have no idea if I’m even remotely capable of doing any of that.  Or even if she’s interested.      

Time to take a shower.   She stood up and made her way across the deck to the ramp leading to the boathouse.  The boathouse had been her parents’, their ‘in city’ refuge and it had become Evin’s as well.  Located on Breakwater Drive on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain, it was one of only about thirty such structures in New Orleans proper.  The breakwater was a man-made peninsula created to shelter the marina and yacht club.  The two story buildings were all side-by-side, sharing common walls.  The front offered a view of the lake from a second story balcony and the back offered a view of the marina and yacht harbor.  The external appearances were very deceiving, most resembling warehouses. 

Inside, however, was an entirely different story.  Most had living space that was at least the square footage of a decent sized house, and the accommodations for the boat were covered and large enough for a fifty-foot yacht and a twenty-five-foot boat.  Hers was no exception.  The master bedroom and bath occupied the second floor.  The living area and an exceptionally well-designed kitchen took up the first floor.  Evin’s mother had been an excellent cook, but the kitchen was wasted on Evin.  Her mother’s skill at cooking was lost somewhere in the DNA transfer that took place on Evin’s conception. 

She showered and dressed, then grabbed her keys and headed out to her car.

“Hey, girl!  Look who’s come to Tea.  I’ve missed you.  You look faaabulous!” 

Evin leaned against the bar and smiled.  “Lillian, you’re looking well.”  Tom, who preferred the name Lillian over his given name, leaned over and kissed Evin on the cheek. 

“Oh, girl, please,” he said, with a flip of the hand.  “You want the usual?” 

“Yeah, might as well.”  Blue eyes flicked around the bar. 

“You meeting somebody here?” he asked as he made her martini. 

“Nah, just came to see you.” 

“Uh oh.  I’ll call downstairs and tell ‘em to put the warning signs up,” he teased. 

“Fuck you, Lillian,” she retorted, laughing. 

“Only if you strap a big one on.”  He flashed a wicked grin and waggled his eyebrows. 

“You’re trash.”  Evin adored Tom.  He possessed a razor sharp wit and the audacity to use it. 

“No, I’m a slut,” he said in mock indignation.  “There’s a difference.” 

“Just in your mind.” 

“I live there, so I can believe what I want.”  He called out to the other bartender.  “Gerald, you sweet thing, I’m gonna take a little break.  Be back in ten.”  Turning back to Evin, he said, “Grab that table and let’s chat.”   

She followed his instructions and he soon joined her at the table. 

“So where have you been?”  He smiled at her.   

“Busy at work.  What have you been doing with yourself?” 

He looked around the bar, long brown lashes batting.  “Him and him...let’s see, him.”  He pointed at various men. 

“You are a slut.  At least I hope you’re practicing safe sex.” 

“Yes, mother.”  Awareness and an attitude shift by some gay men helped somewhat, but in the late eighties and early 90's, they both had seen too many friends and acquaintances die from AIDS. Of the last five funerals that Evin had attended during that time, she had been pressed into pallbearer duty because there simply weren’t enough men in that circle of friends left to perform that role. 

“I’m not your mother.” 

“No, but you could be my daddy.” 

“Wrong equipment.” 

“Honey, you’re more of a man than I could ever hope to be.  You like it.  I never developed a taste, so to speak, for it.”  He grimaced.  “Yuck.” 

“I bet you say that to all the girls.”  She loved the banter between them.  It was fast-paced, acerbic and sometimes embarrassing, not that she would give him the satisfaction of knowing that particular piece of information. 

“Just the lesbians.” 

“Well, you know my theory...” she chuckled. 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, girlfriend, I know.  Two kinds of women, those that are and those that want to be, even if they don’t know it.  You know that’s not really true.  You couldn’t have, oooh, say my mother.”  

“I wouldn’t want your mother.  That’s disgusting, Lil.” 

“You still keeping Kenneth in the black?”  Mischievous brown eyes twinkled. 

Blue eyes swept the bar again.  “Very subtle.” 


“No.  Haven’t ordered any flowers in a while.” 

“Plan on ordering any soon?” 

“Maybe,” she smirked.  She could feel the wild child stirring.  The insidious beat of the music called her to come out and play. 

“So, which side of the Kinsey scale will it be today?  Still intent on seducing the straight women?”   

“Straighter they are, the harder they fall.” 

“You just like the challenge.” 

She shrugged, eyes still scanning the room.  “Whatever.” 

“You know, I believe you have issues.” 

She rolled her eyes.  “Jesus, you’re not seeing a therapist again, are you?” 

“Yes, I am.  And you have issues, girl.  Fear of commitment, fear of abandonment, your inner child...” 

“Fuck my inner child.  Is there a point to this little diatribe?” 

He laughed.  “No point, I just love to analyze people.” 

“Bet you’re fun in bed.”  She raised her voice, imitating him.  “Ooooh, that feels so good.  Why does that feel good?  Wait, let’s stop and analyze this.” 

“You don’t ever think about this stuff, do you?” 

“No.  It ruins my mood.” 

“Not possible to do that.”  He snorted.  “Maybe it would improve your mood if you did.” 

“Doubt it.  Now, a couple more of these and possibly that,” she said, holding up her drink and nodding towards a tall blonde, “will definitely improve my mood.” 

“Why do you do that?  You’re in a fucking gay bar and you pick the straight women.” 

“Works for my issues.  No emotional involvement, therefore no commitment, therefore no possible abandonment.  Logical.  And I save on therapy bills,” she drawled.  “Bonus points if they’re from out of town.  You never run into them again.” 

“You have such a warped mind.” 

“Again, your point would be...”

 “No point, just stating facts...Oh my God, look at him.” 

“You are such a queen.” 

“No, I’m a princess.  My mother’s still alive.”  

“Shit!”  Evin’s eyes narrowed to slits as the smile left her face.

Looking to where Evin’s focus was, Tom glowered.  “Well, I’ll be.  Here she comes, Miss Antarctica,”  he sang.  “My, my, all the dykes are out today!”

“All I wanted to do was get a little drunk and get laid,”  she muttered disgustedly.  “Why does she always show up?  I haven’t been here in forever and the one time....”

“Maybe she won’t cause any trouble.”

Evin shot a look at him.  “Maybe you’ll start liking women.”

“When hell freezes over, girl!”

“My point exactly,” she said dourly.

“Well, nothing like a little bit of good old-fashioned dyke drama on a Sunday afternoon.” He harbored an intense dislike of Gisela Andersen, both personally and because of Evin.  He thought of her as a cold, heartless bitch with stunning Scandinavian good looks.

“I’m so glad I could be here to entertain you,” she said sarcastically.

“Don’t look now, but she’s heading this way.  You know, it’s a shame she’s such a bitch.  She’s just absolutely stunning.”  He had thought of the pair as ‘beautiful people’ at first.  Evin, with her dark looks and Gisela, with her fair looks.  Gisela almost as tall as Evin.  Gisela slender and Evin lean. Both with chiseled facial features.  Evin’s pale blue eyes and Gisela’s gray eyes.  Lesbian poster girls.  They certainly blew to hell every stereotypical description he had ever heard.

Tom watched as his friend transformed before his very eyes.  Suddenly, next to him, sat a very intense, very sexual Evin Moran.  “How do you do that?”

Encounters with Gisela had never been that pleasant, even when she and Evin had lived together during law school.  After the break-up, their encounters had taken a turn for the worst, if that were possible.  “Never, ever, let ‘em see you sweat.”

“You have just got to teach me that one day.”

“It’s easy with her.  I know what gets to her,” she purred, “and I use it.”  She felt the wild child come to the forefront and let her.

It was a lesson that Evin had learned her senior year of law school.  Walling off her emotions and feelings made her remote and distant.  The walls were so solid that they blocked the static interference that usually colors one’s perceptions with their own emotions and feelings. With cool detachment, she studied human nature and learned to present her personae in a manner that got her what she wanted.  Call it manipulation, if you will.  She preferred not to.  Rarely did she force any situation.  She simply put in place a set of circumstances and human nature generally took care of the rest. 

He looked at the pale blue eyes, now darker and smoldering.  Her voice had dropped an octave and taken on a smoky quality.  He could feel it wrap around him, caressing him.  Sitting next to him now was a hundred thousand volts of raw sexual energy, barely contained in the body that carried it.  He briefly thought that whoever ended up being the outlet for all that energy tonight would be one lucky woman.  Tired when it was all over with, but lucky.  “I love you, but you scare the hell out of me.” 

Tom was off the stool and on his feet when Gisela approached.  “Gisela, darling, you’re looking positively glacial.”  He kept walking and waved at Evin.  “Ta ta dear, I must be getting back to work now.”

“Evin, so good to see you.”  Cool gray eyes regarded Evin, the tone of the voice even cooler.

Yeah, sure it is.  Gisela was so good at games.  Guess I learned from the best.  “I thought you’d think so,” Evin purred.

Gisela blinked, only slightly.  “Yes, well.  Out hunting, are we?”

“Perhaps.”  Evin favored her with a sensuous smile and one raised eyebrow.  “And you?”

“Oh, no, my pet.  I’ve found the love of my life.”

Evin’s heart shuddered at the words she recalled Gisela whispering to her in what seemed like another life.  “I’d love to meet her.”  Evin’s voice dripped sweetly.  “Where is she?  I’m sure a warning is in order.”

“Unfortunately, she’s not here today.  You’d adore her.  She’s simply the best I’ve ever had.”

“Until the next one.”

“There won’t be a next one.”

“Gisela, darling,” Evin’s voice dropped to a low seductive growl as she stood up and leaned towards the blonde, her eyes sparkling.  She stopped inches away from her face and the blonde’s sharp intake of breath in reaction to Evin’s closeness was unmistakable.  Moving even closer, Evin nipped her earlobe and whispered, “That’s what you say every time.”

Gray eyes watched the tall woman walk away, part of her lusting after the stunning woman who still had the power to take her breath away and the other part of her irritated that she was.  She lost herself briefly in memories of sweat soaked sheets and long limbs tangled and a broad strong back marked by thin red lines of blood, skin raked raw by nails.  Sex had been the only area where they had been compatible.  And that had been raw and powerful and burning, but it had consumed them, leaving behind gaping wounds they tried to reopen every time they saw each other.

The smell of freshly cut grass gently assaulted her senses as green eyes blinked.  Damn, I can’t believe I fell asleep.  The corner of the law book, opened flat against her stomach, poked her in the ribs as she tried to sit up.  “Ow.” 

Sydney often came to Audubon Park to study on Sunday afternoons.  This Sunday was no exception and the day was beautiful, clear blue skies and a light breeze with just a hint of crispness to the air.  Armed with her blanket and a couple of her case books, she had gotten to the park after lunch, settling in her favorite spot between the zoo and the river. The steamboat Natchez was loading passengers for the trip back from the zoo to the Aquarium of the Americas.  Sydney watched the people walk up the ramp like cattle, her eyes still blinking sleepily.  A few small children were crying, cranky and tired after a long day at the zoo.  

Her eyes look like the sky.  An image of the tall, dark lawyer floated through Sydney’s mind and she sighed.  What is it about her that makes me crazy?  One look at her and I can’t decide if I want to fight with her or jump on her, wrap my legs around her and kiss her.  She’s so adorable.  She looked like a goofy kid with that ice cream and that lopsided grin.  And she can be so damn frustrating.  There’s something about this case that’s really bothering her, I can tell.  And she won’t tell me what it is. 

What am I gonna do?  I can’t even begin to describe how I feel.  That undertow of hers certainly has me.  Maybe that’s why I’ve got this urge to fight with her.  Trying to resist that undertow.  Maybe I ought to quit fighting and see what happens.  Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do with an undertow?  Don’t panic; don’t fight it.  Go with it.  That’s the best chance of survival.  And if that doesn’t work, well...I guess there are worse ways of drowning. 

Sydney stretched a little and rose, gathering up her blanket and books.  Time to head for the clinic and review all those defaults for the morning. 

I’m such an asshole.  Thud...Thud, thud, thud...Thud, thud.  Why did I go out yesterday?  Thud, thud...Thud, thud, thud, thud... Alcohol laden sweat dripped from her brow.  You think you would’ve grown up by now, huh, Moran?  Thud...thud... But noooo, you’ve got to go out and prove you’ve still got it.  What were you thinking of?  Were you trying to get back at Gisela?  Put on a show for her?  Drown out your feelings about Sydney?  THUD.  “Ow, shit!  Son of a bitch!  I think I broke my god damn hand.” 

Evin took off the sparring glove and gingerly unwrapped her left hand.  “Great, just great!  Add these to the ones from last night.”  Two knuckles were already swelling and bruising.  “Oh yeah, you really got yourself back in control now.  That was a brilliant solution you came up with yesterday.”  She mocked herself.  “Can’t handle something.  Gee, go out, get drunk, fuck somebody.  It’ll all be better in the morning.”  The heavy bag didn’t answer. 

Do you think you’re still eighteen?  Think you can stay out until three in the morning, get two hours of sleep, and feel great in the morning?  What other delusions do you suffer from?  She aimed a kick at the heavy bag, connecting with enough power to make the mounting bracket shake.  Get a grip.  Grow up.  You’re your own worst enemy.

Sydney found Wayne in the hallway outside the courtroom.  “Good morning.” 

“Hi, Sydney.  Thanks for bringing the files.”  Wayne went to law school with Sydney, worked in the clinic with her and was one of four people in their study group.  This morning, he and Sydney had fourteen default divorces scheduled. 

“Rough night?  You sounded pretty out of it when you called me last night.” 

“I went to Tea with Maria.  That damn draft beer.  It must be all those bubbles.  I’ve got the worst headache.  You ought to be glad you didn’t come with us.  Not that it wasn’t fun.  It actually was really wild.  There was this woman there.  You should have seen her.” 

“You’re scaring me.  You, looking at women?  She must have been something to see.”  Sydney glanced at her watch.  “Let’s go in.  Court’s about to start.  Did you check to see if everybody’s here?” 

“We’re just missing Mr. Lopez and Mrs. Bowie.” 

Sydney chuckled.  “That’s better than we usually do.” 

“Yeah, I already signed us in.  We’ll probably be here all morning.  We’ve got eleven in a row on the docket.”  He slid onto one of the benches in the courtroom.  Sydney followed. 

“Good,” Sydney said as she settled back and waited for the clerk to call their first case.  “Hurry up and wait time now.” 

“Give me the Lopez and Bowie files.  I’ll try to go call them.” 

Monday in Civil District Court for the Parish of Orleans, State of Louisiana, was default divorce day.  Uncontested divorces were the first thing on the docket.  It was a relatively simple process, Sydney thought, considering you were severing all ties with the person that you had loved.  All her client had to do was get up on the witness stand, answer a few questions, and it was done.  Judicial approval to the end of a relationship.  That simple. 

She wondered if the formal dissolution made it easier to end a relationship in any way.  When she had broken up with Kathy before she left for law school, she almost wished that some authority figure had said, “It’s over.  Get on with your lives.”  Not that Kathy would have listened anyway.  What a disaster that was. 

Wayne slid back into his seat.  “I got Bowie.  She forgot.  I told her to get here as fast as she can.  There was no answer for Lopez.  Maybe he’s on his way.” 

“If not, we’ll just reschedule.  How can you forget you’re getting divorced?  It’s unbelievable.”  Sydney shook her head. 

The clerk called Court to order and everyone stood up as usual.  Greetings were said and the clerk started calling cases.  It took only fifteen minutes to run through the first two defaults.  The next case called was Sydney’s and Wayne’s.  They took their places at the plaintiff’s table and started the process of finalizing a divorce for their client. 

“Mr. Adams, Ms. Parker, how many more do you have today?”  the judge asked. 

“Thirteen more, sir,” Wayne responded. 

“Let’s run through them, then.  What’s your next one?” 

Sydney pulled a file.  “Cieutat vs. Cieutat,  98-1011.” 

“Let’s go with that one.” 

Halfway through their cases, Sydney felt like she was being watched.  Wayne was asking the questions of their witness in this case, so she glanced behind her and found pale blue eyes gazing at her.  She smiled slightly and turned back around.  Wonder what she’s doing here? 

Alternating asking questions of their clients, they zipped through the remaining defaults.  When they got to the last one it was ten after eleven and Mr. Lopez still hadn’t shown. 

Sydney stood.  “Your Honor, the last case we have is Lopez v. Lopez.  Mr. Lopez, our client, hasn’t arrived yet.”   

“I’ll put it on the end of the docket.  If he’s not here by noon recess, I’ll reschedule him.” 

“Thank you for your consideration, Your Honor.”   

Sydney started gathering files in her arms.  Wayne snapped his briefcase shut.  “Let’s go sit outside so we can organize this mess and get those judgments filed.” 

“I’ll be with....”  Sydney looked to the spot where Evin had been sitting.  Wonder where she went?   


“Oh, nothing.  I saw that attorney I was telling you about, Evin Moran, in here earlier.” 

“The one helping you with Dolese?” 


They walked out the courtroom and sat on the bench outside.   Pulling out the files, they began collecting the judgments into one stack to file with the clerk of court’s office. 

“Tell me what I missed yesterday afternoon.”  Sydney was thumbing through another file. 

“It was so wild.  You know when you go out sometimes, there’s just something in the air?” 

Sydney nodded. 

“Well, it was one of those afternoons.”  Wayne spoke animatedly as he related the events of last night.  Sydney offered the occasional nod or encouraging grunt as she went through the files. 

“Oh, wow!  That’s her.”  Wayne moved his head in the direction of a woman walking down the hall. 

“Who’s her?”  Sydney said as she looked in the direction of Wayne’s gaze.  “Hey, that’s Evin Moran, the one on Dolese.” 

Wayne let out a low whistle.  “I’ll be damned!  She’s the woman from yesterday, the one I was telling you about.” 


Sydney glared at Evin who was now standing in front of them.  Her voice held a sharp edge of anger.  “Have a good weekend?” 

Evin’s shrug was noncommittal.  “S’alright.  You?”   

Sydney snapped out her response.  “Oh, it was fantastic.  Couldn’t have been better.” 

Wayne looked back and forth between the women, his eyes rounding slightly.  This is too strange.  What’s up with these two? 

“Good.”  I think.  She’s angry again.   

“This is my friend, Wayne Adams.  He’s in clinic with me.” 

“Wayne.”  Evin nodded and shook his hand. 

“Ms. Moran.  Nice to meet you.”  Wayne said as he stood up and shook Evin’s hand.   

“So, did you have court this morning?” 

“Nah.  Just came to observe you.”  What is with the attitude?  Maybe she’s mad at him.  I know I didn’t do anything. 


“Uh...Sydney?  I’m going to go file these judgments.”  Wayne interrupted.  He felt exceedingly uncomfortable.  Sydney was upset about something and he didn’t want to wait for the fallout, which appeared to be coming soon. 

“Okay.  I’ll wait here for you.” 

“You’re my law student.” She talked to him civilly, so I guess she’s not mad at him. 

“Advisors don’t usually go to default divorces.” 

“I need to evaluate your performance.”  What is going on here? 

“How did you know I was going to be here?” 


“Why didn’t you just ask me?” 

“I needed to talk to Rayburn about something else so I asked him.” 

“You didn’t talk to him about my withdrawing, did you?”  Sydney said accusingly. 


“I can’t believe you did that!”  Sydney stood up, green eyes flashing angrily.  “You promised me you wouldn’t make me withdraw.” 

“Sydney, I...” 

“You lied to me!” 


“Damn you!  I won’t follow your orders so you go to somebody who can make me follow them.” 


“I can’t believe I trusted you.  I guess it’s a good thing I’m off the case because I can’t work with people I don’t trust.”  Sydney’s voice had gotten louder and louder as the one-sided conversation had progressed.   

“Guess this means lunch is out of the question.” Evin said coldly and turned on her heels, retreating down the hall to the elevator.  That took all of two minutes to go from ‘hi’ to hell.  What were you thinking of?  Never gonna do this again.  A loud clank echoed in her mind as the steel doors closed shut. 

When Wayne returned from filing the judgments of divorce, he found Sydney sitting on the bench outside the courtroom, livid.  “What’s wrong?” 

“That bitch!  She got Rayburn to take me off Dolese.” 

“Why would she do that?” 

“Because she’s the great Evin Moran and she can.  How the hell do I know?  She’s been trying to get me off this case since it started.”  Sydney looked down and her voice lowered.  “I’m sorry, Wayne.  I didn’t mean to snap at you.  I’m just really angry.” 

Angry wouldn’t even begin to describe Sydney’s state of mind.  She was the bull and Evin was the red cape and the matador, all combined into one, taunting Sydney.  She thinks she can get me off the case.  We’ll see about that.  I’ll go to the dean if I have to.  She’ll be the one off the case. 

“I’m sorry, Sydney.”  Wayne didn’t know what to say to make his friend feel better.  “Maybe you can talk to Rayburn and change his mind,” he offered.  “It’s almost twelve and Lopez didn’t show up.  Let’s go tell the judge.” 

Sydney walked up the steps to the law school, hoping Professor Rayburn was not out at lunch.  This is gonna be settled once and for all.  I’ve worked my ass off on this case and I’m not going to let some arrogant bitch take it over.  She pulled the glass door open so hard it rattled.  She made a quick right turn and went up the steps to the second floor.  Two doors down, she saw the open door to Professor Rayburn’s office.  She knocked on the doorframe to get his attention. 

Professor Rayburn turned from his computer.  “Sydney, hel...What’s the matter?”  The young law student was clearly upset. 

Sydney tried to remain calm, but she was so angry, and Professor Rayburn was in her path at the moment.  “I can’t believe you let her take me off the Dolese case!  It’s not fair.  I’ve worked my ass...” 

“Slow down, slow down.”   Professor Rayburn’s brows furrowed.  “What are you talking about?  Sit down.” 

“I’m too angry to sit.  How could you let Evin take me off Dolese?”  Tears brimmed in green eyes. 

“What do you mean she took you off the case?”   

“She said she talked to you about me withdrawing.  Why’d you let her do it?” 

“Sydney, please sit down.  I think you must have misunderstood.” 

Sydney took a seat in one of the office chairs.  “What’s to misunderstand?  I’m off and you let her do it.” 

“You’re not off the case.  Where did you get that idea from?” 

“Evin said she talked to you.” 

“She did talk to me... About a lot of things, including withdrawal.”  He said seriously.  Sydney started to speak, but he held his hand up.  “I brought up your withdrawal, not Evin.  She said that she had discussed it with you several times, but it was your decision.” 

“You mean I’m not off the case?  Then why...” Uh oh.   

“No, you’re not.  Why would you think that?” 

Oh no, I can’t believe I did that.  Talk about jumping to conclusions.  That was an Olympic size leap.  “I assumed... She....” Oh shit.  “I screwed up.”  Her shoulders slumped as the weight of her angry words fell.  Her little voice chimed in, ‘Don’t forget to mention the fact that you let your personal feelings interfere here.  What Wayne told you made you angry.’ 

“Sydney, what happened that has you so upset?” 

“Oh, Professor Rayburn, I can’t believe I yelled at her.  I was in court this morning on those defaults and she showed up and then we were talking in the hall and it just went downhill.  When she said she talked to you about my withdrawal,” Sydney groaned, “I just assumed...I can’t believe I did that.  I’ve really screwed things up now.  She’s not going to want to work with me.  I guess I need to withdraw now.  I’ve got to do what’s best for my client.” 

“Do you want to withdraw?” 

“No, of course I don’t.  But now...I wouldn’t blame her for not wanting to work with me on this case.” 

“When you start practicing law, you’re going to run across a lot of people that you won’t like and who will be difficult to get along with.  Some will be opposing counsel, some will be on your side.  Some will be your clients and witnesses.”  He said quietly.  “This makes it hard to put your client first.  You must constantly ask yourself, what’s best for my client, and govern yourself accordingly.”  He sighed.  “Evin Moran’s not an easy person to get along with.  If you don’t want to work with her, I’ll try and find somebody else to take over as your advisor.” 

“But that’s my dilemma.  I know that having her on the case is the best thing that could have happened for my clients.  But every time we try and have a simple conversation, we end up arguing.  I’ve thought about this since last Monday, and I can’t seem to come up with a solution.  I’ve tried counting to ten, taking deep breaths, and I don’t know what else.  I don’t have this problem with anybody else.”   

“I’ve had you as a student in what, two classes?  And now Clinic?”  She nodded in agreement.  “You’re bright, energetic, and a quick study.  I have no doubt that you can do anything you set your mind to.  You’ll come up with a solution that will work for you.” 

Sydney closed the door behind her and dropped her knapsack onto the floor, next to the coat rack.  Five thirty.  I wonder if Evin’s still in her office.  Of course she is.  Where else would she be?  Don’t even go there, Sydney.  Shit!  Shit!  Shit!  It took great effort for Sydney to get to the couch, where she collapsed in a heap.  I hate having three classes in a row.  She reached for the portable phone and dialed Evin’s office number.  Eventually, she got through to Jeffrey. 

“Hi, it’s Sydney Parker.  Is Evin in?” 

“No, she hasn’t been in all day.” 

“Oh, I...well, would you tell her I called.” 

“Sure thing, Sydney.  You have a good night.” 

“You too, Jeffrey, Thanks.” 

Sydney hung up the phone and looked at her knapsack.  I should get her card and at least beep her.  I owe her an apology big time.  And I’ve got to see if I can somehow straighten out this mess I’ve managed to create.  I just want to go to sleep and hope it’ll all be better in the morning.  She felt a strong pull towards the bedroom to do just that as she got up off the couch.  But she avoided the detour and headed for the knapsack, retrieving Evin’s card.  It sucks being an adult.   

She looked at the numbers.  Beeper first.  When the tone sounded, she punched in her number.  Hanging the phone up, she decided that she was definitely in need of comfort food.  Change out of the law drag and head for the kitchen.  That’s a plan. 

The pager sat on the desktop producing an irritating humming noise as it vibrated against the wooden surface. A long arm snaked out and snatched it off the desktop.  Evin checked the number.  What the hell does she want?  To yell at me some more for God knows what?  Three beeps, two cell phone voice mails, message at work, message here, email at work, email here. Christ, the only thing she hasn’t done is send me a fax at home.  Evin quickly looked at the fax machine next to her desk.  Nope, no fax.  Probably doesn’t have the number, that’s why.  I am not gonna put up with this shit.  I was rolling along just fine before all this crap.  I’m going to put an end to this.  No more case.  No more Sydney Parker.  She got up and strode with purpose to the door, grabbing her keys and wallet along the way.

Part 5

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