- She wanted a life. She wanted a tan. She wanted to be held. She wanted to talk about something that had nothing to do with work. She wanted him.
She spent the majority of the next three weeks doing depositions in her own case, and getting ready for trial in the case she would conduct with her associate. As she suspected, he quickly recognized that her method of doing instructions first was the better avenue to take to prepare a case. She did not have to tell him. It was what she liked about him when she hired him.
They spent many hours reviewing what evidence would be offered as exhibits during trial, what witnesses would be used to enter that evidence, how it would be offered, and for what reason. While she knew the answers to most of the questions, she made her associate tell her what and why for each item. There was an attorney’s meeting coming up that the court ordered. At that meeting they would need to exchange their lists of evidence to be entered, and either agree or disagree to it. Any item where there was disagreement, a separate hearing would need to held, an evidentiary hearing, to determine if it should be allowed in or not. The objective was to not have those hearings, as they were a waste of the court’s time, and usually only served to piss off the judge before the trial even started. Therefore, all efforts were exhausted to have your evidence admissible and not try to play games. This meeting usually took an entire day, and she liked them to be held on Saturdays, both as an incentive to get done early, and also to limit the contested items. People will agree to almost anything when they feel they are using their own time to accomplish it. So she told him to set it for the next Saturday, at their offices. Home-field advantage always works well, too.
There was much to be done yet. Exhibits to be marked for the court. Motions in Limine to be heard. All dispositive motions to be heard. Jury instructions to be agreed upon. A verdict form to be agreed upon. Trials took a lot of time in the courtroom, but even longer prior to going to court. The amount of time spent preparing for a trial was incredible despite the best organizational skills of the attorney.
She had agreed to take on three expert witnesses at trial: the architect, the engineer, and the general contractor. All three formidable, but not out of reach for her. She had deposed them all, so she knew what they would say, and if they strayed from the admissions she got them to make during depositions, then her client was in good shape. If they tried to change their testimony, she always had her ace in the hole, the old, “Do you remember being asked this question and giving this answer…” as she read from their deposition transcripts, which are considered testimony under oath. Any variance in that testimony would mean they were being less than truthful, and committing perjury. She always resisted the old line of, “Are you lying now or were you lying then?” It never seemed appropriate for an expert. Lay witnesses, yes, but not experts. They were in a class unto themselves in her mind. While they may, in fact, be lying, she would never call one a liar on the stand. But the jury would almost hear her say it without the words ever coming out of her mouth. She would drive the point home of inconsistent testimony. There would be no doubt in the jurors’ minds that the witness was a liar.
She gathered up the remaining deposition transcripts and notes for the people she would be cross examining, and left the ‘War Room”, a separate office she had set up in her wing of the office where trials are prepped. That room was used only by her Team and used exclusively for this kind of situation, and it contained every piece of paper they had on the cases, every piece of discovery, every blue print, every permit, every pleading, every piece of correspondence. It was all there, an arm’s reach away. It was her “invention” and the conference table in there gave them a great place to prepare for battle. It kept them focused, and trials are all about focus.
As she walked out of the room, she told her associate she was going home to work on her stuff, and he should consider doing the same. It was late, and it was a weekend. “You can only focus for so long without a break” she told him. She also believed in having a home life, in having someone take time for themselves and their significant other. She preferred her employees find a balance in their lives, something she could not find for herself.
But that fact made it all that much more important to her. She did not want them to be like her. She was a poor example of balance. She was not someone to be admired for it, except as much as it contributed to the Firm’s bottom line, and her successes in court. But from a human viewpoint, she was pretty pathetic.
She had been the number one producer in the Firm for many, many years. But that was due to not having a life outside of work. She had put all that aside to build a reputation in a field normally dominated by men. She was now seen as someone not to be trifled with. There used to be dismissive conduct by the men in the field of construction defect litigation, but not anymore. And anyone who came in new was quickly advised to tread lightly.
Her entry into the field had opened it for other women to come in and build a reputation. She was often credited by those same women with having cracked that ceiling, opened the doors for them. While she herself did not take that credit, it was given nonetheless. She felt honored when other women in her field would call and ask her advice on a case, or ask for help on an issue. She was known in the legal community of construction litigators as “Queen B”….and the B stood for Bitch. She wore the title proudly.
But she had felt in the past few years that she had less and less appetite for the trial work. She enjoyed parts of it, but not all of it. It was exhausting work. Too many hours. Too many weekends lost. Too many late night calls. A few years ago she had gone back for more education and was certified by the Florida Supreme Court as a Circuit Court Mediator. She then went on to become certified in Arbitration and Dispute Resolution Board work. These would allow her to keep her toes in the field and also allow her to free up her work schedule. It meant being able to control her own calendar, to work when she wanted, and not work when she didn’t want to. It would be a graceful way to make an exit from a long, well-practiced career. Every year she thought this would be the year she made the move from trial attorney, to mediator and Arbitrator. Then every year she thought, well, maybe one more year and maybe next year.
Now she was staring another trial in the face, and possibly one of her own coming up in the not too distant future. That was besides the other cases she was working and the two other attorneys she was supervising. In total, there were possibly 100 cases being worked on between them all. She became exhausted just thinking about it sometimes. Maybe this would be a good time to make the change. Maybe.
She drove home that day intending to work on the files she had in her briefcase. Somehow, now, the thought of doing that just made her tired. She wanted a life. She wanted a tan. She wanted to be held. She wanted to talk about something that had nothing to do with work. She wanted him.
But he was 130 miles away, and probably aggravated with her by now for not being around, not being available. Hell, she was aggravated with herself. This pre-trial routine made her resolute and firm in everything. She was less flexible. She was donning that armor one piece at a time so that on day one of the trial, she would be suited up and ready. It was the battlefield. She was a trained warrior. Her client depended on it.
- He was everything she wanted, and everything she could not have. He was everything she needed, and nothing she needed. He was simplicity and complication. He was an enigma. But he was a solution.
She could not remember the last time she had been in his arms. She could not remember the last time they had actually kissed, or made love. She had long ago stopped writing those dates down as it became depressing when too much time had gone between meetings. It may have been only weeks ago, but it was too long, far too long. Sure, they had phone calls and emails. And those were important. But she could not remember the date, the last date they had been together, in the same place, at the same time, in the same bed.
There was a time when she had been able to go years and years without thinking of sex, but since him, she couldn’t. She couldn’t go 24-hours without missing it, and him. She resented every single moment they were not holding each other. She knew first-hand how short life can be, and that ‘forever’ plans can go awry. Things you plan to do tomorrow may not ever happen. No one is guaranteed a tomorrow. And counting on someone else being there tomorrow is almost impossible.
She fed the cats, made a cup of coffee, dragged her briefcase and herself into her office at home, plopped into her chair at her desk, turned on her computer and waited for it to boot up. She leaned back in her chair. She had broken down and bought a new one, one with more back support. This one even had a built in massager. She turned it on. It hummed as it ran through its routine of going up and down her back. It would even provide heat if she needed it. But she didn’t want an electric massager, she wanted his hands doing it. Mostly she wanted a life where her back was no longer a matter of twisted muscles from stress. If she was going to be sore, she wanted it to be from him hugging her too hard, or from him making love to her too often, from falling out of bed during a pillow fight over whether she drooled in her sleep or not.
If she made the change this year what would that mean? If she said she was done as a trial lawyer, and just worked on building a mediation practice based on her client list, did she have the energy for that? It would be a tough year of work. She would have to go and sell her “self”. Or would she? She had her reputation, she had all the contacts. Everyone she knew hired mediators. In Florida, all Circuit court cases were required to go to mediation before trial. She could join up with another mediation group and do joint mediations. There were lots of mediators around, but not that many that specialized in construction defect cases. Most of those now came from south Florida and were very costly. A few were even flying in from California to take advantage of the laws in Florida. Here the laws were so poorly written that contractors and subcontractors were being raked over the coals every day and put out of business in an economy that was just starting to turn around. She knew the process. She was a pro at it. What if she did make that choice?
Her computer beeped at her and broke her concentration. She pulled out her keyboard and typed in her name and password. Log-on process initiated.
If she started doing just mediation work, she could work anywhere, anytime. She could travel more in the US. She could spend more time at her Arizona house. Spend more time with her son. She missed him and felt the need to spend time with the one person who was constant in her life. She had promised him she would do that soon. She was fortunate to have a son who wanted his mom to live close. They had a very special relationship. She never felt she deserved the respect and love he gave her, but she took it anyway.
Her hard work over the years had allowed her to spoil him with things in many ways. But mostly she spoiled him with her love. But now the miles were in the way of that love. She needed his hugs more and more often. She needed that before her cancer diagnosis, but more since then. She feared for how he would deal with her death if the cancer should win. Well, it didn’t win. But she liked thinking about being closer to him now. She would live vicariously through him. Married now, she would be as much support as she could, she would do everything possible to make sure his life would be easier than hers had been, both emotionally and monetarily.
She loved that he was a good man. He never asked for things. He often argued with her about what she could and could not give him. And often he gave in and let her do what she could for him. So she would disguise her gifts to him as birthday presents or Christmas presents. They both knew it was a game, but she needed to help him for herself, not for him. It made their separation bearable. It was a small price to pay for that.
Then there was him. Her Orion, son of the God of the Sea. The man whose belt was made of stars, lined up like the pyramids of Giza. The man who was as mysterious to her as those pyramids were to the rest of the world. The man who made her feel like a woman again. The man who touched her like she had never been touched before. The man who was both ends of the spectrum to her at times. He was everything she wanted, and everything she could not have. He was everything she needed, and nothing she needed. He was simplicity and complication. He was an enigma. But he was a solution. Mostly he represented life to her. He was the hope of love. He was the essence of tomorrows she wanted. He was her choice in a world where he was the only choice. And that was because she got to pick the candidates. And she had chosen no one but him.
She wanted the beauty of him close to her. She wanted to always know his passion. She wanted to always be the one whose lips felt his breath. She wanted to always be the one who would shudder at his touch from the heat it generated inside of her. She wanted to be impaled on his sword of passion, on his shaft. She wanted to feel his heat, to smell the grass in the sunlit clearing of the dark woods. She wanted to feel that safety with him forever. She wanted her atoms to be confused and in chaos. She wanted light fairies to dance on his foot each morning as she watched.
But he needed the sea. And Arizona had no sea. And him going there, well, that would be like putting the lightning bug in the jar. Its glow would only last for hours, not days or years. It would lose its beauty, its freedom, its chance at life and love. She knew she could not ask that.
“Damn him! Damn the Son of Orion for coming into my life now!” And with that she threw the papers in her hand against the wall. The cats went running for cover as the papers scattered throughout the office and fell to the floor. This was impossible. If she stayed and continued working like she had been all these years, they’d still be 130 miles apart, and there would be all these trials that would always work against them being together. And if it wasn’t trials, it would be their different shifts. Their different hours. Her in the daytime. Him at night. Too many empty beds. Too many missed moments at a time when those moments seemed forever to her.
Right then she wanted so badly to have him there to talk to. She wanted to sit outside and look at the stars with him. She wanted to pack a beach lunch, to make love in the surf, to float in the pool under his skillful touch, to be filled with him in every possible way. She wanted to feel his hair against her face, her shoulders, her breasts, her thighs. She wanted to feel someone stronger than her in that bed, and that was him. She wanted to see him in the sunlight, glistening with the water still beading on his body. She wanted to see him in the moonlight. She wanted to be the one he held onto to stay grounded on this earth so he did not float away to the heavens and join the stars. She wanted to be exactly what he wanted. She wanted too much.
She sat at her desk for what seemed like an hour, but probably was only minutes. She stared at the papers, the monitor, the briefcase…and then she cried. It was that cry that comes from somewhere down deep inside. It was the feeling of her insides rendering themselves in an attempt to escape the confines of her body. Her tears felt like tears of napalm, her face on fire from their tracks down her cheeks. It was the pain of her heart breaking. It was the agony of scar tissue torn and now healing. It was the pain of every atom in her body ripping itself into shreds. She lay her head down and sobbed. This time, instead of fighting it, she let the tears fall.
Excerpted from "The Expert Book III" by V. L. Ewing. Copyright © 2014 by V. L. Ewing. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.