Home > The Spark(4)

The Spark(4)
Author: Vi Keeland

Warren’s face bloomed crimson. “Now wait a minute. I’ll have you know—”

I cut him off. “I’m aware you’re a member of the same country club as one of the senior partners. This isn’t the first time I’ve had a client who runs in the same social circle as members of this firm. And it also wouldn’t be the first time I’ve fired a client who has those types of connections. Yes, Dale or Rupert will be unhappy with me, but at the end of the day, I make them millions a year, and you don’t. So they’ll get over it. You, on the other hand, will not. Because the government’s case against you is all but airtight. And when you have to go down the street to another firm and another attorney, you’ll be doing twenty-five years, because I’m the only shot you have at beating this, Mr. Bentley. Some may call me arrogant for saying that, but I don’t really give a flying fuck. Because while I may be that…it’s also the God’s honest truth.”

I sat back in my chair and had a little staring contest with Mr. Bentley. He was pissed—I’m sure it had been decades since anyone spoke to him that way. And right this moment, he was currently mulling over firing me. But in the end, the people who find themselves sitting on the other side of my desk, the people who get involved in complicated, crooked schemes that get them in hot water? They aren’t dumb. They’re intelligent. Very much so. And they love their freedom. So most have done their homework before they step one foot through my door, and they know I’m their best shot at keeping said freedom.

From here, now that I’d given my little speech, we’d play a game of chicken. The first man who spoke lost.

Three or four minutes ticked by—which is a long-ass time to sit and stare at a man in silence—but eventually Warren caved.

He leaned forward and rested his hands on his knees. “Fine. What’s our next move?”

I spent the next forty-five minutes going over strategy. He wasn’t happy when I told him he likely wouldn’t be able to post bail once the feds froze his assets. But we were still early in the game, so he was at least partially in denial—thinking his friends and business associates would come to the rescue.

Maybe they’d show for fifty-grand bail, but his was going to be seven figures.

When we were done and had a game plan, my client blew out a deep breath.

“How long do I have before they arrest me?”

“A day—two, tops.”

“What do I do until then?”

I held his eyes. “You sure you want my advice on that?”

He frowned, but nodded.

“Go home, Mr. Bentley. Call in a private chef to make your favorite meal and then fuck your hot fiancée. Because your assets will be frozen by morning, and once that happens? She’ll be hocking that rock on her finger to pay for a first-class ticket back to wherever she came from.”

 

***

 

“May I see your ID, please?”

I leaned back in my chair and smirked at my friend across the table.

“Fuck off,” Trent grumbled while pulling his license out of his wallet. He hadn’t even looked up to see my face, yet he knew I was enjoying the moment.

The waitress perused his ID and handed it back to him. This routine was a pretty frequent occurrence. Trent Fuller was thirty but didn’t look a day over eighteen. I’d never seen him with facial hair, and we’d gone to bachelor-party benders that lasted four days in New Orleans.

I smiled at our server. “He’s late hitting puberty. You want to see mine?”

“It’s okay. You look over twenty-one.”

“You sure? Not even to take a peek at my address, in case you’re in the neighborhood?”

The waitress blushed. I was teasing, though she was pretty, albeit a little young for me.

“I’ll be back with your drinks in a minute.”

Trent grabbed a breadstick from the middle of the table and crunched into it.

“Who was the hot blonde I saw you walk out to reception with her father this afternoon?”

“The old dude is her fiancé, not her father. But if you’re interested, I’m pretty sure she’s going to be in the market for another sucker pretty soon. My client is about to lose a bunch of the assets that make him so handsome.”

“Damn. We never get women who look like that in the intellectual property division.”

“You want to run with the big dogs, you gotta learn to pee in the tall grass.”

Trent’s face wrinkled. “What the hell does that even mean?”

I chuckled. “No idea. How’d things go with the woman you managed not to scare off a few weeks ago?”

My buddy and I went out for happy hour or dinner once or twice a month. We both worked eighty hours a week at the firm, so free time wasn’t something we had in droves.

Trent frowned. “I took her out to dinner at a really nice restaurant. Left her a message the next day to say I had a good time, and she’s not returning my calls.”

“Did you entertain her during the meal with your usual riveting conversation about copyrights and patents?”

“Fuck off.”

I laughed. I was kidding, of course. Trent was actually a pretty funny guy. He was witty and smart. It was totally her loss, but I’d never admit that to him.

“How about you?” he said. “How did things go with the brunette you met? She seemed really nice.”

“Gone. Failed test two.”

He shook his head. “You and your ridiculous tests. When was the last time someone made it past two?”

The waitress came and delivered Trent’s wine and my beer before disappearing again. I knew exactly the last time a woman had made it past my so-called ridiculous tests. Though I didn’t need to mention it had been a while, just to help prove my friend’s point.

He prodded. “Seriously, how long?”

“I don’t know…”

“You do too know. You remember shit you heard in the womb, Decker.” He shook his head. “It was the luggage woman, wasn’t it? The redhead you spent the weekend with who pulled the disappearing act on Monday morning. What was her name again? Summer?”

I took a long draw from my beer. “Autumn.”

It had been ten months since I walked into that coffee shop to swap luggage, and three days less than that since I’d last seen her. We’d met to exchange luggage and wound up sitting in Starbucks until it closed. After, we went out to dinner, then back to my place later when we shut down the restaurant. Autumn W. I’d even blown off a day of work after she ditched me, the first time I’d done that since I started at Kravitz, Polk and Hastings seven years ago.

We’d barely slept the entire weekend, even though we hadn’t had actual sex. Another first for me—spending three nights with a woman I wasn’t sleeping with. Yet I’d never been so wired about meeting someone in my life, and I’d thought the feeling was mutual. Which was why I’d been shocked as shit when I got out of the shower Monday morning and found an empty apartment. No note. No number. I’d never even gotten her last name. The only thing I had to go on was a folded-up piece of paper, an odd list I’d forgotten to stick back into her luggage when I’d rummaged through it. I still had it folded in my wallet at this very moment. Yet another thing I wouldn’t be mentioning to Trent.

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