Author's notes: All creatures Demon, Angels or otherwise are thousands of years old and if not, at least 18. Humans are at least 18.
Writing is Canadian English so colour vs color and neighbour vs neighbor are normal. This was written for Geek Pride Day publication but I lost track of it and had to rush it at the last minute. It hasn't been fully edited or polished so forgive the rough spots. Or not.
It was a sullen grey day outside, rain threatening to snarl the traffic even worse than usual, but I managed to get in early despite that. I was working on completing the paperwork for a court case I'd won on Friday. The judge had asked for the order to be prepared by Tuesday for his signature and with my other work that was going to be tight.. I was going over the wording to make sure it complied with his ruling. I chuckled remembering the devastated expressions on opposing council and client's faces when the decision went completely our way. The award was almost three times what I'd offered to settle for without going to trial. Opposing council had been so rude to me that it was pure pleasure to sit back, relax and grin at them, while the judge stuck it up their collective asses.
Michael, my fiancé, and I had celebrated all weekend.
A soft knock on the door frame made me look up, "Phil," I smiled. Phil was my boss, one of the firm's partners and a great guy to work with. He was smart, intuitive and known as one of the best legal minds in the country. Michael and I had gotten to know him and his wife quite well.
"Quite the win there Mallory," he looked pleased, "those idiots should have taken the settlement."
"Well you know Edwards Phil, he's...," trying to think of a nice way to phrase this, "not overly approachable when he's facing a woman in court."
"You mean he's an chauvinistic, archaic, mired in the past relic don't you?" Phil said smiling at me, "his firm should have retired him years ago."
"There are some that would say that," I said diplomatically.
"Well it's a hell of a win and the partners are pleased. I want you to take all these files," he swept his hands around indicating all the folders occupying my desk, " and spend the rest of the week turning them all over to Susan."
"That B....," barely choking my mouth back in time. We'd had been intense rivals since the day we started. She'd deliberately lost files and paperwork on me more than once, trying to get me fired.
His request finally registered in my brain, "all my cases? Are you firing me?" disbelief evident in my voice. The powers that be had told me told many times that I was the best new lawyer they'd recruited in decades.
"Nothing of the sort," he said waving Susan forward. She'd been hovering behind him. She must have heard me almost call her a bitch. She was smiling like the cat that ate the cream, obviously figuring I was finally getting the boot.
"No, the partners have an unusual situation that they want you to handle. It'll be a full time job for you and we'll let Susan handle this scutwork."
There was a look of horror on Susan's face when she realized that I wasn't being fired and she was getting all my files. It was the kind of work that junior associates get dumped on them all the time by the senior partners. It would easily double her already huge workload. In lawyers terms it was the garbage you had to wade through until you were trusted enough for bigger things. The look on her face was priceless and I wished I could sneak my phone out and take a picture. Nah, maybe too obvious!
Mentally I smiled, she had this coming. Karma was a bitch when you try to fuck people around instead of working for the common good. Suddenly between Friday and this morning's events, I was feeling pretty damn good. Who says Mondays are a bad day?
Phil seemed to know it too, I got the impression he was quite happy to see her get her comeuppance. He winked at me watching the various emotions flit across Susan's face, "so the partners should just be finishing up a meeting and we need to be there to outline what we need you to do and go over your new bigger compensation packet."
Wahoo! More money! This sullen looking day suddenly seemed sunny bright.
If the previous kick in the ass had been good, I swear Susan turned fifty shades of red hearing that, "well we shouldn't keep them waiting should we Phil? Susan, I'll call you later when I get back from the partner's meeting and let you know what you need to do. Thanks for stopping by," dismissing her. God that was soooo overdue, I was going to re-live this day in my dreams for years .
I could swear I heard a snicker from Phil.
Passing by his office he nodded indicating we should go in. Comfortably seated he started in, "don't let the Susan thing go to your head Mallory. She's a bitch for sure and we're aware of the things she's done trying to trip you up. What pleases us is the fact that it hasn't rattled you and you've handled all that and done a great job for the firm in spite of her. She'll be getting a 'Come to Jesus' talk soon and she'll need to make a choice about how she approaches her career. We encourage competition, it's the lifeblood of becoming a good lawyer, a sharp lawyer, but not at the expense of causing us to lose a case or our reputation by taking shots at others within the firm. If Susan can turn her attitude around she'll be a hell of a lawyer. If not, her hijinks can lose us business and we don't tolerate that. That defendant in that case on Friday has already contacted us and asked for talks about bringing their future business over. They're mighty displeased with Edwards and plan on firing his firm."
"So am I to be representing them now?"
"No, although they did ask for you," he looked disturbed. "What we want you to do is an unusual situation. I can only tell you that it will occupy you for quite a while and the money is awesome. Don't ask dumb questions in the meeting, just nod and sign. We'll work out the details after, ok?"
Mysterious and getting more mysterious, I thought walking with Phil into the meeting.
Mr Henderson, the senior partner was there. I'd only met him a few times since I'd started. There must be something big on the agenda because he didn't get involved much anymore having retired years ago.
"Thank you for joining us Mallory and congrats on the huge win Friday. That was impressive."
"Thank you sir."
"Mallory, do you know this man," indicating a picture of a man projected on the wall. He looked to be few years older than I was. He was a good looking, athletic man with an aristocratic air about him. I thought I saw hints of cruelty around his eyes and mouth but that could just be the perspective. Whatever it was, I had never seen him before in my life.
'No sir. I have no idea who he is."
I took another good look. Obviously this was important or he wouldn't have asked twice. Not wanting to give the impression of just glossing it over, I took another few moments to study him carefully.
"No sir. I'm very sure. I've never seen or met him before."
There was a buzz around the table, while Mr Henderson rapped his knuckles for silence.
Well as you know Mallory, my great-grandfather founded one of the oldest law firms in the country..."
I tuned his droning out. I could have recited the company history word by word. They were the oldest, not just one of the oldest, around since shortly after the American Revolution. It had been a real kudo to get selected by them when I graduated law school.
I tuned back in, he was getting to the meat of the conversation.
"I'm sure you heard that our client John Radcliffe died a couple of weeks ago?"
"Yes sir I did."
"His family is one of our oldest clients. Been with us since day one, over two hundred years now. The gentleman you see up there is his son and he's taking over the business. For the last decade John has been incapacitated and incapable of managing his affairs. Despite our good advice he'd refused to arrange Powers of Attorney so his son ended up with his hands tied dealing with everything. The business has deteriorated a lot and it needs to be cleaned up. Fortunately it's a major property business, they own commercial buildings in every large city in ten states. It's valued in the hundreds of millions of dollars."
"So am I to represent this client sir?"
"Yes, his name is Manah Radcliffe. What bothers the partners is how this evolved Mallory."
"Sir?" That was a puzzling statement, they were already clients of the firm.
The old man looked around the table, there was dead silence. I studied him for a moment. He was trying to be casual, but his eyes said otherwise. I realized the partners around the table were acting with a studied indifference, but all were watching me, whether directly or out of the corner of their eyes. Something big was coming, but I had no idea what.
I had worked too long and hard to be fed bullshit, "Sir, something is brewing here. You and the others obviously aren't comfortable with it so why don't we get to that?"
For a moment I tensed wondering if I had gone too far, his lips pursed in annoyance tugging his ancient parchment like skin so taut it hugged his bald, liver spotted skull. I wondered how old he was. He had to be in his eighties at least, yet his eyes were bright and keen, his mind was sharp as a tack.
He finally chuckled and I relaxed, "direct and to the point. I like that Mallory. When we had him in here to discuss the estate, he offered the firm a new three year contract payable at three million a year as a retainer."
I whistled, nine million was a whopper of a good client, but good clients aren't an issue to be concerned about, unless you don't have them.
"There's more Mallory. He insisted on paying the whole amount, nine million dollars right upfront. Wrote the firm out a cheque on the spot."
My jaw must have dropped, that just didn't happen.
Mr Henderson went on, "what stunned us even more Mallory was his absolute unequivocal insistence that YOU be given the account and that you be paid the standard partner's half share right up front. Phil, could you please...."
Phil drew an envelope out of his pocket and placed it in front of me. I opened it and looked at the figure on the check. Four and half million dollars payable to me. I sucked in my breath with a hiss feeling the blood drain out of my face. My stomach lurched and I wondered for a moment if I might puke. I was speechless, my brain trying to comprehend that much money.
"For that kind of money Mallory, you're expected to be at his beck and call twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week for the next three years helping him take control of his empire. You'll need to work with him, guide him and give him solid legal advice. The estate needs to be probated, taxes paid and proper transfers of the properties.....well you know the drill."
"Sir....I don't....I'm..." I was still speechless. Four and a half million dollars? Really?
"You're sure you don't know this man?"
"Absolutely sir. I'm just as stunned by all this as you seem to be."
"Well he was insistent that we also give you a new contract. You can't be fired or quit for the next three years. He'll also pay all expenses for travel and other needs. Basically he's buying you and your time from us," he nodded and a new contract was placed in front of me.
I looked at Phil and I'm sure he read the shock on my face. If anyone had told me this morning I'd be facing this I'd of called them a liar. Phil understanding my confusion nodded slightly, giving me his ok.
"Do you need time to think about this Mallory, it's our standard contract with your new financial terms and the terms of quitting or getting fired amended. Otherwise it's the same contract as you have now."
"No sir, if Phil is ok with it I'm ok, But a couple of questions do come to mind."
"Does the Firm's contract have the firm representing him or am I his representative?"
"You are," I could see he was pleased with that question. I was onto something important here.
"So as his lawyer, client confidentiality applies and I can't share anything with the firm?"
He smiled and looked delighted, "of course client-attorney privilege would be in order, but the contract specifies that the firm give you full back up resources."
He must have been a hell of a lawyer in his working days. I got it. The greedy bastards wanted the money, but if it went sideways, it would be my morals and ethics looked at, not the firm. They could claim no knowledge of what we were doing. This was all about deniability and who could blame them. This kind of deal was unprecedented. If it went to hell, I was the fall guy or rather girl.
Henderson added, "he's also providing you with office space in his building where he works. I understand from Phil that it's only ten minutes away from where you live now so that'll be a real bonus. You won't be working here anymore, unless you need our resources and we'll support anything you need. Just ask."
"Yes, sir, thank you sir," and signed the contract. Four and a half million was walking away money if things went sour. They could have their deniability. And if anything illegal or improper was proposed, I'd have my way out. Unethical activities couldn't be forced on me no matter how much I got paid.
He looked around the room, "well, I guess that concludes our business today gentlemen."
Phil and I got up, me walking on shaky legs that massive cheque clutched in my trembling hand.
"Mallory." It was Henderson.
Please, please, please, don't ask for the cheque back. I looked back, "Sir?"
"If you succeed at this there'll be a partnership when the contract is finished. I don't care if that man needs his diaper changed, you change it with a smile, are we clear?"
"Crystal sir." Smiling at the vision of changing a grown man's diaper. A partnership at my age. Awesome. They really wanted this to succeed.
Back in Phil's office we sat there and stared at each other, "I'm not sure I like all this Mallory. I've been in the legal business for decades and never seen anything approaching the likes of this. I get the not looking a gift horse in the mouth but really this is so far out there."
"I'll do my best to keep him happy Phil, but I won't sleep with him if that's what he's after. I hope the firm realizes I'll go a long way on this but I won't go that far."
"Mallory I can't speak for everyone but I hope you never have to face that decision. Besides I doubt he has to spend nine million to get laid. If he does ask, I'll support you in telling him to go to hell. I'll tell you this though, every lawyer faces a really bad decision in their career. This way or that way, the dilemmas can be agonizing. Sometimes no matter what you do it's wrong on some level and you just have to get past it. I imagine it must be worse for women getting hit on by clients, bosses, even the judges. It sure isn't a cakewalk for women in this business."
"Thanks for supporting me Phil," giving him a fond hug and a kiss on the cheeks.
He chuckled, "why don't you take the rest of the afternoon off Mallory and go cash that cheque. You and Michael will probably want to celebrate tonight. We can pick things up with Susan tomorrow. And by the way you're expected to start next Monday with him so let's work on getting your desk clear."
At the bank the teller took one look at the cheque and asked me to wait a minute. I saw her in an office with someone looking at the cheque and then he picked up the phone. A few minutes later he initialled the cheque and she came back.
"Did they come to their senses and stop the cheque," I grinned at her.
"I know you work for them but I have to refer any unusual transactions and that amount is certainly unusual," she leaned forward and whispered giggling, "did the boss pinch your ass or something?"
We both had a few snickers at that and I shook my head no. But I smiled thinking of a couple of over eager interns had needed a discrete slap or two before the 'no' message got across. They needed to learn to hunt elsewhere. It was hard to blame them we all worked long hard hours and personal time was a standing office joke.
She typed on her computer for a minute then handed me a receipt, "it's all in your account and you're good to go. Thank you for doing business with us."
I walked out of the bank and took a deep breath of the cool crisp air. What a day. No, what a payday! After all my years of hard work it breathed new life into my determination to succeed.
Poor Susan sprang into my mind. I'd shown my secretary the cheque, I knew the office gossip system would spread it at light speed. Walking past the women's washroom a little later, I could hear Susan in there retching and crying. I'm not normally a mean person, but that bitch had it coming to her.
With an entire afternoon on my hands I called Michael. He was at home working on a serious coding problem with some controls they were designing. He was having a lot of trouble cracking it. He seemed distracted when we talked so I told him I'd be over in a while and we'd be going out for supper to celebrate. His ears perked up and he asked me why, but I just put him off. I'd share it with him at supper.
Michael and I had been engaged now for the last two years and planned to get married in six months. We'd been going out now for the last four years meeting just after university when I joined my current lawfirm.
He was kind of geeky, six feet tall, skinny and absent minded, despite or maybe because of, his genius level intelligence. He was a software engineer working on new and innovative systems for industrial control. His head could get lost in coding problems for hours without realizing time passing. He was my little software genius and I loved him and looked forward to marrying him.
I'm Mallory as I'm sure you know by now. Five feet six inches, twenty eight years old with 36 C boobs. Blonde hair, blue eyes and a fairly tight ass I consider one of my best features. I've been told I'm a pretty attractive package.
I went to Harvard Law and graduated at the top of my class, thus the offer from Henderson and Company. They only hired top graduates from prestigious schools. I was sure my parents would have been so proud of me, but they had been killed in a traffic accident when I was just little. Too young to remember much about them, I only had pictures of the three of us when I was a baby. My mother's sister Clara had taken me in and raised me like her own. She never married and I sometimes wondered if having a child for baggage had held her back. She always denied that, but I did wonder.
Mom and Dad's estate paid for my legal education and left me with enough to get a reasonable start in life. I was forever grateful to them for their forethought.
I made last minute reservations at the most expensive restaurant I could find. By the time I got over to Michael's place he'd already forgotten we were going out to dinner. I had to tug him away from his computer to get him dressed up, rolling my eyes in frustration. Moments like this I almost felt more like his mom than his woman.
Over dinner I showed him my deposit form and told him what happened. I didn't tell him how unusual the whole situation was, not wanting to scare him. He was ecstatic at the news, it basically set us for life. We could even afford to buy a house when we got married. We spent the evening planning how we could best use the money to enrich our lives. Not that we were suffering, both of us got six figure salaries so we weren't exactly welfare bums.
I dropped him off that night, not daring to go in. I was a little drunk and feeling amorous. Here's my big confession.
I'm a virgin. Michael is too.
Despite being in my late twenties I never had the time for dating in high school or university. I was too consumed by studying to accept dates. The time could be better spent improving a paper or preparing for an exam. Call it tunnel vision. It wasn't until I met Michael that the issue became contentious and we decided we wanted to go to our marriage bed still virgins. I was firm on that decision but past events had proven a little alcohol and some roving hands could mess minds and good intentions up pretty quickly. I was hot, horny, and maybe all too willing tonight. It was best to pass on the opportunity especially since the four and half million had changed my world outlook. Was being a virgin so important now. Somehow it seemed not. I'd have to be careful, we still had six months to go.