#TBT Some Like It Deadly #GoingRoyal

Sabrina York’s Hannah and the Highlander! #comingsoon #preorder #firstinaseries
August 19, 2015
Make a Run for the #BlackHillsWolves with @Katalina_Leon’s #romance Uncaged #shifters #MMA #pnr #suspense
August 21, 2015

Being the best friend to a prince isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. As attorney and spokesperson for the royal Andraste family, Richard Prentiss lives under a microscope. Fair or not, he’s not able to date like a regular person. So when his personal assistant retires, Richard knows her pretty replacement, Kate, is strictly off-limits.

Kate Braddock’s resume includes special forces training and enough profiling work to pick a threat out of a crowd. None of that prepares her to resist the charming, down-to-earth attorney she’s assigned to protect. Determined to treat him like any other body to guard, she struggles to maintain her distance. It’s her job to step in front of the bullet with Richard’s name on it, nothing more.

When threats against the royal family take a deadly turn and his new assistant foils two attempts on his life, Richard’s grateful—and more than a little intrigued. There’s more to Kate than meets the eye, but what is she hiding? He’ll have to trust her with his life when the danger proves to be closer than either realized…

Read an excerpt!

The
sharp trill of the phone split the silent darkness in half. Kate Braddock
jerked upright and had the phone in her hand, and answered before her mind
fully processed the steps from sleep to waking. Adrenaline flooded her system,
but training kept her voice calm. “Braddock.”
Too
many middle of the night phone calls heralded bad news.
“Kate.”
Peterson’s voice sent relief chasing through the adrenaline pumping through her
system. “My apologies for the odd hour.” The head of security for Armand Dagmar
personally and the Andraste Royal Family in general didn’t sound remotely
apologetic. Nor did he sound deeply concerned, which hopefully meant, Anna, her
protectee and the fiancée of the grand duke was also fine.
Of
course, as her boss, Peterson never sounded disturbed.
“It’s
fine, sir.” She gave the perfunctory answer and shoved a hand through her hair.
The sharp tug helped fuel her sleepy mind. Slanting a look at the clock, she
sighed. It was only four-thirty in the morning. On her day off—the single day
she’d had off in weeks. “What can I do for you?”
“We
have a delicate situation and I am going to be blunt, Braddock. You’re actually
the only woman for the job.” Plunging right in and ripping off the Band-Aid was
far preferable to beating around the bush. At this early hour, all she required
were the specifics with no sugar coating involved.
“What’s
the job?” Pushing back the blankets, Kate rose and padded to the kitchen. She’d
already set up the coffee maker the night before. All she had to do was hit the
on switch.
“Richard
Prentiss slipped his security detail this weekend.” Prentiss was the grand
duke’s best friend, and he’d been involved in a rather spectacular car accident
a few months earlier.
Kate
was impressed—with Prentiss, not his security detail. How they let a wounded
man slip them didn’t bode well for their future in the business.
“He
was beyond our supervision and out of communication range for nearly seven
hours.” And then as if anticipating her question, Peterson added. “He left his
cell phone at the house, and returned via taxi looking none the worse for wear,
but…”
“But
he slipped his security.” The loss had likely pinched the pride of a man as
thorough as Peterson. He was damn good at his job. She didn’t envy the members
of the detail who’d failed to keep the attorney under surveillance and safe.
They wouldn’t have their jobs much longer—if they hadn’t been fired already.
“So what does that have to do with me?”
“Mr.
Prentiss informed the grand duke he would be returning to his regular duties at
his office tomorrow and he wants the security detail pulled.” In a reverse of
his earlier bluntness, Peterson circled around to his point. Kate turned at the
sound of the coffee maker finishing its job, and poured herself a mug of the
dark blend. The process kept her busy and her mouth shut.
She
was a good soldier, and well-trained. Peterson would get to what he wanted soon
enough.
“Look,
Braddock, the grand duke wants to appease Mr. Prentiss, but he’s not prepared
to remove security from him. Chatter has slowed, but it hasn’t quieted fully.
When we inserted you with Miss Novak, you downplayed your presence as personal
security by acting as her assistant.”
And
there it was.
“You
want me to do the same for Mr. Prentiss?” She hadn’t been especially fond of
deceiving Anna, but then she’d never had to lie to her directly either.
Peterson and the grand duke had simply told her that Kate had been vetted by
security and could act as her assistant. That Kate could do the job. The
deception kept her in Anna’s orbit. Every time Anna left the tower to work,
Kate had gone with her.
“Yes,
we’ve arranged to have his legal assistant head out on a worldwide cruise, all
expenses paid. She leaves today, in about three and a half hours, I need you to
meet with her and get everything you’ll need to know about how to do the job
because you’ll be interviewing with him tomorrow. I’ll have the car picking her
up swing by to get you in ninety minutes.” Peterson had thought of everything,
his smug tone might be well deserved. Mr. Prentiss wasn’t the easiest
protectee.
So
much for her day off. “Do you think that Mr. Prentiss is just going to hire me
because his assistant left? I’m assuming he has others in that law firm he
could borrow—”
“He
could, obviously, but he and the grand duke are scheduled to have lunch later
today and…” Peterson trailed off and actually sighed. “Let’s just say that
he’ll receive the news of his assistant’s departure under controlled
circumstances and the grand duke will then volunteer your services. We’ll get
you in the door, you need to secure the position.”
How
very Machiavellian of the grand duke.
“You’re
asking me to protect someone who doesn’t want a detail and who won’t know what
I’m doing.” The potential for clusterfuck was enormous. Anna had been a similar
case, but she’d also had a full detail on her at all times in addition to Kate.
“What kind of detail is Prentiss going to have?”
“A
discreet one.” He paused a beat, then continued, “Kate, I know this isn’t the
easiest assignment. I wouldn’t ask you to do it if I didn’t think you were
fully capable of it. The grand duke is worried about Mr. Prentiss’s visibility.
We can’t properly secure him without his cooperation. You will have backup, but
they could be twenty seconds out.”
And
twenty seconds could be the difference between life and death.
“Understood.”
She drained her coffee and glanced at the wall clock. “I’ll be ready in ninety
minutes for the car.”
Once
he had her agreement, Peterson disconnected the call and Kate carried her cell
phone into the second bedroom that she’d converted into a workout room. Five
minutes later, she was running on the treadmill. Too wired to go back to sleep,
she checked the time.
It
was nearly noon in Germany, her brother usually had Sundays off and spent them
watching recorded sports. After dialing her brother’s number—international code
included—from memory, she waited. When he answered on the second ring, the last
knot of tension Peterson’s middle of the night call had wound in her soul
relaxed. “Hey, Beany Baby, how are you?”
His
groan made her laugh.
He
was okay. Alive.
She
could handle everything else.
“I’m not
going to lie to you, Ms. Braddock—the job won’t be easy. This position demands
travel at least forty percent of the time. Where I go, you go. When I need a
file, I need you to pull it up. You have to anticipate last minute changes and
I may be calling or texting you at three in the morning to come in because we
need to have a brief in front of a judge at eight.” Richard Prentiss leaned
back in his chair and studied the dark-haired woman seated across from him. Her
calm, cool eyes—he couldn’t tell if they were hazel or just a very pale
brown—betrayed no hint of concern. Considering he was offering her
well-compensated indentured servitude, he’d hoped for a little more bite in her
responses. “This is a steep learning curve and I wish that Miranda had given me
more notice before she left, but we have to work with what we have.” He wasn’t
sure what frustrated him more—Miranda leaving on such short notice or that she
left at all. Miranda Keen had worked for him since he’d hung his shingle and
despite Armand’s copious attempts to fund his law firm, Richard had built his
client list from the ground up. No one knew him better than Miranda—and no one
deserved to come into a windfall as much as she, either. He’d paid her well,
but that didn’t mean she wanted to spend the rest of her life working
sixteen-hour days.
“That
won’t be a problem, Mr. Prentiss. I’m used to a tough schedule and travel.” Of
course she was. Kate Braddock had been recommended to him by Armand during
their racquetball game—the first he’d been able to play since a car accident
laid him up some months before. Losing a kidney and his spleen meant a lot of
changes in his routine, but he was finally well enough to kick his armed
babysitters to the curb. He’d understood the need for increased security,
particularly during his recovery, but he didn’t like having a posse of heavily
armed babysitters entrenching themselves in his life, tearing it apart, and dictating
his movements. Armand hadn’t liked the idea, but as Richard’d informed his best
friend, he could stuff it.
“True,
you’ve been with Anna the last few months.” Richard grimaced and drummed his
fingers against the resume sitting atop her personnel file. The speed of
Miranda’s departure meant he had to cut corners to find her replacement. Kate’s
previous stint with Anna meant he didn’t have to worry about a background
check. She’d have been vetted by at least two different security agencies. “How
will she handle your departure?”
“I
believe the recommendation came from Miss Novak, Mr. Prentiss. She has a full
staff to help with her foundation responsibilities and an additional two
secretaries beyond myself. Her precise words were that she would miss me personally,
but professionally she was covered.” The wry response suggested a sense of
humor and Richard nodded, but continued to drum his fingers. It was all a
little too neat for his level of comfort. The world did not provide easy
solutions—and in his experience, if one didn’t examine every angle of a
potential Trojan horse, one deserved to be burned.
And she comes recommended by
Armand who wants me safe, so chances are she’s exactly what she appears to be.

Still.
“The
better question, I believe, is will we work well together? Do you have any
particularly annoying habits that I might object to? Are you a vegetarian
perhaps? Or someone who speaks with their mouth full of food? Do you eat while
you dictate your notes? Do you prefer MP3s or in person dictation? What types
of confidentiality contracts am I expected to sign? Will I receive any type of
additional compensation for the level of disruption in my life? When you have
romantic liaisons will you expect me to wait in the other room on the off
chance of a three a.m. emergency?”
The
rapid-fire questions eliminated his initial assessment. He grinned, she
definitely had bite. “I have no idea if we’ll work
well together, but my initial impression is yes. I have no annoying habits that
I’m aware of, though I’ve been told I’m an ass on more than one occasion.” He
let that hang out there to see what she would do with it.
“You’re
an attorney, Mr. Prentiss. I would expect you received your certification in
being an ass about the same time you passed the bar.” Sharp, dry and to the
point.
She
answered every question, and had retaliated with a few of her own.
He
liked her.
“I
never talk when my mouth is full.” He layered innuendo along the words on
purpose. Anna and Armand’s recommendation aside, he needed a personal assistant
who could do her job in the office and not on her back. Instead of rising to
the bait, she merely lifted her eyebrows and waited. Impressed, he continued.
“Let’s see, there is a very good chance that I will dictate notes while
consuming a meal, but I expect you’ll be eating at the same time, so we’ll
adjust accordingly. I tend to record notes on my cell phone when I drive and
I’ll text you the voice memos as needed.”
Shifting
her personnel folder to the side, he held out a fifteen-page contract and
sobered. All personal quirks aside, he needed some assurances. “This is the
confidentiality agreement. It’s ironclad and it stipulates on all terms that it
remains enforced whether you work for me for five seconds, five months or five
decades. What we discuss, what information passes in my office, is between you
and I and absolutely no one else. I don’t care if the police are questioning
you or the President of the United States—privileged defines every
communication. If you can’t handle that, we stop right here.”
“Unless
you’re planning to assassinate the president or in some way create mass havoc
such as harboring a terrorist, I have no problems with signing that contract.”
Utterly unruffled, she didn’t pause to consider her response. “I will, of
course, insist that you add to those caveats. Privileged information does not
allow you to compromise my integrity or make me complicit in a crime.” The
blunt force of personality added another tick into the pro column.
He
extended the sheaf of papers. “Section four, paragraph three, subsection A—it’s
a personal morality clause. It stipulates if you believe a crime is being
planned or has been committed that has caused, will cause, or may cause duress
or undue distress to you or another living being, you may waive the
privilege—in only that issue—to report it.”
“I’m
not sure whether to be disturbed or impressed that you have that in a
confidentiality agreement.” She took the papers and flipped to the section he’d
indicated, a tiny line forming between her brows. “The fact that you’ve already
considered it enough to put it in the contract suggests you’ve been burned.”
Smiling
at the implied question, he spread his hands. “I’m afraid that’s confidential.
However, read through and make sure you understand it. Perhaps consult an
attorney and if you can do that in the next—” he checked his watch, “—fifteen
minutes, that would be great. I have a backlog of cases and briefs that need my
attention.”
Most
people would have snapped to their feet at the urgency, but she didn’t. Instead
she rested the contract in her lap and stared at him. At his raised eyebrows, a
smile turned up the corners of her mouth. “You failed to answer the final two
questions.”

Smart. Detail-oriented. Capable
of challenging him. Security clearance vetted by the royal family.
If she was half as good at doing
her job as she was the interview, he might survive Miranda abandoning him.
Picking up an envelope, he passed it over. It contained a check he’d had drawn
on his way to the meeting. “That contains your stipend for this month. The
stipend is a living fund and completely separate from your paycheck which, as
previously discussed, is considerable. You will have access to a corporate
credit card. I’ll order it today, but I expect it within the week. You may use
the card to charge anything you need while working or on the job—hotel rooms,
meals, clothing—provided you document the expenses.”
She
didn’t open the envelope. Professional—but she would have had to be. He knew
her work with Anna, particularly in recent months, meant access to
discretionary funding, which added another facet to her worth in the position.
Richard made a mental note to call Anna later and make sure she could part with
Kate Braddock—that seemed fair.
“And
as for my ‘liaisons.’” No, he hadn’t forgotten that question. “I keep a
strictly personal-professional line in all areas.”
“Excellent.
Do you have any other questions for me?”
He
hadn’t, but then changed his mind. “Do you
have any annoying habits that will interfere with our ability to work together?
Do you eat with your mouth open? Prefer meals laden with onions or garlic?
Can’t function without coffee? A boyfriend or significant other that might
object to my three a.m. calls? The last thing I need is a riled lover accusing
me of trying to seduce you.” It was really none of his damn business, but she’d
started it.
“No,
sir. I’m practically perfect in every way.” She rose, expression absolutely
serene. “And I have no interest in Wyoming for a ranch, but Montana, I hear, is
very nice. You have twelve minutes before your call. If you’ll excuse me, I’ll
review this contract.”
He
opened his mouth to ask her what she meant and then snapped it shut again.
A
few months before, when he’d been in the hospital, Armand had tossed an
accusation his way in a fit of pique.
Armand
had laughed. “You make fun now, but sooner or later you’re going to meet a
woman who ties you up in knots. And we’ll see who is cracking jokes then.”
“Not
gonna happen. I’ll find me some nice secretary who thinks the boss is her meal
ticket, she’ll be all yes sir and no sir and thank you very much sir and we’ll
have four kids and a dog and a summer ranch in Wyoming.” Richard had snorted. “Now,
get the hell out of here and find your girl, or sources close to the prince are
going to report you knocked her up.”
Armand
was a dead man. “Of course.” He mentally applauded his steady voice, but
respect shifted through him as he watched her leave his office. The room’s
orderly appearance was a testament to Miranda’s handling of everything during
his recovery—thank God she hadn’t left him then. Checking his watch after the
door closed behind Kate, he picked up the phone and dialed the prince’s private
line. Armand answered on the second ring.
“I
take it Miss Braddock made it to her appointment on time?” Laughter danced
behind the European accent.
“You’re
a dick,” Richard said by way of answer. “And she’s perfect. So go ahead and
chortle.”
Armand
laughed. “Good. I have another call and Gretchen is giving me the eye. Time for
another game tomorrow?”
“Sorry,
your highness, some of us have to work for a living. How’s,” he paused and
flipped open his tablet to look at his calendar. “Friday?”
“I’ll
have to rearrange some items.”
“You’re
the one who wants to play.” Richard appreciated the sentiment. “I have another
call to make too. Give Anna my regards.”
“Right.
Rick?” Worry coated his tone.
“Yeah?”
Richard waited, Armand hadn’t been thrilled with his decision to go back to
work and while he might be Richard’s most loyal client and oldest friend—he
wasn’t the only one.
“Never
mind.” The prince sighed, apparently ceding the argument without making it.
“Don’t overdo it.” The last came out a direct order, but one made out of
concern rather than arrogance. The call ended as abruptly as they’d begun it,
but after more than a decade of friendship it didn’t bother him. Picking up
Kate’s personnel file, he slid it into the bottom right drawer and locked it.
He would read through the rest of it later. He checked his watch again. Another
seven minutes until the conference call with the judge.
Fortunately,
from the way Miranda organized his calendar, he accessed the file he needed on
the tablet by choosing the date and the meeting. Reacquainting himself with the
case took him four minutes more.
At
two minutes until his phone was due to ring, Kate returned and set the contract
down in front of him. She flipped to the next to last page and had circled one
sub-section. “We need to amend this to say both parties and I will sign it.”
Curious,
he reviewed the line.
This Agreement states the entire
agreement between the parties concerning the disclosure of Confidential
Information and supersedes any prior agreements, understandings, or
representations with respect thereto.

Changing
“the” to “both” would include him in the confidentiality clause of any
information she might share with him. With sixty seconds on the clock, he
crossed out the word, wrote in “both” and initialed it, before passing over the
pen. She turned the sheets around and leaned over the desk. A hint of vanilla
and hazelnut tickled his nostrils and he eyed the way she added her initials to
each page and then signed the last one before passing him the pen back.
He
added his signature and the phone rang. Claiming the handset, Kate
straightened. “Richard Prentiss’s office, this is Kate. How may I help you?”
The
afternoon flew by in a flurry of phone calls and Richard had to give Kate a
hell of a lot of credit. She’d parachuted into the chaos and rode out the storm
with an easy smile and cool demeanor. He was on his fifth call of the day, and
weary as hell. Judge Ryan’s intractable position was sending his blood pressure
skyrocketing, when she stood and set her digital tablet, steno pad, and pen on
the desk, inviting his attention.
“Forgive
me, Mr. Prentiss,” Kate had interjected in the midst of the judge’s tirade
about the number of delays the case had experienced—none of which had anything
to do with Richard’s recent stint in the hospital and subsequent recovery.
“Miss
Braddock?” Richard stared at her. Interrupting a judge was never a good idea,
but she didn’t wait for the man on the speakerphone to voice his objections.
“You
have another call with Judge Wilkerson in five minutes and you need to take
your medication.” She walked to the wet bar on the far side of his office,
opened the fridge and retrieved a can of soda, a sandwich container, then
nudged the fridge shut with her leg before retrieving a small prescription
bottle from the shelf above.
“If
you have Wilkerson in five, Prentiss, you should take your medication before
the call.” Judge Ryan gruffed, his contrary tone less biting. “You have a
continuance for one week. I expect the brief on my desk no later than Monday
morning at nine or I will rule in favor of the plaintiff. Am I clear?”
Surprised,
but unwilling to look the gift horse in the mouth, Richard straightened. “Yes,
sir. Thank you, Judge Ryan.” The call clicked off and Kate set the clear
plastic container holding a deli sandwich down in front of him, along with the
can of regular Coke and the prescription bottle. Without missing a beat, she
picked up her steno and added a notation regarding the brief, the case number,
the time and date it was due.
“I
don’t have a call with Wilkerson. How did you know I needed these?” Richard
asked, but he opened the prescription bottle because she was right.
He was due for his medication.
Losing
his spleen meant he had to take supplements regularly. Losing his kidney meant
watching his liquid intake, hence the one can of soda he permitted himself per
day, but how the hell had Kate known? They hadn’t had a chance to go over any
of those details.
“Ms.
Keen kept meticulous notes and set up several reminders in her calendar.” Kate
turned the digital pad around and pointed to the message that had popped up. Remind Richard to take medication. Must be
taken with food.

“Oh.”
Mollified, he popped the can open, and tossed back his two pills. “And Judge
Wilkerson?”
“According
to the notes taped to the bottom of her keyboard, there are five judges’ calls
never to be missed or ignored. Wilkerson sits at the top of the list and is
labeled as a total PIA.” Kate’s voice betrayed no hint of humor, despite the
gleam in her eyes. “I hazarded a guess that if the judges’ names warranted that
type of documentation, they might give Judge Ryan room to walk back his
temper.”
So
she’d noticed the judge’s testy tone growing more recalcitrant through the
call. “I don’t think I paid Miranda enough,” Richard mused then took a bite of
the sandwich. “When you have a chance, pull Leonard v Johnson file. I want to
go over the previous two continuances. They were from the plaintiff. This is
the first time I’ve asked for one. But I have to wonder what pressure the judge
is getting.” The judge had been more amenable on the first case he’d called
about—one that had begun as a simple divorce—but the plaintiff was a highly
respected plastic surgeon and he and his attorney had gone after the soon-to-be
ex-wife with everything they had. The sheer malice in their initial filing had
incited Richard’s protective instincts and he’d usurped the case from one of
his associates. “And put a call into Mrs. Ramsey, let’s see if she has time to
sit down with me this week.”
Kate
nodded and added another note to the steno. “You have another phone call in
thirty minutes. Do you want me to hold your calls so you can take a break?”
Did
he look tired? Rubbing the back of his neck, he shook his head. “I’d rather get
a few letters done. I’m supposed to be at a charity function at six-thirty—oh,
that reminds me. Do you have evening wear?”
“Cocktail
or formal?” She’d set the steno down then worked on her tablet.
“Both,
but for tonight—cocktail.” The event was a minor one, but he hadn’t been able
to do much for it over the intervening months and he wanted to put in an
appearance. “We can go, mingle for about an hour and then get dinner and go
over the rest of the week.” He’d devoured most of the sandwich, a hell of a lot
hungrier than he’d realized. Of course, he’d skipped lunch to interview Kate
then been on the phone since.
“Very
well. I’ll send someone to pick up a dress for me.” She flipped the tablet
around and passed it over to him. The case file for Leonard versus Johnson was
open. Sliding his finger over the screen, he paged through. Kate retrieved the
empty container and the prescription bottle, disposing of the first and
returning the latter to the shelf.
“We
can swing by on the way to it, if you think you can change fast.” It would save
time. “And I can dictate a few letters in the car.” Richard grimaced and
dragged his attention up from the file. “I’m sorry, Miss Braddock, you really
are going to have to jump in the deep end this week. While I do demand a lot,
it won’t always be this chaotic.”
“It’s
not a problem. I’ll adjust and make sure I keep an array of clothing choices on
hand for future events. I noticed you have the scholarship charity dinner on
Thursday, but you RSVP’d as a maybe. Should I decline or accept it?”
“Accept.
It was only a maybe to get Armand off my ass.” When his friend had been trying
to manipulate him into declining any number of events so he’d stay home. “That
will be full formal and I have a half-dozen clients who will also be attending
in addition to the grand duke, so we’re not going to have a lot of time to
enjoy the function. Do you need something to eat? I have more sandwiches
stocked.” It was the one habit Miranda drilled into him. She had a service
stock the fridge weekly and he had to eat at least half of them or she’d start
canceling his appointments. I wonder if
Miranda put that in her notes?
Would Kate make the same kinds of threats?
“I’m
fine, thank you. Water?” She’d retrieved two bottles and returned to the desk
before he could nod. A line in the second continuance held his attention and he
had to read it three times.
Leonard
stipulated he’d suffered grievous injuries during an armed robbery in Johnson’s
convenience store. The owner, Johnson, had also been injured—he’d sustained a
gunshot wound to his shoulder. Total physical damages amounted to about fifteen
thousand dollars, but loss of work and having to close his store for repairs
while in the hospital had cost Johnson considerably more. Leonard’s suit cited
Johnson’s refusal to cooperate with the armed robbers—identified as two men of
Latin descent in their late teens, early twenties. Though they were wanted on a
string of related crimes, neither subject had been apprehended.
When
Leonard brought suit against Johnson, he maintained he’d been unable to work,
had suffered mentally, physically, and emotionally following the attack and had
a doctor diagnose him with PTSD. But the second continuance had been asked for
and sustained because Leonard had to be out of town.
The
judge had granted the request because Richard had been in the hospital and
still recovering. Richard hadn’t thought much of it, but he’d also been on
painkillers. Scrolling through the pages, he looked for the attending evidence
attached to the continuance—where had Leonard needed to be that he couldn’t be
in court?
Reaching
for the phone, he punched in the number for one of the investigators he kept on
retainer. “Hey, Mitch, it’s Richard.”
“Welcome
back, man. How’s your first day?” A former member of the LAPD, Mitch Blake had
taken medical disability after a drunk driver left him with a permanent limp
and partial hearing loss, but neither injury had done anything to damage his
sharp mind.
They’d
met via a case when Richard had defended another officer in a civil suit. Mitch
had been honest about his fellow officer’s anger management issues, but adamant
that he’d been in a solid frame of mind during the arrest. After his accident,
Richard had offered his services free of charge and they’d worked together on
several cases since. Mitch was a straight shooter, and he’d helped Richard with
other delicate cases including two relocations.
He
trusted him.
“Busy
as hell. Look, I know you’ve probably got a lot on your plate and this may be
nothing, but I need a fast turnaround on some information.” Richard picked up a
pen and twirled it around between two fingers. Across from him, Kate held up
her notepad with a single question mark on it.
“Whatcha
got?” Brisk and to the point—it was why he and Mitch worked so well together.
Shaking
his head in answer to her silent query, he tapped his pen on the desk. “John
Leonard, age 42. Lives at 4421 Wilkins Avenue—he stipulated that on April 14th
he had to be out of town and was unable to attend court. Can you find out where
he went?”
“Sure
thing, boss. Anything else?”
“No,
that’s all for now—anything you can pull together on that and if it smells
fishy…?”
“Don’t
worry, I’ll drop a line. Talk to ya soon.” Mitch hung up and Richard drummed
his pen again. He’d missed something when he’d reviewed those papers and being
medicated didn’t excuse it.
Not
when Brett Johnson had hung his future on Richard defending him. If he lost,
Johnson would lose his store, his life’s work and his retirement. The man
didn’t deserve that.
One
benefit of his own firm was the ability to take on any case he chose—like
Johnson. His younger associates did a fair share of pro bono work, it was a
requirement of their hiring into Prentiss and Associates, but some cases were
personal for Richard and he kept them on the down low. Those details didn’t
leave his office.
Kate
had taken it upon herself to remove his can of Coke and he hadn’t finished it
yet. Irritated, but forcing patience, he twisted the cap off the water bottle.
After swallowing a long drink of water he nodded to her steno. She picked up
her pen and looked at him expectantly. “Let’s draft a letter to Mr. Johnson and
alert him to the continuance, dated today. Brett, please accept my apologies
for the many delays your case has faced over the last few months. I spoke to
and obtained a continuance in the discovery phase today due to just returning
to the office from my recovery. I also have some questions regarding the
previous continuance. All briefs will be filed with Judge Ryan’s office next
Monday—add the date—and I will contact you when a trial date has been set. I
know your concerns and I will do everything I can to resolve this matter prior
to going to trial. I look forward to talking to you soon, sincerely—fill in the
data.”
He
took another drink and watched her flip the page to begin the next letter.
They’d managed six before his next call. Since he could handle talking to
Armand’s cousin Frankie about the upcoming release of her trust fund without
Kate, he sent her out to take care of those letters.
Closing
his eyes, Richard pinched the bridge of his nose. Alone, he could admit to the
weariness dragging on him. He shouldn’t have tried to play so hard on the
court. He didn’t have anything to prove with Armand—except he did. His best
friend still blamed himself for the car accident and had all but buried Richard
in bodyguards for the three months of his convalescence. Though Richard had
read the reports from Armand’s security team, as well as the investigation
opened by the police department, he remembered very little of the actual
accident.
That
bothered him. He thrived on details, but the vague shadow of crunching metal
and falling were all he’d been able to piece together. The doctors had told him
he may never remember it.
Though
his case remained open, everyone—Armand included—believed the accident was tied
to the same group that tried to kill Armand. Richard was the face of the
family, and it didn’t matter that they had no conclusive proof, his best friend
wouldn’t let it go. Richard’s injuries had scared Armand and he’d reacted
accordingly.
Hell, he probably bribed that
doctor to keep me on limited mobility
.
Playing
hard had been the only way to prove he was back up to snuff. Except—his side
ached and he wanted that nap Kate had suggested earlier. Scrubbing a hand over
his face, he hit the button for Kate’s desk. “I won’t typically ask for this,
but I have to get on the phone with Francesca Grace to go over some inheritance
issues. Do you mind heading down to the coffee kart in the lobby and picking me
up a latte? Treat yourself to one too.”
“Not
a problem, Mr. Prentiss. Are you sure you don’t want me to cancel the five
o’clock call? You could have thirty minutes before we head to the function.”
No,
he wasn’t sure. But he couldn’t afford to show weakness to anyone. “The coffee
will be fine, thank you.”
He’d
barely hung up and started to dial out again when the crash of a door slamming
against the wall echoed from the outer office, followed by a very loud, very
irate male voice.

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