Overruled (The Legal Briefs, #1)(11)

“Over the course of this trial, you’ve heard things about my client, Pierce Montgomery, that are unflattering. Abhorrent, even. I’m bettin’ you don’t like him very much. To tell you the truth, I don’t like him much myself. He had an affair with a married woman. He posted pictures of her on social media, without her permission. These are not the actions of an honorable man.”

It’s always best to get the bad out of the way. Like tossing out a bag of rancid garbage—acknowledging then moving on makes the stench less likely to linger.

“If he were being judged on human decency, I can assure you I would not be defending him here today.”

I straighten up, holding their rapt attention. “But that is not your task. You are here to judge his actions on the night of March 15. We as a society do not penalize individuals for defending their lives or their bodies from physical harm. And that is precisely what my client was doing on that evening. When he came face-to-face with the man who had threatened him relentlessly, he had every reason to believe those threats would be carried out. To fear for his physical well-being—perhaps for his very life.”

I pause, letting that sink in. And I know they’re with me, seeing the night in their heads through the eyes of the rotten sonofabitch who’s lucky enough to have me for a lawyer.

“My old football coach used to tell us a smart offense is the best defense. It’s a lesson I carry with me to this very day. So, although Pierce threw the first punch, it was still in defense. Because he was acting against a known threat—a reasonable fear. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what this case is really about.

Standing in front of the jury box I take a step back—addressing them as a whole. “As you deliberate, I am confident that you will conclude my client acted in self-defense. And you will render a verdict of not guilty.”

Before taking my seat at the defense table, I put the finishing touch on my closing argument. “Thank you again for your time and attention, you have been . . . delightful.”

That gets a smile from eight of the ten—I’m liking those odds.

After I’m seated, my neutral-faced co-counsel discreetly writes on a legal pad, passing it to me.

Nailed it!

Lawyers communicate with notes during trial because it’s bad form to whisper. And a smile or a scowl could be interpreted by the jury in a way you don’t want. So my only visible reaction is a quick nod of agreement.

My internal reaction is a schoolboy snicker. And I write back:

Nailing things well is what I do best.

Or have you forgotten?

Sofia’s the consummate professional. She doesn’t crack a smile. And I’ve never seen her blush. She just writes:

Cocky ass.

I allow myself the barest of grins.

Speaking of asses, mine still has your nail marks on it.

Does that make you wet?

It’s inappropriate, totally unprofessional—but that’s why it’s so damn fun. The fact that our dickhead client or anyone sitting front row in the gallery behind us could glance over and see what I’ve written just adds to the thrill. Like fingering a woman under the table at a crowded restaurant—also fun—the potential for discovery makes it all the more dangerous and hot.

A mischievous sparkle lights her hazel eyes as she scribbles:

You had me wet at “Ladies and gentlemen.” Now stop.

I scribble back:

Stop? Or save it for later?

I’m rewarded with a simple, subtle smirk. But it’s enough.

Later works.

? ? ?

After the rebuttal and an hour’s worth of instructions from the judge, the jury filed into the guarded back room for deliberations and court was recessed. Which gave me the opportunity to meet up for lunch with a certain old fraternity brother at a local watering hole that serves the best sandwiches in the city. Between demanding work schedules and family, we only have time to get together once or twice a year—when we happen to land in each other’s cities on business.

Drew Evans hasn’t changed all that much from our days at Columbia. Same scathing wit, same arrogance that draws women to him like moths to a blue-eyed bug light. The only difference between then and now is Drew doesn’t notice the flurry of female attention that follows him. Or, if he does notice, he doesn’t reciprocate.

“Are you sure you wouldn’t like anything else? Anything at all?” the twentysomething waitress asks hopefully—for the third time in fifteen minutes.

He takes a drink of his beer, then dismisses her with, “Nope. Still good—thanks.”

Shoulders hunched, she scurries away.

Drew is an investment banker at his father’s New York City firm. He’s also my investment banker—the reason two years of Presley’s college tuition is already sitting pretty in a 529 fund. Mixing money and friendship may not seem like a smart move, but when your friends are as talented at making money as mine are, it’s brilliant.

His phone chimes with an incoming text. He glances at the screen and a goofy smile spreads across his face—the kind of smile I’ve only seen him wear one time before: at his wedding, eight months ago.

I wipe my mouth with my napkin, toss it on the table, and tilt my chair back on two legs. “So . . . how is Kate these days?”

Kate is Drew’s wife.

His extremely beautiful wife.

His extremely beautiful wife whom I danced with—briefly—at their wedding reception. And my buddy didn’t seem to like that one bit.

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