After that... well, I'm not sure why they hired me, except that maybe Ms. Devereaux needed someone new to torture. I had taken family law in Texas, but the civil code bore little resemblance to the common law. I struggled through my discussion of my first case with Ms. Devereaux, and she seemed to think I was headed in the right direction, but she scowled a lot. I was getting used to that. I rather wished Mr. Robbins was my boss. Unfortunately, he was out of the office a lot around that time. No-one told me why, and I didn't ask.
I was sorry when i moved into my own office and saw less of Dani. I wanted to go to lunch with her, get to know her better, but I was usually expected to either do client lunches or work through lunch. She frequently had errands to run over lunch, so I had to come up with good excuses to go to the file room. I was less productive than i should have been. I'd never really been a fan of the billable hour.
By that Thursday, I'd had enough. I needed to get stuff done at work, but I still wanted to se her. I figured maybe she could show me around the city, so I invited her to dinner. She said yes and told me she'd take care of it because I was so busy.
She left me a note on Friday morning that we had a 7 o'clock reservation at Antoine's for that night. I didn't tell her i'd been there before as a kid. I had to work late that night, so i went straight from work. Didn't have time to change out of my suit. It would have to do. We'd agreed to meet at 6:45 in front of the restaurant. Dani got off work at 5 and disappeared. I showed up at the appointed place and time, and when Dani arrived, I almost didn't recognize her. She had a pink streak in her hair and a big black lace bow... and the lace continued down the rest of the outfit. I'd seen goths in New Orleans before but never a goth lolita. She even carried a foofy umbrella, despite it being evening with no chance of rain. She looked broody and dark... until she smiled.
"Oh! you look... different. ...good different! Won't they notice that pink streak at the office?"
"Nope, it's temporary. It'll wash out by Monday. And even if it doesn't that's what scarves are for."
Clearly, I thought, I am not the only one who buttons up for work.
The restaurant was fabulous, more outlandish and elegant than I remembered. Dani stepped up to the podium and told the maitre'd "two for Devereaux". I goggled at her. I'd had no idea she was related to Ms. D! Was she the boss' daughter?? This could get ugly, fast! She saw my look and told me not to worry.
“Too late,” I thought.
The maitre'd led us up a dark wood staircase and through a series of dining rooms, then back down so that we were in a small space off the kitchen. Photographs and autographs of jazz singers and politicians lined the red walls. The glass orb chandelier had originally been gas light. Dani apologized for the location, "Best i could get on such short notice."
"No problem. I'm pretty happy. This way maybe I can see how some of the food is made--"
"So you cook?"
"Well, I dabble. Mostly I like to eat."
She grinned again. I tripped over my chair.
We ordered glasses of wine and water to start... I downed mine in a couple of gulps.
“So your last name is Devereaux? Are they your parents?”
“No... no, everyone thinks that. I'm her niece, actually. My father is her brother.”
“I see,” I said. That was kind of a relief. I had to keep the conversation flowing. I shouldn't have been nervous, but I was. “So do you work here full time, or is this a summer job, or what?”
“I go to school here and work part time during the year and full time in the summers.”
“Nice” I said. I was sure she was tired of the questions about what she was studying and what she wanted to do after graduation. I'd save those for later.
I paid attention and tried to read her, but I've never been good at it, and that was before I'd even had any training. So all I had at my disposal was curiosity and wine. And I knew I'd probably be better off leaving it alone, for many reasons, but I can't say no to trouble, apparently. I just didn't know what kind I was in for.
All in all, it was a very good dinner. I stuffed myself on amazing decadent food and got tipsy. When the bill came I wondered for a moment if she'd want me to pay, since I suggested, but she whipped out a credit card and said “I got this”
“Whoa!” I protested. “Let me at least pay for mine!”
She smirked and shook her head. “Expense account. This was team-building.” So she had learned from at least one lawyer how to get what she wanted. This was one to watch out for. I excused myself to go to the restroom and call us a cab.
When she found out, she insisted she was fine, but I told her i'd feel better if I knew how and when we both got home, and she rolled her eyes but got in the cab. It was stuffy and smelled like smoke. My eyes watered and itched. The drive wasn't that far, but suddenly I felt sober and nervous. I'd have to keep that under control. We finally got to her apartment, a small second story place near the university, and she hopped out and waved and ran upstairs before I had a chance to say much more than “bye!”
The cabbie drove me home back thru the city to Faubourg. I'd found a good place in a not so great neighborhood, but at least there weren't a lot of tourists (no way I was a tourist!) and it was near work and the Quarter. I had another glass of wine and flopped into bed.
Seemed like just a few minutes later I awoke to my phone beeping and buzzing with a text message. I didn't even bother to put my glasses on. I didn't want to know what time it was. And I suspected I knew who it was from. College students. Meh. Some of us try to keep schedules.
...Yep. From Her. “There's someone I want you to meet.”