“Are you all right?” the man asked. He grabbed my elbow to steady me. Good thing, too, because I nearly fell...but it had little to do with our colliding outside my office door.
The man was gorgeous. Like if someone convinced Michelangelo’s David to climb down from his pedestal and put on a suit. And that rich, deep voice...so masculine. This guy was a throwback to another age, a time when men were men and Sean Connery was James Bond.
He was staring at me, waiting for an answer. Crap. Say something, Maryanne. Anything, I thought.
“Hmmmagh,” I gasped. No, idiot! Say actual words!
I tried again. “Hello,” I managed.
He smiled. “Hi. I'm Bradley Obsert.” He offered me his hand.
“Maryanne Wells,” I said, and slipped my hand into his. I hoped he would never let go.
“I've heard of you,” Bradley said. “You're the kid genius, right?”
I hate that, I really do. I'm no longer a kid, so no one should call me a kid genius. “Something like that,” I said, retrieving my hand and joining it with the other holding my empty coffee mug.
“Where did you go to law school?”
I told him and watched, amazed, as the smile disappeared from his face. “It's a great school,” I said; “Academically great, I mean.”
“Oh, I'm sure it is,” he said quickly. “It's just that the only other person I've met who went there was a real jerk. Another kid genius, like you, but with a real attitude problem.”
“Huh. I knew some jerks in law school, but none of them were geniuses or prodigies.”
“Maybe he went there after you graduated.”
“Could be. What was his name?”
“Joe. Joe Capri.”
The luster of Bradley Obsert washed away, and I saw him clearly. The man was an egostistical a-hole. He had to be, because he'd just insulted one of my closest friends.
Joe Capri, know affectionately to his fellow Undead Bar Association members as 10-key, was a great guy. Yeah, he was super smart. He blasted through high school and college, and started law school at the tender age of 18. He finished up a Master's in Accounting the same time he was in law school, and passed the CPA exam within a year of passing the state bar. Brilliant and driven, yes, but that didn't half describe Joe Capri. He had a sharp sense of humor, a great outlook on life, and deep convictions. He could also drop a zombie with a single shot at 75 yards.
If Bradley Obsert found fault with Joe Capri, there was a good chance something was wrong with Bradley Obsert.
“Joe Capri is a friend of mine,” I said crisply. I pushed past Bradley and walked down the hall to the coffee pot.
Once again, there was no coffee made. Sometimes I wondered if I was the only one in the office still drinking caffeinated beverages. It was like the rest were on a mutual health kick or something. Weirdos.
A dark chill fell over me as I waited for the coffee to brew. I turned around and sure enough, there was Samuel A. Drake.
“Addictus,” he murmured, looking at my waiting coffee cup; “Origin of the word addiction. Are you familiar with the etymology, Maryanne?”
“Addictus is the past participle of addicere, meaning 'assigned by decree',” I replied. “You're suggesting that my physical form is assigned to seek coffee, driven by the decree of my dependency on caffeine.”
“That is precisely what I am saying.”
“I couldn't agree with you more.” The last drop of coffee splashed into the glass carafe. I grabbed the carafe by the handle, filled my mug and smiled. “Anything else on your mind, Mr. Drake?”
He stared at me mournfully. “I have decided that your rudeness to Bradley was driven by your caffeine addiction, and forgive you accordingly.”
“Why do I need to be forgiven for speaking the truth to a random guy in the hallway?”
“He is not random. Bradley is a brilliant attorney, who has decided to leave the EPA and pursue a career in private practice. His knowledge of oil and gas law, especially fracking cases, could be very useful to this firm.”
“You're thinking of hiring him.”
Drake smiled, an act protested by his own lips. “It is being discussed. You should get to know Bradley better. In fact, I have decided that you will be his tour guide Friday evening. Drive him around and show him the sights of our Panhandle.”
“That won't take all evening. That won't take more than a couple of hours.”
Eyebrow arched disdainfully, Mr. Drake said, “Then take some case files with you and discuss business when you're done driving around. My point, Maryanne, is that you will be with Bradley come Friday.”
I hate this boss.
© Copyright 2011. All rights reserved.