Share the road part 3

Share the road part 3

Nightlite5215504

So do I, for that matter. How about Saturday?"

"Works for me. Let me check with Jill and get back to you."

The twins seemed to like the two wooden dump trucks I had made for them even without sound effects. I noticed that they were careful to say 'thank you" under Kim's watchful eye before scampering off to play with them. Jill and Ed had that odd lawyer thing going where they can beat each other's brains out all day and then be friends as soon as the whistle blows. Good friends, good food, and some good wine made for a really great evening.

Kim called me a couple days later.

"So, dummy, you think you're ever going to find a better woman than Jill?"

"I don't think one exists except for you, and I'm tired of trying to steal you from Ed."

"Glad to hear that, since it's never going to happen. Seriously, though, why haven't you closed the deal yet? The only thing wrong with Jill is that she was dumb enough to fall head over heels for you. If you're smart you'll marry her before she wises up."

"Marry her? Jesus, I never thought that far ahead. Dating her is too much fun. Why mess with a good thing?"

A sudden, unworthy thought struck me.

"Wait, did she put you up to this?"

"Hell, no, and if she finds out I'm going to lose my new tennis partner. Do you really think that girl's afraid to speak her mind about anything?"

"You're right. She's better than that and so are you."

"Damn straight. Think about it, though. Most women expect a relationship to move forward. She may not buy into the 'why mess with a good thing' theory forever. Don't screw this up, Ben. She's good people and so are you, although I'll deny I ever said that."

Kim might be a little—or sometimes a lot—bossy, but she was a very smart woman underneath it and I knew she cared about me. She had chewed me out before for fooling around with airheads, so having her tell me to hurry up and marry a girl was new. Things fell apart before I really got my head around the idea.

"Angus, you jerk, why would you take a case where I'm on the other side?"

Jill calling me 'Angus' was not a good sign.

"I don't take cases against the State. What's going on?"

I just got the witness list on the Squalichuk Landslide trial, and you're on it!"

I thought back over it.

"They told me they were on the same side as the State when they asked me to do that job."

"Well, there's five sides to that thing, and positions shift a lot. You're against us now, and I can't see you outside of court until it's over. You know the rules. Damn it, this was bad enough the first time, and that was before we, well, you know."

"I know. Have I mentioned how much I enjoyed the 'you know' in the shower this morning?"

"Not on a work line, Ben! This is serious."

She whispered.

"If this doesn't get sorted out you're going to be showering alone for a long time. I can't even ask you to back out."

"Maybe you can't, but you can't tell me not to either. I need to call my employers on this thing."

I called the lawyer who had hired me.

"That thing with the State only happened this morning. How did you find out about it so fast?"

"Jill Williams called me."

"Why the heck is she calling you? That's out of line!"

"Look, she's your opposing counsel, but she's my girlfriend."

"Really? Wow, you're a lucky man."

"I know it, and that's why I told you up front I wouldn't take a case against the State. This puts her in a really bad spot."

"I see the problem, and I take back the comment about her being out of line. She's not like that. Even so, I can't just let you out of it."

"Look, I'll give your money back if that's the problem."

"It's not. You've already done the work and I don't have time to find another expert before the trial. The deadline's passed already. Without you I don't have a case."

"And if I stay in it my girlfriend's off limits until the trial. Crap. Look, I need to talk to her about what happens next. What if we promise not to talk about the case?"

"I would actually trust both of you on that, but let me talk to the client."

"I need to at least tell Jill I'm working on it."

"Of course. If I was dating her I'd walk across molten lava barefoot not to blow it."

I let that one go; while I felt the same way it wasn't his place to comment on it.

Jill wasn't having it, unfortunately.

"What happens if I beat you up on cross examination and then it comes out that I'm sleeping with you? I can't afford to look ridiculous in trial. If you can't get out of it we're going to have to take a break. You know it's not what I want, but I don't see anything else we can do."

"Damn it, Jill...,"

"Don't get mad at me, Ben. This wasn't my mistake. You know how much you mean to me, and I'm sure as heck not trying to break up with you."

"I know, Jill. I feel the same way about you. I just hate the idea that I'm screwing things up with some dumb mistake."

"It's only a few weeks. I know you're kind of dense, but I'm trying to tell you that you haven't screwed anything up long term. We'll be fine when this is over."

"Good. Don't make any plans for the weekend after the trial."

"I won't. Talk to you later."

It was unbelievable how much not seeing Jill sucked. It wasn't only the terrific sex I missed, although that was bad enough. I kept catching myself looking forward to seeing her at the end of the day or asking her what she thought about something, and then realizing with a fresh pain that I wasn't going to be able to. She had really gotten under my skin. I had built what I thought was a healthy, satisfying life as a single man, and now none of it meant anything without her. Kim, of course, knew what ailed me.

"Ben, you dope, your secretary called me asking if we were hiring at the law firm. She says there's no living with you these days. How long has she been with you?"

"Close to five years. Why didn't she talk to me?"

"She doesn't really want to quit. She wanted me to know that she's worried about you. She says you're like a bear with a toothache and your work is slipping."

"It's this thing with Jill. I thought we had a fun, casual, mutually satisfying relationship going, and now I'm losing my mind because I can't see her. I don't understand it."

"I do. You're in love with that girl."

"What the hell good does that do me?"

"You really are in a bad mood, aren't you? You know I play tennis with Jill, and I can tell you that her mind hasn't been on her game lately. She wants to be with you too."

"Why is she such a stickler for the rules, then?"

"Because she's a good lawyer. Believe me, you don't want anything to do with the kind that cut corners when they want something."

"So what am I supposed to do now?"

"Short term, get it together and stop feeling sorry for yourself. You know this will end as soon as Jill finishes her trial. Long term, I've already told you what to do. Meanwhile, go give your secretary an apology and a couple days off with pay. She's better to you than you deserve."

"Like you?"

"Exactly."

So I did, and tossed in a day at the local day spa at my expense. I knew I couldn't afford to lose her. Then I buckled down and channeled my frustration into hard work until the trial rolled around.

There really were at least five sides to the landslide trial, and a whole herd of lawyers in the courtroom to match. They called me on the last day of the trial, and I testified to my opinion and then defended it to all the other lawyers who cross examined me. Jill did it with a perfectly straight face and her usual excellent grasp of the facts. The last in line was a weaselly looking guy with a supercilious look on his face.

"Ms. Williams had a lot of questions for you, didn't she?"

"About the same as the rest of you, I'd say."

"Isn't it true that you're dating her?"

"Not at the moment."

He was smirking, and the other lawyers were looking slightly disgusted.

"But you were?"

"Yes."

"Why aren't you now?"

"She refuses to talk to someone else's expert outside of court before trial."

"So you're hoping to start again when this trial is over?"

What could I say?

"Absolutely."

That got me a faint smile from Jill, which was the first hint she'd given that she knew me outside of court. The weasel didn't know when to stop.

"This was a sexual relationship?"

Jill turned beet red. The little weasel was lucky he was behind his table out of my reach. The senior lawyer in the bunch rose.

"Objection, relevance."

"Sustained."

"But, Your Honor..."

The judge, a gray haired veteran of a thousand courtroom battles, spoke coldly.

"There are some questions that no decent man will ask or answer. Sit down."

He turned to Jill.

"Ms. Williams, unlike some in this room, you've done a fine job of presenting your case thoroughly and professionally. You're an outstanding attorney. I'm not blind to the fact that you're also a very attractive young woman. If you didn't have a romantic life I would wonder what's wrong with young men these days. That's nothing for you to be embarrassed about. I don't see that it has anything to do with this case and I don't want to hear any more about it."

I heard a familiar voice as I reached the landing halfway down the courthouse steps at the end of the day.

"Ben, wait up!"

Jill came flying down the steps behind me, and I caught her as she started to stumble, spinning her around a couple times. Her arms went around my neck.

"So you still want to pick up where we left off?"

I grinned back at her.

"Absolutely."

The weasel's high pitched voice interrupted the kiss.

"I knew it!"

I carefully set Jill aside and turned.

"I knew you two were still dating! I'm telling the judge about this!"

All the pent up frustration of the last several weeks was behind the left hook to his solar plexus. I have to admit that it felt good. He stopped gloating and staggered around bent over and gasping for air.

"Assault! You assaulted me!"

He looked up at the other lawyers from the trial coming down the steps in a group.

"You all witnessed this! He's going to jail!"

The senior guy- the same one who broke up the personal questions about Jill- spoke first.

"It looked to me like you tripped going down the stairs and he saved your neck. That's more than I would have done if you had tried to embarrass my wife."

The rest of them nodded in agreement.

"You've humiliated yourself enough for one day, young man. Go home."

The weasel looked at the hard, unfriendly stares of the rest of the group, hung his head, and went down the stairs without another word. The spokesman turned to Jill.

"Ms. Williams, I agree with the judge. You're an excellent lawyer and there's nothing wrong with having a personal life. I suspect that Mr. McLoughlin's opinion on whether you're attractive is the only one that matters, so I have no comment on that. If you ever get tired of working for the State, call me. My firm will double your current salary."

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