The Defendant

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Chapter 14. The Boot

I woke up with a jolt as a loud scream filled my room. It took me a moment to realize it was coming from me. My breath was coming heavily as I reached up and wiped the sweat off my head. My nightmare was back and I had no doubts it was due to the fact the other side of my bed was cold.

He’d tried to call and text me. I couldn’t talk to him now. Regret over what I had done filled me with shame. Every time I closed my eyes I saw Travis’s smug face and heard him saying he was telling our boss. I knew it was coming any day now.

I glanced at the clock and groaned at the early hour. I’d been asleep maybe three hours. I stood and headed toward my bathroom door when my phone buzzed. Who would be calling me at 2 am? My phone buzzed it’s way across my nightstand before I reached for it. Worried El or my parents might be in trouble I answered quickly. “Hello?”

A deep male sigh, “You answered.”

Wes.

I messaged my forehead with my hand as I closed my eyes. His voice instantly made my body relax at the same time I wanted to cry. “Why are you calling me at 2 in the morning?”

“I know you’re typically up all hours of the night. I wanted to catch you off guard since you’ve been avoiding me the past 2 days.”

I took a shaky breath in and out. “I’ve got a lot on my plate right now Wes. And I can’t be worried about when the shoe will drop or what to do about you... I just can’t.”

“Liv, I have to be honest. You know I want you. It was a major shock, being found out like that but it doesn’t change anything. It doesn’t change us.”

“It changes everything!” I practically yelled.

I could hear Wes moving around as he sighed. My mind instantly pictured him pacing the floor in his boxers and my heart ached. Tears pricked at my eyes and I blinked them back rapidly. “I’ve worked my whole life for my career. All I’ve wanted was to make partner, to be one of the best lawyers this city has ever seen. Do you understand what will happen to me when word gets out about us?”

“I know it will look bad. But damnit Liv, I’m in love with you. You can’t just shut me out like this. We can fix this together.”

Numbly I sat on the edge of my bed. “How can you love me Wes? You barely know me.”

“I do know you Liv...”

“Just like you knew Delia when you ran off to Vegas to marry her?” I snapped. The anger and sadness were rolling off of me in waves. He didn’t care about what this was going to do to me professionally. As usual, he’d get away free and clear as he always had.

“This is different Olivia and you know it. You’re scared and upset and you’re getting defensive but I’m not the bad guy here.”

“I’m upset and defensive? Wes, this isn’t just a job this is my whole career! Travis was right, I will be blackballed from every major firm in the city. Finding work will be near impossible.”

“Then I’ll take care of you...”

“I don’t need you to take care of me!” I shot off the bed so fast I staggered with sudden dizziness. My fists were clenched as I ground my teeth against each other. “I don’t want to be your next year long trophy wife Wesley. I don’t want to follow you around from restaurant to restaurant, throwing parties and eventually lose myself. That’s not who I am. And who’s to say in a year you won’t be bored of me? Doesn’t seem like most of your relationships even make it that far.”

The line was quiet for a moment. I continued to seethe, pacing from my bed to the wall and back again. Finally, his voice broke through, quietly, “I wouldn’t leave you like they did Liv.”

That stopped me in my tracks. Like who? My birth parents? A wave of sadness washed over me, mingling with my anger. “This isn’t about my parents Wes.”

“That’s why you don’t let people in. Hell, you barely let your own sister in sometimes. But I’m in love with you Liv and I’m here to stay. Just let me.”

Before he could get another word in I answered with, “Your track record says otherwise,” before hanging up the phone. I threw it on top of my blankets and stalked to the bathroom. Who the hell did he think he was, bringing up my adoption. It had nothing to do with our current situation.

I splashed cold water on my face, wiping away the sweat of my nightmare. I knew I cared about Wes. We had something special and it had been worth pursuing. I should have spoken to my boss when I knew we were going to continue seeing each other. With a sigh I headed to the living room, pulling a stack of files into my lap. Work always helped take my mind off things.

I’d give Wes a call in the morning. Apologize and figure out a plan for dealing with his dad and Travis.

*********************

“Ms. Baser, Mr. Alderman has called you up to his office,” Tracy said over the speaker. I set down my pen, hand shaking slightly.

“Thank you.” I’d known it was coming. To be honest I’d thought he would have done it that day. That was just like Travis though, drive me crazy with worry and anticipation. I hadn’t even had a chance to call Wes yet.

The morning had been busy, between calls from clients and a motion that had to be filed ASAP I’d pushed off my personal needs. It seemed i was being called to face the consequences. I stood and straightened out my suit, sliding on my heels. I knew better than to think Travis would let it go.

I headed out of my office, asking Tracy to hold my calls. For a moment I debated calling Wes and letting him know our time was up but I decided against it. I’d known better when I’d let him convince me to continue to see him. Now I was paying the price.

When I reached the top floor Mary cast me a shrewd glance over her glasses. She had to know what was happening. No one was as in tune with the office gossip as her. “He’s expecting me?” I stopped in front of her desk, giving her a slight smile.

She continued to glare at me before nodding slightly. “Head on in Olivia.” Guess I knew where she stood on the issue. I opened the wooden door and slipped inside, closing it gently behind me.

Mr. Alderman was leaning back in his chair, hands steepled together and pressed against his lips. I wiped my sweaty palms against the side of my skirt. “You wanted to see me sir.” My voice was firm even though my heart was racing.

He eyed me over his glasses for a moment. “I knew you were the person for this case. Only you could get Wesley out of the mess he’d made. You’ve always been the constant professional.” I stood stock still, afraid to move. He leaned forward, his hands coming to rest flatly against his desk. “And that is why it was very shocking to hear of inappropriate conduct between you and my son.”

There is was. Travis had made his move and very quickly. I’m sure he’d been in a hurry to get the story out before Wes could spin it in our favor. I took a steadying breath. “Yes sir, your son and I have been seeing each other. We’d actually met before this case was brought forth. At first, I told him we couldn’t see one another but I let my emotions get the better of me. And obviously, what transpired the other day was inappropriate.” I clasped my hands together in front of me, proud my voice didn’t waver once.

Mr. Alderman narrowed his eyes. He stood slowly, buttoning the front of his jacket. “And once seeing that Wesley was the man you were planning to pursue you didn’t think it prudent to excuse yourself from the case?”

“I see now that I should have. I honestly didn’t think much would come from it. I do care about your son sir. And I really love my job. I’ve worked hard here for many years.”

He nodded before turning, hands behind his back as he looked out at the city skyline. “Obviously you’ve been a huge asset to this company Ms. Baser. You’ve never had as much as a write up.” My heart fluttered with hope. I’d never been in trouble at work, always the professional. Maybe they’d give me a warning. “But we can’t condone conduct like this.” And just like that my heart sunk.

“Mr. Alderman, I know I made a few mistakes but my professionalism has never been in question. I’ve pulled in client after client for this firm. I’ve always gotten the best results and always put my all into my every case. This firm has been my life.... please.” I knew I sounded desperate but at this point I didn’t care. I would fight for my place here.

He looked over his shoulder, his grey eyes so like Wes’s, glaring at me. “Unfortunately Ms. Baser it is not enough. The other partners and I have agreed due to your severe lack of judgement and ability to separate your personal and professional lives we have to let you go. We will not be providing any letters of reccomendation. Please collect your things and turn your files over to Mr. Prescott.” He sat down and grabbed his pen, starting in on a file in front of him.

I was dismissed. And I was fired. My mouth was dry as I racked my brain for any arguement that might help. I took a small step forward when the door behind me was pushed open and a strong arm wrapped around my waist.

“Sorry I’m late dad,” Wes said calmly, squeezing my hip slightly. I took a shaky breath.

“What are you doing here Wesley?” Mr. Alderman glanced up before returning to his papers.

“I came to talk to you about my girlfriend and her place here in your firm.”

Mr. Alderman let out a harsh laugh. “You gave up any right to talk about this firm when you ditched law school to chase women across Paris and learn about fancy seasonings,” he scoffed. Wes’s fingers curled into my side, pulling me tighter to him.

“I know we haven’t always seen eye to eye dad, but I’m asking you to not take it out on Olivia. I should have told you when we started a relationship but it doesn’t stop the fact that she’s damn good at her job.”

“You don’t know anything son,” he growled, throwing down his pen and rising. “I can’t have people running around the office having sex with clients! It’s unprofessional and I don’t run a brothel! Ms. Baser has been let go and that is the end of it. As for you Wesley, your divorce is finally coming together, don’t go rushing headlong into another mistake with another hussy,” this time he eyed me up and down with a sneer.

Wes let me go and reached his fathers desk in 2 large strides, slamming his hands down on the desktop. “Don’t you dare talk about her like that!”

Mr. Alderman’s eyes were steel as he looked at Wes, a small smirk at the corner of his mouth. “I won’t step in to clean up your mess next time son. Now, kindly see your way out of my office before I have you thrown out.”

The door opened behind me again and I glanced back to see two security guards. Both nice guys I’d chatted to when leaving late before. One grabbed my arm while the other stepped up to Wes. “It’s time you both get out of my building,” Mr. Alderman said with a wave of his hand. The guard holding my arm tugged and I followed him out the door and toward the elevator. Mary was standing behind her desk, arms crossed as her face a show of disapproval.

This was worse than I’d imagined. My body shook slightly with shock as my mind reeled, replaying the last few minutes. Wes stomped up behind me, grabbing my other arm and pulling me from the guards grasp. The escorted both of us into the elevator, pressing the button to my floor.

“We’ll see that you get your things Ms. Baser,” one said calmly. “It’s best if you do it quickly.”

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