The Defendant

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Chapter 5. The Wife

I woke up to a text from Wes and I couldn’t help but smile. There was something about him that just drew me in. No other man had been able to break past my walls and cool exterior so quickly. I wondered if maybe being partially drunk and sleeping with him right away had had something to do with it. But I found myself checking my phone more often throughout the next few days, smiling when I saw his name and rushing to answer.

“You are totally smitten,” Adrienne said with a smile. It was Saturday night and we’d all met up at El’s house to watch a movie and drink wine. This typically happened once a month and we called it our big girls sleepover.

I set my phone down after firing off a text. “I didn’t realize getting to know a guy would make all of you so interested in my personal life.”

“When the guy gets into your pants after a few hours, it’s noteworthy. And when he makes you pleasure yourself...”

I held up my hand. “I’m already regretting telling you the details.”

“Come on! I’m bored and married, I have to live vicariously through you!”

My brother in law’s head popped in from the kitchen. “I take extreme offense to that!” He said, his lovely British accent making me smile. Not that I’d ever tell him but I could listen to him talk all day.

“But for real, are things getting serious with Wes?” I shrugged as I took a sip of wine.

“We are chatting El, don’t read too much into it.”

Her face softened as she reached for my free hand. “I just want you to be happy Ollie. To find a good man and have babies...” I pulled my hand away.

“We don’t all want that El.”

She frowned. “Oh don’t pull that “I’m so strong and tough I don’t need man to make me happy” bullshit. I used to watch you dress up your Barbies and set up the wedding. I know you.”

“Jeez Ella we were kids! Why can’t you accept that I have my career and I’m happy?”

“Because your not!” She yelled, her face red with anger. “You throw yourself into your work because you’re scared. Scared to let people get close to you. Scared to love anyone in case they leave you like your family did!” The room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. My sister had never said those things to me. Even when we’d been preteens and I’d confided in her how it felt to be adopted. Everywhere we went people would stare at my family. What was the hazel eyed blonde girl doing with a colored family? Always having to explain my mom at school functions. She knew more than anyone how I’d struggled with the idea that my parents hadn’t wanted me.

I stood slowly, tears prickling my eyes but my face was steel. Crying in front of people was humiliating. “You don’t know anything about what I’m feeling or what I want. Just because you wanted the fairytale doesn’t mean I do. This has nothing to do with my past.” I clenched my fists and took a deep breath through my nose. “I’m going home now.”

I strode toward the door, snatching my purse off the bench. Behind me I could hear the others shuffling into a standing position. “Ollie I didn’t mean it like that! Come back and we can talk.”

Pulling on the door I answered loud enough for them to hear, “I can’t talk to people who won’t listen.” Shutting the door gently behind me I made my way down the stairs as the tears started falling.

El was wrong. I didn’t want the white perfect fence and the 2.5 kids. I had worked so hard to get to where I was. As a teen I hadn’t been like most of the others. I’d pushed myself to get straight A’s and a perfect GPA. I loved facts and contracts, they were straight forward and unbreakable. Even though my home life was stable inside I felt unsteady. The people who’d made me had instantly gotten rid of me. If they couldn’t love me then who would? Once I’d graduated I’d continued to strive to make my adopted parents proud. I chose law for a multitude of reasons but knowing I’d hear the pride in their voices when they told people their daughter was a lawyer had been a big factor.

I’d only just met Wes and here my sister was planning our wedding. The man wasn’t even divorced from his first wife! And that relationship barely lasted a year. There was no way to know if I did get serious with him that he would stick around let alone plan a future with me. My mind was racing as I stomped along the pavement. My apartment was pretty far away and I should grab a cab but right now I needed the fresh air.

The tears had dried, leaving pitiful tracks down my cheeks. Typically I was able to push my feelings into a box and lock it tight inside my chest, but right now I felt like Pandora. Memories of my childhood and past romances flooded my brain. I’d never been good enough.

I finally reached my apartment and walked straight to the kitchen for a tall glass of red wine. I gulped it quickly, relishing the warmth that spread through me. I had to get myself pulled back together. I didn’t break down, I didn’t show cracks. I was Olivia Baser and I was a badass. Whatever this was with Wes had to stop. I couldn’t allow these cracks in my facade to continue and he seemed to know how to get to the real me. With a sigh I headed to the shower, hoping the warm water and wine would lull me into a deep and dreamless sleep.

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

“Everyone should be arriving in the next 15 minutes Ms. Baser,” my assistant said over the speaker.

“Thanks Tracy.” I took a deep breath and stood. I sorted through the files and pulled up the one labeled Alderman. Today his wife was coming in with her attorney to discuss some details of the divorce. I assumed she would want more money. From what I’d heard she seemed that type.

I slipped my bright red heels back on and straightened out my clothes. Throughout the office I was always regraded as the most put together. Only Tracy knew that I despised wearing heels and almost instantly kicked them off the second I walked in my office door. I was thankful my firm hadn’t decided to go with modern glass walls so I could wrap myself in a blanket and drink coffee while I worked, but maintain my professional image.

Grabbing the folder I strode out the door and headed toward the conference room. I silently hoped the elder Alderman decided to skip this meeting. Having him there last time had been slightly nerve racking. When I entered the room my eyes instantly landed on Wes. He looked perfectly edible in a short sleeved blue button down and jeans. He smiled brightly. I glanced around the room making sure we were alone.

“Hello Wes,” I said crisply. I set the folder down on the table as he stood.

“Hey Liv,” he walked around the table and placed a hand on my back as he dropped a quick kiss on my cheek. I felt myself redden.

“Professionalism Wes.”

He smirked as he pulled away, hands held up where I could see them. “Sorry, couldn’t help myself.”

I gave him a quick nod before taking my seat. “So your wife will be here with her lawyer today. We should probably discuss what you are willing to give ahead of time. Any idea what she might be asking for?”

He shrugged as he took his seat. “I’m sure she’ll want alimony. And I’m willing to give her a vacation home, preferably the one in the Bahamas because I don’t have a restaurant there. It’s easier to have a place to stay when I got visit them. I’m not too attached to the yacht but I don’t want her to have any part of my restaurants, including any profits. I’ll pay her alimony but the restaurants are mine.”

I nodded as I made notes. “That seems reasonable. I don’t think we’ll have any trouble.”

He snorted. “You don’t know my wife. She’s never reasonable and is always trouble.”

I glanced up at his clear grey eyes. “Is that why you married her?”

He folded his hands in front of him as he leaned across the table slightly. “Trouble seems fun when your young and feel like you have nothing to lose. She was sassy and vibrant and didn’t take shit. It wasn’t until we were married, rather quickly and totally her decision, that I realized she was unreasonable. People hide their worst selves when going after someone they want.” He shrugged as he leaned back and the door behind me opened.

“Hello Wes,” Travis said jovially as he plunked his briefcase down on the table. He’d wrapped around and sat down right next to him. “Liv, care to join us?” He gestured at the empty seat to the right of Wes. “Mrs. Alderman and her attorney should be here any moment.”

With a nod I stood and took a seat by Wes. He gave me a small grin before reaching out and squeezing my thigh under the table. Instant flood in my panties at the connection. It was like this man’s touch was hardwired to my vagina. Taking a deep breath I turned to face the men. “I have the parameters here that Wes has set.” I slid my notepad over to Travis. He frowned as he read over them.

“We can do better than that,” he sneered as he slid the paper back to me. “Watch and learn Baser.” Wes cast a concerned glance at me and I shook my head slowly. Then the doors opened and we all stood. In strode a man, similar to the partners of this firm. He was silvered haired and hosted a rounded belly. He plunked his briefcase on the table. Then walking in behind him came theist person I expected to see.

Delia Alderman, formerly Lawrence, flounced into the conference room. Her bleach blonde hair shiny and her stilettos sky high. Anger burned in my chest at the sight of her.

She had been my sisters best friend in high school. El had trusted her and confided in her. Then Delia had turned around and slept with El’s boyfriend. To make matters worse she did the same thing with another of El’s long term boyfriend years later! The woman had no shame and the words Wes had said earlier clicked. Delia was the epitome of trouble and unreasonable.

Across the table, Delia’s bright pink lips twisted into a cruel smile. “Wes, darling how are you?” Her eyes slipped over him before landing on me. The only sign of shock was her cat like eyes narrowing slightly. “Olivia Baser, surprise surprise.”

The inner bitch in me rose up. I’d always despised this girl. Even when she’d been friends with my sister I’d sensed there was something cold in her. “I can’t say I’m surprised.” I left it there. It would be unprofessional to continue with the thoughts running through my head.

We all sat and Delia’s eyes flickered back and forth between the three of us. Her lawyer cleared his throat. “We’ve looked over your initial proposal. This is an insult to my client. During the time she’s been with Mr. Alderman he’s opened two new restaurants. Both of which she helped decorate and plan the menu. They’ve purchased a new vacation home.”

I held up my hand to silence him. “What would be acceptable sir?” I asked coolly. I could see him grinding his back teeth as his wobbly chin shook.

“My client is asking for 50,000$ a month in alimony. She’s also requesting the home here and in Paris. Also, she needs a percentage of the restaurants. At least 15%.”

Wes smacked the table as he stood quickly. “That’s bullshit Delia and you know it!” Anger flashed over his face. For her part, Delia continued to smile.

“You know my worth Wes. If you want this to end, give it to me. I’d hate to see what the press could dig up about your past.”

This situation had escalated quickly. Before I could say anything Travis jumped up next to Wes. “These claims are outrageous. My client will not be giving you any of those ridiculous demands!”

With a grunt, Delia’s attorney stood. He pointed roughly at Travis. “Then we will see you in court!” Grabbing his briefcase he waddled put. Delia stood slowly, her eyes piercing into Wes’s. I could see his jaw clenching and unclenching.

“Just give me what I want Wes love, and this’ll be so much easier,” she sighed. My nostrils flared as I clenched my fists. I urged to reach across the table and smack her across her flawlessly pale cheek.

“Go to hell Delia,” Wes grumbled out.

She let out a soft laugh, her head tilted back. As she fixed her gaze back to Wes she smiled brighter. “Looking forward for it. And see you there.” With a wink she turned and sashayed out of the room. It felt strangely empty now they were gone.

The three of us stood there stupidly, each lost in our own thoughts. It suddenly made a lot more sense why Mr. Alderman requested us to work on this case. Delia was a shark and I had a feeling that before this was all said and done there would be blood in the water.

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