The Defendant

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Chapter 6. Dirty Secrets

My heels clicked loudly against the shiny floors as I rapidly walked back to the my office. I could feel Wes behind me, a looming shadow. Once we’d all finally realized what had happened Travis had packed up with some excuse of research. Wes had turned to me, mouth open to say something, hand reaching for me, when I bolted. I literally ran out the door like my ass was on fire. But he wasn’t giving up.

“Hold my calls Tracy,” I said quietly as I passed her desk. There were things we needed to say.

“But ma’am your have a meeting with...”

“Please push it Tracy, we’ve had a setback and as you know Mr. Alderman’s case takes precedent. Convey my apologies.” I hadn’t even turned to face her as I stomped back into my office. I heard the snick of the door closing.

I stood behind my desk, my palms flat against the smooth wood. Glancing up at Wes through my eyelashes I asked, “What does she have on you Wes?”

He had the decency to look sheepish. “It’s nothing...”

“Don’t tell me it’s nothing. I know Delia Lawrence and she always has something up her sleeve. I am your lawyer and I can’t help you if you keep things from me.” My throat burned as I shoved the words out. The meeting had gone way differently than I’d anticipated and I hated to be thrown off. On top of it the man I’d been casually seeing was keeping secrets. This didn’t bode well for a relationship in the future.

Wes sighed as he ran his hands down his face. “I don’t want you to look at me differently. I... I’m a different person then I was then. I’m not proud of what I did.”

I continued to glare at him. “Personal feelings aside Wes, I need to know. As your lawyer I will find out if it is brought to light further on. I need to know how to prepare.”

He crossed his arms over his chest before he reached up and began tugging on his bottom lip. His feet began to trace a path along my office carpet, to one wall and back again. My eyes tracked him, sensing the hesitation.

“Liv please, I’m not trying to keep secrets from you. I am this guy, the one you’ve been talking to. The one you let sleep in your bed. That is who I am. Don’t let the past define me.”

Narrowing my eyes further I said, “By stalling like this you aren’t making a very convincing case for yourself. I’m not here to judge you or define you. I care about the facts and about the case. If I lose your father will fire me and probably black ball me from any other firm. I have to get this right. I’ve worked my butt off to be here and I deserve it. And I deserve the truth.”

Silence swirled around us. Whatever he had to say he was worried would change how I saw him. Anger still filled me but so did worry. What was so bad he felt he had to keep it from me? I hated that I’d developed enough feelings for him in such a short amount of time to even care. Focus on the case, I reminded myself.

Finally he plopped down into the chair opposite me. His body sagged backwards, seeming exhausted. I slowly lowered myself onto my seat, sitting primly on the edge with my hands folded on top of my desk. Below I discreetly slipped off my heels. Wes glanced out the window behind me.

“I was young and stupid. I’d just opened up my first restaurant and business was booming. I’d received my first of my Michelin 5 stars and I was flying high. Some buddies took me out to Atlantic City to celebrate. There was gambling and booze and the week flew by. Somewhere along the way I’d picked up a girl.” I swallowed subtlely. There was always a girl. “She was cute and I convinced her to stay with me that week. Most of the time I was drunk and doing stupid things. When the week was over I packed up early in the morning, leaving her asleep in my bed.”

I frowned slightly. There were many people, not even semi famous people who had had weekends or weeks of debauchery. Gambling and booze and consensual sex were all legal, if albeit a bit embarrassing to have paraded around to the public. I opened my mouth to say as much when Wes finally looked at me, his eyes seemingly lifeless. My mouth shut quickly. There was more to the story.

“She found me weeks later at the restaurant. Not like it was hard, she knew who I was. She told me she was pregnant and it was mine. First, I laughed her off, hardly remembering her. But then she showed me pictures of the two of us. Ones I had taken, some she had, others from our friends surrounding us. And she had a letter from a doctor confirming her due date and likely date of conception. It all fell into place.”

I leaned back slightly in my chair. Wes had a love child. Somehow not one word of this had been leaked to the press. Someone as talented, handsome, and rich as Wes was usually a prime target for gossip such as this. After taking the case I’d combed through an embarrassing amount of tabloid articles to prepare myself. Now Wes leaned forward, both hands on his forehead of his arms rested on his knees.

“I took her somewhere private. I told her there was no way in hell she was having that baby. I wasn’t going to be a meal ticket for someone I barely knew. I’d just started out and was making a name for myself. If that had gotten out I’d been wrecked.” Here he stopped, his breathing shaky. His voice cracked a little, “I drove her to a clinic. She cried the whole way. I yelled at her, called her terrible names. Told her she’d ruined both our lives but had a chance to fix it.”

Now he stood quickly. He walked towards the door, his back to me and one hand on his hip as the other held his face. “I paid her $5,000 to get rid of it. Then I slipped the doctor a $1,000 to lose the records. Once he’d confirmed it was done I climbed into my car and left. When she woke up they called her a cab. I haven’t seen her since.”

My face was frozen in shock. This was not what I’d been expecting. I knew there was probably scandal in his past, especially since his father had wanted his top lawyers on the case but this was beyond the scope of my imagination. Again, silence filled the room as both of us were frozen in place. I couldn’t believe he’d been so cruel. Not even staying to make sure the girl he’d forced to have an abortion was okay. My stomach churned as I fought the urge to hurl.

It didn’t matter though, I was first and formost his attorney. I would have to deal with my personal feelings later. I pulled the file with his name on it up to me and picked up a pen to make notes. The sound of my pen scratching across the paper caused him to finally turn around and face me. My eyes never looked up from the paper, scared of what they would reveal.

“One very drunken night after we were married, Delia and I were talking about having a family. She said she wasn’t ready for that yet, didn’t want to ruin her figure or what was left of her 20’s. She said we had time. But images of a little blonde haired, grey eyed baby was haunting me.” Here I did look up. His eyes shone with unshed tears and grief. “And I told her the story. I told her about what a prick I was back then and how selfish. I forced that poor girl to do that and for what? My reputation?”

I swallowed roughly, my mouth insanely dry. “Does Delia have proof, Wes?”

He ran a hand through his rumpled hair as he laughed humorlessly. “You obviously know what she’s like. Clearly you two have a history. Does she have proof?”

I nodded once and he let out a sigh. “She wouldn’t show her hand like that if she didn’t have proof. What was the girls name Wes? Do you at least know that?” I couldn’t keep the ice and disdain from my voice. Bad choices I could handle but this was a whole other level. My heart hurt as my mind screamed at me that whatever this had been was over.

“Renee. Renee Samson. Last I knew she’d moved about an hour away from here.” I made a note before glancing back up at him.

“Is there anything else you need to tell me? Any other secrets your wife could be thinking of using against you?” He slowly shook his head.

“After that incident I didn’t date or sleep around. I stopped drinking except for when I watched a sports game at home. I threw myself into my work, trying to forget what a prick I was.”

Glancing down at my notes I skimmed through them quickly. Satisfied I had all I needed I slipped my heels on and stood. Walking around my desk I passed Wes, making sure we didn’t touch. I opened the door and gestured out. “I’ll be in touch Mr. Alderman, thank you for the information. I’ll confer with my co-council and we’ll see where to go from here.”

“That’s it? You’re just going to push me out the door? We need to talk about this Liv.”

I held up my hand, stopping him from saying anything more. I closed my eyes for a moment, summoning my strength. “Right now I need to focus on this case. I told you I was here purely as your lawyer and you told me some crucial information. Work has always been, and always will be my focus, my pride and joy. As for what your news means for us, honestly I can’t tell you right now,” I kept my voice low, making sure no one could hear my words. Not even my trusted secretary. “I need some time to process this. I have to come up with a game plan and quickly. Delia intends to take this to court and I’m sure this will come up. If you want to keep your restaurants, and me my job, I have to give this my all.”

Wes stared at me, his eyes hurt. With a small nod he walked towards me. His arm brushed against me as he passed, sending shockwaves through my body but also a new feeling. My chest ached at what he’d just revealed to me. I was angry at his stupid, selfish, younger self for making such awful choices and for being such a dick. At the same time my heart hurt for him. He’d had to live with the guilt of what he’d done. The guilt of treating that girl and her baby like they were nothing.

He’d paused in front of me. His voice rumbled out smoothly, “I know what your thinking, I can see it in your eyes. Just know you can’t hate me more than I hate myself,” and with that he walked away.

With a deep breath I closed my office door, throwing my back against it. Tears prickled at my eyes and I made a fist and bit down roughly on my knuckle while I screamed. I never would have thought he could be that type of person. Funny, smart, giving Wes was just as bad, if not worse, as every other guy out there. What if my own parents had made the choice he did? Would it have been better for me? I’d always been adamantly pro-choice, a woman’s body was her own. But to have your decision virtually stripped from you and offered cash like some cheap whore? If he could throw away his child what would stop him from tossing me away like garbage?

Again I felt my throat burn as I suppressed the urge to vomit. This changed everything, both personally and professionally. I took a moment to collect myself, taking a sip of water and gathering my notes. When I was ready I headed out towards Travis’s office. It was time to formulate a game plan. And I needed to keep my eyes on the matter at hand, my job, and definitely away from the matter of my heart.

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