Slaying Goliath (Complete)

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Chapter 11

It was midmorning when she got the call. She cursed a word she rarely said, after she put the receiver down. Plans had changed. She needed to fly out tonight. They had moved the case forward. Which meant she needed to be there tonight. She rang Amanda and asked her to reschedule her flight and have everything ready to go earlier than expected.

Then she looked at her phone. She felt the need to tell him. Even though she’d assured him that she wouldn’t be sleeping over tonight, she still wanted him to know that she was leaving early. It wouldn’t be right for her to leave without having him know where she was.

She dialled his number. It might be a one-sided conversation, but it would at least be better than a cold text.

“Hi, this is JJ’s phone,” A man’s voice was in her ear, “He can’t get to the phone right now, can you leave a message.”

She thought it might have been the voice of one of his friends, but she didn’t know their voices well enough to be sure of that. Why did they call him JJ? She’d heard them call him Jay, but she just thought it was a nickname, a shortened form of Josh. This was different though. Using ‘JJ’ on his voicemail recording made it seem like an official name.

“Josh,” she realised that she needed to leave a message, “There’s been a change of plans. I’m flying this afternoon. I’m sorry. I really was looking forward to,” she paused as she searched for the right words, then gave up and just said, “I’m going to miss you more than you know. I’ll text you. I’ll be back on the weekend. lo…” she stuttered as she stopped herself from signing off with, ‘love you’.

“I’ll see you soon,” she said quickly to cover her embarrassment and ended the call.

She hoped that he’d get the message, but she didn’t have time to worry about it. Amanda stuck her head through the door and told her that she was flying at 5pm, which meant that she didn’t have time to go home for clothes. She gave Jen a call. Her flatmate worked in Trenton and was her only hope. Luckily Jen was able to run home, pack for her and put her suitcase in a taxi.

Then she pushed herself to focus on making sure she had all the paperwork she would need. She met with her team and reviewed everything for the last time. Then she ran from meeting to meeting as she made sure she had everything covered for the two days she’d be away from the office.

The text from Josh came in during one of the meetings.

When is your flight? I’ll drive you to the airport.

She smiled. At least she’d see him. She texted him the time and he text her straight back with the time he’d be picking her up.

Amanda had everything ready when she walked into the office. The small carryon bag with her clothes in, thanks to Jen, and her briefcase containing her laptop and all the documentation she would need. It didn’t look like much, two small bags, but having her luggage sitting there made it real. She was going. This was the point she’d worked so hard to reach and this trip would be the turning point in her career.

“I would say ‘Good luck’,” Amanda handed her the printout with the flight information on it, “But that would be pointless, you’ve got this. Enjoy your moment on the stand and kick-butt!”

She took the lift down and was waiting for Josh when he pulled into the curb in his sports car. He jumped out and took her case, as she climbed into the vehicle. Only when they were on the road, in the traffic did she relax. There was nothing she could do now. She just had to trust she’d done enough preparation.

“Thanks,” she whispered at Josh, “I didn’t want to leave without seeing you.”

He reached over and took her hand giving it a squeeze before he let it go.

“I was thinking,” she watched him driving, “I’m owed some holiday time. When I come back, maybe I could take a week off?”

She phrased it as a question, giving him the opportunity to shake his head if he wasn’t keen. He turned and smiled his infectious grin at her and nodded his approval.

“If you can’t take time off, it wouldn’t matter,” she smiled as she reached out and placed her hand on his thigh, “For once, it would be nice not having to rush off in the mornings. I just would like to spend a week thinking about nothing but you.”

He groaned softly as his hungry eyes found hers. He nodded while he moved her hand to show her how much he wanted that. His jeans were tight as her fingers touch on the growing arousal. She contemplated unzipping them and touching him, running her fingers over him while he was driving and unable to do anything but hold onto the steering wheel. The thought thrilled her, it was irresponsible and dangerous. But there was a good chance that distracting him like that would end in an accident. If he ran this expensive car into the back of some other vehicle while she had her hand wrapped around him or her head in his lap, then an explanation would be needed. She imagined trying to explain to a Police Officer what she was doing. And then she’d had to explain to everyone else why she was late for her day in court. It was tempting but, ultimately, it wasn’t worth the risk.

Instead she distracted herself from his body by talking to him about the possibility of them spending a week together. She told him about all the things she hadn’t seen in New York and watched his face for his reaction to each, judging from his expressions how enthusiastic he was for each. By the time they reached the airport she was laughing as she teased him about taking him Time Square on New Years Eve. His dislike of crowds guaranteed the reaction she got.

He parked the car and took her bags before holding her hand as they walked into the building. He had his cap on his head and was wearing the same sports coat he’d worn in the park. She didn’t have much time, so they headed for the gate. Once there, she felt uncomfortable. There where people everywhere. She wanted to kiss him.

The gate opened, and the passengers started boarding, as they stood there looking at each other. She wrapped her arms around him and held him close. She didn’t want to let go. Her arms were locked around him. She couldn’t leave him.

He lifted her face to his and brushed his lips across hers as he let his eyes tell her how much he was going to miss her.

“This is the last call,” the flight attendant was saying.

She reluctantly released him and picked up the cases. He pulled out an envelope from a pocket in his coat. She blinked at it. What was this letter? Was he breaking up with her via letter?

He lifted her face to his and shook his head. He must have seen the fear in her eyes. He put the letter in her briefcase and then he put one hand in the centre of his chest then moved it to the left side of his chest and with both hands he showed his heart beating then he pointed at her.

“My heart beats for you too,” she whispered.

“Miss,” the flight attendant was calling her, “You need to board the plane.”

She backed away from him. He shook his head again as she stood in the doorway to the jet-bridge. Before the door closed he hit the centre of his chest then used his hands to create the outline of a heart and he moved it from him out towards her. She stood there as he was miming that she was taking his heart with him and all she could do was cry. Tears sprang to her eyes and trickled down her cheeks. The doors closed. She was left looking at the blank surface numb as the flight attendant tried to move her towards the plane and her seat.

It wasn’t until the plane taxiing down the runway, that she realised that she hadn’t responded to him. He didn’t know that he had her heart too. She closed her eyes and remembered his face. She wouldn’t be able to text him until they landed.

She must have fallen to sleep. Someone shook her awake and she was left fumbling as she grabbed her bags. She didn’t realise how tired she was. She’d expected to be unable to sleep with all the nervous energy and being in a strange bed without him. But as soon as she checked in, she fell into that hotel bed and was asleep straight away.

She woke in the morning feeling like there was something she’d forgotten. Then she remembered the case. It was normal to be worried about forgetting vital information. What wasn’t normal was the hollow feeling she had in her chest as she looked at the empty place next to her in the bed. She rolled over and picked up her phone. There were several texts waiting for her.

You have my heart. Josh.

Missing you, a week without letting you out of my arms is a great idea, forget sightseeing, I’m not letting you out of the bedroom.

Be safe. Read the letter. I’ve been wanting to tell you all week. I wanted to be there when I told you, but we ran out of time. Don’t overreact. Give me the chance to explain further before you make any decision.

My bed is cold, and my world is empty. Come back to me soon and then please don’t leave me ever again.

She’d forgotten about the letter. He seemed to be worried about her reaction to what it held. She pulled the envelope out of her briefcase. If he was that concerned, his letter probably contained something that would upset her. She didn’t need that sort of news. She was in love with him. She could feel it all the way from her toes up to the top of her head. All she wanted to do was sing and dance with joy.

This feeling was distracting enough. Two days. It was Thursday today, Friday was tomorrow and then she could be back in his arms. She needed to keep her focus on her work for two days. That was going to hard enough without reading that letter. No matter what the letter contained, it would make it almost impossible for her to get through the next two days. If he told her that he loved her or if he told her that he couldn’t love her, either would send her into a spin. She put the letter back into her briefcase. She would read it after she’d done what she needed to do here.

The courthouse was historic and majestic. It was a stunning building. She sat in the court room listening to the opening remarks. As a key expert witness the lawyers wanted her there for the two days just in-case they needed her advice or to bring her to the stand again. She would take the stand this afternoon if everything went to plan.

It was during one of the breaks, she was in the ladies’ room washing her hands, when a woman approached her, “You’re dating Goliath, aren’t you?”

“I’m sorry?” she turned to the well-dressed woman, “You must have the wrong person. I don’t know anyone by that name.”

“Really?” the woman didn’t look convinced, “Sorry, I thought you were JJ Masters’ new girlfriend.”

“No, sorry, my boyfriend’s called Josh,” she smiled feeling the trill of casually referring to Josh as her boyfriend. Even so, the name JJ had her confused. That was the name on Josh’s voice mail, but his last name was McClean not Masters, they weren’t even similar.

The woman watched her leave but didn’t say anything more. Belinda didn’t have lunch, she was too nervous to eat, instead she found a quiet place and mentally prepared herself. When she headed back to the courtroom she thought that she saw the woman from the bathroom talking to the prosecution team. It didn’t matter though, she was ready and thoroughly prepared for this.

It was late in the afternoon when they called her to the stand. The Defence Attorney introduced her and asked the questions that she was expecting. She spoke well and presented everything in the correct way. This wasn’t the part that worried her. The Prosecution’s cross examination was the unknown part.

The prosecutor took his time standing up. He didn’t look at her as he prepared.

“You are Belinda Compton?” he asked finally lifting his eyes to her, “Do you have a partner? A boyfriend?”

“Objection,” the defence interrupted, “Relevance.”

“Miss Compton is being held out as an expert in her field,” the attorney who was acting for the prosecution was handsome and was dressed in an expensive suit. She might have counted him as attractive if she didn’t know Josh. “We need to establish her character and ensure there are no conflicts of interest.”

“Overruled,” the judge said.

“Answer the question please,” the man was watching her carefully.

“Yes, I have a boyfriend,” she answered.

“For the record,” he smiled, “Please state your name of this boyfriend?”

“Joshua McClean,” she stuttered. Her heart was beating fast as she looked at the defence team. They looked as confused by this as she was. “But I don’t see how this is relevant?”

One of the prosecution did something on the computer then handed a slip of paper to the man who was pacing in front of her.

“Joshua McClean,” he repeated, “Are you aware of all the alias’ your boyfriend operates under? Josh McMasters? JJ Masters? Goliath? The Beast? Have I missed any?”

“Objection,” the defence attorney was on his feet, “What is the point?”

“Yes, I would like to know that too?” the judge mumbled.

The prosecutor took some glossy magazines off the woman from the bathroom and walked over dropping them in front of Belinda.

“Your expert witness is sleeping with the erotic dancer who goes by the name Goliath.”

The pictures on the magazine didn’t look real. The top one showed photos of Josh and her in Central park, holding hands, eating the picnic and kissing like lovers. The article was entitled, The Accountant slays the Beast. Then she caught a glimpse of the other magazine. The pages had been folded back so that it opened at the appropriate place. The large pictures weren’t like the other magazine. They weren’t taken from a distance. They were professional. She couldn’t touch the paper. It lay on the small table in front of her. Josh was looking up at her. He was naked on red crumpled satin sheets as a woman was kissing his abs.

“Objection,” someone was yelling.

“Your honour,” the man in front of her sounded smug, “The defendant owns a number of businesses. The fact the witness is dating someone who she doesn’t know the identity of and he has multiple alias’, brings up the question as whether this man has impinged her objectivity. Does the man you are dating have any interest in the case, Miss Compton? Does he have any assets that have violated your integrity? Do you have a conflict of interest Miss Compton?”

“No?” she blushed but answered immediately. Then she realised that she didn’t know, “I don’t think so.”

“The court does not appreciate your thinly veiled implications,” the judge sounded tired. “Do you have any evidence or are you fishing?”

“No evidence, as yet,” the prosecutor smirked.

“Then I will strike the question from the records and give you a warning,” the Judge growled, “If you waste any more of the court’s time, I will fine you. Either question the witness properly or sit down.”

Belinda sat there in a spin. The man she loved wasn’t who she thought he was.

“Of course, you honour,” The prosecutor was still smirking as he continued his cross-examination. His questions were relevant to the information she’d presented and related to the facts, but she stuttered and couldn’t get the words out of her mouth. Things that she’d rehearsed, practiced, answers she’d prepared, all disappeared from her head. She was flustered, and he took full advantage of that.

She couldn’t look at the defence team when she was dismissed from the stand. She knew she’d blown it. They had depended on her and she’d fallen apart. Their strategy was in pieces and they were scrambling to rebuild their defence. It shouldn’t have been like this.

She picked up her things and fled. There was no point her staying. There was no way they’d put her back on the stand and wouldn’t want her advice. She’d proven herself unreliable. She wanted to cry.

Months of preparation, months of long days and long hours. It wasn’t just the defendant that she’d let down, it was her team, the firm and herself. She’d failed and there would be consequences.

She walked out onto the street and noticed the looks she was getting. She brought a hat and then picked up the magazines. She walked to the hotel. She dropped the offending publications on her bed as she pulled her phone out.

She’d put it on silent this morning. There were twelve missed calls, most from Josh, two from Amanda and one from Anthony. It was the one from Anthony that worried her. Anthony was an executive partner in MS&T and if he was ringing that meant he knew. She ignored the missed calls and the twenty-two text messages and picked up ‘Gossip Today’ flipping to the article. She scanned the words, it contained her name and where she worked.

They had mentioned the firm. She sat down. The firm didn’t tolerate scandal and took great pains to present itself as prestigious. They wouldn’t appreciate her dragging their name through the mud along with hers.

She dropped her head into her hands and let the tears flow. The offer of a Partnership would be off-the-table now and she might well be looking for a new job on Monday. It would be easier to look for a new job than to face everyone. She was sleeping with someone called ‘Goliath’ and, not only did everyone know it, everyone knew what she was getting in glossy detail.

With shaky fingers, she flicked through the thick pages of the more expensive magazine. Josh didn’t belong to her. His face and body didn’t belong to her. It belonged to My Woman, anyone who opened the magazine, and that attractive woman who was all over him. The pictures of them together were explicit. They were both naked and were doing things that made her feel sick to the stomach. There was nothing special about what the things Josh did with her. He was shamelessly doing it all to this woman, for the whole world to see. Was he still sleeping with this Dasharvoo woman? Was she the ‘thing’ he wanted to tell her about?

Tears blinded her. They dripped down her face and splashed on Josh’s naked form making the paper wrinkle. What was she supposed to do now? How was she going to move forward? He’d betrayed her and done it in the most public way possible. It stung, ripped and tore at her. How could she be so stupid to think this man felt something towards her? How could she have possibly thought he might love her? He was using her for a fun time. She should have trusted her first instinct, Josh wasn’t in her league. She wasn’t good enough.

The phone vibrated. She looked down and saw his name on the screen. Her chest tightened, a sob escaped her lips as her eyes flooded. She fell onto the bed and gave up trying to be strong. She cried. She kicked the phone onto the floor and buried her face in a pillow.

She let the pain take her. She wept for the loss of her dreams both for her career and for him. The shame she felt made her angry and sad at the same time. The regret burned her but couldn’t take away the sorrow for what she’d lost. She wanted to hate him. She wanted to blame him for doing this. But all she could feel was pain and heartbreak. She loved him, he didn’t love her, he couldn’t love her.

When she couldn’t cry anymore she threw her things together and headed for the airport. There was a message from the legal team in her email informing her that her services were no longer required. She caught a cab to the airport and got on the first flight she could. She needed to go home. She needed to hide.

She wore a hat but her face as so puffy that no one looked at her. She arrived home in Trenton as the clocks turned over to Friday morning. Jen was asleep, so she let herself into the flat and shut herself into her room, climbing into bed.

It was only then that she remembered the letter. Pulling the envelope out of her bag she looked at it. Should she rip it into small pieces? Should she burn it? Did she want to hear his excuses? Did she want him to tell her about this other woman?

She put the envelope down and looked at it like it was poisonous. Its contents wouldn’t make any difference. No matter what he wrote, it was the same outcome. What could he say that would make this right? If she read it, it would only add to the heartbreak.

Her phone rang again. She saw his name. Why was he ringing anyway? He wouldn’t be able to talk to her. She’d given up counting the number of times he’d rung and texted. She’d ignored them all. It was the same principle as the letter. Even if he could speak to her, there was no way he could fix this.

She curled up in bed and cried herself to sleep.

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