Shark in the Suit
I lean toward the screen, ignoring the seductive scent of Gabriel's aftershave. "Why are you so upset over an e-mail? You could've just..oh." The e-mail is short and perfectly explains Gabriel's scowl. 'Gabriel Howard, if you do not lose the Jones case, you will suffer consequences. To get a taste of what we mean, please review the clip in the attachment. A clip that could become very public.' "This is insane. What could they have on you?" I move the mouse to click on the clip, and gasp when I see it. It's a sex tape. It's a video of my boss having sex...with me. They are blackmailing us! If this goes public, I'm ruined...
A few weeks earlier... My fingers tingle as I press the elevator button. This is it. I am finally getting a chance to make my mark on the big bad city. I've dreamed of this moment hundreds of times in the past few years. But even in my wildest dreams, I never imagined I'd land a job at Bakewell & Associates-one of the most prestigious law firms in the country. Nerves, excitement, and thrill are all pumping through my veins. No one will get in my way. I'm sure of it! As if on cue, the elevator door opens, and I step in.
Just before the sliding doors shut, a man walks in. He's easily the sexiest man I'd ever laid eyes on. Looking at his suit, it seems custom made, judging by the perfect way it hugs his muscular body. The masculine scent of his cologne fills the small space. Am I in the right place? I thought the modeling agency was next door. "What floor?" He has a sexy voice too! Like, wow!
"20." I can't help but steal another glance only to find his eyes piercing straight into mine. I hold my breath, unable to tear my gaze away from his until the elevator door pings open at my floor. I nod in a greeting and step outside, stealing a glance back to see if he's still looking. And I catch him staring at my ass, one eyebrow raised, a smirk on his lips.
He's not even trying to hide his interest..."Take a picture, it'll last longer." Once the handsome guy is whisked away by the elevator, I smile and introduce myself to the receptionist. "Could you please point me toward Ms. Parson's office?"
"Actually, she's already on her way to meet you." The receptionist nods, and when I turn around, I see what she means.
"Jade, darling, it's so nice to see you! I hope you've enjoyed your summer."
"I did, but I couldn't wait to start working here. I really appreciate you helping me land this job. I've already read up on all of the ongoing trials. I can't wait to get involved!"
"I love the enthusiasm! I was the same when I was your age. I'm thrilled to have you as part of the team."
"Thank you. To be honest, it's such a relief to be working for someone I know."
"Oh, darling, I completely forgot to tell you. I'm working for another manager so you'll be working for Gabriel Howard instead."
"I thought you said you did your research. He's our newest lawyer. Everyone is obsessed with him, for some reason. He's been recruited by Mr. Bakewell himself. He can really hold his own in the courthouse, apparently. They call him the Shark in the Suit."
"That's amazing!" Although it will feel different working for another boss. "I bet I could learn so much more from him."
"I highly doubt it. He's rude, condescending, and doesn't bother interacting with anyone in the office."
"But don't worry darling, I'll always be available if you need me."
"Thanks. I appreciate that."
"No problem. Come with me. I'll introduce you. But just expect a disclaimer, don't expect more than just a grunt in your face." Great... We walk down the beautiful office hallway, and the environment is comfortably corporate. I feel my excitement starting to return. When we reach our destination, Kelly briefly knocks and opens the door without waiting.
"Can we come in?"
"Read the sign on my door, Kelly."
"I hardly think it's appropriate to expect me to make an appointment every time I want to drop in."
"Then don't drop in."
"I came to introduce you to your new assistant. Please meet Jade." Holy shit, it's HIM. "Jade, this is Gabriel."
Stay professional Jade. "It's a pleasure to meet you." Once again, he thoroughly scans my body from top to toe and there's something intimidating in his eyes. Jesus. He makes my skin crawl. What will Kelly think?
"Your desk is outside. Entrance to my office is by invitation or appointment only. Exceptions are if a high-profile client calls or if the building is burning down. Do I make myself clear?"
"It's Mr. Howard to you."
Is he serious? "Sorry, Mr. Howard."
"Come on, I'll show you to your desk before Mr. Howard spontaneously combusts."
"This is where you'll spend most of your time."
"You mean, in between attending trials and networking events?"
"No...It's unlikely you'll get much hands-on experience in your first year here, especially working for Gabriel. From what I've heard, he's not much of a team player."
That's not what I wanted!! "I understand."
"Good. We all have to start somewhere. Anyway, there's an instant messaging system is Gabriel needs you for something. It should already be linked up to your phone. In the meantime, here are your company protocols for you to read and sign. If you need me, you know where to find me."
"Thanks, Kelly." She gives me one last encouraging smile before she walks away.
Typical. Instead of having my old mentor as my boss, I have to work for a hot jerk. I spend the next hour studying the papers Kelly gave me. It's not long before I feel comfortable at my desk, some of my enthusiasm returning. But then I get a message. Gabriel: Coffee, please. Black, one sugar. And an you photocopy the pile of documents on my desk? Looking at my phone, I scowl. He must have meant to send this to the secretary. I'll just get back to work. My phone went off again. Gabriel: Sometime in this century, Jade. I put my phone down in awe. Okay, maybe "jerk" was an understatement. Gathering courage, I go back to his office. "Are you lost? This isn't the kitchen. And there's no sign of a drink in your hands."
"With all due respect sir, this job description said I'd be assisting with trial cases. I'm a lawyer, not a secretary. I was hoping I'd be responsible for tasks more relevant to, well, law."
"Fine. You're right. How about I let you use the Abraham Lincoln mug for my coffee?"
Son of a... "I'll be right back."
I find my way to the kitchen and I made him his coffee as requested. It's my first day. I can't get on his bad side already. I return, a polite smile plastered on my face. "Here's your drink."
"Thank you. Maybe you're competent at your job, after all."
"I'd like to think so."
He frowns, glares at me for 2 long seconds, and finally sighs. "Here's the deal. Just this morning, when we first met, I was on my way to see Mr. Bakewell. I'm about to start working on a big case. Training a new assistant wasn't my plan. I like things done in a specific way, and I can't risk you getting in the way. So, we've got to make this work."
"And how do we go about doing that?"
He presses his lips together and gives me another unflinching stare. I feel hot under my clothes, but I stand still, wondering what he'll say next. "I was going to head out for lunch. I usually dine alone, but if you want, you could join me, and we could try and find some common leverage."
"I suppose that sounds reasonable."
"Great. I'll get my car." I get my things, and I focus hard on the fact that this is just a business lunch with my boss. He might look hot, but this is not a date. NOT a date, Jade.
15 minutes later, Gabriel casually leads the way into one of the trendiest restaurants in the city, and the waitress greets him as if he's their best customer. Wow, I can't believe he brought me HERE. Getting a reservation is almost impossible. The waitress takes our orders, and we're left alone.
"Do you bring all your assistants here?"
"No. As I said, I usually dine alone."
"Well, thanks for inviting me. I appreciate you taking time out to get to know me. Perhaps we got off on the wrong foot."
"Perhaps." He smiles, but instead of helping me relax, it only makes me nervous. "So, what made you want to do law?"
"I've always been passionate about pursuing justice. I want to make a difference. I want to change lives."
"You're passionate about this."
"Well, we'll see if you have the ability to make it into the big league."
He winks at me and raises a glass. I'm not sure if he's teasing or being encouraging, but it almost makes me blush. "So, umm...I'd love to hear about some of your cases. How did you get to be as successful as you are?"
"My first case threw me into the spotlight a few years ago."
"A case I would have heard of?"
"Do you remember an American supermodel named Heidi Price?"
"Yes, she was America's sweetheart, until her doctor was careless. Wait. Don't tell me you were her attorney?"
"No, I defended her doctor."
I gasp in surprise. "How come?"
"No one with a reputable name wanted to defend him because of who Heidi was. So, the odds were stacked against me, a young, inexperienced, no-name lawyer. But despite all the media raging, justice prevailed. I managed to prove the doctor had no choice but to perform emergency surgery. Had he not cut her scalp, she would've died. His name was cleared of any wrong. And the next day, my name was plastered on the front of newspapers."
"Wow, I had no idea you were involved in that case. I feel privileged to be able to work so closely with you."
"Who said anything about us working...closely?"
"Well, I assume we'll be spending many hours together."
"Look, the real reason I brought you here was to set some boundaries."
"What do you mean?"
"Do you know how many cases I've lost?"
"I'm guessing none?"
He nodded. "I don't intend on starting now. Just because you are my new assistant."
The insult is so sudden and unexpected, that I need a moment to react. "Mr. Howard, I would never do anything of getting in your way."
"No. You don't understand. You don't need to do anything to distract me."
"What are you implying?"
"We were both in the elevator this morning." I looked at him silently. "Let's just keep things professional, okay? I don't display misconduct in my own workplace."
"Of course, Mr. Howard. The thought never crossed my mind."
That's a lie. He thought to himself. "Good. Now that we've cleared that up, let's finish our food before it gets cold." We do so, but there is an uneasy tension between us.
All of his moves are fully measured. Concentrating on his lunch to avoid eye contact with me. Repositioning his chair when our knees accidentally touched. "We should go. Our hour's almost up." We head back to the office in complete silence. I flop back down at my desk and hopelessly return to my paperwork.
It's impossible to focus, knowing an attractive man is sitting on the other side of the door. Minutes turned into hours, but it feels as if time is standing still. This is NOT what I was thinking my first day would be like. 30 minutes later, I'm lost in depth of old legal files, when I hear the door open. I raise my eyebrows to see a beautiful woman. "Hi, can I help you?"
"I'm here to see Gabriel."
"Do you have an appointment?"
"He isn't available today, unless by appointment. "My name should be logged in the system. It's Mia Brown."
"Nope, there's nothing here."
"You're being very unhelpful. Gabriel won't be pleased when he finds out his new secretary won't allow his girlfriend from visiting."
"You're his girlfriend?"
"That's correct. Look, just tell him I'm here. Also include I don't like waiting Ms... What's your name?"
"Jade Anderson." She nodded. I already hate my job 6 hours in... I exhale and go to see Gabriel. "I'm sorry to have to interrupt you, but..." He looked at her with irritation and said, "Did a high-profile client call?"
"Is the building burning down?"
"Then you didn't have to come in here and interrupt. What could be so pressing that would cause you to be incapable of following simple rules?"
"Your girlfriend is here and I guess she doesn't like waiting."
"My girlfriend? What's her name? Diane? Jenny? Mia?"
"What? How many girlfriends so you have?"