The Sanction

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'Safe choice staying home.'

Those four words made this situation creepier, because now I knew this person was either watching me or was someone from the office.

Realizing that information only made this situation even more creepy, but it also made me even more curious. As I walked to my living room to pick up the papers I'd left, I started going through the list of my coworkers. However, going through the list I remembered, the only ones who had my number were my bosses. I knew Aidan wouldn't be doing this since all the messages had been about staying away from him. But I couldn't come up with any reasoning as to why Bethany or Christine would do this.

Bethany was the one who encouraged me to take this case with Aidan, and Christine had her hands full with her case at the moment. And, yes, the front desk secretary had my number, but it's questionable if she'd be sending these messages.

I opened my laptop and came face-to-face with the empty Google search page from last night. It seems this one lawyer vanished or seemed to never really exist. I doubt it's that last part, but that's all I can think, considering I can't find any information on him that's not already in the case file. Unfortunately, that means all I have to go on is a name.

Usually, I could just input the name into a special system and see what information comes up, but I'd have to be at work to do that. And work was the last place I wanted to be today.

I jumped out of my skin a bit when my phone started ringing. I knew Aidan would want to talk, but I was hoping he'd just think I still wasn't feeling well.

"Hello." "How're you feeling?" "A little better, not one hundred percent, but slowly getting there." "Do you think you'll be coming to the office tomorrow? We have to go over notes for the case, the judge has moved the court date, and jury selections are next week." "I should be in the office tomorrow, is there a specific reason for the date change?" "I'll discuss that with you tomorrow. I wanted to make sure you'd be here so that we can get started as quickly as possible." "Of course, I apologize for not coming in today." "It's no problem, but just be sure to be here early tomorrow. I'll meet you at 7."

Before I could ask why he wanted to start an hour early, he hung up. Just from the tone in his voice, I could tell the date change had thrown off his original plans.

My growling stomach is what pulled me from my thoughts, and since it was already past time for breakfast, I headed to my kitchen to fix some lunch.

After reheating some leftover pasta, I sat back down on my couch and read over the case file once again. This time taking notes as I went along so that Aidan wouldn't feel as if I'd wasted a whole day doing nothing. I took notice of dates in the clients' statements and how none of them seemed to match when he was said to be at the crime scene.

As I was finishing up my notes and my pasta, my phone rang again with another text notification. Thankfully, this time it was from Aidan. 'I'm sorry if I came on a tad strong on the phone, I just want to help you succeed as much as possible.' I told him I understood and that I would see him in the morning at 7.

I decided to go to bed early since I didn't get much sleep last night or this morning. As I climbed back into bed, I was hoping for a restful night with some peaceful dreams. Unfortunately, that's not what I got.

I'd had the same dream as I'd had this morning, but this time Aidan sat in place of the mystery lawyer. And when I walked over to look at the defense table, the attorney sitting there looked up at me.

And he screamed.

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