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Chapter 5: The Proposal

The moment the elevator doors opened, Lesly was immediately greeted by Stacey who true to her reputation as a nervous-wreck was pacing right in front of the elevator. It seemed that leaving the young woman to sort through cases on her own for a couple of hours was a bit too much too soon.

Lesly smiled and tried to pretend to have not noticed the glare Stacy was giving her as she stepped out of the elevator.

“Morning Stacey,” Lesly greeted casually as she walked past the nervous-wreck towards her office.

Stacey immediately followed behind Lesly and her response to Lesly’s nonchalant attitude did not disappoint.

“Lesly I appreciate everything you’ve done for me. You know that, but if you shut your phone and leave me in charge unsupervised like that again, I might hang myself.”

“How’s your anxiety problem, Stacey? Better I hope?” Lesly asked casually.

“See any other day I might find that amusing, but right now I can’t.”

“Whatever happened to our little chitchat the other day about keeping our anxiety under control?”

“I can’t help it!” Stacey answered as she followed Lesly into her office. She shut the door behind her and proceeded to explain. “Do you have any idea how many issues and phone calls I had to deal with today because of Stevenson’s case? They were all asking for you and I had no idea how to reach you.”

“I thought I notified you yesterday that you were going to be on your own this morning.” Lesly answered as she picked up one of the folders on her desk to examine its contents.

“And I thought you’d pick up if I called with an emergency. The board of trustees is at it again. Graham called. Apparently he is worried about how you’re going to handle Stevenson’s case. He said you crossed a line and that he’ll…”

“Stacey, I don’t care what Graham says. You know that.” Lesly calmly interrupted.

“But he said if you don’t back off, he’s going to…”

“How’s Rebecca?” Lesly asked, fully intending on dismissing the issue of old man Graham and the board of trustees.

It was a known fact that she and the old man rarely got along and it seemed that her pursuit of judge Stevenson gave the old man another reason to pick an argument with her. Lesly perfectly understood the risks, but she firmly believed that the issue of the corrupt judge had been overlooked long enough and that a line had to be drawn somewhere.

“Rebecca’s worried sick.”

“Did her brother and the other guy say anything?”

“No, they all refused to talk without a lawyer present.”

Lesly sighed. She was hoping that Rebecca’s brother at least would be able to say something that would help his sister, but given his history and his past refusal in helping Rebecca leave the sex trade because of how much it profited him, it seemed highly unlikely that he would jump to her rescue now.

Stacey waited for Lesly to resort to the option she proposed in the email that she sent Lesly earlier, but it seemed that Lesly needed more convincing. The young woman walked over to Lesly’s desk and tried to reason with her one more time.

“Lesly you have to talk to Alec. I know you can get her out without his help, but we’re swamped and quite frankly, I don’t want the poor woman to suffer any longer. Let’s not drag this unnecessarily, please?”

Lesly gave Stacy one long hard look before she shut her eyes and voiced the request, “Make the phone call.”

Stacey immediately reached for the phone on Lesly’s desk and started dialing Reid’s office phone number. The moment the receptionist transferred her to the prosecutor, she pressed the speaker button and gave another encouraging look to Lesly.

“Collins! What a nice surprise! It’s been a while.” A deep masculine voice finally came through the speaker. Stacey began fanning herself.

Lesly placed the folder she was examining aside and crossed her arms as she leaned against the desk. “I know. How are things going, Reid?”

“Swamped as usual. Can’t complain.” Lesly could sense a hint of frustration in his voice. Judging by the commotion she heard in the background, the guy seemed quite busy.

“How are things going? How’s Stacey?” He asked.

Upon hearing her name being mentioned, Stacey began blushing and fanning herself harder.

Lesly shook her head in disappointment and proceeded to address the question with a calm demeanour. “Can’t complain either. Stacey is graduating soon.”

“Glad to hear it. Is she going to continue working with you?”

“I don’t think she made a decision yet.” Lesly answered as she motioned for Stacey whose face had turned crimson to pull herself together. She gave the young woman a threatening glare and continued. “Quite frankly I think it’s better if she finds employment someplace else.”

“Well let me know what she decides when the time comes. I’ll be glad to recommend her to a couple of firms.”

“I’m sure she’ll appreciate that,” Lesly answered without looking at what shade Stacey’s face took at the moment so as not lose whatever shred of respect she had left for the young woman.

“Will you hold on for a minuet?” He requested before he started talking to someone in his office. She heard him issue a couple of orders and directions before he went back to talking to her. The hint of frustration in his voice became more noticeable than before. “How can I be of service to you today, Collins?”

Fully intending on not wasting his time, Lesly immediately addressed the issue at hand. “There’s a woman, Rebecca Wilson, who is currently in police custody for armed robbery. Based on what I’ve gathered so far, she was dragged into this whole mess by her brother and an acquaintance. I was wondering if it’s at all possible to cut a deal.”

“What do you have in mind?”

“She’ll write a statement against the other two in exchange for a reduced sentence.”

He went silent for a moment to process her request, then proceeded to ask for confirmation, “A slap on the wrist?”

“Exactly,” Lesly answered calmly.

What she wanted for Rebecca was not jail time, but something along the lines of community service in the hopes of not getting the case all out in the open and subjecting the mother to a civil case that might rob her of her custody rights.

Reid went quite again. Lesly waited patiently for a favourable response and tried to give him time to think about the request.

“You’re asking too much, Collins.”

“You’ll see once I send the details of the case over to you that I’m not asking for much at all,” she reasoned.

“Fine, I’ll mull it over and see what I can do.”

“I appreciate that. I’ll make it worth your while.”

“You have something for me.” That was not a question. It was a statement uttered without a hint of anticipation, as if he fully expected her to respond this way.

Lesly did not know what to make of that tone, but proceeded with her proposal anyway, “As a matter of fact I do. I heard you’re working on that case, the drugs problem over at the docks. I’ve got a couple of people who might be willing to talk.”

“That’s not what I have in mind. I was hoping that you could help me with another issue.” He was interrupted yet again by someone at his office and she waited for him to finish conversing with that person.

Frustrated by the constant interruptions and the distractions, he decided to end the call right there, “Collins, can I call you with the details later?”

“Of course.”

“Alright. Take care.”

“You too.”

Stacey turned off the speaker and ended the call. She looked over at Lesly who did not seem relieved at all and asked, “Was that so hard?”

“You’re the last person to ask me that. How are you ever gonna handle a case against him in the future?”

Stacey giggled, “I should be over my crush by then.”

“One could only hope.”

Stacey’s giggles turned into laughs. She seemed to have relaxed a bit now that Lesly had come back to the office.

“I’m going to get us some coffee. Then we can sort through those files on your desk,” the young woman announced. She walked over to the office door and asked, “Real or decaf?”

“Real,” Lesly answered emphatically unable to keep on denying herself this one simple pleasure.

“You got it, boss,” Stacey answered, laughing before she walked out of the office.

It was another rainy night at Redlyn. Michaela arrived at Lesly’s building immediately after her shift at the hospital was over to pick her friend up and drive her home. That was the arrangement they agreed to. She would drive Lesly to her therapy appointments, drive Lesly to work afterwards and then she would drive her back home at the end of the day. Lesly could take her car, of course, but Michaela preferred to drive her to her therapy sessions herself to make sure her friend took those sessions seriously.

She texted her friend that she was outside waiting for her, but she got a phone call from Lesly a couple of minutes later.

“Where are you?” Michaela asked.

“I’m sorry, Michaela. I’m in the middle of an important phone call at the moment. I should be done soon. Can you come up?”

“Alright,” Michaela sighed before she hung up and proceeded to look for a parking space so she could park her car and meet her friend. She pulled her car over, and went to the parking meter to pay for the space. Then she grabbed her purse and walked cautiously towards the building to see what Lesly was up to.

It was a sad fact that women in Redlyn needed to be extra cautious when going out at night because it was not safe. The city was notorious for its high crime rate and the police force’s failure to keep crime under control. Under such circumstances, women had no choice but to take every precaution necessary to keep themselves safe.

Michaela took the elevator to Lesly’s floor and was greeted by a dimly lit office space. Most employees seem to have left already. She spied her friend who was holding the phone to her ear from afar and waved at her. Lesly smiled and motioned for her friend to come over. By the time Michaela reached her friend’s office, she found that Lesly had ended the call and hung up.

“You seem concerned,” Michaela stated as she threw her purse on one of the chairs and sat down on the other.

“That was Reid. He called to let me know that the matter we discussed this morning was taken care of.” Lesly explained.

“What’s the problem then?”

“He also had a proposal. He said he’s building a case against some major figures in Redlyn and he wants my help.”

“Who?” Michaela inquired. Her cheerful disposition had fully been replaced by a sullen one.

Lesly recognized that look too well. Michaela was not going to like what she was going to say, but it had to be said.

“He wouldn’t say, but he assured me that the case would be right up my alley. These people are apparently connected to a lot of the human trafficking cases we’ve uncovered over the years. Reid wants access to our database and contact with some of the people we’ve helped. He could file a subpoena, of course, but he said he needs my expertise if he’s to get to the root cause of the problem.”

“He’s not gonna drag you into anything dangerous now, is he?” Michaela asked. Her tone changed from calm to warning.

“Michaela,” Lesly pleaded.

“You remember too well what happened to you the last time.”

Lesly sighed and tried to reassure her friend, “My role would be to offer counsel and to act as a mediator between him and the organization. That’s all.”

“Nothing more?”

“No, I assure you.”

Michaela relaxed a bit, “Did you agree to his request?”

“I told him I’d think about it.”

“I thought you’d jump at such an opportunity.”

“You’re right. Normally I would, but I still don’t completely trust him.”

“I’d say it’s wise to stay on your guard, but let’s look at this objectively. What does he have to gain from building such a case? He’d make more enemies than friends.”

“I don’t know, but something is not right about him,” Lesly answered.

She had known the guy for two years and during that period he had never once given her any reason to distrust him. Still, she found it strange that his word held too much weight in a system that was corrupt to the core. How was it possible for him to get things done under such circumstances?

“I’ll tell you what,” Michaela spoke as she stood up and grabbed her purse, “It’s no use thinking about it now. Go home, get some sleep and let your mind run wild the next day.”

“It’s already running wild,” Lesly laughed.

“Then numb it with a glass of wine and go to bed,” Michaela advised. “I’m sure you’ll feel better about the whole thing tomorrow morning.”

Lesly hoped her friend was right, but nothing came the next day except one disaster after another.

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