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“Please go over the altercation again.” The bullshit lawyer says to me, leaning on my podium. She’s an idiot. I already know that Mom’s lawyer, the talented Mr. Kai Nyugen, is going to kick the shit out of this case. And this is my moment to shine, the icing on the cake.

“I was working the door.” I say slowly, my eyes big, round and innocent. “The man paid me, and then offered to buy me a drink. I told him no, I can’t drink on the job.” I take a deep breath, for effect. Thank you, drama camp. “He kept bothering me-“

“What did he say, when he was bothering you?” The bitch interrupts me, and if this weren’t so important I’d bust her fucking head open.

“He… he kept making crude comments.” I visibly shudder. “About my body.” My eyes swell a little with tears and there’s a murmur in the crowd. My attacker’s mother, or who I assume to be his mother, is sitting in the front row, bawling her eyes out. Bitch, maybe if you didn’t raise a douche bag, this wouldn’t have happened. He’s still so injured that he’s still in the hospital. They got a very garbled statement from him while he was in and out of consciousness.

“And then he just attacked you?” The lawyer asks, incredulity in her voice. I think at this point she knows she’s lost. She’s just trying to make me sound like a liar, now. Honey you don’t know how good of a liar I am.

“I asked him, very politely, to leave me alone.” I blink back the tears. “And then he…” I clench my jaw, as if swallowing a sob. “He grabbed me by the hair and slammed my head down on the table… and then he started to drag me towards the door…” I let the tears fall and hang my head. More murmurs in the crowd. This is just too easy.

Everyone else that was in the bar that night, including my coworkers, and Dexter’s band, have already testified. He has more people defending him than bees in a hive.

“And that’s when the accused hit him.” She says with contempt, as if it’s the worst thing in the world. Hell, I know I didn’t deserve saving, but I need the judge to think I did. And he will.

“It all happened so fast.” I sob, and pause, trying to compose myself. “I don’t think he meant to hurt him so badly… it just happened, he was just trying to save me. If he hadn’t… if he hadn’t…” I break off into a fresh burst of sobs, unable to speak.

“And you were so afraid that you felt it necessary to assault an officer?” The lawyer sneers at me, and there’s a hush over the room.

“I didn’t know what was going on!” I cry through my sobs, my face streaming wet as I sniffle uncontrollably. “I was in so much shock… somebody was dragging him away, and then somebody touched me… I didn’t want to be touched… I just reacted by instinct…” More uncontrollable, inconsolable sobs. Damn I’m good.

It doesn’t take long before the judge has heard enough. He declares that Dexter will get off on something similar to a self-defense charge, though I’m not really paying attention to what is said. I hide the smile that threatens my face.

Later, I’m sitting with Kai, in a meeting room in the courthouse. He’s got a shitload of papers strewn everywhere. This guy is so good.

“That was quite a performance.” He says a little stiffly.

“Yours, too.” I shoot right back, recalling his examination of my attacker’s mother. He’d been the one to put her in tears as she insisted that her baby would never hurt anyone. I was surprised after Kai’s grueling questions the judge didn’t put her in jail for raising a stupid son. He’d dug up some serious dirt on the whole family. It was fantastic.

I sigh. “So, what’s the damage, then?” I know this is all going to cost me an arm and a leg.

“More than you could pay off in a lifetime, chicky.” So professional, Kai.

“I’ll figure something out.” I wave my hand at him. I don’t care. I got myself into this, to get Dexter out of it.

“Well, your mother said she’d pay for everything, if you call and ask her to.” Kai says the words slowly and I grimace.

Fuck. “You told Mom?” I practically whine the words.

“Of course I did.” He says, and sounds incredibly paternal. Why do my violent tendencies always come out at inopportune times? “She likes to know what’s going on with you. And I thought that your valiant effort to help another human being might be a good thing for her to know.”

“Great.” I sigh heavily. I hate taking money from Mom. It’s all she cares about, and she thinks that showering me with it will make me love her. It doesn’t. But in this case, maybe I should just suck it up and call her. It’s been awhile since I’ve talked to her, and I probably really would screw myself if I tried to pay for all of this. “Fine, fuck.” I dig my phone out of my purse and scroll through the contacts.

I don’t even know her number off by heart.

“One more thing, before you do that.” Kai puts a hand up. “One of the stipulations of Dexter’s parole, I know you weren’t paying attention, is that he go to a violence support group. The judge also strongly suggested that you join him.”

My jaw drops. “Are you serious?”

Kai actually laughs. “I think it would be good for you, Seph. Aside from you hitting that cop… I mean, how many times did Jade bring you home when you were a teenager for fighting?”

“Never for fighting.” I pursed my lips. “For being a drunken drugged up minor out on the streets all the time… the fighting was just how I got caught.” I cross my arms and resist the urge to pout.

“Either way, I put together some pamphlets for you.” Kai pushes them across the table at me. “It’s better than anger management, at least.”

I grunt. I don’t even want to look at them. I just want to get this phone call over with.

The phone barely rings once before it’s picked up.

“Baby?” Christ, she sounds old. The woman is only forty three and she sounds eighty. Years and years of being a crusty bitch will do that to a person, I guess.

“Hi, Mom.” I try to sound interested. It’s incredibly hard.

“Oh, sweetie pie, it’s so good to hear your voice, are you okay?” I hear her exhale smoke and then cough.

“Yeah, I’m fine.” I tell her with a little sigh.

“Because of that wonderful musician man, hmm?” She babbles. “Kai and Jade told me all about what happened, honey, he sounds amazing. What a good pick for you!” Jade talked to her too? Fucking traitor.

“I didn’t pick him, Mom, he nearly killed a man in my bar.” I rub my forehead impatiently.

“Oh, whatever, sugarplum, these things happen for a reason.” I can visualize her waving her hand casually to brush off what I’d just said. “Anyway, I’m taking care of it all, okay? This was a good project for you. I hear he’s been evicted, though, does he have a place to stay? You should let him stay with you, lovey, you’ve got that whole penthouse all to yourself.”

Her sickly sweet voice makes me want to puke.

And then what she said actually sinks in. He’s been evicted? Kai didn’t mention that to me. “Yeah, I guess so, I don’t know what’s going on with that.” I say absently. Would I let him into my castle? Is that even a question?

“Anyway, sweetheart, you’re probably busy with everything so crazy right now.” At least she knows when she’s outstayed her welcome. “It was so good to catch up honey, kisses!” Click.

“God, that woman is insane.” I mutter as I literally throw my phone on the table.

“That woman is your mother.” Kai shakes his head, seemingly amused.

“You didn’t tell me he was evicted.” My brow furrows.

“I figured it would be more fun for her to tell you.” He smiles, and I scowl. Lawyers and their little games.

“Well does he have a place to stay?” I purse my lips.

“I don’t know, you’ll have to ask him.” Kai shrugs. “But be careful, you don’t want to end up with a charity case, he doesn’t have a job anymore either.” I snatch up the pamphlets and stand up.

“I’m sure we can figure something out.”

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