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Join date: Mar 25, 2022

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Having risen early for a Saturday, Maggie stared at her reflection in the bathroom mirror as she reached for the bottle of ibuprofen. It was the day after Michael’s date had met him at Doc’s. The dark circles under her eyes weren’t the only souvenirs of last night. Her head pounded and the idea of eating anything caused her stomach to roil. She slammed a pair of the orange pills, washing them down with tap water, and padded into the living room.

While she waited to feel human again, she flopped down on the couch and clicked on the television. A pretty blonde was giving the weekend weather forecast on the local news. It looked as though the temperatures would be mild for early October. When had they stopped showing cartoons on Saturday mornings?

Following the weather update was a report about the Larson trial. Suddenly, there was a tight shot of Michael, giving his speech about appreciating the jurors and his client’s wishes for the victim.

Maggie sighed. Sometimes she forgot how handsome he was. She thought about the previous day. I was stupid to think about going out with him, she realized. We work together, and there’s a certain amount of mutual attraction, but he lives the way he lives. End of story.

To her surprise, she found herself smiling. And that’s okay, she realized. I’m thrilled to work with Michael, I love to talk to him, banter with him; I’d much rather have that than not know him at all.

Her thoughts drifted to the missing documents. Ellen had been quick to throw Maggie under the bus. But Maggie was sure she hadn’t failed to get the files to Michael. So the question was, what had happened? If only there was a way to ensure that documents and files get to Michael every time. An idea popped into her head. She wasn’t sure if the ibuprofen had kicked in or that she had renewed purpose, but she returned to the bedroom, dressed quickly, and headed for the subway.

That night, she met Ben for sushi and they caught up on the past week. They laughed, commiserating about duties assigned to them as the least senior members of their offices and caught up on gossip about people they knew.

Try as she might, Maggie couldn’t get Ben to open up about his date. “It was a first date and it went very well. I just want to keep it to myself for a while.”

“You won’t tell me where you met. You won’t tell me his name. For Pete’s sake, Ben, give me something.”

He just smiled mischievously. “He’s tall, dark, and handsome. That’s all you get.”

“You’re dating Michael Rannigan?” she joked.

“No such luck, but speaking of the devil,” he said, “what’s going on, Flynn? You sounded upset last night.”

“Why in the world would you think that would have anything to do with Michael?” Maggie responded defensively.

“Because A, I know you, and B, you just answered my question with a question.”

Maggie looked at her hands. “It’s nothing. I just had to define my deal with him, that’s all.”

“Your deal with him? What does that mean?”

She gave an exasperated sigh. “Ultimately, I work with him. Sure it’s great to hang out with him and we laugh a lot, but at the end of the day, I’m an employee. So...” she trailed off.

“You’re not looking me in the eye,” he observed.

“Oh for fuck’s sake,” she exclaimed, raising her eyes, “Michael has a whole pack of women he dates. I won’t be one of those. But I enjoy working with him and I’m going to do my job to the absolute best of my ability.”

Maggie hit the office Monday morning loaded down with bags of pastries and coffee, and another bag containing what she’d purchased Saturday at the Hermes shop on Madison. She was only slightly concerned that Michael might not approve of the fact that she’d charged it to his credit card. Her money was on her prediction that the purchase would be just the thing for a guy who favored luxury watches and custom-tailored Italian suits.

When she explained to Michael her concerns, he’d agreed with her idea to place files directly in his office, and he’d liked the black leather letter tray. It really was nice. When she’d informed him that he’d paid for it he hadn’t batted an eye.

After that, when Maggie distributed documents to the necessary parties, she always placed Michael’s copies in the black Hermes tray on his desk. She told herself she hadn’t done it intentionally to have the excuse to see him, but in the back of her mind she wondered about her motives to become an escort.

Over the next few weeks, she accompanied Michael, along with John and Ellen, to court a handful of times, each time feeling like she was walking away with experience she hadn’t gotten during her time in law school.

During the last week of October, they were gearing up for the trial of Stan Phillips, the retired New York Giants football player accused of domestic violence against his estranged wife. Maggie made certain that all of the necessary files were in order, checking three times to ensure that Michael had copies of everything. She’d just dropped a stack of folders in Michael’s office and was heading back the library to shelve books when John approached Karen’s desk.

“Do we have extra toner?” Maggie heard him ask. “I can never find it. Maybe we’re out?”

Karen sighed and headed toward the copy room. “John, it’s in the cabinet to the left of the machine. I told you that last time.”

Maggie rolled her eyes and entered the library. She didn’t see Ellen move to Karen’s desk and start flipping through the stack of files set aside for Michael.

A half-hour later, Maggie was in the back corner of the library, her nose stuck in a book. It was an occupational hazard, she’d discovered, in shelving books. During her library duties, she occasionally found herself distracted, caught up in reading some precedent or other. She had her phone with her, earbuds in her pocket, but she hadn’t put on music today. She didn’t intend to be there that long. Absorbed in a case from three years ago, she slowly became aware of voices in the room.

“What do you mean, you can’t find them?” a male voice demanded.

“I mean they aren’t there!” a female voice spat. “I checked Karen’s whole damn desk. The Phillips files aren’t anywhere.”

Maggie recognized the voices of John and Ellen. She sat stone still and held her breath.

“Well, where the fuck can they be? Maggie put my copies in my box. You got yours, didn’t you?” John asked.

“Yes, I got mine!” Ellen hissed. “Where did that bitch put the ones for Michael?”

“I don’t know. You don’t suppose she’s just giving them straight to him, do you?” John wondered. “It would be next to impossible to slip into his office and take them.”

“I want that asshole to lose this case,” Ellen said. “You should be in charge of the 50th floor. He thinks he’s God’s gift to the world. Everyone knows that you deserve to be partner. When he loses this case and that Neanderthal goes to jail, the rest of the firm won’t be so impressed with him anymore.”

“We thought that about the Larson case, too, but Maggie ruined it,” John said.

“Baby, this case is bigger than that one. Nobody cares about a tennis player,” Ellen said. “People will lose their minds when a football hero goes down.”

Maggie slowly rose from her seated position on the floor, breathing through her mouth to keep from making any noise. As she did, she slightly bumped the cart of books, causing one to fall over. The noise sounded to Maggie like a cannon going off.

“Shit! Someone’s in here!” John hissed.

When they rounded the corner Maggie was facing the cart with her back to them, earbuds firmly in place.

“Hello!” Ellen shouted.

Maggie whirled around, eyes wide. “Holy crap, you startled me!” she said, removing her earpieces. Van Halen could clearly be heard, Diamond Dave wailing about Panama. “Can I help you find what you’re looking for?”

John was glaring at her at first, but like a window shade drawn down over his face, his expression returned to that benign, vaguely dull look he usually wore. “Sorry, Maggie, we didn’t mean to scare you. I was just looking for the Posner book. Ellen was trying to help me, but...” He grinned apologetically.

That grin, paired with his earlier glare and the conversation she’d overheard, chilled Maggie to the bone. She ignored the involuntary shiver and pasted on her best smile. “No problem, I can get that for you.”

Book in hand, the pair left her alone in the library. Maggie watched the second hand complete its circuit of the face of her watch ten times before she dared leave the room.

She grabbed her folio and walked casually to Michael’s office. “He’s on the phone,” Karen informed her. Maggie nodded and let herself into his office anyway.

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Devozki
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