What if you lost everything you ever wanted, and had just one chance to get it back? Hotshot attorney Cordelia Simms needs a do-over. She spent her whole life being perfect, and it nearly destroyed her — now she’s got a long to-do list, and “perfect” isn’t on it. She negotiates a minefield of old money and modern office politics while family conflict and dangerous secrets threaten to drag her down for good. Previously… Cordelia agreed to spy for Richard but held back her real information. Her car broke down, and Detective Joyner gave her a lift. He revealed that Cordelia’s dad had helped his mom during the Civil Rights Movement. Cordelia’s mom embarrassed her with a drunken remark.
Something in my head snaps. Nope. Just…nope.
I drop the door, and it slams shut. I turn to Detective Joyner.
The local meat-and-three isn’t fancy, but it’s clean. I put some chunks of chicken and squash on Bella’s tray. Detective Joyner got broiled fish and a green salad. You don’t stay that ripped eating comfort food.
I sip my tea. “I’m sorry you had to hear that. Mom thinks she’s progressive for letting the cable guy use the powder room.”
He blows out a breath and spreads his hands — not touching that with a ten-foot pole.
Bella grins with all her four-and-a-half teeth and blows back. It’s a long, juicy raspberry with bonus squash bits. Thank God he has a sense of humor.
I pass the wet-wipes. “How’s your mom recovering?”
“She wants me to stay a couple more weeks. I can use the break.” He pokes at his food. “It gets to you, you know? The system just grinds around. The dealers get richer and the junkies get broken, and we keep turning the wheels.”
He looks so sad.
“No!” I speak low. “You know where I found out I was pregnant? In jail. God knows what would’ve happened otherwise.”
I smooth Bella’s hair. “We needed you. They need you, too.”
When it’s time to go, he tries to leave the tip. I replace it. “Your money’s no good here, Detective Joyner.”
He smiles. “Call me Lawrence.”
* * * * *
Mom’s hangover means I can borrow the Beemer without negotiating. I arrive at work to find Scott at my door.
“Got a second?” He tweaks a trouser crease and perches on my desk. His socks match his pin-dotted tie. Snazzy. “Great work on that memo.”
“Hey, word is…” He peers out the door. Nobody there. “Tax is expanding this year. I know you just started, but think about it.”
I chuckle. “One job at a time, please.”
He leans in. “I’m serious. Marj’s base is shrinking. Dying off, literally. New prospects want one-stop service: business planning, personal assets, the works. Don’t get stuck on the closeout shelf.”
He positively reeks of sincerity, plus a tiny hint of juniper. I nod. “Thanks for the heads-up.”
He’s not gone five minutes when Marj pokes her head in. “With me.”
She’s fuming as I scurry behind. “Bullet-point that memo you did.”
I give her a summary in the elevator. She nods.
The doors ding. “But why?”
Her Aquanet waves bounce as she walks. “Demarest called Zoe Ackerman behind my back. That asshole’s poaching my clients right and left. He won’t get this one so easy.”
Whoa. Trouble snickers. I can’t wait to see this.
We swoop into Room D while Richard’s shaking Ms. Ackerman’s hand. Her simple black dress cost more than my car.
Scott’s there, too. I glare at him. He just looks confused.
Marj gushes. “Zoe, so glad you could make it! I consulted Richard on your situation, and he agrees we’ve got some good options.” She beckons. “Can I introduce my associate, Cordelia Simms? You’ll like her analysis.”
Zoe blinks as she shakes my hand. “Oh. Uh, I thought Richard’s guy sent me the report.”
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