“Thank you, I try.” He turned his attention back at me, narrowing his eyes.
“You doing okay? You seem agitated. Want to talk about it?” He leaned against the bar, close enough that I could touch him if I wanted. I could reach out and brush that dimple or lace my fingers in his.
He was handsome in a rugged way, tall and broad shouldered. He reminded me of that actor who was in the Greek toga movie and had only a few Spartans to fight against an immense army. Made me like him even more. I let my imagination run and pictured him taking my hand in his.
“I’m fine. Thank you.” I savored my drink as the liquid traveled through my body, my muscles relaxing.
“Are you sure? I am a licensed bartender. I hear we’re cheaper than a psychiatrist. That’s what they say at least.” His teeth were almost flawless. A specimen of childhood braces, maybe? That dimple was perfect in his right cheek and his smile was crooked. I stared at him a little longer than I needed to. It wouldn’t hurt to share what was bothering me. What was professional loss between a lawyer and her bartender?
“I’m disappointed about a case.” I ran my fingers in my hair to smooth it down. There was no saving her hair at this point in the day. “I’ve been here all week from New York. We were waiting for the opinion on our case and we lost. My colleague was a prick and let his ego impede a good idea. Now a decent family will have to pay for it.” He gazed at me, analyzing my statement.
“Was this good idea yours?” He pressed his lips together.
“Yes, and no. A few of us thought we could have argued it with the precedent set in the 40’s. This guy didn’t listen because he’s an egocentric prick.”
“Is that all?”
I took another sip. I was still angry. We had litigated this case four months ago, and I was having trouble letting go.
“So arguing a case before the Supreme Court. That’s a big deal.”
I agreed, nodding. “I didn’t actually get to argue it. I was just on the legal team. My firm is Brindle, Jackson, and Cook.” I paused for the dramatic effect. “My last name is none of those.” I was bitter. Today wasn’t a good day because of an arrogant has-been lawyer.
My phone buzzed in my bag. My body did that reflex thing, tensing. Phone calls on a Friday afternoon after sessions were over meant more bad news. I answered the phone.
“I called you three times. You didn’t answer.” Richard Cook was on the other end of this call. If he wasn’t one of the partners in this firm, I wouldn’t have answered it.
“Hello Richard.” I sighed. I’d had enough of this man for the day, and if he tried to suggest this was my fault, I wouldn’t be responsible for what I might say. It wasn’t until he’d had the notes on our options, our positions. He made the call. “Sorry. I took a cab.”
“Why aren’t you staying here?” he asked. Richard Cook was the guy whose hand accidentally moved to your ass if you stood next to him. We all knew in the office there were three accusations of sexual harassment and yet, this man still was a partner.
“I prefer this side of town.” I looked over at the bartender, who busied himself with sketching again. “I have friends over here that I like to meet up with.” I was lying more than a politician caught with his pants down.
Richard was quiet on the other side.
“Can I do something for you, Richard?”
“I think this case was poorly handled, and I’d like to meet with you Monday morning before the sessions begin.”
“Yes, it was disappointing. I’d be happy to reflect on the arguments presented compared to the ones we offered you during our prep.” More silence on the other side of the phone.
“That’s not really what I’d like to talk about. Chuck is coming out this evening, and he’s not happy. We’ll see you Monday morning?”
“Yes, Richard. I’ll meet you in the hotel lobby at seven thirty.”
I picked up the drink and took a gulp, slamming the phone on the bar. “What a fucking prick,” I mumbled, and the bartender raised his eyebrows. “Sorry.”
He snorted. “Glad you didn’t argue the case today, you seem agitated. I can help with that. I know some fun things in town to do on a Friday night.”
He was asking me out. But, I didn’t go out. I don’t date. My hand trembled as I slipped the phone back in my bag. I needed to breathe, get some fresh air. I was going to be fired on Monday, thrown under the bus by Richard.
“Yeah, I better go. Can I have my check?” I asked, trying to hide my eyes.
“Did I offend you?” He frowned and pocketed his black sketch book.
“No, I think I might be getting sick. My head is a bit warm,” I lied. If I was going to get more phone calls like these from the partners, I wanted to be in private.
“Lots of work going on still?” He asked.