I shout back, “Objection!”
The judge peers down at me through his glasses. “You’re objecting to your own question?”
“No . . . Judge.” I stammer. “I’m objecting to her objecting.”
He raises an eyebrow. “That’s new.”
“Am I going to be allowed to question the witness? At this rate, my client will be collecting social security by the time this trial is concluded.”
“If Mr. Mason framed his questions correctly, I wouldn’t be forced to object, Your Honor,” Kennedy says serenely.
“There’s nothing wrong with how my questions are framed,” I growl.
The judge chides us, “Let’s keep the arguments directed my way. And Miss Randolph, let’s refrain from any frivolous objections going forward.”
“And on that note, let’s call it a day. Court will reconvene tomorrow, 9 a.m. Adjourned.”
After the judge exits, I reassure Justin with a back pat and a pep talk. Then I pack up my briefcase and turn to head out the door. And who should end up walking out at the exact same time, beside me, but the Hot Bitch herself.
“Certainly, sir,” I mimic in a high-pitched voice. Then lower, “Kiss-ass.”
“I’d rather be a kiss-ass than a dumbass. I didn’t realize you got your law degree from a Cracker Jack box Daddy paid for.”
“Hey.” I swing around in front of her, pointing to my chest. “I buy my own Cracker Jacks.”
She lifts one unimpressed shoulder. “If you say so.”
I let her go ahead of me, because that’s the gentlemanly thing to do—and so I can watch the sway of her tight ass as she walks. It makes me feel a little better.
Halfway down the hall, Tom Caldwell calls Kennedy’s name and she stops to talk to him. Tom’s a straight-laced prosecutor who has faced off against our firm before. He’s not a bad guy, just irksomely upstanding—like overly sweet apple pie. I heard he got engaged recently, to a pretty schoolteacher named Sally.
Stealthily, I crouch down to tie my shoe a few feet away from them—listening. Don’t judge me.
“A group of us are walking over to the Red Barron for happy hour,” Caldwell tells her. “You should come.”
“Sounds like fun! Thanks, Tom—I’m in.” Her voice is cheerful, friendly. She hasn’t spoken to me with that voice in years. Spiky jealousy claws at my gut like a horny porcupine. I watch them walk out together. Fucking Caldwell.
Then I take my cell phone out of my pocket. And call Stanton.
“Goose.” I tell him when he answers. “Suit up—I need a wingman. You, me—happy hour. Like the old days . . . last year.”
His voice is thick with sleep. “Sorry, man, I can’t. We’re nappin’.”
“Napping?” I check my watch. “It’s fucking five o’clock!”
“Sofia’s heavily pregnant if you haven’t noticed.”
“Yeah, but she’s not eighty! And she’s pregnant—what’s your excuse?”
He yawns. “We headed home early. She’ll only rest if I lie down with her, and then we both end up fallin’ asleep. Then I’m wide awake all goddamn night catching up on work. This kid is turning me into a vampire.”
I shake my head. “Feel ashamed, dude. You’re letting the team down.”
“Regan’s ballet recital dress-rehearsal. He was bitching about it this morning. That’s punishment enough.”
“Yeah, yeah—go back to your nap, grandpa. Don’t forget to take your teeth out.”
He chuckles. “Fuck you.”
I hang up and blow out a breath. Looks like I’m flying solo on this mission.
• • •
I don’t go straight over to the Red Barron; that would be too obvious. I loiter for forty-five minutes or so—then I walk into the small, one-room bar. It’s old school—beer, wine, and whiskey. There’s a dartboard in the back corner, a small television behind the bar, and a couple of tables and chairs that have seen better days squeezed along the mirrored wall. Even though it’s run-down, the place is packed. I weave between a few patrons, and spot Tom Caldwell’s tall frame among a group of suit-clad men and women clustered at the bar.
Tom turns when I tap his shoulder and his eyes register surprise, but he smiles. “Hey, Mason.”
I shake his hand. “How’s it going, Caldwell?”
“Good. Just stopping in for a drink after court.”
“Yeah, me too.”
Over Tom’s shoulder, I spot Kennedy. Those thick-lashed turquoise eyes narrow for a moment—like she’s preparing to tear me a new one—but then she snorts to herself and shakes her head. A sign that just maybe, she’s prepared to throw in the towel on giving me a hard time. At least for the time being.
I step through the group, nodding to a few familiar faces, until I’m standing in front of her. So close she has to look up to keep eye contact. One corner of her mouth quirks. “You realize stalking is a crime?”
“Stalking?” I scoff. “Someone has a pretty high opinion of herself. I come here all the time.”
“You come here? To this bar?”
“Yeah.” I shrug. “Don’t be paranoid.”
She stretches up, her breath tickling my ear. “It’s not paranoia if it’s true. Look around.”
I do. And that’s when I realize why she doesn’t believe me. Because the place is filled with police officers—some in uniform, some plain-clothed with their guns and badges still visible. It’s a cop bar. Cops and prosecutors flock together—because they’re generally on the same side.