Just Dreams (Brooks Sisters Dreams Series Book 1)

BOOK: Just Dreams (Brooks Sisters Dreams Series Book 1)
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JUST DREAMS

 

 

 

L.J. TAYLOR

 

 

Waterview Publishing, LLC

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Details can be found at the end of “Just Dreams.”

 

CHAPTER I

 

“You can do this.  It’s just another client meeting.”  Kathy Brooks mumbled the words under her breath like a mantra. 

Nerves had her loitering in the hallway instead of entering the conference room where her new client waited.  She’d learned of the case only two hours before in a meeting with the managing partner of her law firm. He’d made her lead partner on the case saying it was time she came out from behind her senior partner’s coattails and made a name for herself. 

Lead partner.  Kathy swallowed hard.  She and her mentor, Steve Perdue, had tried cases together for the past five years.  They had their respective roles down to a science.  She dealt with the details. He dealt with the people.  Together they made a highly effective team winning multimillion dollar jury verdicts and bringing in substantial fees.  The very thought of having to deal with the people part of the practice made Kathy feel queasy.  But she had no choice. 

She glanced down at her navy blue pants suit and sensible pumps to make sure she looked the part.  She transferred the legal pad, file folder and business card from her right hand to her left, took a deep breath, and opened the conference room door. 

He was standing by the window, gazing out at the view of Biscayne Bay, his back to her.  Tall and lean, he wore dress slacks and a shirt tucked into his belt. His long legs and taut rear-end filled out the slacks nicely.  She caught herself staring and shook her head.

He turned to face her and, for a moment, time stopped.  He had a caramel complexion, high cheekbones, and hazel eyes she could just drown in.  She felt her smile slip for an instant before she recovered her composure.  

“Mr. Morgan?  My name is Kathy Brooks. I’ll be the attorney helping you with your case.” 

She detected a glint of amusement in his eyes as he shook her hand.  No doubt he was used to women falling at his feet with his looks.

“Please call me Charles,” he said.

She gestured toward the conference room table. “Please have a seat, Charles.  Can I get you something to drink?”

“No, I’m fine,” he said.

He certainly was.  She cleared her throat.  What she needed to do was clear her head.  She had a job to do and, as a client, he was off limits.  To give herself a moment, she set her stuff down onto the table and headed over to the credenza to pour a glass of water.  She carried the glass to the table and took a seat facing him. “So Charles, how did you hear about Gold, Rome and Harris?”

“My father’s law partner is a friend of Bill Winters.  His firm specializes in criminal defense.  When he heard I needed an attorney for a wrongful death suit, he referred me to your firm.  I’m told you have an excellent reputation for aggressively pursuing these types of matters.  That’s exactly what I need.”

Kathy nodded.
 
“I see.”  She glanced down at her notepad then looked him in the eye. “There are a few things we need to talk about today.  First, I’ll walk you through what we can expect to happen in the case, then we’ll talk about specific things like settlement --.”

“Whoa -.”  He held up a hand, cutting her off.  “Did you just say something about settlement?”

She stopped and stared at him.  Clients didn’t usually react so strangely to the mention of the word “settlement.”  Maybe he just wanted her to slow down and discuss the issue.  She tended to speak quickly – especially when she was nervous.  “Yes.  We’re bound to get settlement offers during the course of this case.   A security firm like Peachtree, which has several government contracts, is going to want to get rid of this case quickly to avoid negative publicity.  I need to know at what number you’d be willing to settle.  You don’t have to give it to me now.  Just give it some thought.”

Charles leaned forward in his chair, his hazel eyes shooting sparks in her direction.  “I don’t need to give it a moment’s thought.  That man’s recklessness took away two of the most important people in my life - my wife and my unborn child.  No amount of money can make that up to me.  I want to inflict as much pain on that company as possible. I want my day in court.  Do you hear me?  There will be no settlement.”

Even though he never raised his voice, the intensity with which he made the statement had Kathy leaning back in her chair - away from him. 

She nodded.  “Yes, I understand.”  She stifled a sigh.  Any hope she had of settling the case short of trial just flew out the window.  “Okay. Let’s talk strategy.  The first thing we’re going to do is prepare a complaint – the document we use to file the lawsuit.  Then we’ll serve some document requests and written questions for Peachtree to answer under oath.  After we serve the papers, we’ll hold a press conference.  They’ll have twenty days to respond to the complaint and forty-five days to answer the discovery requests assuming they don’t get any extensions of time.  After that --.”

Charles held up his hands forming the universal time-out signal. “Hold on.  What do you mean extensions of time?  Where would they get those from?”

Kathy felt a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach.  She prayed he wasn’t one of those clients who didn’t believe in granting reasonable extensions.  “Well, it’s not unusual for one or both parties in a civil lawsuit to ask for extensions of time on a court deadline.  We routinely grant them so long as they don’t harm the case in any way.  If not, the court will usually grant them so long as they’re reasonable and don’t throw off the trial date.”

He shook his head. “We’re not giving any extensions.  I want to get to trial as quickly as possible.”

“Look,” she said, “I understand your desire to resolve this matter quickly, but there are consequences to not extending basic professional courtesies in a case.  They can range from making a case more expensive to pissing off the judge.”

“Exactly.  I want to make this case very expensive for Peachtree Consulting - in more ways than one.  As far as we’re concerned, money is no object.  We’ll stop short of pissing off the judge, but otherwise, I don’t want to give these guys an inch.  Look, if you can’t handle this, I’ll ask Bill to put someone else on the case.”

What a jerk.
  She shot him a piercing look that tended to intimidate many of her opposing counsel and any witness who dared to lie to her on cross-examination. “Please don’t mistake my looking out for your best interests for weakness.  I assure you I can handle any type of case.  Bill would never have assigned me to your case otherwise.  It’s my job, as your attorney, to let you know if the decisions you make could have unintended consequences.”

He glowered at her.  She met his stare and refused to back down.  He sat back in his chair and crossed his arms. “Fine. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”  In the face of her silence, he gestured with his hand for her to continue.  “So, go on.  What else can I expect to happen?”

“You can expect them to be just as intrusive with their discovery as we’re going to be,” she said.  “They’ll serve you with document requests and ask you and anyone who ever knew your wife questions under oath.  They’re going to want to know everything about her to see if they can blame her for the accident.  They’ll try to claim that she was drunk or talking on her cell phone or texting while driving.  Or they may claim that she was sick and had a heart attack or a stroke or something and stopped short.  They may even ask to exhume her body to test it --.”

She stopped when she noticed the horrified look on his face.  She remembered, too late, that Bill wasn’t usually so blunt at the first client meeting.  Something about the man had gotten under her skin causing her to dive into the sordid little world of “civil” litigation almost gleefully - as if she wanted to punish him for daring to believe she might not be cut out for it.  She wondered if he knew what he was about to get into.

“Can they do that?  Have my wife’s body exhumed?”

She shrugged. “It’s possible.  It happened in another case we handled.  We’d fight it, of course, but I can’t guarantee that we’d win on that issue.”

He swore, got up and began to pace.  She sat there and watched him.  After a moment, he returned to his chair, and stabbed an index finger in her direction. “You do that.  You fight those bastards tooth and nail every step of the way.  But if we have to exhume my wife’s body to prove she wasn’t to blame in any way for the accident, then that’s what we’ll do.”

“Okay,” she said.

He picked up his water and took a sip. 

She paused to give him a moment.  She didn’t know how this case would turn out but it promised to be an interesting ride.

***

 Donald Peachtree, President and CEO of Peachtree Consulting, fumed in the reception area of his attorney’s law firm.  Weisman, Hoffman & Smith was a litigation boutique that made a lot of money handling sensitive matters for high profile clients.  They were as well known for their prowess as defense attorneys as for their astronomically high hourly rates. They represented actors, senators, congressman, athletes, high-ranking corporate executives and corporations in civil and criminal cases all over the country.  Their lawyers were tough and not above breaking the rules to achieve their clients’ goals.  Peachtree Consulting had hired the firm once before with good results.  

Where the hell is Weisman?
 When he told his lawyer he wanted to see him, he expected the man to jump.  As a retired colonel in the Marine Corps and CEO of one of the largest defense contractors in the country, Peachtree was used to men snapping to attention at his orders.  And damn it, considering how much this law firm charged by the hour, he expected Weisman to jump the highest of them all.  He slammed the delicate coffee cup into its saucer, stood up, and, with his back ramrod straight, marched up to the reception desk.  

The receptionist stopped chattering into her headset and regarded him with wide eyes.

“Did you tell Mr. Weisman that I was here to see him, young lady?” he asked.

The receptionist nodded vigorously. “Yes sir,” she said. Her voice was little more than a squeak. “I called him on his cell phone to tell him you had arrived.  He said that he was on his way in and would be here shortly.”

“That was fifteen minutes ago,” he said.  “Where exactly is he coming from – Outer Mongolia?  Did he have a hearing this morning?  Is he coming from the courthouse?”

She shook her head.  “No, Sir.  He . . . he’s driving in from Coral Gables.  You see, he didn’t know you would arrive an hour early for your appointment, Sir.  We weren’t expecting you until ten thirty.”

Weisman snarled. “Do you mean to tell me that he’s in the habit of strolling in here at ten o’clock every morning?  Is that what I’m paying you people for? This is unacceptable. I will not be kept waiting like this.  Which of the other partners are available to meet with me now?  Perhaps they will be more appreciative of my business.”

“Oh no, Sir.  It - It’s not like that at all.  I’m sure - - .”  The receptionist stopped speaking abruptly when the elevator chime sounded.  She looked past Peachtree and an expression of profound relief appeared on her face. Peachtree turned to see Stewart Weisman step off the elevator.  

“Peachtree, are you terrorizing my receptionist again?” Weisman, a trim and impeccably dressed man in his late fifties, crossed the reception area.  He stopped in front of Peachtree and extended his hand.  

Peachtree ignored it.  “I’ve been sitting here for more than thirty minutes.  You know how much I hate to be kept waiting.  Time is money, Weisman.”

Weisman smiled and dropped the hand.  “Ain’t that the truth? And you’re on the clock, buddy, so why don’t we just go into my office and get down to business?”  

Peachtree leveled a glare at Weisman that would have weakened the knees of several officers under his command.  He barked out a short laugh when Weisman just stood there smiling back at him.  He stepped up to the attorney and clapped him hard on the back.

“You’ve got balls, Weisman.  I’ve got to give you that,” he said.

“That’s why you keep coming back,” Weisman said. He gestured ahead of him.  “Right this way.”  

They settled onto the whiskey colored leather couch in Weisman’s office.  Coffee, tea and pastries were set up on a tray on the coffee table.  Weisman reached for the coffee pot and poured himself a cup. He turned to Peachtree. “You want some of this?”

“Yes, I’ll take a cup,” Peachtree said.

Weisman poured coffee into Peachtree’s cup then set the pot down.  “Cream? Sugar?”

“No just plain coffee.  The way it should be,” Peachtree said.  He watched in disapproval as Weisman poured a liberal amount of cream and two sugars into his own cup.

“Okay,” Weisman said.  “Let’s get down to business.  I read the complaint and the discovery you sent me last night.”

Peachtree took a sip of the coffee.  It was damned good java. “The bastards served my agent at home in front of his wife in the middle of their dinner hour.   They served me yesterday afternoon in the middle of a board meeting.  Can they do that?”

“Unfortunately, yes.  It’s within their rights to have you served at work and your agent served at home.  Next time, if you know someone is trying to serve you or your agents with process, just give me a call and we can arrange for me to accept service on your behalf.  That should help to avoid any embarrassing scenes.”

“What did you think about the complaint?  Who is this Kathy Brooks woman?” Peachtree said.

BOOK: Just Dreams (Brooks Sisters Dreams Series Book 1)
11.92Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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