The sounds of my heartbeat and innermost thoughts are the only things I hear in the courtroom as the judge is handed the jury verdict to view. After he passes it back to the foreman who subsequently reads it aloud, the only words that register in my brain are:
“… we find the defendant, Arnold K. Westbrook, not guilty.”
And they’re not the words that I wanted to hear.
As an assistant district attorney here in New York City, my job is to put away criminals like Mr. Westbrook who launder money and pursue nefarious schemes that end up ruining the lives of average, every day working people. They scam hardworking people who’ve saved money their entire lives, only to see their retirement nest eggs vanish into thin air at the blink of an eye.
And meanwhile, a rich scumbag like him who has probably never worked an honest day in his life ends up getting off with either a slap on the wrist, or in this case, scot free. Not all verdicts end this way for my cases, of course. I’ve had my share of wins, but today isn’t fucking one of them.
I did my best and really thought I’d convict this guy. I hate losing to people like him.
One of the reasons I became an assistant district attorney was to throw the book at these greed mongers. I’ve always wanted to make the world a better place by protecting the little guy. To stand up for what is righteous and help put these corporate gangsters where they belong… in prison.
As I collect my things, I begin to eye the two attorneys who defended this man. The strikingly tall, handsome one is Andrew Patterson. He’s a high-powered corporate attorney who’s considered one of the tops in his profession here in New York.
And beside him is that smug boss of his, Wyatt Young, who by the way has just turned his head around to give me one of his grandiose and self-satisfied sneers. What an ugly, superficial creature that man is, both inside and out.
Even though I loathe both of them and everything they stand for, I cannot take my eyes off of Andrew. He’s one of the most strikingly gorgeous men I think I’ve ever seen… in or out of the courtroom. The only saving grace of this whole trial, or any trial where Andrew is my opposing counsel, is the fact that I can at least feast my sights on this eye candy.
At the same time, I have to cringe for even allowing myself to go there. Yes, Andrew is stunning to look at, but he represents everything I’m trying to fight against. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if the women on the jury were so captivated by his charisma and good looks that they were predetermined to vote his way no matter what compelling evidence I presented to them.
Men like him are able to charm their way out of everything. They get the best tables at restaurants and women swoon over them, acting like young schoolgirls.
And speaking of the devil, here comes Andrew now, over to rub his latest win in my face. He says nearly the exact same thing every time we’re squared off against each other on a case… whether I win or not. And this time isn’t any different from the last.
“Logan! Brilliant work. You put up a really great fight.”
He offers his hand— a big, perfectly manicured one with long fingers and a firm grip— and we shake.
“Thanks,” I tell him, as I collect my notes and close my laptop, before placing them both in my briefcase.
Andrew towers a good five inches above my six foot frame and his mere presence is imposing. His commanding stature may have something to do with the fact that he has the body of a Greek God. And now that he’s standing closer, he’s even more breathtaking.
For some reason or another, he continues to hang around me, although I’m perplexed as to why. He then says to me, “You have an impressive speaking ability, Logan. I could see the captivated looks on those jurors’ faces.”
Even though he’s charming as hell and speaking in his usual deep, masculine voice, I’m doing everything in my power to suppress the vitriol that’s burning inside of me. Like I said before, I fucking hate losing.
It’s what comes next, though, that shocks and makes no sense to me. He says, “You know, we’re always looking for bright young talent like yourself at Lucas & Young. Why don’t you think about coming to work for us?”
Again, he studies my face and movements, before he adds, “I don’t know what you’re making at the DA’s office, but I’m sure we can easily double, maybe even triple it. We have an excellent benefits package too.”
As he’s throwing this sales pitch at me, I’m thinking, he can’t be serious! What do I have to do or say to him to show I don’t like him and everything he stands for? What would make him think I was even the slightest bit interested in representing white collar criminals?
Now, I cannot deny that there’s a very small part of me that is flattered he’d even ask. But if I ever were to leave the DA’s office, his would be the last law firm on earth I would consider working for.
Little does he know that what I do, I do for more than a mere paycheck. I really do care about the fight for justice and being on the right side of the law.
Finally, I stop what I’m doing and look up at him. “I’m flattered, Andrew, but I’ll have to pass. I’m perfectly happy working as a DA, because I like helping people.”
I say the word ‘helping’ with a tinge of sarcasm and to imply that what he’s doing isn’t. In my mind, he’s defending people who nine times out of ten are guilty.
And for a little extra ridicule I poke. “How are you able to defend such corrupt men? What is it about people such as your clients, who knowingly steal from poorer people, that you are able to rationalize defending?”
But now Andrew has moved even closer to me and I become lost in his bright blue, piercing eyes and masculine square jaw. I become mesmerized by his height and muscular frame, as well as his perfectly pouty lips. Not to mention that dark hair and smooth, flawless skin which I find nearly impossible to resist staring at.
It’s such a mind fuck to be around someone so immensely appalling yet physically stunning.
Andrew then places a hand on my shoulder and looks deep into my eyes. “So, Logan, do you really think you’re helping anyone by working for such a corrupt government?”
My initial thoughts upon hearing this are filled with contempt and I’m tempted to bark back a nasty retort. But there seemed to be little sarcasm or snarkiness in the way he said the words. His tone was gentle… soothing even, and his little gesture of touching my shoulder felt, dare I say, more affectionate than it did condescending or vindictive.
Now I’m more confused about this guy than ever and begin to wonder if he’s been flirting with me, since he came up here to talk to me? I can’t help but think that most straight men wouldn’t go out of their way to make physical contact with me that felt so tender… so gentle. It would more than likely be a mere handshake or slap on the back.
But Andrew is straight and if I’m not mistaken, married to a woman. And I know for a fact that that boss of his, Wyatt, is a big homophobe… that short little creep has made that perfectly clear to me by once calling me a fag in front of my peers. I was in such utter shock and disbelief at the time, I didn’t know how to respond.
No, I got this all wrong.
Andrew can’t be flirting. He’s just being an asshole. He’s playing some kind of mind game with me and pretending to be flirty just to fuck with me… it’s some sort of strategy to throw me off my game. How can I be so delusional to think this asshole was trying to charm me… to win me over?
This time I glare directly into Andrew’s beautiful, fucked up eyes and say, “I do actually think I’m making a difference, Andrew.”
But before I can finish my thought, Wyatt Young approaches us and stands impatiently with his beady eyes darting back and forth between Andrew and me. He stands far enough away from me as if the gay is going to rub off on him if he gets too close.
Wyatt quips, “Are you going to stand here all day and yack at this guy? Come on, clients are waiting, and we have work to do.”
Andrew looks at me with a half grin and once again taps me on the shoulder. Wyatt, on the other hand, doesn’t even bother to acknowledge my mere presence. Which is perfectly fine with me, come to think of it.
“Think about what I said, okay?” Andrew says softly.
Wyatt then looks over to Andrew, puzzled. He scratches the top of his head, which is mostly bald, with a few strands of a bad comb over covering a small part of it.
“Think about what?” he asks.
Andrew answers with calm and nonchalance. “Nothing important. Just opposing counsel stuff.”
Wyatt then shakes his head and begins to walk off, but Andrew doesn’t immediately follow him.
Instead, he tells me, “Don’t pay any attention to him… he’s always like that. The man was born with a stick up his ass.”
Then Andrew widely grins at me and naturally he has a Hollywood smile with perfectly aligned bright white teeth. Even though the man has gone out of his way to charm me, I’m still extremely wary of the attention he’s been paying me.
Wyatt stops at the door and turns around.
“Andrew!” he shouts, loudly and rudely.
Geez. Even Wyatt’s voice is as ugly as he is. I’m just happy that I don’t have to work around these types… I spend enough time with them in the courtroom as it is.
I watch them walk off, with Andrew trailing slightly behind Wyatt.
I wanted nothing more than to go home this evening with a win… to celebrate a victory of beating their lousy asses in court. Now I’ll end up doing what I always do when I lose.
“You lost,” are the first words I hear when Matt answers my call.
Matt is my best friend and someone I’ve known practically my entire life. We grew up on Long Island and both of us attended Oyster Bay High School. We’ve been friends since we were about age eleven, when he one day approached me on the playground and initiated a conversation.
Even back then, Matt probably knew we were both different, and it wasn’t more than a few years later that he made it known to me that he was gay. I acted shocked at first, but that was because I was in denial about my own sexuality. Seeing Matt have the courage to come out to me at such a young age, though, prompted me to follow fairly soon after.
Our childhood for the most part was idyllic. Oyster Bay has an enchanting, small village feel and is much less congested than the rest of Long Island. With its approximation to the ocean and beaches, as well as to New York City, Matt and I were never lacking in things to do.
We were both studious pupils and wanted to become lawyers early on. While we attended different law schools… I, NYU and Matt, University of Pennsylvania… we never deviated from our plans to move to New York City when the time finally came.
I take a big sigh before finally answering Matt.
“Yes. That would be a big yes… I lost. And I really thought I had this in one the bag,” I say dejectedly.
“Sorry cookie… you sound as though you could use a drink. Why don’t we meet somewhere, and we can both commiserate in our separate misery?”
This doesn’t sound like a bad idea, I think.
After the verdict, my first thought was to go home and raid the freezer for a pint of Häagen-Dazs and take a long hot shower. Maybe pour myself a glass of wine and put on some depressing music while wallowing in my loss.
But the more I think about it, drowning out today’s upset with Johnny Walker or Stolichnaya at some dive bar with my best friend seems like a much better option. Besides, the ice cream one would only make me feel bloated and more depressed.
I begin to think about what Matt just said… commiserate together in our misery? And he isn’t sounding like his usual chipper self, so I tell him, “Okay, sure.” But then I ask, “But what do you have to commiserate about?”
Matt becomes silent.
And after several more seconds he reluctantly states, “I’ll tell you in person.”
I don’t say anything and he pauses yet again before continuing. “How about we meet at Therapy around 9:00ish?”
Matt’s not suggesting that we go see a therapist… been there, done that already. The Therapy to which Matt is referring is a stylish gay bar on 52nd street that’s a nice place to have fun and unwind. They often host varying entertainment such as DJs and drag shows, so perhaps this is exactly what I need to help take me out of my doldrums.
Still concerned, I ask, “Are you sure you’re okay, Matt?”
“Just meet me there and I’ll explain everything,” Matt says before hanging up.
“Alrighty then,” I say to a now silent phone.