The hours seemed to fly by as I sat myself down at the desk by the window of Dustin’s tiny guest room. It was nice knowing I could keep an eye on Dustin and work on the case at the same time. I’d gathered up all the records I needed for the case and put them in a neat pile on one side of the bed while in the middle space I worked on my laptop. After a while, I noticed a pattern with the records.
A large influx of funds would hit one of Dustin’s establishments at random every three months on the twelfth day regardless of how business was. It didn’t even matter when the businesses were at their highest margins, the influx still couldn’t compare. However, as quickly as the money was brought in, it was taken out all the sooner. “There’s something… I’m missing…”
The closer I looked into it, the more I could feel myself getting closer to the meat of the issue. Soon it wouldn’t matter if Dustin said he was guilty or not. I’d be forced to represent him because it’d be my job, but at least I’d know the truth.
Little by little, I was piecing the case together in my head. Dustin had a clear shot at innocence if I could prove it couldn’t have been him to do it. However, convincing a jury would be more than difficult at this point with all the evidence.
Just a little longer and…
My train of thought was cut short by two knocks on the door. “Who is it?” I asked.
“Do you really have to ask?” Dustin asked in return from the other side of the door.
With a heavy sigh, I replied, “Come in.”
“Hey,” he said as he walked through the door and leaned on the door frame beside him.
“So, how would you feel about going to one last party?” The question itself made my face scrunch up in disgust, a knot tying itself in my stomach. Before I could say anything in response, he went on to say, “I know you’re heading back to New York soon, so I figured you might as well enjoy yourself, right?” He shrugged a little. “It’s up to you, of course.”
“Dustin… You already know my answer,” I replied firmly, breaking eye contact with him to focus on my word document.
He sighed. “Listen, Bianca, I’m sorry. I don’t want to make your job any harder—if anything I want to make it easier! It’s just that I’m dealing with a lot right now…”
“I think it’s best if we keep things firmly on the business side where they belong. Anything beyond that is more trouble than it’s worth. I’m sure you can understand.” The coldness in my tone was apparent to me, but in this instance, I didn’t care. I simply didn’t have time for his antics anymore. “We don’t need anything to distract us from the reason we’re here in the first place, do we? No more parties or outings. It’s not like you’ll ever tell me what’s going on anyway…”
“What are you talking about? I’ve told you everything within my capabilities!”
“Hah! Then why did you shoo me out of the restaurant then? Why did you insist that I stay here instead of stay at my hotel? What could be so troubling to the high and mighty Dustin Baldwin, hmm? You can’t even tell me who you talk to on the phone, let alone tell me you aren’t lying to me straight to my face!” As the words poured out of my mouth, I could feel my entire body getting hotter. The fire of the moment had taken me, and I didn’t intend on stopping. I got up and walked over to Dustin, a finger pointing to his chest.
“Whoa, Bianca… I…” He put his hands up in a surrendering motion.
“Ever since I got here, it’s all been one big joke to you, isn’t it? I went to one of your parties and let you take me to dinner… God, that fucking limo ride… All for what? Just waste of time. Wasting a lawyer from one of the top law firms of New York’s time! Not only that… I’m sure you know we manage to get some of the worst offenders off clean. 98% rate if I remember correctly. But that’s why you chose us, right? Why you chose me. Good luck finding another top law firm to represent you!”
Astoundingly, it didn’t look as though my words had fazed Dustin at all. He grinned a little and eased himself into a more comfortable standing position. “Well, don’t you want to see my business partners, whom you think are involved in the crime as well?” he asked in a voice smooth as marble.
His question snapped me out of my rage, and I pondered it for a short while. He has a point… His cohorts could give me more information than him at this point. Does he know I’m suspicious of him? He must if he’s letting me get this close to things. I can’t pass an opportunity like this up.
“Thank you, Ms. Reed.”
With his final words, we nodded in agreement, and he left, closing the door on his way out. I sighed and went back to my desk. As I leaned back in my chair, I thought about Dustin’s involvement with the case. He was the main suspect. The guy who was pulling all the strings had to be him. There was no one else that had the power to do it, and yet, I felt as if there was still something missing.
Once again, I was expected to sacrifice some of my integrity for the good of the case. It’s what mattered most, but I knew that there was a long night ahead of me.