The restaurant was crowded, but Liz Donnelly had no trouble spotting Casey. The redhead was sitting in a corner booth, sipping lemon water, and looking impatient. She kept glancing around the restaurant until her eyes finally landed on her former boss. She smiled and waved her over to the table.
Liz made her way through the crush of people and dropped into the booth with a sigh. "This seems like a popular place." She set her attaché on the seat beside her. "Very festive."
Casey glanced up at the tacky Mexican piñatas that hung from the ceiling. "Yeah, it's something alright."
Liz took custody of an untouched water glass on their table. She squeezed in the lemon as she asked, "So, how have you been?" She gave a thinly veiled reprimand, "I've been calling and leaving messages on your machine for nearly two months."
"I know. I'm sorry." Casey looked down at her water glass. "It's been a hectic time."
Liz nodded. "I heard through the courthouse grapevine that your bar hearing was last month." She watched the younger woman for some kind of a reaction. When she got none, she pressed the issue, "I assume the outcome wasn't favorable."
Casey gave a humorless smile. "You could say that." She had trouble meeting the older woman's gaze as she admitted, "Two years suspension."
Liz had suspected as much, but she still said, "I'm sorry." She had to raise her voice to be heard over the loud mariachi music, "I hope you don't harbor any bad feelings toward me-"
Casey immediately waved her off. "No, of course not. I understand you were just doing your job."
"I had knowledge of a Brady violation." Liz wanted the younger woman to understand. "I was duty-bound to report it. I had no choice."
Casey nodded. "It's really okay." She forced a smile. "I'm trying to move past everything that happened."
Liz was impressed. "That's a very healthy attitude, Counselor." She cringed. "Sorry. Old habit."
Casey actually laughed. "It's okay, Your Honor."
Anxious to change the subject, Liz took a chip from the bowl on the table, dipped it into some salsa, and asked, "Have you given any thought to your life after the D.A.'s office?"
"Right now, I'm just focusing on paying the bills."
Liz's nod was genuinely sympathetic. "It must be difficult to start from scratch." Her next question was posed in an uncharacteristically gentle manner, "Are you on the job hunt?"
Casey turned somewhat evasive. "I'm just following your advice. Trying something else-"
Before Casey could say another word, a man wearing a sombrero walked up to their booth and said, "Novak, your lunch break is over! Get back to work!"
Casey grumbled under her breath as she stood up. She grabbed a sombrero that had been resting on the seat beside her and plopped it onto her head. Then, pulling pen and paper out of her pocket, she asked Liz, "Are you ready to order?"
A/N: Poor Casey but I just couldn't resist...Reviews are love...