Diamonds in the Rough

Chapter 1.

Kathleen Maguire was working late again, and she was tired. She finally decided to pack up her things, toss on the taupe jacket that matched her skirt, and leave the office. It had become more and more necessary to work late with all the clients and all the things that needed to be done to give them the best possible defense. Of course having a lot of clients was a good thing…but it was making a mess of her personal life. She didn't see Jack Ripley half as much as she wanted to. At least they had plans to make up for that this weekend when Patrick would be with Dan, and it was already Thursday night.

She sighed as she locked the door and headed down the hallway. The idea of driving home exhausted wasn't thrilling her. Maybe she should call cab? No, it wasn't that far, and she probably shouldn't leave her car here. Sighing again she rounded a corner of the hallway.

And that was when he came out of nowhere, grabbed her, and threw her against the wall. Before she had time to even process what was going on he was pressed against her, forcing his tongue into her mouth and with it the taste of cigarettes and liquor. He had her arms pinned to the wall, so she couldn't really fight him…but she still tried. When he finally got his tongue out of her mouth she yelled out for help and was rewarded with a hard slap to the face. She recognized him, or at least placed his face as someone she had seen in the courtroom of one of her trials that day, though she didn't know his name. He ripped open her blouse, and she took in a breath to let out another yell when he put his big sweaty hand over her mouth. Kathleen's fear was becoming ice-cold terror; she knew she had to do something. So she managed to get her lips open and bit his hand as hard as she could…and he moved it away enough for her to let out another strangled yell. Fury flared in his eyes, and he slapped her again before throwing her to the floor. Kathleen fought him with everything she had, but he was more than a hundred pounds heavier and much stronger, and she knew she wouldn't be able to overcome him…

…and then suddenly the man was gone, tumbling away with another man she hadn't even heard approach. As they fought fiercely, Kathleen pulled her clothes together the best she could and pulled out her phone, dialing 911. She had recognized the second man. It was Ripley, and her stomach twisted as the assailant punched him hard in the side. Into the phone Kathleen reported where they were and what was happening, and by the time she had finished Ripley had pinned the man to the floor and had his hands around the guy's neck, pressing hard.

"Jack!" Kathleen shouted. "Jesus, don't kill him!" He looked at her briefly, then loosened his hold…and delivered a blow to the guy that put him out.

"Are you OK?" Ripley asked, going to her and helping her up from the floor.

Kathleen was trembling, and she decided not to lie. "No," she said. She had to fight to keep herself alert and to keep back the tears that were stinging her eyes.

A moment later two cops appeared, cuffed the assailant and directed Kathleen and Ripley to follow them for statements before going to the hospital for examinations. Somehow Ripley's hand had found and grasped hers, and Kathleen was glad for it; she was as close to crumbling as she had ever been in her life.

* * * * * * * * *

Ripley had protested leaving her alone with the female cop and later with the nurse, but he had eventually agreed both times. In the light of the hospital Kathleen could see the bruises on his face and how he rubbed his side; he had to be hurting, whether he would admit it or not. Kathleen answered all of the questions and submitted to the examination as calmly as she could, trying to remain detached and professional, keeping the desperate urge to fall apart at bay. She didn't have any injuries other than a few bruises and bumps, so she was finally released.

Ripley was waiting for her, and he stood up when he saw her approaching. "Thank you for staying, Jack," she said when she reached him.

He said nothing for a moment, just studied her face. "I want you to come home with me," he said finally.


"I already called Cavanaugh," Ripley said. "He'll handle Patrick."

Kathleen was startled. "You told Dan about this?" she said.

"He was going to hear about it anyway," Ripley said. "And I called Froman to tell him you won't be coming in tomorrow. I'm continuing whatever I had…"

"You can't just go and order my life," Kathleen said, angry and uncomfortable with what he had done.

"I sure as hell can," Ripley said. "I knew you'd think you can just go on like nothing happened, but God damn it, Kathleen, I can't, and I don't think you should either."

"You don't have the right to…"

"I love you," Ripley said. "I think that gives me the right."

Kathleen had never seen Ripley rattled, but she saw it now. She didn't want to fight with him. "How are you?" she asked.

"A few bruises," he said. "He got me good in the ribs."

"I'm sorry," Kathleen said.

"None of this is your fault," Ripley said, moving closer, taking her hands. "This guy is an bastard with prior assaults. And I am responsible for my own actions."

"But you got hurt helping me," Kathleen said.

"And I would do it again," Ripley said. The look in his eyes and the tone of his voice softened. "Come home with me," he said.

"OK," Kathleen said.

* * * * * * * * *