(Most characters are of the Law and Order universe.)
LAW AND ORDER
When Opposites Attract
An early riser, Connie Rubirosa was awake even earlier than usual.
Today was the first day of her vacation and she was not sure what to make of that idea. Not that she wanted or needed the time off, but yesterday Jack McCoy had explained to her that she had accumulated so much vacation time that she either had to take the days off or she would lose them. With much reluctance, she had made the decision to take the time off.
It hadn't even been a day yet and she was already regretting it.
To help ease herself into her first free day, she decided to follow her usual weekday morning ritual.
Slipping on her bathrobe, she went to the front door and retrieved her copy of the New York Times. With the paper tucked securely under her arm, she ambled over to the kitchen where she turned on the drip coffeemaker she had set up the night before.
While waiting for her coffee, she wandered over to inspect her potted daisies located out on her tiny apartment windowsill. Noticing some petals wilting, Connie picked up her little watering spray to dampen the petals slightly. Every morning the bright, cheery flowers helped to welcome the day for her.
Nothing exciting about her life, yet nothing to complain about, either.
The aroma from the freshly brewed coffee filled her senses and she went over to pour some into the mug. As she brought the warm morning drink to her lips, she glanced over to her calendar, wondering what she could do for the next three weeks. Get a new wardrobe? Too many budget constraints. Redecorate? There were time limitations. Traveling? Budget AND time restrictions time three.
Her private thoughts were interrupted with the ring of her cellphone on the kitchen table. Glancing over, there was only one person she wished to be on the other end of that phone.
Then she berated herself for that thought. Of all the people she knew, why was he the first person on her mind? Wasn't she supposed to be thinking of anything else but work? Somehow it bothered her that her initial thoughts had been of her boss as she picked up her phone.
A different male's voice simply said, "Connie."
With such a short introduction, it was hard to know who was on the other line, but her heart slightly sank at the knowledge that it was definitely not Mike on the other end.
"Who is this?" she inquired.
"Connie, it's me."
She held her breath, as recognition sunk in.
"Doug, " Connie immediately felt a sharp pang at the sound of his voice. She took a deep breath, "It's been awhile."
Connie hadn't given him a thought in almost seven years. Their parting had not been exactly amiable, since she was the one who had broken it off. And now out of the blue, he calls.
What do you say to a former fiancé?
"Hey…how are you?" Doug asked, his voice sounding uncomfortably tense.
"I'm just…fine," Connie stated, trying to buy some time over the awkward situation, "Why are you…um…well, what I mean to say is that... this call is so unexpected, Doug... "
Connie hoped he wasn't calling to rehash their relationship.
"Yeah, I figured it would be a shock to hear from me," he stated evenly, "It's just that I…"
His voice faltered, as if he had difficulty continuing.
"Doug?" Connie almost thought they had lost reception, "Doug? Are you still there? What is it?"
She heard him take a deep breath.
"Connie…" he began with difficulty, "It's just…I fell into some trouble…and…and I didn't know who else to call."
Alarms went off in her head. This definitely was not a social call.
"Doug, tell me what is the matter," Connie stated insistently.
He made a choking noise.
"Connie," his voice was laced with desperation, "I've been arrested. For murder."
Mike Cutter sat in his office. He had a stack of files on his desk but he sat back, lost in thought.
He had just successfully prosecuted a case where an office worker was found guilty of suffocating a cleaning lady and stuffing her mutilated body parts in the air duct of a Manhattan building. The details of the crime were pretty gruesome, with the defendant given the maximum sentence of 25 years to life. But as Mike eased back on his chair, his mind had drifted away from the case.
And he found himself staring into Connie's empty office.
What was wrong with him, he thought. It wasn't as if she was going to be gone permanently. She deserved some time off. Connie was probably having the time of her life while he sat waiting for his next assigned case.
Or he sat waiting for her to come back, he thought ruefully.
His Blackberry had been sitting on his desk when it suddenly buzzed, bringing him out of his revelry.
For a split second his heart leapt at the chance it might be her, but as he looked at his screen, he saw it was an unlisted number. He heaved a disappointed sigh as he reached over and retrieved his phone.
"Hey, Buddy boy, how's it going?"
The tone was playful, and the recognizable voice caught Mike by surprise.
"Josh?" Mike questioned, "Is that you?"
"Who frigging else could it be but yours truly?"
Josh Lethem was a former prosecutor in the New York City DA's office who, during his tenure there, always seemed to butt heads with DA Jack McCoy. When McCoy gave Josh his walking papers, Josh managed to get a job at the DA's office in Boston. Although known to be gratingly pompous, those qualities were what made him one of the most successful prosecutory attorneys in the New England area.
"So what is it that you want, Josh?" Mike asked impatiently, as he looked at all the paperwork he had to muddle through this afternoon.
"Is that any way to greet an old friend?" Josh casually asked, " besides, what makes you think I want something from you just because I called you?"
"Because, as you had already mentioned, we are old friends," Mike stated truthfully, "and experience has taught me well."
"Riiight, I'll give you that!" Josh admitted, "So, I guess, then, we can skip the preliminary small talk?"
"Agreed," Mike said.
"Well then… I'm calling to offer you a proposition, Mikey."
"Is it possible for me to turn you down before I even hear it?" Mike asked wistfully.
"Oh haha…no, wait...just hear me out, buddy boy…" Josh titillated
Mike rubbed his temple. Everytime Josh said "just hear me out", it meant trouble.
"You've got two minutes, Josh."
"Alright, Mikey! … " Josh sounded gleeful, "Get this…You've heard of the Merrick family here in Boston, right? Of course you have… Merrick's Clam Chowder, right? Like they advertise: The best clam chowder this side of the Charles River!"
"Yes, I know of them," Mike responded, sounding a bit impatient, "So, get to the point, Josh."
"It seems," Josh said, "that the Merrick's family troubles have gained in more notoriety these days than their clam chowder."
Mike was well aware of that fact. Even in New York City, he had vaguely followed the recent media coverage of the murder of wealthy business tycoon Tom Merrick, allegedly by his younger brother Douglas Merrick.
"And?" Mike asked, having a sinking feeling that Josh was going to somehow involve him in this case.
"And…if you didn't read it already…I'm the prosecuting attorney on the Merrick case!" Josh announced proudly.
"Congratulations," Mike stated dryly.
"…but that's not all…" Josh sounded as if he were withholding the best news in the world, "I need someone to be second chair on this case and I thought of you, my best legal eagle buddy!"
Mike rubbed the back of his neck frustratingly, "Josh, in case I haven't told you, I'm an EADA in the city of New York. That means I am usually the lead attorney on cases here. Why would I want to drive four hours out of my way to be in a supportive role on a case outside of my jurisdiction?"
"Perhaps I've worded it wrong," Josh backtracked, "Technically we would be partners. I will be the lead attorney in name only…"
Who was Josh trying to fool?
"Take the shovel job somewhere else, Josh," Mike told his friend, "besides, I have my own cases to try here."
"Oh, but, this is not just any case…it's the case!" Josh said excitedly, "We are talking the numero uno of high profile cases! We are talking a make-a-name-for-ourselves case! Especially since that Douglas Merrick is as guilty as sin! Once I present my case, he'll be convicted in no time, I guarantee it! I just, uh, need someone to…uh…to help consult on the case…."
Mike knew what that meant. Josh was going to use Mike's expertise to prosecute his case.
"Josh, I have responbilities here I need to attend to, " argued Mike, "it's not like I can just drop everything and—"
"—and nothing," interrupted Josh, "I know you've just wrapped up a case…congrats on the conviction, by the way. And as far as this case goes, my boss has already smoothed everything over with your DA over there. Turns out McCoy owed my boss a favor, you see."
"Josh-" began Mike again, "I just can't-"
"What are you saying? You can't help an old friend?" Josh suddenly had a sound of vulnerability, "Okay, let me take one more stab at this…". He then took a deep breath and this time his tone was uncharacteristically humble, "Look, Mike, I know I act all confident and all, but dammit, you gotta know, this is scaring the bejesus outta me! Help me out, buddy boy! I need you…"
"I cannot believe you are asking this of me, Josh…"
Josh licked his lips, "It's not just for me! I mean, don't you ever want to get away? You know, be somewhere else? Come on! You've always loved Boston!"
Mike took a quick glance at Connie's empty office again.
Somehow the offer did sound enticing. It would be so nice to get out of the city for awhile And he did like the challenge of prosecuting a high profile murder case.
But working with Josh Lethem? And only as second chair?
"Let me sleep on it, Josh," Mike said, "Can I call you tomorrow?"
"I'd knew you'd do it, Mikey…"
"Josh, I didn't say…"
"I've been worried sick since this case started, " Josh explained, "It's got my stomach all in knots, you know? So if you can be here for me, you'd be the best pal ever! It'll be like old times in law school! I've already booked you a room at the Ritz-Carlton. Nothing too grand for my number one consultant!"
"Josh, this is really…"
"Salts." Josh said.
Mike furrowed his forehead, "Salts? What?"
"Dinner at the four star Salts Restaurant in Cambridge. For you, it's first class all the way, buddy boy! You'll love this place! Hard to get in, but, count on me for connections!"
"Josh, this is going so quickly…"
"Better start packing, Mikey!" Josh had stopped listening to Mike, enjoying the sound of his own voice, "Lethem and Cutter are about to turn the Boston legal system on its ear! Hmmm…Lethem and Cutter…kinda has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"
Mike rubbed his temple with his hand.
On the other hand it might help to get his mind off of …his work here, he thought, as he gave a final glance at Connie's barren office. His decision had been made.
"So, Josh, what time are we meeting for dinner?"
(So happy to be back! I have been busy typing away the last three months and have already completed writing this story, so you will be getting regular updates, I promise!)
I especially hope you stay around for the court proceedings; Mike and Connie against each other in court make for a fun read! (keep in mind: for entertainment purposes only!)
Personal disclaimer: I do not have background in law, so if I have taken some legal liberties, I apologize!
All reviews are most appreciated!