Author's Note: One of my favorite things in writing Apologize is crafting Jim and Johanna's love story. I love it so much that I've decided to take those flashback scenes and mentions of their past and create this story, which will chronicle their life together, some of these events have been mentioned in Apologize, when that is the case I will provide the chapter number that it links back to. Yes, Kate will eventually show up in these chapters.
If you haven't read Apologize, I don't think you necessarily have to in order to read this story, so enjoy!
(First mentioned in Apologize Chapter 22)
Chapter One –Meeting For The First Time
Ten minutes ago, Jim Beckett had spotted a pretty, dark haired, young woman, leaning against a desk as she studied the papers that laid on top of it. Needless to say, but his interest had been piqued and he had turned to his friend Jeff to inquire about who she was. His friend didn't know, although he had heard there were going to be new lawyers and secretaries joining the law firm. Apparently, this woman had slipped onto the radar without their notice and that was something that had to be rectified immediately, he had thought to himself, and so he had approached her; his friend tagging along because he wasn't one to miss his chance at meeting a new girl.
The initial introductions had gone well, Jim thought. Her name was Johanna McKenzie and she was even more beautiful close up with those sparkling green eyes of hers. She was sweet and kind; and it was obvious that she had a joyous personality. Yes, he thought to himself, everything had been going well during their little introductory chit chat…but then he had stuck his foot in his mouth.
"Are you the new secretary?" Jim had asked her; and when her demeanor shifted slightly, as if she were preparing to defend herself, he realized that it was probably the wrong question to ask. All he could do now was hope that he could brush it off.
Johanna McKenzie fought the urge to roll her eyes and she groaned internally; not this again, she thought to herself. She had really been hoping that Jim Beckett was not going to be like most of the other men she had encountered so far on her first day. He and his friend Jeff had so far been very respectful and welcoming, and as she had spent the last five or so minutes gazing into his kind blue eyes, thinking that maybe she had finally found someone, other than her friend and secretary Sharon, that might make this period of adjustment bearable, he had to go and say something like that and dash her hopes a bit…because she had to admit, some of the remarks and comments that she had received throughout the day had her questioning her decision to join this firm…but it was too late now, she reminded herself; she was here and this was where she was going to stay for the time being. She'd just have to prove to her colleagues that she belonged there, that she could do her job as well as any man.
She was going to have to toughen up. She was going to have to let certain things roll off her back. She had to play the game right if she wanted to make it the legal field. She could do this…and she could start now.
Her brow rose as she regarded him, a slight smirk curving her lips upwards. "Is that all you think I'm capable of being?" she asked Jim.
He smiled at her, it felt like a trick question, but he didn't see a way around it so he shrugged as he shoved his hands into his pockets. "You tell me; if you're not a secretary than what are you?"
That coy look remained on her face and he couldn't help but think of how pretty she was, and he had to force himself to keep his eyes from raking over her once more as he had done before he approached her.
"According to my law degree, I'm a lawyer," Johanna answered.
The answer caught him off guard and he knew it shouldn't have. Great, he thought, he'd just made a fool out of himself and the sparkle of amusement in those green eyes of hers confirmed the fact that she had enjoyed watching that thought register on his features. At his side, Jeff choked on his laughter and he had the urge to elbow his friend in the ribs and see if he laughed about that. Johanna's amused gaze shifted to his friend and he hoped that she was going to knock him down a peg as she had just done to him.
"Is the fact that I have a law degree amusing to you?" she asked lightly.
"No," Jeff told her. "I just always laugh whenever Jim puts his foot in his mouth."
Johanna laughed. "Does he do it often?" she teased, her gaze shifting back to Jim.
"All the time," Jeff stated.
Jim shook his head. "Don't listen to him; he puts his foot in his mouth way more than I do."
"Guess I'll have to take your word for that," Johanna remarked, allowing a light dig at him for jumping to conclusions.
Jim chuckled. "Oh don't worry; he'll prove it to you before long; you just caught him on a good day."
"And I caught you on a bad one?" she asked.
"Let's just chalk it up to a moment of stupidity," he told her. "I apologize; I didn't mean to offend you."
She smiled. "It's alright, you didn't offend me…I've just gotten a lot of those types of comments today."
Now he did feel bad, because he knew how a lot of his colleagues acted in regards to women in the law firm, whether they were attorneys, assistants, or secretaries. It wasn't going to be easy here for Johanna McKenzie; she was young, obviously just out of law school and she was attractive and friendly. She was going to be harassed, underestimated, and for lack of better words, he knew that in a lot of ways, she was just going to be treated badly and he didn't want to add to that, he didn't want to be apart of the problem. He had only known her for a few minutes and yet, he already liked her and he wanted to get to know her better, to be an ally if she found herself in need of one.
"I'm sorry," Jim said again with sincerity. "Please don't think I'm like those other people because I'm not," he assured.
"Should I ask your friend about that?" she asked; a kind smile on her lips as she shifted her gaze back to Jeff who was watching with amusement.
Jim chuckled. "You can ask him, but I have to warn you, he's been known to lie and if he lies to you, I may have to hurt him."
"You wouldn't lie to me, would you?" she asked Jeff.
"Never," he replied, a mischievous grin on his face.
"Alright," Johanna said as she eyed him, "Is Jim telling me the truth? Is he different from the others?"
"Of course he's different," Jeff said honestly. "And just for the record, so am I."
"That's good to know," Johanna replied.
"Of course you should already know that we're different," Jeff told her.
"How?" she asked. "I've only just met you."
"Well we haven't tried to pinch you, have we?" Jeff asked with a laugh.
"That usually only happens on the subway," Johanna answered. "I was hoping I wouldn't have to worry about it at work."
"Don't worry," Jim replied. "If he tries to pinch you, I'll hit him."
She grinned. "You're going to defend my honor?"
"That's the kind of guy I am," Jim quipped.
"So jumping to conclusions isn't your only hobby?" Johanna couldn't help but ask.
He laughed. "I'm not going to live that down, am I?"
"Probably not. I don't think I'll forget it any time soon."
"If you do, I'll remind him," Jeff offered.
"Looks like you're not going to have to worry about me not letting you live it down," Johanna told Jim.
"That's alright," Jim told her. "I have plenty of things to use against him."
Someone down the hallway called his name and turned to acknowledge them and to tell them that he'd be right there before he turned back to Johanna and held out his hand for hers once again. Her soft, slender hand slipped into his and he smiled as his gaze locked with hers once again.
"I look forward to working with you," he told her.
That coy smile lifted the corners of her mouth once again. "Do you really, or do you just feel bad about thinking I was a secretary?"
Jim laughed lightly, she was adorable, he thought to himself. He could get used to having her around; she'd probably make things exciting. "I really mean it," he said. "I look forward to working with you…and getting to know you."
"In that case, so do I," she replied softly, thinking that her first impression of him might be right after all.
He finally let go of her hand, and allowed Jeff to make his own version of the same remarks and then they said their goodbyes, ready to head back to their offices but Johanna's voice stopped him.
"Jim," she said, and he couldn't mistake the slight hint of amusement that lingered in her tone.
"What?" he asked; as he turned back to her and took in the sight of those sparkling eyes and that pretty smile.
Johanna moved towards him and then, dropping her voice down a notch, she leaned close. "You have no idea what I'm capable of," she told him, and then after watching his expression go from surprise to a smile that spoke of admiration and maybe even a hint of challenge, she turned to walk away from him.
"I can't wait to find out," he called after her.
She looked over her shoulder, a sassy expression on her face. "Oh believe me, you'll find out," she promised.
Jim watched her go, staring after her retreating figure until she was no longer in sight. Suddenly he felt like life had just gotten a little more interesting.
"She's sassy," Jeff commented as they made their way up the opposite end of the hallway.
He nodded in agreement. "That she is…I like her."
His friend smirked. "I know, you have that goofy grin on your face."
Jim shot him a look. "I do not."
He laughed. "Yes you do. She smiled at you and it was all down hill for you after that. You were done for."
Jim scoffed. "I barely know her, so I doubt that I'm 'done for' as you call it."
"We'll see," Jeff stated before detouring to his own office. "We'll just see."
Jim brushed off Jeff's comments as he waited for his colleague to finish a phone call. He liked Johanna McKenzie, she was pretty, she was different…she intrigued him…she seemed…special in some way? He frowned and brushed that thought away too; how could he know if she was special after just a few minutes? There was something there, some kind of pull towards her, but he chalked it up to the fact that she was new and interesting and that the feeling would fade after he got to know her…and yet, he couldn't help but feel like his life was going to be somehow different from now on.
At the end of the day, Johanna sat at her desk and listened to the sounds of the building emptying out. She had survived the first day, she could go home and celebrate with a glass of wine and the leftover cake her mother had sent home with her the night before but she made no move to get out of her chair. She was still thinking about Jim Beckett. She smiled; he was handsome, and those warm, kind blue eyes of his were just the comfort she had needed that afternoon…even if he had jumped to conclusions. Oh well, she reasoned, he wasn't the first, at least he had been apologetic. She wouldn't hold it against him…although that didn't mean that she wouldn't remind him of it from time to time, if they ended up becoming friends…and she hoped that they would be friends because there was something in his eyes and she felt like she just had to know him.
It was odd to have that feeling of having to know him. It was almost as if there were something greater at play but she dismissed that thought because it was ridiculous. She barely knew him, and yet he intrigued her…and instead of wanting to prove herself to him like she wanted to do with the others, she found herself wanting to impress him instead; but, her mind reasoned, that was basically the same thing as wanting to prove herself. Johanna shook her head, what was wrong with her? She had to quit thinking so much about him and she didn't know why she was anyway. Maybe it was the fact that he had been so nice to her, while the majority had been cool in their welcoming of her. She sighed and gathered up her belongings, whatever the case may be, she felt like something had shifted…as if her life was about to take a turn that she didn't even realize was coming.