This month is a snippet from my first novel, Magic Souls, which has received a new cover and a new launch.
It was the morning of the biggest presentation of my legal career, and I spent ten minutes practicing my speech in front of a potted ficus. The bronze faces of the partners stared down at me from the wall, and I tried to imagine my face among them. If my presentation went well, I’d become a mid-level associate at the Hanover Law Firm—the most prestigious law firm in the city—and I’d finally get my own office instead of having to share a cubicle.
I hurried through the hall, swung into the conference room, and discovered that the meeting had begun without me. The partners sat around a long cedar table, watching a plasma TV mounted on the wall. They swiveled their heads toward me.
“You’re late, Bebe,” said Annette Farwell, my arch-nemesis with stilettos and perky breasts. Her designer suit made my blouse and skirt look like consignment items. She wasn’t supposed to be in this meeting. She smirked at me from the head of the table, lacing her fingers together so that everyone could see her glittering maroon nails. “I’ve been working on this case for six months, and I don’t appreciate you interrupting my presentation.”
My PowerPoint slides hovered on the TV screen. Only at the Hanover Law Firm were the partners so busy that they couldn’t tell when attorneys were stealing cases from each other.
I nearly turned green when I saw Tucker Salinas sitting at the table. He looked sexy in his black suit and red tie, and I could smell his lavender cologne across the room. His wavy hair and brown skin made him stick out in the room full of pasty white people like me.
“Wasn’t this your case, Bebe?” he said.
Annette raised her voice to cover mine. “Of course Bebe helped me. When she wasn’t on Facebook, she was wonderful. But time management is her weakness. It’s just like her to be late.”
I wanted to say, I’m late because you rescheduled the meeting without telling me, but what came out was something between a pout and a nervous laugh.
The managing partner shot up. “That’s all I need. It’s a tough decision—both of you do a great job. But on the basis of this case, Annette, we’re going to go ahead and promote you to mid-level associate. Bebe, we’ll discuss your performance at a later date.”
Annette draped her palms over her mouth and sucked in air. “I can’t thank you enough for recognizing my hard work.” She schmoozed around the room, shaking everyone’s hands. The partners ignored me as they filed out, and when I tried to meet Tucker’s eyes, he looked through me, too.
“It’s nothing personal,” Annette said after the last attorney left. She primped her bun with one hand and packed her portfolio with the other. “You’ll get your promotion in due time.”
I blocked the door. “You stole my case.”
“It’s so nice to finally hear you speak. I couldn’t tell if you were shocked, or if you were participating in one of your silent vegan protests again.”
“This is wrong, Annette. You never worked on this case.”
“You shouldn’t have left your computer unlocked.”
“You’re committing fraud.”
“You’re the fraud.” Annette stepped toward me. “And if you think I’m a bitch now,” she said, “I dare you to tell the partners. Then I can tell them how you broke company protocol and kissed Tucker Salinas.”
“How do you know that?”
Sure, I had kissed him. I’d had too many cocktails at happy hour—super embarrassing—but he hadn’t kissed me back.
Annette saw me thinking and laughed. “You know the rules. Any kind of personal contact is grounds for termination. I’ll make you wish that you’d dropped out of law school like you should have, and wonder why you didn’t major in English, spend the rest of your life writing erotica, and contribute to society in some meaningful way other than being a tool for my personal advancement. Go on,” she said, pointing to the door, “tell the partners.”
I didn’t know what to say. Annette pushed me aside and slammed the door behind her, leaving me alone with the lingering smell of cologne, legal pads, and betrayal.
Magic Souls is an interactive urban fantasy styled after Choose Your Own Adventures, but for grown ups with a storyline that changes as you read it. Click here to relive your childhood.
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