Home > Meet Cute(11)

Meet Cute(11)
Author: Helena Hunting

“Linda’s officially suing for custody.”

chapter six



In light of recent events, I’m appointing you as Emme Hughes’s conservator.”

I almost fall out of my chair. As it is, I drop the pen I was flipping between my fingers and it rolls under her desk. Dammit. I really liked that one. It had a funky swirl pattern on it. I wait for Beverly to crack a smile. She does not. “You’re kidding, right?”

Her foot bobs once. “Have I ever been a kidder, Kailyn?”

I search for some kind of facial tic, anything to indicate she will soon start laughing. But that does not happen. “You’re serious.”

My morning started out fine. Well, fine-ish. I arrived in the office at seven with the intention of briefing Beverly on the Hughes files—which came home with me this weekend. Instead, I’m being told his aunt is suing for custody. And she has an excellent lawyer. Hopefully Daxton has a better one.

“Who’s representing Daxton?”

“Trish Monroe.”

I almost heave a sigh of relief. She has an outstanding reputation for winning cases.

“What’s the purpose of appointing me as conservator?” I already know the answer to this question, so I’m not sure what the point of asking it is, other than I want to hear Beverly say it.

This time Beverly almost smiles, but manages to keep it to a semi-smirk. “While the custody case is being handled, Emme needs a neutral third party to look after her. Be her voice. You wrote up the trust. It’s logical for you to remain involved since your priority is to protect Emme and her finances. And once the court rules on who has custody, the legal guardian will take over control of the trust.”

She makes sense, which is frustrating. “Isn’t there another family member who can take on this role?”

“No one local. Besides, it will give you a chance to find out exactly what’s going on between Daxton and his aunt, and you’ll have contact with Emme. Plus, you’ll have an opportunity to warm Daxton up to the idea of coming on board here. It’s a win all the way around, Kailyn. You must see that.”

“I’m legally responsible for the welfare and finances of a girl I don’t even know.”

“Who has recently lost both her parents, so you understand what she’s going through.”

It’s my turn to be stone-faced. This is unfair leverage she’s using against me.

Beverly steeples her hands, meeting my unrelenting glare. “You are the best person to take on this role for a multitude of reasons. Beyond the ones I’ve already provided, Daxton has a connection with you and he seems to trust you.”

“You said I could take on a pro bono case if I brought Daxton to the firm. That isn’t going to be enough anymore. This whole thing could get messy, and if it does I’m right in the middle of it. We have no idea what this aunt’s angle is. Maybe she’s just after the money, or maybe Daxton is. All I’ve heard so far is his side of the story. He looked like hell last week and I have no idea if it’s because he’s grieving or because he’s been making bad choices recently.”

“He works for one of the top firms in the state, so his choices can’t be that bad.”

“Professionally, who knows about personally?” She has a point, but then, so do I. We have no idea if he wants guardianship of Emme for the right reasons or not. “I need more than one pro bono case and the glory of taking on a challenge.”

Beverly considers that for a few seconds before her smile turns into a full-on grin. “What if I make you partner?”

I laugh and then stop immediately when she doesn’t join in. “Are you serious?”

“Again, joking is not really my thing.”

“You’ll make me partner if I agree to be the conservator?”

“If you take on that role and manage to do what I haven’t been able to for the past five years in bringing him over, I’ll most definitely make you partner, Kailyn. I already have the best trust lawyer in the state. Now I’d like the best entertainment lawyer, as well, and this is the perfect opportunity to make it happen. I’ll even waive the buy-in.”

“The entire buy-in?”

Beverly nods. “The whole thing.”

That she’s willing to waive the buy-in tells me exactly how much she wants Daxton on our team, which burns my ass a little. But the partnership buy-in can be in excess of a quarter of a million dollars. That’s a lot of money I won’t have to worry about parting with. Money I’d have to borrow since I’m still paying off my school loans. While I inherited everything when my dad passed, there really wasn’t much left after the hospital bills, apart from the house, which I still live in.

Partner before thirty with no buy-in is amazing. It’d be nice to make partner on my own merit, but maybe in some ways this counts. Especially since I’ll be working with a man I can’t stand on a daily basis, that has to mean something. And I’ll be making good on my promise to my dad, another reason to agree.

I should feel bad that I’m considering ways to draw him in, particularly in his vulnerable state. But logistically this is the best time to persuade someone to make a change. Catch a person in a weak moment and offer them something helpful. That actually sounds awful in my head.

“I’ll need flexibility with my hours and the cases I’m taking on while I’m acting as conservator.”

“Of course, we’ll adjust as necessary.”

If we’re bargaining, I’m putting all my cards on the table. “And if I make partner, I want to be able to pick up a few pro bono cases a year of my choosing.”

Beverly gives me a look saying I just stepped over a line, but this is my chance and I’m going to at least ask.

“We’ll have to discuss it further.”

It’s not a no, which coming from Beverly is almost as good as a yes. “It reflects well on the firm.”

She taps on the arm of her chair. “You bring Daxton over and we’ll negotiate.”

I don’t know what kind of person it makes me that I’m actually looking forward to the challenge on all levels now. “And if Daxton agrees to come on board, he’ll need flexible hours and a reduced caseload, without taking a pay cut.” Now that I have my ultimate goal within reach, I’m determined to make it a reality, even if it means giving someone I dislike a whole lot of perks. In this case, I need to remind myself that Emme is the priority, and her needs are paramount.

Beverly smiles. “Look at you, already negotiating his contract.”

“Can I get this all in writing?”

She flips her perfect hair over her shoulder. “You have my word. That should suffice.”

“I’d prefer your signature in blood, but I guess that’ll have to do.”

In light of this new development, I call Daxton as soon as I’m back in my office. We need to discuss my role as conservator, and I’d like to meet the girl I’m now legally responsible for.

Daxton felt it would be better to meet outside of the office to avoid causing Emme additional stress. Prior to meeting them for lunch, I review the news articles and footage related to the accident. I want to go into this with a clear understanding of what happened. I run across an amateur video taken with a cell phone and wish I hadn’t watched. It’s horrifying. So as much as I’m not excited about having to deal with Daxton, possibly on a daily basis eventually, I would be a coldhearted bitch if I didn’t feel empathy for him and his sister.

And maybe he’s right. Law school was five years ago; I should just get over it. In the grand scheme of things, coming in second hasn’t had a negative impact on my career. Besides that, I’m no longer a college girl with a crush on a former star. As an adult, I don’t do crushes anymore.

At least that’s what I tell myself as I trade my glasses for contacts, check my hair, reapply my lip gloss, and adjust my skirt before I leave the office to meet them for lunch. As soon as I step outside, my phone buzzes with a message from Holly.

Instead of texting back, I call her so I can fill her in. “You’ll never believe what happened this morning.”

“Jason Momoa appeared shirtless in your office and did triceps dips on the edge of your desk?”

“That’s your fantasy, not mine, and no, not even close.” I squeeze between an older couple shambling down the street and a woman pushing a stroller while texting. “So you know how I told you about Daxton Hughes showing up in my office last week?”

“Um, how could I forget? You talked about it at least once every hour on Friday and then twice at brunch on Sunday.”

I ignore her dig. “Anyway, to make this whole crappy situation worse, I’ve now been appointed as conservator for his sister.”

“Can you speak like a human instead of a lawyer so I can understand what that means?”

I pause at the corner, waiting for the light to change and the walk sign to appear. “Essentially I’m the legal guardian because I’m neutral.”

“Whoa. Wait. Does this mean she has to live with you?”

“No, it’s more of a formality, but now it means I’m involved and I’ll have to speak with him on a regular basis until custody is worked out. But that’s not the worst part. Or the best. I don’t even know anymore.”

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