Caffeine and Counseling
Cassidy meets a new client that will change her life.
Cassidy knew Channing didn’t like the situation but he remained in the car like she’d asked. The coffeehouse was jammed packed but she waded through the crowd, squinting at name tags. She should have known this wouldn’t be a quick in and out. She peered out the window at him. He was beginning to get that look he’d get when he was starving. As long as she was here, she could get a snack for the commute home.
She got in line and it was moving pretty fast. It was hard to believe these many people were trying to get caffeine at this hour. She could understand if they were getting the pastries. The banana nut bread and raspberry scones were delicious. A half-dozen sugary treats should keep her husband’s appetite at bay until dinner was on the table. A few of those fancy drinks with a gob of whipped cream and chocolate shavings couldn’t hurt either. She reached the counter and read the name tag. It wasn’t the person she wasn’t she was looking for but maybe she could help.
“Hi Pam. I’d like a couple of scones, two slices of the banana bread and two of those delicious looking brownies.”
“Sure thing. Anything to drink with that?”
Cassidy scanned the menu. “Give me two of the frozen cappuccino drinks.”
“You want whipped cream on those?”
“Why not? It’s not the calories from the cream that I’m worried about.” She laughed.
“It’s decadent but it’s tasty.” Pam scrunched her nose.
Cassidy looked around the room again. “Do you know if Joy is working today?”
“I haven’t seen her.” The barista frantically put her order together.
She paid for her things and ventured to the back of the store. An employee was setting up the mini-stage for open mic night. She’d looked around the place twice and she was ready to give up. Perhaps Joy had already left for the day. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw a woman coming from the backroom in a rush. She grabbed a bucket and began bussing tables.
She had jet black hair that she had been put up in a clip and wore a dark, cranberry colored lipstick. She looked a little disheveled but for all she knew that was style these days. She had a standard issue work shirt but Cassidy could see the intricate detail of a tattoo that had vines and thorny roses creeping up from under the collar that spread to the back of her ear. She took a deep breath and looked at the name tag. It said Joy.
“Hi Joy, I’m–”
“Get off my back!” Joy slammed down the tub. “I told Bruce and his clerical goons I’d have the back rent by the end of the month.”
“You’re not from Tri-County property management?”
“No. My name is Cassidy Blake. I’m—” Cassidy tried to figure out in her head the connection from the unknown people in the scenario to Anna Beth and settled on, “a friend of a friend of a friend who thought you could use the benefit of some legal counsel.”
“No thanks. Besides, I’m pretty sure I can’t afford you.” Joy picked up the bucket and continued clearing tables.
“I’m not here for you. I’m here for your son. I believe he needs representation if he’s been part of the social services system in the past. The least you can do is hear me out for his sake.” Cassidy tightened her grip on the bag of baked goods and the paper travel tray that held the drinks.
“Estefan, I’m taking a break!” Joy yelled toward the front of the store.
“You just got here!” The guy with the pony tail behind the counter yelled back.
“Then I won’t be missed.” Joy rolled her eyes. “Let’s have a seat in that clean booth over there.”
Cassidy followed Joy to a booth in the back corner. It wasn’t exactly clean. She put down her things on the table next to it then pulled a couple of napkins from a dispenser and gave the table and booth seat a thorough wipe down, then sat down.
Joy gave her a once over. “I should have known you weren’t from the rental management company. They’re not that polished over there. While you look like you just posed for the cover of Uptight Urban Professional Quarterly. I’d say the diamond door knob on your finger and earrings you’re sporting cost a pretty penny. And those shoes and hand bag would cost me six month’s pay.”
“Are you a jewelry appraiser in your spare time?” Cassidy raised an eyebrow.
“No. I used to date a guy who used to abscond with other snooty people’s property until he got busted for it.”
“I hope your taste in men has improved since dating him.” Cassidy replied.
“Do you get nose bleeds up in that high castle you live in?” Joy fired back.
Cassidy took a deep breath and ignored the comment. She wasn’t here to defend her lifestyle to this stranger. She was here to hopefully stop a child from being put back into an already cluttered system. She pulled her note pad out of her purse and launched into her assessment. “I know you have an issue with child services and that there’s a history. I’m here to help. Why did you pick your son up late from daycare? Has an investigation been initiated?”
“I ran late because I was job hunting. I got this in the mail a few days ago.” Joy dug into her pants pocket and pulled out a crumpled letter.
“OK. We have a timeline.”
“My kid isn’t going back to no foster home. I didn’t do anything wrong. This time.”
“We’re going to make sure that doesn’t happen. I’d like to help but you have to accept me as your counsel.”
“Like I said, I have no money.”
“I didn’t ask you for a retainer. It’s a favor for the friend of the friend.”
“Oh, so this is some kind of rich girl giving back to the community thing? That entitlement weighing heavy on you?” Joy folded her arms across her chest.
“You know, you’ve been throwing around assumptions since we sat down. I could run with the assumption that you’re an angry brat. But I’m going to reserve judgment about that because I’m a professional and the best bet you have to get out of this mess and keep your son. So, do you want to keep taking cheap shots at me or do you want help keeping your son?”
Joy’s eyes widened. She looked out the window for a few minutes before finally saying. “OK. You can be my lawyer.”
“Fabulous.” Cassidy went into her purse again, pulled out a business card and handed it to her. “I will get in touch with the contact person on the letter. If anyone else contacts you, tell them to call me.”
“Cassidy Shaw Blake. Family law.” Joy rolled her eyes as she read the card. “Even your business card is stuck up. Let me guess, the smoking hot ginger outside in the Maserati is waiting for you?”
“He’s my husband.” Cassidy stood. Joy seemed quite aware of her surroundings but it was probably Channing’s X-ray like stare in their direction that tipped Joy off that he was waiting for her. “I need to see you in my office next Tuesday afternoon at two o’clock. Do you think you can make it?”
“I can move some things around.”
“Call if something comes up. It’s imperative we meet and plan a strategy. Until then I’ll do some digging and don’t antagonize your boss. You’ve been sitting here for fifteen minutes and he hasn’t complained and you need the job. Steady employment makes you look responsible. You have a good evening.”
“Thanks.” Joy mumbled.
Cassidy exited the coffeehouse and got into the car. “Sorry I took so long but I have some treats for you to munch on until I get dinner started.”
“How did it go?” Channing turned on the car and pulled out of the spot.
“I went in there looking for Joy and I found…something else.” She sipped on her coffee concoction.
“Was that a tattoo on her neck?”
“Yes. It looks like a hot mess from a distance but up close it’s kind of pretty.”
“Are you sure about this?”
“Yes.” Cassidy caressed his arm. “Everything will be fine. Now let’s get the halibut so we can salvage this evening.”
She knew it was going to be an uphill battle but she wanted to take the case. There was more at stake than Joy’s bad attitude. She’d have to lay down some ground rules for her new client.
Channing and Cassidy’s love story continues! The current reader inspired playlist has 49 songs and counting! Feel free to comment with song suggestions! I hope you enjoyed the pre-edited excerpt! Tentative release date September
In case you missed it!
Channing and Cassidy met in Tempting Fate (Book 9)!
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Copyright © 2016 Rhonda Laurel. All Rights Reserved.