805. - Lucien
He is suddenly there in the third week. I hadn't expected him, hadn't even thought about him. Haven't for months. I spot him before he spots me, and I strongly consider jumping out of the nearest window since that is the only way I could possibly avoid him. He's busy chatting up Mr Davies, the guy who practically runs this floor, and seems oblivious to the impending doom that is running into me.
I clear my throat, drawing the attention of young Noah Thompson, a young Irish lawyer who's two years my junior, but still one of my regular supervisors and the closest thing to what I can call a friend. He looks up from his laptop, brows raised in question. I try to hide my worry and disdain, and lower my voice despite there being office walls and a triple row of cubicles separating us.
"Do you happen to know why the guy talking to Mr Davies is here?"
"Who?" Noah peers through his open door, and I wish that I could close it to hide myself longer. "Oh, he's early! We called him in to advice on the Shaw-case."
"Why?!" I press, sounding a little more panicked than I would've liked. The Shaw-case is one that's been going since long before I came here, but Noah has recently been assigned to it, and therefor... So have I. The fact that Noah doesn't seem the least bit surprised by Callum Pritchard showing up, rather seems to have been expecting him, makes it all the more tempting to throw myself out of the window. I'm surprised Noah doesn't seem to realise why this bothers me. If you google me - or Callum, for that matter - it seems inevitable to find records of the case Emma ran against him. Surely they've done a background check on me? Maybe it didn't stick out as important to them. Or maybe they just didn't care.
"He's one of the most promising lawyers in criminal law. So far, most of the lawyers assigned to the case have been from an older generation. It's why I've been assigned to it as well - to offer a new perspective. He'll come join us in a second. I'm sorry, I suppose I forgot to tell you." He really seems entirely unbothered by it all, which honestly shouldn't surprise me. Not all people have the history that Callum, Emma and I have. To most, he is his ever charming self. Something that appealed to me as well, once upon a time, as well as Emma.
I consider my options. I could ask to be excused, make sure Callum never finds out what exactly I'm doing here, except maybe catch a glance of me while I make my escape. I could do what everyone's been expecting me to do since day one, and sit back in the corner without saying a word or even breathing too loudly, and pretend I don't know Callum at all. I could offer Noah an extremely abridged version of our history and hope to a God I don't believe in that he'll let me go home early.
To my horror, I don't have time to do option one or three, because there's a steady knock on the open door. Callum steps into my view, face full of disdain when he notices me there. Noah jumps up, smiling a boyish smile.
"Mr. Pritchard! So good to see you, do come in." He extends his hand, which Callum politely shakes with that snakey smile I've seen one too many times in my nightmares.
"Pleasure to finally meet you in the flesh, Mr. Thompson."
"I'd like to introduce you to Lucien du Castellon." Noah says as he gestures to me. "He's our current intern at the firm, and he'll be sitting in our meetings." I can feel my stomach drop when he calls me an intern, even though that's technically what I am. With anyone else I wouldn't have cared much, but as soon as Callum hears the word, his eyes start to glitter with glee.
"An intern? On such an important case?"
"He's got more experience than you might think." Noah smiles, not realising anything amiss. "After all, the whole point of this meeting is creating new perspectives. Six eyes see more than four."
"That they do." Callum purrs, his piercing gaze boring into mine. I clench my jaw, refusing to give him any satisfaction. He holds out his hand. I shake it and we, despite having a long history together, pretend this is our first time meeting. Then he whirls back to Noah, clasping his hands together. "Shall we then?"
"Yes!" Noah agrees. "Lucien, close the door, please?"
I want nothing more than to punch the joy off of Callum's face as I move to do just that, but I keep quiet. I just sit back on my regular seat, and listen as the two men go over the rough outlines of the case, and then the specifics where others keep getting snagged on. Noah seems to forget that I'm here, so he doesn't ask for any of my opinions, which suits me just fine.
My luck runs out when there's another knock on the door, and Mr. Davies comes peeking in. "Noah, can I talk to you in my office for a moment?"
Noah looks flustered, but of course immediately agrees. With an apologetic look, he turns to Callum. "I'm sorry, I'll be right back. Maybe you'd like a cup of coffee? Lucien can show you there where and how."
The door barely clicks close before Callum turns to me with a wicked grin, and I wonder if I'll ever not be tempted to rip the man to shreds. "I would like a cup of coffee."
Not wanting to give him ammunition, I stand. "Follow me, then."
"An intern, huh?" He croons as we walk through the hallways. "My, my... How the mighty have fallen. Though, I do suppose, you're not good for much more."
I'm fighting the urge to ball my fists, knowing he'll use any piece he can get to rile me up more.
"I know you think you ruined my career a few years back. But I've got a surprise for you, Little Lucy..." The nickname, my mother's nickname, settles onto my skin like acid. "They just don't care. You've got any idea how many of these men have done much worse than me?" He's behind me, but I just know he's grinning. My fingers are tingling. "Honestly, I should thank you for boosting my career. Though technically speaking, I suppose I should thank that stupid cu-"
I spin around on my heels, closing the tight distance between us without much trouble. To my delight, he takes a step back; he lifts his hands in innocence, and his grin widens. "God, it's so easy to get you all rattled. Go ahead then, say what you want to say." I suck in a breath to do just that, but he isn't done. "Of course, you of all people should be mighty aware of who they'll side with when I tell them their lowly little intern went off on me. It wouldn't be hard to believe you're jealous of me - same age, same background, and see which one of us is the succesful one..." His eyes are bright with elation, intoxicated with the power we both know he holds over me in this moment. "Now, I don't feel like getting my own coffee. I take it two creamers, one sugar. Don't fuck it up like you did the rest of your life."
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