Chapter 1

“What if it’s a disaster?” Sara asked as she got into bed.

“It’s not going to be a disaster,” Jared said. “You’re going to be great.”

“But what if I’m not? What if I’m just average? Maybe that’s what they were trying to tell me. Maybe that’s the lesson.”

“There’s no lesson, and you’ve never been average,” Jared said, joining his wife under the covers. “It’s just your first day of work. All you have to do is show up and be yourself.” He shut off the lamp on his nightstand and reached for the nearby alarm clock. “What time do you want to wake up?”

“How about six-thirty?” Sara paused. “Actually, make it six-fifteen.” She paused again. “Five forty-five. Just in case the train’s running late.”

“Shhhh, take a deep breath,” Jared said. He propped himself up on his elbow. “It’s okay to be nervous, but there’s no reason to get nuts.”

“I’m sorry. I just—”

“I know,” he said, taking her hand. “I know what’s riding on this one—I remember what happened last time. I promise you, though, you’re going to be great.”

“You think so?”


“You really think so?” “Sara, from this moment on, I’m choosing to ignore you.”

“Is that a yes or a no?”

Jared pulled one of the pillows from behind his head and held it over Sara’s face. “I refuse to acknowledge that question.”

“Does that mean we’re done talking about work?” Sara asked, her laughs muffled by the pillow.

“Yes, we’re done talking about work.” Jared straddled his wife, keeping the pillow on her face.

“Uh-oh, someone’s getting kinky.” Sara tried to pull the pillow away, but she felt Jared press down even harder. “C’mon, that’s not funny,” she said. “It’s starting to hurt.”

“Stop whining.”

“What?” she asked.

He didn’t respond.

“I’m serious, Jared. I can’t breathe.”

She felt him moving forward on her chest. Her left shoulder was suddenly pinned back by his knee. Then her right.

“Jared, what’re you doing?” She grabbed his wrists and dug her nails into his arm.

He only pressed down harder.

“Jared, get off me! Get off me!” Her body was convulsing now, violently trying to knock him from his perch. As her nails tore at his arms and legs, her lungs lurched for air. But all he did was hold tight. She wanted to stop fighting, but she couldn’t. Choking on her own tears, she called out his name. “Jaaared!” she sobbed. “Jaaared!”

Jolted awake, Sara shot up in bed. Her face was covered in sweat and the room was silent. Jared was asleep next to her. Just a dream, she told herself, trying to stop her heart from racing. It’s okay. But as she put her head back on the pillow, she couldn’t let it go. Even more than the others, this one felt real. Her fears, his response, even his touch. All so real. It wasn’t about Jared, though, she told herself. It was about work. To prove it to herself, she pressed her body up against her husband and wrapped an arm around his chest. He felt warm under the covers. Clearly, it was about work. She took a deep breath and squinted at the clock on Jared’s nightstand. Two more hours, she realized. Only two more hours.

* * *

“Here’s what I want,” Jared said to the redheaded man behind the counter at Mike’s Deli. “A sesame bagel with most, but not all, of the seeds scraped off, a light schmear of cream cheese, and a coffee—very light, with one spoon of sugar.”

“That’s nice, dear,” Sara said. “While you’re at it, why don’t you just ask him to suck the nougat out of the Snickers?”

“Don’t give him any ideas.” The man behind the counter started on Jared’s order. “In my whole life, I’ve never seen a man who gave more instructions for a stinking bagel and coffee. You’d think it was a work of art or something.”

“Mikey, by the time you’re done with it, it will be,” Jared said with a wink.

“Don’t suck up to me,” Mikey said. He turned to Sara. “Now what does the normal half of the family want?”

“Whatever you want to get rid of. Just make it exciting—nothing plain.”

“See, now that’s why you’re my favorite,” Mikey sang. “No headache, no pain-in-the-ass demands, just normal, considerate—”

“Are you the manager?” a gray-haired woman with large glasses interrupted.

“That I am,” Mikey said. “Can I help you?”

“I doubt it. I just want to register a complaint.” She pulled a coupon from the pocket of her LOVE IS A PIANO TEACHER book bag and thrust it across the counter. “This coupon says that I get one dollar off a box of original flavor Cheerios. But when I checked the shelves, I saw that you’re out of this item and that the coupon expires tomorrow.”

“I’m sorry, ma’am, but we’re a very small store with limited space. If you want, you’re welcome to use the coupon on the other flavors of Cheerios. We have multigrain, and honey-nut, and—”

“I don’t want any other Cheerios. I want these Cheerios!” the woman shouted, causing everyone in the small grocery store to turn and look. “And don’t think I don’t know what you’re doing. When you print up these flyers with the coupons, you hide all the items in the back room. That way we can never redeem them.”

“Actually, ma’am, we just don’t have the space to—”

“I don’t want to hear your excuses. What you’re doing is false advertising! And that means it’s illegal.”

“No, it’s not,” Sara and Jared said simultaneously.

Surprised, the woman looked over at the couple, who were still waiting for their bagels. “Yes, it is,” she insisted. “When he sends out those coupons he’s making an offer for his products.”

“Hate to break it to you, but an advertisement isn’t an offer,” Sara said.

“Unless it specifies an exact quantity or indicates exactly who can accept it,” Jared added.

“Uh-oh,” a man in line behind Sara and Jared said. “I smell lawyers.”

“Why don’t you both mind your own business?” the woman snapped.

“Then why don’t you leave our friend alone?” Sara said.

“I didn’t ask for your opinion.”

“And our friend didn’t ask to be talked down to like he was a piece of garbage,” Sara shot back. “Now, as a Cheerios lover myself, I can appreciate your frustration, but we don’t go for that kind of unpleasantness here. Instead, we’ve taken a new approach: It’s called acting civilly to each other. I can understand if you don’t want to participate, but that’s the way we play it. So if you don’t like it, why don’t you make like a coupon and disappear.”

As Jared fought to contain his laughter, the woman sneered at Mikey. “You’ll never see me in this establishment again,” she seethed.

“I’ll live,” Mikey said.

With a sniff, the woman turned and stormed out of the store. Mikey looked over at his two favorite customers. “Make like a coupon and disappear?”

“What can I say? I was under pressure.”

“It did get her to leave,” Jared pointed out.

“You’re right about that,” Mikey agreed. “Which means breakfast’s on me.”

* * *

Fifteen minutes later, Sara and Jared were crammed in the middle of a packed-to-capacity subway car. Sara was dressed in her best navy-blue pantsuit, while Jared wore a frayed Columbia Law sweatshirt and a pair of jogging shorts. A long-distance runner since his early years in high school, Jared still had his athletic build, although a small bald spot on the back of his head made him feel far older than he looked. With his suit packed neatly in a trifolding backpack, he began every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday with a half-hour run. “That’s not a bad way to start the day,” Jared said, pressed tightly against his wife. “Your first day on the job and you already have a victory.”

“I don’t know,” Sara said as the train pulled away from the Fifty-ninth Street stop. “There’s a big difference between cranky piano teachers and actual criminals. And if past performance is any indication, this job is going to be an even bigger loser than the last one.”

“One stupid incident at one hotshot law firm means nothing about your value in the job market.”

“But six months of looking—c’mon, Jared.”

“I don’t care, you’re going to be great.” Sara rolled her eyes. “Don’t give me that look,” Jared added. “I know what you’re thinking and it’s not true.”

“Oh, so now you think you can read my mind?”

“I don’t think I can read your mind—I know I can read your mind.”



“Okay, then, lover boy, take your best shot. What’s going through my panicky little brain?”

Jared closed his eyes and rubbed his temples. “I see great unrest. Great neurosis. No, wait—I see a handsome, brilliant, casually dressed husband. My, my, my, is he a good-looking one. . . .”

“Jared. . . .”

“That’s his name—Jared! My God, we’re sharing the same vision.”

“I’m serious. What if this job doesn’t work out? The article in the Times. . .”

“Forget about the Times. All it said was that the mayor was announcing budget cuts. Even if it leads to layoffs, that doesn’t mean you’re going to be fired. If you want to be safe, though, you can call Judge Flynn and—”

“I told you last night, I’m not calling him,” Sara interrupted. “If I’m going to stay here, I want it to be because I deserve it, not because someone called in a favor.”

Jared didn’t argue the point further. Since they had first met, Sara never wanted special treatment—no professional favors, no help. Her independent streak ran deep: When Jared’s uncle had offered to put in a good word so she could get an interview at his law firm, Sara had refused. To Jared, her logic was irrational and counterproductive. But Jared thrived on connections; Sara despised them. “I’m sorry I even brought it up,” he finally said. “Besides, if this job doesn’t work out, you can always find another.”

“No. No way,” she insisted. “My psyche’s taken enough of a beating.”

“That’s exactly what I was about to say,” Jared backpedaled. “No more psyche-beating for you. They’re going to love you here, and they’re going to realize you’re a genius, and unlike Winick and Trudeau, they’re never going to fire you. Starting today, they’re going to fan you with giant feathers and baby-fresh-scent perfumes. You’re not going to have to worry about the budget cuts and the butterflies will never swarm in your stomach.”

“Let me ask you something,” Sara said with an affectionate smile. “Do you really believe all the noise that comes out of your mouth?”

“I’m a defense attorney. That’s my job.”

“Yeah, well you’re making the rest of us lawyers look bad.”

“You’re not a lawyer anymore—starting today, you’re a DA.”

“And that means I’m not a lawyer?”

“Once you go to the district attorney’s office, you become a vampire. All you’ll care about is arresting and convicting innocent people.”

“Says the man who helps guilty criminals go free.”

“Says the self-righteous DA.”

“Says the man who will never again have sex with his wife.”

Jared laughed as the train pulled into the Fiftieth Street stop. “Says the woman who is always right and never wrong and should never again be doubted.”

“Thank you,” Sara said.

He kissed her then—a lingering kiss. “You’re going to miss your stop,” she said, pulling away. The doors of the train closed.

“Don’t worry,” Jared said. “Today I’m taking it downtown.”

“You have some work in court?”

“No,” he said with a grin. “I just want to check out a new jogging path. I figure I’ll start at the courthouse and work my way back to the office.”

“Wait a minute. You’re going to run an extra thirty blocks just so you can walk me to work?”

“It’s your first day, isn’t it?”

She couldn’t help but smile. “You don’t have to do that.”

“I know,” Jared said.

* * *

When the number nine train arrived at Franklin Street, Sara and Jared got off and joined the throngs of commuters who filled New York’s overcrowded streets. The September morning was warm and bright and as close to sunny as the Manhattan skyline allowed. “All set?” Jared asked.

“All set,” Sara said. “They have no idea what they’re in for.”

“There we go—that’s what I like to hear.”

“In fact, if I get any more excited, I may get in another fight just for fun.”

“Okay, hon, but no more than two a day.”

“I promise,” she said. “That’s my limit.”

Jared gave his wife a quick kiss, then took one last look at the woman he loved. When they first met, he was captivated by her deep green eyes and expressive eyebrows—he thought they made her attractive in an understated way. He also loved the fact that she wore no makeup except for a stroke of blush. Remembering the moment, Jared turned away and started his jog to work. “Good luck!” he called out over his shoulder as he headed up West Broadway. “And don’t forget: You’re smarter than everyone!”

Watching her husband wave good-bye, Sara laughed at how goofy he was. And within a minute of leaving him, she also realized how wrong he was. Now Sara was alone. And the butterflies were swarming.

Tucking a stray curl behind her ear, Sara tried to get her bearings. She was the only still point in a flood of people, all in dark suits, all with briefcases, all in a hurry. All lawyers, she thought. Steeling herself with a tightened jaw, she headed forcefully toward Centre Street. “Kill the butterflies. Kill the butterflies. Kill the butterflies,” she whispered to herself.

* * *

At 80 Centre Street, the drab brick building that was home to the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office, Sara followed her mental map toward the elevators at the back of the building. As she headed down the dark marble hallway, what seemed like an army of men and women in navy-blue suits pushed past her at a frantic pace. A man carrying an armful of files bumped into her and continued on his way. A woman in a pin-striped suit chased him. “Don’t forget—we have the Schopf hearing at two!” she yelled. Another man, pushing a small cart full of files, wove his way through the morning crowd shouting, “Late for court! Late for court!” Frenzied and bleary-eyed, some of them looked like they hadn’t slept in days. But if there was any doubt that being an assistant DA was one of the most sought-after jobs in the city, one needed only to look at the six-month waiting list to interview for the position.

Watching each of the tiny operas that played out around her, Sara felt her panic give way to excitement. After six long months, the law was once again animated and alive. This was why she wanted to work in the DA’s office—her old law firm, with its rafts of blasé young associates in Italian suits, never had anything like this vitality. To some, it was chaos. But to Sara, it was the biggest lure of the job.

On the seventh floor, Sara passed through a metal detector and walked down a wide hallway with faded blue industrial carpet that reminded her of her old junior high school. Following the room numbers as she searched for her office, Sara couldn’t help but notice that plastic dry-cleaning bags hung from every available hook and decorated almost every single coatrack in the twisting hallway. Not a good sign for free time, she thought as she reached room 727. The room number was painted on the translucent glass window of the heavy oak door, and no one was sitting at the desk outside the office. Feeling no need to wait, Sara opened the door and stepped inside.

Her office was exactly what she expected: a large metal desk; a Formica credenza that held an outdated computer; a Leatherette desk chair; two metal folding chairs; two large metal filing cabinets; a bookcase filled with New York statutes, sentencing guidelines, and other legal books; and a coatrack, with dry cleaning hanging on one of the hooks. Typical government office.

“Sara Tate, right?” A stocky young man entered the office.

“That’s me,” she said. “And you are . . .”

“I’m Alexander Guff—your TPA.” Noticing the blank look on Sara’s face, he added, “Trial prep assistant.”

“Which means?”

“Which means I do whatever you need me to do. At the very least, I’m your secretary. But if you want to take me under your wing, I’m your assistant, your right-hand man, your boy Friday, the Jimmy Olsen to your Superman, the Watson to your Holmes . . .”

“The Captain to my Tennille?”

“Yeah, something like that,” Guff said with a laugh. Guff was short and stocky, with bushy black hair that reminded Sara of a Brillo pad. His round face and pug nose were accentuated by his slouched posture, which made him look like he had a slight humpback. “I know what you’re thinking,” Guff said, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “No, I don’t have a hump—this is just the way I stand. I’m a nervous kid and this is an outward symptom of my internal anxieties. And just so you know, I also like to stuff my hands in my pockets. It helps me think.”

“Whatever makes you happy,” Sara said with a shrug.

“See, I can already tell I like you,” Guff said. “You see it, you say it, you let it rest. That’s a good sign. We’ll get along.”

“Are you always this blunt?” Sara asked.

“This is just the way I am. Sometimes people like it, sometimes I creep people out.”

“So that’s the nutshell, huh?” Sara asked, taking a seat at her desk. “I’m the new boss and you’re the witty assistant?”

“Do I look that obvious to you?” Guff asked, pulling out a chair and sitting down opposite her.

“I haven’t decided yet. Keep talking.” She wanted to ask him about the budget cuts, but she still wasn’t sure if she could trust him. And she wasn’t about to open up quite so fast. “How long have you lived in the city?” she added, trying to get more information.

“Only since I graduated from college, which makes a little over two years. Personally, I’d prefer living at home and saving some money, but I’m in the process of revolting against my suburban upbringing.”

“Oh, you are?” Sara asked doubtfully. “And you’re doing this how? By working in the DA’s office?”

“Of course not. I’m doing it by just existing. I mean, look at me. With this posture and this messy clump of hair, would you know that my father is a doctor? That my mom drives carpool?”

“Give me a break,” Sara said. “You sound just like my husband.”

“So the ring’s for real, huh?” Guff asked.

“Real for six years.” She tapped her platinum-and-gold wedding band against her desk.

“See, that’s just my luck,” Guff said. “All the good ones are taken. I can never meet someone who’s on her own, who isn’t a psycho, who doesn’t want to set fire to my futon, who—”

“Who digs suburban anarchists who think they’re much more rebellious than they are?”

Leaning back in his seat, Guff laughed.

“No offense, Guff, but the entire female population is not plotting against you.”

“Tell that to my Beatles collection and my missing stereo. I mean, my life is proof to the contrary.”

“Uh-oh, chronic paranoia. Does that mean you’re also a conspiracy nut?”

“Depends how you define nut. I’m not a fan of the overused conspiracies that Hollywood keeps recycling, but I do believe there are some unexplained phenomena we can’t answer. For example, take your typical deck of cards. If you add up the number of letters in the words ace, two, three, four, all the way up to jack, queen, and king, you get the number fifty-two—the same as the number of cards in every deck.”

Sara paused a moment. “So?”

“Secret code, baby. Believe the hype.” Sara shook her head, amused. “Don’t blame me—it’s all in the upbringing.”

“With that, I actually agree.”

“Of course you do—we’re all the product of our families. That’s why you have to tell me about yours. Do you have any brothers or sisters? Are your parents crazy-insane like mine—”

“My parents were both killed during my first year of law school,” Sara interrupted, stopping Guff in midsentence. “They were on their way back from a day trip to Connecticut when they hit a patch of ice,” Sara explained. “Their car slid across the road and plowed into an oncoming van. They died instantly.”

“I’m really sorry. I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s okay,” Sara said, forcing confidence into her voice. “You couldn’t have known.”

“But I—”

“Guff, please don’t worry about it. Everyone on this planet has a memory they’d rather not recall. We just happened to hit mine early. Now let’s move on—we were having a good time.”

Noticing the embarrassed look in Guff’s eyes, Sara realized he was genuinely upset. It was clear he felt awful that he’d hurt her. That was all Sara needed to see. This was a good guy. Now she could open up. Taking a deep breath, she continued. “Any word around the office about that article in yesterday’s Times?”

“You saw that, huh?”

“It’s not good, is it?”

Guff paused. “Maybe you should go see Monaghan,” he said, referring to the district attorney.

“Don’t do that, Guff. If you know something, tell me.”

“All I know is the mayor’s trying to shrink the number of city employees by announcing across-the-board budget cuts for all city offices.”

“Does that mean I’m going to be fired?”

“I don’t know about you specifically, but when layoffs hit in this office, the last ones in are always the first ones out. And since the moment I walked in this morning, the office rumor mill’s been buzzing like crazy—according to a guy on the elevator, all the new hires are supposed to be automatically on notice.”

“No one’s told me a thing.”

Guff pointed to the metal tray on Sara’s desk. “That’s why they call it an in-box. I’m sorry, Sara.”

Sara snatched up the single sheet of paper and read through a memorandum addressed to the entire staff of the Manhattan District Attorney’s Office. According to the memo, the mayor’s recent announcement “will require us to reevaluate our current staff size. In keeping with the historical precedents of this office, decisions will be made proportionately among support staff, trial assistants, and attorneys. While these decisions will be difficult for all involved, we expect that this period of reorganization will not interfere with the day-to-day operations of this office.”

“I can’t believe this,” Sara said, her voice cracking. “I can’t lose this job.”

“Are you okay?” Guff asked.

“I’m fine,” she said, unconvincingly. “I just don’t understand it. Why now?”

“Are you kidding? We have an election coming up next year. The mayor’s no dummy—he knows big government is out. And by not favoring one department over another, he’ll look efficient, fair, and industrious all in a day’s work. It’s a political coup.”

Sara put her hands behind her neck, trying to massage away the tension. As she tried to organize her thoughts, her mind was reeling. This was even worse than she expected—a wrecking ball against her ego. Why is it happening again? she wondered. Why isn’t it ever easy? Feeling self-pity wash over her, Sara remained silent.

“Sorry. I didn’t mean to ruin your day so quickly.”

For a long minute, Sara didn’t say a word. But when she realized that she couldn’t just sit there and sulk, self-pity slowly gave way to defiance. What would Jared do? she asked herself. No, don’t do it like that. This isn’t his. It’s yours. It’s yours and it’s not so bad, she thought. You’ve been through worse. Much worse. At least here, it’s not final. At least here you’re not alone. At least here you can use your brain. That’s what he said: You’re smart. You’re smarter than everyone. Looking up at Guff, Sara broke her silence. “When do you think Monaghan’s going to take action on the memo?”

“Probably a week or two. Why?”

“I want to know how much time I have.”

“Sounds like you have a plan.”

“Not at all. But it took me six months to get this job, so I’m not losing it without a brawl.”

Impressed by his boss’s determination, Guff asked, “Then what do we do now?”

“You tell me,” Sara said. “You’re the one who works here.”

“All I know is you have to be in orientation until lunch, and I have a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, so we probably can’t get started on a solution until tomorrow.”

“Terrific,” she said, glancing at the clock on the wall. She looked back at Guff. “What do you think my chances are?”

“My honest opinion?”

“Of course.”

“Then let me put it this way: If I were a betting man. . .” He paused.

“What? Tell me.”

“I’d put my money on another horse.”

* * *

It was only one in the afternoon when Sara arrived back at her office, but her face was already showing signs of exhaustion. Although the four-hour orientation session was supposed to be a simple and informative introduction to the DA’s office, Sara spent every hour of it worrying about who would be the first to go. Still trying to figure out the answer, she collapsed in her seat. Before she could even catch her breath, the phone rang.

“This is Sara,” she answered.

“Well?” Jared asked. “How is it? I’ve been calling all morning, but you haven’t been there.”

“That’s because within my first hour of work, I found out I’m going to be fired.”

“You were fired?”

“Not yet—but Monaghan announced layoffs this morning and everyone thinks I’ll be the first to go.”

“Says who?”

“Says my assistant. . .”

“What does your assistant know?”

“. . . and my orientation leader,” Sara continued, “and the woman who helped me fill out my paperwork, and the attorney I had to cross-examine during my mock trial, and the four other lawyers I met in the. . .” Her voice broke and her eyes welled up with tears. “I’m not like you, Jared—it doesn’t all work out for me. That’s why people think I’m such a failure.”

“Whoa, whoa, whoa,” Jared interrupted. “No one thinks you’re a failure. This isn’t anything personal—it’s a budget cut.”

“But you know what comes next,” Sara said. “More job searching, more interviews, more rejection letters. . .”

“Shhhhhh, calm down,” Jared said. “You’re going to be great.”

“The only one who thinks that is you.”

“That’s not true. Pop called me first thing this morning to ask if you won your first case yet.”

“Jared, you’re talking about my grandfather. He’s not exactly an unbiased source.”

“It doesn’t matter. You’re still going to be fantastic.”

“No, I’m not. I’m not prepared for—”

“Hunter College, magna cum laude.”

“Big deal—it’s a small city school.”

“What about Columbia Law School?”

“My parents paid the dean to get me in.”

“No, they didn’t,” Jared said. “And even if they did, didn’t you do well there?”

“I guess.” Sara shot from her seat and walked around to the front of her desk. “Damn, why am I feeling so sorry for myself? I sound like I’m in high school. Change the subject. What’s going on there?”

“Nothing,” Jared said. “I’ll tell you about it later.”

Sara raised an eyebrow. “Tell me about it now.”

“It’s not that important.”

Something was wrong. “Jared, you better not be doing what I think you’re doing.”

“Which is what?”

“Which is hiding good news just because you’re worried about me.”

“I’m not hiding anything. It’s not even that big a—”

“See, I knew it. I knew that’s what you were doing. Now spill it.”

Reluctantly, Jared gave in. “When I was coming back from lunch, Wayne came up to me and told me I was, quote, ‘on the right track.’”

“Wayne?” Sara asked, excited. “As in Thomas Wayne? Did he say when they’d vote on you?”

“The general consensus is that I’ll be up for partner within the next six months—depending on how much business I bring in.”

“That’s fantastic,” Sara said.

Jared didn’t respond.

“Don’t tell me you’re still worried about bringing in business,” she added.

“That’s why I didn’t want to bring this up now. . .”

“Jared, I appreciate what you’re trying to do, but I can handle two things at once. Now stop hiding and start talking. What about the list we made? Who’s left on that?”

“No one—I tried them all. Our alumni associations, the chamber of commerce, the synagogue, the church, the Ninety-second Street Y, the Democrats, the Republicans, the Kiwanis Club, the Rotary Club, the Toastmasters—if they have a newsletter, I’ve put an ad in it; if they have a meeting, I’ve sat in on it. I just don’t understand why it’s not working.”

“Honey, I know you’re not used to being human like the rest of us, but it’s okay to admit that something’s actually a challenge. That doesn’t mean it’s your fault.”

“I disagree. There’s got to be something I’m overlooking. Maybe I should dress a little more casually next time—just so they don’t feel like it’s a hard sell.”

“You never stop, do you?”

“Not until I figure it out. There’s always a solution.”

“Now you’re suddenly bold?”

“I’m always bold.”

“Jared, the only reason you wear your slacks uncuffed is because your dad still does.”

“That has nothing to do with a lack of boldness. The uncuffed look is elegant. It’s flawless. It’s in.”

“No offense, dear, but you have no idea what’s in. And if it wasn’t for me, you’d be equal on all sides.”

“Are you calling me a square?”

“All I’m saying is, we’re no closer to solving the problem.”

Just then, Guff entered her office. “Who wants to save their job today?” he sang.

“Give me one second,” Sara said to Guff, putting her hand over the mouthpiece. “Jared, I really should run.”

“Everything okay?”

“Yeah. Hopefully,” she answered. “And by the way, thanks again for listening.”

“Are you kidding? That’s my pleasure.”

Sara put down the phone and looked up at her assistant.

“I asked a question, campers: Who wants to save their job?”

“What’re you doing here?” Sara asked. “I thought you had a doctor’s appointment.”

“I just heard Transportation’s letting three hundred people go, so I decided to cancel it. If this thing is moving as quick as I think it is, I couldn’t let you twist in the wind.”

“And how’d you know I wouldn’t be out at lunch?”

“Once again, I must thank that wicked queen I call deductive reasoning. I figured if you were serious about staying on board, you’d be back here, pulling your hair out. And judging by the redness of your eyes, I’m right.”

“You’re pretty smart for a suburban kid.”

“All life’s lessons can be learned at the mall. Now are you ready to start? I think I know how you can save your job.”

“You do?” Sara asked.

“We’ll never know if we sit here all day.”

Sara threw Monaghan’s memo in the garbage. “Guff, I really appreciate you canceling your appointment. You didn’t have to do that.”

“Listen, this morning you treated me like an equal, and that means a lot to me. Considering I usually get crapped on by most of the women I meet, that’s enough to keep me loyal for life. Now let’s get out of here.”

Sara followed Guff to the door. “Where are we going?”

“To the courthouse across the street. If you want to be an ADA, you have to get a case.”

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