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CHAPTER 1 Visit

I was sitting, contemplating, in front of my croque monsieur sandwich and glass of Perrier, across from my friend, in Le Bistro.

"Amazing!" I unwittingly gargled, as I took a slug bigger than the one I had initially intended of Perrier, my gaze inevitably rolling up to the sky. "A dark-haired hunk is thinking of me!" There were two white perpendicular trails smack in the middle of the otherwise perfectly blue sky. That definitely meant a dark-haired boy preferably gorgeous was dreaming about me at that very moment. One line indicated blonde hair; obviously.

"If you say so," Benjamin shrugged, chilling out by meditating between bites of his croque madame. It was crystal clear as a member of the male species he had no clue what I was talking about. I would explain to him later. Right now, we had other stuff to focus on.

Unlike me, Benjamin always sat with his back to the sun. He was tall, handsome and with the type of skin that never tanned. So we'd once agreed that when we went out for lunch, we wouldn't waste the seat facing the sun on him. I was always happy to keep to that arrangement. Benjamin was the redhead, but I was the one with freckles on my nose and cheekbones.

Le Bistro was on the west side of La Place du Palais, facing the Nice courthouse, and was always frequented by lawyers, prosecutors and judges. Some of us loved it because we always met several acquaintances there, and some of us hated it for the exact same reason. I definitely belonged to the first group.

"So, Benjie, for this afternoon, we're agreed. You'll plead the lack of evidence, and I'll continue with his personality and family background," I recapitulated, confident I'd be able to bring tears to at least one pair of eyes in that courtroom. Deep inside, I'd always known I should have given it a shot in Hollywood. "Right." I detected a sudden twinkle in Benjamin's eyes. "We could have some fun with this! You can lead them all by the nose, Rose. Let's give the prosecutor enough rope to hang himself with!"

I felt a tinge of excitement rush through my body as Benjamin pronounced those last words.

Benjamin Clark was one of my two partners. We were what you called 'young lawyers', finding that the world was our oyster. The three of us had opened up our law office, very early, after being admitted to the Bar.

Benjamin was from London and had studied law in both England and France. His French education hadn't helped him lose his English accent though. I often found myself sucking in my cheeks to avoid bursting into laughter when he spoke French. But that, of course, was only due to the combination of his accent and his serious look. Albeit, his accent somehow attracted more attention and made the judges listen to him more attentively or so we liked to believe. My other partner, Charlene, was from Zurich. She mainly wrote contracts and detested putting on her gown and going to court. So she never did.

Benjamin and I were also mainly business lawyers, but unlike Charlene, neither of us could live without pleading in court. We loved an audience, and we only got it in criminal courts. That was why we'd ended up as 'Business-Slash-Criminal lawyers'. Megalomania must be a defining characteristic of a lawyer, with Charlene being the only exception.

Today, I was in a particularly good mood. My brother, Robert, was coming from New York for ten days. I hadn't seen much of him over the past three years. Before that, we'd been inseparable.

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