He has this certain je ne sais quoi, Ashley thought. Certain indescribable qualities. I kinda like him. Wait, Ashley, do not go there. You have Jake!

”-And the judge blared- Get out of my courtroom! Both the prosecution and the defense were ushered out. ” Elijah ended his anecdote.

The girls laughed. He had been narrating a funny story of how a land-grab case in a pig farm had gotten eerily ridiculous. In the end, both parties had been fined heavily and sent to jail.

”How can I help you, Miss Palmer? ” Elijah posed, resuming his professional demeanor.

Ashley leaned towards Elijah on the desk.

”Can we speak in hypotheticals, to begin with? ”

”I love hypotheticals. ”

”It goes like this. A certain companys chairperson has two offspring. Both siblings own an equal share. One of them is the CEO. The problem is that, in the chairpersons absence, who is on a long holiday, the CEO is the Managing Director of the board and can take most decisions without consulting the chairperson. The other sibling wants to take over the MD and CEO position. How can it be done in a perfectly legal way before the chairperson returns? ”

”Interesting, ” Elijah said with a finger on his chin.

His eyes were pensive, looking deep into Ashleys eyes. She felt a shudder coming along. Can he read my mind? Nah, hes just a lawyer.

”The two siblings in the story are Ashley Palmer and Scarlet Palmer. ” Elijah asserted. ”The chairperson is Arthur Palmer, your father. Scarlet is the CEO of Palmer Industries. Did I get it wrong? ”

Ashley blinked bitterly. ”You seem to have done your homework. ”

Elijah got up from his seat and started buttoning his suit.

”I am sorry, Miss Palmer. I don do family feuds, ” he announced. ”I help those who really need help. ”

Tessa was about to get to her feet, but Ashley stopped her.

”Mr. Wood, you have represented plenty of billionaire families, ” she said sternly.

”Yes, I have. However, what you are suggesting is an ethical hazard. It is none of my business, maam, but you are already well off. You are marrying Jake Grayson, the top billionaire in the city. Correct me if I am wrong- that will make you a director of Grayson enterprises as well. ”

Elijah scoffed and added. ”Why do you want to grab your sisters position? I take up victims of hostile corporate takeovers and have no intention of helping those who want to initiate them. ”

Ashley cocked her head at the lawyer and pursed her lips.

”Mr. Wood, that sounds preachy. You charge a million dollars for taking up cases! Some messiah, you are! ”

Elijah simply looked at her impassively, slightly offended.

”Goodbye, Miss Palmer. ”

He turned to go.

”Wait! ” Ashley called out.

She turned to Tessa. ”Sweetie? Could you give me a minute with Mr. Wood? ”

Tessa wrinkled her nose but got up and headed to the garden window. She rested on the lounge and began texting on her phone.

”My dad always says, ” Ashley began, once Tessa was out of earshot, ”if you are good at something, never do it for free. ”

”He is a wise man, ” Elijah replied, half turned away from her.

”My remark about the fee you charge was not intended to offend. Although I do admit, I may have uttered it with disrespect. ”

”Apology accepted. However, I cannot take up your case, Miss Palmer. No matter what you offer me. ”

Ashley rose from her seat, her voluptuous figure rising to greet Elijahs eyes.

She leaned low on the table, her under eyes slightly teary. Her expression was resolute.

”I am a victim, yes! But I will not beg you to work for me! ”

”Please take this with you, ” she requested, passing him an envelope. ”It contains sensitive information about the criminal activities of my step-sister. If you realize after reading it that I am weak enough to be a client, a damsel in distress if you must, then let me know. We can talk business. ”

She also slid a business card towards him. It had her cell phone number scribbled across.

Elijahs eyes lingered on the pretty woman for some time. She was enthralling, no matter what sentiment animated her face. He nodded, picked up the card and the envelope, and walked away.

After the lawyer exited the office, Ashley realized she was slightly breathless. She collapsed into her chair and stared at the ceiling.

Tessa returned from the balcony.

”Did he agree to work for us? ” the teen asked.

”Time will tell, ” was all Ashley answered.

”Are you alright? You look a bit pale. ”

”I don like being this emotional, Tess. I have never had to ask for something so desperately before. ”

Tessa wound an arm around Ashley and planted a few kisses on her forehead. ”You will be fine. ”

It seemed to cheer her up.

”So, who is next? ” Tessa inquired, settling into her chair.

”Our next guest is a security expert. He is supposed to have arrived. Our meeting with the lawyer took longer than expected. ”

”Let me ask, Dmitri. ”

Tessa spoke into the intercom.

”Dwi, is there anybody waiting? ”

”There are no other guests, maam, ” he answered almost instantly. Moreover, I have made it clear not to call me Dwi. Thats- ”

Tessa turned off the intercom and turned to Ashley with a frown.

”I think he is late, ” Ashley said, checking her phone. ”His agency assured me the candidate is very professional. ”

”Tell me more, ” Tessa poked, intrigued. ”Is he as yummy as my El-i-jah, ” she added, making vulgar gestures with her tongue.

Ashley shook her head, laughing. She did not comment on Elijah in the presence of Tessa. After all, she was going to be engaged to her brother the following day. There was a time and place for everything.

”Whats his name? ”

”Chevalier de Guiscard. ”

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