Flipping the last page of the decision he had been reading, Sam Pope rose from his chair took a deep, satisfied breath, and let it out in a sigh of intense pleasure. He twitched his mustache en route to a smile. The smile broadened. He straightened his shoulders, felt his chest fill with excitement. Unable to contain himself, he growled an exuberant, "Way to go, Sam," and strode out the door.
"We did it, Joy," he said without breaking stride.
His secretary's eyes lit. "That explains the media." Even as she held out pink slips for the phone calls Sam had refused to take while he was reading the decision, her phone buzzed again.
But Sam was off, heading down the hall. There was a spring in his step. He felt on top of the world. He passed office after office but didn't slow until he reached the one at the very end. He wanted J.D. to be the first of his partners to hear the news. John David Maxwell was his oldest and closest friend.
The office was empty.
"He's at Continental Life in Springfield for the day," his secretary called from her station.
Samfelt a moment's disappointment, but it was gone in a flash. He was too elated to be weighed down for long. "When he calls in, tell him we won Dann v. Hanover."
The secretary grinned. "He'll be thrilled. What a victory."
"Yeah," Sam said, and tossed his chin toward yet another corridor. At its far end was a large corner office with generous views of the State House, the Boston Common, and the Public Garden. It was the office of the founderof the firm, the senior Maxwell. "Is John Stewart around?"
"He's in New York for board meetings. But he'll be impressed."
As he should be, Sam thought. Twelve years before, John Stewart hadn't wanted a litigation department in the firm. If money was the bottom line, as J.S. seemed to think, this justified it. No one could sneeze at a contingency fee of a cool six million.
Striding back down the hall, he knew he looked smug, but he didn't care. He stopped at the office two short doors from his own and rapped a hand on the jamb.
Vicki Cornell was the associate who, over four years' time, had worked most closely with him taking Dunn v. Hanover from the Superior Court to the Appellate Court to the Supreme Judicial Court. One look at Sam's face and she grew wide-eyed. "Yes?"
He grinned and nodded.
She let out a whoop. It had barely left her mouth when she was on her feet and at the door, extending a hand in congratulations. Sam threw political correctness to the winds and gave her a hug.
She didn't seem to mind. Stepping back, she looked as excited about the victory as he was. "We did it. Wow! Have you seen a copy of the decision?"
He nodded. "It's on my desk."
"Does Marilyn Dunn know?"
"And the others. They're coming in at three for a press conference. Do me a favor and call Sybil Howard? Channel Five has given us good coverage along the way. I want Sybil to have first dibs on questions. And call Locke-Ober's. Let's book a private room." He turned to leave. "Have your husband join us. And Tom and Alex, and the significant others we kept them from while they were working on this case." On his way out the door he said, "We've earned a celebration. It isn't every day that precedent-setting cases are won." To Joy, in passing, he said, "See you in a couple of hours."
"Where will you be?"
"At home. Or at the college. Wherever I find my wife." He had no intention of telling Annie the news on the phone. Not the way he was feeling. Winning Dunn v. Hanover was a coup. He had to see her face to face, had to hold her. No celebration would be complete without that.
Constance-on-the-Rise lay eighteen miles northwest of Boston. It was an intimate, affluent community nity whose luxury imports normally made the commute to the city in forty minutes. Sam did it in ten better than that. Granted, it was eleven in the morning, rather than the rush hour. But he breezed road repair crews without braking once. He, was on a roll.
All his life he had dreamed of doing something important, scoring points for the little guy, making a difference. As an assistant district attorney he had prosecuted some heavy murder and drug cases, but none could hold a candle to Dunn v. Hanover.
Annie knew that. Annie understood.
He was really on a roll, because it just so happened that Tuesday was her work-at-home day. She would be all alone no offspring, no friends. She would be reading journals, or correcting papers, or dictating reports until she heard his news. Then she would be beside herself with excitement. She always was when there was good news to share.
He recalled other good news times. When his law school acceptance had come in the mail, he had scoured the library, finally finding her in a remote carrel, squirreling her into a nearby storage room, and making love to her with his back to the door. On the evening he'd won his law school moot court competition, they had done it in his car. When he'd learned he had passed the bar, they had run to the inn adjacent to the college where Anniewas taking graduate courses. Their room had been harming, all two hours' worth. Nine months later Jonathan had been born.
He drove with a smile on his face and an ache in his groin, both of which burgeoned when he pulled up the circular drive to the front door of the brick Tudor. Flushed with anticipation, he swung out of the car, strode up the short path, and threw open the door.
"Annie? Good news, sunshine!"
He took the steps two at a time to the second floor, then her third-floor office. This time of day the sun would be spilling through the skylights and across her desk. He had visions of making love there.
She wasn't in her office, though her briefcase was open and the desk covered with papers. He searched the second floor, then the first, calling her name repeatedly. When he checked the garage, he saw that her car was gone.