Trinity Williams, known as “Medusa” for her stony expressions and unyielding reputation, constantly has her guard up—how else is the youngest female judge in the country supposed to survive in such a male-dominated profession? She made the decision long ago that laughter and a carefree attitude have no business in a courtroom and achieving her professional goals is the only thing she has left. It’s just her luck that her new law clerk, Callum Hopkins, believes the exact opposite.
Callum Hopkins thinks that nothing should ever be too serious in life—why can’t he mix business with pleasure? When he first starts working for his hot new boss, they clash at every turn. He makes it his mission to get Judge Williams to see things his way for once.
But when Callum finds himself in the wrong place at the wrong time as an escaped convict comes after Trinity, he realizes it’s not all fun and games anymore. Now in witness protection together until the authorities can catch the fugitive, this unlikely pair must learn to trust one another and work together to stay alive. Far away from the courtroom, Trinity and Callum are suddenly free to stop butting heads, and stop fighting the growing attraction between them.
With suspense and plenty of chemistry, Approaching the Bench proves once again that “Chantal Fernando knows how to draw you in and keep you hooked” (Booklist).
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Approaching the Bench
Five Years Later
“DO YOU KNOW HOW much sugar is in that cereal?” I ask my younger brother. It’s not always easy living with a kid who’s seventeen and in high school, especially a kid who isn’t even yours.
“You sound just like Mom,” Justin grumbles, then ducks his head like he always does when Mom is mentioned, the black cap he’s wearing shielding his green eyes from me. Our mother passed away two years ago, a heart attack taking her from us way too soon. Justin has lived with me ever since. And even though Justin and I have different fathers, I’m all he has left now. He never knew his biological father, and while mine is still around, it’s not the same. I’m more than happy to have him here; although sometimes it sucks that I can’t just be the cool big brother.
It is what it is though. And I wouldn’t change a thing.
“I can help you with that English homework when I get home from work tonight.”
He has to write an essay on worldviews and how they shaped his life and opinions. I usually always help when he asks me, which he does particularly in English. I always excelled in school, and I’m great at writing and talking about my opinions; it’s why I became a lawyer.
It’s my first day at my new job, and I’m pretty damn excited. I’m going to miss everyone at Bentley & Channing, the law firm where I interned while in school, but since I recently graduated, I need this next step for my future. Being a law clerk is not only something I’ve always wanted to do, but it can also open doors and set me up for a prestigious career. Besides, being in a courtroom excites me. I don’t know why, but the courtroom is my happy place. I know most people don’t have the same opinion, but ever since I was a little boy, watching all those legal shows on TV, that’s where I wanted to be. I’m fascinated by how the justice system works. I want to be right up in the action, and a clerkship is the first step.
“Thanks,” he replies, pouring milk into his sugary breakfast and giving it a stir. “Do you want me to make us something for dinner?”
“I can grab something on my way home,” I suggest, not wanting him to have to cook after being at school all day, followed by soccer. I want him to be a kid for as long as he can, and I know it sounds stupid, because all teenagers should be helping around the house, but I should be looking after him, not the other way around. He already does the gardening for me, and mows and waters the lawn. He has a green thumb, so I’m thankful he’s here and takes care of all that. He also washes his own clothes and cleans up after himself. That’s plenty. “You have practice, and I won’t be back much later than you.”
“I vote Mexican,” he adds, taking a spoonful and crunching away.
I move around him and put my now-empty mug in the sink. “Mexican it is.” I glance at my watch and grab my keys and wallet off the table. “I better get going.”
I want to be early, it is my first day after all, and I need to make a good impression on Judge Williams. Jaxon and Tristan, my old bosses at Bentley & Channing, warned me that apparently this judge does not fuck around. I stop in front of the mirror, taking in my crisp white shirt and black slacks, and run my finger along the buckle of my black belt.
I look the part.
Now I just need to prove myself to the judge.
A quick run-through of my black hair with my fingers and I’m walking out the front door, only to stop dead in my tracks.
“Justin?” I call out to my brother, tone giving nothing away, as I stare at his black Tucson. Mom’s old car that he now drives. “Did you cheat on a girl?”
“What?” he calls back, sounding confused as he moves to stand next to me. “Oh, fuck . . .”
My thoughts exactly.
There, on the side of his car, someone, assumingly female, has spray-painted the words cheating asshole in silver.
I turn to him, scowling. “Justin—”
“I didn’t do anything,” he immediately says. “Girls are crazy, Callum. How can I cheat on someone if I don’t even have a girlfriend? I haven’t even brought any girls over here in months.”
I open my mouth, then shut it.
I’ll have to deal with this situation another time. There’s something going on here, and I’ll figure it out. Women can be crazy, yes, but they usually have a reason—at least in my experience.
“Don’t need to bring them home to . . . do stuff,” I tease, watching Justin scowl at me. He hates when I talk about sex in front of him. I’m his older brother, and I’ve had plenty of sex. I know he has too. He’s seventeen. I know what I was up to at that age. My brother has a shyness about him that I’m lacking. He’s a very private kid, whereas I’m more loud and obnoxious.
I’m sure nothing Justin has done validates vandalism, but there has to be a reason this has happened. Luckily my best friend, Eddie, owns his own mechanic shop and will be able to fix the paint to cover up the damage. He’s definitely going to get a kick out of this one.
“Do you know who did this?” I probe further, not wanting him to go on the defensive but kind of curious. He must know something. He can act innocent all he wants, but he has to have an inkling as to who did this. An ex? A current hookup? A stalker? Shit, give me something.
“I can guess” is his reply, as he crosses his arms over his chest, looking completely unimpressed with the situation before us. “I can’t believe this shit. Who does this? This is what women do when their husbands cheat on them or some shit, not when you’re in high school and not even in a relationship.”
My lip twitches, but I try to hide my amusement. “Maybe this is all some kind of miscommunication.”
Justin makes a scoffing sound, clearly disagreeing with my theory.
“She has pretty nice writing,” I mutter under my breath.
Justin turns to me with narrowed eyes and tight lips. His green eyes, identical in color to my own, flash with anger. “Seriously?”
I shrug and approach the car for a closer inspection, bending forward and then straightening. Knowing that he can’t drive to school in that until I ask Eddie to handle it, I sigh and nod to my car, which is parked a few feet away and thankfully unscathed.
“Come on, I’ll give you a lift to school. You’ll have to catch the bus home though. Or maybe one of your friends can give you a lift.” I pause and snicker to myself. “Probably not whoever did this though.”
“Callum,” Justin whisper-yells, then heads inside to grab his schoolbag.
I open my car door and slide in, waiting for him. His school is about a fifteen-minute drive in the opposite direction of where I’m heading.
And traffic is going to be insane.
Fuck. I’m going to be late for my first day.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Trinity Williams was the youngest judge to ever reach her goal and being female made it even better. She was a hard worker and had a reputation of being a tough judge, which she believed she had to be to show she wasn’t a push over. Law assistant Callum Hopkins begins to work with Judge Williams, it’s a great opportunity for him, he’s young and has a quick mind. He’s looking forward to it, he’d also like to learn how she ticks and spend some recreational time with her, preferably naked but he can’t see that happened, she’s way out off his league. Trinity on the other hand is very attracted to her young assistant, Callum has made her feel things long forgotten, but doesnt wan’t to start anything that can’t go any where...how is she going to work with him and keep things platonic. A love story with tension and suspense added make this novella a worthy read. Chantal Fernando knows how to add just the right amount of thrills and romance to her stories, they always hit the mark!
Approaching the Bench (Conflict of Interest, #3) by Chantal Fernando Approaching the bench is a short novella showing the dynamic interaction of attraction and danger. Trinity Williams is a tough judge and a hard worker. Callum Hopkins is a young law assistant, with a brilliant mind and an appetite for perfection. Judge Williams believes she has everything handled until her new assistant turns everything on its head. Her immediate attraction to him will cause problems. A simple story of love and its intoxication.
the latest entry in the conflict of interest series is approaching the bench. law intern, callum starts a clerkship with hardass judge trinity williams. and it's pretty explosive. this novella was delightful. callum is an easygoing guy, and his relentless good cheer in the face of trinity's standoffishness really works. he wears down her walls in ways that are oh so charming. when he saves her from an abduction attempt, they end up having to go into protective custody. if you are enjoying this series, then this is another great entry and you should definitely read it. it stands alone too, so even if you have read the series, you'll enjoy this. **approaching the bench will publish on february 19, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/gallery, threshold, pocket books (pocket star) in exchange for my honest review.
3.5 stars--APPROACHING THE BENCH is the third instalment in Chantal Fernando’s contemporary adult CONFLICT OF INTEREST erotic, romance legal novella series. This is thirty-one year old judge Trinity Williams, and twenty-five year old law clerk Callum Hopkins’ story line. APPROACHING THE BENCH can be read as a stand alone without any difficulty. Any important information from the previous story lines is revealed where necessary. Callum was first introduced in books one and two- Breaching the Contract and Seducing the Defendant. Told from dual first person perspectives (Callum and Trinity) APPROACHING THE BENCH follows the forbidden relationship between Judge Trinity Williams, and her law clerk Callum Hopkins. Since her early career Trinity Williams has had a reputation as a cold and calculation person, something that does not go unnoticed by our story line hero but when a threatening letter lands on her desk, Trinity is willing to dismiss even if Callum suspects something more sinister is going on. An attempted kidnapping of Trinity Williams finds both Trinity and Callum in protective custody, where their attraction to one another will grow into something more. What ensues is the building relationship and romance between Callum and Trinity, and the potential fall out when their whereabouts are discovered threatening any semblance of peace and security that was slowly beginning to build. The relationship between Callum and Trinity is one of forbidden attraction as Trinity is Callum’s boss, and workplace romances are frowned upon even in the legal system. Callum continues to push the boundaries of a working friendship as Trinity struggles to remain professional in the face of their growing attraction. The $ex scenes are intimate and passionate without the use of over the top, sexually graphic language and text. We are introduced to Callum’s father Richard, his half-brother Justin, and best friend Eddie. The requisite evil is a familiar face to our story line heroine. APPROACHING THE BENCH is a quick read; a reversal of power structure in that our heroine has all of the control at work while Callum has all of the control in the bedroom. The premise is entertaining; the romance is sexy and hot; the characters are energetic and inspiring.