Hate Crime

Hate Crime by William Bernhardt Read Free Book Online

Book: Hate Crime by William Bernhardt Read Free Book Online
Authors: William Bernhardt
“Forget everything I said!”
    “I wish I could. But it’s you who will know the bliss of forgetfulness.” The visitor pressed the tip of the drill against his skull. “Good night, Manny. Pleasant dreams.”

    “Come on. Come clean.”
    “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
    “You do.”
    “I don’t.”
    “Christina, I insist on knowing what’s going on.”
    “If I had anything to tell you, Jones, I would already have done so.”
    Jones leaned over his desk in the front lobby of Kincaid & McCall. “I wasn’t born yesterday, Christina.”
    “You’re imagining it.”
    “Baloney. I saw the two of you, stuttering and coughing and getting all flush-faced. What’s the big secret?”
    “There’s no secret.”
    “Then why did you see Ben last night?”
    “We told you already. We had a . . . thing.”
    “There was no Inns of Court meeting. I checked.”
    “It was . . . that other thing.”
    “You two have been seeing a lot of each other.”
    “What else is new? We’ve worked together since he opened this office.”
    “Don’t give me that. This is something different.”
    “Honestly, Jones, I don’t have time for this nonsense. Shouldn’t you be dunning debtors or something? Because I—”
    “You’re dating, aren’t you?”
    Christina froze. It took her more than a moment to recover. “Now you really are being ridiculous.”
    He threw down his pencil. “I knew it! I told Paula last night, ‘Something weird is going down between those two.’ ”
    “Jones, you’re being silly—”
    “How long?”
    Christina took a deep breath, then slowly released it. “About three months.”
    “I knew it!” He pushed away from his desk. “And when were you planning to tell us?”
    Her eyes moved skyward. “When there was something to tell?”
    “Did you think this doesn’t concern me?”
    “Well, frankly—”
    “The two lawyers in the office start getting all snoochy-gooches with each other? It’s a recipe for disaster!”
    “I think you’re exaggerating—”
    “How can I effectively administrate this office when you two are behaving like this? How do I know what’s going on when you both stay in the office late working? Maybe you’re prepping for trial, or maybe you’re examining each other’s briefs.”
    “And what happens if you split up? What if you do a ‘hell hath no fury’ turn? Who has to leave the office? Who gets custody of Loving?”
    “Jones! Calm down!” She checked the hallway outside Ben’s office. His door was closed. “It’s not that big a deal. I promise you.”
    “How can it not be that big a deal?”
    “It’s just . . . not . . . anything that . . .” She waved her hands in the air. “. . . because . . . nothing happens.”
    He paused. “Nothing?”
    She shrugged. “Not so’s you’d notice.”
    “Then what were you—”
    “We played Scrabble.”
    He blinked. “You . . .”
    “You heard me. That’s all we ever do.”
    “But—” He ran his hand through his hair. “You were apologizing for last night.”
    “I laid a phony blank on him. Turned a U tile over and played it as a blank. Bingoed for fifty bonus points. Sneaky, I know, but the rules permit it, and I was behind, and . . . I hate to lose.”
    Jones stared at her. “So this big romance—”
    “And there’s been no—” He tilted his head back and forth.
    “Not even—”
    “Not even a good-night kiss, if you must know.”
    “How can you tell you’re dating?”
    She frowned. “I’m optimistic.”
    A few minutes later, the lobby doors opened, and a tall, attractive woman who appeared to be in her thirties entered. Christina was certain she’d seen the woman before, although she couldn’t immediately place her.
    The woman hesitated just outside Jones’s desk. “Excuse me. Is this the law office of Ben Kincaid?”
    Christina rose to her feet. “Yes. This is Kincaid and McCall.”
    “Wonderful.” She clutched her

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