Home > Bailed Out (The Anna Albertini Files #2)

Bailed Out (The Anna Albertini Files #2)
Author: Rebecca Zanetti

Chapter 1

 

 

“You’re an idiot,” I muttered, not too quietly, to my boss.

Nicolo Basanelli shrugged, his shoulders powerful beneath his killer black suit. “Look at the situation as great job security, Anna.” He turned and strode up the marble stairway in the courthouse building toward the district courtrooms.

“Ha,” I muttered, taking the stairs down to the world of misdemeanors and traffic tickets. I meant the insult. Nick was being a moron. It had been two weeks since he’d fired the entire cache of lawyers in the district attorney’s office in our medium sized town, and it was time he rehired them. Cleaning house on his first week as the prosecuting attorney had been his strategy, and right now, it was killing me. “I need a vacation,” I said to nobody in particular as I pushed open the double wooden doors to the smaller courtroom, furnished in 1980’s salmon colored accents.

“I’m with you.” Clark Bunne stood from the back bench and straightened his Monte Carlo style gun-metal glasses. “Is Nick any closer to rehiring people?”

I switched my file folders to my other arm and took a quick glance around the courtroom without making eye contact with anybody. “He seems to be holding strong for some reason.”

Clark gestured me toward the two tables in front, and I turned on my red kitten heel and strode down the aisle to push open the gate and wait for Clark to come through before closing it. Oh, the gate was attached to railings on either side that only rose to my thighs, but at least they would slow down an attacker for almost a second before he or she could get to us.

I flopped the files on the defense table and drew out a chair.

Clark already had his file folders neatly stacked, and he took the chair he’d keep for the preliminary hearings. “What’s up with the red shoes?”

I settled my light-weight blue skirt with a red border of poppies around my legs. The skirt reached just above my knees and was both casual and smart. “The shoes match my outfit.”

Clark leaned back, his dark brown gaze taking in my legs and the shoes. “You only wear red when you’re in a mood to kick ass.”

Huh. I hadn’t realized that fact, and since I’d only worked with and against Clark for a month, his attention to detail should be a warning. “I haven’t had a chance to look at our cases today, and to be honest, these were the first pair I came across in my closet. I’m running on fumes here.”

He shrugged, and I decided to study him. The guy was good looking, but I’d already noticed that. He was maybe an inch over six feet tall, thin, well dressed, and had a smile that no doubt mothers loved. His skin was dark, his eyes an intriguing blend of different browns, and his hair black and short. A month ago he’d shaved it, and either way looked good on him. “What do you wear when you want to kick ass?” I asked.

“These glasses.” He reached for the first file folder and flashed me a grin. “Unlike you, I have looked at these cases.”

I sighed. “All right.” Quickly, I read through the first one. It was a misdemeanor vandalism charge against a junior in high school who’d painted his girlfriend’s name on a local water tower. “Mitch Styles. First offense. How about we scare him for ten minutes and then let him off with a fine?”

Clark nodded. “Sounds good. You be mean, and I’ll look worried on his behalf until cajoling you into accepting the plea?”

I set the file aside. “I do like being cajoled.”

Clark laughed, and I started, looking up at his handsome face. He had a great laugh.

He caught my gaze. “No.”

I blinked. “I didn’t ask anything.” Then I frowned. I had enough on my plate without dating anybody else right now. “I’m not interested.”

“Thank God,” he said, and truth to heck, it sounded like he meant it.

“Hey.” I tugged on my navy blue jacket. “I’m a catch.”

He grinned. “Keep running. You’re pretty and interesting and smart, but you’re a whole boatload of trouble, and I don’t need that right now. Or ever.”

How had this conversation gotten so out of hand? I really wasn’t interested in Clark. “This is a weird conversation.”

“Agreed.” He flipped over the next manila file folder.

I did the same. Should I be a little bit insulted? We were around the same age, had both just started as lawyers, and seemed to get along. He was much nicer than the other three men I seemed to be juggling, and at that thought, I shut down the entire idea. I might not really be juggling three men, considering only one was front and center in my brain right now, and I couldn’t find him. Aiden Devlin had a reckoning coming for him…if I ever saw him again. He’d disappeared two weeks ago after saving my life and quite possibly ruining me in bed for other men, and my concern had now turned to irritation.

“Well?” Clark asked.

I blinked. “Sorry. Got lost in my head.”

The door by the judge’s bench opened, and the bailiff strode out. His name was Jay, he was around thirty, and he had a beard most men could only hope to grow. “All rise,” he said, his voice quiet with authority.

I stood and took my files over to the prosecuting attorney’s table. It was common for the prosecuting and defense attorneys to try and reach some sort of agreement on cases before the preliminary hearings started, so long as the criminal defendant ultimately agreed. We didn’t get very far today before Judge Williams strode confidently to her bench and sat, reaching for the gavel. “Looks like a light day.”

Thank goodness.

She peered down at us, her brown eyes twinkling. “Ms. Albertini. Has the prosecuting attorney’s office hired anybody else yet?”

I huffed out a breath. “I believe it should happen soon, Judge.”

“Good.” Her skin was a deep brown, her lips red today, and her hair salt and pepper with awesome curl. Her shirt peeked above the judge’s black robe and matched her lipstick. What shade of red was it? I made a mental note to ask her later because it was the perfect color. “At this point, it appears as if charging documents are being submitted too slowly,” she said, a slight bite in her voice.

My eyebrows rose, and I nodded subtly. Oh, I’d definitely hit Nick with that information and soon. Then I smiled, silently thanking her for the opportunity to kick Nick in the preverbal butt that she’d just given me.

“All right. Let’s start with Elk County vs. June Applebee for public nuisance,” the judge said, perching her glasses on her forehead and reading from a file.

I dug out the correct file and read quickly. After a couple of hours, Clark and I had pled out thirteen cases, set for trial ten more, and had worked in tandem well, even though we’d end up against each other in the trials. But we were efficient, and the judge was quick to find trial dates, so when I picked up the last file and began to read, I was already planning my lunch.

The judge cleared her throat. “Elk County vs. Danny Pucci.”

I stifled a gasp and swiveled to watch Danny lope to Clark’s table.

“Hi there, little sister,” Danny gave me a slow wink as he took his seat. I gaped in shock as I stared at my sister Tessa’s ex-fiancé.

Danny was long and lean with a crapload of mean. He was the guy who had mothers rushing to shut their daughters behind locked doors before running out to say hello themselves, and his tan brought out the deep green of his eyes. I had the biggest crush on him while he was engaged to Tessa. Until he beat the heck out of her and stole her car. Now I wanted to return the favor.

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