A Twisted Tale
October 22, 2016
Kaylee checked the navigation on her phone. It led to a restaurant where she would have a client meeting. Sergio had set her up with this one. He said it was his mother, who was looking for representation and had plenty of money to throw at her. Kaylee liked money.
She drove south on U.S. Route 92. There was moderate traffic, as others were on the road at noon. Kaylee tilted her head, looking at the signs and then her phone for navigation. Some cars slammed the brakes, and Kaylee hit hers. Then, she moved into the right lane, away from the stalled vehicles.
Kaylee saw the exit sign for Columbus Drive. She waited at the stoplight for a moment, checking her phone. It said 11:54 am. She always liked to be punctual, at least a few minutes early. She turned right.
Kaylee drove a couple of blocks. Finally, she arrived. It was a moderate white building with blue neon letters spelling out the word ‘Ocean Prime’ on it. Kaylee marveled at the expensive cars parked up front. The client had picked the place, so Kaylee knew she had to get the credit card ready.
Kaylee walked into the establishment after getting past the swinging glass panel doors. A man with a mustache and a suit and tie stood in front. His head bobbed up as he saw Kaylee.
“Hello, welcome to the Ocean Prime.”
“Hello, I am here, meeting someone. My name is Kaylee Nguyen.
“Ah, yes. Your guest is already here.”
Oh shit, she thought.
“Oh, okay,” she replied.
“Right this way, I will show you to your table.”
She followed the host through the restaurant. She could not take her eyes off the beauty of this restaurant. There was a breathtaking wine-bottle display near the front, and she tried to see how many bottles there were. The linen of tables lined the restaurant, all with white coverings on top. Her ears rang sweetly to the sounds of a man playing a classical melody on the piano. Finally, the host stopped before a table and turned to her.
“Ms. Nguyen, here is your table and your guest, Miss Veronica Vasquez.”
Kaylee looked at her new client for the first time. She was an older woman with graying shoulder-length black hair and light brown skin. But it was not her face or hair that caught Kaylee’s eye. It was the elegance in how she presented herself. She wore a gray power suit with a tiny white flower on the right side of her chest. Large, expensive white pearls hung from her neck and at least three diamond rings on her fingers.
Veronica glanced up at her, and her face filled with disgust.
“You look horrendous, dear.”
“Don’t get me wrong. I am glad you’re here. I am going to give you a lot of money to help me. But honest to God, dear. It looked like you woke up and just decided you stopped caring.”
Kaylee looked down at her suit and began to feel self-conscious.
“Veronica, I am here because you invited me for a client orientation.”
“Why are you still standing there like an oaf and blabbering on? Have a seat.”
Kaylee had no idea what was happening. Reluctantly, she took a seat.
“Veronica, I drove a long way to come meet you.”
“Sweetheart, if I wanted to hear your problems, I would have done a line of cocaine before our lunch.”
“Speaking of which,” Veronica put her finger up. “Waiter, please. Another vodka tonic. Keep them coming.”
“Have you eaten anything?”
“Do you always ask simpleminded questions at lunch meetings with clients?”
Kaylee had never endured a prospective client that did nothing but insult her. A part of her wanted to storm out, yet another part was curious. Who the hell was this woman?
“Veronica. If I may.”
“Yes, very well. Go ahead, dear.”
Kaylee smiled. It was showtime. She took out her briefcase and opened it. She took out some papers and handed them to Veronica.
“So, I have been going over your case. You said you had an ex-husband in California with some assets?”
“Clearly, my dear, or I wouldn’t be here wasting my time speaking to you.”
“And he died?”
“Yes. You know this already.”
“But you claimed you were in the will?”
“Yes,” Veronica nodded. The waiter returned with her Vodka Tonic, which she grasped joyfully and then sipped. She glanced up. “My daughter Kristle was the only other person in the will. But he had made some amendments to the will. I wanted to contest them since by California law; I get 50-50 rights.”
“May I ask why you contacted me and not a California lawyer?”
“Are you really as dimwitted as you look?”
“It’s a simple question.”
“My son informed me that you passed the bar in California before you moved to Florida.”
“Yes, I did. It doesn’t change the fact that―”
“Why on Earth would I go all the way to California to talk to some hack when I can get a good lawyer nearby?”
“I guess that makes sense.”
“Oh, Jesus Christ. Someone, please get me another drink or a gun so I don’t have to tolerate this conversation anymore.”
“Ms. Vasquez, your behavior has been very rude, to say the least.”
“Listen, dear,” Veronica sat straight and glared at her. “I am paying you a retainer of $300,000 upfront to work this one case for me. I can damn well speak to you however I want. Now, all I want to know is can you handle this case or not?”
Kaylee considered it. Did she want the headache of working with this woman? Was the money worth it?
“Well?” Veronica gave her an impatient tone. “Do we have a deal or not?”
“We do,” Kaylee agreed reluctantly.
“Splendid. Let’s get another drink. Waiter! Another Vodka Tonic, now!”