Nicollette’s Defense ~ The Black Iris Club Series

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Chapter One

Law offices of McGrath, Loveless, Scott, Jones, Balman & Temple, LLP on Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Tuesday morning, December 16, 2014


Dan was sitting at his desk reviewing a closing schedule for the portfolio of commercial buildings and warehouses he had purchased in advance of the anticipated airport and port expansion projects. He had bought the distressed and mostly abandoned properties very inexpensively and anticipated making a huge profit when they were condemned for public use for the new public works projects.

John James Temple, one of the firm’s junior partners, had been in charge of closing the purchases of the properties and the eminent domain proceedings. He stepped into Dan’s office and sat down across from him. “How did it go yesterday? Was it as bad as you expected?” J.J. was one of the few friends who had stood by him during this tumultuous time, and he appreciated his loyalty and staunch belief that he’d had no involvement in Antoinette Marie’s crimes.

Dan knew that the only criminal experiences J.J. had were his brief excursions to BSO for his interrogation and to the county jail to help him deal with Anne Marie. “It was every bit as bad as I expected, and maybe worse. But it is done. She signed the papers including the divorce settlement agreement. So, I won’t have to see her again.”

“I’m sorry, Dan. I know you were more generous than you needed to be, and I know this has been hell for you.”

“It has been. But I want to get on with my life now. I owe it to myself and to my kids.” He looked sad for a minute and continued. “I’m sending both of them to boarding school. Michelle Marie will be starting college next year. It’s too soon for them to have to deal with everything here. I’ll miss them, of course, but it will give me the time to devote to starting the new firm and getting my own life back together—if that is even possible.”

“Speaking of that, I talked to Nikki Sommers about sharing space with her while we get the new firm up and running. She said she has lots of extra space in that suite she leases in the JDB Building. She will actually be glad to have the space occupied.”

“Excellent. Let’s plan to be moved in by the first of the year.


* * * *


Offices of Nicollette Sommers & Associates on the 10th floor of the JDB Building, Downtown Fort Lauderdale, Florida, Tuesday early afternoon, December 16, 2014


Nikki was having a late lunch at her desk. She was going over her monthly billing income and her monthly expense outgo—always a little scary. Thank goodness Jack Brown had given her such a sweetheart deal on this office space.

Jack Dalton Brown and The Black Iris Club had been her clients for several years. Jack did not need legal representation on criminal matters. However, he liked to keep himself and the club on the right side of the law, and they had conferred about legalities pertaining to The Black Iris Club a number of times. He always cheerfully paid her hourly fees. When she had decided to leave the large firm where she was a mere cog in the wheel as a lowly associate, he had made her a great deal on her current office space. One of his tenants had skipped out in the middle of the night, leaving everything behind including an outstanding bill for several months of rent. She had been able to move right into the luxurious space as though it had been designed for her. Jack had been a big help in keeping her upfront expenses to the minimum. The office had been fully furnished right down to the staplers. Nonetheless, money was tight. She had salaries for her secretary-paralegal, Amy Banks, and an investigator, Mark Cohen, every week as well as other expenses. She currently had to take almost any case to make ends meet, but she still had her limits and drew the line at defending certain clients and certain crimes.

Negotiating a plea deal for Antoinette Marie Beaudreau had cut close to that line. She might not have considered it if the request had not come from Chloe’s sometimes boyfriend, John James Temple. She had to admit that when she had seen how devastated Antoinette Marie’s husband, Dan McGrath, was her heart had definitely been squeezed. The man was destroyed and couldn’t believe the wife he had loved for twenty years and the mother of his two children had been capable of such despicable acts. The kidnapping of vulnerable runaway girls off the streets of Fort Lauderdale, transporting them across state lines to Louisiana, and forcing them into prostitution for her own personal gain was about as low as a person could get. That a young girl had died while in their custody was definitely the icing on an ugly cake.

Dan McGrath and J.J. Temple had decided to separate from their current high-dollar, high-profile firm in very prestigious and expensive offices on Las Olas Boulevard and start their own smaller operation. She knew that the publicity attending Antoinette Marie’s case had been very hard on him and his children. Their firm was big and costly to run, and the current economic downturn had severely impacted the firm’s income from big commercial real estate deals. Thankfully for her, people continued to get themselves in trouble on a regular basis and needed her help. Having Dan and J.J. move in and share her office space would certainly help crack her monthly nut even if they didn’t stay permanently. She had enough room, and the echoing space would benefit from a few more warm bodies to fill it.

Dan had told her that he was planning to divorce Anne Marie or Antoinette Marie. Nikki thought that was for the best. He and his kids needed to cut all that old pain loose and move on. She had to admit she found the man to be formidable and extremely good-looking. Having that eye candy around the office might be distracting—either in a good or bad way. She had to laugh. She had not had a steady boyfriend since she had moved into her new offices. She had been too busy.




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