"A new case sounds great," Lina said, and watched without one flicker of an eyelash as Dan picked up her brief and lobbed it into the trash.
It's an unusual matter," Dan said. "We're taking it on for a big client. Important client. Keep him happy, you know. He's been threatening to take his business elsewhere so we're going the extra mile. We'll talk specifics tomorrow. But it's big. Historic. Controversial. What do you think about slavery?"
"Slavery? What do I think about it?"
"Yeah. First thoughts. First words."
"Bad. Civil War . . . umm, not good . . ." As she floundered, an image of Meredith, the six-foot blond litigation associate rumored to be dating a Yankees outfielder, danced through Lina's tired brain. Meredith sat ramrod straight in meetings; she spoke articulately, rationally, with apparent interest and keen insight, about credit default swaps, about sushi. Lina saw her as a nemesis of sorts, an otherworldly being who provoked Lina's competitive streak as well as her annoyance (Meredith frequently forgot Lina's name). Surely Meredith would have had some pithy, intellectual remarks on slavery. Even at one a.m.
Dan leaned forward in his chair. "And Lina, this case could be big for you. You're young, ambitious. This one has potential. Big potential. You may not know this, but we start associates on partner track pretty early around here." Dan raised his eyebrows. "And you are just the kind of person we'd like to encourage."
"Partner track?" The words pushed a button of delight within Lina's chest. "I won't let you down."
"Okay then. Tomorrow I'll reassign your caseload. You'll be full-time on the new matter. Now go home!" Dan looked at her and smiled, beatific as Santa Claus.
Excerpted from The House Girl by Tara Conklin. Copyright © 2013 by Tara Conklin. Excerpted by permission of William Morrow. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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