‘I won’t let that happen to you again,’ Paul says, taking a step towards her. ‘Really. I’m – I’m so sorry.’
She glances up at him, her eyes narrow and she takes a step backwards.
‘Why should I trust you?’
Before he can reply Henry is at her elbow and she is gone, shepherded down the corridor and into the court by her legal team, somehow too small in her dark jacket, blind to the fact that her ponytail is still half out of its band.
Paul walks slowly across the road, straightening his shoulders in his jacket. Greg is standing by his car, holding out his scattered files and leather briefcase. It has started to rain.
‘Uh …’ Paul glances back towards the court, rubs at his hair. ‘Sort of. Look. I’ve got to go in. I’ll see you both later.’
Greg looks at him, then at the crowd, which is now a loose, tame thing, people milling around and chatting as if the last ten minutes hadn’t happened. His expression is uncharacteristically cold. ‘So,’ he says, as he climbs back into the car, ‘that whole I’m-on-the-side-of-the-angels thing, how’s it working out for you?’
He doesn’t look at Paul as he drives away. Jake’s face, pale against the back windscreen, gazes impassively at him until the car disappears from view.
Janey is at his side as he walks up the steps towards the courtroom. Her hair is neatly pinned, and she is wearing bright red lipstick. ‘Touching,’ she says.
He pretends he hasn’t heard her.
Sean Flaherty dumps his folders on a bench and prepares to go through Security. ‘This is getting a bit out of hand. Never seen anything like it.’
‘Yeah,’ says Paul, rubbing his jaw. ‘It’s almost like … Oh, I don’t know. Like all this inflammatory crap being fed to the media is having an effect.’ He turns to Janey.
‘Meaning?’ says Janey, coolly.
‘Meaning that whoever is briefing journalists and winding up interest groups obviously couldn’t give a flying f**k how unpleasant this is going to get.’
‘Whereas you are all chivalry.’ Janey looks back at him steadily.
‘Janey? Did you have anything to do with that protest?’
The pause is just a nanosecond too long.
‘Don’t be ridiculous.’
Sean’s gaze flickers between them, as if he is only just registering that a whole separate conversation is taking place before him. He excuses himself, muttering about briefing the barrister. And it is just Paul and Janey in the long stone corridor.
He runs a hand through his hair, gazes back towards the courtroom. ‘I don’t like this. I don’t like this at all.’
‘It’s business. And you never minded before.’ She glances at her watch, then out of the window. The Strand is not visible from back here, but the chanting of the protesters can still be heard, barely muffled by the buildings. Her arms are folded across her chest.
‘Anyway, I don’t think you can exactly play the innocent.’
‘You want to tell me what’s going on? With you and Mrs Halston?’
‘Nothing’s going on.’
‘Don’t insult my intelligence.’
‘Okay. Nothing that’s any of your business.’
‘If you’re having a relationship with the subject of our claim, I think that’s very much my business.’
‘I am not in a relationship with her.’
Janey moves closer to him. ‘Don’t f**k me around, Paul. You approached the Lefèvres behind my back, trying to negotiate a settlement.’
‘Yeah. I was going to talk to you about –’
‘I saw that little display out there. And you try to cut a deal for her, days before the ruling?’
‘Okay.’ Paul removes his jacket and sits down heavily on a bench. ‘Okay.’
‘I had a brief relationship with her before I realized who she was. It ended when we discovered we were on opposing sides. That’s it.’
Janey studies something high up in the vaulted ceiling. When she speaks again her words are casual. ‘Are you planning on getting together with her again? After this is over?’
‘That’s nobody’s business.’
‘The hell it is. I need to know that you’ve been working as hard as you can for me. That this case hasn’t been compromised.’
His voice explodes into the empty space. ‘We’re winning, aren’t we? What more do you want?’
The last of the legal team is going into court. Sean’s face appears around the heavy oak door, and he mouths at them to come in.
Paul takes a deep breath. He makes his voice conciliatory. ‘Look. Personal stuff aside, I do think it would be the right thing to settle. We’d still be –’
Janey reaches for her folders. ‘We are not going to settle.’
‘Why on earth would we? We’re about to win the most high-profile case this company has ever handled.’
‘We’re destroying someone’s life.’
‘She destroyed her own life the day she decided to fight us.’
‘We were taking what she believed was hers. Of course she was going to fight us. Come on, Janey, this is about fairness.’
‘This isn’t about fairness. Nothing’s about fairness. Don’t be ridiculous.’ She blows her nose. When she turns to him, her eyes glitter. ‘This case is scheduled for two more days in court. Provided nothing untoward happens, Sophie Lefèvre will go back after that to her rightful place.’
‘And you’re so sure you know where that is.’
‘Yes, I am. As should you be. And now I suggest we go in before the Lefèvres wonder what on earth we’re still doing out here.’
He walks into the courtroom, his head buzzing, ignoring the glare of the clerk. He sits and takes a few deep breaths, trying to clear his thoughts. Janey is distracted, deep in conversation with Sean. As his heart rate steadies, he remembers a retired detective he used to talk to when he was first in London, a man whose face had set in wry folds of amusement at the ways of the world. ‘All that counts is the truth, McCafferty,’ he would say, just before the beer turned his conversation to blather. ‘Without it you’re basically just juggling people’s daft ideas.’
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