The first thought that went through his head when Taylor walked through the door of his lawyer’s office was that he knew where his money was going. He’d never seen a koi pond indoors before but there it was behind the desk, black marble and just deep enough for a couple of fish that were, oddly enough, nowhere to be seen.
His aunt had kept fish and her house had always hummed with filters and aerators. It had been a calming sound for him, but there were no sounds coming from the aquariums around the walls of the office. It didn’t matter. He was already calm.
He was alone in the room, left there by an anxious young man that had introduced himself as Ms. Dayton’s personal assistant. That had surprised Taylor; he had been expecting a paralegal. The assistant seemed to be hovering on the edge of telling him not to touch anything but for twelve hundred dollars an hour he was going to touch whatever he damn well pleased.
A gang of tiny, colorful fish flitted into their plants when he approached the tank and he pressed a finger to the glass, daring them to come out and savoring the power he held over them.
“Don’t touch that.”
Taylor turned around, expecting another assistant, and found himself face to face with a woman whose every motion felt as if she was carving herself out of ice. He took his hand away from the tank and the assistant hurried forward to wipe his fingerprint off the tank. The woman came over to him and looked him up and down.
“Natasha Dayton,” she said, extending a hand. “Your credit card says I’m your attorney now, so let’s get down to business.”
“Nice to meet you,” Taylor said, shaking her hand. “I’m—“
“I know who you are,” Tasha interrupted. “I watch the news, and unfortunately so does most of America. If they don’t watch the news, they read blogs. Everyone knows who you are and what you did, so let’s dispense with the dance and discuss how I’m going to make sure you keep sleeping in your own bed.” As she passed the tanks, the fish came out of hiding and followed her to the edge of their small, shifting worlds until they had nowhere else to go.
“Are those real plants?”
“Of course they are,” Tasha sighed. “They help keep the water clean. We aren’t here to talk about my fish tanks. We’re here to create a plan of action.” She sat down behind her desk and pulled out a piece of paper. “First things first, tell me your version of the truth.”
“I killed the guy,” Taylor said with a shrug. “I watched his house for years, I waited long enough so that no one would immediately connect me to his death, and then I slit his throat while he was watching trash TV. What else do you want to know?”
“At least you’re honest,” she said, shoving the paper away from her. “Try not to be that honest with the judge. We’re going for a winning verdict here. A dismissal, to tell the truth. It may not be pretty but I think we can get you off with most of your career intact.”
“I don’t care about my career,” Taylor said. There was a fountain pen in a wooden holder on the side of the desk closest to him and he focused on it for a moment until the thumping in his ears subsided. Blood. Just like Kinsey’s. “I’ve got plenty of money, I don’t need to work.”
“Well I care about mine.” Tasha shook her head. “How much dirt are you willing to let me dig up? Are you a big fan of morality or are you all right with my making witnesses cry? I hear one of them has cancer and the other is mentally ill.”
“You know,” Taylor said with a grin, “I think I’ve definitely picked the right lawyer.”