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Authors: K.G. MacGregor

Trial by fury

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Table of ContentsCoverSynopsisTitle PageCopyright PageOther Books by KG MacGregorAcknowledgmentsChapter OneChapter TwoChapter ThreeChapter FourChapter FiveChapter SixChapter SevenChapter EightChapter NineChapter TenChapter ElevenChapter TwelveChapter ThirteenChapter FourteenChapter FifteenChapter SixteenChapter SeventeenChapter EighteenChapter NineteenChapter TwentyChapter Twenty-OneChapter Twenty-TwoChapter Twenty-ThreeChapter Twenty-FourBella BooksSynopsis

When a coed is viciously assaulted on the campus of Harwood University, performance studies professor Celia Perone learns a brutal truth—star athletes can get away with whatever they want. Threatened with her job if she goes public, Celia pays a secret visit to celebrated women’s rights attorney Theodora Constantine.

Theo’s riding high after winning a very public sexual harassment claim against a cable news network. Next up for her firm is a class action suit that will strain her small staff. She can’t afford to get sidetracked by another case, but Celia won’t take no for an answer.

The case is compelling and so is Celia—so much that Theo finds herself falling hard. But before they can win love, they have to win justice.

Copyright © 2016 by KG MacGregor

 

Bella Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 10543

Tallahassee, FL 32302

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

First Bella Books Edition 2016

eBook released 2016

 

Editor: Katherine V. Forrest

Cover Designer: Judith Fellows

 

ISBN: 978-1-59493-492-6

 

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Other Bella Books By KG MacGregor

Anyone But You

Etched in Shadows

The House on Sandstone

Just This Once

Life After Love

Malicious Pursuit

Mulligan

Out of Love

Photographs of Claudia

Playing with Fuego

Rhapsody

Sea Legs

Secrets So Deep

Sumter Point

T-Minus Two

The Touch of a Woman

Undercover Tales

West of Nowhere

Worth Every Step

 

Shaken Series

Without Warning

Aftershock

Small Packages

Mother Load

Acknowledgments

In every publisher’s toolkit is something called the “All Persons Fictional Disclaimer,” a standard paragraph reminding readers they’re embarking on a work of fiction, that any resemblance to persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental. That applies here.

And yet…sometimes the events seem all too common for any of us to claim they were conjured solely from the writer’s mind. A 2015 study by the Association of American Universities found that almost a quarter of women on campus had been victims of sexual assault or sexual misconduct; eleven percent reported penetration by force, threat or incapacitation. By conservative estimates, that’s over one hundred thousand women, one hundred thousand stories. Far too many to conclude the events in this book resemble only one.

Like most of you, my understanding of the legal process comes from television. Since nearly all of that is wrong, I turned to fellow Bella author and real-life attorney Erica Abbott for guidance. She tried valiantly to keep me from embarrassing myself, but no one’s perfect. Any errors you find are mine alone.

Thanks as always to my Book Machine: editor Katherine V. Forrest; my cleaner-uppers, Karen Appleby and Jenny; and all the crew at Bella Books.

Chapter One

“Make room for the lady with the money!” Theodora Constantine squeezed down the hallway with their payment.

The conference room at Constantine and Associates held a table that seated thirty-two. It wasn’t unusual for every chair to be filled during a strategy meeting, since Theo took only the most important, most visible civil litigation cases. Prominent clients, pressing social issues, nearly all related to women’s rights. In fact, the firm was predominantly women, and racially diverse, as were most businesses in Atlanta.

Today, the table was overflowing with congratulatory flowers and buckets of champagne on ice. Every major case culminated in this room, either with a celebration like this one or a soul-searching assessment that took on the pall of a wake.

Theo waved the courier’s envelope high above her head as she entered. “Whose turn is it to do the honors?”

All eyes fell upon paralegal Jalinda Smiley, a plus-sized African-American in her thirties, whose name bore no resemblance to her usual gloomy face. Of the forty-six people who worked in their high-rise office in downtown Atlanta, Jalinda was by far the quietest, the most mysterious. Superb at her job, she rarely interacted socially with her co-workers.

“You can skip me. Go to the next person.” Typical Jalinda, shunning the spotlight.

Theo had expected that and was ready with the next name. “Kendra Kershaw then. Step right up and tell us what we’ve won.”

Kendra, tall and angular, shimmied through the group to snatch the envelope. A striking, dark-skinned woman twenty years out of Emory Law School, she was a partner at the firm. Her caseload typically focused on issues of special benefit to women of color. She was taking the lead on their next big case, a class action suit charging BoRegards, a regional family restaurant chain, with wage theft.

She ripped open the envelope and read aloud, “Seven million, six hundred thousand dollars and zero cents.”

A cheer erupted around the room. That was their settlement with TNS Cable News on behalf of Teresa Gonzalez, a female reporter who’d been fired after breaking off an extra-marital relationship with the network’s lead anchor. Theo had argued the firing was the result of sex discrimination. The case had dragged on for over two years, with Theo demanding reinstatement, lost wages and punitive damages large enough to head off such behavior in the future. When it became clear from the evidence that TNS likely would lose in court, they’d negotiated a settlement. Constantine and Associates would collect a third of the total along with a subsequent check covering expenses. A handsome payday for a small firm like theirs, one that would bring a surge of positive publicity.

Corks popped one after another and clear plastic cups were filled to the brim. They’d share thirty minutes of revelry, after which most of the crew would get back to work on the wage theft case.

As Kendra waved the check around, Sandy Thornton snatched it out of the air. She’d been Theo’s accountant for ten years, and her miserly attitude was the reason the firm was on solid financial footing.

Theo raised her glass in a gesture to a young woman across the room, Sabrina Dawson, who’d served as her second chair on the case. An attractive brunette with an athletic body, she’d cut her teeth on last year’s sexual harassment suit against a defense contractor. Originally from Savannah, she had a charming demeanor that allowed her to connect with a jury of Southerners. After six years at the firm, she was bringing in her own clients and on track for promotion to partner.

And unfortunately, off-limits for anything else. Though Sabrina identified as bisexual, Theo didn’t need a sexual harassment suit of her own.

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