Who: Roman & Hanna What: Lunch and a chance meeting When: March 31 Where: Echo & Rig Rating: Low Status: Complete
Hypothetically, I could help you
Roman had ordered easily. The Filet Tenderloin seemed the appropriate choice considering it was both grass fed and Waygu. It had been a toss up between that and the Bavette - but American Kobe couldn’t be as good as Japanese Kobe beef. So he had settled on the filet.
A Small Plate of Lamb cigars and tzatziki sauce sat before him.
The legs of his wine coursed down from the middle of the glass. An expensive Cabernet Savognoin aged and timeless.
He preferred to share such evenings with his current interest but Tal was busy with personal things - his brother had come into town and took precedence - which left the lawyer alone to dine. And Noah wasn’t himself lately. That left few options.
So Roman sat with his disappointment and dined alone. A pristine suit with all of the accessories. He loved to show off in a new place.
Trying to expand her palate, Hanna had taken advantage of her day off to look for a new restaurant for lunch. The weather was changing, and she was having one of her good days. She’d passed Echo & Rig a few times on her route, had never stopped in. Wavering between eating indoors or outside on the patio, she gave the menu a thorough read.
She ended up choosing the Drunken Goat because she liked the sound of it, got a table near the bar area. A glass of cold black tea instead of coffee, because it was warm and bordering on hot outside. Fried olives and a bowl of mushroom soup. No dessert menu, as far as she could tell, but she was hoping for some pastry suggestions.
The lunch crowd had already thinned out since it was almost two o clock. Hanna caught sight of the sun glinting off of a gold watch at the next table, tracked it up to the overdressed guy at the closest table. Looked down at her own casual outfit of jeans and a purple T shirt, shrugged off the differences. Probably a business type, or maybe an actor who was in town for a project.
Many situations in his life had been affairs that required a more casual look; Roman overindulged sometimes. He wasn’t apologetic about it. Nor was he concerned at all what anyone else might think when it came to his manner of dress. He wanted to look one hundred percent all the time, and a lunch out by himself was no exception.
Like other people, he had a casual habit of observing others. What they wore, how they carried themselves, what they were doing - all of these small things fascinated the lawyer a great deal. Some probably never noticed they were being sized up by a stranger though even if they did, it didn’t phase him.
With that habit of drifting gaze, Roman’s eyes fell upon the pretty brunette at the nearby table. The purple of her tee shirt brought out the natural color of her eyes. He smiled at her. “What did you decide on?” He inquired. He motioned to his own plate. “It was a challenge to decide. I have never dined here before, though I have a habit of browsing a menu prior to going someplace new. Perhaps that takes the surprise element out of it but then, I do like to know what to expect.”
“I chose it for the name,” Hanna admitted, pointing to the now-closed menu near her place setting. “Drunken Goat sounds like a bar near where I grew up, but I haven’t been here before either. The jury’s still out on if it’ll be any good, but cheese and chutney is always a good start.”
Hanna re-assessed the guy with the watch, decided he was probably a snob but in an approachable sort of way. If only because he spoke to her first. She wicked up her glass and took a drink ,listening to the ice cubes crackling mutedly in the dark liquid.
“You a local?” she asked. “I thought I heard an accent, but I’ve been wrong before.”
The choice based on a name held intrigue. It was impulsive, he liked it. Roman smiled a bit more. “It is quite an interesting title to give a plate of food. So far the menu has lived up to its charm.” The Drunken Goat wasn’t the only oddly named dish - he didn’t understand the creative titles but then he had never really been much of a creative type.
“Yes, and no,” he confessed. A soft laugh came next. “I moved here recently, within a couple of years. I am originally from California.” He was curious to know if this strange woman had exceptional hearing or if she was simply a good guesser. “What about you…? Sorry, I didn’t catch your name.”
She almost said she hadn’t thrown it, decided against the impulse. “It’s the suit more than the voice,” she said, indicating his clothes. “If that’s off the rack, I’ll eat the plate my lunch gets served on. And I’m Hanna.”
The brunette was still mentally debating as to what exactly Suit did for a living when the server arrived with her sandwich, and she picked up the nearest corner of the bread for a closer peek before picking up the whole thing for that first bite. The cheese was just on the right side of being melted, and the tang of the chutney set it off perfectly. Hanna nodded to herself as she chewed, put the rest of the sandwich back on the saucer.
“Are you meeting your agent?” she asked once she’d washed the last of the bite down with some tea. “I keep thinking I must have seen you in a commercial or something, but I can’t place the face.”
Hanna. That was pretty. The woman seemed far from basic, though, and Roman couldn’t place exactly why. It would nag him internally until he discovered it. And the comment about his suit only seemed to verify his thought about her. Roman offered a casual chuckle. “You’re very sharp, Hanna. I’m Roman.”
The garment in question was one of his nicer ones, and one of Tal’s favorites considering it was a deeper blue color that looked almost black in the light. He took a drink of wine and watched her as she tasted her lunch. He found it satisfactory by the way she reacted to the explosion of taste.
“My agent?” For a moment he debated what she might be implying but then she spelled it out for him. “Oh, how kind of you to think so, but no.” His smile grew. “Actually I am a lawyer. I work at a firm not too far from here: Porter, Skye, and Byrnes.” They were a prestigious firm that was now literally twenty four seven, which not a lot of places could boast. “What do you do, Hanna? If you don’t mind my asking,”
“Courier work, for a service in the city. Not quite as impressive, I’m sure.”
The name of the firm meant nothing to her, though she could imagine the work it took to get your name on the door in a place like that. Hanna looked at her plate, wondered if he’d take it the wrong way if she asked to join him.
“What kind of law? Criminal or otherwise? The divorce business is booming here, but that might be a little too obvious.”
“Courier work can be impressive,” Roman rebutted. He took a sip from his wine glass. “Traffic here is terrible. I suppose that’s the norm for any large city, though. You should see Los Angeles.” While he despised traffic, his vehicle made the experience satisfying.
A small shrug of his shoulder, “I work primarily in high profile defense, but I like to dabble where I can. Experience and whatnot.” He was thankful it wasn’t divorce law. While he had never been married, trying to paddle through turbulent water like that seemed more like a nightmare for any mediator.
“How high profile? Like mob trials and shit….stuff, sorry, like that?”
Now her interest was piqued, and she glanced over towards the greeter’s station. The place wasn’t busy, and she redirected her attention towards Roman.
“Would you mind if I join you? I’d rather not have lunch alone. My sister in law works in the D.A’s office in Chicago, so I know a little bit about the law game.”
At the inquiry to sit with him, Roman indulged Hanna. He made some space for her at the table, and moved to stand up so he could get her chair. “It would be my honor to dine with you,” he murmured, motioning to the empty seat.
Once she was settled, Roman took his place again. “Yes, sort of like that. It’s what I did back in California before coming here. Runs in the blood.” His mother was one of the top defense attorneys in Los Angeles, she molded her son well to fill her shoes. But he’d gotten tired of her games and took off to make his own way.
The old-fashioned gesture amused her, and she murmured her thanks as she took up the chair on the other side of the table. Her plate made a noise as she put it down in front of her, picked up her glass of tea. “I haven’t been here that long either. In the city, I mean. I’d never lived outside of Chicago before, except when I went to Basic. It was weird not to see snow over Christmas.”
How much could she ask without implicating herself or getting Roman involved when she was sure he’d rather not be? Even as a defense lawyer, there was no guarantee he could help her. But Wyatt Garvey was proving to be a problem. Further investigation informed her that he did something for the city, an office job. Not so high up on the food chain that she couldn’t get to him if she worked at it, but high enough that if something happened to him, people would notice.
“Like I said, Caroline works for the D.A. back home, but it’s mostly small stuff unless it’s something that hits the national news. Happens less often than you’d think.”
“Ah, yes,” Roman mused. “Snow is pretty. Unfortunately it doesn’t snow where I lived, so I suppose I don’t feel attached to it but I could see why you would be. I have been skiing,” he waved a hand dismissively. “That is fun, I am sure you know that already though.” It wasn’t a sport for everyone.
He caught a sip of wine from the glass and listened to Hanna speak. “You are so well connected.” Basic training, a relative who worked for a District Attorney. This one could be trouble, or useful. Or both, if he played his cards correctly. “She must enjoy what she does, Caroline. It takes a strong will and a sense of justice to do that level of work.”
“Is it true that most defense attorneys are just in it for the paycheck? That they don’t care who they represent as long as the money’s good? I mean, no offense, but you do hear things.”
Hanna gave him her best bland stare as her foot swung back and forth beneath the table, and she’d already categorized him as sharp and probably quick to catch onto any slip ups during a court session. If way too pretty for his own good. Though that might have been a help too, the ability to throw people off as being not that smart.
“Hypothetically, I know someone committed a crime, but I can’t prove it. Or I can, but no one would believe me and I’d probably end up in more trouble than they would if I tried. But I want to stop them from doing it again, and they will. Hypothetically, how do I solve my problem?”
The question was not a surprising one. He understood the negative connotation the word lawyer had and then way it stained the lips of many. It was a word some used as intimidation in a difficult situation as a soldier might a battle tactic when the ammunition began to become sparse, some feared it more than the good word. “Honestly, for me it is a little bit of both,” Roman explained. “The money isn’t terrible, except you have to be good at what you do to make any. A base salary would get you by but that isn’t what is paying your rent or keeping your lights on.”
What he did meant diving headfirst into the lives of his client and the circumstances that drew the circle around them. There were some things he knew about some of those he represented which could be considered intimate, things that person would never divulge to their own mother on their death bed. “A good lawyer knows when and how to invest in their client. I can’t represent you properly and thoroughly if we are unfamiliar on a deep level.”
Her hypothetical had Roman’s immediate attention. In kind, his manicured eyebrows arched with initial surprise but his expression evened out. “Well, that would depend on the evidence that you have and how you want to use it,” he began, carefully. “I have met a lot of high profile criminal types in my short career, everyone has a weak point.” Exploitation typically caused surrender or negotiation. “Hypothetically, I could help you if I had more information.”
The brunette studied her erstwhile lunch buddy for a pocket of silence that got heavier as the seconds ticked past on her watch, and finally Hanna made a noise that might have been amusement. Her glass was almost empty, and she looked around for the server to get his attention. When he refilled her tea and went away again, she put one elbow on the table and took a bite of her sandwich. Did they give out recipes? She wanted to find out how to make these.
“I was camping with some friends,” she began, and she already knew she couldn’t tell him all of it without some confirmation that he knew about what went on when the moon was full. “Not here, out in California, near Barstow. We had put out the fire and settled in for the night. I guess we missed a sign that said it was private property.”
There was a quietly bitter note in her voice when she finished the sentence, and she looked inward before continuing. “He turned his dogs on us. I was the only one to get out without being bitten, and then it was only because it started to rain and they couldn’t find me. I’ve tracked the guy here, but he’s a little, uh, connected too, y’know?”
Listening could be a powerful and underused weapon in the arsenal of an attorney. That was what he did, now, as Hanna spoke. Roman noticed the way her voice dropped, her tone, the language of her frame as she recounted the events of this hypothetical.
“What an awful thing to do,” Roman replied. “Though it was his property.” His own tone dropped a bit with consideration of the sparse outline of facts. “Why don’t we revisit this in a setting where you can indulge me a little more, fill in the blanks.” He waved his hand in a casual way and then withdrew a little metal rectangle from inside of his suit coat. A moment later he offered Hanna his card.
“That is, if you trust that I can be of some help.”
“Can I? Trust you.”
Hanna looked at the card in her hand, the raised lettering. Roman Skye. If he could help her, she’d have to trust him, and honestly she didn’t want to involve Frank anymore than she already had. If she could just get Garvey out from under any protection he had, where she could get to him, there’d be one left. And as long as Roman didn’t ask too many questions, she wouldn’t have to tell too many lies.
“I can give you a call around mid-week, set up an appointment. Do I have to bring a retainer or something? I doubt it’s like the movies, where I hand over ten dollars right now and call it even.”
He left her question regarding trust to her own interpretation. Roman only smiled warmly at her. So far she seemed at least inclined to chat, which was more than she had before. “You can provide what you think is fair for my time and resources, but we can discuss that at the appointment.” He didn’t work for free but he wasn’t necessarily after monetary gain.
It would give him something to look forward to, anyway. He was curious what Mo would think of Hanna and made a note to remember to ask.
“You should let me get your lunch, Hanna. It’s the least I can do for your company.”
“I’d appreciate that, since I don’t know if I’m always good company these days.”
She’d tucked the card into her back pocket, decided she could like Roman regardless of anything else. When this was over and she went back to her normal life, whatever that was, she’d need some kind of social circle again, people to hang out with. Because she didn’t know if Chicago was right for her now, that she might have grown past it a bit. It would always be where she came from, but it might not be home just now.
And they would have to see about trust, although she had some confidence that he would not actively fuck her over. It would be a bad career move, if nothing else, and so she was going to go with him being okay. Hanna finished the last of her sandwich, gave the lawyer a half-smile.
“Since’it’s the last day of the month, I need to cut this short for now. Rent’s due and I gotta catch the office manager before he leaves for the day to tell him the dishwasher doesn’t work. Been nice meeting you, Roman, and I hope you have a great day.”
Roman simply nodded at Hanna. “You as well, Hanna. I look forward to hearing from you again.” He wasn’t foolish enough to believe that she trusted him entirely by now considering the meeting was casual, and he hoped that whatever the details were for the situation it was something he truly could resolve.
As Hanna left, he went back to his lunch. He would need to return to the office soon, handle pressing matters, but for now the lawyer indulged in the rest of the meal he had neglected in favor of chatting with Hanna.