He nodded and gave me that little-?boy smile that could light up a room — the same one that had warmed the hearts of juries across the county. His wire-?rim glasses, wavy brown hair, and country-?boy, self-?effacing style — the dimples didn't hurt, though they were redundant — made a winning combination. Juries instinctively trusted him. He had a look that was almost angelic, making it hard for anyone to believe he'd even graduated from college, much less done all the backbreaking work required to finish law school and survive into his seventh year in the DA's office. I poured him a short dog of Glenlivet with a liberal dousing of water, careful not to give him more than he could handle. I was careful not to give myself more than I could handle either: a heavy-?handed, undiluted triple shot.
Toni raised her mug. "To Rachel Knight: she put the 'speed' in 'speedy trial.' "
Jake lifted his cup. "To that," he said with a sly grin. "Until I beat her record."
I rolled my eyes. Jake had just thrown down the gauntlet. "Oh no, here we go," I said.
"Oh yeah," Toni replied. She narrowed her eyes at Jake. "It's on now, little man."
Jake gave her a flinty smile and nodded. They looked each other in the eye as they clinked cups. We all drank, Toni and I in long pulls, Jake in a more modest sip.
Toni turned back to the matter at hand. "Was this the dope-?dealer shoot-?out at MacArthur Park?" she asked.
I shook my head. Toni, Jake, and I were in Special Trials, the small, elite unit that handled the most complex and high-?profile cases. Though Toni was as tough and competitive as anyone in the unit, she didn't live the job the way Jake and I did. It was one of the many ways Toni and I balanced each other.
Before I could answer, Jake said, "No, this was the one where the defendant poisoned his wife, then dumped the body off the cliff in Palos Verdes."
Toni thought for a moment. "Oh yeah. Body washed out to sea, right? And they never found a murder weapon."
Toni shook her head, smiling. "Evidence is for pussies," she said with a laugh. "You really are my hero." She raised her mug for another toast.
"I got lucky," I said with a shrug, raising mine to join her.
Toni made a face. "Oh please. Can you stop with the 'I'm so humble' stuff already? I've seen you pull these beasts together before. Nobody else drags their ass all over this county the way you do." She turned to Jake and added, " 'Cept maybe you." She took another sip, then sat back. "Both of you are ridiculous, and you know it."