Church and State was a fun new restaurant in the old Meatpacking District, part of the ongoing effort to gentrify downtown L.A. Though how a restaurant that catered to a hip, moneyed crowd was going to make it with Skid Row just two blocks away was a looming question. I looked over at the stack of cases piled on the table where I kept my mini-?fridge. I wanted to party, and with that gnarly no-body murder behind me, I could probably afford to. But the trial had taken me away from my other cases, and I always got a little — okay, a lot— panicky when I hadn't looked in on a case for more than a few days. If I went out with Toni tonight, I'd just be stressing and wishing I were working. I owed it to her to spare her that drag.
"Sorry, Tone, I—"
"Don't even bother— I know." Toni shook her head as she plunked her mug down on my desk and stood to go. "You can't even take time off for one little victory lap? It's sick, is what it is." But it wasn't news, as evidenced by the lack of surprise in Toni's voice.
"How about tomorrow night? We'll do Church and State, whatever you want," I promised with more hope than conviction. I wasn't sure whether I'd be able to wade through the pile of cases and finish all the catch-up work by then. But I hated to disappoint Toni, so I privately vowed to push myself hard and make it happen.
Toni looked at me and sighed. "Sure, we'll talk tomorrow." She slung her laptop bag over one shoulder and her purse over the other. "I'm heading out. Try not to stay too late. If even your OCD partner-in-crime took a powder," she said, tilting her head toward Jake's office, "you can spare a night off too."
"I know." I looked toward his office. "What's up with that?" I laughed.
"Maybe his alien leaders told him to get a friggin' life," Toni said as she moved to the doorway.
"And I've already got one, so I am now officially exiting the OCD Zone." She smiled and headed down the hall.
"You too," she called back. In a loud stage whisper, she muttered, "Ya freak."
"I heard that!" I yelled out.
I leaned back to rest my head against the cold leather of the majestic judge's chair. It was a tight fit at my little county-?issue prosecutor's desk, but I didn't mind. The chair had mysteriously appeared late one night, abandoned in the hallway a few doors from my office. I'd looked up and down the hall to make sure the coast was clear, then whisked it into my office and pushed my own sorry little chair out to a hallway distant enough that it wouldn't be traced back. As I'd returned to my office, scanning the hallway for witnesses, I wondered whether someone had "liberated" the chair straight out of a judge's chambers. The possibility made my score even more triumphant.
I turned to the stack of case files and pulled the first one off the top, but within fifteen minutes I felt my eyelids drooping. I'd thought I'd had enough energy to plow through at least a few cases, but as usual I'd underestimated how tired I was. And the Glenlivet hadn't helped.