Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Taffity Family Legacy

Generation 9, Chapter 3

Seeley watched with minimal interest as Travis stepped away from the stand. His old roomie was red-faced and flustered, it wasn't uncommon for Trav actually. When their eyes met, Seeley saw the hatred Trav had been harboring for nearly twenty years. He honestly believed Jenn's death had been Seeley's fault, even after countless reports from the medical examiner.

Seeley shrugged and broke eye contact, nothing he could do about it now. If he couldn't convince the Rossi family two decades ago, they wouldn't believe him now while he was sitting trial for murder – albeit of someone else.

" please." The female attorney for the state, Laila McMullen, had taken charge of the next witness and had just started questioning him when Seeley tuned back into the proceedings.

"Kirk Blackwell," the witness looked over toward Seeley for a moment before the attorney drew his attention back. "I'm sorry, what was the question..."

In the box, the jurors snickered, earning a reproachful look from the judge and discrete smile from Seeley. They'd already started losing confidence in Blackwell's testimony and he'd only just started. "I asked how you knew the defendant." Laila said, feigning patience. 

"Oh! We went to law school together and eventually began working at the same firm - Price, Eckert and Albert," Kirk said quickly.

"Would you say you were close to Mr. Taffity? The defendant?"

Kirk shrugged, "I suppose - we weren't roommate or anything, Seeley, er, the defendant...he bought his own home at the beginning of law school so he wasn't exactly scrapping by on loans like most of us."

"Must have been pretty well off then eh?" Laila shot the jury a significant look that went over most of their heads.

"Well he's a Taffity - that's like being a Kennedy..." The jury nodded along. The Taffity name was certainly ingrained in the history books. "But we were friends until he left the firm." Darkness colored Kirk's expression then, something that was not missed by the questioning attorney or the jury. 

"Let's get right to it then, Mr. Blackwell. Why did Mr. Taffity leave Price, Eckert and Albert?"

"He was caught embezzling from the firm and from clients. Double charging for hours, overpricing business lunches and such," Kirk said.


I'll be the first to confess that golf was not actually my forte but every lawyer I'd met during law school seemed to talk about it ad nauseum. So, instead of embarrassing myself at a course or driving range, I added my own personal range to the balcony of my house in my final year of law school. It seemed like a good idea to get familiar with the game now, you know just in case I needed to impress a judge someday.

"Seeley, do you think that's such a good idea?" she asked, glancing back toward me from her place at the art easel. The easel was her addition to the balcony, an addition I couldn't fault considering how often she liked to paint when she was fresh from bed.

"Hmm?" I was more focused on the golf ball than her and barely registered her question.

"Well I mean, there is another house across the street. Aren't you afraid of breaking their window or something?" Her genuine concern for the neighbors looked cute on her face.

"Don't worry Jenn," I said with a smirk. "I'm not that good of a player..."

Before you get the idea that Jenn and I had some love and first sight nonsense - let me set things straight. After the night at her parents' house (that relocated to my dorm room), we hadn't actually seen each other in almost three years.

Having just come out of a particularly grueling exam, I sought out the nearest bar and stumbled into Bellows.  It was actually a pretty popular place with the students but until that night I'd considered it a little too rustic for my tastes.

And if it hadn't been for the girl dancing on the bar, I probably would have turned around and walked right back out that night too. At first, all I saw was a nice body with great moves and a fair bit of skin showing. I watched her for a minute before I recognized a few assets on the dancer. As nice as those were though, it was the tattoo that gave her away. "Well well well..." I said with a smirk.

She spun around and burst out laughing when she saw me. More than one male in the bar groaned as she stopped dancing and hopped down from the bar. "Seeley Taffity!" she put her hands on my chest and then began circling me like a hawk. "Well don't you look cleaned up? Gone upscale on me eh?"

"Well a lawyer has to look good now and then," I said, watching her every move.

"Lawyer?" She stopped in her survey and looked me in the eyes, "how very grown up of you." From the sound of her voice, it didn't sound like a compliment. But as quickly as the disappointment had come, she pushed it away and grinned, "so, do you remember my name? I'll give you one's not Brenda," she said with a wink.

"I do try to remember the good ones," I replied, taking the time to survey her in much the same way she had. "I do like this outfit...I bet your mother hates it."

"I imagine she would," Jenn said with a laugh. "Which, of course, is generally a prerequisite for any outfit."

"Of course."

"You didn't answer my question, do you remember my name Seeley? Am I one of the 'good ones'?"

"Oh yeah, I remember your name Jenn," she grinned in response, leaning closer to me in that familiar, flirty manner she had.

Her lips brushed my ear as she pressed closer to whisper, "I hope you don't still live in the dorms." There was a suggestion in the words that I was ready to jump at if given the chance. When her hand crept under the hem of my jacket, I got all the confirmation I needed

After that we saw more of each other, although we were both quick to point out that it wasn't a "relationship".

Or I was at least.


By the time law school graduation had come around, Kirk and I had both secured positions at the biggest firm in town. Of course we still had to spend the next several months working AND studying for the Bar Exam but if there was any dream firm to be had by a new lawyer, it was Price, Eckert and Albert.

"Wow," Kirk looked up at the towering building in awe. I shook my head but let him be fascinated, he had always been so easily impressed. "This is it Seeley..."

"It's hardly a sky scrapper Kirk," I pointed out. While it was one of the tallest buildings in Twinbrook, that wasn't saying much when compared to the firms in Bridgeport and other such cities.

"Maybe not but it's still pretty impressive, gotta admit that." I didn't admit that actually, though I'd been impressed that the firm actually occupied the entire building. Most firms could claim a couple of floors only, not a whole building. Realizing I wasn't going to concede the point, Kirk shrugged, "ready?"

Though we'd both already been walked through the building before our first day, a senior associate was waiting for us at the front desk that morning. From the look of annoyance on his face, you'd think we were directly responsible for the death of his favorite cat or something.

"Come on," he waved us past the receptionist and stalked away toward the elevators. "I'm to show you two around and get you start on your paperwork and such." He immediately pulled out his phone and completely tuned us out for the duration of the tour. Occasionally he'd offer one word directions such as "Library" or "bathroom" but otherwise said nothing to either of us.

"Friendly isn't he?" I muttered under my breath. Kirk started laughing, earning a glare from our guide. After forty-five minutes, he opened the door to a tiny, vacant office and ordered us to sit. "Well that was fun," I said after the door closed behind him.

Eventually he returned and began the tedious paperwork and educated us on the "expectations" of all new associates at the firm. "You'll have to find time to study for the Bar as you'll be expected to pass without needing to use firm time," he glared at each of us in turn expecting us to squirm no doubt.

"All associates are expected to bill at least eighty hours a week - more is better, less is not acceptable. Until you pass the exam, of course, you will be doing a lot of research and grunt work for the other lawyers in the firm." I started to tune him out about then. It was nearly an hour later that we were shown to our own offices. Like the one we'd just spent the morning in, the offices were cramped and barren. Clearly new associates were given a low priority.

I spent the first hour of my new job ordering new furnishings and planning the best use of the small space. It served no purpose other than to make me more comfortable. Oh and to see the look of shock and awe on Kirk's face when he walked in the following week. That was classic.

"What do you think?" I asked, a cocky grin on my face.

"Sometimes I hate you Seeley, you and your damn money," he said just before walking back out of the office.

I laughed at his ire for a full minute before summoning my secretary with actual work. I probably had more than enough work at my computer but Brenda, yes that actually was her name, was pretty, young and perky. I found myself calling her in for the most trivial of things during the day just because I could.

Despite our "non-relationship" status, Jenn was around a lot. Her toothbrush occupied my bathroom and her body occupied my bed more often than anyone else during those early days at the firm. It was comforting actually - to not have to make up the pretense of a relationship or constantly try to figure out what she was wanting.

Jenn was always quite clear about that.

"I don't suppose you were planning to leave this cave anytime soon?" She was standing in the archway that separated my home office from the rest of the house. 

I was too busy with work to even pay her much mind lately - something that didn't seem to bother her usually. Still looking at my computer, scanning the document once more for the error, I tried to wave her off as usual. "I'm sorta busy Jenn," I muttered.

"Of that, I'm certain. A big lawyer like you - busy as a bee..." Instead of leaving as I'd hoped, she pushed further into the office. Her footsteps were faint - suggesting she was barefoot - but the wooden floors creaked slightly as she came toward me.

"I really am busy Jenn," I said, fingers tapping away on the keyboard. I knew, distantly, that she was now standing beside me and I saw her shadow fall across the desk as she perched on the edge beside me. Her breathing, her presence, was distracting me and I started to turn to tell her this when I felt her bare leg against my arm.

When she finally captured my full attention she merely smiled. The sun was shining on all the right place, making me forget about work entirely. "Don't mind me, I'm just going to sit here..." she teased.

"I can take a break." I said, closing the laptop and pushing it aside without another thought.


After months of juggling work and studying, the date for the exam was quickly approaching for both Kirk and I. We'd both been so busy that even working on the same floor of the firm, we barely seemed to see each other for more than a few minutes.

But in the final week before the Bar Exam, we ran into each other in the firm's library every day as we tried to cram the last little bit of law into our brains. "You ready for this?" Kirk asked, looking pale and more than a little panicked.

Despite that my stomach was in knots and my head hurt from all the facts and details I was trying to remember, I looked over at him smugly and just shrugged casually. "Sure, it's no big deal," I lied.

He stared at me aghast for a minute before turning back to his books - a deeper shade of green. Inside, I laughed a little at his discomfort. I was a horrible friend.

The test came and went. It was horrific and probably the most stressful day of my life, to that point, but I cam out of it in one piece. Kirk came out of it looking as if his brain was seeping from his ears.

As much as I would have loved to take a couple days to recover from it, there was still work to be done and the firm still expected at least eighty hours a week from us billed to client. In the weeks immediately following the Bar, I realized just how easy it would be to bill a little extra now and then. In fact, it was already common practice to make a "business lunch" into a two hour affair while only spending thirty minutes on the actual case and so on. Every tiny allotment of time was rounded up to a full hour as a matter of unspoken firm policy.

So, I slowly began padding my billable hours - and my pocket now and then - but keeping two separate sets of records. Honestly, I didn't need the money but there was a certain thrill of getting away with it.

And, frankly, I like money.


"Mail's here," Jenn said, leaning across the island that divided the kitchen from the dining area. I glanced over at her briefly and nodded toward the counter before returning my gaze to the food.

She dropped it on the counter but continued to watch, her gaze drawing my attention as usual. "What?"

"Don't you want to know what's in the mail?" she asked, pointing toward the pile.

"I'll get to it in a moment," I said with a shrug.

"Suit yourself," she said with an exaggerated sigh. "But there's something in there you've been waiting for," she said as she walked away.

I looked over at the pile of mail and nearly dropped the tray of vegetables I was attempting to turn into a salad. Sitting on top was the letter from the Bar. Whatever hadn't fallen from the tray was set on the counter while I scooped up the letter.

Jenn was already bouncing on her toes, waiting for me to open it - apparently not quite as disinterested as she'd try to appear. "Well...?" she prompted.

I slit the envelope open with a knife and pulled the paper from it. I reread the opening paragraph twice before turning toward her triumphantly. "I passed," I said with a huge grin.

She all but vaulted over the divider to shower me with congratulatory kisses and other things. As I lay in her arms later, I realized this was one of the perks of being in a relationship. Not that we were in a relationship or anything.

Eventually I managed to get back making the salad - though I had to swap out the original vegetables for new ones since I'd left them sitting on the counter all afternoon.

As we sat down at the table, Jenn smiled at me. It was simple enough smile but there was something offsetting about it. I pushed the doubts from my mind and turned my attention to my food.

"I think it's the day for good news..." Jenn said after a few minutes.

"Mm? Why's that?" I asked, trying to figure out what good news she might have gotten. She'd been applying for graduate school lately, maybe she'd already heard back?

"Seeley..." she pushed the food around on her plate but didn't take a bite. She was chewing on her lower lip, a quirk I found oddly cute. "I'm pregnant..."

"Oh shit, seriously?" I sputtered after I finished choking on my own food.

"Yes, seriously. And don't say it like that," Jenn said, frowning.

"Well how am I supposed to say it Jenn?" I retorted, my voice raising an octave.

"It's a baby Seeley, not a lawsuit or something - it's a good thing," despite her words, she didn't not sound so sure of herself.

"No, it's really not!" I argued, shoving my plate away and standing up. I turned away from her and started pacing. "Really, really not..."

"And why not Seeley?" she came up behind me, and tried to put her hand on my shoulder but I jerked away from her. "I know we didn't ever really talk about this but...I guess I thought..."

"Thought what Jenn? What did you think exactly?" I was shouting now, though I didn't mean to slash out at her like that.

"I....I..." she was floundering for words but none seemed to come to her. Realizing this, she turned her pain into anger and narrowed her eyes at me. "This is the part where a real man steps up..."

"You knew who I was all along Jenn...this whole happily ever after gig with two point four kids and white picket fence was NEVER in my plan and you KNEW that! Don't act like you didn't!"

"Seeley..." her face was fluctuating between sadness, anger and betrayal so fast I couldn't be sure what she'd say next.

"Get rid of it Jenn, I want nothing to do with it."

"Screw you Seeley Taffity! I'll do no such thing!" she fired back before storming off to grab her things and leave.

Immediately following her departure, I thought I was better off. She'd become more and more like those girls I ditched in the wee hours of the morning lately and now I knew why. Damn babies.

As much as I tried to remind myself I was better without her in my life, my work began to slip in the weeks that followed.

I wasn't as careful as usual. I wasn't as precise.

Someone, somewhere, discovered my little skimming practice. I realized that the moment I'd been called into the office of Mr. Price, the senior partner. Still, I strode into the office as if I owned the place - or would some day.

"You needed to see my Alan?" I said, adopting a first name basis without invitation. It was a gamble, I'd never actually met Alan Price and he may be insulted to have one of his most junior associates and the man who was stealing from him assume such liberties. Seeing as I was likely to walk out of the office jobless, it was worth a shot.

He appraised me for several moments, saying nothing, before motioning to the chairs positioned across from him. "Have a seat Seeley."

Keeping my expression as neutral as possible was difficult, a new thing for me as I was usually very good at the poker face. Once I was sitting across from him, I sat back casually and waited. My guts were twisting inside once more.

"It's come to my attention that you've been...shall we say, embellishing your hours a bit?"

I nodded my head slowly, I understood what he was saying but was not admitting guilt. "Is that so? In what way?"

"It's not the first time this has happened of course - everyone tries it now and then I imagine but you, well you haven't been too careful and it's upset a few of our clients. Well one in particular."

"Could you tell me who has complained?" I asked, still not admitting guilt. He hasn't offered proof, yet, don't admit guilt.

"Well you know I couldn't do that Seeley," he said with a sympathetic smile. "I like you Seeley, I do. You've done great work in your time here - especially given that you were preparing for the exam at the same time but ya know, we can't just let this go."

"So....what exactly?" I prompted.

"We're giving the option to leave quietly. So as not to raise a fuss or alarm any of the clients. While we can't offer you a recommendation or anything, we won't hinder you from seeking another position."

I furrowed my brow in confusion. This was going well, too well actually. Sure I'd be leaving without a job but they could just as easily try to sue me for fraud or theft. I started to question him further - as lawyers tend to do - but he held up a hand to stop me. "Take the out Seeley...go quietly won't get this chance again." His casual demeanor was gone, replaced with a stern face that I could believe.

"Thank you for the opportunity to work with you," I said, standing up. I shook his hand and left quickly, before he could change his mind.


The defense attorney approached the witness as Laila took her seat. "Mr. Blackwell, you said my client was caught embezzling. Can you explain what he did exactly?"

"Well, as I understand it..."

"As you understand it?" she interrupted. "You don't know for certain?"

"I - I..." he looked toward the prosecution's table helplessly for a moment.

"Nevermind," Kindra said, waving her hand as if to swat the question away. The jury smiled at her. "Now, what, as you understand it from the watercooler gossip, did my client do exactly?"

Kirk was flustered but pushed past it, "he padded his hours with clients. Charging more than one client for the same lunch hour for example, rounding up a five minute phone conversation to a full hour of work."

"Of course, of course," she said. "Now, Mr. Blackwell, did you ever do these things?" She waited for him to begin protesting before picking up a thick file from her table and thumbing it open. "I know what it's like Mr. Blackwell - those early associate days when you have bones to make at a firm...I get it. Let's see..." she began flipping through the papers until settling on one. "In your first year at Price, Eckert and Albert - you averaged one hundred and nine billable hours a week. That's quite impressive for a first year attorney who is also studying for the Bar exam..."

Kirk started to puff up a bit, looking arrogant about his stats as a baseball player might.

"One week you billed one hundred and eighty seven do realize there are only one hundred and sixty eight hours in a seven day week right?" Instantly deflated, Kirk tried to sputter out an explanation but Kindra just snapped the file closed.

End Chapter



  1. Ah Seeley, I have a special place in my heart for handsome daredevil evil boys. :)

    Congrats on passing the exam but man, that thing with Jenn is going to bite you one day I expect.

    Nice chapter Cami but it ended too soon!!! too soon

  2. I agree with Nicarra - too short! :P

    I'm saddened that Seeley got sloppy; I mean, it's Seeley! I'm kinda glad jenn is gone! She doesn't come across as the responsible parental type to me! And Seeley, even less so! That child would have been doomed! :P

    I love your eye for detail! The shots match the text with such precision!

    You tend to make each generation more and more exciting! If you decide to rewrite the early generations, I would read them with equal fervor!

  3. I love the Court Room Drama. :) So exciting! It's great that everyone passed the Bar...but we had to know all that fooling around was going to get you in trouble, Seeley. Course, now she has ammunition to use on him someday...if he survives all this turmoil.

    Can't wait for the next chapter...see what the Defense Attorney does to Kirk and his hypocrisy.