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Authors: Donna Hill

Indiscretions

Indiscretions

By

Donna Hill

Houston, Texas * Washington, D.C. * Raleigh/Durham, NC

Indiscretions

First published by Odyssey Books, 1991

Copyright © 2016 by Donna Hill

ISBN: 978-1-944359-17-1

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise), without the prior written permission of the author. The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the author is illegal and punishable by law.

Contents

Dedication

Acknowledgments

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

About the Author

Dedication

This novel is lovingly dedicated to my dear friend and mentor Gwynne Forster. I miss you every day.

Acknowledgments

I would like to thank Brown Girl Publishing for giving a second life to my early work, bringing them to a new generation of readers. A special thanks to Chandra Sparks Splond for considering my work for her amazing new line, Enchantment! Most of all I must thank the “sexy, savvy, sophisticated readers” who have ceaselessly supported my work for the past twenty-five years. You readers rock.

CHAPTER ONE

As the striking Khendra Phillips moved lithely through Paschal's Lounge, she smiled and waved at the familiar faces—an array of political who's who that habitually frequented the legendary restaurant. Everywhere she went, her self-assurance, classic bronze features, and up-to-the-minute clothes served as a beacon, leading the casual observer to believe she must certainly be a woman of importance. Today was no different. Yet, no one outside of her professional or political circle would ever suspect she was the youngest leading criminal defense attorney in Atlanta, and the only female of her caliber.

Khendra had long ago ceased paying attention to the stares, the admiring glances of men and the envious looks from their dates. In her profession, beauty was not a commodity, and in order to be taken seriously she'd had to be the best—the toughest. It had cost her dearly in her private life, but her career had soared.

She had come to Paschal's Lounge to meet her friend, Charisse, for lunch. It was said that the whole civil rights struggle had been mapped out in the cool confines of the restaurant, and it was a known haunt of the young Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Regardless of affiliation, however, patrons poured into Paschal's for its exquisite southern cuisine.

Mayor Alan Yancy, who was seated on the far side of the restaurant, noticed Khendra's arrival and raised a hand to gain her attention. Smiling at his ageless face, she threaded her way around the strategically placed tables to where he sat with three of his aides. They rose as she approached.

“Ms. Phillips.” The mayor extended his hand, which she shook. “Congratulations on your win today. Assemblyman Daniels couldn't have had better representation.”

Nods and low rumbles of approval rounded the table.

“Why thank you,” Khendra said, smiling warmly, the acknowledgment from the mayor intensifying her own feelings of success. “I'm just glad it's finally over.”

“The prosecution thought they had an airtight case,” he added, taking a sip from his glass and giving her a questioning look.

“Nothing is airtight,” Khendra stated firmly. “It's simply a matter of making the facts work for or against you.”

Alan Yancy pursed his lips and nodded in agreement. “And you have an unparalleled way of doing just that. Won't you join us for lunch?”

“Thank you for asking, but I'm meeting a friend.” She turned a slender wrist and checked her watch. “She's late, as usual,” she added with an amused smile. “Hopefully she'll be here shortly.” Khendra's dark brown eyes moved toward the door. “As a matter of fact, I believe she just arrived.” She extended her hand to the mayor. He rose to take it. “It was good to see you again, Mayor Yancy.”

“I'm sorry you can't join us, but there is one thing I wanted to ask you before you go.”

“Yes?” Her silky eyebrows arched in question.

“I understand the firm has taken on the case involving the abortion clinic that was firebombed last month. Will you be handling that one? It's certainly a career maker.”

A hush fell over the table. The case had been in the headlines for weeks. Protestors on both sides wanted to be heard. If Khendra said the wrong thing now, it could be politically crippling for the firm. Although she was still firming from the decision the senior partners had made early that morning, she could not jeopardize the firm's integrity with her personal opinions. She would deal with them in private. She measured her words before she spoke.

“I'm not at liberty to discuss the case. However, I'm certain the firm will assign the case to whomever it considers most capable.”

“I see. Well…I'm sure they will.”

“I've really got to be going,” she stated apologetically, wanting to get away before any more questions were raised about the case and she lost the control she had been struggling to maintain all morning.

“Of course, and continued success to you, Ms. Phillips. I look forward to hearing extraordinary things about you.”

“Thank you.”

With that, she successfully made her escape and headed toward her table. All the while, that last question burned through her brain. Why did they have to ask about the clinic? She had been trying since that morning—when the name Sean Michaels had been tossed at her like a gauntlet—to keep that case out of her thoughts. She was still reeling from the early morning conference with the senior partners. It had taken all of her concentration to keep focused on her closing argument, as visions of the heated meeting kept cropping up whenever she let her guard down. She still could not accept the firm's decision to turn the case over to a newcomer. The injustice of what had been done to her ignited anew, snuffing her recent victory.

She took her seat at the table just as Charisse, totally nonplussed by her late arrival, was being seated.

“Whew, this heat is unbelievable,” Charisse breathed in her throaty, Southern twang. She slipped her dark sunglasses off and immediately lit a cigarette, a habit that Khendra deplored but had grown weary of discussing with Charisse. Khendra sat back and shook her head in reproach, which Charisse pointedly ignored.

Through clouds of smoke, Charisse, in her straightforward manner, got right to the point. “I know you won the case. It's all over the radio and television. So why do you look like your mother just died?”

“Thanks. You always were the messenger of good cheer,” Khendra said dryly.

“Just being honest, hon. So what's up?” Charisse asked as the waitress appeared.

Charisse ordered a platter of buffalo wings, the house salad and a glass of lemonade. Khendra ordered a Coke. Then she began to recount the events of the morning.

“…how dare they?” Khendra fumed. “I should have gotten that case!” She leaned forward on the table, her agitation barely held in check as she spoke in a pained voice. “Do you know what it feels like to have one of the biggest criminal cases come your way and then have your bosses tell you they're hiring an attorney from New York, and he's going to handle the case?”

Charisse took a long swallow of her ice-cold lemonade and shook her dark head. “Girl, you've been going through this for the last three years. You just nevah learn, do you? You gotta learn how to play the game, girl,” Charisse said in a conspiratorial whisper, while blowing a cloud of smoke in the air. “How many times have I told you that? You cain't keep marching around with your screw-the-status-quo attitude and expect the big boys to go along with it.”

Khendra blew out an exasperated breath.

“Don't you understand, Charisse?” she cut in before Charisse could get on a roll. “Law is my life my love. I've wanted to be an attorney for as long as I can remember. Just because I don't follow protocol doesn't mean I should be passed over like an old shoe. And for a man, at that!”

Charisse let out a short laugh. “That's part of your problem, hon. Maybe if law wasn't your life and your love, you wouldn't be so obsessed with it and get so bent out of shape when things like this happen.” She took another sip of lemonade and nodded to the waitress as she placed the platter of food on the table.

She took a forkful of the mouth-watering salad and dipped a wing in the tangy white sauce. “There's more to life than work,” she said between bites. “Mmm, you really should try this. It's delicious.” She briefly lifted her eyes from her plate and raised her eyebrows in question while Khendra sat absently twirling the straw in her Coke.

Khendra shook her head. “I really wish you wouldn't talk to me with a mouth full of food. This is important, Charisse.”

“All right, all right.” Charisse put her fork down on the plate, placed her hands on her chin, and leaned on her elbows, feigning rapt attention. “This better?”

Khendra tossed her head back in laughter and tapped Charisse on the head with her napkin. “You're crazy. I don't know how I put up with you. But seriously, you know that relationships have never been easy for me,” Khendra said in a soft voice. “Being a junior in college at sixteen had its good points and its drawbacks. When girls my age were out learning the fine points of socializing, my head was stuck in a book. I never felt comfortable with the boys my age. We had nothing in common. The guys in my classes felt that even though I was as smart as they were—”

“Smarter,” Charisse cut in.

Khendra smiled. “—I wasn't old enough for them. And now, well…” Her voice trailed off, and she looked away. “But everybody needs somebody to come home to.”

“I had someone. Remember?” she said, the pain still evident in her voice.

Charisse reached over and patted her hand. “I know,” she said softly. “I'm sorry for being such an insensitive so-and-so. I shouldn't have said that.”

Khendra turned to face her lifelong friend. “I know you didn't mean any harm.”

“It's just that,” Charisse began, “I'm sure Tony wouldn't have wanted you to still be in mourning, Khen. It's been over a year.”

“You're probably right.” Her eyes trailed off to search the horizon. “You usually are, as much as I hate to admit it.” She sniffed, dabbing at her eyes with the napkin. She gave Charisse a lopsided grin. “But I have my work, and that's what's important now,” she replied, sounding stronger than she actually felt. “This case could have solidified my career.”

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