The time was late even for a corporate law firm. Boston was darkening. The lights in the surrounding towers were gradually dimming. The other lawyers and associates had finally surrendered the day. But Diamon Jakes was still there and so was her associate, Boyd Willis. If Boyd could have stepped back and contemplated his surroundings, if he could have wondered at the view of the city outside growing quiet, if he could have listened to the silence of the empty Tittle and Baines offices, if he could have appreciated the colorful glow painted in the darkened shadows by the drifting screen savers on the monitors, maybe he could have enjoyed the moment. But he was not enjoying the moment. He was not enjoying being alone with Diamon Jakes.
When he had been hired by Tittle and Baines out of Harvard Law, she had awed him. She was an intense lawyer, a fast rising African-American woman, top of her class at Yale Law, who won cases and wrote opinions that the legal community listened to. And she was beautiful. She was shorter than he was, and she held herself like an aristocrat - shoulders back, head up, hands at the ready. She had scary, piercing brown eyes. Boyd could only maintain an exchanged gaze with her for a few moments. He also felt that she was taking apart every word that he said, looking for the lie, even in benign statements about the weather.
She had a natural way of adjusting her facial expressions to control how she intended the situation at hand to go. She could sharpen or harden the flair of her nostrils or the lines around her eyes and mouth, arch her eyebrows in surprise or narrow them to fiery slits. Boyd wished that he could study her face more carefully to learn how she did it, to learn how she could manipulate a roomful of powerful white men to do exactly what she wanted them to do without a word.
And when she turned on her voice, she completed the control. She knew how to play the sound of her voice like a Stradivarius. She could raise the pitch or the volume, change the pacing, or pause. Nobody used silence the way Diamon Jakes used silence. She had an incredible knack for getting people to perform any task for her and making it feel like an honor to have been asked!
Her personality had made Boyd nervous when he first started working as her associate and the other associates were not helpful in mitigating those fears. They informed him that she expected perfection. It didn't matter to her that his degree was from Harvard Law and hers was from Yale. Credentials meant nothing to her. Boyd had been hired by Tittle and Baines; he must therefore be qualified to perform whatever tasks were put in front of him, and she expected no less than instant perfection.
He considered himself an average blue eyed, white male. He liked to keep his blond hair short, almost in a crew cut, but he had never thought of himself as what he had heard women call "a beefcake". He didn't quite clear the six-foot mark at the exit doors of banks, and he had carpenter's hands with short fingers. Diamon Jakes was six years older than he was, and she was his boss, but her recent behavior made him exceptionally nervous.
Now he was standing next to her, behind her desk to see what she was indicating on her computer screen. He could feel the heat of her body, distracting him, causing him to lose the focus of what she was saying. She was so expressive with her face and words and thoughts that his brain scrambled to try to sort out what she was trying to tell him with her body language. Was it perhaps something that would be totally unprofessional and out of character? He stepped back and shook his head. Maybe he was just tired.
But this wasn't the first time she had sent him what seemed like psychic physical messages. A few days before she had passed him in the hallway, paused for a moment causing him to stop in his