Brian Van Pelt has barely survived an anguished year of loss, hiding his sorrows under the facade of a cool and uncaring attorney. Not able to deny his grief any long, heartache drives him to collapse and his life takes an unexpected turn.
When Jessie Ingram comes to work at his law firm, she is intrigued by the conflicting darkness of Brian's behavior and the tender inconsistencies that hint at something deeper within him.
Despite her interest, she has her own pain, supporting her niece Sara, who is has a virulent cancer with aggressive treatments that take such a toll they would not be worth it — except they are Sara's only hope of survival.
Will life’s hardships bring Brian and Jessie together? Will they be able to heal and possibly find love?
Will caught Jessie's gaze. "Sorry that meltdown came now, of all times. Looks like you may be on your own with Adams, unless something changes very soon." He bent down and picked up the papers on the floor. When he straightened he handed them to her.
"Sir, may I ask what that was all about?"
"You may, but it isn't my story to tell. Let's just say Brian had more than his share of personal sadness in the last year and it's finally caught up with him."
"Okay, I understand. But, sir, as I tried to tell Van Pelt, I can't find the files and depositions from his earlier work. Would it be okay if I looked around in his office? If he isn't here..."
"You're right, we can't wait much longer." With a short nod, Will headed to Brian's office, unlocked the main door, and another one in the back of the room -- a storage closet?
"Thank you, sir." Her boss left for his office and closed the door. She looked around the room. Sterile, too neat. Maybe the files in his desk drawers would reveal more.
Brian's desk chair sat oddly positioned. Not to one side as one would leave it naturally after rising from it, but pushed back against the desk and perfectly centered in the opening. As she had done the day before, Jessie pulled it out and perched on the edge of the too-tall chair. She opened the file drawer on the left, and found it empty. How very strange. She turned to the other side of the desk, and opened the top utility drawer. Empty, too. The bottom drawer held only one thin file, unlabeled. She pulled it out and placed it on the desk. She opened it to find what she least expected.
The picture of a little girl smiled up at her. She was probably around kindergarten age, judging by the one missing front tooth. Was Brian Van Pelt a father? She turned to the next sheet and found a crayon picture of a house, three people and a dog. The people were labeled Mommy, Daddy and Trudy in a child's crayoned letters. The dog was Ollie. Beside the house was a big tree with a swing hanging from it.
She put the folder back into the drawer and turned to the closet. She didn't mean to be nosy about his personal life. Will said he'd recently divorced. All the personal connections were probably damaged or at least fragile, even with his little girl. Still, it was mind boggling that he didn't have a single work paper in his desk.
He must have work files somewhere.
She opened the closet door and gasped at the sight of open file drawers, some no longer in the frame but tipped on their sides against the marred walls as if someone had thrown them there. It would take great strength to throw a full file drawer. Papers spread everywhere. She looked over her shoulder at the compulsively neat office, and back at the devastation before her. Could these contrasting areas be the workspace of the same man? It was incomprehensible. How could the cold, calculating, maybe even mean man be the man who saved the kindergarten photo and drawing in the place closest to him?