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"Ms. Kibre, Mr. Branch has asked that you stop by his office before five today," the secretary informed the assistant district attorney before she could enter the confines of her office.
"Did he say what it pertained to?" Tracey asked, not looking forward to any meeting with Branch, but hoping she'd at least have a heads up as to why her boss was summoning her.
"No, sorry," the young redhead answered, knowing why the ADA had asked the question.
Turning toward the elevators, Tracey muttered, "Might as well go and get it over with, although, it'll probably be like pulling a tooth without Novocaine." The doors closed to the elevator, leaving the secretary shaking her head and chuckling.
Tracey knocked on the door frame and stepped into the office when she was beckoned to enter. Taking a seat, she waited for the DA to begin the conversation.
"Tracey, would you mind closing the door? I need to discuss something with you in private," Branch asked, gesturing toward the wooden structure.
The ADA sighed and rose from her chair to close the door, glad for the chance to turn her back to her boss. If she needed to rebut anything, it wouldn't do her case any good if Branch were to see the worry on her face.
She quickly schooled her emotions and turned to walk back to her chair. Sitting, she crossed her legs and mentally braced herself for what was to come.
Branch took a deep breath and sighed. Folding his arms across his chest, he asked, "Is there anything you need to tell me?"
Keeping a poker face, Tracey questioned, "Concerning a case?"
"No, anything of a personal nature," Branch replied, tilting his head as he awaited the answer he seemed to already know.
Tracey had to force herself to remain calm as her heart suddenly doubled its normal resting rate. Matching her superior's posture, she folded her arms and said simply, "No."
Branch shook his head and explained, "I know about you and Gaffney. You've made a huge mistake getting involved with her, Tracey. It won't be tolerated by this office, so you either fire her, or, you can resign, and I'll fire her."
Stunned, Tracey still managed to maintain her composure. "What are you talking about, Arthur?"
"Don't play coy with me, Tracey. I've had reports from more than one source," Branch countered, resting his arms on his desk and leaning forward in an attempt to intimidate the smaller woman.
Tracey leaned back in her chair and stated, "Obviously, someone in this office has told you that Kelly and I are linked romantically. Where exactly did this supposed tryst take place?"
The brunette relaxed as she waited for the answer. She knew how careful she and Kelly had been when they spent the night with each other, and they never showed any signs of their involvement in the office.
Reaching for a legal pad, Branch read a few lines and reported, "According to sources, you've been seen making out in the ladies room and the copy room."
"You can't be serious, Arthur. The copy room? Have you ever known me to make my own copies?" Tracey defended herself, stalling while she tried to remember if she and Kelly had ever made out in the ladies room.
Nodding his head, Branch replied, "Yeah, you're right about that, but what about the ladies room?"
"I can barely remember if we've ever gone to the restroom together, Arthur. However, I believe I'd remember if we'd made out, don't you think?"
Strumming his fingers on the desk, the DA offered, "I tell you what. I'll check out these accusations personally, and if I find out that you're lying, you won't have to resign; I'll fire you and make sure you don't get a job anywhere in the city."
Tracey held her head high and asked, "What are you going to do if I'm right?"
"And?" Tracey questioned, clearly expecting some other type of compensation as well.
"I'll give both you and Ms. Gaffney the week off at the end of next month," Branch promised as Tracey stood to leave.
When she reached the door, she turned and added, "I'll be back at the end of the week, and I'll be expecting your apology, Arthur."
Later that evening, Tracey was lounging on her couch with her lover, trying to figure out how in the hell she was going to tell Kelly about her day. Remembering her earlier analogy about the dentist, she decided to just blurt it out.
"Kelly, Branch called me into his office today and accused me of having an affair with you. I can either fire you, or I can resign and he'll fire you."
The brunette immediately regretted her strategy as the blonde jumped up from the couch dislodging Tracey's head from her lap, and the ADA was barely able to keep from falling on the floor.
"Tracey! What are we going to do? We'll never get another job. We'll...wait a minute, you have to fire me. There's no sense in both of us losing our jobs. I can move to some small town where nobody knows what a lesbian is, and I can practice law there and then we can see each other on holidays or vacations or ..."
The brunette quickly grabbed her babbling partner and proceeded to kiss her senseless, or perhaps, more senseless than she seemed to be at the moment.
Soon, Kelly had melted into her lover's arms, and Tracey maneuvered them backwards toward the couch. She slowly released the blonde's lips and directed her partner onto the cushions.
"Hey, relax. It's going to be okay. Branch thinks we're carrying on our affair at the office, and we've never done anything inappropriate at the office. Hell, anytime anyone's ever been around us, we're arguing over some case. That's not exactly what I'd call pillow talk," Tracey teased as Kelly relaxed in the brunette's arms.
The two lovers sat quietly on the couch, secure in each other's embrace, both hoping that Tracey was right, and this whole thing would blow over soon.
As the week progressed, business was as usual at the office. Kelly and Tracey would disagree about a case, and a healthy argument would always ensue. The couple did take precautions to make sure that they were never alone together unless it was in Tracey's office.
Kelly had wanted to extend their safe practice to the evenings, but Tracey insisted that they not let this threat ruin their lives. So, the two women continued their normal routine, colleagues by day and lovers by night.
On Friday, Tracey headed straight for Branch's office. She wasn't going to wait all day until he summoned her. If she was going to lose her job, she wanted to know now.
She and Kelly had stayed up most of the night, discussing their options, and they'd decided that they'd both resign and find some place where they could work on their own terms.
Knocking on the door, Tracey walked confidently into the room and took the same chair she'd sat in on Monday. Branch looked up from his brief and smiled.
"Well, Tracey. It looks like I owe you an apology. It seems there is another blonde ADA having a lesbian affair, and your assistant was erroneously mistaken for her. So, there's no need to fire Ms. Gaffney, and I've already cleared your vacation."
Nodding, Tracey rose from the chair and started for the door. Stopping just short of the threshold, she asked, "Arthur? I'm curious about something. Did you threaten to fire me because you thought I was having an affair or because you thought it was a lesbian affair?"
Chuckling, Branch replied, "Tracey, I'm not even going to dignify that with an answer. Now, don't you have some case you need to work on?"
Smiling, Tracey left the office, feeling light and free for the first time all week. As she pushed the button for the elevator, the doors opened and Serena Southerlyn stepped out.
The two briefly greeted each other, and Tracey moved into the car. She couldn't wait to get to her office; she and Kelly had a vacation to plan.
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