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The Wolves Catch Their Attorney

By:Cara Adams

The Wolves Catch Their Attorney
Cara Adams

Shape-Shifter Clinic 2

Chapter One

Attorney Sierra Bond stared at the web of ropes high in the air. It looked like an overgrown fishing net, then became just two ropes, one she was supposed to walk along while holding on to the other one. Fucking hell. The things she did in the name of winning new clients.

"Perhaps the little lady would prefer to try the easier ropes course instead," suggested a partner from a competing firm, his face one big sneer.

She gave him her most professional smile in return, then cast an obvious glance at his paunchy belly bulging beneath his company T-shirt. "I'll be fine, but thank you for your concern."

Determinedly she turned and began climbing the ladder up to the starting point. It must be fifty fucking feet up in the air. Just as well I'm not afraid of heights.

After climbing about one hundred twenty rungs of the ladder she was beginning to be grateful for her daily workouts at the gym and the fact she had some upper-body strength, because she sure as hell needed it now. The regular regimen of weights at the gym, as well as running on the treadmill, and cycling, was about to pay off-she hoped. If I don't fall, of course.

At the top of the ladder she was grateful for the time to catch her breath while the instructor clipped a safety harness around her waist. She also took the opportunity to assess the ropes course from here. Now she could see the web was actually quite wide apart and she'd have to work hard to make her way across it to the single rope path.

"Off you go then," said the instructor cheerily.

"Thanks," she grunted, stepping out onto the first loop of rope.

It was damn hard to move one foot at a time, always making sure she could reach the next loop from where she stood. Several times she ended up with both feet in the same loop to stretch far enough for a hand grip. "Team bonding my fat ass. Killing off the competitors is more likely."

Then when she got to the end of the web, she found she'd miscalculated. She was too low on the fucking net to be able to climb up onto the rope line and reach the safety line to hold onto. Fortunately she didn't have to backtrack very far to climb higher. This time she made sure she could step down onto the walking line, still holding onto the web, and then grab the hand line. By the time she was on the single rope her body was running with perspiration, her hair was stuck to her face and neck, her hands were slippery with sweat, and even her feet were starting to slide around some inside her athletic shoes.

She hooked one arm around the safety rope and dried one hand as well as she could on the seat of her shorts. Then she turned sideways to dry the other hand. Even her shorts were wet, but at least now she had some hope of holding on. Although … Why use her hands to grasp the rope when having the line wound around her arm would support her and leave her hands free to maneuver herself better? Thoughtfully she wound both arms through the safety line, so it went over her forearm and under her wrist. She could still slide her feet along the walking rope and felt more balanced.

More confidently now, she made her way for another twenty feet along the line. Moving slowly, she rested her gaze on the end of the line. Getting off was going to be another major challenge. "Was this fucking ropes course built for seven-foot-tall basketball players or something?" Sierra was an average woman-average weight, average height, five foot five precisely. But to get from the rope line where she was standing, to the zip line which would transport her back to the ground, would involve stepping over a gap she was pretty sure her legs couldn't span.

She slid closer to the end of the rope and began to rock backward and forward. Yes, that'd do it. If she timed it right she could swing the entire line a foot closer to the zip line and would be sure to catch the handlebar with that bit of extra reach. She kept working the rope like a swing, mentally timing the laps and watching for the distance they covered. When she was sure she could bridge the gap she stretched out her right hand and grabbed the handlebar of the zip line, pulling it to her. Then it was easy to bring her other hand across, swing her feet off the rope, and let the momentum of the mini cable car send her down to the ground at the end of the course, her body swinging backward and forward to keep it moving.

She landed neatly on both feet, running until she was steady, and then she let go of the handlebars. She stepped to the side so the zip line could be pulled back up for the next person attempting the ropes course, and waited for the instructor to unclip the safety harness from her waist.

"You did well. I can see now why your group wanted to do the red course. Usually people coming here to do a team-bonding exercise only do the blue course. Some of them don't even do that. They do the kiddy course, the green one," said the instructor chattily.

"Life's pretty boring without a challenge every now and then, don't you think?" she replied. But what she thought was, I'm going to kill that goatish fly-bitten maggot pie of a manager.

Sierra didn't stay to watch the others finish the course. It would have been fun to see them fail, especially the man who'd sneered at her, but she had a reputation to maintain and looking as exhausted and sweaty as she did now would not be good for her image, or her future rainmaking possibilities. And that's what this team-bonding event was all about for her. Proving to the clients that she was able to beat the lawyers from the other firms not just in court, where they already knew she excelled, but in the testosterone-fuelled events that inevitably accompanied every meeting.

That's why she drove a candy-apple-red sports car. Oh, sure she liked to go fast. Who didn't? But the point was that men in her position drove luxury sports cars, so she upped the stakes and bought one in a color that could never be ignored.

To maintain her position, to get ahead and make partner sometime soon, she had to continue being the company rainmaker, the attorney who won her cases and brought in a continual stream of new clients, as well as keeping all her existing clients. And the only way she could do that, could smash the glass ceiling and rise to partner, was by beating all the men at their own game, in court and out of it.

Now she needed to shower and change and make sure she was there ready to speak to everyone about her experiences on the ropes course-on acing the ropes course. Right after she picked out a shirt that would hide the bruises she could already feel developing on her forearms from winding the rope around them. And after she'd rubbed some massage oil into her aching thigh muscles.

Damn, it was hard work always having to prove that she was better than everyone else. Why couldn't they just accept she was a damn good lawyer and leave her to spend time winning cases in court instead of on a fucking ropes course? Bonding be damned. The only thing she wanted to bond with was a cup of strong black coffee and a couple pieces of rich dark chocolate.

* * * *

An hour later, her hair was washed, dried, and piled neatly up into a clip displaying her bare neck. She'd added a set of long, dangling earrings she adored but would never put on for court because they were too distracting, and was wearing a red dress that covered her body from neck to wrists to ankles, hiding the myriad bruises she'd been appalled to see developing on various parts of her pale skin.

She'd stood under shower water as hot as she could bear it for ten minutes before washing, hoping the heat would soothe her muscles, then had massaged oil into all the sore places she could reach, topping her self-medication off with two Tylenol. She was determined to move around as though her body wasn't battered and aching just to make sure those fucking men didn't start laughing at her.

As usual she circulated through the meeting room, careful never to put her drink down or even to hold it where she couldn't see it. Businesspeople were just as likely to spike a woman's drink as the men one met in the local bar. That's why she only ever drank sparkling water. She didn't want anything that might hide the taste or smell of something added to her glass.

When she'd climbed the ladder to begin the ropes course it had seemed to her that everyone was watching her. Now, as she spoke to people, that opinion was confirmed. Some men were openly admiring and those ones she laughed and joked with. Others ignored her and she was fine with that attitude, too.

One man looked her up and down as if she was of no account and said, "Climbing a few ropes is nothing. Likely you learned to do that as a teenager escaping from your bedroom at night."

Several people gasped at his implication about her sexual behavior. But Sierra was used to that kind of comment. And she remembered this man, too.

"You're right. The real battleground is in court, isn't it? I believe we met in front of Judge McNeill in April last year. My client won over a million dollars in damages from your client, didn't she?"

"Hansen versus Rickard. One point two five million. I remember that case, too. You handled it very well, Sierra, very well indeed," said another man.

Sierra relaxed as the conversation turned to talk about various cases, until dinner was announced and they all moved into another room.

For the rest of the evening Sierra was working just as hard as she'd worked on the ropes course, but it was the kind of work she loved, meeting people, talking to clients and potential clients, discussing old cases and points of law with colleagues. Even after th