It’s a rainy evening at Grace’s residence in NYC. The light is dim in her living room; she’s sitting under the floor lamp, looking at the files of the law case. She doesn’t know what to do anymore; she seems like she can’t win the case. She’s frustrated: her partner, Max, is a liability to the case, and she can’t afford to lose this case because of someone that entered her life just a couple of months ago.
She closes the case file to open the one underneath it: it is labeled, “Maxwell Harper, Carter Law Firm”
Grace: *flipping through the file* What do you have to hide, Harper?
She flips through the papers until one catches her eye. She stares at it intently:
LAWRENCE MAYBERRY BUYS OUT LAST OF STOCK, DETHRONING THE HARPER FAMILY EMPIRE
She’s reading the newspaper article until the knock on the door frightens her. She closes the file and looks towards her front door.
Max: *from outside of the door* Grace, open the door! I know you’re in there!
Grace gets up from her chair and slowly walks towards the door; she doesn’t want Max to hear her footsteps. Max keeps banging on the door.
Max: The lady at the front desk said you were in your apartment, so I know you’re in there!
Grace rolls her eyes at the comment; only he would ask the front desk if someone was in their apartment. Lawyer shit. Grace gives up and walks to the front door, unlocks it, and opens it.
Max: Hey, about time.
Grace looks at Max; his olive skin is wet from the rain, his curly brown hair looks even curlier now that it’s drenched in rainwater and my god, the thinness of his now soaked button-down shirt is revealing some of the hardest abs she’s ever seen in her life. Get it together, Grace!
Grace: What do you want, Harper? Couldn’t this wait until tomorrow?
Max: Ouch, we’re back on a last-name basis? I thought we were buddies!
Grace doesn’t laugh, nor smile.
Grace: What is it, Max?
Max analyzes Grace’s body language: it’s tense. Uncomfortable. Foreign. It feels like he’s just meeting her all over again. Something isn’t right. They had a connection, they both felt that. Shit, they practically made love in this very spot that one special night after the company’s gala. What suddenly happened? Is she on to him? Does she know what he knows?
Max: I just wanted to discuss some things about the case before the trial this week. The file wasn’t on our desk, so I assumed you had it. *looks at the file on the table next to the floor lamp* Is this it?
He walks to the chair and Grace ultimately blocks his way.
Grace: Don’t just be touching things in my apartment, Max.
Max: It wouldn’t be the first time I touched something in this apartment.
They look at each other. Damn that spark. Max reaches his hand over Grace to get the file, but she’s quick.
Grace: Again, don’t touch things in my apartment.
The playful staredown was now more intense. They are both good at what they do, yet they both can’t read what’s going on in each other’s faces.
Max: What do you have to hide, Grace?
Grace: Nothing. Why are you so eager for the case file, Max?
Max: Not eager, just determined to get some facts straight.
Grace: Is that right?
Max: It is a part of the job. Are you willing to get some facts straight, Ashmore?
Grace: Ouch, last-name basis. I thought we’re supposed to be on the same team, Harper.
Max: Aren’t we?
Grace is now confused; for a man that’s hiding one of the biggest secrets from his partner, he’s sure confident about something.
Max: Listen, Grace, I wanted to come down here to talk about his case with you. You’ve been avoiding my messages, my calls, shit, even my eye contact at the job. What’s going on?
Grace: You seem so eager to put this case to rest, Max. What’s the rush? You have some sort of vendetta against the Mayberry’s?
Max: *confused* What are you talking about?
Grace: Don’t play stupid with me, Max. You know what I’m talking about.
Max: *sighs and puts his hands on his hips* Grace, I’m a defense lawyer, not a psychic. I don’t know what the hell are you insinuating.
Out of frustration, Grace turns around and reveals the file on Max. She slams it on the coffee table.
Grace: How could you jeopardize the company like this, Max?
Max: *looks down at the file* What are you doing with my file?
Grace: I knew something wasn’t right with you.
Max: *dumbfounded* I could say the same thing! What the hell were you doing with my personal file? Were you-
Grace: I know everything, Max! I know why you’ve been so damn aggressive in this case, why you wanted the lead on this case since the beginning! This was personal to you! The Mayberry’s are the reason why your family got bankrupt, why your father killed himself-
Max: *furious* Grace-
Grace: Who would’ve thought that Maxwell Harper, the suppose sole heir to the empire your family had, would be working with his number one enemy on a fraud case. You never wanted to win this case! You wanted to out Mayberry in prison! You are a damn liability to the prosecutor’s case! You want the facts so you could help them out get a case against Mayberry!
Grace is standing at one side of the coffee table, and Max is standing at the other. The room is silent; all you hear is the rain from outside. Max looks at Grace with dark eyes; he’s not the Max Harper Grace grown to know, and to some degree: love.
Max: Do you get off on ruining the relationships in your life, Grace?
Grace is taken back on the question, she doesn’t know what to say.
Max: Do you just find ways to ruin good things in your life because you never had any good things in it? I know the type of person you are, Grace. You’re the workaholic type, the one that fills the void of affection and love with your work, so you don’t have to think about the lovely nights you spend in this apartment, by yourself. You want to be on top when it comes to your work, right? You know that’s the only thing you’re good at because everything else in life you failed at.
Grace: Get. Out.
Max: *continues* One of your parents weren’t in your life growing up, huh? Knowing by your tough demeanor and willingness to survive in a male-dominant world, you probably lived with your dad growing up. FBI Agent Ashmore, right? Is that how you got the information about the prosecutor’s “liable” witness so fast? You asked for daddy’s help?
Grace walks towards Max and attempts to push him towards the front door.
Grace: Get out of my apartment, now!
Max: If you weren’t so headstrong on believing your damn assumptions, you would’ve done some more digging on me since you are so belligerent on your damn beliefs! Yeah, I am the son of Prescott Harper, the heir of the multi-million dollar empire. Yeah, Lawrence Mayberry bought out my father, yes, but he didn’t cause my family to go bankrupt. My father and his bloody gambling addition did. My father was too much of a coward to see what he has caused to his family and he offed himself when I was 11 years old. My mother, traumatized for life, now spends her days in the psychiatric ward for her mental illnesses. I was determined to make my life and my successes my own, not through other people who would turn on you once you got successful. I did this on my own; I’m where I’m at because I did it without anyone’s bloody help! So for you to make such a crazy story about me and my motives really fucking blows because I was really falling for you, Grace.
Grace just stands there; she stops fighting him out of the apartment. She doesn’t say anything because she knows she just made one of the biggest mistakes of her life. She let someone amazing out of her life because of her stupid assumptions. Maybe she does ruin relationships because she’s too afraid to keep them. Maybe she’s too afraid to fuck things up, so she does it to get it over with. But, Max was different; he always was.
Max turns around and turns the knob on the door.
Grace: Max, I-
Max: I didn’t look up your file to know those things about you, Grace. Maybe if you read my entire file, you’d know I got my degree in Psychology as well, to better understand my mother’s pain.
Max opens the door and walks out. Grace just stands there, looking at the door.
— The End —