Breaking the Ice
By Shelly Johnson
"It's 7:30, David. Where the heck are you?" Jamie Ross muttered as she glanced at her watch for the umpteenth time. She looked around the crowded New York bar, hoping to spot her very tardy husband. After a few seconds of futile searching, she sat back on the barstool and mentally cursed him out.
"Is this seat taken?"
Jamie instantly recognized the smoky voice that was tinged with a Texas accent. Great, this is what I needed right now, Jamie thought sarcastically. "It will be when my husband gets here," she replied.
"Well, I'll just keep it warm until he arrives," Abbie Carmichael answered, as she made her way onto the empty stool.
"It's a free country."
Abbie ordered a beer and wondered what possessed her to put herself in this position. In all outward appearances, she and Jamie had a lot in common, and should've been able to hold a decent conversation. However, that was not the case. Despite the fact that they were bright and competent lawyers who both worked in the District Attorney's Office, and more specifically assisted Jack McCoy, they just didn't seem to like each other. Sure, the dealings Abbie had with Jamie were as prosecutor and defense counsel, and not as coworkers, but there seemed to be more lying underneath it.
Jamie seemed to pay attention to everything around her except the woman sitting next to her. One moment she wondered what deal was being hammered out between two well-dressed men sitting at the end of the bar. Then, her eyes wandered to a very discreet table in the corner. She didn't need to guess what was being worked out between a slightly inebriated male, who was still wearing his conventioneer's name tag, and a young pretty woman who showed a bit too much affection for him.
After doing another search throughout the room for her wayward husband, Jamie checked her watch again. I could've been reading Katy a bedtime story right now, but I've got Ms. Texas and her suds instead, Jamie said to herself. That thought surprised her. Why did she feel this hostility towards Abbie? What had she done that antagonized her so? It couldn't be jealousy regarding any relationship with Jack. From what she heard, Abbie and herself were the only two assistants who hadn't slept with him.
Maybe it was the cases where they faced off together? Being on both sides of the table, Jamie knew how a prosecutor and a defense attorney could interpret the same law differently. With her current position of defending people's rights, she knew some of her legal maneuverings wouldn't be looked upon very highly by her former colleagues. But it was her belief in those rights that spurred her into action now.
Abbie heard a lot of favorable things about Jamie when she first joined the DA's office. She admired the fact that Jamie gave up private practice and took on the pressures of working for the city. She was appalled when Jamie felt she had to resign so she could retain custody of her daughter from her ex. Women's rights still had a way to go. So, when did the good thoughts go out the window? Did changing sides create this divide? Is that when she viewed Ms. Ross as the enemy?
Enemy? That's a rather harsh description, Abbie thought. She stared into her beer and tried to find a reason for her feelings. It definitely had nothing to do with Jack. Abbie knew that she and Jamie kept their relationships with him on a strictly professional level. So, why did she go after Jamie like a pitbull during that last case involving the school shooter? Of course, Abbie went after anyone who she felt deserved some sort of punishment, whether it be by death or jail time. But in retrospect, even she felt that she may have acted a tad shrewish. It was as if she wanted to personally attack Jamie.
Both women continued their silent musings. Both trying to find a reason for their discord. Both ready to offer up some type of truce. Then, it hit them. The answers they were searching for since their last encounter.
Abbie turned to Jamie. Jamie turned to Abbie. In unison, both uttered the pox upon their relationship.
"How in the world did you score your own office while I was stuck in a small cubicle?" Jamie exclaimed.
"What did you do to your hair? Those bangs are driving me nuts! Someone give me a pair of scissors!" Abbie spat out.
They looked at each other, surprise registering on their faces. Then, a smile broke from both women. They shook their heads and chuckled.
"Look, I really wanted to apologize if I came on too strong during the Semple case," Abbie said.
"Accepted. And I'm sorry if I haven't been more receptive during our dealings," Jamie replied.
"How would you like to start over?" Abbie asked, offering her hand. "Hi, I'm Abbie Carmichael, and I used to work with Jack McCoy."
"Pleased to meet you," Jamie responded, as she took her hand. "I'm Jamie Ross, and I, too, used to work with John James McCoy."
Abbie leaned closer to Jamie and whispered with a Cheshire cat smile, "That's one thing we have in common. So, did you ever wonder, why not us?"