The Love Wars

The Love Wars by L. Alison Heller

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Authors: L. Alison Heller
    “It is.” He shrugs again and smiles in a way that’s almost bashful. “It’s quiet.”
    “It’s nice.” The dining room at eleven o’clock offers a mood of tranquillity that is rare for Bacon Payne. “Care to join me?” I push out a chair with my legs.
    “Sure.” He sits down and looks at my paper. “What’s that?”
    “Oh, it’s a motion a client wrote and wants me to submit. I’m just supposed to proofread it, basically.”
    “Well, that sounds like an excellent idea.”
    I laugh. “I know. I’m spending more time trying to figure out how to manage her. Anyway.”
    “You can’t make someone like that happy.”
    “I know that on an intellectual level. It’s just…I’ve concluded that you have to be on your best behavior here. Not much room for mistakes.”
    He looks at me. “You mean the thing with Hope?”
    I am surprised. Henry usually seems so above the loop. The Hope scene was fairly seismic, though.
    I nod. “Did Lillian ever treat you like that?”
    “Well, Lillian’s not the easiest to work for. She was pretty demanding the first few years. And I definitely jumped in response.”
    “But it got better?”
    “Yeah, it got better. Or maybe my tolerance got higher. And over the years, I’ve tried to keep a low profile.”
    “Yes, I’ve noticed.” I smile, looking around the room. “You eat lunch at eleven so you can avoid us all. Why are you sticking it out? Oh, wait. It’s the allure of the Miró, isn’t it?”
    He shakes his head and laughs. “You got me. I came for the food and stayed for the art collection.”
    “No, really. Why?”
    “I’m up for partner this year. I’ve put in eight years of hard work here for that very specific reason.” He smiles and raises his eyebrows as though in jest, but his eyes are serious.
    “Ambitious.” Most senior associates act much more casual about their beliefs in the inevitably of partnership; the odds are too slim to admit to caring. “Oh, hey—I have a question. You know that parental alienation case we talked about?”
    “Yeah, Robert Walker.”
    “Well, she hired Phil Klotstein on my recommendation and he’s not returning her calls. Who should I send her to?”
    “I’ll call Cathy Meyers to see if she’s available. She owes me one.”
    “Thanks. I appreciate it. You know Risa McDunn? She’s representing Robert Walker.”
    “That’s an interesting choice. She’s a little mysterious, actually. She used to be a big partner at Thatch Howard, but about ten years ago, she chucked it all and moved upstate to start her own practice in Orange County. Or Rockland? I’m not sure. Anyway, she gets some huge cases but only takes one or two a year in the city.”
    His BlackBerry starts to ring and he peers down, absorbed. “I have to deal with this, but I’ll let you know what Cathy says.”
    “N o! No! No!” Liesel shouts. “The paragraph after that. What you should do is list exactly how many times I had to nag Stewart to do things for the cats. He wouldn’t even remember to clip their nails if I didn’t tell him to.”
    It’s Sunday. I’ve spent much of my weekend on the phone withLiesel, going over my changes to her draft. We have a little routine: I suggest something; she rejects it; I try to explain my reasons; she insults me.
    “But, Liesel, again, we shouldn’t spend much time saying that Stewart was bad with the cats. Our best argument is that the cats are property and covered by the prenup and—”
    “We should spend as much time on it as I want. I’m the one who worked to afford the cats and maintain their lifestyle. If it were up to him to support them, they’d be living in a box right outside the Bryant Park subway, asking for food on a cardboard sign. I am the doer; he is the lazy scrub on the couch. That’s what I want the judge to know.”
    “What the judge really needs to know is that the clause in the prenup—the one that says if Stewart does a substantial amount of work on

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