Do you love trashy romance novels? Do you also enjoy serialised stories? Well, you saucy Dickens devil, so does Ellie. So much so she’s written a Jackie Collins-esque series. Enjoy.
A tale of revenge, intrigue and romance.
Lucia DeMelles: A hardworking prosecutor with enemies in the city
Charlie Symmonds: A fierce surgeon with heels to match
Two women who changed many lives.
Someone has a new mantra.
A mantra of DEATH.
The courtroom room fan swirled overhead as the first witness was called. A middle aged woman approached the box nervously toying with the gold ring on her finger. Lucia quickly glanced over the witnesses’ original statement. Her testimony wasn’t crucial to the case, but Lucia knew everything had to be watertight. The defence lawyers were known as soulless sharks in this town, and as chief prosecutor, her reputation, as well as the case, were at stake.
Approaching the stand, Lucia made eye contact with the woman. Hazel had been a cleaner at the office of the accused. She had seen hundreds of papers shredded in her time. It was a straightforward fraud case, but Lucia knew that Frank Morton, aka CEO of Morton Global, would have the best team money could buy. There was no way he’d go down without a fight.
Lucia greeted Hazel warmly, this poor woman, how was she to know what those papers were? She was just doing her job. She lived a quiet life downtown with her son and husband. Her husband, a war hero-wounded in Afghanistan whilst guarding a school. A real hero-not like those bastards. Lucia thought, glancing at the defence team behind her.
“Now Hazel” she said, “would you like to tell us exactly what you found the night of November 21st?”
As Hazel began to give her statement, the press in the public gallery furiously scribbled down everything she said, and more. They wrote about her clothes, her face, her history. The tabloid rats had got hold of her son as he was leaving work one day, and they knew all about the families financial problems. They were torn-take down a war hero’s wife or elaborate their poverty. They chose the latter, leaving their readers to question Hazel’s motives. Frank Morton was one of the richest businessmen in the city. Lucia had prepared for this. Her line of questioning drew out the generosity, the kindness of Hazel’s life, and the love she had for her job. Lucia was in no doubt Hazel was not in this for the money. She had been unaware of the implications of the papers until the police told her; she was here because she believed in justice.
The only reporter whose pen was not recording the lines on Hazel’s face, or the creases in her clothes, sat stony faced as he listened intently. Brent Stone was a freelance investigative reporter, and he was covering this trial for an upmarket glossy lifestyle magazine. He didn’t normally work for the glossies, but after four years following troops around war zones and refugees across borders, he decided it was time for a break. Only for Brent Stone was a break a trial in the city. His last story here had been about eating disorders and the fashion industry. He’d blown the lid off the seedy world of endless diets, cheap thrills and even cheaper drugs. He’d become so incensed by what he’d discovered he joined a campaign for realistic models, and working with other organisations they’d succeeded in changing city laws on BMI for the annual fashion show. Much to the displeasure of the designers who lived and worked here, he’d been part of something amazing. He was well aware of the irony in returning home to write for a glossy.
He sat mesmerised, he’d heard about Lucia DeMelles long ago. She had been the first prosecutor to take down a trafficking ring, and her work had focused on fighting for the ‘little man’ or as she would say it ‘the little person’. A fierce feminist, Lucia had guts and wasn’t afraid to challenge anyone who she thought stepped out of line. Brent had only met her once, at an art exhibition a few years ago, and was struck by her humour. Brent knew more than most how the papers only dealt in headlines, yet her warmth and wit jarred with the ‘man-hating bitch’ the rich and powerful painted her as. Watching her in action, Brent suddenly realised that the story was not the fraud case, it was Lucia. How did a young lawyer straight out of law school become a senior partner in one of the cities most prominent firms in less than ten years? And how did she cope with the media’s constant portrayal of her as a ‘feminazi’? What drove this amazing woman?
Working with local women’s groups on the fashion campaign had opened his eyes, and he was constantly aware of the pressure the media-and by extension- his profession-put on women. A profile piece celebrating her achievements, and not her dress sense, would go some way in rectifying this. Brent returned to the trial, this assignment needed to be completed.
Morton Global, a huge accountancy firm, had been set up by Frank Morton in the eighties, and the fast living lifestyle of the time never seemed to end. Brent knew of ex-employees who were encouraged to use company cards to fund their playboy habits. Any and all pursuits were catered for. As an accountancy firm, it was obvious there was a lot of money changing hands, but the question was, whose money was being used to fund what. The glossies readership had more than a passing interest in this case, many of them used Morton Global and many of them had lost small fortunes.
Lucia continued her questioning of Hazel, she was gentle yet firm, she knew how important it was to deflect any criticism away from Hazel and back on to the case. Morton Global had to be taken down. Lucia didn’t normally take on financial cases like this, but she felt driven to bring Morton Global to justice. It wasn’t the clients she really felt for, sure, they lost a heap of money, and morally and legally Morton Global had to take responsibility, but it was the workers her heart really went out to. Workers like Hazel who had to put up with years of demeaning and degrading treatment from their obnoxious bosses. These men treated any woman who came within a ten mile radius of them with utter contempt.
In the course of the trial prep, Lucia and her team had spoken to more woman than they cared to remember who had been ‘let go’ for no reason, and then paid huge sums to keep quiet. Lucia heard about the business trips to lap dancing clubs, the strippers who arrived at the office on birthdays, and the lewd comments made to female workers on a daily basis. But this wasn’t a sexual harassment case, nor was it a discrimination case, but it made Lucia even more determined to show those bastards that they could not do as they pleased.
There were ramifications and she was the ‘feminazi’ to take them down.
MANTRA: Part two coming soon.