I know everyone wants to believe that I was forced or pressured into doing this. No one wants to believe their lawmakers, the very people that hold so many lives in their hands can be so diabolical and greedy. The only thing I was forced to do was keep my mouth closed. The rest was up to me.

It was colder than usual that Monday morning. The morning of May 23rd when I was supposed to start my position as second in command to Dr. Larabee.

I think that coldness was exuding from me.

I knew that I had to change my entire aura. I was going to being among the top dogs in the county and I had to act like I belonged. I didn’t know what to expect going into this position. I had never even had a conversation with Patrisha and I only talked to Larabee once before. But like any good law student turned lawyer turned judge I knew how to keep my poker face. I started my car and headed down the black brick road. I walked through the glass doors of the county courthouse trying to seem like a new woman.

After going through the metal detector, I was immediately cornered by Mitchell Larabee. He grabbed my hand and proceeded to walk me to my new office.

“I just thought I’d pay you a visit on your first day to make sure you get settled in well”, he said while escorting me inside the office. He shut the door behind him.

“I’m sure you did Larabee.”

“And of course, I wanted to remind you of our little deal and make sure we have a mutual understanding.”

“We do. You have nothing to worry about.”

I put my head down immediately. Truth be told Mitchell was intimidating as hell, and knowing he was capable of murder made him even more frightening.

“So… Are you going to tell me the full story…? Like why it happened? People are going to ask questions and they’re going to ask me, since I’m in her position while she’s deemed “missing”.”

He paused for a minute. He was debating on whether to tell me, or how much I needed to know. He motioned for me to sit.

“I cannot express to you how important discretion is, Judge.”

I rolled my eyes at the condescension I heard in the word “judge”. I nodded for him to continue.

“Ok. Trish was a part of GAMP.”

“Wait GAMP? I thought that was all just rumor started by Smith because he wanted you out of the courthouse.”

“No, GAMP is real. But that motherfucker Smith didn’t know how real it was. He did want me out of the courthouse which is why he ran with it.”

Now I know you’re wondering what GAMP is. Last year GAMP was rumored to be a selective club of men that ran the county. Nothing came in without their permission and nothing went out unless they knew what it was. GAMP was rumored to be behind many corruption and bribery schemes, but their connections were endless so any questions that ever came up went right back down.

“What was Trish’s involvement in GAMP?”

“Trish was our middleman. The person we needed to carry out business because none of us could be seen.”

He was being short and it was pissing me off. I wanted to know everything in that moment. I didn’t know what GAMP was for a fact at that moment but I would find out quickly. See the thing only rule in a club like GAMP is that you must be soulless. The moment you start having second thoughts or trying to do the right thing you become an enemy to them. Let’s just say Patrisha became an enemy.

“What did Trish do wrong?”

“She forgot about the rule of discretion.”

There was a pause.

“Is that seriously all you’re going to tell me?”

“That’s all you need to know. When people start asking you questions you know nothing!”

I nodded.

“Say it.”

“I know nothing.”

“Good. Now, there’s a meeting later tonight. Mostly to welcome you to the top of the circuit and discuss some other things. By the way, you can call me Mitch.”

“Ok… Mitch.”

With that he left my office. I sat back in my chair and huffed out a huge breath. I spun around to look at the view. There were two large windows right behind me and outside of those windows? A county bustling with people. Orange County was just that type of place. Everyone was always on the move, doing something, or going somewhere. I loved it here.

I turned the TV onto the local news station to get updates about what the media was saying regarding Patrisha’s “disappearance”.

“It’s been two days since Orange County Judge Patrisha Marks was reported missing by her sister Alaina Smith. She was last seen at her office at the county courthouse. So far no one has come forward with details regarding her disappearance. We spoke with Alaina at her home for more information.”

The screened switched to a male reporter as he was walking up toward Alaina and who I assumed to be her husband.

And just that fast shit got real.

The camera turned toward Alaina Smith and her husband Levi Smith, who was District 4 Supervisor. The Board of Supervisors in Orange County consist of 5 people that represent 5 districts. They oversee businesses, agencies, and departments within in the OC. Levi was the man who tried to expose GAMP last year to get Patrisha the position as “lead” judge. She was the same age as Mitch and had been involved in the system just as long. But she wasn’t a Larabee and she was a woman. Levi thought he could use his big mouth and influence to sway people away from Mitch, but it didn’t work. I didn’t know Levi was Patrisha’s brother in law. Hell, I didn’t even know she had a sister. If Patrisha and Levi were brother and sister, and Levi and Mitch were arch nemesis, and Patrisha was the First Lady of GAMP… what could it mean?

The wheels in my mind were starting to turn but I had no time to sit and draw a bubble chart. I had to get to court and handle cases. I’m sure I’ll be getting more answers tonight at this “meeting”.

 

After a long day of cases and slamming my gavel it was finally time to meet the inner circle. I walked down the infamous hallway. The hallway where my old office was and where my new fate lay ahead. Once I reached Mitch’s office I knocked on the big mahogany door. Jake Reynolds opened it to my surprise. He didn’t smile.

Jake was pleading with his eyes. He wanted me to turn around but I didn’t know it then.

“Hey Jake”

“Hey Taryn”

I walked into the office reluctantly. I heard the door behind me close and I jumped a little. I knew my fate was sealed. I slowly walked toward the group of men standing at the large windows behind Mitchell’s desk. Cigar smoke, expensive scotch, and misogyny filled the air.

“Uh… Hello?”

That was the best greeting I could muster. They all turned toward me and grinned. Sort of like a pack of hungry wolves looking at their next meal. There were all different kinds of wolves, too. Black, white, and a Hispanic one. At least they cared about representation, I guess. There were a few businessmen, lawyers, and of course 2 judges. In all there were 7, including me.

“Taryn Meyers! Welcome. Gentlemen this is one of our new judges. She recently got a promotion and I wanted us all to sit and get to know each other. Taryn is new to the circle but I’m sure she’ll prove to be a very vital asset.”

I greeted all the men formally and shook each hand firmly.

“Let’s have a seat. Shall we?”, said Mitchell.

We all sat down and got to business.

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