Part 25, New Rules.
The law library at the firm was huge. It had to be. Not because it held a complete set of law books, but because it held five! It was a two-tiered room, divided into sections dependent on what kind of law you needed to reference, and in fact didn't hold all the law books in the building. Most of the lawyers had their own little incomplete collections in their offices, usually concentrated on their specialties.
Yet, when it came to most research, this was the room in which to do it. It was a room usually occupied by paralegals. Nina West was up here often, for a paralegal rarely went more than a few days without needing to access the library.
She was there now, at a table near the back with Helen, three large piles of books in front of each of them, and a large pile of scattered notes covering the rest of the available surface. The two of them were digging up past case files for Sara Wickland, the Legallady.
"Here's one," Helen said, shaking her head and tossing back her hair. She handed the book over to Nina, who took it and started to read, or at least she tried to. She was distracted by two other paralegals at a table on the other side of the bookcase behind them. The unseen man and woman were having a conversation and laughing about anything but work.
Like most libraries, silence was the rule here, but obviously these two didn't care. Then, something they said caught Nina's ear.
"Did you hear about the Legallady?" the man said.
"What, do tell," replied the woman.
"Well, the senior partners are having their big board meeting right now, right? I hear that Sarah Wickland is on her way out!"
Nina blinked and looked up from her book. She caught Helen's eye; she also looked startled. "Do you think...?" Helen started to say, but Nina waved her to silence.
"No, you're kidding!" the woman said.
"Nope, I'm serious. I heard it from Annie, Roth's secretary. She said that he was talking about how fed up the other partners were of the kooky clients Sarah Wickland keeps bringing in."
"Wow. But I thought those clients brought a lot of money to the firm!"
"They do, but Roth and the others are sick of them coming here and embarrassing the regular clients. Heck, there's a rumor that one of them was running around the building last week completely naked. Someone has a tape off the security cameras or something."
Nina began to blush.
"Someone told me it was one of the lawyers," said the woman. "Apparently he had sneaked in a girlfriend for some late night fun!" Both of them laughed.
"No, Roth is pretty sure it has something to do with Sarah Wickland. He and the other partners want her and her clients gone."
Nina was shocked. The Legallady, gone? Was there really a chance that she would gain some freedom at last to be able to work like a normal person?
The librarian passed by at that moment and began ragging on the couple on the other side of the bookcase. No more was to be heard from them after that.
"Could it be true?" Helen asked her friend.
"I don't know, I hadn't heard anything!" Nina replied.
Neither of them could really concentrate after that.
Nina got a summons to the office of Sarah Wickland later that day. With trepidation, Nina went.
She entered the outer office of Sarah's suite to find Franklin, Sarah's secretary, at his usual place behind the desk. The greasy man looked up and smiled as Nina entered, making Nina think that the news couldn't be so bad.
"Do I need to...you know?" Nina asked him, gesturing at his closet.
"Do you need to what?" he asked smugly.
Nina swallowed, not wanting to lose her temper, yet hating this man more and more with each day. But she had to play these games with him. "Do I need to get undressed?"
"Undressed? Can you tell me what you mean by undressed?"
Nina wanted to punch that smug smile.
"I mean, do I have to take my clothes off?"
Franklin looked at her for a few seconds. "Maybe if you described HOW you would take your clothes off, I might be able to tell you if you need to or not."
"Just do it!"
Nina hesitated. "Do I need to bend over and remove my shoes before shrugging off my jacket and hanging it in the closet. Are you going to make me unzip my skirt and drop it to the floor so I can bend over and pick it up before hanging THAT in the closet. DO I have to stand here facing you while I unbutton my blouse and remove it, leaving me in just my panties and bra? WILL I HAVE to remove them as well, exposing my body once more to your SICK little gaze so you can lock my clothes away. DO I HAVE TO DO ALL THAT?"
Franklin frowned at her tone of voice. "Show me your tits."
"What?" Nina said, amazed.
"Show me your tits! Open your shirt and show me your tits!"
Nina angrily undid her jacket and blouse, pulling them open to expose her bra-clad breasts.
Franklin shook his head. "The bra too."
Humiliated, Nina undid the front clasp of her bra and opened it up. She stood silently while Franklin licked his lips and stared. "Okay, you can go in now."
Nina sighed and began to put herself away, but Franklin stopped her. "No, go just like that."
"You're fucking sick, Franklin," Nina said, "I'll be glad when you're gone."
Franklin frowned. "Gone?"
Nina looked at his confusion for a moment, then shrugged. "Never mind." She went past him and opened the door to Sarah's office, still bare breasted.
Inside, she saw Sarah standing by one of the big windows behind her desk, staring out.
"Sarah?" Nina said.
"Come here, Nina," Sarah said softly.
Nina looked out the window at the office building across the way. She normally stayed away from the windows when working in these offices nude, and was very conscious of the fact she was practically topless. She moved slowly toward her boss until she stood behind her.
"Come...look," Sarah said, again without turning.
"I'd rather not, Ma'am," Nina said, not wanting to expose herself to the world.
"What?" Sarah said. She turned to look at Nina and frowned. "Oh, I'm sorry, Nina, I didn't know you'd be topless. Franklin?"
Nina nodded and Sarah chuckled. Sarah seemed to forgive Franklin a lot, making him Nina's cross to bear. "Well, close your jacket over those lovely breasts of yours and come look...right down there."
Grateful, Nina did as she was bid and followed Sarah's pointing finger until she could make out what Sarah was looking at. It turned out to be the roof of an apartment building a block down. Lying on a blanket taking in the sun was a naked body...male...very well endowed.
Sarah laughed. "He's out there most afternoons, and can be seen from several of the buildings around here. I think he does it just to thrill us ladies, he can't NOT know that we can see him. For almost a year, he's been doing it. You'd think someone would have called the police on him, exposing himself like that. But so far no one has." Sarah sighed. "I'm going to miss this view!"
Nina looked over at her, thinking that the rumors were true. Sarah really was out! "Miss the view?"
"It's what I want to talk to you about. At the partner's meeting today, it was decided that I had to leave. I'm to be gone by the end of the week." She moved toward the phone.
"Gone?" Nina said, amazed and confused.
Sarah nodded. "Will you be sad to see me go?" she asked, picking up the phone and dialing. She looked directly at Nina.
"Well sure!" Nina said.
Sarah grinned. "Liar...Hello...I'd like the police, please. My name is Sarah Wickland, and I'd like to report a man exposing himself...thank you." She put her hand over the phone. "I think you would be glad to see me go, you and Helen both!"
Nina didn't know what to think really. Parts of her were jumping for joy, while other parts hated the fact that Sarah was leaving.
Sarah got on with her phone call. "Yes...there's a man exposing himself, he's lying naked on a blanket on the roof of a nearby apartment building...Yes, I can see him clearly from my office window, as can no doubt several hundred other people...I don't know why they aren't calling you, but I am, and I want you to do something about it! Corner of Whitman and Eighth Street. Thank you. I expect a prompt response on this." She hung up the phone and went back to the window. "Oh, Nina, you can't fool me. I know that you'd rather work with anyone else in this building but me."
"That's not true," Nina said, surprised that she meant it. "Working with you has taught me a few things about my life and my prospects. When I was in college, I hoped that I would find a female role model in my chosen career, and...well...while you haven't been quite what I expected, you have taught me that being a woman doesn't mean accepting the glass ceiling a firm like this normally puts up. You...inspire me."
Sarah turned to stare at Nina. "Such passion! I had no idea." To Nina's surprise, the woman actually looked uncomfortable. "I expected you to hate me, considering what I make you go through."
"I don't...hate you," Nina replied, wanting out if this conversation.
Sarah turned back to the window. "Thanks. I'm glad to hear that, Nina. It makes it easier."
"Makes what easier?"
"It makes it easier to tell you that I plan on you coming with me. Oh, and Helen too."
Nina frowned. "Coming with you? Did they fire us too?"
Sarah chuckled and turned back to Nina. "Who said anything about getting fired? No one is getting fired!"
"But...you said you were leaving...and I heard the other partners were fed up with you!"
"Ah...the rumor mill strikes again! You shouldn't believe everything you hear, Nina, although in this case they are mostly right. You look puzzled."
Nina WAS puzzled. "I don't understand."
"It's very simple. Yes, I'm leaving; WE'RE leaving. But not because we've been fired. We are simply moving to new offices. The partners feel that the...exotic nature of some of my clients reflects badly on the firm's image, despite the fact that they are some of the firm's wealthiest contributors. So it has been decided that I and my staff will be moved to separate offices where we can meet and greet our clients without fear of them contaminating the regular folk."
"What?" Nina said, unable to digest this shift in fortunes.
"I'm quite excited really. Getting out on our own. The firm has leased a building down on Ocean Boulevard; we'll have the entire place to ourselves." She turned to wink at Nina. "Just think of the FUN things we can do there all by ourselves."
Nina's blood ran cold.
"Look," Sarah said, pointing out the window again. Nina looked and saw several police cars parked in front of the apartment building where the nude man lay sun bathing. She was just in time to see four officers emerge on the roof and rush him. She couldn't see faces very well, but the guy looked surprised. The cops stood him up and cuffed him without covering him up, before leading him away. Minutes later he appeared, still nude, on the street below as he was led to a squad car. He was patted down and shoved into one of the cars before being driven away.
Sarah smiled and moved away from the window. "As I said, I'll
miss the view."
If anything, the view was better, and if it hadn't been for other things, Nina would really have enjoyed working at the new location. The building was indeed on its own on the landward side of Ocean Boulevard, facing the beach and the water beyond. Prime real estate if you could get it, and apparently the firm could! Nina was told it used to be a small grocery store, which explained the large parking lot and the glass front of the building. Inside, however, the place looked nothing like the store it used to be. All the glass had been tinted so that even if you placed your head against it you couldn't look in, but from the inside you could have an unrestricted view of the outdoors, much like in Brian Cook's home, Nina thought when she saw it.
The place had two client entrances, one right up front, and one hidden discreetly around the back. Neither one could be entered without a key or without someone inside opening the door, so no one could simply walk in on them.
Inside, the place was laid out in a two-level, open-plan format, except of course for Sarah's office and the office of the second lawyer attached to Sarah's staff by the rest of the senior partners. More about him in a moment.
These offices were on the second level, with the law library between them and an elevator to one side with the stairs on the other. On the first level were two more open offices, a conference room, break room, bathrooms, and so on. Quite well laid out, but with few walls to break the eye, only the bathrooms were screened. The entire place still smelled of new paint, but it had been beautifully decorated with Sarah's eye for Grecian art, and looked fantastic.
As promised, Sarah had brought her staff along, and Nina and Helen were BOTH seconded to Sarah Wickland on a permanent basis, much to their mutual, yet not unexpected, shock. But there were two other changes to Sarah's staff that Nina found both puzzling and relieving, at least at the beginning. First, Franklin was gone. He hadn't made the transfer to the new quarters, and now worked in a different department at the firm. "He was a dear," Sarah said when explaining this, "but he made some of my clients nervous. I thought this would give me an opportunity for a clean sweep, a chance to shape this place the way I want it shaped. But don't worry, he isn't completely gone. He is our company liaison and will be coming by at least once a day. We will also use him on any big jobs we might have."
Nina could only sigh, but she was glad he wouldn't be around all the time.
The other change was the second lawyer, something forced on Sara at the last second. "You can't run your department by yourself," she was told. "We would be more comfortable if you had a second hand on the tiller. What if something happened to you? We need someone who will be familiar with your case load and to your clients!"
At first, Sarah tried to argue against this, but she saw the way the wind was blowing and changed tactics. "Fine," she said, "but I pick him!"
They agreed, which was how Donald Bell wound up on the team. Plucked from his safe haven in 'Contract Law', he found himself with a day's notice to move to the new location of 'Specialized Affairs'. Never really having worked with Sarah Wickland before, his first day on the job started out with a bang!
They were in the new conference room, Donny and Sarah. The girls were upstairs unloading and shelving law books into their library, so the lawyers were alone. Never one to hesitate unless hesitation was more beneficial, Sarah went straight for the jugular.
"See this?" were her first words to her new team member, waving a videotape in the air.
"I see it," replied Donny, wondering what she was on about. He soon found out. On the conference room TV, Donny watched a copy of the security video of the night Nina had been running around the offices of the firm in the nude. Heavily edited yet clearly time coded, what he saw plainly showed the nude young woman sneaking into his office and the subsequent entry of Mel, the security guard. After which, it showed Nina leaving again. Donny tugged at his stiff collar.
There was a slap of paper on the table in front of him. "Read it," Sarah ordered. Donny read it. It was a notarized statement given by Mel about what he had seen and heard in Donny's office that night. Donny's denial that Nina was there and Mel's observation of Nina's toes under the desk and the obvious way she would have HAD to have been positioned for the toes to line up the way they did.
Combined with the video it put Donald Bell in a very bad light and he knew it! He couldn't think. "This means nothing," he blabbered.
"Oh...Nothing!" said the Legallady, an apologetic look on her face. "Then I expect that you wouldn't mind my sending these to your wife, or your father-in-law, who happens to be one of my fellow partners!"
"NO!" Donny yelled. "Wait...don't do that. There's no need for that."
"But if it's NOTHING!" teased Sarah.
"It IS nothing. I mean...it's not what you think! I know how it appears, but it wasn't like that!"
Sarah picked up Mel's transcript and looked through it, her best trial face on as she paced the room. "It looks like something to me!"
"She just came in to hide," he said to her.
"To hide? Naked?"
Donny blushed. "Yes, naked. I don't know why she was naked."
Sarah sniggered. "I bet."
Donny was angry, but he was also scared. He knew of the Legallady more by reputation than anything else, and her reputation was for being ruthless. He was in a corner and knew it. Who on Earth would believe HIS story when their own minds would conjure up the more sordid version with very little help. "Why don't you ask her?"
Sarah grinned. "Why should I? I so much prefer the more obvious explanation!"
"What do you want?" he asked her, sighing.
Sarah smiled. "Good man, you get right to the point. I'm showing you this because I want to make one thing clear to you. I'M the boss! What I say goes, and what I want is usually a bit more than is normal for your regular law office. I handle things my way and you are not going to interfere. Understood?"
Sarah smiled again. "You might even come to enjoy some of the...perks...of my department, and this is a very unusual department. I know you've probably heard rumors of the kinds of clients I deal with. The kooks, the weirdos, the perverts...etc. Well, I can honestly say that for the most part they're true. My clients-OUR clients-are those who don't toe the line, socially speaking. They are rich enough, or brave enough, to live their own lifestyles rather than society's. You will meet people for whom the word 'Fetish' is not a remote concept but a way of being. Our job is simply to deal with their legal needs, nothing more. We are NOT here to judge them. We are NOT here to look down on them. We are NOT going to consider them any less deserving of the BEST help we can give them simply because we find them weird! And they will be weird, although they are also very normal, regular people with the same problems other people have. I have one couple in a property dispute with a neighbor over a garden fence. Normal, right? Except this couple likes to sleep in coffins in the basement of their house and only come out when it's dark. I'm doing a will for a family of nudists, I'm sorting out a copyright violation for a songwriter who also likes to cross-dress, I'm suing a church based on nudity, and STILL dealing with a case ALLOWING schoolgirls to be punished with public nudity. Yes, it's going to get weird around here." Sarah sat down across the conference table from the shocked man.
"Donny...may I call you Donny? Donny, what I want for this place is for these people to be comfortable, for them to know that they can express their fetish or whatever without fear of derision or judgment. If a husband wants to bring his wife here in chains-fine! We'll provide a place for him to chain her to while we do business. If a client wants to relax by taking his or her clothes off-fine! We'll make sure their clothes don't get wrinkled while they aren't being worn. Do you understand what I'm trying to build here? It's trust. Trust. When Brian Cook turned his clients over to me, he told me that to keep them I would have to earn their trust, and once I did so, they would be the most loyal clients in the world. I've found that to be true, and their trust in me has earned the firm a whole lot of money because these people for the most part are LOADED!" She stood up and began to pace again. She smiled.
"Not to say that I'm being a hypocrite, making nice to these folk while living my normal life at home. You could say I have a great deal in common with our clientele, as does another member of our team." Sarah moved to an intercom on the wall and pushed a button. "Nina, can you come down to the conference room please."
"Right away, Sarah," Nina's voice replied.
Sarah waited patiently and a moment later Nina, dressed in casual clothing due to the moving they had yet to finish, practically skipped into the room. "Yes, Sarah?"
"You remember Donald Bell, don't you, dear?"
Nina flushed and turned to the lawyer. "Sure...Hi."
"Hello, Nina," said Donny, wondering what was coming.
"It's official, Nina," Sarah said. "Donald is working with us now. You'll be my girl Friday while Helen works with him."
Nina smiled. "That'll be wonderful."
Sarah smiled that special smile. "There's just one more thing I need to brief Donald on, dear. Your dress code."
Nina's relief at Donald Bell working there quickly faded, as did the color in her face. "But..." she said.
"Now, Nina, did you really think things would change all that much. I TOLD you we were going to have fun here."
"I can't...WE can't...not in front of him!" Nina began to plead.
Sarah began to laugh. "It's not like he hasn't seen you naked before, Nina."
"I know. But..." said the dismayed girl.
Donny spoke up. "Wait, I don't understand."
"It's very simple, Donald. Nina has a simple dress code when working with me. She has to be nude."
"Nude," repeated Donny, looking at the very red young woman. "All the time?"
"Well, before it was just when in my suite of offices, although she did go for a walk once or twice," Sarah said with a sly smile. "But now, as the entire building is ours, I don't see a need for her to have to wear anything anywhere in it!"
"Please," Nina said, not wanting to strip again.
"But what abut clients?" Donny asked.
Sarah turned toward him. "Weren't you listening when I was telling you that we had to make our clients comfortable? One of the best ways to put them at ease is to show them that we are the same as them. Certainly having a nudist paralegal on the premises will help in that regard; in fact it already has."
"Why certainly. Nina has gone nude for clients a number of times already, and they are very impressed, by the way."
Donny sat back and tried to absorb this.
"Now, Nina, what are you waiting for," Sarah said. "It's time you got undressed."
Nina looked desperately from Sarah to Donny, seeing smug satisfaction on the former and confused interest on the latter. Resigned, Nina began to pull off her T-shirt.
Donny watched as the beautiful young woman slowly took her clothes off, casting off her sneakers, slipping off her tight jeans, and after hesitating a moment, undoing her bra and pulling off her panties. Now she stood nude before them, the clothes in a pile on the conference table.
"I had some lockers installed by the back door," Sarah said. "Go put your clothes in one of them, lock it, and bring me the key. This will be your emergency set of clothes, in case you HAVE to have them. Understood?"
"Yes, Ma'am," Nina said, reaching for the bundle and hating every second of this.
"Wait. One more thing. Seeing as there is no need for you to wear clothing here at all, there is no need for you to dress coming to and from work unless I tell you otherwise. So from now on, you make the trip nude, both ways."
Nina was flabbergasted. "Sarah, you're not serious!"
"I'm very serious," said the Legallady. "Do I have to resort to further measures?"
Nina stared at her for a moment, then shook her head.
"Very good," said Sarah. "Oh, I almost forgot. Tomorrow, bring an outfit suitable for court; you can keep that here as well. But remember, don't wear it."
Nina grabbed her clothes and disappeared as fast as she could. Sarah turned and looked sternly at Donny. "I maintain discipline here, and nudity is a fine control for both our paralegals, although Helen is a much more sensitive case. Are you going to do anything about this?"
Donny swallowed. All he could think about was the image of Nina, nude all the time here at work, and how his wife was going to kill him if she found out. He shook his head. "No, Ma'am. I'm not going to say a word. You can count on me."
Sarah walked around to face him, placing a long-nailed finger under his chin. "That's very good Donny, because if I had to, I'd make you strip as well. Got that?"
"I got it," was his shaky reply.
That night, while his wife was in bed sleeping, a restless Donny Bell snuck downstairs to his den. Turning on his computer, he clicked over to where he had hidden some directories from his nosy wife, and pulled up a few image files.
As he gazed at the pictures of bound, nude women, he thought about what Sarah had told him, about how people of all kinds of fetish were clients of the firm and how they would all be coming to see THEM! The prospect of finally meeting someone like the pictures he kept hidden from his wife, was very appealing, as was the discipline she instilled in Nina and Helen.
Yes, Donny would not say a word about it to anyone. Not a word.
End of Part 25.