He greeted him with hand outstretched, the image of professional courtesy.

"Mr. Baillie, so glad to finally meet you in person. I am Eugene Carter"

"Call me Matt." He smiled and shook his hand.

"Likewise, Matt. My office is this way, please."

Eugene led Matt out of the foyer and down a hallway with a few sets of doors. He glanced at the empty lobby he had come through. It reminded him of the firm where he had begun his career. That was a four lawyer operation. They had been in that office for twenty-eight years, leased the entire time. It was comfortable but the decor didn't hide the hole-in-the-wall feel.

Carter Martell was a bigger operation, not huge though, Fifty partners and sixteen associates on their website. How many here? Matt figured between four and six. New office? Did they move? Expand? Hire new lawyers? Buy up the units in a smaller operation?

"Still looking for more permanent digs, Eugene?"

"Gene, actually. And no, we're not." He pauses then laughs, "It's a temporary set-up. We don't usually operate in this part of the world but all of a sudden the stars aligned and it made sense to take out a three year lease."

"Ah well that's a shame. I've got a buddy who has two floors that he sublets, right downtown. A bunch of investment bankers are there right now but they've already told him they're not going to renew. It would be just perfect for a small office."

Gene smiled and chuckled, "My partners would have my balls for bookends If I signed another lease." He walks through a painted grey door, to a desk and has a seat.

"Pull up a stump, Matt. My client's representative was held up a little but she'll be here any moment. Can I offer you a drink in the meantime?"

"A glass of water would go down easy, thank you."

"There's stronger stuff too." Gene winked

"I like the way you think, but not today." Matt smiled politely and looked around the office as it's resident turned his attention to a decanter set that looked like it cost more than the lease. It felt much the same as the lobby and he suspected that Eugene Carter hadn't arrived here long before he did.

"This client of yours, Marshall Carter & Dark Ltd. Dare I ask the obvious question?"

Gene sat down with a glass of ice-water in one glass and half an ounce of dark liquor in another. "My grandfather is hardly involved with the company anymore." He relaxed into the wheeled chair. "Besides, I'm five eighths human, any goodwill I had was used up with just the first handshake."

The glass of water was inches away from Matt's lips, completely forgotten.

Gene took a sip from his glass. "Smoky" the words escaped his mouth in much the same way. He savoured the mouthful while examining the crystal. His eyes shot across his desk. The two men looked across at each other. Matt wore a stern expression. Gene looked curious at first, then bemused as he broke the silence.

He laughed heartily, "Oh, come on! You read the purchase agreement. You can hardly tell me you're surprised, Matt!"

At that, a knock came at the door.