Chapter 1

There was no screeching of tires before it hit. An almighty crunch sounded like a canon blast, followed quickly by the groaning and shrieks of the car's frame rending, twisting, and buckling under the impact. The airbags erupted and dust exploded into the air, making the surroundings hazy and dim. Then there was silence.

In the far distance, tires squealed as the cars behind them rushed to stop. A few shouts could be heard, but they were distant, hardly worth acknowledging. The only movement that could be seen were the drifting swirls of dust.


A week and a half earlier

"Good work," Harvey said and Mike could not keep from smiling proudly. "Now, get back to the rest of the file. You know what to do." The older lawyer only just glanced up when he put the file at the end of his desk, but it was immediately diverted to the report that he was reading earlier.

"Right," Mike replied. He snatched the file back up and proceeded out the door.

This was their routine and after five months of working together, their partnership was nothing less than a well-oiled machine. Harvey typically tended to the clients and Mike worked behind the scenes, seeing to it that Harvey kept his promises on winning. On big cases, Harvey split the work, usually handing Mike the larger portion, but always he had once a day status updates for Mike's research. And they were always in the morning to motivate Mike to get in on time, which became more difficult as the chilly weather set in. Every once in a while, Mike would hit jackpot and rush to share it immediately, which was what he was just departing from. So he was surprised when Donna changed the routine by walking in, shutting the door behind her, and standing directly in Mike's road.

He stopped and stared at her curiously. The thought of sidestepping her crossed his mind briefly, but a move like that was dangerous around Donna. So he said, "Hey, Donna. What's going on?"

"What are you doing for Thanksgiving, Mike?" Donna asked, with her arms crossed in front of her.

Mike blinked in surprise and turned to look back at Harvey; he was ignoring them both. Still trying to grasp this upset in his tempo, he finally came up with an answer, "Well, the nursing home usually puts on a dinner for all the folks who don't have family nearby. I usually go to that."

"Well, Mike, I know how much your gram means to you and you don't get to see her much," at this point, she gave Harvey a glare over Mike's shoulder. He turned as well and was baffled at his boss' failure to acknowledge a glare that powerful. He turned back when Donna started speaking again. "However, you are invited to come with Harvey and me to my parents' house for Thanksgiving."

"Your parents' house?" Mike asked, unable to keep his eyes from widening in surprise. How scary would Donna's mother be?

"What? It's not like you're going as my boyfriend," Donna replied with a huff.

"It's not that bad, kid," Harvey finally spoke up and Mike rounded on him.

You've met Donna's parents?" Mike studied Harvey's face to see if he could glean any information from him, but, like always, the older lawyer's face was schooled into perfect neutrality.

"Several times," Harvey replied and he returned to the report again.

"Well, uh...gee...I-I don't know, Donna."

"Listen, why don't you think it over? Talk to your gram if you need to. It's just an offer I thought I'd put on the table. If you can't go , that's fine," Donna said, placing a hand gently on his arm.

"Hmm...did your parents actually invite me?"

He was surprised when Donna rolled her eyes and said, "Well, according to my mom, I should bring somebody and since I never seem to have a boyfriend around this time of year, I should bring cowokers instead."

Mike had to stifle a laugh since he was fairly certain she was directly quoting her mother. Instead, he nodded and said, "I'll think about it."

She smiled. "Great! Good luck on your case, though I know you won't need it." She glanced back at them with a knowing smile as she returned to her desk.

"Damn right," Harvey said to her as he made a notation in the report.


"Something's on your mind, Michael. I can tell. Is this why you're here?" His grammy asked with a kindly smile, but there was a shrewd look in her eyes. In the next instant she killed his knight with a bishop.

Mike felt himself flush to his ear tips. He was really hoping to not give the impression that he was visiting for that reason alone. However, his grammy could read people as well as Donna and when he thought about it, he wondered briefly if she'd been just as shrewd a secretary sometime in her life. It was Friday evening after work and he and Harvey had just settled their big case for the week. Now it was promised clear sailing from now until Thanksgiving, which Harvey actually guaranteed him that work would be minimal. It would be nice to sleep in his own bed the whole work week.

Instead of calling his grandmother and talking to her over the phone, he decided a visit was in store, despite the fact that he had visited her last weekend as well. Up to now, they're conversation had consisted of mostly Mike telling her about his and Harvey's most recent case, all the while censoring anything too technical to avoid boring his grandmother to tears. They were in a rather even match of chess but though Mike was good, he looked at the field and saw his grandmother slowly inching in on his territory. She hated when he went easy on her so he would have to find a way to remedy that.

Mike exhaled slowly and grinned at his grandmother. "There's not getting anything past you, is there?"

"You've known me this long and you would think otherwise? You don't give me enough credit," she said with a twinkle in her eye. "Now, tell me, what is it you wanted to ask me? You're still able to pay your bills, right?"

His eyes flew open and he raised his hand to stop her flood of concern, "No no no, I'm fine. The bills are fine. My pay's still good and Harvey's still one of the hardest bosses I've ever worked for. Everything's perfectly normal. I'm here becauseā€¦" He stopped for a moment to appropriately phrase what Donna had told him, but he took the opportunity to knock off another pawn. "I wanted to ask, well, Donna, you know Donna, she asked me if I wanted to go to her parents' house for Thanksgiving."

Gram immediately brightened and she smiled. "That's wonderful, Michael. You should go!"

"But," Mike stammered, completely thrown off by her response. "I thought I should stay around here. I-I haven't been able to see you lately," and here his face drooped in guilt but he raised his head to meet his grandmother's eyes, "and I really should visit with you."

"Michael, sweetie, I'm old. I appreciate you working to pay the bills and I love when you visit, but you're a young person! You should be spending time with people your age! Go with them! I'm sure you'll have fun."

"Harvey and Donna aren't really my age," Mike replied, with an amused grin and wondered not for the first time just how old either of them was. Not that he would ever ask.

"They're still closer to your age than mine," Gram replied with a bark of a laugh. "You've told me so much about these two. When am I going to meet them?"

"I-I don't know, Grammy, they're pretty busy people."

"Well, you tell Mr. Specter that I wish to see him. Arrange it for after Thanksgiving when you're not so busy. If I know anything from what you've told me, he won't say no."

"Are you sure? Because I imagine he'll either say flat out no or he'll do his best to either dodge out of it or clutter up his schedule."

That shrewd smile was back on his grammy's face. "I know." Then with a triumphant grin she took his Queen off the chess table and he stared in shock. How the hell did he let that slip past him?