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A few hours later, Kate returned to the office after the steering committee application hearing in front of the magistrate judge. The cases against MPC had been consolidated into a multi-district litigation called an MDL. And that meant the judge was going to pick the plaintiffs' steering committee—known as the PSC in the legal world.

There wasn't room on the committee for all fifty attorneys who'd applied, and most of her competition was male. But she didn't want to be put on the PSC because of her gender. She wanted to get a spot because she was highly qualified and would be an asset. All she could do now was wait to hear the judge's choices for the committee.

Her phone rang, and she looked down. She instantly recognized the number as Ethan Black, her longtime friend who also happened to be opposing counsel in the MPC case.

"Hey, Ethan," she said.

"I hear you did well in your application hearing today."

"Word travels fast, doesn't it? I just got back to my office. Did you guys have spies planted in the courtroom or something?"

"I'd much rather it be you on the steering committee than someone else."

"Just because we've been friends since law school doesn't mean I'm going to go easy on you." They'd met during their first year at the University of Georgia and quickly become close.

"Yeah, but in contrast to most of the crazy plaintiffs' lawyers I have to put up with on a daily basis, you have the ability to act rationally. It's probably because you started on the right side of things before you switched over to the dark side."

She laughed. "You're the one on the dark side, Ethan. Don't forget, I lived in your world for three years. You're defending a pharmaceutical company directly responsible for thousands of deaths."

"That's a baseless allegation," he shot back.

"No, it's a fact." Why was she fighting this now? It wouldn't matter.

"The fact is that MPC's drugs are lifesaving. You're forgetting how much good their drugs do. The innovation MPC has attained is unmatched."

"One good drug or a hundred good drugs doesn't outweigh all the bad they've done by putting Celix on the market if they knew it had life-threatening side effects." She tapped her pen on her legal pad, starting to lose patience. "But I know we aren't going to agree on any of this. It's just like the old days on the mock trial team. Do I have to remind you who was on the winning side then?"

He laughed loudly. "You always find a way to fit that into conversation. Want to grab dinner and catch up? I promise we won't talk about this case."

"I'm sorry, but I'm slammed right now. Can I get a rain check?"

"Of course. And we'll be seeing a lot of each other very soon."

After she hung up, she closed her eyes for a moment and asked God to give her the strength to get through this litigation. It was going to be her toughest yet.


The next morning, Kate knew she needed a plan. That was why she was sitting at her desk, anxious for her meeting with a new private investigator. She didn't use PIs often, and her normal guy was out of the country, but he'd given her a recommendation. She needed someone who could determine what was happening at MPC, and fast.

Beth knocked and opened her office door. A tall dark-haired man stood next to her, wearing jeans and a leather jacket. "I have Mr. James here to see you."

"Thanks, Beth." Kate stood to greet Landon James.

He took her hand in a firm handshake. "Nice to meet you, ma'am."

"Thanks for coming on such short notice. I've got a situation on my hands I need your help with. You come highly recommended by Peter Myers."

She watched as Landon took a seat across from her. His dark brown eyes locked onto hers. He was younger than Peter—probably in his late thirties, just like her.

"Tell me how I can help," Landon said....

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