* Six Months Before * Who let him in here? Ben Kincaid wondered. He peered across the study quad at the scruffy-looking older man hovering near the front double doors to the University of Tulsa College of Law. Ben's attention was drawn by the fact that the man was wearing a long overcoat; it was ill-fitting, wrinkled, and stained. The man's chin was covered with salt-and-pepper stubble. His eyes were red and ringed, as if he hadn't had a good night's sleep in weeks. He was looking for something, or someone. Ben couldn't imagine who or what that might be. The man did not look as if he belonged here. Even the lawyers-to-be with the most rudimentary grasp of personal hygiene did not rise to this level of dishevelment. Ben wondered if maybe the man had gotten lost on his way to . . . To what? The homeless shelter? Come to think of it, there wasn't anyone or anything anywhere on the TU campus that was likely to welcome this visitor. Ben wondered if he should ask the man what he wanted. Or perhaps whisper a word into the ear of Stanley Robinson, the security guard he'd just seen outside the dean's office. Ben was distracted by a petite, attractive woman making her way toward him. She had a creamy complexion perfectly accented by two tiny patches of freckles on either side of her aquiline nose. Her engaging gait not only spoke of extreme self-confidence but, as an added bonus, did remarkable things to the curly strawberry-blond hair dancing just above her shoulders. As she sidled up to Ben, he admired her crazy-quilt miniskirt, which had more colors than a jumbo box of Crayolas. Ben arched an eyebrow. "Is that a dress or a cry for help?" Christina McCall didn't bridle. "It's ethnic chic. I'll have you know this pattern is all the rage in Mozambique." "Is that a fact?" "It is." "I haven't kept up with Mozambiquii fashion trends the way I used to." "More's the pity." Christina tilted her head back, sending her hair bouncing behind her shoulders. "I hear you're teaching The Tiger's class this afternoon." "True." Although Ben had been practicing law for years, only recently had he begun teaching classes at the local law school as an adjunct professor. As he had quickly learned, The Tiger was Professor Joseph Canino, a curmudgeonly Ichabod Crane who'd been teaching Civil Procedure since the dawn of time. "Apparently he was called away at the last moment. Some kind of emergency." "Probably heard of a law student somewhere he hadn't publicly humiliated and rushed off to remedy the omission." "Quite possible." "I don't know where such a student might be, though. Mozambique, perhaps." Ben smiled. Professor Canino was of the old school; he used the Socratic method like a dagger to slit the throats of the unwary or unwitting. "I gather you're in this class?" Christina had worked as Ben's legal assistant for as long as he'd been in solo practice in Tulsa. Two years before, she'd decided to expand her horizons and start law school. Since they worked together and knew each other personally, they both agreed it was best that she not be in any of Ben's regular classes. But it looked like this morning they were going to be in the same classroom whether they liked it or not. "I am," she replied. "So don't be cruel." "I'll try to restrain myself." Christina scampered off toward class, leaving Ben to admire once again her seemingly inexhaustible high spirits. It had been almost ten years since Ben finished law school, but it hadn't been so long that he'd forgotten how much he'd hated it. Egomaniacal professors, arbitrBernhardt, William is the author of 'Silent Justice' with ISBN 9780345428127 and ISBN 0345428129.