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And they were Zoom-mates...

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[Claudia] “Call!”

 

He looked up to his second screen as his headphones pinged.

Claudia was messaging him on his company’s IM service.

[Callum] hey

 

What up?

[Claudia] what did you do?!?!?!?!?!

;p

 

Callum frowned at the screen.

 

[Callum] what you mean?

[Claudia] Heard legal going to contact you!

 

Callum felt his stomach drop. Legal? What on earth would they want with him?

 

[Callum] Where you hear that?

[Claudia] Dad.

 

Callum bit his lip. Claudia's Dad was relatively high up in the company. People tended to think that’s how she and Soren got their jobs, but they were both pretty good at what they did.

Though, Viren probably did help them get a foot in the door.

 

[Callum] No idea why legal would contact me.

Your dad's probs confused.

[Claudia] Nope.

Apparently Rayla’s going to zoom you.

Not trying to freak you out

Wanted you to be prepared

 

Callum took a deep breath.

 

[Callum] who Rayla?

[Claudia] Lawyer.

Big wig.

Did you copy any art or anything?

 

He sighed.

 

[Callum] no

Had some rando DM me on insta a few weeks ago saying I stole his stuff.

Total crap

[Claudia] ah

Probs that

Got everything backed up?

 

Callum grimaced. He was not the most organised of people when it came to his files.

 

[Callum] Probs?

Like... somewhere

[Claudia] lol

Well, as long as she doesn’t need to get forensic IT involved.

[Callum] forensic IT?

[Claudia] they can go through your computer for deleted stuff.

You DO NOT want forensic it involved ;)

And apparently she freaks at people who make her call in forensic it.

 

Callum took a sip from his water bottle. He did not need this first thing on a Monday morning.

 

[Callum] well thanks for the heads up.

I guess.

Haha

[Claudia] J

Let me know how it goes!

I'm so bored!!! I need the goss!

 

Callum rolled his eyes as he minimised the window and tried to go back to his latest art piece. He noticed an unread mail notification and absent mindedly brought up Outlook.

His blood ran cold when he read the subject heading.

“Notice of filed copyright infringement”

His eyes flicked to the sender

“Rayla Ghealach”

He could see there was a meeting request attached.

He clicked the message, not wanting to wait any longer.

 

“Dear Mr. Prince,

I trust this email finds you well in this time.

I am writing to you to inform you that a notice of copyright infringement has been lodged against the company regarding some of the recent marketing artwork you designed.

Legal proceedings have begun in regards this notice and as a result, we require all files pertaining to the artwork in question.

Would you be free to discuss the matter via teleconference at 10:30 today?

Regards,

Rayla Ghealach"

 

Callum’s pulse raced. He was certainly glad Claudia had contacted him or he might have totally freaked out reading that message.

He sighed and clicked ‘Reply’.

 

“Good morning Rayla,

I believe I may know something about this matter. I had an artist message me on my personal Instagram account complaining I had copied their art. Their claim is unfounded.

I am free to discuss further at 10:30.

Thanks,

Callum”

 

He looked down. He was dressed in sweatpants and a grungy t-shirt. He hadn’t brushed his hair in days. Sighing, he got to his feet and exited the room.

He peeked into the lounge, finding Ezran reclined on the couch, watching some animated show.

“Do you ever have class?” He teased.

“Not til 11 today.” Ez glanced back at him.

“Well, I’m jumping in the shower. I have a teleconference at 1030 so, you know, don’t barge in or anything.” Callum sighed and proceeded to the bathroom.

Once showered and dressed in semi-formal attire, he wandered into the kitchen to prepare a coffee. If he was going to talk to some scary lawyer, he was definitely going to need caffeine.

Looking at his reflection in the microwave door, he pushed his too-long hair out of his eyes.

It was getting to the point where he was tempted to take a scissors to his own locks to try and instil some semblance of order.

Coffee made, he proceeded back into his bedroom and makeshift home office. He checked the camera to ensure the background was inoffensive to legal, then got back to his current design, waiting on the meeting time.

Bang on the dot of 10:30 he received a notification of meeting request.

He took a deep breath and accepted.

Instantly the screen filled with an image.

The person on the other end was looking down and all he saw was a head of platinum blonde, almost white hair.

The room she was in was bright and airy. Shelves packed with books, trinkets and long trailing plants framed her.

She was dressed far more formally than he expected of someone who had spent multiple weeks working from home. Her teal blouse was immaculately pressed, and he glanced down at his slightly crumpled polo shirt with embarrassment.

He supposed that was probably the difference between legal and the art department.

Too late to do anything about it now.

“Em hi.” He spoke when she continued looking down, scribbling something on a notebook in front of her.

She didn’t respond, running her fingers through her hair as he heard her sigh over the microphone.

“Rayla, was it?”

She bit her pen, then glanced up at her screen, her eyes widening and moving to look in the direction of the camera.

“Oh, sorry. I didn’t notice you pick up.” She flushed a little.

Callum forced his mouth closed.

She was not what he expected from legal.

She was... stunning.

Her skin was almost as pale as her hair, complimenting her large lavender eyes. Her bone structure was amazing and all he could think was she would be a wonder to draw.

And the accent... Though maybe he should have anticipated that from her unintelligible surname.

“Hello?” She asked. “Can you hear me? Is the camera workin’ ok?”

“Eh, yeah, sorry... just some lag.” He hoped his blush wasn’t obvious.

She frowned again. “I think your mic isn’t workin’.” She paused. “Or on.”

Callum’s eyes flickered to his headset control and sure enough his microphone was muted. Cursing himself he pushed the “talk” button.  “Eh, yeah, sorry.”

“It’s fine.” She glanced down at her notes. “So, Callum? Em, how are you?”

“Em, I’m good, thanks.” He answered stiffly. “You?”

Her eyes darted down again. “Good. And its, eh, good, you’re good.” She bit her lip and obviously tried not to look at her notes. “How are you finding working from home?”

“Ok?” Callum frowned. This was weird. Didn’t they have a lawsuit to discuss?

“Ok?” She looked confused and flicked through her notepad.

Callum chuckled. “Em, is this some legal script thingie?”

She wrinkled her nose a little and looked at him through hooded lashes. “Is it that obvious?”

He shrugged, trying not to laugh.

She visibly relaxed a little, pushing the pad away. “HR make us go through this when we have to contact people. Weirdly, getting a call from legal seems to scare a lot of employees.”

“I can’t imagine why.” Callum deadpanned.

“Hey, I’m on your side.” She raised an eyebrow.

“Only if I haven’t done anything wrong.” Callum grinned, happy the ice had broken somewhat.

“Well, have you?” She smirked at him.

“No!” Callum exclaimed.

“Great! Then I won’t get you fired.” She replied sarcastically.

Callum’s face must have displayed his concern because her demeanour immediately changed.

“That was a joke.”

“Oh. Good.” He sighed.

“Ok, I don’t want to keep you too long.” She clearly looked to another screen and then some written notes. “So this guy... Kermit69 has lodged a copyright infringement against you for the series of images you did of... frogs?” She checked her notes. “For the Slurm campaign?”

Callum sighed. That sounded so dumb. “Yeah, he messaged me on my personal Instagram a few weeks ago to say I copied his stuff. I’d never heard of him before that, so I just ignored him. I’ve no idea how he connected my personal account to work.”

She scribbled some notes. “Did you look at his Instagram ever?” She clicked on something on her side. “By the way, do you mind if I record this chat?”

“Eh no, that’s fine.” He thought back to receiving the message from what he assumed was a nut. “I had a look through his account to figure out if I knew him but that was the first I saw of it.”

“Hmm.” She frowned at her notes. “And do you think there’s a likeness between his frogs and yours?”

Callum shrugged. “A frog is a frog. I guess superficially some of them were similar so maybe that’s where he got upset?”

“Ok.” She tapped her pen against her temple. “And where did the inspiration for your frogs come from?”

He sighed. This was the dumbest conversation he’s ever had, and it was with some stunning lawyer from head office. “Like... frogs? Google image searches? Cartoon frogs? My little brother has a pet frog?” He shrugged again. “Just... frogs.”

“Your brother has a pet frog?”

“Yeah? Is that an, eh, issue?” Callum replied with confusion.

“No. Just a weird pet.” She seemed to consider it.

“He’s a weird kid.” Callum smirked.

Lawyer Rayla snorted. “Fair enough.” She nodded at her notes. “Oooook, hmm, so I’m going to need you to forward on your... frog files to me and IT. You have them, I assume?”

“Yeah?” He grimaced. “Somewhere?”

She looked up at him and Claudia’s warning about her temper rang though his head.

“My filing system isn’t... eh, the most organised.”

She sighed; her eyebrows knitted together. “Ok, well, just go through everything and send me anything frog related.”

“Ok.” He pouted. That would not be fun. There were a lot of frogs as part of that campaign.

“I’ve already spoken to your supervisor and he knows this is priority number one, so your other projects are on the backburner until we clear this up.” She remarked, engaged on her own screen.

“Ok. Thanks.” He sighed. “Sorry if this is... lame or weird or whatever.”

She smirked at him. “Are you kidding? Getting to go hardcore legal against some no talent neck beard? This is exactly the kind of random case I was hoping isolation would throw at me.”

“Really?” Callum asked sceptically.

“It’s a nice break from sexual harassment or embezzlement.” She laughed and Callum’s pulse raced.

“Oh well, good. I suppose.”

“Yes, I’m glad I can take enjoyment in your misery.” She smirked, her eyes suddenly flickering to the camera before she flushed. “Em, but no, not really.”

Callum couldn’t help but smile at her. Legal must always have to watch what they said.  “Well, I’ll get looking through my files, I guess.”

“Great.” She smiled at him. “Thanks for making the time to talk to me. Just message or call or whatever if you have any questions or additional information. Don’t engage Kermit what’s his face if he messages you. Screenshot and send to me, ok?”

Callum smiled back at her. “No problem. Will do.”

“Well, nice chatting to you, Callum.” She moved the mouse on her end, clearly preparing to end the call.

“Yep. You too, Rayla.” He smiled, waving lamely.

She snorted then clicked her mouse and disappeared.

Callum sighed long and low.

He must have been going a little bonkers from the lack of company, because that was the most exhilarating thing that happened to him since he could remember.

He took his headphones off and ran a hand through his hair.

While he was not particularly happy at being... sued (he was being sued, right?) he could certainly imagine far less appealing lawyers to deal with.

Not wanting to disappoint his representation, he took a sip of his coffee and went to work tracking down his files.

 

---

Dear Rayla,

I trust this email finds you well.

Regarding our earlier conversation, please find attached the files in question.

Kind regards,

Callum.

Delete.

“Hey Rayla

Thanks for the chat earlier-“

Delete.

“Hi Rayla,”

He stared at the screen. What was the right mix of professional without being stiff? Or... weird. The lack of social interaction was making him question everything.

“Hi Rayla,

Thanks for your call earlier. I’ve attached a link to all the files I think are pertinent to the erroneous claim discussed.

Please let me know if you require

(too formal?)

Please let me know if you need anything else.

Regards

Thanks,

Callum”

He hit “send” then leaned back in his chair, sighing.

While he didn’t want to look like an idiot in front of the beautiful lawyer, he hoped she had call to contact him again.

 

---

 

[Claudia] so......?!??!!?!?!

 

He snorted at the message. He was actually impressed Claudia had waited this long.

 

[Callum] so what?

[Claudia] *eyeroll*

How’d it go with legal?

 

Callum smirked.

 

[Callum] Fine.

I think.

Was the insta weirdo. Sent them my files and they said they’d contact me if anything comes up

*shrug*

[Claudia] what’s Rayla like?!

I heard she made Steve cry!

[Callum] didnt he get fired for harassment?

[Claudia] Oh, he’s ok. Just doesn’t have a filter

He said she’s a real ice queen.

[Callum] hmm…

She’s fine.

Nice actually.

Well, was nice to me anyway.

[Claudia] Maybe she’s just lulling you into a false sense of security…?

I stalked her on LinkedIn.

She’s hot.

 

Callum raised his eyebrow in amusement and agreement. That she was.

 

[Callum] I dont think legal would approve of that sort of talk over company messaging ;)

[Claudia] Legal are no fun ;)

Art dept is where it’s at

 

---

 

RE: Notice of filed copyright infringement

Morning Callum,

Thanks for sending those files through.

Would you be free at some point to discuss them in a little more detail?

Thanks,

Rayla.

 

RE: Notice of filed copyright infringement

Hi Rayla,

That’s fine. I don’t have any other meetings today so I’m free to chat whenever.

Thanks,

Callum.

 

[Rayla] Hi Callum

How are you this morning?

 

He jumped when his IM service flashed on screen. He was not expecting her to respond so quickly, even though he could see she was online.

 

[Callum] Hi.

I’m good.

You?

[Rayla] Good thanks.

You free to chat now?

 

He glanced down at his unruly clothing. 

 

[Callum] Em, 2 mins?

[Rayla] Sure.

Just call me when you’re free.

 

Callum got up, toying with jumping in the shower before electing to just throw on a relatively un-creased button-down shirt and running his fingers through his hair. He glanced down at his sweatpants but ultimately elected not to bother changing them. He glanced at himself in his bedroom mirror, took a deep breath and sat down.

Taking one last look around to ensure his immediate surroundings were somewhat respectable, he pressed “Call” on the button next to Rayla’s name.

The connection screen blinked for a second and then Rayla appeared.

“Hi.” She smiled at him.

“Hi.” He felt his face flush.

She was stupidly pretty.

“Coping with isolation, the end of the world and being sued?” She grinned, raising her eyebrows.

“Is this another HR script?” He smirked at her.

“Nope. This is my personal one. I think it’s far better.” She chuckled, adjusting her headset.

“Well, it probably couldn’t be worse.”

“I’ll be sure to pass your feedback on to HR.” She began scribbling in her notepad.

“Please don’t.” He laughed. “The less HR know about me the better.”

“Callum Prince says… your scripts suck… and my delivery… not at all… the problem.” She put her pen down. “Done. I’ll forward that onto them after this. Want me to CC you in?”

Callum rolled his eyes, snorting in amusement. “Yeah and my boss as well, if you could.”

“Will do.” She bit her lip, struggling to suppress a smile. “So… these files. Thanks for sending them on.” She took a deep breath. “Are they the originals?”

He shrugged. “It’s all the original line work and layers.”

She nodded, looking down. “But you’ve saved something to them recently?”

“Eh,” Callum flushed. “Well, I just gave them more logical names. My naming system isn’t exactly the most straight forward. Not with works in progress anyway.”

“Ah…ok.” She wrote something down then looked back up. “I’m going to need the originals in their original format, if that’s ok.”

Callum grimaced.

“Oh dear, what?” She looked concerned.

“Well, it’s just… the names I gave them… you know… sometimes you’re working and you get a bit frustrated with stuff?” He rubbed his temple. “And some of the file names maybe reflect that frustration.”

Rayla sighed, tapping her pen against her forehead. “Ooook, so are we talking work inappropriate names or inappropriate inappropriate names?”

Callum raised his hands. “No, just, you know, not super professional names.”

“Example?”

He shrugged. “Em, maybe, I named one ‘annoyed’ or ‘sickofthis’ and, I don’t know ‘imsickoffrogs.”

“Is that the worst of it?” She at least looked amused.

“Probably? I can’t remember exactly but that’s how my stuff tends to get named after a while.”

Rayla snickered, shaking her head. “Ok, that’s fine. I can work with that.” She sighed; her eyes wide. “You scared me there for a second.”

“That’s really ok?” Callum still felt embarrassed.

“Yeah, that’s relatively normal.” She looked away as she typed something on her keyboard. “You should see some of the dumb names people call their stuff and expect it not to get found out.” She glanced back at the camera. “Word to the wise, IT has filters and searches for the most common euphemisms. If you don’t want to hear from HR, I would avoid using stuff like that as a file name.”

Callum breathed a sigh of relief. “Please tell me people aren’t that dumb.”

She raised an eyebrow. “You have no idea.” She typed a few more words, her attention on another screen and Callum took the opportunity to stare at her a little. She was dressed in a plain navy top today but from the drape of the material, he assumed it was silk. Her hair was loosely tied up, soft tendrils framing her face.

“Ok.” She finished what she was typing and looked back at the camera.

Callum quickly glanced down and pretended he hadn’t been staring.

She didn’t seem to notice. “So, just send through the original files, weird names and all and we can go from there.”

“Ok, I’ll send those- AHHHH FUCK!!!” Callum screamed as something wet and slimy landed on his face. He fell backwards off his chair in fright. He put a hand to his face and pulled off his attacker, revealing a plump green tree frog. “Fuck Bait, you scared the shit out of me.” He glared at the small amphibian before remembering he was still on a video call.

He jumped to his feet, red faced, to find Rayla looking shocked and confused on screen.

“Are you ok?!” She looked at him with wide-eyed concern.

Callum sighed, attempting to regain some dignity. “Yeah. Sorry. My brother’s stupid frog must have got out of his enclosure. He likes body heat so, you know, jumps on your face.” Callum held his hand up to the camera.

Bait croaked grumpily.

“Did you hurt yourself?” Biting her lip, she was clearly struggling to keep her countenance.

Callum sighed, sitting down once again. “Apart from a bruised ego?”

Rayla descended into peals of laughter.

He watched her giggle, struggling not to laugh himself. Now over his initial fright, he could only imagine how that looked to her.

“I’m sorry.” She took a deep breath, wiping her eyes. “I’m ok. Anyway,” She snorted, taking a deep breath. “Just…” snort “Send those… files through…”

Callum began to laugh at her clear inability to remain professional and she seemed to take this as a cue to break into another fit of giggles.

“Whenever you’re ready.” He smirked at her.

She took a deep breath and wiped her face. “I’m ok.”

“Well, as long as you’re ok.” He replied sarcastically.

Rayla shook her head and nodded. “Yep. Over it now. Anyway, files through.” She sighed as she attempted not to descend into laughter again. “Ok, I have to go. I can’t…”

Callum smiled at her, struggling not to laugh himself. “Ok, yep, files through.”

“Yep, ok.” She glanced at him, her shoulders shaking. “Gotta go.” She hung up abruptly.

Callum began to laugh himself. He liked to imagine she was somewhere, hours away laughing mercilessly at him. He wasn’t particularly happy to have made such an enormous fool of himself in front of her, but at least there was no way she’d forget him now.

Chuckling to himself, he glared at Bait. “You are a bad friend.”

 

---

 

RE: Notice of filed copyright infringement

Hi Rayla,

I hope you are well recovered.

Please find a link to sharepoint with all the files in the original state.

Let me know if you need anything else.

Cheers,

Callum.

 

RE: Notice of filed copyright infringement

I think it is unlikely I will ever truly recover.

Thanks for the files.

R

 

Callum chuckled at her response, looking back to his current design piece. While it was nice to have an excuse to interact with her, he was not enjoying trawling through files in search of long forgotten work.

He heard a ping in his headphone and looked up, expecting a message from Claudia or another of his colleagues.

He was surprised to see Rayla’s professional looking photograph flashing in the IM window. He clicked on the window, giddy at the chance to talk to her again.

 

[Rayla] You haven’t got a concussion or anything have you?

I might have failed in my duty of care to ensure you were uninjured after you recent animal attack.

*Your

Perhaps a bit late checking 24 hrs later.

[Callum] I’ll live.

[Rayla] Excellent

Free for chat?

Phone?

[Callum] sure

 

He was shocked to find his headphones ringing immediately. He quickly smoothed his hair before picking up.

“Hi.”

He was a little surprised as Rayla’s screen remained blank.

Just an audio chat then. “Hi.” He tried to keep the disappointment from his voice.

“Sorry to bother you so soon after our last call. Something has come up.” She paused. “Could I get your personal phone number, if that’s not too intrusive?”

“Eh, no that’s fine.” Callum’s heart raced. What did she want his personal phone number for?

“Great.” He thought he could hear her stand up. “You free now?”

“Yep.” Callum frowned.

“Ok.” She hung up without further word.

Callum rubbed his temples, while it would be nice to imagine she wanted his personal number for personal reasons, he could not imagine this was good.

What on earth was going on? Had HR actually objected to one of his file names? He thought they were pretty dumb but not a fireable offence, surely? But maybe they had moved the goalposts on what was considered ‘fireable’ with everything going on?

He frowned as an unfamiliar number flashed on his phone screen. Taking a deep breath, he selected the answer option.

“Hello?”

“Hello Callum?” She sounded a little concerned herself and Callum felt his anxiety rise.

“Yep.” He took a sip of water and proceeded out of his room, through the hallway and onto his balcony. He glanced in the living room window, rolling his eyes at Ezran once again reclined on the sofa, Bait resting on his forehead.

“Sorry to bother you on your personal phone.” She continued. “Kermit has lodged a further complaint about you, and I thought it would be… easier to discuss it off work channels.”

Callum swallowed. “That doesn’t sound good.”

Rayla sighed, but he thought he heard amusement in it, rather than worry. “Listen, I’m pretty sure it’s nothing but yeah… probably not something either of us want to get pinged for discussing on the network.”

Callum huffed. “Ok, I’m really worried now.”

Rayla took a deep breath. “Ok, well, hopefully you’ve no reason to be. And if you do, you’re gross and I don’t care, you can suffer.” There was some amusement in her voice, but he could tell there was some truth in her words as well. “You said in our initial conversation that you looked at Kermit69’s account but did not otherwise interact with him. Is that accurate?” She seemed to shift into lawyer mode.

“Yes.” Callum nodded, looking out over the gardens in his apartment building.

“You did not send him any messages or images?” He could hear scratching, which he assumed was her writing.

“No. Definitely not.” He wondered if he should write something down too.

“And you didn’t create any other accounts and send him messages or images from them?”

“What? No.” Callum leaned back against the railing. “I just assumed he was a bit out there and ignored him. I guess I should have blocked him. But that’s it.”

“Ok. Good.” She paused. “I’ll get onto IT to clear this up.”

Callum bounced on the balls of his feet, acknowledging Ezran with a nod when his brother waved at him through the window. “Em, what is he saying I did?”

Rayla exhaled, some of her former amusement returning. “He’s alleging you sent him some… images.”

“Images?” Callum asked, confused. “Like, frog stuff?”

“Pfft, you and I wish.” She snorted.

“Oh no, what’s he saying I did?” Callum gripped the railing.

“Well, he’s alleging you sent some… intimate photographs to him.” She snickered.

“He said I sent dick pics?!” Callum jumped. “Shit. Sorry. Eh-”

Rayla chuckled. “If that’s what the kids are calling it these days, then yes, he’s saying you sent him dick pics.”

“What the fu-” Callum groaned. “Why on earth would anyone do that?”

Rayla sighed, laughing. “I have no idea. I don’t think he’s all there, to be fair. I think he’s alleging you were trying to pay him off for the frog images or something.” She snorted. “Honestly, I don’t care. My job is protecting you and the company, not trying to figure out the motives of frog fanciers on Instagram.”

“Wow.” Callum slid down the balcony railing, feeling some relief.

“Yep. Count yourself lucky you didn’t have to view the images.”

Callum grimaced. “Gross.” He shook his head. “Is that part of your job?”

“Rarely. Most of even the dumbest of sexual harassers aren’t stupid enough to send images of their own junk using company property.”

“Ew.” Callum turned up his nose.

“Tis why we get paid the big bucks and you creative types get stuck in the basement working for beans.” She chuckled. “So now you understand why I didn’t want to have a teleconference about this?”

Callum shrugged, laughing softly. “Yeah, thanks.” He paused. “So, what if I had sent the pics? Were you going to cover that up?”

“Pfft.” She snorted loudly. “You wish. I would have given you the opportunity to resign before we fired you.”

“Oh.” He replied, his voice small.

“I’m not in the business of protecting creeps, thanks.”

“Fair enough.” He chuckled.

“As if you weren’t warned about me.”

Callum thought back to his conversations with Claudia. “Em, I’m not sure what you mean.”

“Sure.” She didn’t sound offended. “You are a bad liar. I definitely believe you about the little photography session now.”

“Well, you know, I might have been pre-warned that legal was going to contact me and maybe someone mentioned you were very… professional.”

 “Oh, how diplomatic, Mr. Prince.” Rayla chuckled. “Maybe we could find a place for you in our department. I must warn you though, you are expected to wear trousers with a shirt in legal.”

Callum choked. “What?! I’ve been wearing trousers every time we’ve spoken!”

“I believe you’re wearing sweatpants and a dress shirt the other day… during the frog attack.” She teased.

Shit.

He had completely forgotten about his mismatched clothes when he stood up after falling off his chair.

She chuckled. “Hey, it’s one better than the guy who answered in his boxers the other day.”

“Someone answered a videochat with legal in their boxers?” Callum asked in disbelief.

“I think he forgot he had a glass table.”

Callum laughed. “Well, I guess you can keep your big bucks if I don’t have to look at random people’s junk or chat to people in their underwear.”

“Hmm,” Rayla seemed to consider this. “I think it’s more than made up for by seeing other people being attacked by their frog muses.”

Callum chuckled. “And I suppose you’ve told all of legal about that.”

“Na.”

Callum started in surprise. “Oh, thanks.”

“Only because most lawyers don’t have a sense of humour.” She teased again.

“You do.” Callum flushed.

“Eh…thanks.” She paused on the other end. “Well, I better let you get back to your colouring in, or whatever it is you guys do. I’ll scrub my head with brain bleach and let you know if there’s any further developments.”

“Ok.” Callum pushed himself off the balcony floor. “Thanks for taking ten years off my life.”

“No problem!” She chuckled. “Thanks Callum.”

“Bye Rayla.” He hung up the phone and stared at her number for a few seconds before electing to save it.

It only made sense if he needed to call her about something lawsuit related.

Obviously.

He made his way into the living room and collapsed into a vacant armchair.

“You ok?” Ezran glanced back at him. “That looked like an intense conversation out there.”

Callum shook his head. “Ugh, this lawsuit thing is getting weirder and weirder.”

“Really?” Ezran sat up.

“Yeah,” Callum ran a hand through his hair. “The weirdo is saying I tried to bribe him with dick pics.”

Ezran descended into a fit of giggles. “Are you serious!?”

“Yes! So, I had to explain to this cute lawyer that I’m not in the business of paying for artwork via penis photos.” He sighed, glaring at Bait. “And that little asshole jumped on my face while I was in a video chat with her and sacred the life out of both of us.”

“Well, at least you made an impression.” Ezran grinned at Bait before looking back at Callum.

“Yeah, that’s exactly the type of impression I like to make.” Callum replied sarcastically.

“Better than no impression.” Ezran shrugged. “So, who’s this lawyer?”

Callum sighed, thinking back on their conversations to date. “Just one of the senior lawyers from head office.”

“One of the senior lawyers in your company is cute? I know you like them older but really?” Ezran teased.

Callum rolled his eyes. “She’s, like, my age. I guess. I don’t know. But she’s young.”

“You gonna ask her out when this is all over?”

Callum snorted. Ezran was always encouraging him to ask women out. “This being isolation or my lawsuit?”

Ezran shrugged. “Isolation, I suppose.”

Callum sighed, getting to his feet. “Well, she lives in Duren, so I don’t think that’s worth worrying about. Anyway, I better get back to work. I can’t be bothered cooking tonight. You want Uber eats?”

 “Hell yeah!” Ezran grinned. “Thai?”

Callum looked around the door. “Sure, why not?”

 

---

 

Callum munched happily on his takeaway. As usual, they had argued over what to order and got far too much but they could easily live off leftovers for few days.

He and Ezran were chuckling along to Brooklyn 99 when Callum saw his phone light up with a notification. He glanced at it, intent to ignore it in favour of his dinner, when he noticed Rayla’s name.

He choked a little on his Pad Thai, hastily dropping his plate on the coffee table. He grabbed a napkin and wiped his greasy fingers before picking up his phone and unlocking it.

She had sent him a message.

Why would she be messaging him on his personal phone?

After hours.

He swiped down on notification and read it.

“Frog issue” Was all it that was written.

He opened the app proper and frowned as a gif began loading.

To his surprise, it was a gif of him.

Of Bait landing on his face and him falling over.

What the hell?!

He erupted into laughter as he watched the sequence over and over.

No wonder she couldn’t keep it together.

He looked like a complete idiot.

 

CallumLOL

  WTF?!

  Where did you get that?

 

He replied without thinking it through, immediately regretting how informal he was.

But she had just sent him a gif of himself being attacked by Bait and falling off a chair.

Surely formality was out the window at this point.

 

RaylaMy video chat set to record by default.

Changed now but do not regret setting it up like that.

 

“What are you laughing at?” Ezran peered at his phone.

 

CallumOMG

Delete that!

 

RaylaNever!

It’s going viral.

 

CallumWTF!?!? NO!!!!

 

RaylaLOL

I wish.

Legal remember?

I’ll just have to know I have the viral gif of the year and wallow in self-pity for I can never share it.

 

“Hey!” Ezran nudged him with his foot. “What is it?!”

“Just a gif.” Callum held up his phone for Ezran to see.

Ezran narrowed his eyes at the image and watched it play a few times before realizing it was Callum in the image. “Whaaaa?! Where did that come from?”

Callum chuckled. “Rayla records her video chats. She sent it.”

“Rayla?” Ez frowned.

“The lawyer.” Callum grinned at his phone.

Ezran smirked at him.

“What?” Callum tried to hide his goofy smile.

“Your lawyer friend made a gif off you falling of your chair?” Ezran teased.

“She’s not my friend.” Callum hoped the low light masked his intense blush. “She's just a chick from work.”

“Uh huh.” Ezran grinned, his tone sarcastic. “That seems like normal work acquaintance behaviour.”

Callum tried not to beam.

It wasn’t normal work acquaintance behaviour, was it…?