Chapter 4: Lawyerin’. Really useless lawyerin’.
Joe’s lawyer, Ross Dempsey, is described as a “handsome bachelor” which makes me think he might make an appearance in a later book in this series, and “one of the most prominent sports-and-entertainment attorneys in the area” (48) and he sees Emma and Joe right away. After they explain the situation, he asks all the pertinent questions.
“Did the two of you get divorced? Was the marriage annulled? How long were you married?” (52)
The couple answers only the last question with “Thirty minutes.” Joe clarifies that the justice of the peace who’d married them tore up the papers and had “the marriage wiped completely off the books” (53). But a phone call later the lawyer confirms that the marriage was not “annulled or expunged.” Thus, Joe and Emma have been married for the past seven years.
I hadn’t expected the secret marriage to have been secret to even the participants. That’s kinda fun.
Ross asks if the two of them consummated the marriage, and of course they both said no. He clarifies that he means within the past seven years and they still say no. Geez, Ross, did you not read the title of this book?
Legally, Ross declares that they shouldn’t have a problem fixing things, as long as both Emma and Joe have the same story about what happened the previous Friday when they were caught naked in each other’s arms. However, the public relations side of things is going to be a nightmare. Now that the marriage is no longer a secret (even to the participants!), explaining away the events will be more difficult.
…Joe explained carefully, “I think what Ross is trying to say is that people are going to speculate that you and I have been carrying on with each other all along and hiding it from everyone. For kicks, I guess” (54).
See, that part seems strange to me. Sure, it’s going to cause speculation; it’s a weird situation and difficult to explain. But the fact that “for kicks” is the best reason for the two of them to have kept it quiet—and what kicks would those be??—is what makes it seem that people would actually buy the true story. (On the other hand, I’m sure people could come up with other reasons… I’m not sure that I can come up with a good reason… Other than that Saul hated Joe so much that he wouldn’t allow him and Emma to marry? So they did it secretly and kept it secret for seven years… it just doesn’t make sense. Especially since surely Joe has dated in those seven years and in doing so probably had a few publicity photos with those dates.)
The three of them briefly discuss what happened in the intervening seven years, particularly the direct aftermath of Saul catching Emma and Joe together. Joe was sent back to the minors then traded “to the lowest-standing team in the AHL” (54). That sucks, but there’s two problems with that comment. First, it sounds like he was intentionally (under Saul’s command) traded to the worst AHL team, but I can’t see teams making business choices (players are expensive) based entirely on revenge, particularly since it would require multiple teams’ managements to agree, including that low-ranking AHL team. Second, so what if the AHL team is low-ranking? I mean, sure, everyone wants to win, but the ranking of the AHL team has little to do with the ranking of the parent NHL club. Not to mention, the players’ biggest goal is to get called up to the NHL team—winning the Calder Cup is *a* goal, but not the big goal. In fact, being an excellent player on a bad AHL team might even get you noticed faster and called up to the big boys.
On the other hand, Joe complains that after his experience with Emma and the Carolina Storm, the league(s) perceived him as being trouble and he had to prove himself otherwise. I guess Saul was a jerk and trashed his reputation? Except there had never been any media linking Emma and Joe (until now) and I can’t see Saul allowing Emma’s reputation to be trashed (even just within the league(s)) in order to sabotage Joe.
Harlequin Handwave time?
Reminiscing time over, Joe asks Ross what to do. Given Ross’s answer, I sincerely hope that Joe isn’t paying him very much.
“Figure out how to fix it, I guess, within the perception of the public” (55).
To be fair, “how to fix it…within the perception of the public” is more of a PR person’s job than a lawyer’s. That said, that’s all the advice that Ross gives—he doesn’t even explain how the two of them could start to actually annul the marriage/get divorced.
But since the two of them are each other’s Ones, I suppose that’s all right.
When Emma complains that it’s impossible to change the public’s opinion on them, Joe clearly has an Aha! moment and turns to her “as inspiration hit”. The chapter ends without sharing what said inspiration is…