“And you must be Tess VanBrandt,” he said, eyes fixing on me. He sounded just as bold and debonair as he looked. “I’m Alec Wilhelm, managing partner here at ASP.”
I stood up and promptly walked over to him. “Yes. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”
We shook hands. He had fine bones, long fingers, rope-like veins from his knuckles to his wrist. My grip was probably tighter than he expected; he looked impressed.
“Follow me. My office is just down the hall,” he said.
He led me through a hallway lined with wine-red carpet and stylish wallpaper. Paintings hung from the wall in gold-painted frames: classic scenes of dueling gladiators, and Roman soldiers invading various places. He opened a door with A. Wilhelm, Esquire, Attorney at Law printed in formal gold lettering.
“Right this way, Miss VanBrandt,” he said and motioned me inside.
His office was almost like the hallway, only with high windows looking out onto the swarming streets below. He said I could take a seat anywhere, indicating a plush divan and puffy chairs with ottomans. Instead, I picked the sturdiest-looking leather chair in front of his desk.
He sat down in his executive chair with a theatrical sigh, leaning forward and interlocking his fingers in front of him. His desk looked clean, nondescript, except for a strange-looking glass paperweight on a light stack of envelopes. With a second look, I realized the glass trinket had a once-living scorpion preserved inside.
“So, Tess,” he said, “is that short for something?”
I shook my head. “No, it’s just Tess.”
He nodded with just a flicker of a smile. “Let me begin by asking, are you familiar with ASP and what we do?”
“Of course.” Immediately, I started paraphrasing what I’d read online. I made sure to mention that I knew what “pro-social” meant.
“I see you’ve done your homework,” he said with a wry laugh. “Now, your résumé…” He opened a portfolio and took out the copy that Luhrman-Rothstein had sent him; apparently I wasn’t going to need the 10 copies I’d printed. “…your résumé says you have a Bachelor’s in Finance and a Paralegal Certificate, is that correct?”
“Yes, that’s correct.”
“And your portfolio shows that your main interest is in civil law?”
“Yes.” Apparently they sent him my portfolio, too.
“I see.” He leaned back, reaching his hands behind his head. “So tell me, Tess, why should I hire you?”
I only had a moment to conjure up a response; it wouldn’t matter if it sounded rushed. The only wrong answer to this question is hesitation.