Wright & Co. Law Offices – April 17, 7:30 pm
"Maya!" Phoenix Wright called up the stairs. "Aren't you ready yet? Gumshoe will be here any minute!"
"Five more minutes, Nick!" Was the reply.
"That's what you said for the fifth time in the past two and a half hours!"
"OK, so then quit asking!"
"Mr. Nick it's not nice to rush the birthday girl!" The tiny disembodied voice of Pearl Fey scolded.
The spiky-haired lawyer flopped down onto his desk chair and buried his head in his hands. When will I ever learn never to argue with Maya Fey? I may be an 'Ace Attorney' in the courtroom, but I have yet to win any arguments or battle of wits against that girl for the past four years! It doesn't help that she's got a spirited 9-year-old as her defense counsel!
He scowled in the upstairs direction of his residential loft, which was situated above the law office of his practice. It was also where his former legal assistant and her little cousin Pearl, had lived with him until a few months ago when Maya's Master duties of Kurain Village had commanded them to move back there.
The separation of the two girls had been even tougher for him than he'd anticipated. Despite the fact that they'd kept in touch via regular letters and phone calls and weekly or bi-weekly visits, it just wasn't the same as having them with him all the time. They were, after all, the sister and cousin of his beloved late boss and mentor, Mia Fey, and he considered them family. Phoenix was very attached to Pearls and loved the adorable little spirit-medium as his own daughter. And Maya, despite being seven years his junior, had been so much more than just his loyal employee for the three years she'd been at his side. She'd been his rock, his best friend…
Phoenix gave his head a shake. Where on earth had that thought come from? Of course, he loved Maya, she'd been Chief's jail-bait sister, and that was how he'd always seen her as well. But love her, love her? Out of the question. She'd been just 17 when he'd first met her, a scrawny, giddy, Steel Samurai-obsessed teenager who'd insisted on calling him 'old man', so the thought of any sort of romantic feelings for her had been laughable.
Maya suddenly materialized before him.
Then again, maybe not.
He'd been so lost in thought he didn't even notice he was no longer alone until an unexpected dramatic throat-clearing made him suddenly jolt his head up. His jaw dropped open.
The Maya Fey he'd always known was petite, about five feet tall, and forever donned in loose-flowing lavender acolyte robes that concealed her unfathomably skinny frame, despite her insatiable penchant for burgers and ramen noodles. Her raven hair was always in a semi top-knot atop her head, while the rest of the silky tresses flowed almost to her waist, and her slightly too-long fringe forever looked like it was falling into her eyes, which were usually sparkling with playful mischief. She had always been a cute kid, somewhat young looking for her age, that he had never looked at or thought of "in that way", and Phoenix had done his best to try to always mentally dismiss her as such.
Of course, certain events in the past couple of years had not always allowed him to fully succeed with the desired notion, but he'd still managed to maintain his composure and the boundaries of their friendship, at least on the surface, to both Maya and the rest of the world, Pearls notwithstanding. The innocent but somehow precocious child had always stubbornly maintained that he and Maya were one another's "special someone" and neither of them had had the heart to shatter her idealistic illusions and wholeheartedly deny the claim.
Now, staring at the woman in front of him, Phoenix wasn't sure he'd now be able to if his life depended on it.
His gaping reaction was ridiculous, he tried to tell himself. He had of course seen Maya since she'd moved. For most of their visits, Phoenix been the one to go visit Kurain, as it was easier for him to come up rather than having the two girls make the two-hour train ride down to Los Angeles. And since becoming Kurain Master, he had even seen her wearing clothing other than her ill-fitting garments; her regal purple kimono and robes she wore due to her new title admittedly were more figure flattering. The accompanying elegant bun she now always wore her hair in completed the look, emphasizing an ethereal face, with its former angular lines of youth now softened with age, into classically sculpted features against flawless porcelain skin.
So yes, Phoenix had absently noted that the cute kid he'd always known was now grownup Maya, who puberty had been kind to, but in a detached manner; the way one admired a valuable piece of artwork that could be looked at and never touched.
There was a world of difference, however, between seeing Maya Fey in clothes that were 'figure-flattering' to downright 'flaunting!'
The birthday girl wore a scarlet mini dress, crafted from dazzling sequins on the strapless bodice, which enhanced a shockingly near Mia-worthy bust, while the fitted skirt fell over the hips and thighs, with a flourish of delicate chiffon flowers decorating the hip-length hemline of the garment, which left no shadow of a doubt that the formerly coltish teenage frame had now been filled out by nature into lush and ripe curves in all the right places.
The unrecognizable creature that he'd always tried to dismiss as Mia's baby sister was looking very adult indeed!
Phoenix gulped, knowing he was staring, in a bizarre haze of mesmerized shock, and his heated face was probably the same shade as the killer dress, but he couldn't seem to help himself from keeping his mouth still slightly agape as he took the rest of the ensemble in.
A small satiny black evening bag was looped over the wrist of one well-manicured crimson tipped hand, adorned with gold bangles, and perfectly matched her black penciled heels. Red gloss was slicked over impeccably-lined Cupid's bow lips, which were formed into a smile of anticipation as she waited for him to speak.
"Take a picture, Nick, it'll last longer," Maya teased when it seemed to become apparent that his helplessly tongue-tied state still hadn't abated.
Desperate to avoid looking at her like a ravenous horn-dog, Phoenix reluctantly tore his gaze from the bodice of the dress and instead focused on her exquisite visage, hoping to find something – anything! – more comfortably familiar there and looked into her immaculately made-up dark eyes, then almost wished he hadn't. The golden black shadow on her half-opened eyelids coupled with the mascara on her long lashes added a smoky and dramatic almost cat-like look. He was mesmerized by the deep swirls of brown that colored her pupils; copper coins scattered across whirled mahogany that he felt hopelessly lost in.