Overruled, p.14
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       Overruled, p.14

         Part #1 of The Legal Briefs series by Emma Chase
 
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  His chest rises and falls rapidly—panting and grunting. His fist tightens in my hair, pulling hard enough to give just a bit of pain. And it’s rewarding, encouraging, because I know I’m bringing him to the edge of his control.

  Yes, Stanton!

  I want him to push me, pull me—fucking use me—as long as it’s only me he’s thinking of. Me he wants.

  My head bobs faster. I cup his heavy balls in my warm hand and massage, tug, then gently caress.

  “Oh fuck . . . deeper . . . Sofia . . . shit . . . that’s it, baby.”

  His cock hardens even more, a slick, silken rod filling my greedy mouth. I wrap my fingers around him near the base and jerk up and down in harmony with my mouth. Then his hand on my head tugs, holds me steady, as his cock slides in and out of my mouth, with the volition of his thrusting hips. “Fuck . . . I’m coming . . . coming in your perfect mouth . . . fuck . . .”

  I feel the flesh expand, swell, and a second later hot, salty streams surge on my tongue, filling my mouth. I swallow every bit he gives me—appreciatively. Because I love that I can do this to him. I love that I gave him this.

  Stanton gulps for air as he runs his fingers through my hair softly now, soothingly. When he goes slack in my mouth I release him and immediately find myself pulled up, pressed against him. He holds me as we tumble back on the bed. He kisses my forehead, my closed eyes.

  Then his hand slides up my thigh, as his body slides lower, his breath a tickling scrape across my stomach. He settles between my spread thighs, cups my ass, lifting me as he lowers his mouth. The air whooshes from my lungs at the sensation, the first touch of his lips enveloping me. I arch my back, he grips my hips, holding me steady for the onslaught of his tongue.

  His tongue licks and probes, rubs against the tight, desperate bundle of nerves between my legs, bringing wet, delicious heat that steals my thoughts and renders me speechless. I look down to watch him, and the sight makes my hands clench in the sheets, my thighs quiver. His eyes are closed in concentration, his face blissful, his mouth hums wordless appreciation as his head swivels. And I feel it build—the pressure, sparks of erotic pleasure spike deep inside me—building, cresting, getting closer.

  “Oh God, Stanton, oh God . . .”

  He releases my hips from his grasp and my pelvis gyrates shamelessly against him, wanting him deeper, harder, hotter. He slides two fingers into my tightness as his tongue makes firm, relentless circles against my clit. Every muscle in my body goes stiff in anticipation, and for a few beautiful seconds I’m suspended, hanging weightless on that sensual precipice.

  And then, with a long serrated moan, I shatter. My shoulders shake with the force of my orgasm, my pussy pulses around Stanton’s fingers, as carnal joy wracks every nerve in my body. It goes on and on, spasms of pleasure that force whimpering gasps from my lungs.

  After the heated sensations cool to soft embers, I open my eyes. Shining dots of light sparkle on the outer edge of my vision, and in the center is Stanton’s face—watching me with tender satisfaction. I feel his hand hold my jaw, and when he kisses me slowly, I taste a pleasing combination of tart alcohol and my own sweetness on his lips.

  Drained and boneless, we crawl up the covers, rest our heads on the pillows, and with mingled breaths, close our eyes to the rest of the world.

  14

  Stanton

  There’s a body of scientific study on sleep—the benefits, the side effects, how best to fall asleep, how many hours, which position, what kind of bed, what type of pillow, optimal room temperature. Researchers agree it’s best to wake up naturally—when your body tells you it’s had enough. If you work for a living, that’s probably not possible.

  Second best is to be woken gradually—which is why there are clocks with crashing waves, classical music, and Tibetan chimes for alarms. But whatever the fucking sound, gentle is always better.

  This is not a theory my mother has ever subscribed to.

  Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding . . .

  Sofia shoots upright, hair flying, arms swinging.

  “What? What’s happening? Where . . . are we under attack?”

  Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding . . .

  I barely muster the energy to moan, “It’s a triangle dinner bell.” My momma’s favorite wake-up call. “As for under attack . . . you could say that.”

  Shit. I feel my forehead, run my hand over my hair—looking for the pickax that’s obviously sticking out of my goddamn head—splitting it in two.

  Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding, ding . . .

  “It’s getting louder . . .” Sofia wails before wrapping the pillow around her face like a taco. “Why is it getting louder?”

  I fumble for my phone on the nightstand and check the time.

  Fucking hell.

  “It’s gettin’ louder because it’s Sunday.” My own whisper grates on my ears. “And because we’re in Mississippi.”

  She lets half the pillow drop, picks up her head, and looks at me through one open eye. “Is that supposed to mean something?”

  “Yeah. It means we’re goin’ to church.”

  She plants her face right back in the pillow.

  And I know just how she feels.

  • • •

  Not all Southern Baptist churches are the same. There’s the contemporaries—with their modern, sometimes “mega” buildings, huge amphitheaters, Christian rock, advanced sound systems, and arm-waving, amening congregates who sometimes number in the thousands. Then there’s the traditionals—like the First Southern Baptist Church of Sunshine, Mississippi, built before the Civil War, no air-conditioning or heat, wooden pews, quiet congregates whose asses are in the seats every week, with the closest thing to a sound system being the organ player, Miss Bea, my old ninth-grade teacher.

  We sit in the pew in the back half of the room, flanked by my parents—my sister Mary texting as quickly as she can before my mother sees, and Marshall, who’s falling asleep. Sofia caused quite the stir when we first walked in. Not because she’s not dressed suitably for church, but because she’s a new face—a fucking gorgeous face—with her dark hair piled high, her rich purple dress that highlights her hazel eyes, and strappy sandals that make me think about tying her down to a nice comfy bed.

  She’ll be starring in the jerk-off fantasies of every teenage boy in this place—and several of their fathers.

  Just before the service begins, I catch sight of the back of Jenny’s and Presley’s heads a few rows in front . . . and the dark-haired man sitting beside them.

  Mine. I want to shout, write it on the wall—tattoo it on Jenny’s forehead in all capital letters.

  He leans over, whispering, and Jenny covers her mouth, fucking giggling. My teeth grind and I exhale like a fire-breathing dragon—ready to launch myself across the room, scoop them up, and turn his ass to goddamn soot.

  Probably feeling my stare, Presley turns around and gives me a smile that takes up more than half of her face. I blow her a kiss back. Thirty seconds later she’s coming over, after getting Jenn’s permission. She sits between us, whispering happily with Sofia, the perfect distraction from the man I’m itching to pummel.

  When Pastor Thompson begins the service, I hear my daughter inform Sofia, “That’s Pastor Thompson—he’s a hundred and twenty years old.”

  I chuckle. “He’s ninety-two.”

  “He looks good for ninety-two,” Sofia says, nodding.

  Pastor Thompson has been my preacher my whole life—for the entire lives of almost every person in this church. He knows our names, our birthdays, been there to comfort on those terrible, heartbreaking days and led us to rejoice on the amazing ones.

  And for the first time in a long time, the thought of my being known so well by so many doesn’t annoy me. It feels . . . nice, knowing I’ll never have to explain myself. To tell where I’m from, where I’ve been, where I
m going—it’s just not necessary.

  I’m one of theirs. They all already know.

  Which is why when the preacher gets to his sermon, he looks around the church—and the old bastard winks right at me—then he opens up his Bible and tells the story of the Prodigal Son.

  • • •

  Outside the church, I spot Jenny and the dark-haired man across the grass. With a better view, I’m able to see he’s a few inches shorter than me, thinner, but still in shape. He’s average looking with a straight nose, heavy brow, puffy girly lips. And he’s got that cleft in his chin like John Travolta.

  A heinie chin.

  From this moment on, I’ll forever think of him as Ass Face.

  “That him?” Sofia whispers, her eyes trained in the same direction as mine.

  “That’s him,” I growl. Like a dog that spots his favorite bone in the jaws of another canine.

  “Wow,” she exclaims quietly. “He’s gorgeous! He could model for Calvin Klein or Armani.”

  Frowning, I turn to her. “Why would you tell me that?”

  She looks back, grinning. “You want me to lie?”

  “Yes. I do.”

  She gives Ass Face another once-over. Then covers her eyes. “My god, he’s hideous! I can’t bear to look at him. Move over, Quasimodo, Jimmy Dean is in the house.”

  I sigh. “Sofia?”

  “Yes, Stanton?” she says sweetly.

  I lean in, so my lips are just a hairbreadth from her ear.

  “Lie better.”

  As the happy couple heads our way I turn to face them, asking Sofia out of the side of my mouth, “How should I play this? Scare him with threats, or just go straight to the ass-kicking?”

  Please, let her opt for the ass-kicking.

  “You should be polite. Charming—show her you’re the bigger man.”

  I nudge her with my elbow. “Bigger is better—and his fuckin’ nickname was Sausage Link, so it looks like I’ve got the monopoly on bigger.”

  That gets a small chuckle out of her. “You should make friends with him, as fast as you can. Go drinking or hunting—kill something together. Keep your friends close, and your enemies closer.”

  Not for the first time, I congratulate myself on the wisdom of bringing Sofia with me. Having a direct line of contact with a woman’s brain is the best kind of resource. Without her here, I would’ve just clocked the son of a bitch—which apparently would’ve pissed Jenny off instead of impressing her. Might’ve sent her racing to Vegas to fucking elope with Ass Face.

  I quickly glance Sofia’s way and I mean every word when I tell her, “I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

  She gives me a funny look, brows drawn together.

  But then they arrive in front of us.

  I stand opposite Jenny, looking sideways at Sausage Link. He holds out his hand to me. “It’s been a long time, Stanton. Good to see you.”

  I read his eyes, his expression, not sure if he’s being for real. But all I see staring back at me is a friendly smile and unguarded dark brown eyes.

  And I realize something: Jenny didn’t fucking tell him. Didn’t talk to him about our visit at the river yesterday, or how I found out about his existence in her life at all.

  I shake his hand. Hard. “JD.”

  He winces, and the caveman inside me grins with rotting teeth.

  Then he puts his arm around Jenn. “We’re glad you could make it home for the wedding—wouldn’t be the same without you.”

  My eyes meet Jenny’s nervous gaze and I smirk; chuckle just a little.

  “You can fuckin’ say that again—it definitely will not be the same.”

  I introduce Sofia, and Jenny’s smile thins. They mentally circle each other, like women—and cats—do, wondering if they’ll be needing their claws anytime soon.

  “We’re grillin’ at the Monroes’ this afternoon. Y’all are comin’, right?” JD asks.

  Jenny opens her mouth, but before she can get a word out, I answer. “We wouldn’t miss it. I’ll bring my special sauce. You always loved my sauce, remember Jenny? Couldn’t get enough of it.”

  She gives me an evil look.

  I wink.

  “Momma.” Presley skips up, taking my hand. “Can I go back to Granny and Granddad Shaw’s with Daddy and Miss Sofia?”

  Jenny smiles softly. “Of course you can. But don’t get your dress dirty.”

  With a sigh, Jenny regards me. “We’ll see you later, then.”

  “Count on it.”

  • • •

  Back at the parents’, I’m in the kitchen, trying to make the most of my time—mixing in Worcestershire, vinegar, and brown sugar—though molasses would be better. Barbecue sauce is important to a southern man—it’s a pride thing. Mine has a legendary reputation and I don’t want to disappoint the fans.

  Outside the window, Presley leads Sofia around to where the herding dogs are penned, chattering away. “That’s Bo, that one’s Rose—oh, and this is Lucky. He got stepped on by a horse when he was a pup. Squashed half his little head—see the dent?”

  I glance up and catch Sofia stroking her hands over the dog’s tan coat, then puckering those ruby lips and peppering the dog with kisses.

  Lucky certainly is that.

  “Granddad thought we should put him down, but Daddy said to give him a chance—he looked like a tough one. And he pulled through.”

  Fifteen minutes later I have pots bubbling on the stove like a chemistry experiment. Sofia strolls in while Presley is on the swings. She watches as I mix all the ingredients into a rectangular tin. “I thought you said you couldn’t cook.”

  I gesture to the pots and pans. “This? This isn’t cooking. This is grillin’. Totally different.”

  She smiles. And steps closer. “Charming the panties off of jurors, saving injured puppies, and now—grillin’. Is there anything you can’t do well?”

  I smirk, looking down into those eyes. And I’m possessed with the sudden urge to kiss her. Thoroughly.

  But I shake it off—kissing in the kitchen isn’t what Sofia and I do. Instead, I confirm her inquiry about my limitless talents. “Not one.”

  “Why don’t you ever grill in DC?”

  “I don’t know—no time, I guess. And I forgot how much fun it is.” I stir the tin a few more times, then scoop some up with the spoon. Sofia stares at my mouth as I blow on it.

  “Taste this.”

  Her soft pink tongue ventures out first, hesitantly sampling, followed by her lips that wrap around the head of the spoon. When she moans, Christ, it goes straight to my dick—gets me thinking of other moans and other heads.

  “Mmm . . . I would happily lick that sauce off anything you put it on.”

  Dangerous words. I grip the counter to stop myself from laying her back on it.

  Maybe kissing in the kitchen is something we should start doing.

  “That wouldn’t be a good idea,” I tell her. “There’s crushed hot peppers in it. Might burn the skin.”

  Grinning like a she-devil, she hands me back the spoon. “Guess I’ll stick to chocolate sauce, then.” She turns and walks out, hips swinging.

  Hmm . . . a little burn could might absolutely be worth it.

  15

  Stanton

  By the time we get to the Monroes’, half the town is already there. After church everybody always lands at someone’s home, bringing food and settling in for an afternoon of barbecue, drinking, and conversation. Throughout the yard, there are clusters of people talking and laughing, groups of kids running and shouting. Presley joins a herd as soon as we enter the yard. Nana eyes the whole affair from her spot on the porch like a watchful, gun-toting gargoyle. Typical Sunday.

  I pass my tray of sauce to June, who brings it to her husband, stationed at the meat-laden grill, surrounded by fragrant smoke so thick he could be Alice Cooper in concert. Ruby—Jenny’s sister—brings me a beer and a hug. Like her parents’ home, the years go by, but Ruby stays the same. Same fl
aming red hair, same wild laugh, same piece-of-shit scraggily bearded boyfriend—just with a different name. This one’s Duke or Dick, doesn’t really matter—none of them stick around long, and that’s really for the best.

  I introduce her to Sofia and can tell right away Ruby doesn’t like her—for the simple fact that she’s here with me. Even though the whole town seems to be gung-fucking-ho about the wedding, Ruby obviously thinks there’s a chance Jenn could change her mind. So she’s not going to get friendly with a woman whom she views as her sister’s potential competition.

  I look around for Jenny but don’t see her.

  As we walk to get Sofia a drink, I introduce her each time we’re stopped—which is often. There’s the tan-skinned, blond Mrs. Mosely. I went to school with her girls, but their mother was the one all the boys were interested in. Guys used to fight over who’d offer to mow her lawn first—just for the chance to see her catching the sun in her bikini in the backyard. Then there’s Gabe Swanson, the town historian and bookshop owner—one of the nicest and most fucking boring men I’ve ever known. After I pour Sofia a mint julep at the checkered-cloth-covered drink table, we turn and see the smiling face of Pastor Thompson approach.

  “Good to see ya, Stanton.”

  “You too, Pastor.” I sip my beer. “It was a fine service today.”

  “I thought you might like it.” He taps my arm with a shaky hand. “How long’s it been since you’ve been home?”

  I scratch the back of my neck, trying to recall. Until a honey-toned voice I’d know anywhere recalls for me.

  “Fourteen months, twelve days.”

  I turn to my right, and Jenny’s there, wearing a white eyelet dress now, her hair pulled back with a yellow ribbon, looking like an angel . . . with the body of a devil underneath. My favorite kind.

  Ass Face is there too. Unfortunately.

  “That can’t be right,” I correct. “I spent Christmas with Presley.”

  Jenny’s smile is calmly resentful, an “I told you so” smile.

  “’Cause you bought her a plane ticket and she flew out to spend Christmas with you. You said you couldn’t make it home. Again.”

  I’m shocked when I realize she’s right—it has been that long. Talking to Jenny practically every day, seeing her when we Skype, the days blended . . . passed . . . and I didn’t notice.

  Sofia rests her hand on my arm. “You were working on the Kripley case in December, remember?” Then, almost like she’s defending me, she explains, “It was a big case—armed robbery, with a minimum sentence of twenty years. Mr. Kripley was wrongfully ID’d as the perpetrator. Stanton was able to show the jury how unreliable witness identifications are and he was found not guilty. A few weeks later, the actual robber was apprehended trying to sell the stolen merchandise.”

  Sofia looks at me with proud eyes, but when she turns to Jenny, her gaze turns frosty. “He saved a man’s life and still found a way to spend Christmas with his daughter—that’s pretty impressive, don’t you think?”

  Jenny’s eyes drop to the cup in her hand. “Of course. We all know how important Stanton’s work is.”

  Pastor Thompson raises his glass. “You keep fightin’ the good fight, son.”

  “Thank you, sir. I will.”

  After the preacher walks off, I see a golden opportunity—Ass Face be damned. “Jenny, there’s some things we need to talk about. Let’s take a walk over . . .”

  And my brother pops in between us, shoving a football in my face. “Hey, Bubba—you wanna toss the ball around?”

 
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