Overruled, p.19
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       Overruled, p.19

         Part #1 of The Legal Briefs series by Emma Chase
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  Oh, fuck.

  Her groan grows deeper, more feral, and her free hand slides around my back, into my trunks, grabbing my ass. Pulling me closer where she needs me most.

  I lift her against me and drag us to the bank. I lower her down and press on top of her, bare chests rubbing. She pushes down her bikini bottoms and I yank them the rest of the way, then free myself from the stifling constraints of my trunks. Her thighs spread wide when I push against them with my hips. Gripping my cock, I drag the head through her folds, feeling her heat, wanting to thrust and grind and ride her until we both lose our minds.

  Jesus, it’s never felt like this. So fucking urgent. So desperate.

  I push inside her—just the tip—and her muscles clench around me greedily. She’s so fucking warm . . . slick and snug. Too warm.

  I look into her eyes. “I don’t have anything, Sofia.”

  A whole box of wonderful condoms is back at the house, in my room. Shit.

  She shakes her head, her voice high and breathless. “I don’t care.”

  I grow stiffer with the thought of screwing her raw. Illicit, decadent images flash behind my eyes, telling me it doesn’t matter. Urging me to just push, thrust, fuck.

  I drag my nails up her thigh gently. “I’ll pull out,” I rasp. Promise. “I want to see my come on you.” I slide my hand up her stomach, across her breasts. “Here. Glistening on this perfect fucking skin.”

  She nods with a whimper, pulling me down to her. Lifting her legs, making me slip further inside.

  I thrust hard—and stop. Sinking into the sensation of her wrapped so tight around me, filling her completely without anything between us. I don’t remember the last time I was inside a woman bare—but that’s not what makes it different.

  It’s beautiful. Intense.

  But only because it’s her.

  I drag out slowly. She arches her back, rubbing against me. And I push back inside her, groaning and grasping. I let go, fucking her without an ounce of restraint, inching us up the bank, rocking her breasts with every thrust of my hips.

  I pull on her shoulders and she clasps my head, holding me as her tongue plunders my mouth. Her lips slant across my jaw, biting, and she comes with a muffled scream against my skin. I feel her contract, squeezing so tight it borders on painful. The best kind of pain.

  When her muscles relax I push into her again, feeling the tension coiling in my stomach. Electric tendrils spark up my thighs, and at the last possible moment I pull out and rise to my knees. I move my fist up my length, and Sofia watches with rapt eyes. She covers my hands with her own, helping me get there.

  The sound of my rushing blood crests in my eardrums and I come in hot, forceful spurts. She moans with me as my orgasm paints her breasts in gleaming splashes that go on and on.

  With a final groan I collapse on top of her, both of us panting, chasing our breath. She cradles me against her neck and my arms come around, pressing her close. And we stay just like that until the sun peeks over the horizon in the east.

  And a whole new day is born.

  19

  Stanton

  On Thursday afternoon, Jenny’s sister throws a big party for her and JD at her parents’ house. It’s fancier than a Sunday barbecue, but not as extravagant as a catered affair. The bride- and groom-to-be have foregone bachelor or bachelorette parties—much to Ruby’s displeasure. It seems she was looking forward to giving her little sister the kind of send-off into married life that included fireman strippers and mechanical-bull riding. Obviously, Ruby is unaware of her sister’s kinkier proclivities—and the fact that she already has her very own collection of handcuffs, so the stripper probably would’ve been a letdown.

  Being close as they are, my whole family is invited. Walking into their house decorated with bridal-themed streamers and balloons does little to sort out the fuckery in my head right now. I’m still not thrilled about Jenny getting married, but the idea doesn’t make my insides burn with jealousy or panic anymore. I get it now—after last night, after the nothing kiss, I see that Jenny was right. About everything.

  Which is exactly why there’s no good reason for her to go confessing things to JD. It’ll just cause problems for nothing. That’s the advice I want to give Jenn—if she’d sit still long enough for me to say it.

  “Not now, Stanton.” She walks out of the kitchen with me right behind her. Her mouth is grim, her eyes are weary and dull with remorse. She looks stressed, but what’s worse—she looks guilty.

  “Jenny, just give me a second.” But she’s already in the living room, moving among a sea of people—each one nodding and smiling and making conversation. The sky outside is the color of gray smoke, quickly turning to charcoal, so everyone’s inside. In the living room, JD’s eyes light up when Jenny walks into the room. She stops short, gazing at him with an expression I can’t read.

  “Don’t say anything, Jenn. Not yet,” I say against her hair.

  Ruby walks around the house with a microphone, playing bridal bingo. “Okay y’all, who knows the month and day when JD and Jenny went on their first date? Mark it down on your card.” She leans down toward the tiny, gray-haired Mrs. Fletcher, who’s deaf as a post and yells into the microphone. “The first date, Mrs. Fletcher!”

  Mrs. Fletcher nods, then writes down today’s date.

  “I’m just gonna be honest,” Jenny says to herself. “The truth will set you free.”

  No, I know from professional experience that the truth can land your ass in a jail cell. It’s how the truth is presented that makes all the difference.

  She’s moving forward before I can grasp her arm.

  “There’s my girl,” JD says from his seat.

  I watch her swallow hard as she sits in the empty seat beside him. And she looks like she might actually puke when she says, “There’s somethin’ I need to tell you.”

  “Hey, JD,” I try. “You want to go outside and throw the ball around?”

  He holds up a finger at me and his dark eyes squint as he looks at Jenny with a mixture of concern and curiosity. “What’s the matter, beautiful?”

  “Alright, get ready for the next one, everybody!” Ruby announces into the microphone. She stands between JD’s and Jenny’s chairs. “Jenny’s gonna give it to y’all!”

  And it’s like a train wreck. A slow-moving, unstoppable crash.

  Ruby lowers the microphone to Jenny’s mouth just as she confesses, “I kissed Stanton last night.”

  Smash.

  Everyone stops—stares—no one moves. Even old Mrs. Fletcher heard it clearly. “Ha!” She whispers with delight to her aged bingo companion, “I knew that boy wasn’t lettin’ go that easy.”

  But’s it’s another voice that captures me—that clutches something deep inside me—and twists.

  “You kissed her last night?”

  The words are whispered with condemnation . . . and disbelief. But it’s the look in Sofia’s eyes that almost brings me to my knees. Anguish. Pure undiluted pain that she doesn’t even try to hide.

  And it’s like I can read her mind, see her thoughts. She’s thinking about our time at the river—connecting the dots. And she’s assuming that I used her. Turned to her to finish what Jenn started. It’s all right fucking there on her face.

  “Soph . . .” I step toward her to explain, to take that look away—but she turns her back on me, walking out of the room.

  With the audience still silent, Ruby clears her throat and speaks into the microphone. “Cake . . . and liquor . . . will be served on the porch, if y’all will follow me.” She motions with her hand.

  The room quickly clears out, leaving only me, Jenny, JD, our parents, and my older brother. JD’s brown eyes watch her like he’s waiting for her to continue, but can’t decide if he actually wants her to. He doesn’t seem angry. He’s shocked. Wrecked.

  Like . . . like a puppy that just got kicked.

  He takes a deep breath and says, “Jenny . . . I know I’m not excitin’. I don’t have
a flashy job, I’m not the star quarterback, I’m a simple guy. I like . . . simple things. Quiet things—like holdin’ your hand, and watchin’ TV with my arms around you. I’m just a man who loves you more than I’ll ever love anythin’.” He straightens up. “But I’m not gonna fight for you. This isn’t high school or some movie—we’re adults. You need to decide what you want. Who you want. And it needs to be now.”

  Jenny’s fingers wrap around one another beseechingly. “I already have decided. I want to be with you, JD—I love you.”

  Her words only seem to upset him more. He pushes at his dark hair, arms tight, hands curling into fists. “You sure about that? ’Cause it don’t seem like love from where I’m standin’.”

  I figure it’s time I step in. “Listen, JD—”

  “Oh, shut up,” he growls.

  “Excuse me?”

  “I’ve had it up to here with you!” He motions to the top of his head. “Everythin’ was fine until you came back. You were an asshole in high school, and you’re an asshole now!”

  I press a hand to my chest. “Jenny said you thought I was a legend.”

  “A legendary asshole! Always walkin’ around like you were better than us—too fuckin’ good for this town. Screw you!”

  I’m insulted.

  “Well I sure as shit was better than you—goddamn water boy.”

  Suddenly JD changes from a puppy into a Rottweiler. One that snaps.

  “I was the manager !” he bellows. Then he lunges over the table, tackling me around the waist, taking us both down to the ground.

  June screams.

  Jenny groans, “Aw, hell.”

  My leg catches the leg of the side table, bringing the lamp on top of it crashing to the floor.

  And Carter says, “Finally! That’s what I’m talkin’ about. Purge the negativity! Get it all out there in the open, boys.”

  I straighten my arm against JD’s chest, trying to get the upper hand.

  “I thought you weren’t gonna fight,” I grit out.

  “I changed my mind!” he snarls. Then he punches me in the eye.

  My head snaps to the side, but I come right back, landing a solid right hook to his jaw, making my knuckles throb. We grapple and grunt, kick and punch. But within just a few minutes, Wayne and my father decide that’s enough. They snatch each of us by our collars, dragging us up, pulling us apart.

  Panting, JD shakes off Wayne’s grip, but he doesn’t come at me again.

  He looks at Jenny and bites out, “I’m done here.”

  And the front door slams closed behind him.

  • • •

  After JD’s exit, Ruby announced the party was over and sent everyone home. Then she swore she was gonna put us all on Jerry Springer. Twenty minutes later I’m at the kitchen table, holding a bag of frozen peas on my swelling eye. Jenny sits on a chair next to me, while our daughter paces before us.

  Presley stops in front of me. “We use our words to solve problems around here, not our fists.” She paces some more. Then she looks hard at Jenny. “And you’ve hurt JD’s feelin’s. You need to say sorry.”

  We nod in sad unison.

  Getting your ass chewed out by an eleven-year-old is no fun at all.

  Presley shakes her head and wags her finger. “I’m very disappointed in both of you. I want you to sit here and think about your behavior. And next time, I expect you to make better choices.” With a final reproachful humph, she flounces away—leaving us to stew.

  Silently, Jenny picks at her nails. It’s what she does when she’s worried, and it doesn’t take a genius to guess just what she’s worrying over.

  “I’m sorry, Jenn. I didn’t mean—” I break off, because busting up Jenny and JD’s wedding was exactly what I meant to do. I thought I’d feel victorious—another check in the win column.

  But I just feel shitty.

  She rests her hand on my leg. “It’s all right, Stanton. It’s not all your fault.”

  I stare at her. Waiting.

  “All right, it is your fault. But I did my part too. If I had just told you from the beginnin’, let you get used to the idea, we wouldn’t—”

  The front door slams open and a burst of wind surges into the house, blowing in leaves, little chunks of dirt, and . . . Jimmy Ass Face Dean.

  Jenny stands as he walks into the room, hard faced and frowning. But there’s something else in his eyes.

  Fear.

  “You came back,” she breathes.

  “I had to come back. To make sure you and Presley were all right.” He pulls her into his arms, and the Rottweiler is back in his cage. “There’s a storm comin’ in.” He looks up at me. “The tornado warnin’ is goin’ off—heard it when I got close to town. The radio cut out on the way back, but it sounded like it’s on track to hit here.”

  Shit.

  Tornado watches are pretty common in this part of Mississippi. We deal with them the way the East Coast handles a blizzard—with healthy caution and preparation—but no one really expects the Armageddon they show in the movies.

  But a warning means a tornado has actually touched down. And if you’re in its path, that’s a horse of a fucked-up color.

  At once, everybody moves—bringing in the lawn furniture, locking down windows. Not every farm has a storm cellar, but this one does. Jenny’s father grabs the first-aid pack from under the sink and we all gather in the kitchen, to head out the back door. But when I look around, my heart lodges in my throat, blocking the air.

  “Where’s Sofia?”

  I walk back through the living room, searching. I open the front door to check the yard—and have to brace my legs against a wave of wind that feels like God himself is trying to knock me on my ass.

  “She went for a walk,” Ruby volunteers, her face pale and tight.

  “When?” I yell.

  “Awhile ago—before the fight. She walked out the back door and just kept on goin’.”

  Pure, cold panic rises up my legs—like I’m sinking into quicksand. And a thousand horrific scenes go through my head. Sofia getting knocked down by flying debris, bleeding and calling my name. Sofia trapped under a fallen tree, her eyes lifeless. Sofia running, almost making it to the house . . . before she’s swept up in the monstrous gray mass. Gone, like she was never here at all.

  Her name bubbles up in my chest and I clench my teeth to keep from shouting it.

  I have to find her.

  In the kitchen, I tell them, “Y’all go on—I’m gonna go get Sofia.”

  “Daddy!” Presley throws her arms around my waist and I can feel her shaking. “Daddy, please come with us. Don’t go!”

  Her terror, her need for me slices through my chest like a machete, cutting me in two. I kneel, looking into her eyes, touching her little face. And I put everything I have into my words to comfort her. “I’ll come back. I swear, Presley, I’ll come back.”

  Her lip trembles.

  I caress her hair and try to give her my smile. “We can’t leave Miss Sofia out there, baby girl. I’m goin’ to get her and then we’ll come straight back to you.” I look behind Presley to Jenny, who’s holding JD’s hand. And I know what I have to do.

  I scoop Presley up into my arms, kissing her cheek. “You’re gonna be with your momma and JD. They’re gonna keep you safe.”

  She hugs me one last time—and then I hand her over.

  To JD.

  I never saw myself giving my daughter into the care of another man. Never imagined a scenario where that would ever be okay. But there’s no jealousy, no urge to lay him out and snatch her back. I’m just . . . grateful that it’s not all on Jenny alone.

  She murmurs to our daughter and nods at me, gratitude in her eyes. Like an omen, there’s a crash outside, snapping us out of the moment. My mother rushes everyone to the door. As JD goes to follow, I grab his shoulder, talking more with my eyes so as not to frighten the precious bundle he holds in his arms.

  “Make sure you lock that door behind you. You
understand what I’m sayin’?”

  Don’t wait for me, is what I’m telling him. Lock the damn door and keep it locked, even if I’m still on the outside—nothing touches them.

  He nods, his face solemn. “Yeah, I get you, Stanton.”

  I turn and cross into the living room.

  “Hey, wait!” he calls. I glance back and JD tosses me a set of keys. “Your brother put shit tires on your truck—it’ll get caught in the mud. Take mine.”

  I look at the keys in my hand, then back up at him. He nods. I nod. And that’s all there is to it.

  Sofia was right when she said men are simple creatures. With this easy exchange, I’ve agreed not to stand in his and Jenny’s way, and he’s agreed to never give me a reason to kill him. Over and out.

  I rush out the door and sprint to the truck. The stark reality that I have no idea where she is consumes me—pushes on my brain, threatening to crack it. I know the Monroe property as well as my own. If she went out the back door, there’s a good chance she’d be headed toward the cornfield.

  Unless she turned around.

  “Goddamn it!” I yell, hitting the steering wheel, trying to drive quickly enough to cover more ground, but still scan the fields for a sign of where she could be. The truck vibrates with the force of wind, and pea-size hail pelts the windshield. I think of her out in this weather, alone—unprotected. Is she cold? Is she scared? Every muscle in my body seizes up at the thought.

  “Come on, baby,” I utter through clenched teeth. “Where are you?”

  They say when you die, your life flashes before your eyes. I don’t know if that’s true. But I know for certain there’s a point when your fear for someone you care about . . . someone you love . . . becomes so intense, so paralyzing, that everything else fades away. And you’re consumed with thoughts of them: the way they laugh, their scent, the sound of their voice. Every moment I’ve shared with Sofia flickers through my mind, like a silent film. Sofia beside me in a courtroom, beneath me in bed, the days we teased and talked, the nights we moaned and sighed. And every image makes me crave more. More time. More memories. All the moments we haven’t shared yet, all the experiences we haven’t had, all the words I never said. I need them. I need her.

  More than I’ve ever needed anyone. Anyone.

  I close my eyes and pray a silent prayer, beseeching and begging. For another chance to do it right. To relive every second with her, to treat her with the reverence she always deserved.

  To cherish her.

  Please, God.

  And when I open my eyes, I have to believe that God heard me. Because I see her in the distance—hair whipping, stumbling in the wind and on those four-inch goddamn heels. My first thought is: thank fuck she’s safe. My second thought is: I’m going to strangle her.

  I drive up quick and the truck screeches as I hit the brakes a few feet from where she stands. The wind pushes and the hail pours down as I climb out of the truck, tearing my way to her. It bounces off the truck, pelts my face and shoulders in icy shards.

  My voice booms louder than the wind. “Which part of the cattle are clusterin’ did you not fuckin’ hear me say?”

  “What?”

  And then I’ve got her. She’s in my arms, against my chest, warm and alive, being squeezed so hard she might not be able to breathe. But I can’t let go.

  “Don’t ever do that again,” I pant harshly against her ear.

  She looks up at me, wide eyed and so goddamn beautiful it makes me tremble.

  “Don’t do what again?”

  I push her hair back, holding her face. And my voice cracks. “Leave.”

  I press her against me, clasping her to me, sheltering her with my own flesh and blood. My body sighs, my bones slacken with relief that she’s here and whole and safe.

 
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