Overruled, p.23
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       Overruled, p.23

         Part #1 of The Legal Briefs series by Emma Chase
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  Teeth scrape my bottom lip as I consider all the glorious ways I can demonstrate what she means to me—over and over again. There’s laughter in my voice when I ask, “Is that a challenge?”

  Color rises in her cheeks and the air between us shifts. Growing more intense, more heated—not just with attraction, but with the promise of something deeper. A future. Together.

  “Yes.”

  I pull her closer, and brush my lips against hers, a feather light touch. And I swear to her, “Okay. Then we’ll start over, from the beginnin’. The way we should’ve started. No friends with benefits. I’m goin’ to do it right—take you out to gorgeous places, keep you in for whole weekends. I want you to get dressed up for me so I can take my time undressing you. I want to memorize every inch of your body and hear every thought in your mind. And then you won’t have any doubt that the only woman I want, the only woman I love—is you.”

  Sofia leans in, her cheek, her nose skimming my own. Her voice is slightly breathless as she wonders, “So . . . that was you asking me out, right?”

  “Definitely.”

  And then her eyes are sparkling. “I’d like to make it clear that I’m totally open to sex on the first date.”

  I chuckle. “I was really, really, hopin’ you’d say that.”

  Then I press my lips to hers. Her mouth opens, welcoming, her sweet tongue meeting me halfway. I feel her hands gripping my shirt, sliding over my shoulders, up my neck, cupping my jaw. I pull her flush against me, holding her, letting her know with every brush of my fingers, every whispered word that I never want to let go. And I feel the same in her—relief, joy with each sigh, every soft promise. Sofia and I have kissed hundreds of times—but not like this. It’s different. Better.

  It’s fucking perfect.

  • • •

  Most stories finish at the end. But not this one.

  This one finishes with a whole new beginning.

  Epilogue

  Stanton

  September

  We recline on a blanket on the grass at the Washington Mall, in a semisecluded little spot set back from the crowd. The sky is pitch black, but the lights from the city are too bright to make out a single star. Sofia leans back against my chest and my hands wander over her lazily, skimming up her sides, covered by a light pink mini-dress, and down her bare arms. The September air is warm, with a nice breeze. A contented sigh escapes her smiling lips, and I take a sip from the plastic cup of bourbon I’ve been nursing all night. I press a soft kiss against her temple as Elton John taps out the final piano notes of his latest song.

  Events like this—a fall music festival—are free, first come, first serve. Even though Sofia was all quivery that Elton John would be playing, we didn’t kill ourselves trying to get front-row spots. She was content to just sit back and relax after a hellishly long week at the office. To enjoy the music . . . and each other.

  But as the familiar melody of “Your Song” pours out from the speakers, I place my mouth against her ear, my breath raising goose bumps along her supple skin.

  “Dance with me,” I whisper.

  She arches her back to gaze at me, her eyes all soft and languid—the same way they are when I crawl up her body after bringing her to heaven with my mouth.

  “Don’t tell me you’re actually starting to like dancing.”

  I kiss the tip of her nose. “No. I’ll never be a fan.” I rise, taking her with me, keeping her close within the circle of my arms. “But I’ll always dance with you. Anytime, anywhere. Besides—this is your song.”

  It’s a surprise I planned; a gift for her. I’m pretty sure it’ll blow her mind, and I’m looking forward to her blowing other things in return when she’s expressing her gratitude all night long.

  Elton’s perfectly timed announcement comes over the microphone. “We have a dedication, ladies and gentlemen. This is going out to Sofia, with love from Stanton.” And then he starts to sing.

  Her eyes go as round as quarters and she slumps against me just a bit from the shock. “Oh my God! I can’t believe you did that—how did you do that?”

  I shrug. “I know people, who know people, who know a few of Elton’s people. I called in favors.”

  She lifts up on her toes and kisses me hard—making me think this was the best damn idea I’ve ever had. Against my lips, she tells me, “I love you.”

  As she rests her head against my chest I whisper, “I love you too.”

  “I have the best boyfriend ever.”

  My chest rumbles with a chuckle. “Yes, you do.”

  How wonderful life is, while you’re in the world.

  And then we dance.

  • • •

  November

  “Push!”

  “I am pushing. It’s tight.”

  “Harder.”

  “If I do it any harder, I’m gonna fucking break something.”

  “Just shove it in.”

  “I’m trying,” I grunt.

  “Is anyone else getting turned on by this conversation?” Jake’s detached voice floats over from the other side of the heavy-ass desk I’m currently jamming through the doorway.

  With a shout, we get it through, then settle it gently in front of the window—like Sofia and I agreed. This way we can enjoy the natural sunlight while I’m fucking her on it.

  “I’m too damn tired to get turned on,” I gripe, wiping the sweat off my forehead.

  Then Sofia walks into the room, and my eyes naturally fall to the magnificent way her snug black turtleneck highlights her tits. “Never mind—not too tired after all.”

  “This looks great in here!” she squeals with a smile. “This is the last of it.”

  Sofia asked me to move in with her last week. I’d practically been living here since midsummer anyway. But the idea that it’d be official—that’d we’d wake up together every morning and come home here together every night—is awesome. Her place is bigger than my apartment, and already furnished, so most of my furniture is staying behind with Jake. Except for Presley’s bedroom set, which is now set up in the townhouse’s third bedroom, the only item I insisted on bringing is my desk. So instead of a guest room, the second bedroom is now converted into a home office for both of us.

  Sofia enjoys this oversized oak desk as much as I do. Especially for the extra space it allows while working at it, and like I said—for the fucking.

  Brent walks in holding champagne glasses and Sofia pops the cork on the bottle in her hands. We fill the glasses, pass them around, and I propose a toast.

  “My momma always used to say home is where the heart is. But I never really understood how right that was—until now.” I gaze at Sofia. “You’re my heart, so wherever you are, I’m home.”

  She plants a kiss on my lips.

  “Okay, now I’m really turned on,” Jake comments. Then to Brent he says, “You ready to head out? Hit the bars?”

  “I was born ready,” Brent retorts. Then he asks us, “Are you guys coming?”

  With her arms around my waist, Sofia tells him, “I plan to shortly—and if history is any indication, more than once.” Then she’s kissing me again.

  “Ewww,” Brent says. “You guys are gross.”

  We walk them down to the front door. “But seriously,” Brent asks, “you’re not coming out?”

  I smack his back. “Can’t—I have a lot of work to do.”

  We say our thanks and good-byes, and I lock the door behind them.

  Sofia looks up at me. “Do you still have work on the Penderson case?”

  I chuckle. “No, Soph, I wasn’t talking about that kind of work.”

  She smirks. “Then what kind of work were you speaking of?”

  I scoop her up into my arms. “Christening every room in this house. It’s gonna be a lot of hard, sweaty work.”

  • • •

  February

  It had been a bad fucking day. The bad started with a squirrelly client who was dicking me around about a prior out-of-sta
te conviction for assault, then progressed into the notification of an appeal that didn’t go my way. To top it off, an arctic blast had decided to descend upon DC, making it colder than a witch’s tit outside—the kind of frigid that made it feel like needles are pricking your face every time the wind blew.

  The only good part about the day was that it was almost over. And I was able to find a parking spot outside the courthouse, the steps of which I’m currently walking. After I pass through security, feeling starts to return to my fingertips as I slip into the courtroom and take a seat in the back. I take a deep breath—and watch her. Asking the final questions of her cross-examination, stalking back to the defense table, her black heels clicking on the floor. All eyes are on Sofia—not just because her ass looks phenomenal in the tight black pencil skirt—but because of her presence. Her posture, the tone of her voice —she commands the room and the attention of every person in it.

  The frustration of the day ebbs away, replaced with a calm peace and swelling pride—because that amazing, fascinating, capable woman is mine.

  After court is adjourned, I approach her from behind as she slides folders into her briefcase. I wrap an arm around her waist and place a brief kiss behind her ear. She tenses for a split second before relaxing into my embrace. Because without turning around, she knows it’s me.

  “Nice job.”

  She smiles over her shoulder at me. “Thanks. What are you doing here? I thought I was meeting you at home.”

  “It’s cold outside—I didn’t want you walking.”

  Then I pull the bouquet of roses out from behind my back. Her hazel eyes turn liquid and her perfect lips stretch into a wider smile. “What are these for?” She brings the flowers to her nose and inhales.

  I kiss her forehead. “They’re just because I can.”

  • • •

  The lights glow softly through the windows, turning the townhouse into a beacon of warmth and comfort and home. Sherman vies for our attention as soon as we step through the door, his wagging tail and lapping tongue telling us he’s been a good boy and Sofia’s shoes have survived unmolested—at least for today. She pours me a bourbon and a glass of wine for herself, as I take the steaks that have been marinating in my special sauce out of the fridge. We talk about the events of the day, plans for tomorrow, and everything in between as I step out onto the balcony to fire up the charcoal. Because even though it’s winter, even though it’s not Sunday and not Mississippi—Sofia loves my grillin’.

  Later, after the dishes are washed and dried, the news plays softly on the television as I step out of the bathroom freshly showered, a towel around my waist. Sofia reclines on the bed, one leg bent, her laptop resting on her stomach, clad only in a lacy pink tank top and matching panties. Her eyes rake over me, devouring every toned muscle—then she closes the laptop with a snap.

  And I drop the towel.

  I climb on the bed like a predator, my intentions as naked as my ass. She squeaks when I lean over her, cold droplets from my hair dripping on her collarbone.

  “You’re wet,” she breathes in a husky whisper.

  I lick my bottom lip and skim my hand across her soft skin, down between her legs, where she’s already slick and wanting from watching me.

  “So are you.”

  I take my time and make slow, easy love to her, that ever-present passion simmering just below the surface. Then, after, it’s rough and loud—she’ll have bruises on her hips tomorrow and I’ll have scratches down my back. We fall asleep above the covers, our heated flesh more than enough to keep us warm.

  The day may have been shitty . . . but the night was as fucking perfect as you can get.

  • • •

  May, Sunshine, Mississippi

  Jenny’s truck pulls up the drive of my parents’ place, and as soon as the tires stop, Presley bursts out of the passenger side. “Hey, Daddy! Hey, Sofia!”

  She hugs us both long and sweet.

  “You look like you’ve grown three inches since I saw you last.” That was over spring break, when she stayed with us in DC.

  With her arm over my daughter’s shoulders, Sofia looks down at her and asks, “You want to go horseback riding?”

  Presley nods, and I just grin, teasing. “Someone thinks she’s quite the equestrian.”

  Sofia twists her middle and pointer finger together and adorably insists, “Blackjack and I are like this. We have a whole mental thing going on—he understands me.”

  I’m still laughing as I jog to the truck to help Jenny out. “Hey.” I kiss her cheek and give her a hug. Or, as close to a hug as I can, considering the size of her stomach. “Damn, Jenny, you’re gigantic.”

  She frowns. “Why don’t you go to hell and die, Stanton? What kinda thing is that to say to a pregnant woman?”

  “A truthful kinda thing. I don’t remember you bein’ so big with Presley. You sure there’s not two in there?”

  She rubs her eight-months-pregnant belly. “No, just the one. One’s enough—and I’m gettin’ drugs this time.”

  I chuckle. “Not if Nurse Lynn’s there, you’re not.”

  Sofia hugs Jenny in greeting. “We would’ve come to your house to pick her up.”

  Jenny waves her hand. “Nah, it’s good for me to get out. I’ve been nestin’—the floors are so slippery clean, JD said he’s gonna put up hazard tape.”

  We catch up for a few minutes, then Jenny leaves and we head to the stable. Presley walks in front of us, and I hold Sofia’s hand as she walks beside me.

  “So . . . you ever think about that?”

  “About what?”

  I jerk my head in the direction Jenny just left.

  “A baby?”

  “A baby,” I say.

  “You and me?”

  “Well . . . I’d be pretty pissed if it was you and someone else.”

  She laughs. “Stanton, I’m trying to make partner.”

  “I know.”

  “And you’re trying to make partner.”

  “True.” We walk silently. Then I lean closer to her, guessing, “So that’s a yes, then?”

  She grins. “Yes . . . I’ll think about it.”

  I give her her favorite lopsided grin. “Good.”

  Sofia holds up a finger. “But not now.”

  “No.”

  “Make sure your sperm is aware of that. It has a history of going rogue.”

  I nod. “I’ll send the sperm a memo and CC your ovaries.”

  She nods. “But soon.”

  “Soon is good.”

  I swing our joined hands. “We should probably get married first.”

  Sofia stops, staring at me. “Are you asking?”

  I turn, cupping her jaw, tracing her beautiful lips. “Darlin’, when I ask, you won’t be wonderin’ if I’m askin’.” Then I kiss her sweetly. “But it’ll be soon.”

  She smiles, big and blinding. “Soon is good.”

  Jake Becker loves his career as a hard, powerful defense attorney in DC. So there’s no way a twenty-six-year-old raising her six nieces and nephews would capture his heart

  . . . right?

  Don’t miss the next installment in New York Times bestselling author Emma Chase’s Legal Briefs series

  SUSTAINED

  Coming Summer 2015 from Gallery Books!

  Wednesday is a slow day. I lean back in my desk chair and look out the window at the sunny street below. A frustrated dog walker struggles with three four-legged clients as they tangle their leashes, fighting for the lead. A double-decker tourist bus rumbles past, leaving a cloud of black exhaust in its wake. A jogging father pushes an orange-colored running stroller, nearly taking out one of the yapping dogs, turning onto the grass at the last second.

  Maybe it’s the baby in the stroller, maybe it’s the long-haired, ruglike dogs—maybe it’s the fact that I haven’t gotten any in two weeks—but the enticing image of Chelsea McQuaid slides into my mind.

  Again.

  It’s the sole image I’v
e conjured every single time I’ve jerked off, which has been pathetically often.

  Those crystal blue eyes, her quick-smiling pink lips, her long, elegant neck that begged to be licked, her lithe limbs that I just bet are oh so flexible, and most important, her firm, perfectly sized tits. I mentally kick myself for not getting her number.

  She’s too old—and too hot—to be a virgin at twenty-six, but there was something about her that seemed . . . pure. Untouched. Undiscovered. And that’s a particular course I sure as hell would love to chart.

  I rub my eyes. I need to get laid. This “getting to know a woman first” shit is turning out to be a bigger hassle than I ever anticipated. Is the risk of contracting an STD really such a big deal?

  And then I remember how it felt waiting for those test results. The sharp, cold terror of being saddled with a disease—possibly for life. Or, even scarier, with one that could cut my life short. Hell, yes—it’s a big deal.

  No fuck, no matter how spectacular, is worth dying for.

  That should be the tag line in every high school safe-sex campaign.

  My secretary, Mrs. Higgens—a great lady who looks like everybody’s grandma—opens my office door. “Miss Chelsea McQuaid is here to see you, Jake. And she’s got a whole brood of little ones with her.”

  My smile is wide and slow and completely gratified. I don’t believe in signs—but if I did, this would be big, flashing neon.

  I straighten my tie. “Show them in, Mrs. Higgens.”

  She nods, and a few moments later, Chelsea and her fidgeting, noisy gaggle of nieces and nephews come into my office. She’s wearing casual “mommy-wear,” but on that body, it screams Sexy. A dark green sweater that highlights the red in her auburn hair. Snug blue jeans tucked into high brown boots that accent those endless legs—and the tight swell of her ass. That’s a pleasant surprise—I didn’t notice her ass the first time we met, but it’s fucking gorgeous.

  She adjusts her grip on the baby carrier and her smile is strained. “Hello, Mr. Becker.”

  I stand up behind my desk. “Chelsea, it’s good to see you again. What brings you . . .”

  My eyes flick quickly to each of the faces that crowds my office, then to the
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