Overruled, p.4
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       Overruled, p.4

         Part #1 of The Legal Briefs series by Emma Chase
 
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  My dick is the swingingest of them all—juries can’t take their eyes off it.

  Figuratively . . . and literally.

  “You may proceed with closing arguments, Mr. Shaw.”

  “Thank you, Your Honor.” I rise to my feet, buttoning the jacket of my tailored gray suit. That color is a big hit these days with the ladies—and ten out of these twelve jurors are female.

  I meet their collective gaze with a contemplative expression, drawing out the pause, heightening the dramatic tension. Then I begin.

  “The next time I fucking see you, I will cut your balls off and shove them down your throat.”

  Pause. Eye contact.

  “When I find you, you’ll be begging me to kill you.”

  Pause. Finger point.

  “Just wait, asshole, I’m coming for you.”

  I step out from behind the defense table and position myself in front of the jury box. “These are the words of the man the prosecution claims is the”—air quotes—“victim in this case. You’ve seen the text messages. You heard him admit under oath that he sent them to my client.” I click my tongue. “Doesn’t sound like much of a victim to me.”

  All eyes follow me as I slowly pace, like a professor giving a lecture. “They sound like threats—serious ones. Where I come from, threatenin’ a man’s balls . . . words don’t get more fightin’ than that.”

  A series of low chuckles rises up from the jurors.

  I brace my arms on the railing of the jury box, glancing at each occupant just long enough to make them feel included—readying them for the divulgence of a dirty little secret.

  “Over the course of this trial, you’ve heard things about my client, Pierce Montgomery, that are unflattering. Abhorrent, even. I’m bettin’ you don’t like him very much. To tell you the truth, I don’t like him much myself. He had an affair with a married woman. He posted pictures of her on social media, without her permission. These are not the actions of an honorable man.”

  It’s always best to get the bad out of the way. Like tossing out a bag of rancid garbage—acknowledging then moving on makes the stench less likely to linger.

  “If he were being judged on human decency, I can assure you I would not be defending him here today.”

  I straighten up, holding their rapt attention. “But that is not your task. You are here to judge his actions on the night of March 15. We as a society do not penalize individuals for defending their lives or their bodies from physical harm. And that is precisely what my client was doing on that evening. When he came face-to-face with the man who had threatened him relentlessly, he had every reason to believe those threats would be carried out. To fear for his physical well-being—perhaps for his very life.”

  I pause, letting that sink in. And I know they’re with me, seeing the night in their heads through the eyes of the rotten sonofabitch who’s lucky enough to have me for a lawyer.

  “My old football coach used to tell us a smart offense is the best defense. It’s a lesson I carry with me to this very day. So, although Pierce threw the first punch, it was still in defense. Because he was acting against a known threat—a reasonable fear. That, ladies and gentlemen, is what this case is really about.

  Standing in front of the jury box I take a step back—addressing them as a whole. “As you deliberate, I am confident that you will conclude my client acted in self-defense. And you will render a verdict of not guilty.”

  Before taking my seat at the defense table, I put the finishing touch on my closing argument. “Thank you again for your time and attention, you have been . . . delightful.”

  That gets a smile from eight of the ten—I’m liking those odds.

  After I’m seated, my neutral-faced co-counsel discreetly writes on a legal pad, passing it to me.

  Nailed it!

  Lawyers communicate with notes during trial because it’s bad form to whisper. And a smile or a scowl could be interpreted by the jury in a way you don’t want. So my only visible reaction is a quick nod of agreement.

  My internal reaction is a schoolboy snicker. And I write back:

  Nailing things well is what I do best.

  Or have you forgotten?

  Sofia’s the consummate professional. She doesn’t crack a smile. And I’ve never seen her blush. She just writes:

  Cocky ass.

  I allow myself the barest of grins.

  Speaking of asses, mine still has your nail marks on it.

  Does that make you wet?

  It’s inappropriate, totally unprofessional—but that’s why it’s so damn fun. The fact that our dickhead client or anyone sitting front row in the gallery behind us could glance over and see what I’ve written just adds to the thrill. Like fingering a woman under the table at a crowded restaurant—also fun—the potential for discovery makes it all the more dangerous and hot.

  A mischievous sparkle lights her hazel eyes as she scribbles:

  You had me wet at “Ladies and gentlemen.” Now stop.

  I scribble back:

  Stop? Or save it for later?

  I’m rewarded with a simple, subtle smirk. But it’s enough.

  Later works.

  • • •

  After the rebuttal and an hour’s worth of instructions from the judge, the jury filed into the guarded back room for deliberations and court was recessed. Which gave me the opportunity to meet up for lunch with a certain old fraternity brother at a local watering hole that serves the best sandwiches in the city. Between demanding work schedules and family, we only have time to get together once or twice a year—when we happen to land in each other’s cities on business.

  Drew Evans hasn’t changed all that much from our days at Columbia. Same scathing wit, same arrogance that draws women to him like moths to a blue-eyed bug light. The only difference between then and now is Drew doesn’t notice the flurry of female attention that follows him. Or, if he does notice, he doesn’t reciprocate.

  “Are you sure you wouldn’t like anything else? Anything at all?” the twentysomething waitress asks hopefully—for the third time in fifteen minutes.

  He takes a drink of his beer, then dismisses her with, “Nope. Still good—thanks.”

  Shoulders hunched, she scurries away.

  Drew is an investment banker at his father’s New York City firm. He’s also my investment banker—the reason two years of Presley’s college tuition is already sitting pretty in a 529 fund. Mixing money and friendship may not seem like a smart move, but when your friends are as talented at making money as mine are, it’s brilliant.

  His phone chimes with an incoming text. He glances at the screen and a goofy smile spreads across his face—the kind of smile I’ve only seen him wear one time before: at his wedding, eight months ago.

  I wipe my mouth with my napkin, toss it on the table, and tilt my chair back on two legs. “So . . . how is Kate these days?”

  Kate is Drew’s wife.

  His extremely beautiful wife.

  His extremely beautiful wife whom I danced with—briefly—at their wedding reception. And my buddy didn’t seem to like that one bit.

  What kind of friend would I be if I didn’t mess with him about it?

  He glances up with a smirk. “Kate’s fantastic. She’s married to me—what else could she possibly be?”

  “Did you give her my card?” I prod. “So she can contact me for legal services . . . or any service she may need?”

  I grin as he scowls.

  “No, I didn’t give her your card. Asshole.” He leans forward, suddenly smug. “Besides, Kate doesn’t like you.”

  “Is that what you tell yourself?”

  He chuckles. “It’s true—she thinks you’re shady. You’re a defense attorney, Kate’s a mother. She believes you enable child molesters to walk the streets.”

  It’s a common misconception, and completely inaccurate. Defense attorneys keep the legal system honest—healthy. We advocate for the individual, the little guy, and we’re all that stan
ds between him and the unconstrained power of the state. But people forget that part—it’s all pedophiles and Wall Street retirement fund thieves.

  “I have a daughter,” I argue. “I wouldn’t defend a child molester.”

  Drew finds my reasoning lacking. “You’re trying to make partner—you defend who the powers that be tell you to defend.”

  I shrug noncommittally.

  “Speaking of your daughter,” he segues. “How old is she now? Ten?”

  As always, the topic of my baby girl brings an immediate surge of pride to my chest. “She turned eleven last month.” I whip out my phone and pull up the pictures that account for most of the memory. “She just made the competition cheerleading squad. And in the South, cheerleading’s a real sport—none of that ‘rah-rah’ pom-pom horseshit.”

  Jenny and Presley still live in Mississippi. After Columbia, while I was going to law school at George Washington University, we talked about them coming to live with me in DC, but Jenny didn’t think the city was any place to raise a child. She wanted our daughter to grow up like we both did—swimming at the river, riding bicycles down dirt roads, running barefoot through the fields, and Sunday barbecues after church.

  I agreed with her—I didn’t like it—but I agreed.

  Drew lets out an impressed whistle when I show him the most recent shots of her decked out in green and gold team colors. Her long blond hair curled into ringlets and pulled up high, shining sky-blue eyes and a breathtaking pearly white smile.

  “She’s a beauty, Shaw. Lucky for her she takes after her mother. Hope you’ve got a baseball bat ready.”

  Way ahead of him. “Nah, man, I got a shotgun.”

  He nods with approval and slaps my arm.

  “Hey, stranger, long time, no see.” My eyes are drawn to the sumptuous form of Sofia Marinda Santos, my co-counsel—among other things—as she walks up to our table.

  Clothes don’t just make the man—they make a statement for a woman. They speak particularly rapturously for Sofia. She dresses as she is—impeccable, sharp, classy, yet so damn sexy it makes my mouth water. Her red silk blouse is tastefully buttoned, revealing only a few inches of bronze skin below her collarbone—not even a hint of cleavage. But the material accents the God-given bounty of her ample breasts—full, firm, and fucking gorgeous. A short, gray tweed jacket covers long, elegant arms, and the matching pencil skirt hugs the rounded swell of her hips before revealing toned legs that go on for days.

  “Where were you hiding?” I ask, then point to an empty chair. “You want to join us?”

  Naturally ruby lips smile back. “Thank you, but no, I just finished having lunch with Brent in the back.”

  I gesture while making the introductions. “Drew Evans, this is Sofia Santos, a fellow child molester liberator according to your wife.” Sofia’s dark brow arches slightly at the description, but I continue. “Soph, this is Drew Evans, my old college buddy, my current investment banker, and just an all-around rude bastard.”

  Ignoring my dig, he extends his hand. “Nice to meet you, Sofia.”

  “Likewise.”

  She checks the time on her Rolex and teases, “You should finish up here too, Stanton. Don’t want to miss the verdict.”

  I’m shaking my head before she’s done speaking. Because we’ve been debating this since the trial started. “I’ve got all the time in the world, darlin’. Hell, we may even order dessert—that jury isn’t coming back until Monday, at the earliest.”

  “You may be the Jury Charmer.” Her manicured fingers swirl in a circle, like she’s conjuring a crystal ball. “But I’m the Jury Seer. And I see those housewives wanting to scratch this trial off their to-do lists for the weekend.”

  “The Jury Charmer?” Drew comments dryly. “That’s adorable.”

  I give him the jerk-off sign with my hand while insisting to Sofia, “Your vision is off this time.”

  Her mouth purses. “Care to make a wager on that, big boy?”

  “What are your terms, sweet thing?” I counter with a daring grin.

  Evans watches our exchange with unconcealed mirth.

  She braces her hands on the table, leaning forward. And I have a whole new esteem for gravity—because it’s that force that causes her blouse to pull away from her body, giving me a delectable view of her stunning tits encased in delicate black lace.

  “The Porsche.”

  Caught off guard, my eyes widen. She’s not messing around.

  She knows my silver 911 Carrera 4S Cabriolet convertible is my prized possession. The first thing I bought myself when I was hired at the prestigious Adams & Williamson law firm four years ago. It’s pristine. It doesn’t come out in the rain. It doesn’t get parked where a bird could shit on it. It doesn’t get driven by anyone but me.

  “When the jury comes back today, you let me take your Porsche out for the ride of its life.”

  She stares me down, waiting.

  I rub my knuckles along my jaw, debating.

  “It’s a stick shift,” I warn in a low voice.

  “Pft—child’s play.”

  “What do I get if—when—you lose the bet?”

  She straightens up, looking pleased with herself, even though she hasn’t heard my terms. “What do you want?”

  The image of Sofia’s curves barely covered in a tiny red bikini, damp and soapy with suds, infiltrates my brain. And I can’t hold back the lewd smile that graces my face. “You have to wash the Porsche, by hand, once a week for a month.”

  She doesn’t hesitate. “Done.”

  Before we shake on it, I look into her eyes and spit deliberately on my palm. Our grasp is sliding and slick. Her nose crinkles, but her eyes—her eyes simmer with an amused heat only I can read.

  She likes it.

  After I release her grip, she wipes her hand with a napkin. Then Brent Mason walks out from the direction of the restrooms to join us. Brent is an associate at our firm, started the same year as Sofia and me, though he looks much younger. His round blue eyes, wavy brown hair, and carefree personality invoke protective, little brother–like feelings. The limp that accompanies his gait adds to the boyish impression, though in reality it’s the result of the prosthetic on his left leg, the consequence of a childhood accident. The event may have taken his limb, but Brent’s jovial good humor remains fully intact.

  Like all the associates at our firm, Brent and Sofia share an office. They’re close, but in a strictly platonic, friend-zone sort of way.

  He also has more money than God—or at least his family does. Old money, the kind of wealth so abundant his relations don’t realize that not everyone “summers” in the south of France or is able to retreat to their country estate on the Potomac when they need a break from the city. Brent’s father has political aspirations for his only child and believed an impressive record as a prosecutor would lay the foundation for those ambitions.

  Which is precisely why Brent went out and became a criminal defense attorney.

  “Hey, Shaw,” he greets.

  I nod. “Mason.” I gesture once again to Drew. “Brent Mason, this is Drew Evans, an old friend.” My eyes fall to him. “Brent’s another lawyer at our firm.”

  They shake hands firmly, then Drew remarks, “Jesus, is anyone in DC not a lawyer?”

  I chuckle. “Most per capita in the country.”

  Before he can respond with what I’d bet my life on would’ve been an insult, Brent pipes up. “You ready to go, Sofia? I have a client coming in twenty minutes.”

  “I’m all set. It was nice meeting you, Drew. Stanton, I’ll see you at the courthouse soon.”

  I feign confusion. “You mean the office?”

  With a shake of her head, she lets Brent lead her out the door.

  I watch her go. And I enjoy every damn second of it.

  Which does not go unnoticed. “Do you really think that’s wise?”

  My attention drags back to him. “What’s that?”

  “Screwing your coworker,
Evans clarifies. “Do you think that’s wise?”

  I pause a moment, wondering how he knew . . . and then I laugh at myself for wondering . . . because of course he’d know.

  “This coming from the man who married his coworker a few months ago?”

  Drew leans back, resting one arm on the chair beside him. “That’s completely different. Kate and I are special.”

  I sip my water. “What makes you think Soph and I are screwing?”

  “Ah . . . because I have eyes. And ears. And nothing about the sexual tension I just witnessed was unresolved. You sold yourself short on the bet, by the way. My terms would’ve been fucking her on the hood of the car first—then she washes it.” He shrugs. “But that’s just me. Now back to my original question . . .”

  There’s really no point in denying it. “Sofia is without a doubt the wisest woman I’ve ever done—pun intended.”

  He doesn’t approve. “That’s a dangerous path you’re walking, Shaw. A minefield of awkwardness and female scorn.”

  I understand his concerns, but they’re not necessary. Sofia’s a woman in all the important places, but with the practicality of a man. There are no minivans or white picket fences in her future, just corner offices and billable hours. She’s frank, direct, but also fun. A woman I consider a friend—someone I enjoy going out with as much as I enjoy going down on.

  Our arrangement started six months ago. The first time was spontaneous, reckless. I’d known I wanted her, but didn’t realize how much until the night we were alone in the firm’s basement library. Both working late, tense and tight for time—one minute we were discussing the finer points of Miranda v. Arizona and the next we were tearing each other’s clothes off, up against the stacks of thick, leather-bound volumes, rutting like wild animals.

  Sounded just like them, too.

  I get turned on every time I think of the noises Sofia made that night, a symphony of gasps, whimpers, and growls as I made her come three times. A trifecta. And when my orgasm finally flooded me—shit—I couldn’t feel my legs for five full minutes.

  Afterward, when we were sweaty and disheveled as soldiers after battle, we talked. We agreed that it was something we both wanted to do again—and again—a needed stress reliever that would fit perfectly into our mutually packed schedules.

  It’s not as cold as it sounds. But it is . . . easy.

  I grin. “Nah, man, Sofia’s like . . . one of the guys.”

  “You’re screwing one of the guys?”

  I frown. “It doesn’t sound nearly as hot when you say it like that. What I mean is—she lives for the job, like me. Trying to make partner doesn’t leave a whole lot of time for anything else. She’s convenient and fucking beautiful. I know you’re married and all, but you’d have to be half-dead not to notice. And even then, her tits would coax an erection from a corpse.”

  “Oh, I noticed, believe me,” he says. “Does she know about your Mississippi booty call?”

  “Jenny’s not my booty call,” I grumble. “Dick.”

  “Well, she’s not your girlfriend or your wife. She’s the chick you bang when you happen to breeze into town. Hate to break it to you, but that’s the definition of a booty call.”

  At times Drew’s propensity to call ’em like he sees ’em puts his nads in grave danger of getting punched.

  “Sofia knows all about Jenn and Presley.”

  “Interesting.” Then comes the patented advice. “I’m just saying a situation like this could get . . . complicated for you. Regret is a bite in the ass that stings like a motherfucker. I’ve been there—it’s not fun.”

  “Thanks for the warning. But I can handle it.”

  “Famous last words. Just remember, by the time you realize you can’t handle it, it’s too late.” He checks his phone and stands. “And on that note, I have to
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