Appealed, p.10
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       Appealed, p.10
 

         Part #3 of The Legal Briefs series by Emma Chase
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  My gaze never wavers from Kennedy as she’s ushered forward. And there’s a pulling sensation in my chest, like my lungs have been snagged by a hook and they’re being yanked out of my rib cage.

  The feeling turns my voice scratchy. “Does she love him?”

  Mrs. Randolph thinks for a moment, then she answers smoothly, “David is a fine young man. I believe he’ll be president one day. He’s an excellent match for my daughter.”

  “That’s not what I asked.”

  She sighs. “Claire and I have always been close; we understand each other. But Kennedy . . . I fear she will forever be an enigma to me. What do you think, Brent? Is that the look of a young woman in love?”

  Kennedy’s standing next to Prince now. Black microphones are thrust at her, and bright lights illuminate her pale face and wide eyes.

  In love? No.

  Scared out of her mind? Absolutely.

  She looks like a mouse caught in a trap, ready to chew its own leg off to escape.

  I was a shitty friend to Kennedy in boarding school, I see that now. But you know something?

  This isn’t fucking boarding school.

  I march forward, pushing and elbowing my way through the crowd. “Pardon me. Excuse me. Coming through.”

  Finally, I reach the unhappy couple. I nod to Prince. “How’s it going, Dave?”

  He looks a little confused. “Uh . . . fine, thanks.”

  “Good.”

  Then I scoop Kennedy up into my arms—and I run.

  The element of surprise is on our side, several moments pass before anyone behind us thinks to react.

  “What are you doing?” Kennedy squeaks.

  “Saving you.”

  For a horrible second, I think maybe she didn’t want to be saved. Until her arms tighten around my neck and her body presses closer. “Hurry. They’re coming.”

  I pick up the pace and smile. “Relax. I’ve got you.”

  10

  We burst out the side doors onto the sidewalk and haul ass down the block. Without breaking stride, I fish out my phone. “Harrison, meet me in the back of the building. Code Fast and Furious.”

  Kennedy leans back to look at my face. “Fast and Furious?”

  I shrug. “He’s twenty-two; they all love those movies. I don’t pretend to understand it.”

  Moments later, my Rolls comes screeching around the corner and stops at my feet. Shouting voices follow us as Harrison jumps out and opens the door. I toss Kennedy inside before diving in behind her. My trusty manservant floors it, as I’m sure he has done in his nitrous-oxide-booster-filled dreams, and we make our escape.

  Kennedy faces me on the bench seat, breathing hard and flustered. “Oh my god! Oh my fucking god, Brent!”

  I hold up my hand.

  “If any situation calls for alcohol, it’s this one.” I press a button on the teak center console between the seats across from us, revealing the mirrored minibar with a crystal decanter. I pour two glasses of scotch, then hand her one.

  And she chugs it like a frat boy during pledge week.

  Impressive.

  Kennedy exhales harshly, then opens her mouth to speak.

  “Not yet.” I refill her glass.

  Which she summarily drains, flinching as the eighty-year-old liquor scorches down her throat. “Wooh.”

  I sip from my own glass and point at her. “Now go.”

  She exhales again. “Did that really just happen?”

  “I think it did.”

  “David and I aren’t even serious! We’ve been seeing each other for two months and we’ve lived in different states for half that time. He brought up possibly moving in together once, which was crazy enough—but never marriage. Who does that? Who announces to a room full of people—and television cameras—that I’m going to be his wife, without even discussing it with me?”

  It’s possible Davie-boy thought he was being romantic, but she won’t be hearing that from me.

  I shake my head. “What a prick.”

  “Right?”

  I refill her glass again.

  And she sips.

  “Plus, I’m pretty sure he’s screwing around. With an intern!”

  I snort. “Who does this clown think he is—Bill Clinton? Next thing you know, he’ll be playing the saxophone and not inhaling.”

  “Exactly!” Then she stares at her hands and her voice goes softer. “The worst part is, it didn’t bother me. Not even a little. That means something, right?”

  “Shit, yeah. It means you should’ve kicked that asshole to the curb a long time ago.”

  As she finishes off drink number three, I can tell she’s starting to get a little fuzzy around the edges. Just the slightest thickening of her voice. “But still—I can’t believe I did that. When a man proposes, he deserves not to have you run away, doesn’t he?”

  I keep nursing my own drink. “Technically you were carried away, but, tomato/tomahto.”

  “My parents . . .” She smacks her palm to her forehead. “My mother loves David. She’s going to be so disappointed in me.”

  “My father’s been disappointed in me for years—it’s not as bad as you think.” I finish off my drink.

  Time to move on to happier topics. “We should go out and blow off some steam. You’ve earned it. Call Vicki and Brian—we’ll pick them up.”

  Kennedy gets Vicki on the phone and gives her the Cliffs-Notes version of our epic escape. From this end, it sounds like Vicki wasn’t a huge fan of Prince either. And when Kennedy asks her if they want to come out with us, I hear Vicki’s voice from across the car.

  “Brian! Call your mother!”

  And it looks like we’re a quartet.

  • • •

  We end up at a college bar not far from Brian and Vicki’s house. It doesn’t look like any of the press followed us. After a few rounds, Brian Gunderson tries his hand at karaoke. He sings “I Can’t Feel My Face When I’m with You” and his wife claps and dances the whole time.

  A couple of rounds later, Kennedy goes for it. She sings “Fight Song,” and while her voice isn’t anything she should quit her day job over, her smoking little body wrapped in that white dress, swiveling and gyrating, gets her a standing ovation from every frat boy in the place—and there’s a lot of them.

  An hour before closing, I’m enjoying a good buzz and my three companions are totally hammered. Vicki begs Kennedy to do another song, but when she tries to climb on the stage, she ends up on her ass, laughing like a nutcase.

  A college kid moves to help her, but I’m already there. I chase him away with a dark look, then I tell her, “Okaaay. Time to go, peanut.”

  “Go? But I like it here! It’s fun.”

  I sweep her into my arms. Even at dead weight, she feels like nothing. “It’s all fun and games until someone gets a concussion.”

  • • •

  Brian climbs out of the car in front of their house. He rests his forearm on the roof and offers me his other hand. “Dude, we should do this again sometime—I’m so happy you’re not the asshole you were in high school anymore.”

  I guess it’s a compliment. At least that’s how I choose to see it.

  “Thanks, man. That means a lot.”

  Vicki gives Kennedy a bear hug in the backseat.

  “I love you, Vicki!” Kennedy slurs.

  “I love you, Ken-ken!” Vicki returns.

  Then Vicki pokes my shoulder. “And you! You take good care of my Kenny! Don’t make me hafta kick (poke) yer (poke) ass (double poke)!”

  I give her a nod. “The ass-kicking days are behind us now.”

  “Good! Then there’s somethin’ you should know.” Vicki’s expression sobers, and she gestures me closer before ruining the effect by whispering loudly, “Kennedy hasn’t had an orgamsum . . . orgamsam . . . Kennedy hasn’t come in a loooong time. Like, years. At least, not with a guy.”

  “Shhhhhhh!” Kennedy swats her best friend like a fly. “Tha’s a secret!”

&nb
sp; “Maybe Brent can help you wif it?”

  I give Vicki the thumbs-up—and it’s not the only thing that’s up, that’s for sure.

  “Don’t worry, Vick, I’m on the case. And I believe in retroactive pay, so she’ll be compensated for all the fun she missed out on.”

  With that, Brian helps his wife out of the car and into the house.

  They were fun. Kinda nuts, in a way that makes me think they’d fit right in at one of my family functions—but still fun.

  • • •

  “Do you remember when we were fourteen and we talked about masturbating?”

  This, however, is not fun.

  “I asked you if you really did that, and you said, ‘They cut my leg off, Kennedy, not my hand—I do it all the fucking time.’ ” She presses her face against my neck, dissolving in a fit of adorable giggles.

  It started in the car. A slip of her hand, an innocent touch that didn’t feel innocent at all. And the talking—Christ—Wasted Kennedy likes to talk.

  “Then you asked me if I did it. And I said, ‘Absolutely not.’ ”

  About sex. All kinds of sex. Oral sex—she loves giving and getting it. Anal sex—never tried it, but she really, really wants to.

  “I lied. I used to do it in my dorm room—quietly so Vicki wouldn’t hear.”

  I carried her into the house. Harrison held the door open and closed it behind us—then he couldn’t leave the room fast enough, his cheeks as red as Bozo’s nose. I brought her to my place because if she gets sick, I want to be here to take care of her. Hold her hair back for her.

  But Kennedy’s not feeling sick at all. She’s feeling very, very good.

  She lifts her head and licks her lips, staring hungrily at my jawline. “And I always thought of you.”

  This is what hell is. Right here, right now.

  She shifts, moves her legs so she can slide down my front to her feet—pressing her chest against me, rubbing her hips.

  “I’d lay there in my bed, spread my legs so wide, and—”

  I cover her mouth with mine so she’ll stop talking. I keep it there, because she tastes really goddamn good.

  We kiss for a few moments, and then I pull away, before I’m not able to.

  “I want you so much, Brent.”

  She doesn’t mean it, not really. She’s drunk—I know that. My cock, on the other hand—he’s not so sure.

  “Make love to me.”

  Her voice is deeper and every word, every syllable, chips away at my tenuous control. Kennedy takes a step back, holding my gaze as her fingers slide over her glistening collarbone, down to her breasts, circling where her nipples wait beneath the white, silken fabric.

  “Please make love to me.”

  Finally, I find my strangled voice. “We can’t, baby.” I grab her hand and kiss her forehead, smelling her sweet-scented hair. “You’re drunk.”

  Her gorgeous, wounded eyes completely wreck me.

  “You don’t want to make love to me?”

  Deflect! Deflect! It’s a trick question—there is no right answer! Not now.

  I cup her cheek. “You’re drunk. We can’t make love now.”

  She wraps her arms around my neck. And she sighs against me.

  “Okay. You can just fuck me, then.”

  I whimper.

  And I am not ashamed. Because if anything is gonna bring a guy to his knees, it’s those six words, when—no, he can’t in fact fuck you. ’Cause it would be wrong.

  Awesome and earth-shattering. But wrong.

  The fulfillment of fourteen years of erotic fantasies. But wrong.

  Trumpets-sounding, angels-singing, fireworks-bursting-in-the-sky kind of pleasurable. But wrong.

  I repeat the mantra in my head to make sure I don’t forget. But it’s hard.

  So. Hard.

  And the hits just keep on coming.

  Kennedy reaches around behind her back, tugging on the zipper of her dress. A heartbeat later, the fabric slips to the floor, revealing perfect peaches-and-cream skin. Her breasts are bare and more beautiful than any dream I ever had.

  Tight, dark pink nipples beg for my lips, my teeth, my tongue.

  Then she turns, graceful hips swaying as she walks down the hallway. She pushes at the gauzy fabric of her beige panties and they fall down her legs to the floor.

  Just like magic.

  Revealing a luscious heart-shaped ass that deserves to be worshipped and glorified. I think I whimper again, but I can’t be sure.

  As she walks up the stairs, she doesn’t look over her shoulder at me, doesn’t call my name. She doesn’t have to.

  Because I’m already moving forward.

  I follow her up the stairs to the bedroom.

  And close the door behind us.

  11

  I wait patiently on the chaise longue in the corner, legs stretched out, watching her. Enjoying the pretty picture she makes lying in the middle of my big bed.

  Without warning, Kennedy bolts straight up, so fast that her long honey-colored hair covers her face. She blows at it with a puff of breath, eyes darting around the room. She glances down at her body, covered in my black Spider-Man T-shirt—the one I had to practically put her in a headlock to get on her.

  “Morning, cupcake.” I smile.

  She glares.

  “Did you have sex with me?”

  I tap my lips with a finger, contemplating her question.

  “I can’t decide if I’m more offended that you think we’d have sex while you were shitfaced—or that you actually think you wouldn’t remember it if we had.”

  “You didn’t answer my question.”

  I roll my eyes. “Of course we didn’t have sex. Not from any lack of trying on your part, by the way. I felt so objectified. Does all alcohol turn you into a cat in heat, or just scotch specifically?”

  If it’s the latter, I’m buying stock in it. Maybe a whole company.

  She covers her face and lies back on the bed. “Fuck my life. Fuck it hard.”

  “Let’s be careful with the imagery—not sure I can handle a hard-on right now.”

  Or harder-on, if I’m being completely honest.

  I check my watch. “We haven’t even gotten to the best part yet. Three, two, one—”

  My phone rings on the table beside me.

  I bring it to my ear. “Hi, Mom.”

  News travels fast—and news of your children potentially hooking up with the person you picked out for them when they were three years old? That’s fucking warp-speed fast.

  My mother dives headfirst into the interrogation.

  “Yes, she’s right here.” I smile at Kennedy, who peeks out at me from behind her hands of shame, looking miserable.

  “No, Mom, we didn’t elope. Sorry to disappoint.”

  I cover the phone with my palm and give Kennedy the bad news. “Your mother’s looking for you.”

  She fully covers her eyes.

  But she groans when she hears my answer to my mother’s next question.

  “No, Kennedy’s not pregnant with my child. At least—not that I know of.”

  A pillow comes flying at my head.

  And I respond to my mother’s next question. “She didn’t officially say no to Prince’s proposal—but the odds look pretty good it’ll go down that way the next time she sees him.” I laugh. “A picture, huh? I’ll check it out. Yeah, I think we make a handsome couple too.”

  “Where’s my phone?” Kennedy moan-hisses.

  “Listen, Mom, I have to go, okay? Yes, I’ll call you back later. No, we can’t put this in the family newsletter. I love you too. Bye.”

  I tap the end button and watch as Kennedy drags herself to the edge of the bed. I tilt my head, trying to get another look at the paradise I glimpsed last night.

  I’ve been a good, chivalrous guy. I think that deserves a reward.

  “My mother says hi, by the way. Your phone is in your purse next to the bed, but it’s dead—your mother killed it last night wi
th call after unanswered call.”

  Kennedy’s feet hit the floor. She takes a deep breath, then slowly stands. “They’re going to disown me.”

  “Would that really be so bad?”

  She limps toward the chair where her clothes are neatly folded.

  “Father always wanted a boy. Mother never liked me. This is the moment they’ve been waiting for. They’re going to disinherit me.”

  I stand, walking toward her. “I’ll cover you with a loan. At very attractive interest rates—that’s what friends are for.”

  Finally her eyes meet mine, and she looks so despondent my heart twists.

  “My life is a mess, Brent.”

  I brush her hair back. “If you want to make an omelet, you gotta break some eggs. And you, my Little Lush, deserve only gourmet. Your parents will get over it. Everything’s gonna be okay—I promise.”

  • • •

  Before I drive Kennedy home, I change out of last night’s clothes into running shorts and a T-shirt. She climbs out of my car wearing my sweatpants. And
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