Sustained, p.7
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       Sustained, p.7

         Part #2 of The Legal Briefs series by Emma Chase
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  boy’s ass in a sling.”

  “Fuck that,” I growl. “Besides, a public servant has no business owning a car like that.”

  I don’t know if it’s because I have a hard-on for his aunt or because he reminds me so much of myself, but if anyone wants a piece of that kid they’ll have to come through me first.

  “Okay,” Lisa says. “Then what are you offering?”

  “Court-mandated therapy, once a week. Monthly progress reports.”

  “Twice a week,” she counters. “And I want to pick the therapist. No feel-good quacks permitted.”

  “Done.”

  Lisa’s gaze travels over me, head to crotch. “I’m surprised by you, Jake. I don’t remember you being so . . . soft.”

  I move forward, bracing my hands on the arms of her chair—caging her in. “ ‘Soft’ isn’t in my vocabulary—I’m still as hard as they come.” I smirk. “And after.”

  Her eyes settle on my mouth. “Good to hear. Particularly since Ted and I broke up.” She holds up her ringless left hand.

  Lisa definitely falls under the “known” category, which means no awkward first-date dinner conversation, no twenty goddamn questions that I don’t want to ask, let alone answer. Nope—it’ll be straight to the fucking.

  Excellent.

  “It’s a long story,” she says. “Which I’m sure you have no interest in hearing.”

  Yes, Lisa knows me well.

  “You still like tequila?” I ask.

  “Absolutely. You still have my number?”

  “I do.”

  Her smile is slow and full of promise. “Good. Use it.”

  I stand up and walk toward the door. “I’ll do that.”

  “And I’ll get started on the paperwork.”

  • • •

  A few hours later, after approval from child services and a quick compulsory appearance before an indifferent judge, Rory walks out of the courthouse with us. We head back to my office to gather his many siblings. They all seem happy to see him—if the affectionate “stupid idiot” and eager questions about his stay in “jail” are any indication. The sky is dark by the time I escort Chelsea and her charges back out to her car. I wait next to the driver’s-side door as she gets them loaded and buckled in.

  Then she comes around and stands in front of me, all warm eyes and soft gratitude. And I’m struck again by the smooth flawlessness of her skin beneath the glow of the streetlight.

  Fucking gorgeous.

  This close, I notice the adorable dusting of freckles across the bridge of that pert nose and wonder if she has them anywhere else. It’ll take a slow, exhaustive search to find out. And I’m just the guy for the job.

  She pushes her hair behind her ear. “Thank you, Jake, so much. I don’t know what I would’ve—”

  “Aunt Chelsea, I’m starving!”

  “Can we get McDonald’s?”

  “Do you know what they put in McDonald’s? Even insects won’t eat it.”

  “Shut up, Raymond! Don’t ruin fast food for me!”

  “You shut up!”

  “No, you shut up!”

  “Aunt Chelsea!”

  “Hiiiiiii!”

  I can’t help but laugh. And wonder if she owns earplugs.

  Chelsea blows out a breath through her perfect, smiling lips. “I should go before they start eating each other.”

  “That might not be a bad thing. There are enough of them to spare.”

  She shakes her head and climbs into the truck, then rolls down the window to say, “Thank you again. I owe you, Jake.”

  I tap the side of the truck as she slowly pulls away. “Yes, you do.”

  And that’s a debt I can’t wait to collect.

  Soon.

  8

  Scorching lips suck at the skin along my neck—teeth nipping, tongue-laving suction. Nails scrape along my abs, across my chest, blazing a hard trail of need that leads straight to my cock. Deft fingers work the buttons on my shirt and hot blood pools in my pelvis.

  It’s been so long—too long—but the dry spell ends tonight.

  Fucking finally.

  I cradle her face in my hands and move my mouth over hers roughly. My tongue plunges and swirls, tasting tequila. So good.

  Friday afternoon, I got around to dialing Lisa DiMaggio. Because I learn from my mistakes, I asked about her and Ted’s breakup—it wasn’t because of cheating. Then I asked if she’d been tested recently. Miraculously she had, and she was clean. It was like the universe was telling me, “You’ve suffered enough, poor man.”

  We made plans for her place on Friday night, and I brought a bottle of Patrón for Lisa and a bottle of red wine for me that I ended up leaving in the car.

  Lisa peels open my shirt, running her palms across my pecs and over my shoulders. “God, your tattoos.” She moans appreciatively, tracing the ink first with her hands, then with her lips. “These are so fucking hot. They’re my favorite part.”

  I work on her earlobe, flicking at it with my tongue like it’s a clit. And I chuckle. “I thought my cock was your favorite.”

  She giggles against my skin. “Guess I need my memory refreshed.”

  Works for me.

  I’m just about to start doing some unbuttoning of my own when my phone lights up, vibrating on the coffee table near the couch we’re sitting on. I glance at the screen but don’t recognize the number and let it go to voice mail.

  I palm her tit over her blouse. Her blond hair slides over her shoulders as Lisa arches her back, moaning.

  And the phone rings again. Same number.

  What the fucking fuck?

  I pull back. “I should answer that.”

  Lisa shrugs and pours herself another shot of tequila, licking her hand and dashing it with salt as I stand and bring my phone to my ear. “Becker.”

  “Hey, Becker! It’s Paul Noblecky, how ya doing?”

  I was doing a hell of a lot better two minutes ago.

  “I’m in the middle of something.” My eyes zero in on Lisa’s shapely thighs beneath her black dress—that’s really where I’d like to be in the middle of. “Make it quick. What do you need, Paul?”

  “Well, we broke up a beer party out on Cambridge Place tonight. A high school thing, parents were away. A few of the kids were pretty wasted so we brought them to the station to dry out and call their parents. One of the girls, she won’t give us her name—only your business card. Says you’re her lawyer, Becker.”

  My eyes roll closed. And I just know.

  “Let me guess—brown curly hair, about five two, blue eyes, piss-poor attitude?”

  Noblecky chuckles. “That’s her.”

  I rub my forehead, feeling a migraine coming on—because the blue balls has most likely traveled to my brain. “Her name’s Riley. Her aunt’s the legal guardian.” I rattle off Chelsea’s phone number, which I got from her on Wednesday.

  “Thanks, Becker—I’ll call the aunt, have her come get the kid.”

  It’s late—after midnight. But I’m not going to think about how Chelsea will have to get all those other kids out of bed, including the baby and the little two-year-old. Put their coats on, buckle them in the car. In the dark.

  All by herself.

  That’s not my fucking problem. My problem is the rock-hard dick between my legs that will probably strangle me in my sleep if I don’t get him some action soon.

  I hang up the phone and lean back on the couch beside Lisa. She grins, slightly buzzed. “Work stuff?”

  “Yeah—nothing important.”

  She palms my junk. “Not like this—this is really important.”

  I thrust against her hand and lean over. “I do like a woman who has her priorities straight.”

  Then we’re kissing again. And it’s nice.

  But . . . I still can’t shake the image of Chelsea and the kids. The tiny blonde with the big blue eyes, Raymond squinting wearily as he puts his glasses on. I imagine them down at the precinct—it’s not the safest
area to be in, especially after midnight. I imagine them driving, Chelsea yawning, possibly not noticing an oncoming car that’s swerved into her lane, not until—

  “Shit!” I pull back, breathing hard. “I have to go.”

  “What?” Lisa whines. “No . . . no, stay. Important things, remember? All the fabulous fucking we were going to do. Important.”

  “I know. I’m sorry.” And I mean I’m really, really fucking sorry. “There’s a thing and I have to handle it myself.”

  Lisa flops backward, resting her head on the arm of the couch, still hot and bothered. “You’re killing me, Becker.”

  I stand up, rebuttoning my shirt. And my cock is furious. “Rain check?”

  “Sure.” Lisa sighs. Then she smirks flippantly. “At least you got me all warmed up for Mr. Pink. I’ll be thinking of your gorgeous tattoos when I play with him.”

  “Mr. Pink?”

  “He’s my most favorite vibrator.”

  I groan at the mental image. “Now you’re killing me.”

  She winks. “That was my evil plan.” Then she stretches up and kisses my cheek. “Call me.”

  “Will do.”

  Outside Lisa’s apartment, I pull out my phone as I walk to my car and dial Chelsea’s number.

  She answers on the first ring. “Hello?”

  “Chelsea, it’s Jake.”

  “Hi.” Her voice is hushed but alert, and I deduce that the kids are still sleeping—and somewhere close by.

  “Did Officer Noblecky call you about Riley?”

  “Yes. I’m just giving Ronan a bottle, then I’m going to get the kids up and in the car and—”

  “Don’t bother. I’m on my way there now. They’ll let me sign Riley out as her legal counsel.”

  For a moment, the only response on the other end is the soft sound of Chelsea’s breath. Christ—even her breathing is sexy. If I wasn’t still hard, I sure as shit would be now.

  “You don’t have to do that, Jake.”

  “Yeah, I know I don’t have to, but I am,” I bite out—harsher than I mean to. “So just say thanks and hang up the phone.”

  “O-kay. Well . . . thanks. And even though you bit my head off for no reason, I’m gonna let it slide since you’re doing me a humongous favor.”

  I chuckle. “It’s been a . . . frustrating evening.”

  “Ah—now, that I can relate to.”

  I bet she can.

  “I’ll see you soon, Chelsea.”

  “All right. Drive safe.”

  • • •

  I arrive at the precinct, sign some quick paperwork, and wait at the front desk for them to bring Riley out. Noblecky’s there—he makes a few stupid comments about my babysitting career, and I don’t really listen. But his jokes do get me thinking. What the hell am I doing here? I don’t do complicated, I avoid distractions, and up until this point, that strategy has served me well.

  Chelsea McQuaid is a fine piece of ass—but her nieces and nephews are turning out to be more distraction than she’s worth.

  Riley is escorted out from the back room. She’s as white as a ghost and unsteady on her feet. Her hair is stringy—wet—and I vaguely wonder if she got puke in it. Dark bruises of mascara shadow bloodshot eyes. She grips a bottle of Gatorade and a paper upchuck bag like the ones so thoughtfully tucked into the seat backs on airplanes.

  “Hi,” she rasps in a scratchy voice. “Thank you for coming to get me.”

  The first stirrings of pity echo in my chest. Not only do I remember how it feels to be sick drunk—easily the most miserable experience ever—I also remember what it was like to be fourteen.

  It sucked.

  “Come on, Smiley, let’s go.”

  She doesn’t even have the energy to roll her eyes at me.

  I guide her to the car, warning her just before I close the door, “You puke in my car, you’ll be walking home.”

  I slide into the driver’s side and the engine roars. Riley squeezes her eyes closed, like the car’s vibrations are making her queasy.

  “Why didn’t you give them your aunt’s number?” I ask to distract her.

  “Aunt Chelsea already has so much to deal with. I didn’t want to bother her.”

  But it was just peachy to bother the shit out of me.

  I pull out of the parking lot. “What were you drinking?”

  “Jägermeister.” She groans, bringing the bag closer.

  And I laugh out loud. “Hope you enjoyed it—chances are you’ll never drink it again.”

  When it comes to mild alcohol poisoning, the body may forgive but the stomach never, ever forgets.

  She holds her own against the urge to vomit, breathing slow and deep. “Is this when you lecture me about the dangers of underage drinking?”

  I roll to a stop at a red light. “Nope. You already know you were stupid—you don’t need me to tell you that. I am curious though—what brought on the sudden binge?”

  Her words are slow and careful, like she’s afraid if she talks too loud it will offset the delicate balance that’s keeping her from retching. “Matthew Applegate threw the party. He told me about it in school today. He’s a senior. He’s gorgeous and perfect and he seemed interested in me.”

  Anger sparks, like the flick of a match—because I have no doubt the little prick was interested in some part of her.

  “But when I got to the party,” she whispers, “he was all over Samantha Frey.”

  “I’m gonna take a wild guess and say Samantha has a reputation for putting out? Big boobs, nice face—probably a cheerleader?”

  Riley nods. “She was the homecoming queen.”

  Oh man.

  “And that’s when you made friends with the Jäger?”

  She wipes at her cheeks. “It made me feel happy. I didn’t care about Matthew or my . . . I didn’t care about anything.”

  I blow out a long breath and decide to hand out some advice. “Riley, boys your age . . . are really not worth your time. They’re selfish and stupid. It’s not their fault; they’re just programmed that way—but they’re still a lost cause. I think you should stay away from all of them until you’re at least . . . twenty-five. Or . . . have you considered being a lesbian?”

  She looks at me blankly. “That is so offensive.”

  I raise one hand. “Just trying to be helpful.”

  Riley turns to stare out the window. After a few minutes her chin quivers and her shoulders tremble.

  Here’s the thing—I don’t have a lot of experience with crying females. I’ve made a concentrated effort to avoid any situation that involves me, women, and tears. In case you haven’t noticed, empathy isn’t my strong point. And crying teenagers? This feels kind of like a bigfoot encounter—I’ve heard about it on TV, read about it in the papers . . . but this is the first time I’ve actually seen one close-up.

  She wipes her face on the sleeve of her sweater. “I miss my parents.”

  And my chest feels weighted. Heavy. For her.

  “I know you do.”

  “I wish they were here.” She sniffles.

  “What would you say to them if they were?” I pull up the McQuaid driveway and put the car in park.

  Riley thinks about my question and then the corner of her mouth tugs. “I would ask them how come Matthew doesn’t like me. They were always really honest with us, you know? They would tell me the truth.”

  I look at her face. She’s a pretty girl, even tired and grieving. But there’s a fire in her, a fierceness, that will serve her well when she’s grown. I’ve seen it in women I’ve worked with—women like Sofia. One day, Riley McQuaid will be a force to be reckoned with.

  “I can tell you the truth about that,” I say with a shrug.

  She turns to me.

  Gently, I wipe a tear from her cheek. “It’s because Matthew is an idiot.”

  • • •

  Chelsea opens the door before we knock. Looking just-fucked gorgeous with bed-mussed wavy hair and her do-me glasses on her f
ace. She’s wearing a black tank top and silky red pajama pants. My dick is still pretty pissed, but the sight of her breasts peeking above the top of her shirt makes him consider speaking to me again. Eventually.

  “We really need to stop meeting like this,” she says, her plump lips sliding into a familiar smile.

  Riley hugs her aunt forcefully. “I’m sorry, Aunt Chelsea.”

  She runs her hand down the back of Riley’s hair. “I know.” Then she turns her head in disgust. “Did you vomit in your hair?”

  “Yeah,” Riley groans, sounding miserable.

  Chelsea holds her cheek. “Let’s get you into bed—we’ll talk about this tomorrow. There will be grounding in your future.”

  She tilts her head toward the family room. “Come on in, Jake. I’ll be down in a few minutes.”

  And she doesn’t have to tell me twice.

  About twenty minutes later, Chelsea walks back into the living room.

  “It was kind of cold, so I started a fire.” I gesture to the flickering flames that glow inside the brick fireplace. Heat seeps into the room like a mist, the crackle and scent of live fire comforting. “Hope you don’t mind.”

  She gazes at the fire like a woman staring at a chocolate cake the day after she got off her diet. “I don’t mind at all—thank you. You’ll have to show me what you have up your sleeve . . .”

  Up my sleeve, down my pants. I’ll show her anything she wants to see.

  “. . . I haven’t been able to get it going—the logs smolder but don’t really burn for me.” The orange flames dance in her eyes as she turns to me, teasing. “I was a terrible Girl Scout.”

  “Would you like a glass of wine?” I indicate the bottle of Merlot resting on
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