Harlow: A Military Bad Boy Romance: The Bradford Brothers, page 18
She looks like the type with a boring boyfriend or husband at home, but I don’t care. I don’t want a relationship, just some hot sex. She’s probably never had hot sex but there’s always a first time for everything. Just like me winding up in jail for some stupid fight no different than the ones I’ve gotten into since I was a boy, without such humiliating repercussions. No one knows what the future holds.
I decide to make a move. I’ve never been known for my patience.
I approach the table and make up a dumbass excuse to talk to Tim. Of course I do have a valid reason— I’m waiting on my perpetually late attorney— but I know Tim can’t make him appear any faster than I can. I just want an excuse to be closer to this mystery woman.
Tim’s in the middle of telling her that even though she doesn’t have criminal law experience, he can quickly train her.
Great, I think. She’s a lawyer. And a newbie at that. I hope they’re not wanting to assign her to my case. I’ll just stick with Dylan— as awful as I’m starting to think he is— or pay some private attorney out of pocket. Money talks, and a new attorney will have to do what I want, not what the VLA has trained him to do.
But damn is she hot, I think, as Tim introduces us and I shake her hand firmly, the same way I’d like to grab her ass if I weren’t impeded by this orange jumpsuit and my temporary lack of freedom.
I return to the table to continue waiting for Dylan, all the while thinking, What is she doing here?, instead of only What am I doing here? I clearly bashed a guy’s skull in to end up here. But she’s like a fish out of water. Why would she want to represent someone like me?
When Dylan finally arrives and I jump to the front of the line to meet him, he takes me back to the attorney/ client conference room and I can’t help but look back at Riley one more time. My curiosity gets the better of me and I wink at her. She looks pleased.
If I weren’t in jail I’d have her in bed by tonight, I think, as I reluctantly enter the room with Dylan and kiss all hopes of fucking Fancy Lawyer Lady goodbye.
“It’s nice to see you again, Jensen,” says Dylan, as he sits down at the small wooden table in the conference room.
“You too,” I tell him, although I want to add, I was beginning to think you’d never show up.
Instead, I say, “I’ve been waiting to talk to you.”
“I know you’re nervous about your arraignment. Everyone always is,” Dylan says. “But don’t worry. I have full faith that you’ll be out of here as soon as that hearing is over.”
“It’s not that. I’ve been needing to talk to you about my case.”
Again, I let unspoken thoughts remain unspoken. Unspoken thoughts like: You’ve said some things I’m not too fond of, and I want to set you straight.
Even though Dylan has been assigned to represent me for free, I know that doesn’t mean I have to go along with everything he says. I’m free to fire him and have another lawyer assigned, or to hire one out of my own pocket.
Which is fine because it’s not like I’m hurting for money. I just want to make sure my lawyer listens to me and defends my case the way I want it to be defended.
“Jensen, we don’t have a lot of time. We need to go out there and tell the judge we’re ready for your arraignment hearing to be called…”
“I understand,” I tell him, and stop there instead of finishing with that you’re in a rush and you’re shuffling through my case as one of many. “But this is important to me. When we first met you mentioned using a PTSD defense and I said I wasn’t that into it.”
“Uh huh,” Dylan says absent- mindedly as he flips through my file, highlighting something.
“But what I should have said is that I really do not want you to use that defense. The more I’ve had time to think about it— and thinking is about the only thing I get to do in here— the more certain I am. I don’t have PTSD. I’m not crazy.”
“Jensen,” Dylan says, looking straight into my eyes. “A PTSD diagnosis does not mean ‘crazy.’”
“I know, I’m sorry,” I sigh, frustrated.
Crazy is burning everything my dad ever owned in front of me, simply because I mentioned his name. Simply because I was mad at her for leaving him— for leaving us. My mom is crazy. I’m not crazy. But any kind of official diagnosis is too close for comfort for me. I’m not anything like my mom, and I never will be.
“I don’t mean it in a bad way,” I try to explain to Dylan. “I just mean that everyone thinks that anyone who has been to war has PTSD, and that’s just not always the case—”
“Jensen, you haven’t only been to war. You’ve seen traumatic and life- altering things there. You’ve experienced very bad things.”
“So has everyone who has been to war,” I say, exacerbated beyond belief at this point. “But it doesn’t mean I have PTSD.”
“It’s the best defense anyway,” Dylan says, perplexed. “If it helps you, you should use it. Not resist it.”
“Dylan. I’m serious. I want you to just defend the case and please don’t give me some PTSD diagnosis along with a potential criminal record.”
“Fine. Okay Jensen.” But he doesn’t say it very convincingly. “But today’s hearing has nothing to do with any of that. You’re just pleading guilty and bail is being set, or not. In your case, as I’ve said, I highly suspect it won’t be. You’ll walk out free until your next hearing date. And then we’ll have plenty of time to talk defense strategy.”
He signals the guard to let the judge know we’re ready.
“All right.” Just like we had plenty of time to talk today. “I just wanted to make sure I clarified my position with you.”
We enter the small courtroom where the judge holds arraignment and bail hearings in the jail. She reads my charges and Dylan introduces himself, as does an assistant district attorney.
“How does the defendant plead?” asks the judge.
“My client pleads not guilty, Your Honor,” Dylan says.
“And as for bail?”
“Mr. Bradford committed a heinous battery,” says the assistant district attorney. “He mercifully pummeled an innocent man. As you can tell by his size, and I’d also note that he has specialized military training during the course of his Special Operations work in the Air Force, it was not at all what you could characterize as an ‘even fight’…”
“Objection, Your Honor,” Dylan interjects. “Mr. Bradford is not on trial today. And of course he has defenses to this charge, which was unfairly brought and of which he is innocent. He should be released on his own recognizance. He’s never been convicted of any crime. And he’s an upstanding member of the community.”
That part makes me have to try hard to refrain from snorting out loud. Apparently someone who kills for a living is considered an upstanding member of the community when it comes time to set bail on their assault and battery charge. But if that’s what being conferred “veterans’ status” brings with it, I guess I’ll take it.
“Excuse me, Your Honor,” interrupts the assistant district attorney, “but Mr. Bradford is not the angel that the defense is painting him as. He’s had criminal arrests stemming from being a runaway teenager with truancy issues and some minor breaking and entering charges, and he’s gotten into some trouble while he was in the military…”
“Objection, Your Honor,” Dylan interrupts right back. “Those are juvenile records that have been sealed. And Mr. Bradford’s military history has nothing to do with civil court. He was honorably discharged after years of faithful service, in hostile war zones. The prosecution is just trying to fling mud and see what sticks, but none of this is relevant here.”
“I agree,” says the judge. “Move along to the bail portion of this hearing, please.”
I breathe a sigh of relief, glad that my past hasn’t truly caught up with me. I’m still getting away with things. I’m still coming out on top, although this is the most “upside down” I’ve ever been.
“Then perhaps he shouldn’t have beat up a…” begins the assistant district attorney, but the judge cuts him off.
“That’s enough, counsel. Mr. Bradford, you are free to go on your own recognizance but you must report back for a pre-trial conference and for all other hearings in this case. Your terms of release are as follows. Until this case is tried you are to avoid alcohol and establishments that sell liquor; you are to avoid illegal drugs; you are to avoid all contact with the alleged victim; you are not to use any firearms or weapons; you are to seek or maintain employment; and you are not to travel outside of the state without prior permission of this Court. Do you understand?”
“Your Honor, we have a clarification question,” says Dylan. “With regard to maintaining employment, and not using firearms or weapons.”
“As I mentioned previously, my client works for a military contractor and his job involves training new recruits…”
“Oh yes, counselor. Let the record reflect that the defendant may only use weapons or firearms as necessary and pertinent to his employment. Do you understand this and all other conditions of your release, Mr. Bradford?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“You will wait in the holding cell until you are called to be discharged. We are adjourned.”
“Thanks, Dylan,” I turn to him, but he’s already putting my file into his bag.
“Gotta run,” he says. “I told you it was a no- sweat hearing. See you soon.”
“When can we meet to…” discuss my case further? I trail off mid-question as he disappears out of the courtroom.
I head back to the holding cell, hoping against hope that the hot lawyer chic is still there. She’s not, and my heart sinks.
Get a grip, Jensen. I shake my head and try to purge my mind of thoughts of that ass, that face. But they remain with me even after I’m discharged. Apparently I’m free to leave jail, but not free to stop thinking about a certain someone I met while here and will likely never see again.
A week has passed since I’d met Jensen Bradford, and I still can’t get him out of my mind. But now I try to push thoughts of him away so that I can concentrate on writing the legal brief for the biggest case of my career.
My firm is representing Jed Marks and Marks Capital in a case between former business partners involving insider trading. Brian’s dad Jack Holt is my supervising attorney and he’s been letting me run with the case. Trial is coming up and if I can win it— and I think we have a good chance— then my partnership is pretty much in the bag.
I work past five- thirty in the evening and then realize that Brian hasn’t popped his head in to say goodbye to me. He usually does this most days on his way out, as he’s headed to the bar in the hotel downstairs or to the golf course with clients and partners. Brian’s main job seems to be to schmooze with the bigwigs while mere associates like myself, who aren’t related to any founding partners, put in the grunt work.
Of course it’s usually three or four o’clock when Brian leaves and I figure he must have forgotten to say goodbye today. He occasionally stays a little later but it’s rare. I head down to his office and I’m surprised to see him sitting at his computer.
“Hey honey,” I say quietly, and then knock lightly on his open door, trying not to startle him.
Too late. He jumps, and then minimizes his screen but not before I catch the word “Marks” on the document before it disappears. He also clicks X on his Hangouts chat application.
“You scared me.”
“I’m sorry. I’m happy to see you still here. I thought you forgot to say goodbye.”
I give him my best fake- pout face, and lower my head as I do, hoping it’ll draw his attention to my subtle cleavage. We haven’t had sex in the longest time. I can barely remember when it last happened but I would definitely guess it was over two weeks ago.
“Nope. Still here.”
He turns his head back to his computer, to start shutting it down. He hadn’t even glimpsed at my cleavage.
We used to do it fairly regularly and I don’t know what’s happened. Sure, I’ve put on a few pounds but it’s not like I was a skinny waif when he met me. If he’d wanted a smaller lady he could have gone after a few of the associates who look like Barbie dolls and whisper jokes about my cankles when they think I can’t hear them.
But those associates aren’t going anywhere in the firm, I remind myself. Is he really just with me because Daddy wants him to be? Why is it always my job to be the good little girl, the straight and narrow one, while Brian gets to do what he wants? Which apparently doesn’t include making love to his fiancé?
An image involuntarily pops into my mind of Jensen’s tattooed arms lifting me up to fuck me as he stands against a wall. Woah. That was an awfully explicit daytime fantasy to be having right in front of my fiancé. I shake my head to clear it, and try to focus on something else.
“Were you checking out the Marks case?” I ask him, curious.
He’s never one to put in more billable hours than he has to— and his requirements are low, thanks to Daddy Dearest— and I’m not sure what work there would be for him to do on the Marks case. I get scared for a minute, wondering if Jack Holt has decided to give some or all of my work on the case to Brian. But then I reassure myself that that doesn’t make a lot of sense— I’ve been doing all the work and according to Jack, I’ve been doing it well.
“I was just interested in what my dad was saying about it,” Brian stammers.
I wait, but nothing follows.
“Such as?” I prod.
“Oh, nothing in particular.” He shrugs. “It just seems like an interesting case.”
I look at him as if he has two heads. Marks Capital is a run of the mill case except for the sizeable amount of money involved, and Brian has never been known to think those kinds of cases are interesting.
“I’d be happy to talk to you about the case,” I volunteer. “As you know, I’ve been living and breathing this stuff.”
“Thanks,” he says, as he picks up his briefcase and gym bag. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”
He gives me a quick peck on the lips.
“But what about dinner?”
I feel stupid asking, but my family is coming over to my place tonight for dinner as they do once a month. Brian and I had previously discussed it— he knows how hard of a time my family can give me and how I appreciate his support when they’re around— and it had appeared that he would be there, as usual. I feel rather jilted.
“Sorry babe. I have a meeting.”
“Networking,” he says, vaguely, as he slips out the door.
“Well, have a good time,” I call after him, like an idiot.
Then I slink back to my office to try to finish a bit more work before I have to head home and prepare for my family’s visit. I don’t know why Brian’s been so distant, but it’s beginning to really bother me. I just want things to go back to how they used to be.
Or do I? I wonder, as another vision of Jensen flashes through my mind.
I meet my brothers at the local dive bar I’ve been going to with some members of the FreeFlyers Motorcycle Club. I ride my motorcycle there while my brothers drive their cars.
Glancing at the Sandia Mountains up ahead, I’m glad to be free from jail. The sun is just starting to set, turning the mountain shades of purple and red, which is why the Spanish settlers called it “Sandia,” which means watermelo
The judge had told me not to frequent any establishments that sell alcohol but in my daily life that’s an impossible task. I’ll just lay low and stick to places I know are safe, such as here.
“You thinking of joining up with this motorcycle gang or what?” asks my younger brother Harlow, as he looks around the bar. His face is perfectly chiseled and perfect— almost too perfect, really— except for some telltale scars if you know where to look up close.
“It’s a club,” I tell him. “Motorcycle club.”
I don’t expect him to get it. I wasn’t too interested in bikes until I got out of the military. FreeFlyers MCC is made up of former military members such as myself— many of them former fighter pilots and pararescuers— and it’s like a second family. I think that Harlow is just jealous because I’ve never done anything without him.
After high school our older brother Ramsey joined the Air Force and then I followed suit. Once Harlow was out of school he joined us too. We were all in the same Pararescue Special Ops unit together.
The regular bartender, Shelly, comes to take our drink orders. Her perky tits spill out of her low-cut uniform, and her curly blonde hair bounces with youthful energy, just like the rest of her.
“What’ll it be, boys?” She winks at me. “Hello there Jensen. The usual?”
I nod a greeting at her and say, “Yep. Whiskey and coke for me, and for my brothers here too,” but then I look away.
She’s the main bartender here so I see her all the time, and until last week I thought she was hot. Totally my type. But now I can’t seem to get the mysterious Riley Morrell out of my mind.
I don’t know what happened to the old me but now it’s like no lady compares to the one I can’t have. It’s knocked me off my game, and I don’t like it.
“I assume since you’re walking around a free man that your bail hearing went well?” my older brother Ramsey asks me.
“It was fine. Apparently I’m an upstanding citizen.”