Ramsey: A Military Bad Boy Secret Baby Pregnancy Romance (The Bradford Brothers Book 3), page 23
“You’re in luck,” says Tim, as he strolls into the courtroom, looking peppier than I’ve ever seen him. “I told you there was no attorney in our organization that rivals Dylan, but now he’s got some competition. A very talented lawyer has just joined us… temporarily, at least.”
And just like that, Riley Morrell enters the courtroom, looking as wide-eyed and out of place as a baby doe. She’s all dressed up as if she’s about to argue my case to the United States Supreme Court. So prim and proper and stuffy. But there’s a small amount of cleavage protruding from her silk blouse under her black blazer. Just enough to make me think she has a wild side, or maybe she will after I find it and bring it out…
Back to reality, I chide myself. This is my lawyer we’re talking about here, not some girl at a party. And I don’t want her to be my lawyer.
“Her? You’ve gotta be kidding me. You’ve assigned me some temporary lawyer?”
She can’t even take this gig seriously enough to commit to it?
“Jensen, calm down,” Tim says, patting my arm as he says a phrase I’ve heard way too much in my lifetime. But it’s easier said than done, to calm down about my case and my defense.
“I heard you say she doesn’t even have criminal law experience.” I glare at him accusingly.
“But she is one of the best young civil lawyers there is, and that’s what matters,” Tim says. “She’ll learn her way around the criminal court, don’t worry.”
“Yeah, I’m the lucky first client who gets to be her guinea pig…” I mutter, as Riley approaches.
Her uniquely colored eyes flash shock— or is something more?— upon seeing me and for a moment I just sit here like an idiot. The logical part of me is screaming, “I don’t want this flaky, newbie lawyer! Bring Dylan back, or let me hire my own lawyer outside of this incompetent organization,” but the primitive part of me is screaming, “Holy shit is this woman hot.”
“Everything will turn out as it should, Jensen,” says Tim, as he stands up to leave. He hands Riley a file that has my name typed up on a label. “We here at Veterans Legal Alliance are very happy to have Riley on board. And I repeat my assertion that you are very lucky to have her on your case. I’ll let you two discuss that in further detail now, since you don’t have much time before the judge calls your case.”
“Hello again,” says Riley, as she sits down in the spot that Tim just vacated. “Jensen, right?”
“Right.” I nod at the file in her hand.
“Oh yes, of course,” she says, and blushing, begins opening the file. I realize that she had remembered my name without being reminded by the file.
Hmmm. Maybe this attorney/ client relationship will work out better than I thought.
“Now let me see here… I just got your file right now. I mean, obviously. Now let me see…”
She begins grabbing at various papers in the file, obviously flustered. It appears I have quite an effect on this otherwise put- together lawyer.
“…your other lawyer, Dylan, was in the process of securing an expert to testify as to your PTSD,” she notes.
“Forget about that,” I snap at her, fuming mad now and not even caring whether or not she’s as attracted to me as I am to her. I just want to get my point across. Leave it to Dylan to paper my file with the defense I didn’t want him to pursue.
“That’s why he’s not my lawyer anymore. I don’t want to pursue the PTSD defense. I don’t have PTSD.”
I look at her, trying to figure out what she’s thinking. Was that an “okay” as in, “I’ll give you lip service but do what I want,” like Dylan always meant when he said “okay”? Or was that an “okay” as in, “Okay, I’m on your side and I agree?” Or maybe it was just an “Okay, I have no idea what I’m doing here so I’ll just say okay to whatever you say?”
I look at her furrowed brow as she continues to rifle through the pages of my file and I decide it’s most definitely the last option. Although I do like the idea of “lip service…”
“State versus Jensen Bradford, Case Number 11-203-cr-29788,” announces the bailiff, starting me out of the dirty thoughts I was about to escape into. Riley looks startled as well.
“I’m up,” I announce, despite my better interests rather intrigued to see how this will play out.
“Yes,” Riley says, as she walks ahead of me to the podium in front of the judge. She’s looking around and then back down at the file in her hands, rather frantically.
It’s obvious that she has no idea what she’s doing in my case. But I just can’t stop staring at her perfect ass.
As I walk into the courtroom and see Jensen, I can’t believe he’s the client I’ve been assigned to represent. Anyone but him.
Flipping through his file after Tim leaves the two of us alone together, I see references to assault and battery, PTSD, history of issues in the military, and my stomach churns. There is no denying that I’m attracted to him, but I’m angry at myself for it.
He’s a criminal, Riley. Dangerous. No good for you.
Yet I barely get any time to think about my strange attraction to Jensen or start preparing to defend his case before the judge has called us up. I’m not used to things moving so quickly. In civil court, I would have had time to write a lot of motions and brief a lot of issues before I ever had to face a judge. Now I’m just supposed to stand up here and wing it, I guess.
As I walk up to the podium, I feel more nervous than I think I’ve ever felt during my legal career. I don’t know how much of it stems from the annoying hyperventilating effect that this Jensen guy has on me, and how much of it stems from having no idea what I’m doing.
“Your Honor, I’m Riley Morrell, now representing Jensen…” I flip his file over on its face so that I can see the name on top “…Bradford in this case.”
He peers at me from out from under small horn-rimmed glasses. “What happened to Dylan Trambone of Veterans’ Legal Alliance?”
His voice is gruff and demanding. Great, I must be in for a treat.
In civil court, there’s an air of mutual professional respect. I know the judges and they know me. But this criminal court seems more like an elementary school playground where everyone has to prove themselves to avoid being pummeled by the recess bullies.
“I have replaced Mr. Trambone on this case,” I inform the judge. “And I’m with Veterans’ Legal Alliance myself, at least for the time being.”
He raises a skeptical eyebrow at me and then turns to the Assistant District Attorney at the podium across the aisle from me, who is prosecuting the case.
“Mr. Stemple, is the State ready to proceed?”
“We are, Your Honor,” replies the ADA, and I can feel my blood rush to my toes.
“Your Honor,” I interrupt, which obviously annoys him. “I… wasn’t finished. I was about to ask for a little more time due to just being very new to this case… a continuance, or, umm….”
“Are you asking for an extension?”
The judge is grinning at me as if amused, and I sneak a glance over to the ADA, who looks like a tiger about to pounce on his prey.
“Uhh… well, I was going to ask for one, but, umm….”
Something is telling me I shouldn’t.
“You’ll have to agree to extend the rule, of course. Is that what you’re asking for and agreeing to do?”
“Uhhh. No. Not at this time, Your Honor.”
I’m not sure what he’s talking about but I can tell I was just about to do something unwise, so I retreat.
“Well then, back to ADA Stemple. Have you gotten your discovery to Ms. Morrell or her predecessor on this case?”
“Not just yet, your Honor,” says the ADA, while flipping through one of his many voluminous files. As he does that, I do a quick search of the Rules of Criminal Court on my smartphone.
Rule 02-342 says that the State has six months to prose
Apparently if the State isn’t ready for trial, that’s a good thing. It only has six months to drag its feet. But if the defense— in this case, me— isn’t ready, and agrees to an extension of the Rule, then the State gets more time to prosecute the case than would otherwise be allowed under the statute.
I guess I really do learn something new every day. And at least I didn’t mess up Jensen’s case on my first minute or two of working on it.
“We do have some materials to give to the defense,” ADA Stemple continues.
“Well, what are you waiting for?” demands the judge, and I’m glad to see that he can be equally grumpy to both sides. “Here she is. Hand it over.”
“It’s… at the office,” ADA Stemple admits, with a shrug. “I’m just covering this file today for…”
“Yeah, yeah, yeah, it’s typical governmental bureaucracy once again.” The judge waves his hand at ADA Stemple to cut him off, while also rolling his eyes. “You have until the end of the day to deliver the discovery to Ms. Morrell. Do you have her office address?”
“Your Honor,” I quickly interrupt, too embarrassed to admit that I don’t actually have an office at the moment. I’ll have to figure that situation out rather quickly. “I can pick it up from ADA Stemple.”
“I like your initiative, Counsel. ADA Stemple, instruct your office to have it ready for your new opposing counsel by four thirty this afternoon, or I’ll instruct Ms. Morrell to draft a motion to compel.”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“All right then, we’ll set a status conference for two weeks from now. I see that there is a motion to recognize an expert. Ms. Morrell, I expect you to be ready to present that at that time.”
“Uhh, your Honor,” I say, looking at Jensen.
“We are not sure we need that expert any longer. Or it may be a… different expert.”
I don’t know how I’m going to reverse Dylan’s course and figure out a new defense in only two weeks. But I’m not about to ask for more time. And I’m also not about to make my new— hot!— client mad at me for continuing the PTSD defense to which he’s so vehemently opposed . I’ll have to work it all out somehow.
“Fine, Ms. Morrell, whatever. But whatever you need to do that involves an expert, I expect you to be ready to do it in two weeks when we re-convene. Understand?”
“Yes, Your Honor.”
“Very well then. You’re adjourned.”
Whew, I think, happy to have survived my first criminal case hearing.
“Thank you very much for not using that PTSD expert,” Jensen says, putting his hand on my arm. It feels like electricity is running through it. And I feel like a silly schoolgirl for thinking that.
“I’ll figure something else out,” I assure him. I’m trying my best to remain professional and composed even though I want to rip his shirt off and see the muscles that I know are underneath. They’re always poking out dangerously just below the surface, teasing and taunting me. “But we need to meet about your case, once I receive and review the discovery documents. I’ll call you with a time and place, but plan on it being in about a week’s time.”
“I’ll be looking forward to it,” he says, with his now- infamous wink. “Just let me know where and when you want to get together, and I’ll be there.”
Is it just me or did he put an obvious accent on the phrase “get together”? I wonder. I’m not sure, but either way he and his amazingly in shape body walk away from me, out of the courtroom and to whatever life he leads that is undoubtedly so very different from mine.
My hands grip hard rock and my feet scatter pebbles everywhere as I climb to the top of the mountain. I pull myself to the top and grab water from my canteen. Winded but not completely spent, I look beneath me to the group of men I was leading.
They’re so far away, they look like ants.
“What the fuck is your problem?” I scream down at them. “Get your asses up here now.”
I lean back against a tree and consider taking a nap while they take their time sauntering to the top, but I’m too worked up to relax. I think about how my brothers— literal and figurative— have always had my back at war and I’m disgusted by these trainees. They wouldn’t be able to help rescue any captives, let alone a fellow Air Forceman.
Memories rush my thoughts, much to my dismay.
“We’re going down, we’re going down,” Ramsey was shouting.
We were on a plane to rescue members of a first plane that had just crashed. But our plane was ambushed by the enemy and we were under attack as well.
I stared in horror at my brothers and the other members of our unit as our plane went down. Many of us were able to jump out just before landing but others, including my brother Harlow, were trapped under the fallen plane. We pulled them out from the wreckage as the plane lit up the sky in a fiery blaze.
We managed to rescue Harlow, but not all of the members of our unit were so lucky. And I wouldn’t exactly count Harlow as lucky either. He was burnt and his face completely disfigured. He was in the hospital for months and then it took nearly a year for him to undergo facial reconstructive surgery.
Still, I know that everyone in that plane did our very best that day. We minimalized casualties and injuries to the best of our abilities, just as we did at other times when we were tested. And these new recruits can barely even make it up the side of a fucking mountain.
It’s all I can do not to quit this job right now out of frustration. It’s hard to work with these men when they start out so very different from my figurative— and literal— brothers with whom I had had the honor of fighting side by side before all of this “assault” crap crept up on me and my military career ended less than voluntarily.
The first two men leading the pack finally crest the peak, out of breath but looking undeservedly proud of themselves. Kids these days. They’re not all much younger than I am but they have an air of entitlement about them that I don’t ever remember possessing.
I’ve had to scratch my way through life, fighting for everything I’ve earned. And these pussies think they can just waltz up the mountain— at an incredibly slow pace— and take it. The Air Force doesn’t know what it’s doing if it would rather have these slowpokes fights its wars than me.
“That was pathetic,” I yell at the men, which wipes the smirks off their faces. “Only half the trainees that started are left, and only two of you made it up the mountain in any kind of semi- decent time. Congratulations. The rest of you would be dead by now.”
I throw my canteen, still half full of water, at the surprised men.
“Tell your fellow trainees I’m so disappointed in their dismal performance that I left. They can find their own way down. They’ll probably need the rest of what’s in my canteen because they’ll be huffing and puffing too much without it. And do be sure to tell them that if their next performance is this horrendous, they can count themselves out of the program.”
Two hours later, I’m at a bar with Ramsey and Harlow when I get the call I’ve been waiting on despite trying not to.
“Jensen, it’s Riley.”
Her voice sounds so damn sexy. I can’t help picturing the cleavage and ass that goes with it.
Harlow must know by the look on my face that I’m excited to hear her voice on the other end of the line.
“Flavor of the day?” he asks me.
“Something like that,” I mouth as I go outside in order to hear her better.
“Hey Riley. Been thinkin’ bout me?”
Her tone is awkward, as if obviously wanting to remain professional, but she doesn’t deny it. She just half- laughs that addicting laugh of hers.
She’s just your lawyer, I remind myself
I can’t let this chic keep knocking me off my game. I have to remember the rules that have always kept me safe. I don’t do relationships. I don’t do commitment. I do hard, fast one night stands. Wham- bam- thank- you- ma’am- and- please- lose- my- number- now types of encounters.
“Actually, Jensen,” she continues, “I’ve been working hard on your case. But I have some questions. Can you come to my office tomorrow?”
“What time?” I say it too quickly, but it’s too late to try to reign myself in. Damn, this girl makes me act differently than I normally do.
“First thing in the morning?”
“I have work. I don’t get out until six.”
“Well that’s a little… later than I usually meet with clients,” she says. “But I must admit that your case is moving more quickly than I’m used to, and I need to keep up. So we can meet when you’re done with work. My office is in the Sunshine Building, downtown.”
“Right.” I wouldn’t expect such a fancy pants lawyer to have an office in such an old, decrepit building, but I don’t say anything. Insults wouldn’t go well with the fuck- me vibe I’m trying to project. “Well I’ll see you then, Ms. Morrell.”
She gives me another small giggle before we hang up.
When I get back to the bar, my brothers are all ears.
“Soooo, who is she this time?” they demand.
“That was actually my lawyer.”
I take a swig of my Whiskey and Coke, hoping my shrug looks nonchalant enough.
“What happened to that Dylan guy?” Ramsey asks with interest. “I thought you said he was a good lawyer?”
“They say he is, but he was hell- bent on pleading that bullshit defense based on PTSD. Can you believe it? He wanted me to say I’m crazy. Like Mom!”
Harlow scoffs and says, “Jensen, we all know you’re nothing like her. You and all of us have always had to clean up after her mess.”