Ramsey: A Military Bad Boy Secret Baby Pregnancy Romance (The Bradford Brothers Book 3), page 27
She’s looking at me— pleading with me— but I just give her a sympathetic shrug. It’s nothing personal. I just prefer my lawyers to listen to my requests. She leaves the courtroom and the judge finishes what he was saying.
“That’s my ruling, and it’s final.”
And it’s most likely the last time I’ll ever see Riley Morrell again. It was fun while it lasted. I don’t know when I’ll be able to get her sexy lips and curvy body out of my mind. I’m quite sure the memory of her— and the possibility of what might have been in the future— will torment me for a long time, much like many other things and people from my past.
But she is in my past now and it’s for the better. She was no good for my case and no good for me personally. To think I almost broke my rules for her— I almost let her get too close. I’m just going to have to keep her as a lovely memory: the girl who almost won my heart, before she stabbed it.
I walk back to my temporary office, which has become my permanent office, trying not to sob and telling myself that lawyers don’t cry just because their clients fire them. But I know this wasn’t just professional— it was personal— and it hurts. I guess Jensen is so upset about what happened with Brian that he no longer wants me on his case, even though I’ve done so much work, and even though he’s seemed genuinely happy that I’ve done it.
I thought we could put our personal differences aside and remain professional, but I guess I was wrong. And I’m a bit disappointed that Jensen couldn’t do that. He’s not the man I thought he was.
Then again, I guess I’m not the woman he thought I was, either. Perhaps it’s best emotionally that we go our separate ways. But it’s definitely not best financially.
I get three calls later in the day. The first is from a private attorney, wishing to pick up the file of Jensen Bradford from me at my earliest convenience.
“Go ahead and send your runner over this afternoon,” I tell him, with a resigned sigh. It’s not like I’m going to do any more work on a case that isn’t paying me, and from which the client’s fired me.
The second is from Tim McDonald at Veterans’ Legal Alliance.
“Hello, Riley, I just wanted to tell you what you already know. Jensen Bradford called the office and asked to switch attorneys, again.”
“Yes. I’m sorry.”
I have nothing else to say.
“Don’t be sorry, Riley. I was calling to tell you that I’m sorry. I guess I should have known that Jensen was trouble, and I shouldn’t have assigned you to him for your first case. I was really excited to have an attorney of your caliber on board, since he was dissatisfied with Dylan, and Dylan was formerly our best attorney. Now the two of you are tied, if I do say so myself.”
He laughs, in such a hearty and contagious manner that I have no choice but to join in. It feels good to be happy for once. And to hear such a nice compliment.
“It turns out that Jensen is just too difficult of a client,” he continues. “I know that Dylan was rather… persuasive… in trying to get Jensen to agree to a defense that he just didn’t want. So I understood Jensen’s reasoning in wanting a new lawyer. But you were doing everything he wanted, and then some. There was no good reason to ask for a new lawyer after being represented by you.”
No good reason except that I let my heart get involved, I think. I can’t tell Tim that the reason the client doesn’t want me to represent him anymore is because of a brief romance gone bad. I’d never be welcome back at Veterans’ Legal Alliance—or anywhere else for that matter. Not that I’d be welcome to many places after how I’d left Holt. I return to feeling glum.
“Seriously, Riley, I looked over the file to make sure Jensen had no real reason to complain, and you’ve done everything wonderfully. I really think he was on track for a not guilty verdict, and I just hope for his sake that he still is, even after his bad decision to fire you, because the work you’ve already put into the case lays such a solid foundation that I highly doubt any future attorney could screw it up. I told him he’d be better off hiring a private attorney since he has so little confidence in the lawyers here at the VLA. But I still count his case as a VLA win because I know that you did everything to get him there.”
Awwww. I smile, wishing that Tim could see it on the other end of the phone.
“Thanks, Tim. Really. That means a lot to me right now.”
“I just don’t want you to think you’re not valued here at the organization, because you certainly are. And I don’t want a bad start— thanks to Jensen Bradford— to leave a negative taste in your mouth.”
The taste he left in my mouth was anything but negative, I can’t help but think, and try not to laugh. Despite my disappointment with how Jensen and I ended both personally and professionally, I can’t help but savor the memories of his tongue in my mouth, his hand on my ass…
Suddenly, I’m no longer glum. I realize that I can find something similar to what I had with Jensen with someone else. It can’t be that rare, can it? I was just wasting my time with Brian instead of being out looking for the real thing. And Tim’s right: I’m a good lawyer who cares about my clients… maybe a little too much. I have a good future as a lawyer, too.
“It’s all right, Tim. These things happen, and it’s not VLA’s fault.”
“Well, I’m glad you feel that way. And I have another case to give you to start working on— two, in fact, if you feel ready to do double duty?”
“Sure,” I say, because more cases mean more money. And it will be nice to have something to immerse myself in.
“All right, just stop by the office any time today or tomorrow morning to pick up the files. See, we don’t always throw you right into the fire like with Jensen’s case. You can have time to review the files and make sure the clients feel like a good fit before you meet with them prior to their arraignments tomorrow afternoon.”
“No, thank you, Riley.”
The last call is from my dad. I hesitate before answering, but I decide that my relationship with my parents is one more thing to face head-on, while I’m at it.
“Hey Riley, haven’t heard much from you lately. How’s it going? How are things at work? And with Brian? How did your big case go? Have you been promoted to partner?”
My dad has always been so happy that I was engaged to the boss’s son. I’m not sure if he’s happier about that or the fact that I work— make that worked— at a prestigious firm. And now neither one of those things is still true. The old me would have been afraid to face him, or would have delayed telling him. But this is the new me, and I feel more confident and self-assured.
“Well Dad, there have actually been quite a few changes in my life.”
“Really? What changes?”
His tone sounds concerned.
“I’ll tell you all about it when I see you and Mom at our next dinner,” I tell him. “But I’ve just been discovering who I really am and who I want to be. And some of it may be pretty surprising.”
He clears his throat and then says, “Well, Riley, your mom and I love you no matter what. I do hope you keep practical considerations like financial security and future happiness in mind, no matter what decisions you’re making. But if you’re happy, then we’re happy.”
This wasn’t at all the response I was expecting. Well, the middle part was, but not the first and last parts. Then again, I’ve never really been so sure in announcing my plans before— neither have I ever really known when I wanted to do, except what everyone else wanted me to do. I guess maybe there’s hope for my relationship with my parents after all.
“See you soon, Dad. Love you.”
As I hang up the phone, I consider today a success overall, even though something— or someone— is still gnawing at my thoughts. It’s hard to believe I’ll never see Jensen again. But at least I’m doing the best that I can without him. And I know the experience I’ve shared with him has changed me f
I walk into the fancy office of Sherman Anders, the private attorney I’d hired to represent me. Tim had suggested him along with a few other possibilities when he politely told me I’m no longer welcome to use the services of the Veterans’ Legal Alliance. This Sherman guy was the most expensive, so I figure he’s the best. Or at least that the kind of defense that I want will be able to be purchased.
“Mr. Bradford,” he says, staring across his wooden desk from his executive chair. “I’ve reviewed the file I received from your former attorney. Let me cut to the chase. You’ve switched lawyers twice and there is very little time before your trial. Also, the judge has ruled that if you are to use an expert in your case— which I would greatly advise you to do— you will need to use Dr. Roth from the motion that Ms. Morrell filed.”
“I know. I didn’t know where she was going with that motion, and I can’t believe the judge stuck me with the result of it.”
“Mr. Bradford.” Sherman glares at me as if I’m a disobedient child who is purposefully not understanding what he’s saying. “Ms. Morrell did everything right in your case, and even under the rather difficult circumstances of having to do it all the way you wanted her to do it. I believe she was on her way to winning your case, and I can’t understand why you continue to switch lawyers, even after you had the incredible luck to have an associate formerly of the esteemed Holt firm working on your case.”
I sigh, doing my best not to roll my eyes. Obviously he’s under the fancy- firm- name spell and doesn’t understand why I had to fire Ms. Morrell.
“She’s still with the Holt firm,” I correct Sherman. “I was just a temporary gig. To impress them.” And her finance’s father. “And to get her job back faster.” And her ex fiancé.
“Mr. Bradford, since you believe you know so much about Ms. Morrell’s professional status, I must correct your misconceptions. The way I hear it, Ms. Morrell is out on her own full time now, and is taking a more active role in the Veterans’ Legal Alliance. She tendered her resignation at Holt after outing some rather devious and unethical practices of theirs to one of their clients.”
I stare at him, flabbergasted. Riley did what?
“So while I’d be happy to represent you,” Sherman continues, “I feel compelled to tell you that you made a mistake by firing Ms. Morrell. I charge a very hefty retainer, and in your case most of my work has been done for me by Ms. Morell. I can just take what she’s done and run with it at trial. I think you’ll likely win, but I also think you’d do just as well with Ms. Morrell, who I know to be an excellent trial attorney, and she is free to you, through the VLA.”
I’m confused by this lawyer’s honesty. Does he want my money or not? And he’s missing the entire point.
“Mr. Anders, I don’t want to use that defense. I am only going to hire you— or any lawyer— who clearly understands that.”
“You don’t want to use self defense as your defense?” Now he’s looking at me as if I’m crazy. “What other possible defense could possibly be better?”
“No, not that,” I tell him, exasperated. “I don’t want to use the PTSD defense.”
He stares at me quizzically.
“Ms. Morrell wasn’t using a PTSD defense in your case.”
Now this is starting to get absurd.
“I’m sorry? She hired Dr. Levi Ross, a PTSD expert.”
“Mr. Bradford. She hired him to testify that you don’t have PTSD.”
I can’t even think straight. Did I unjustly fire Riley? Was she really doing what I’d asked, all along?
“Because she anticipates that the prosecution is going to say that you have PTSD and you flipped out due to flashbacks and pummeled the victim for no good reason. She is prepared to have the expert testify that you do not have PTSD and that anyone in your situation would have reacted the way you did, with good reason.”
I feel like such an idiot. And all I can think of is Riley.
“Mr. Anders. I thank you very much for your time. My consultation fee was money well spent. Thank you for explaining to me what I missed. I’m going to take my file back now. There’s someone I need to personally deliver it to.”
“I think that’s a wise decision, Mr. Anders. She’s the rightful owner of that file, much more than I am.”
I’m at home reviewing my new client files that I picked up from Tim, when my door bell rings. I look out the window— it’s nearly dark, and pouring down rain, and I’m not expecting anyone.
I throw on a hoodie around the thin tank top I’m wearing, and pull it around me without zippering it as I hesitantly open my front door. I leave the screen door open.
He looks like a wet puppy dog, except a thousand times more pitiful and more adorable.
“Riley, I’m so sorry. I completely misjudged you.”
“About my case. And just about… everything.”
I look at him dubiously, having no idea what caused his sudden change of heart. Someone must have told him that I’d quit Holt. But I didn’t do that for him. I’d done it for me. Of course, I don’t know if I would have gotten to that point if it hadn’t been for him.
I just stand there looking at him, confused, yet hopeful, until he says, “Riley, open the door.”
I push open the screen door, gently, but as soon as I have it partway open he nearly rips it from my hands and pulls me into his arms. He kisses me in a way that is somehow rough and gentle at the same time. I return the kiss with equal fervor and he runs his hands up and down my wet, now- messy hair.
I point out the obvious to him in between kisses.
“I know. Somebody better invite me inside before I melt.”
I grab his hand and lead him into my house. It feels new but right to have him inside it for the first time ever.
He picks me up and grabs my ass. I wrap my legs around his broad pelvis.
“I really am sorry I misjudged you completely,” he whispers into my ear.
“To be fair, you judged me correctly for part of it. You just also… inspired me to change.”
“Is that a good thing?”
“It must be. It must mean I want to date you.”
He pauses, his breath panting faintly near my ear.
“Don’t you want to date me?”
I feel rather pathetic, having put it all out there like that and not having gotten anything back in return.
“No. I want you to be my girlfriend.”
“I thought you didn’t have girlfriends.”
“You’re right. I didn’t have girlfriends. But there’s a first time for everything, Miss Full- Time Veterans’ Legal Alliance lawyer.”
I laugh as he kisses my neck and squeezes my ass harder.
“Which way to the bedroom?”
“It’s upstairs,” I say with a frown.
He begins walking to the stairs, carrying me and still kissing me along the way.
I’m really heavy, I want to say, but as he easily takes the first stair and then the second, I change my mind and say “You’re really strong,” instead.
“So say the men I carried out of caves and rescued off of mountains,” he says.
I laugh and he adds, “Not to brag or anything….”
He’s not even winded when we get to the top. He turns me around and lays me down on my bed, with my legs still wrapped around him.
“What a sexy outfit you wore to greet me at your front door in,” he says, as he peels off my hoodie.
“I had no idea you were coming,” I protest.
“But you’re sure glad I did.”
“Ha,” I say, as he pulls my tank top over my head and then expertly unsnaps my bra. “That’s true.” I reach my head up to kiss his amazing lips.
“Wait, what is this?” he asks, playfully pulling away. “No backing away anymore?
“Loophole,” I say, pulling him closer to me once again. “I’m not your lawyer. You fired me, remember?”
“But I need you to be my lawyer again.”
He looks down at me, genuinely upset. It’s touching that he wants me to represent him, but I still can’t help but laugh.
“You’re in luck. A lawyer is allowed to represent a client if there’s a pre- existing sexual relationship, but she’s not allowed to become sexually involved with a client during the course of her representation if no such relationship existed before.”
“Huh?” he says, as he lightly kisses my neck. “Break that down into layman’s terms for your non- lawyer boyfriend, while he kisses your sexy neck.”
“If you’re already my boyfriend and you need my legal services, there’s nothing preventing me from representing you. But if you just walk in off the street— or walk up to me in jail— and hire me as your lawyer and then we begin a relationship, that’s bad.”
“I get it. So we have to have sex before I re- hire you.”
His tongue traces a bee line down my neck and I arch my back, craving more. I want to keep feeling him all over me, and inside me.
“And I have to ask you to be my girlfriend before I re-hire you.”
“I think you already did that.” I laugh.
“Not genuinely enough,” he says, as he stops kissing me and looks into my eyes. “Riley Morrell, I love you and would love nothing better than for you to be my girlfriend. Will you please allow me the privilege of being your boyfriend?”
“Yes,” I say, as his tongue plunges into my mouth. And I have never meant anything so sincerely.
“Good, so we’ve squared everything away to the point where it’s okay for me to do this,” he says, as he gently caresses my nipples with both hands while kissing me.
“Definitely,” I say, my tongue becoming willingly trapped up with his.