Harlow a military bad bo.., p.28

Harlow: A Military Bad Boy Romance: The Bradford Brothers, page 28


Harlow: A Military Bad Boy Romance: The Bradford Brothers

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  “We have, Your Honor,” says the foreman, looking directly at me with a kind smile.

  “In the matter of the State of New Mexico versus Jensen Bradford, for the charge of assault and battery, do you find the Defendant guilty or not guilty?”

  “Not guilty,” says the foreman resolutely, and applause erupts from the gallery.

  “That’s my boy,” my mom shouts, as if we’re at my high school wrestling tournament instead of my trial for a crime I was just acquitted of.

  And yet, her pride and enthusiasm tugs at my heart. My mom and I haven’t ever been close, but it was amazing of her to show up to support me. And I have Riley to thank for that. I look over at her with love and tenderness as the judge bangs his gavel and says, “Quiet in the courtroom! Mr. Bradford, you are free to leave. Members of the jury, the State of New Mexico thanks you for your service. You are free to leave as well.”

  Free to leave. Free to leave this mess behind me and figure out what I want to do with my future. Looking over once again at Riley, I know I want it to involve her.

  An hour later, we’re at Cecilia’s Café: Mom, Ramsey, Harlow, Riley and me. If you had asked me just a month ago if I ever thought this would happen, I would have said no fuckin’ way. And yet here we are: a big happy family, although still dysfunctional of course, because we’re the Bradfords.

  “So Ma, you done seeing that Bill Warner guy for good now?” asks Harlow.

  “Well maybe every now and then, whenever I’m lonely or need a little company…” Mom starts, but Ramsey cuts her off as the rest of us groan our disapproval.

  “Mom, you have to stop going around dating losers,” Ramsey chides.

  I can’t believe that everything has turned out so well, both with my case and with my personal life. I squeeze Riley’s leg under the table, which is a variation of pinching myself to be sure I’m not dreaming. To my delight, she squeezes my hand, and then moves it a bit closer to her inner thigh, seductively.

  “How about we get the check?” I ask everyone at the table. To Riley, I wink, signaling that this is my cue for us to get out of here and start the one- on- one celebration we deserve.

  Ramsey reaches for his wallet but I shake my head. “I’ve got it,” I boast. “I didn’t have to pay a cent for my lawyer here, so she’s worth at least a lunch.” Everyone laughs. “No one can accuse me of buying witness testimony after the fact.” I nod at my mother. “And I really do appreciate your support,” I say to my brothers. “You’ve earned yourselves a free meal as well.”

  “Hell, I should have ordered the filet mignon,” Harlow jokes.

  “So now that you’ve been officially acquitted, do you think you’ll be coming back to the Air Force?” asks Ramsey, switching the conversation to serious mode, with a curious look on his face. “Joining us again in Special Ops?”

  “Actually, I think this is a case of getting all that you wanted, and then realizing it’s not really what you wanted,” I say, and sneak a glance at Riley. She holds onto my fingers tight underneath the table.

  “I like the contracting gig, and I like that I don’t have to be deployed.” I kiss Riley on the cheek. “I want to stay put with my former lawyer and new girlfriend for a while.”

  “Oooooh, Jensen has a girlfriend,” Harlow chides. “Never thought I’d see the day.”

  “That’s enough syrupy sweet stuff,” my mom breaks in, looking annoyed.

  I glance at her, afraid she’ll get upset out of jealousy and ruin the lunch like she has ruined so much before in my life, but she doesn’t say anything further.

  Ramsey saves me by changing the subject slightly.

  “I might take a look at joining you in the private sector,” he says.

  I look at him, aghast. “That would be great!”

  I want to explore the idea with him further, but the check arrives and I’m anxious to explore something else first.

  Outside, I give Riley a gift I bought for her prior to today’s trial— a motorcycle helmet.

  “It’s perfect,” she says, as she runs her hands along the pink edges.

  “I don’t know about that, but it’s safe,” I tell her. “I wouldn’t want anything to happen to you.”

  I pull her close and kiss her.

  “Thank you for always protecting me,” she says. “I guess I’m officially a biker’s girlfriend. Can’t say I ever really thought that would be the case.”

  “Don’t worry,” I joke back, rubbing my nose against hers. “I never thought I’d have a lawyer girlfriend.”

  I give her a ride on my bike to my place. It’s a small, sparsely decorated apartment that prompts the expected jokes about it being my “bachelor pad.”

  “Are you saying you want to leave?” I ask her, with a wink, as we’re standing in my living room looking at my framed poster of Walter White from Breaking Bad as a Dia de Los Muertos skull.

  “Not at all,” she says, and kneels down in front of me, just like that, on the carpet on my living room floor.

  “Woah!” I say, surprised but impressed. I knew she was a good catch, but this is beyond my wildest expectations.

  “Shhhhh,” she says, as she takes my belt off and begins unzippering my fly.

  “But you just got me out of a big jam,” I tell her. “I should be the one thanking… and spoiling you…”

  “No,” she says, looking up into my eyes in a very genuine stare. “You got me out of a big jam I didn’t even know I was in. Thank you.”

  She removes my pants and runs her hand up and down my shaft, while staring deeply into my eyes. When she takes me inside of her it feels like ecstasy. Fireworks go off in my mind.

  She is good at what she does, and she does it until I’m on the edge of pleasure. Gasping for breath, I pull her head back so that she is looking straight at me.

  “Stop,” I tell her. “I want to be inside you.”

  “Are you sure you don’t want me to…”

  “There’s plenty of time for that another time,” I tell her. “Right now, I just want to take you.”

  She looks around, as if expecting me to carry her to my bedroom the way I’d carried her up the stairs to hers.

  “Right here,” I tell her, pulling off her blazer.

  She moans, and I’m pleased that having me in her mouth turned her on so much. I unbutton her silk blouse and then lift her tank top over her head. Finally I unsnap her bra.

  “So many clothes,” I complain, but she’s keeping me ready with her hand. Not to mention the look of her ample breasts and already- erect nipples.

  “They made me dress like this to get you off your criminal charge,” she jokes.

  “And I’m making you undress to get me off in a different way.”

  “Very funny,” she says, as she pulls my own shirt over my head.

  I grab the condom I’ve been keeping in my wallet since the first night we got it on, while she shimmies out of her skirt. She’s sitting on her bottom on my living room floor, and I pull off her pantyhose slowly and seductively.

  “Turn around,” I tell her, once we’re both naked except for her panties. “I love that you wore a thong today. You just knew that we’d be doing this. I want to see that amazing ass of yours.”

  She gets on all fours in front of me, and it’s exactly how I’ve been wanting to see her. I trace my fingers along the curves of her ass, and then pull her panties to the side.

  “You have the most gorgeous body I’ve ever seen,” I tell her, as I put on the condom and then insert myself into her.

  “Right back at you,” she says, and then groans once she feels me enter her.

  I hold onto her hips while I thrust in and out of her, establishing a mind-blowing rhythm between us.

  “Jensen,” she says, as she tightens around me, and it causes me to orgasm along with her.

  “I’m coming,” she says, as I feel her tighten her legs and wrap her insides around me.

  “Me too. Me too.”

  We collapse on the living room
floor with my arms around her and my head on her breasts.

  “You’re perfect,” she says. “I love you.”

  “I love you too. More than you could ever know.”

  Chapter 25

  “Here goes nothing,” I say, as I finish setting the table at my house. I stare at the three empty seats, fearing how this evening’s dinner will go.

  “It will be fine.”

  Jensen comes up behind me and gives me a peck on the top of my head, his strong hands massaging my shoulders. In the week since the trial, we’ve been spending nearly every day together. Although it seems impossible, we just keep getting closer and closer.

  “And what if it’s not?” I spin around to face him, wanting him to see how serious I think this is.

  “So what?” he asks with a cavalier shrug. Then I see the worry cross his face. “I mean, what’s the worst that can happen?”

  “Look Jensen, you said that your family is ‘crazy’ and I think I know what you were getting at…”

  “Gee, thanks,” he says, and laughs.

  “Sorry. I didn’t mean it that way. I just mean that from what you’ve told me and from my interactions with her, your mom has… some… issues… and I know you’ve had a sordid past with everything she did to your dad and your brothers. And I know things with your brothers don’t always run smoothly even though for the most part you’re close.”

  This time he tenses up and now I’m the one comforting him. I wrap my arms around him in a tight hug.

  “I’m not trying to upset you. I’m just trying to say…”

  “That it’s obvious how fucked up my family is.”

  “Well, my point is that my family is crazy too. I guess every family is in its own way, but mine is more… lurking beneath the surface. Everything on the outside looks nice and perfect, but the second someone challenges it, everything starts to boil up to the surface, if not just plain erupt, and I’m afraid…”

  “You’re afraid that dating someone like me will cause your parents to go ballistic,” he finishes my awkward run- on sentence for me.

  “I… yeah. I do want you to know that no matter what, I want to be with you. But I’m not sure that it’s going to be easy.”

  “That’s fine,” he says, kissing me once again. “That’s all I needed to hear. And by the way, nothing worth fighting for is ever easy to obtain.”

  “Oh sage wise one,” I joke, as the doorbell rings.

  Here goes nothing.

  “Hello, Dear,” says my mom, as soon as I open the door.

  She’s holding a pie, and my dad and sister Amy are behind her.

  “Hi Mom, come on in,” I say, and step aside to let them through.

  “This is my boyfriend, Jensen,” I say. “Jensen, this is Mom, Dad and Amy.”

  “Well, hello,” says my mom, as if she doesn’t know what else to say. I watch my dad’s eyes size up Jensen’s tattoos while his mouth curls into a distasteful snarl, as Jensen shakes my mom’s hand and then moves on to meet my father.

  “Jensen, huh?” asks Amy, when it’s her turn to meet him. “An interesting name for an interesting choice for my sister.”

  Her tone is both flirtatious and condescending, a combination that only Amy can pull off. Her long blonde hair glides along her skinny back as she turns away from Jensen, and I swear she wiggles her almost non- existent ass. I think about calling her out but I don’t want to ruin the evening before it even begins.

  We head to the kitchen where I serve the chicken cacciatore I made earlier today.

  “Very nice, Riley,” Mom says approvingly.

  “What happened to the low carb diet?” Amy bursts out.

  “I ditched it.”

  I take a defiant bite of my dinner. Amy sizes Jensen up again, and he graciously says, “I don’t think Riley needs to be on a diet. She looks great the way she is.”

  “Thanks, honey.” I smile and squeeze his hand under the table. He squeezes back reassuringly.

  I can tell that Amy wants to ask how a completely in shape guy could like a fatty like me. It’s something I wondered myself, before something changed. At some point I realized that Jensen was really into my body, and that I should be too. And I feel confident enough around him to wear the spaghetti strap dress I’m wearing tonight.

  Amy doesn’t ask that question. I think even she knows that would be taking things a bit too far. Instead, she asks, “So what happened to Brian?”

  “Amy dear, that’s inappropriate,” Mom says.

  “But what did happen to him?” asks my Dad.

  “I ditched him too,” I shrug.

  Just before Jensen knocked him out cold, I think, but don’t say. I decide a half-lie is better than the whole truth. He is technically the one who dumped me, but there’s no way I’d want him back.

  “Riley, you know I respect your choices but this is a bit of a shock to us,” my mom says. “One day we’re at the Albuquerque Country Club with your fiancé and his father who is the head of the firm you work at, and the next day we’re…”

  “At my house with my new boyfriend?” I ask them. “And by the way, it’s the firm I used to work at.”

  My father sets his silverware down and clears his throat. I gulp, scared yet proud of myself for putting it out there right away. I could anticipate that asking about my job and career was next on their agenda, and I wanted to be in control of the conversation, for once.

  “I’m sorry, what?” Mom asks, her smile fading.

  “This is great entertainment, Riley,” says Amy, as she stuffs her face. “And to think I almost went to the movies instead.”

  “Please stay out of this, Amy,” Dad says. “Riley, what are you talking about?”

  “The firm and I weren’t a good fit,” I tell him. “I don’t want to work there— or anywhere like there— ever again.”

  Jensen squeezes my hand again and I turn my head slightly to see that he’s smiling proudly at me. And I’m proud of myself for saying exactly what I mean, for once. And even for knowing exactly what I mean.

  At lunch after his trial, Jensen said that he had gotten everything he wanted and then realized it wasn’t actually what he wanted. For me, the reverse is true. I didn’t get anything I wanted, but then I realized I hadn’t really wanted any of it anyway. I had wanted something different. I had wanted this.

  “I don’t understand,” Mom says. “What are you going to do?”

  “I’m going to sleep in later than 5 am, and go to bed later than 9:30 pm. I’m going to feel much more relaxed not worrying whether I’ve impressed enough of the right partners for my next evaluation, or whether I’ve accidentally impressed a partner who’s on the outs with the firm, and somehow gotten caught up in firm politics without even knowing what happened…”

  “She meant for work, Riley,” Dad says, as if I’m an idiot and didn’t know that. “What are you going to do for work?”

  “I work for Veterans’ Legal Alliance, representing former members of our military,” I tell him.

  “Tell me that’s not how you met Jensen!” Amy sputters.

  I glare at her. She’s just jealous because she can’t avoid drama long enough to keep a boyfriend, and she has no career at all, and still lives with our parents. She may be the standard definition of beautiful, but for once I feel confident that I’ve got a lot more going for me than she does.

  “You shagged your client! You did!” Amy gloats.

  I ignore her and continue.

  “I also have my own office, downtown, and I’m going to start to take on some of my own clients.”

  “But how are is any of this going to be enough to make a living on?” my dad asks. “I mean, a real living? And what about all the money we invested into your future? Law school cost a fortune.”

  “It was money well spent, Dad,” I tell him, and reach out to put my hand on top of his. He looks down at it, surprised. He and I have never had the best relationship. “Thank you for putting me through college and law school. I real
ly appreciate it. I am enjoying being a lawyer now more than I ever have in the past.”

  Mom and Dad look at each other, completely perplexed. I can just see them saying to each other telepathically: “This is not the Riley we are used to!”

  But I’m sick of bending over backwards to please them, going along with everything they want and basing my life decisions off of their demands. I’m on a new path, and they can either come with me or stay where they are, stomping their feet at me for not going exactly the way they want me to go.

  “How about some pie?” Mom asks.

  “What?” Amy says, quickly turning to face Mom.

  “Well, why not?” I say, and stand up to retrieve everyone’s plate.

  “I’ll get it,” says Jensen, getting up with me, and so I go to get the pie.

  I can practically see Amy fuming and storming inside. She is used to our parents lecturing me and even belittling me like she does. She’s the pretty one and as spoiled as can be. But I’m the smart one and the family expectations ride on my shoulders.

  “We’re only so tough on you because we care so much, and know you’re capable of so much,” they’ve told me many times before. But this time they don’t know what to say. They had no idea I’m capable of being myself. And neither did I, before I met Jensen.

  Later, after they’ve finally left, Jensen and I are laying in my bed, cuddling.

  “That wasn’t so bad,” he says, and then laughs.

  “Stop it!” I laugh too, so hard that I snort.

  “I totally get what you mean now, about your crazy family. They’re as bonkers as mine. Or maybe more so.”

  “I’m just glad they didn’t completely flip out at me,” I admit.

  My biggest fear was that they would disown me, but now that I think about it, that wouldn’t be so bad, as long as I still have Jensen.

  “It’s because you stood up for yourself,” he says, “and I was so proud of you. It was plain as day that they aren’t used to it and weren’t expecting it. You took them by surprise, and you had the upper hand. Even over that bratty sister of yours.”

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