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Overruled: Chapter 9

Stanton

Some ideas hit you like a flash of lightning—a quick shock of brilliance. Like that story in grade school of how gravity first occurred to Sir Isaac Newton—with a knock to the head by an apple. Other ideas aren’t as obvious or immediate. They stew in the back of your mind, simmering slowly, then eventually boil to the forefront. And when the proverbial lightbulb goes off, you wonder why it took you so long to see it.

I went for a run to burn off the frustration of my conversation with Jenny. And somewhere along the path in front of the Lincoln Memorial it occurred to me what going home would entail. Clients would need to be passed off to other attorneys at the firm, extensions might have to be requested, Jake could take care of the apartment . . . and Sofia would be back here. In DC. Without me. Surrounded by a whole town of Richard Amsterdams who would swarm her like bears on an unclaimed honey pot.

The thought was . . . bothersome.

Sofia’s a grown woman, she can take care of herself—and she has no obligation or commitment to me. I understand this. But I’m allowed to care about her—I’m her friend. The idea that she could take up with an Amsterdam, that she may replace me with someone so fucking unworthy, because of a physical need, didn’t sit right with me at all.

Then I recalled my talk with Jenn. I went over it in my head the way a quarterback reviews last game’s tapes. And I saw clearly the tone I should’ve taken, the words I shouldn’t have said. All the worse things I would’ve said if Sofia hadn’t been there to set me straight, to pull me back from the brink. That’s when the notion occurred to me—the solution.

And the more I thought about it, the smarter it seemed. The best course of action for both of us.

When I looked up, I was outside Sofia’s townhouse. Like my feet had led me there on their own. My dick does that on occasion, and he’s never steered me wrong before.

So here we are. Bright and early Thursday morning, in front of the same townhouse, carrying Sofia’s bags out to load up the Porsche for our covert operation.

Sofia’s many, many bags.

“I think I just gave myself a hernia,” Jake complains, dropping a Louis Vuitton duffel that sounds like it’s filled with bricks. Next to five matching—and equally weighted—bags. “Are you going for a week or a year?”

Sofia emerges from the house, wearing a black sleeveless jumpsuit, loose but elegant, with a low-cut V-neck that pushes it to the front of my favorite-outfits lineup. A boxy yellow purse is slung over one arm, a floppy white-straw sunhat sits on top her shiny dark head, and big round sunglasses cover half her face. In the light of the early morning June sun, she’s nothing short of breathtaking.

Brent walks beside her holding Sherman on his leash, listening as she rattles off a litany of instructions. Her dog walker’s still going to take care of the mammoth beast during the day, but his nights will be spent in Brent’s care.

“I really appreciate this, Brent,” she says, leaning down to give the jowly dog a few hugs, a bunch of kisses, and two be a good boy’s. Then she feels Jake’s and my stare. She looks between the two of us. “What?”

I hold up a member of the luggage gathering. “Did you get Porsche confused with Winnebago?”

She takes off her sunglasses, revealing eyes clouded with genuine confusion. “Are you suggesting I overpacked?”

“I’m suggesting you need to narrow it down, Soph. Take only what you need.”

Her hand circles over the bags. “This is narrowed down.”

Pointing to rear of the car, I counter, “We’ve got one compact trunk and a backseat that’s not big enough to fit a . . . Sherman.”

“Woof.”

It sounds to me like the dog’s on my side.

Sofia frowns at him, then insists to me, “I need all of it.”

“Do you want to see what I’m bringing?” I march around and pull a battered old gym bag out from behind the driver’s-side seat. “This is my luggage.”

“And I should change my packing habits because you choose to live like a hobo? I don’t think so.” She rolls up imaginary sleeves and looks from the car to her bags then back to the car.

“These will totally fit.”

Jake shakes his head. “No way.”

Sofia grins. “Sure they will.”

“They’re not gonna fit,” I reiterate.

“Watch and learn, boys.”

Fifteen minutes later . . . they fit. Each bag strategically placed, stacked in just the right order—like one of those riddle puzzles that you can’t ever get back together again once it’s taken apart.

I’m pretty damn impressed.

“Now,” Sofia sighs, smile glowing. “Keys, please.”

She holds out her hand for the aforementioned keys. And I start to explain—to argue why it would be best for her to not actually drive my car. I’m good at the arguing.

But before I can utter a single word, her open hand turns into a single finger.

“No.”

I close my mouth. Then open it again to convince . . .

And the finger strikes again.

“Nooo.” When I scrape my teeth across my lip instead of speaking, Sofia goes on. “You asked for my help—I agreed. If I’m going to the Middle-of-Nowhere, Mississippi, I’m driving there.”

She’s good at arguing too.

I hand over the keys.

And like the Griswolds in a German car, we buckle in for the road trip.

Jake reminds us, “Drive safe. Watch out for assholes,” while Sherman barks and Brent waves.

Then, in an accented voice, Brent shouts, “Bye-bye—have fun stormin’ the castle.”

And we hit the road.

•   •   •

Within the first twenty-five miles, Sofia’s driving takes about ten years off my fucking life. It’s not that she’s a bad driver—the opposite, actually. She drives like a female Dale Earnhardt. I just wish it wasn’t my car she’s playing NASCAR with.

“Whoa!” I yell, bracing my hands on the dash as she rides straight up the ass of the truck in front of us, only to change lanes at the last minute, almost nicking the front bumper of a minivan already there.

“You’re like an old woman!” she complains, yelling above the noise of the open top, her hair whipping around like Medusa’s snakes on methamphetamine.

“And you’re like a soccer mom late for practice!” I yell back. “Slow down and enjoy the driving experience—because believe me, after today you’ll never have it again.”

Her mouth opens wide in an unrepentant laugh. Then she messes with the buttons on the steering wheel, activating her phone’s playlist that’s wirelessly connected to the speakers. And out pours Elton John’s “I Guess That’s Why They Call It the Blues,” one of Sofia’s favorites.

I can’t help but watch her and chuckle as she belts out the song, loud and shameless, swerving her head and bopping her shoulders. I’ve seen Sofia fired up, stubborn, determined, and turned on. But adorable—that’s a new look for her. And I like it. Very much.

Her expression turns sultry as she meets my eyes quickly while singing, “Rolling like thunder, under the covers . . .” I don’t have to wonder what images she’s seeing in her mind—whose images, because I know it’s snapshots of us.

When the song ends, I slide my own phone into the jack, hooking it up to the speakers.

“Hey,” she objects. “Driver picks the tunes!”

“Actually,” I correct, “shotgun controls the music, but I was being benevolent. We’ll take turns—quid pro quo.”

She nods and I scroll through my songs until I find the one. “Now this is a song to cruise down the highway to.”

And the unmistakable voice of Elvis Presley fills the car, singing “Burning Love.” I nod my head in time to the beat and snap my fingers—as close to dancing as I’ll ever get.

Sofia laughs. “You can take the boy out of the South, but you can’t take the Elvis out of the southern boy.”

I point my finger her way. “That’s very true.”

I feel her smiling eyes watching me as I sing, “Cause your kisses lift me higher, like a sweet song of a choir . . .

Pushing the hair away that threatens to strangle her, Sofia asks, “Did you name your daughter after Elvis?”

I grin, remembering. “We just liked the name—thought it was different, but pretty for a little girl.”

“Did you have a boy’s name picked out too?”

With a nod, I explain. “Henry, after Jenn’s granddad, or Jackson, after mine.”

She’s quiet a moment, shifting quickly and not holding back on the gas pedal. Then she asks, “Family’s important to you, isn’t it, Stanton?”

“Of course. When it comes down to it, family’s the only thing you can really count on. Don’t get me wrong—there’ve been days I wanted to bury my older brother alive. You’ll meet him, you’ll understand why. But . . . he’ll always be my brother.” I pause, then voice the thought that’s been tickling my brain since I opened that envelope. “That’s why I’m surprised about Jenny. She’s always been solid, you know? True north. I can’t believe she’s being so . . . fickle.”

Sofia’s voice is soft, but loud enough to make out above the wind. “Maybe she just really missed you.”

Before I reply, the speedometer catches my eye. “You better slow down, Soph.”

She brushes me off. “Don’t worry, Granny, it’s all under control.”

“The highway patrol might disagree with you, Speed Racer.”

No sooner have the words left my mouth than a siren screams from behind us, flashing lights on our tail.

Sighing but unworried, Sofia pulls over to the shoulder.

“I don’t want to say I told you so, but . . .” I let that hang while Sofia busies herself in the mirror—patting her hair, pulling her top down a bit, and pushing her tits together. “What the hell are you doing?”

“Getting us out of a ticket.” She pinches her cheeks and bites her lip, making them plumper, rosier.

I smirk. “You think it’s that easy?”

She bats her long-lashed eyes. “Please. Men are the simplest of all creatures. They’re mesmerized by the boobage ’cause they don’t have any. Turns their brains to mush. I’ll have us out of here in five minutes.”

My smirk spreads into a wide, smug grin when I catch sight of the officer of the law before Sofia does. Sofia turns to her left, eyes wide and innocent. “Is there a problem, Off— Oh. Damn.”

The policeman is actually a policewoman.

Step aside, boobage: this is a job for the Jury Charmer.

I lean across the seat, smiling seductively, my voice as smooth and persuasive as The King’s. “Good morning, Officer. What can I do for you?”

•   •   •

After a sincere apology and my promise to not let my overzealous companion anywhere near the wheel gets us out of the speeding ticket, we spend the next twelve hours making good time on the road. It’s after dark by the time we check into a Motel 6, dusty, dirty, hungry, and tired.

I have every reason to be presumptuous, so I get us one room with a nice king-size bed. Sofia heads straight for the shower, while I venture out to pick up a pizza, a six-pack for me, and a bottle of wine for her.

I walk into the room just as she’s coming out of the bathroom, running a brush through her long, wet hair, a silk dark green nightshirt clinging to her curves. Her face is free of makeup, giving her a more innocent, younger look than I’m used to seeing on her. Protective warmth unfurls low in my stomach.

She lights up when she spots the pizza. “God bless you!”

Three slices later, we sit at the cramped, round table. Nibbling a piece of crust, she asks, “So, what’s the plan? Who am I?”

I swallow a mouthful of beer. “What do you mean?”

“I mean . . . am I the new girlfriend? Your date for the wedding? Have you never seen My Best Friend’s Wedding?”

I scoff. “No, thankfully, I haven’t.”

“Should I be making Jenny jealous? A man is never as attractive as when he’s got his arm around another woman. Or I could flirt with her fiancé. Test his faithfulness. That would give you some serious ammo against him.”

I’m not sure what bothers me more—hearing a man referred to as Jenny’s fiancé, or the thought of Sofia flirting with him. “I don’t like head games. They’re too manipulative. Undignified, you know?”

Sofia shrugs. “If you want to win, sometimes you have to play dirty.”

I shake my head. “I prefer a different kind of dirty.” I drink my beer, then explain why the idea leaves such a bad taste in my mouth. “A few years ago, I was seeing a woman named Rebecca. We met at a conference.”

She chuckles. “Professional conferences are as fertile mating grounds as swinger parties.”

I laugh, agreeing with her. “I didn’t go into details with her about Jenny, but I made it clear we were strictly casual.”

“Of course you did.”

“Anyway, she said she was fine with that. We hooked up twice—and then she started pulling all kinds of sneaky shit. Dropping hints about other guys she was seeing, making plans with me, then breaking them—trying to play hard to get—while at the same time finding excuses to randomly drop by the apartment. She became clingy and her games were annoying. The whole thing just made her seem . . . pathetic. I ended it real quick.”

“Did it bother you that she disrupted the ‘strictly casual’ by falling for you, or that she tried to manipulate you into returning her feelings?” Sofia asks.

“Both, I guess.”

Sofia nods with understanding. “The direct approach it is, then. So I’m there to . . .”

“You’re there to make sure I don’t stick my foot in my mouth or up someone’s ass. To keep me on track. Jenn and I have a long history together, and we have Presley. She said she’s only been seeing James Dean for a few months, so I can’t believe that any feelings she has for him could be anywhere as strong as what she feels for me. I think this whole thing is her cry for help, really.”

“You think she’s feeling neglected?”

“Exactly. So I’ll show her she’s got my attention.”

She takes a long swig of her wine, draining half the glass. “And after that? Do you think you’ll . . . propose to Jenny?”

I’d be lying if I said the thought hadn’t crossed my mind. I rub the back of my neck. “It’s complicated. I don’t want her marrying anyone else, that’s for damn sure. But . . . Presley’s still in school; I don’t know if they’d want to move to DC now. I always pictured Jenny and me getting married . . . later. When we’re older.”

Her brows rise to her hairline. “Have you looked in the mirror lately? You are older.”

“I’m in my prime.”

“That’s kind of my point.”

I stand up. “The bottom line is, everything’s on the table. If proposing to Jenny keeps her from marrying Sausage Link—then I’ll do what I have to do.”

“Wow.” Sofia snorts. “You’re so romantic. How could any woman resist that?”

I flip her the bird and smirk. “The romance is in the doing—not the talking.”

With that case closed, I hit the shower.

•   •   •

When I emerge from the steamy bathroom, Sofia’s already under the covers. The light of the late-night news muted on the television casts the room in a quiet, shadowy glow. I drop the towel from around my hips on the floor and slide between the sheets.

She’s facing away from me, her brown hair fanned out across the pillow. And it occurs to me that we had dinner—but no dessert.

Dessert was always my favorite.

I slip down the bed, taking the covers with me, and come eye level with the silk-covered swell of Sofia’s ass. I skim the material up to her waist, baring smooth skin unhindered by panties. My heart beats faster, pumping blood lower, and I press my lips to one cheek, nipping playfully with my teeth.

“Stanton.”

It’s not an urging moan, but a crisp statement. A no.

I pull back. “What’s wrong?”

She pushes her nightshirt back down, covering herself, and turns my way. I slide back up, resting my head on the pillow, just inches from her beautiful face.

“I don’t think we should have sex while I’m home with you.”

Disappointment crashes in, like the roof of an abandoned house. “Why not?”

The possibility that Sofia might be uncomfortable about my feelings for Jenny flickers briefly, but I discount it. She’s always known about Jenn, even before we hooked up that first time, and it’s never bothered her before. Plus, the way I see it, Sofia has nothing to do with Jenny—they’re like two completely different rooms. Buildings, even. Like a barn and a house. Both important but unconnected, serving totally separate purposes.

In the dim light of the room, her eyes look darker, shiny. She opens her mouth to say something, but then closes it. She thinks for a few beats and then starts again. “You should . . . save up that passion, you know? Like a quarterback before the big game?”

I push her hair behind her ear. “And what about you?”

Sofia’s sex drive is as healthy and demanding as my own. We’ve been screwing three to four times a week for the last six months. Doesn’t seem fair that she should have to go cold turkey for the next two weeks.

Her ripe lips stretch into a smile. “I can . . . take care of myself.”

The visual that statement brings with it has my cock straining.

“You’re killing me, darlin’,” I groan.

Her hand rests on my collarbone, then slides up to my jaw, caressing the stubble. “Sorry.”

I mimic her actions, not yet ready to give up on dessert—not entirely sure she wants what she’s suggesting. I cup her cheek, then slide down to where her pulse throbs under my palm.

“Aren’t you going to miss it?” I ask.

“Miss it?”

I take her hand from my jaw and scrape the sensitive tip of her finger with my teeth before sucking it into my mouth, swirling with my tongue. I slide it out with a pop. “Aren’t you going to miss my mouth on you? The way my tongue licks you? The way I spread your legs wide, so I can slide my cock in slow—inch by inch—and you dig your nails into my leg ’cause you need it just that bad?”

She breathes heavy and quick. And she stutters, “Um . . . yes, I guess I’ll miss it.”

“What if I told you I just wanted one last kiss?” I lean closer and run my tongue across her lower lip. “One last taste of your mouth? Could I have it?”

Her eyes glaze over, seeing us behind them, entranced by my words, remembering each moan we’ve shared. Every touch.

“Yes. I’d let you have one more kiss.”

I nip at her chin, her jaw. And whisper, “What if I told you I needed one last taste? One last lick of your sweet, tight cunt? I wouldn’t make you come if you didn’t want me to . . . or I could. Would you let me?”

“Oh God . . .” she moans, but it’s all pleasure. All yearning desire. “Yes . . . yes . . . I’d let you.”

I move down her body, heating the silk with warm breath. I kiss the taut skin on her stomach, I lick the soft flesh at her inner thigh. Then I look up at her—watching her watch me.

And when I speak, there’s a desperate edge to my soft voice.

“What if I told you I had to have you again? Feel you clamping down around me so hard I see heaven. That I can’t stand the thought of not fucking those hot, breathy sounds out of you, until you scream my name? Would you let us do that one more time, even if it’s the last?”

Before I finish, her fingers are running through my hair. Tenderly pushing it back, on the brink of pulling me up to her. “Yes, Stanton, I want that too.”

I smile. “Good. ’Cause we’re not even close to home yet—so we’ve got lots of time.”

Sofia’s smile turns into a relieved giggle. She crooks her finger at me—beckoning. “Get up here and kiss me.”

•   •   •

Hours later, my hands grasp Sofia’s hips, my fingertips dig into her ass, helping her ride me. I suck on her tits, ’cause they’re beautiful and because they’re in such close proximity to my mouth.

“That’s it, baby . . . ride my cock,” I tell her, loving how it makes her gasp. I slide my hand down the tight crevice between us, to her clit—swollen and slick. I rub it slow, with just enough pressure to keep her teetering on that edge, to make her hotter, wetter all around me. Her breath hitches, and her hips thrust against my hand.

“Harder,” I order with smooth authority that doesn’t leave room for argument—even if she’d want to. I raise my hips, meeting her more than halfway. “Fuck me harder . . .”

My head presses back into the mattress as Sofia does what she’s told. For a woman who likes to be top dog at the office, she takes directions amazingly fucking well.

With her fingers in my hair, she pulls my lips up to meet hers. Then, looking into my eyes, she asks, “Is it like this with her?”

“What?” I ask, mindless, as she squeezes around my dick.

But then she stops, stills, seems more serious, tracing my jaw with her fingertip. “Is it like this with Jenny? Do you look like this?”

She places her palm on my chest, where my heartbeat goes wild.

“Do you feel like this when you’re with her?”

There’s something about the dark that makes honesty easier. And something about being surrounded by a woman, filling her, lost in her—that makes lying impossible.

“No. Not like this.”

She waits a second. The corners of her mouth pull up ever so slightly.

“Good.”

Then she starts moving her hips again, and everything else fades to black.


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