Home > Sustained (The Legal Briefs #2)(10)

Sustained (The Legal Briefs #2)(10)
Author: Emma Chase


“Are you, like, the gardener’s kid?”

Rory frowns with confusion. “No. It’s my parents’ house.” Then, softer, under his breath, “Was . . .”

He doesn’t elaborate but instead hops out of the car, backpack in tow. I take long strides to catch up and we stand before the massive oak door. I put my hand on the back of his neck, just to be ready in case he makes a run for it. Then I ring the doorbell.

A protracted string of yappy barks ensues immediately after. There’s a shuffling from inside, then the door swings open.

And the air rushes out of my lungs.

She’s five five, maybe five six, with long, toned legs in snug black leggings. The outline of a trim waist teases beneath the cotton blouse, with buttons at the top that strain to encase full, firm, perfect breasts. Her neck is elegant, creamy pale, and her face—Jesus—it puts the Victoria’s Secret Angels to shame. A stubborn chin; high cheekbones; plump, ripe, gloss-free lips; an impish nose; and two ice-blue eyes that sparkle like fucking diamonds on a sunny winter day. Multifaceted auburn hair is piled high on her head, with a few escaping strands around her face. Dark-rimmed, square glasses frame those striking eyes, giving a sexy-academic, sultry-librarian kind of impression.

I try to swallow, but my mouth just went dry.

“Rory,” she breathes with relief, focusing on the boy beside me. And then she’s pissed. “Where have you been? You were supposed to be home hours ago! And why isn’t your phone on?”

The kid pulls out of my grasp, walks across the black-and-white-tiled foyer, and marches straight up the stairs, not even looking at her.

“Rory! Hey!” she calls after him. Futilely.

Her knuckles turn white where they grip the door frame, then she turns to me. “Hello?”

It’s more of a question than a greeting.

“Hi,” I respond, just staring. Enjoying the view.

Fuck, I’m horny.

Then I shake my head, snapping out of the idiot stupor of being denied sex for too long.

I start again, extending my hand. “Hi. I’m Jake Becker. I’m an attorney.” It’s always good to volunteer this fact because—as with police officers—there’s an instant trust that’s afforded to those of us in legal professions, even if it’s not always deserved.

“Chelsea McQuaid.” My hand encapsulates her small one as she shakes it with a warm, firm grip.

“I drove Rory home.”

Her head tilts and her lips purse with suspicious curiosity. “Really?”

“I need to speak with you about your son, Mrs. McQuaid,” I tell her, going with the most logical connection between her and the would-be thief.

Her eyes examine me and I can see the judging wheels turning. Debating whether to, in this day and age, let an imposing, unknown man into her house. I have no doubt that my expensive suit and dark good looks help tip the scales in my favor.

“All right.” She steps back. “Please come in, Mr. Becker.”

I step over the threshold. “Jake, please.” She closes the door behind me, reaching up to engage a child safety lock at the top. Then a tiny blur of long caramel-and-chocolate fur surges out from behind her and pounces on my shoes, sniffing and barking, sticking out its chest and snarling.

A clear case of small-dog syndrome if I ever saw one.

“It, stop it!” Chelsea scolds.

The corner of my mouth quirks. “Your dog’s name is It?”

“Yeah.” She smiles. And it’s fucking stunning. “Cousin It. Like The Addams Family?”

It gets more riled, looking like a mop gone insane.

I meet her eyes. “About your son—”

“Nephew, actually. I’m Rory’s aunt.”

My ears perk up. Because by the look of her naked hand, there’s a good chance she’s Rory’s single aunt.

Best news I’ve heard all damn day.

A baby’s wail comes from another room, piercing and demanding. Chelsea turns her head. “Could you come with me? I have to . . .”

She’s already walking and I’m right behind her.

We pass by the arched entryways of a library and a conservatory with a grand piano, then go into a spacious den with a huge fireplace and cathedral ceiling. The furnishings are tasteful and clean but in earth tones, warm. Dozens of framed photographs of children cover every wall. Chelsea pushes through a door into the kitchen, where the crying gets louder.

The kitchen is about the size of my whole apartment. It has hardwood floors, mahogany cabinets, and a granite-countered center island with a second sink, and it’s chock-full of stainless-steel appliances. A round kitchen table for eight fits in an alcove backed by French doors that open out to a stone patio and garden, with a cobblestone path that leads to an inground pool farther back.

An infant seat sits inside a mesh portable crib beside the island with a vocal, unhappy passenger. “Here ya go, sweetie,” Chelsea coos, bending over to pick up the pacifier that’s fallen to the baby’s stomach and plugging it back into his mouth.

At least I think it’s a him—it’s wearing dark blue pants and a shirt with boats on it, so, yeah, it’s male. She caresses his blond, peach-fuzzy head and the crying is replaced with satisfied sucking.

An immense silver pot bubbles on the stove and the air smells of heat and broth.


I turn to my right, where a toddler—this one definitely a girl, with golden wispy hair and a stained pink T-shirt—sits on the floor, surrounded by books and blocks.

“Hi,” I answer, straight-faced.

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