Home > Sustained (The Legal Briefs #2)(14)

Sustained (The Legal Briefs #2)(14)
Author: Emma Chase

For the apparently crucial date number two.

And if I’m lucky, maybe I’ll get my dick wet by the end of the month.


When I get home, I can’t stop my thoughts from turning long and hard to a certain young, auburn-haired aunt. Emphasis on the word hard.

She was feisty—I liked that. Strong-minded but . . . definitely soft in that attractive, feminine way.

She was also way in over her fucking head.

I wonder how she handled Rory after I left—did she ground the little smartass? Make him do extra chores, maybe, like weeding the garden or mowing the lawn? I can say from experience, manual labor leaves a bitch of an impression on even the most stubborn punks. And their lawn was massive.

Grabbing my laptop, I Google Chelsea’s brother, Robert, for reasons I can’t explain. But the pull of information literally at my fingertips is too strong to resist.

Most lobbyists are bottom-feeders. Smarmy, self-important deal makers who are drunk on their power over the powerful—not unlike the pencil pushers who run the Department of Motor Vehicles. But, as I told his sister, Robert McQuaid had a reputation as a straight shooter. A good guy who genuinely cared about the cause he was paid to champion.

There’s a wealth of information about his career—and his death. He was at a charity dinner with his college sweetheart turned wife of seventeen years, Rachel. On their way home, a truck driver fell asleep at the wheel and veered into their lane, too quickly to avoid a head-on collision. His obituary lists his professional accomplishments and his survivors: six children, Riley, Rory, Raymond, Rosaleen, Regan, and Ronan, as well as a sister, Chelsea, of Berkeley, California. There are pictures—a few of the kids through the years, with their attractive parents at various family-friendly events around DC. And one of Chelsea, head bowed, in a black dress and large dark glasses, beside a double grave site. Looking tragically beautiful.

And very much alone.

Feeling like a fucking creeper, I end up closing my laptop and going to bed.

• • •

Like I said before, I’m a fan of routine. Strict time management and an impenetrable schedule. I spend Sunday morning at Sofia and Stanton’s, having a breakfast of coffee and delicious Brazilian cheese balls that she makes so very well. Brent jokes about popping my dating cherry and recounts our mutually sexless evening. Stanton mentions that Presley has a few days off from school next week and is coming for a visit.

It’s just after noon when I leave their town house and head straight for the Brookside Retirement Home, like I do every Sunday. Because that crotchety old judge who pulled my fifteen-year-old ass out of the fire—who literally saved my life, straightened me out, and made me believe I could actually be a man of significance? That’s where he is.

I don’t like being beholden to anyone. I don’t have many debts. But the few I do owe, I gladly pay.

“Good afternoon, Jake.”

“Hi, Mildred.”

“Hey, Becker.”

“How’s it going, Jimmy?”

It’s important to stay in the good graces of the lower staff at any facility—be it a hospital, law firm, school, or retirement home. They’re the ones who do the actual work, and if shady shit is going down, they’ll be the ones who let the cat out of the bag, while the owner and upper-echelon administrators are focused on damage control. The staff at Brookside and I are on a first-name basis. I sign in at the front desk and greet the orderlies and nurses traveling down the hall, some carrying trays of medication to the private rooms, others pushing their feeble charges in wheelchairs to their physical therapy sessions, art classes, or daily afternoon bingo games.

I’ve played bingo with these senior citizens. They take that shit seriously. They might be old, but if you get I-22 when they were waiting for B-6? They’ll bust your fucking kneecaps as quick as any backstreet bookie, without an ounce of remorse.

Brookside is a private facility, top of the line. Its rooms are tasteful, generically comfortable, like a hotel chain. Its employees are educated and well compensated, so they treat the clients here with the respect, care, and dignity they deserve. Other places, for those on public assistance, those who don’t have pensions or family with the funds to pay, they’re . . . well . . . let’s just say there’s nothing golden about spending your “golden years” in a damn warehouse.

I step into the Judge’s sunlit room. He’s in a leather reading chair by the window, dressed in tan slacks and a burgundy sweater, brown loafers on his feet. His thick, gray hair is clean and combed neatly.

His name is Atticus Faulkner, but to me, he’s the Judge. He wasn’t always the way he is today. Ten years ago, he cut an imposing figure—tall, strong for his seventy years, and active, with green eyes that seemed to see straight into your soul. He was a living, breathing lie detector with a brilliantly intimidating legal mind.

And he was my hero.

Everything I wanted to be. Everything my real father never was.

But life’s a bitch sometimes. Six years ago, he was diagnosed with advanced Alzheimer’s. He’d done an impeccable job of covering the early signs. Little tricks—hidden notes and reminders—so no one could tell he didn’t know what day it was. Sometimes he’d walk home from the courthouse, but only because he couldn’t remember where he’d parked his car. Then, later, he’d spend hours in a coffee shop because he’d forgotten his address.

I was busy then—practically just out of law school—making my bones. I should’ve seen that something was off, but I missed it. So, eventually, when he didn’t have any other choice and told me what was going on, it felt like things went downhill really fast. And the hard-ass I knew, the man I feared in the best sense of the word, just . . . slipped away, practically overnight.

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