I shook my head at her. A coward was the least of what I was, but that was exactly what I didn’t want her to find out. “Stop it, Avett. This isn’t necessary or appropriate.”
She laughed but it held no humor in it. “No, Quaid, you aren’t necessary or appropriate.”
I blew out an irritated breath. We were getting a lot of looks and making a scene. I didn’t need the kind of attention we were drawing. I didn’t need stories of this little interlude making it back to the firm. I threw my arms up in exasperation and let them fall to my sides.
“I don’t know what you thought was happening here, but it was just a job. You are a client, like any other client I represent, Avett. Nothing more, nothing less.”
She laughed again and started to back away from me like I had something contagious and she was at risk of catching it. “I guess when you get paid to lie, making a living fooling judges and juries, you get really good at buying your own bullshit. Thanks for your hard work, Counselor. I’ll think about you every single time I’m living up to my potential.”
She was talking about having sex with someone else. She was talking about getting off with a guy that wasn’t me. She was talking about someone else getting ahold of all that wild and sweet and letting them get lost inside of it. She made it sound dirty and cruel. It was the way it had to be, but that didn’t mean that it didn’t burn and blister when she wheeled around on her heel and stalked off, right as Sayer Cole and a man that could give Brite a run for his money when it came to sheer size approached where I was stuck on the spot.
When they paused next to me, I turned towards them and noticed the big, bearded man’s arm where it rested on Sayer’s slim waist. It wasn’t a casual touch at all, which was surprising. Sayer was so proper, so formal and stiff, whenever I was around her. I knew that her having this man’s hands on her meant something serious, something more than a polite touch between attorney and client.
I grinned at her and the man glowered at me like he wanted to take my head off. I thought it was amusing, and I needed the break in the tension left over from my confrontation with Avett.
Sayer made a gentle quip about my skills with the ladies failing where Avett was concerned and I told her honestly, “Yeah, she’s one of my more challenging clients without a doubt. She needs to learn to listen to me or she’s going to end up in jail.” I let my gaze skim over the other man and tried to figure out how a guy that looked like he had just escaped the wilderness of Alaska had won over Sayer and all her reservations when I hadn’t been able to make a dent. I wanted to be envious, but I was still so conflicted about doing the right thing versus what I actually wanted to do with Avett that I blurted out, “She’s a pain in my ass and a spoiled brat, but I don’t think she deserves to serve hard time. I did my damnedest to get her charges dismissed.”
The lumberjack scowled at me and growled in a tone that I bet made other men run for the hills, “Avett is a good kid. She fell in with a shitty crowd. She definitely doesn’t deserve to end up in jail for what went down at the bar. She has a good family that will look out for her. Obviously, if they’re paying your bill.”
I reared back in surprise that he knew who Avett was as he offered up an explanation. I was also surprised to know he was connected to Brite, as well as Asa. For being such a metropolitan city, sometimes Denver felt like a really small town where everyone knew everyone else.
Sayer cleared her throat and introduced me to her client. He offered his hand and I wasn’t at all surprised by his firm, no-nonsense handshake. The guy wanted to hurt me, wanted to stake his claim on the gorgeous blonde standing between us, and it was there in his grasp.
I made a totally unnecessary comment about him hanging out with people prone to needing legal help and both he and Sayer shut me down, rightly so. I wasn’t sure why I was being so antagonistic, maybe to distract them from my blowup with the girl I couldn’t get off my mind. Maybe I was looking for a fight, for something to take my mind off the twist of regret and disappointment that was coiling around my insides from watching Avett walk away.
Even though I knew she was going to say no, even though I knew it was going to piss off the giant, bearded behemoth that had clearly claimed her as his, I still blurted out, “I have a dinner party coming up with the partners in a few months. I was going to call you to see if you wanted to go with me, but since we’re both here now, I figure it doesn’t hurt to throw the invite out in person. I’d love for you to be my date for the night, Sayer.” It was a lie. I was never going to call her, even if she was the ideal woman to take to the dinner party. Sayer was beautiful but she was so much more than that. Orsen would get off my case about finding a fuck buddy if I brought a woman around that seemed like she would fill the crater in my life and in my confidence that Lottie had left. My boss was looking for the old Quaid back. The problem being, the old Quaid was make-believe, and the new Quaid was having a really hard time keeping the bits and pieces of the man that wasn’t real in place.
The other man let out a low growl and I immediately felt bad for putting Sayer on the spot between the two of us. I was being an ass and it had nothing to do with her. I couldn’t blame her for the ice in her tone when she flatly turned me down and put me in my place. “No. Thank you for asking, but I already told you that I’m not interested in pursuing that kind of relationship with you. I’m sorry, Quaid.”
I kept my expression pleasant and tried to smooth things over. I ran into Sayer a lot, in and out of court, so I didn’t want the easy friendship we’d built to be destroyed because I couldn’t keep all the things trying to escape me contained. Avett had dented the shield I kept up and now the protection I was used to having had weakened. All the more reason to stay away from her. “I’m a lawyer. It’s my job to try to persuade people to see things my way. I’ll see you around. Good luck today.”
She mumbled something and hurried away with the lumberjack hot on her heels. I didn’t miss the murderous look he shot me over his shoulder before the doors to the courthouse closed.
As if I hadn’t been enough of an ass by embarrassing a good woman that I considered a friend and picking a useless fight with a guy that looked like he could bench-press my truck with one hand tied behind his back, I decided to go all-in on the rashness and scrolled through my phone until I found the email that had Avett’s personal information in it.