As I walked towards my truck, I tapped out a quick message and told myself I would do the same for any client. It was a lie. I never texted clients and I very rarely let them have access to my cell phone number. Avett was right; I was extremely well acquainted with believing my own bullshit. I had been doing it ever since I left behind the mountains and the kid that came from nothing, had nothing, was nothing. Only, now buying into it seemed impossible, now that she had burst into my life in a blaze of bad decisions, looming felony charges. She wasn’t fooled by any of the falsehoods that made up my life careful piece by careful piece. Her honesty and accountability were contagious and I felt like I was infected.
Avett, if you need me when you get the subpoena to testify against the ex, let me know. I really am here to help and I know you are nervous about facing him. I’m offering as someone that can be your friend, not as your attorney.
I got nothing back and it made me want to throw my phone out the window as I drove downtown to where my office was located. I wanted to call her and tell her to stop being stubborn, to take the help when it was offered, to ignore the fact I pulled away and shut her down. I wanted to demand that she try and kiss me again. I would let her. I would kiss her back, and I wasn’t sure I would stop there. I wanted to touch that wild, to get lost in it. I wanted to taste the sweet, to savor it.
I was pushing through the front doors of the building, mentally preparing for my next meeting, when my phone finally pinged with a message. I literally held my breath as I turned it over to see her reply. I wasn’t surprised at her response.
I already told you: I don’t want your help.
I sighed and fired back:
Well, you have it, regardless.
I went from being absolutely sure I had nothing to give anyone to feeling a pressing need to give this confusing girl everything I had left.
I don’t want anything from you, Legal Eagle. Your job is done and I’m no longer your client and we definitely aren’t friends.
A smile tugged at my lips at the asinine nickname she lobbed at me.
My assistant said something to me that went over my head as I completely ignored her, slamming my way into my office. I threw my bag on the desk and swore as my laptop slid out once again, hitting the desk with a thud. I was going to be lucky if the damn thing still turned on since I still hadn’t gotten around to replacing it from the first fall.
At some point, between meeting Avett Walker and deciding that I was desperate to kiss her and had to capture some of her tempest, the need for perfection, the drive to keep up appearances had faded to a dull throb at the back of my brain and became nothing more than an obnoxious itch under my skin.
I’m very aware you are no longer my client, Avett. That’s why you have my cell phone number. I don’t give that out to my clients. Use it if you need it.
She didn’t send anything back but I didn’t really expect her to.
I didn’t want to be her friend or her lawyer … I wanted to be something else entirely. I also wanted to be someone else entirely, and that scared me more than the fact that I wanted to get Avett naked and under me with every single thing inside of me.
I pulled the curtains back from the window in my bedroom and peered out into the darkness in front of my dad’s house. A single black car was parked at the curb across the street, which wouldn’t typically bother me, but this car had arrived only after my dad left for the night, telling me he was going to pick my mom up from the bar and take her home. Which meant he was going to spend the night with her, something he did pretty much every single night she worked the closing shift at the bar that we used to own.
I was alone in the big house and wouldn’t have even noticed the black car if the tatted-up neighbor and his shrew of a girlfriend hadn’t gotten into a screaming match that rivaled anything I was watching on TV. To be fair, it was the guy’s leggy and mouthy girlfriend doing all the screaming, something about the wedding coming up in a few months and him not being invested enough in helping her with the seating chart. It seemed like a conversation that should be taking place calmly and privately inside the cute house across the street, but the girlfriend apparently wanted an audience. The gorgeous, auburn-haired man did a lot of nodding, a lot of placating, and a lot of apologizing, but all his reassurances made the woman louder and madder. I watched the train wreck happening from a crack in the front door, only noticing the car with the two men seated in it after the screaming girlfriend had driven off in a huff and a squeal of tires. I couldn’t believe the auburn haired guy gave her the keys to that cherry Caddy after her bullshit, but he handed them over, shook his ginger topped head, and skulked inside. I wanted to go over and tell him to cut and run. He was really cute, and no pussy was worth the kind of headache that chick was going to be for the long haul, but I got distracted by the men that were, very noticeably, staring right at my house.
I slammed the door shut, threw the bolt, and slid the safety chain in place. I tried to tell myself I was being paranoid, that maybe they were waiting for one of the neighbors to get home or something, but it was after ten and any reason I could come up with for them to be sitting across from my house, in the dark, seemed to fall short. I sprinted from room to room, switching on all the lights, until the house was practically glowing. I left the light in my bedroom off as I tiptoed across the floor and made my way to the window. I squinted into the dark to see if I could make out any actual faces on the people in the car, but all I could see was the brilliant red of the lit end of a cigarette glowing in the pitch-black interior of the vehicle.
I snatched my cell phone off the charger next to my bed and scrolled to my dad’s number. I was getting ready to hit the call button when I realized he would come running, even if there was a perfectly reasonable explanation for the car to be there. I would ruin his evening with my mom, who still hadn’t forgiven me for my most recent litany of poor choices, and they would both be disappointed I interrupted their limited time together, and my mom would have one more reason to shake her head and give me that look of silent judgment and recrimination I felt like she had been directing at me forever. I needed to make things right with the woman that raised me and I needed to let my dad have his time with her. That was the right thing to do. I could figure out a way to handle this on my own.
I bit my lip and tapped the phone against my leg. It seemed like it had been hours but it had only been a few minutes. Still, the car and the men inside of it hadn’t moved. I thought about calling Asa. He would also come running as soon as I told him I was freaked out. The blond southerner seemed to have an uncanny ability to show up when things were at their worst, and even if he wasn’t exactly my biggest fan, he seemed determined to keep my ass out of the fire since I was so prone to dancing in the flames. I think I reminded him of some of the poor choices he had made when he was younger. He had it in his head he could help me be a better person by teaching me from his mistakes. The only problem with calling Asa was that he would tell my dad. As soon as I got off the phone with him, he would call Brite, then both of them would show up for something that could be nothing, and I would feel like an idiot for wasting everyone’s time.