“We’ll start this weekend. I have total confidence in you, Soph. Plus”—he winks—“I’m a fast learner.”
As the elevator doors open, he removes his hand, and for a quick moment, I mourn the loss. “That’ll be the perfect time to settle up on our bet. Your car owes me a drive.”
“I don’t think I should be held responsible for bets I made under duress.”
My heels click on the wood floors as I scoff, “What possible duress were you under?”
Stanton stops a few feet from our office doors. He lowers his voice and leans in to whisper against my ear. “You underestimate the power of your miraculous tits. They were in my face—thinking clearly was not possible.”
I fold my arms skeptically. “Miraculous?”
He holds his hands up, palms out. “Made me want to stand up and shout amen . . . or drop to my knees and do other things.”
A small laugh escapes me. “If all breasts distract you so easily, you’ve got bigger problems than me driving your baby.”
Stanton looks me over for a moment, and his eyes grow warm. Almost tender.
“Not all breasts, Soph. Just yours.”
I’ve heard the expression ‘my heart skipped a beat,’ but I didn’t realize it can actually happen. Until this moment.
Still, I feign indifference. “Nice try. Request to be excused denied. I don’t give golf lessons to jilters.”
“Can’t blame a man for trying.”
Brent steps out of our office, on his way into Stanton’s. He stops when he sees us and raises his arm in salute. “Ah, the returning victors. Just the two people I wanted to see.”
We follow him into Stanton’s office, which he shares with Jake Becker, who’s reclined in his desk chair, perusing an open case file on his lap. With barely a glance our way Jake says, “I hear congratulations are in order. My compliments on proving that justice is dumb as well as blind.”
Stanton and Jake have known each other since law school, when Stanton was in dire need of a roommate to offset the rent and Jake was in dire need of sleeping somewhere that wasn’t his mother’s living room couch. Jake Becker doesn’t look like a lawyer. He reminds me of a heavyweight boxer or the muscle from a black-and-white mobster movie. Black hair, eyes the color of cold steel, full lips that rarely smile and utter the most caustic remarks. His frame is large and dangerously powerful, with hands that swallow mine whole when we shake. Bricklike hands that would make you pity his foolish opponent in a brawl.
Despite his intimidating appearance, Jake is the perfect gentleman. He has a dry sense of humor and he’s unwaveringly protective of those he counts as friends. I feel lucky to say I’m one of them. I’ve never seen him lose his temper or raise his voice, but I suspect his is the kind of anger that strikes with a lethal vengeance—without any warning at all.
Stanton puts his briefcase on his desk and sits down.
“Don’t get too comfortable,” Brent warns him. “We’re not staying long. It’s Friday, and your victory gives us the perfect justification for cutting out early.”
I didn’t know Brent when he was young, but he has all the makings of an epic class clown . . . or a child in desperate need of Ritalin. Always upbeat, with a joke at the ready and an endless supply of energy. He rarely sits still; even if he’s reading, he’s on his feet pacing or balanced on the edge of his desk, a file in one hand and a grip strengthener in the other.
Oh, and he doesn’t even drink coffee. Some Monday mornings I want to strangle Brent.
“I have to finish the Rivello brief,” I explain, but his head shake cuts me off.
“You can finish it tomorrow, Miss Go-getter. You’re already Adams’s new pet—don’t need to show the rest of us up that much. Besides, we have cause for celebration, and I make it a rule never to pass those up. Time for happy hour.”
I look at my watch. “It’s three o’clock.”
“Which means it’s five o’clock somewhere.” He hooks his thumb toward the door. “Let’s go, kids—find your buddy. First round’s on Jake.”
Jake’s already standing, packing his briefcase with take-home work. He twirls his finger in the air and says flatly, “Sure. Water for everyone.”
With a chuckle, Stanton loops his arm over my shoulders. “Come on, Soph. There’s a Tequila Sunrise with your name on it. We’ve earned it.”
I have an enduring love/hate relationship with Tequila Sunrises—I love them at happy hour and hate them in the morning.