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Downing Abbey - Chapter 1

One hot lawyer, one demanding brunette, one case that brings them together.

(Abigail)

If I had known there’d be eight inches of hot lawyer inside of me before the end of the week, I’d have asked to take Monday off. Instead of making that call, I’m about to walk into a law firm. But first, some context explaining why I’m buried six-feet under a mountain of crap. Gender equality is a fantasy, just like karma.

There I am, two weeks ago. I’m doing my deep breathing after washing off the last of my smudged mascara and runny nose. The right amount of pride and stubbornness held my chin up and rolled my shoulders back as I splashed cold water over my face. I was sure as shit not letting that asshole see that he got to me. Tears were normal, but what happened that day in the store manager’s office was not.

It felt innocent at first – smiles and laughs and an open air for discussion. But big flapping red flags should have been raised when he said, ‘let’s lock the door while we discuss salary.’ Intuition, you have failed me.

I never thought of Brett as a slime ball, which is why telling me to bend over his desk to get my deserved raise was a shock. His hairy sausage fingers cupped my ass but in response I left him in a pile on the floor with four knuckles to the throat and a swift kick to the nether region.

Growing up with two red-blooded brothers, I learned to keep my guard up at all times. Dad thought one step further. My mom believed that a girl learning mix-martial arts was wasteful, but thankfully my dad’s persistent paranoia won that discussion. He was the one who taught me to use my lower center of gravity as an advantage, and it wasn’t long before I was tossing my brothers along with their egos.

My parents raised me under the impression that girls could do anything as good or better than guys, and I believed it every time I threw a man twice my size down on his ass. My dad was my biggest supporter, driving me around competition after competition in a rusted road warrior of a Toyota Tacoma. Before that dented pickup was reduced to scrap it ushered me to eight national gold trophies – as my dad said, ‘If you’re not first, you’re last!’ Blogs were written, articles were printed, and I was a natural in front of a camera. I was expected to be the next Ronda Rousey, and a girl could get used to that kind of attention.

But by the time I was making my way across that stage for my high school diploma, reality hit me. I felt like I was being forced into something, and I don’t say yes to no options. So, I chose to go to university, and though my father wanted me to pursue a career in combat, my university sorority had an incredible group of ladies who turned me onto fashion.

The freshman fifteen was real for me, but instead of gaining fifteen pounds of fat, I lost fifteen in muscle. For the first time I can remember, I had curves like a woman, and I felt amazing dressing that up. Instead of boxing gloves and training bras my wardrobe was now filled with Prada handbags and Burberry trench coats. My inner goddess was finally able to run wild, and I even changed my major from sports science to business – I was going to run my own clothing store. Take on the world. Do something amazing that didn’t give me concussions or broken hands.

After graduation, New York was the place to be so my two closest gals and myself squeezed into a four hundred square-foot one bedroom overlooking Central Park, a place we named “The Bunker”. The dream was alive, but I had to get some experience first.

Starting as a sales associate at Bloomingdale’s, I was underpaid and overworked, but I always showed up on time with my eyebrows plucked and armpits waxed. My decade of training on the mats and a minor in psychology allowed me to read body language and figure out exactly what people wanted. If you look carefully, you’ll see beneath people’s mask, where they show their true selves in fleeting moments. I may take an extra second to respond, but when I do, it’s usually the right words in the right order. Translation: I’m a damn good saleswoman.

I led our store in sales, leveraging that to transition from sales associate to sales manager to executive sales manager in record time, and also went through more heels than I can count – the warranty staff at Brian Atwood even nicknamed me “Frankenstein” because I kept calling back. The money was great, and I’m able to afford my own place in Soho a few minutes from the store, but the real gold mine was the experience.

I thought I knew hustle. Being a sales associate walking ten miles a day in the same twelve hundred square-foot room was tiring, but management positions will kick your ass if you keep it still too long. I was a captive to my emails and a slave to my schedule. Marketing campaigns over dinner. Order spreadsheets over breakfast. Weekends were reserved for follow-up with major clients.

There were several nights behind closed doors crying into pillows with half a pint of Häagen-Dazs, but I never showed my staff that side of me. Mom told me something that I’ll never forget: ‘A successful woman is fierce and respected and powerful, until the moment you let them see you cry.’ Yeah, my mom wore the pants in the relationship.

People and sales are the two most important parts of retail, and I’m good at handling both. Add that to my insatiable desire to solve any problem in front of me and it makes for an aggressive style that sometimes ends in self-neglect. While my besties were settling down with their forever beaus and sparking discussions of tying the knot, I had no time to even consider men.

But so what? This was my dream. I’m tripling down and betting all on black, or red, or whatever is the trendiest color in fashion this month. So what if I can’t catch the latest blockbuster movie or find a week out of the year to travel? I could see the world when I’m retired, and when that time comes, I don’t want to be the old fart telling herself what could have been. I didn’t need a man-child to keep me happy – I was sated with a healthy collection of vibrators powerful enough to beat eggs, and I allowed them to do just that.

I worked fast. The day after grope-gate, I found a lawyer who slammed Brett with a sexual harassment lawsuit. Boom. I thought I was playing a game I couldn’t lose. Restore justice to the universe. My name is Abigail May and I’m not going to be another non-reported statistic. Forty-eight hours later, he cut my high horse off at the knees when he slammed me with a counter for defamation. My wimp of a lawyer dropped me when he couldn’t piece together enough evidence, leaving me with a case that he told me I couldn’t win and a counter lawsuit demanding five years of my pay. In short, I was twenty miles up Shit Creek without a paddle, and I was latent with anxiety. Good thing anxiety can be cured with scotch and chocolate rum balls.

A general refusal for failure and an afternoon on Google provided answers. In The Big Apple, there were only three firms that had a reputation for taking on tough cases like mine, and two of them weren’t known for handling sexual harassment. That left me with Brimstone & Associates, a relatively new but rising firm that’s owned by a generation of Brimstone siblings. It’s in a lavish building touching the clouds, one of those places you look up at and say, ‘whoa.’

They’re a family of lawyers, though their name is more known on the west coast. While the siblings all have sterling records, there is only one who has enough experience dealing with cases like mine. So after a box of the best from Macron Mama and about twenty phone calls later to his receptionist, I snuck onto the calendar of Lucas Brimstone with her help under the promise that I would ‘stop my damn calling and let her work.’ Yes ma’am.

In kick-ass Jimmy Choos and a tight two-piece navy business suit, I made my way up to the thirty-first floor, where I was about to meet the man that would determine my future. When the elevator doors opened, I took a second to admire how sexy the shoes looked on my feet, and stepped out of the elevator with an easy smile over my face. It was impossible to tell looking at me, but I felt annoyingly nervous that morning, which is why I went with these heels.

Double the straps meant double the security meant double the confidence. I was never great at math and this wasn’t calculus class, but that sure as shit added up to me.

__________________

 

(Lucas)

‘You won’t believe what Garrett has been up to,’ Jillian said. I shook my head when I heard that name. Garrett. Not dad. Never dad. In fact, I don’t even remember the last time any of us called him anything but his first name. All things considered, it beats what we want to call him: Pain in the ass.

Mondays usually began with three coffees sugared to give a toddler pre-diabetes, but I haven’t had the time to eat my melting scone, much less go for coffee. Where the fuck is that office assistant? It’s not even lunchtime yet but I’ve already watched one client rip journalist asshole on national television while forty-five minutes was devoted playing therapist to another on his fourth failed marriage. This shit wasn’t Law and Order.

‘Nothing surprises me anymore about him, but try me,’ I sighed. I noticed the mountain of files Simco was trying to drown me in at the corner of my desk, and it looked like Chinese takeout in the office at midnight.

Again.

I was barely keeping my head above water and the last thing I needed was some more bullshit from Garrett, but I’d rather know about fires now so they didn’t turn into infernos later. ‘How bad is it?’

‘It’s bad. Like kick you in the teeth when you’re down kind of bad,’ she growled. ‘He took on three new cases, all pro bono. Two of them are shoe-ins for trial. Why? Just why?’

The pen in my hand snapped in two. I held the broken pieces in derision, knuckles whitening as I assaulted the jagged plastic. The muscles in my arm flexed against the tailored dress shirt, and I could feel the prickling stress mounting up my neck.

‘Is he insane? Our associates are already working twelve-hour days, so we’ll have to parking lot something else that’s actually bringing in money!’ I barked. ‘There’s no time for a charity event. None. Zero. A big fat goose egg. I’ve canceled two auto shows, haven’t done a marathon in god knows how long, and Jake, Chris, and I haven’t seen our own beds before midnight for weeks!’

‘Yes, we all know he’s insane,’ she said with a staccato of nails on desk. ‘But we signed a deal with the devil to start this cluster fuck, and the devil still has majority voting rights. Did you know he started going vegan again? Way to crush a girl’s dreams of a fatal heart attack.’

‘I’ll be sure to send him a full-fat ham at Christmas for you,’ I sneered with a sly grin. Brimstones weren’t known for two things: modesty, and following authority. It’s probably why we became lawyers in the first place. After working a few years for golfing racists like Garrett, my older brother Chris and I decided to open this location on the East coast to escape the hippies and our father.

He offered monetary help and we took it out of necessity, not realizing the shit storm he would be dragging us through ever since. From the outside, it looked like we found the secret sauce to building a law firm, but it’s never as pretty when you flipped over the rock. Instead of worms you found Garrett, who didn’t expect us to fail, but he also didn’t expect us to kick this much ass – and he showed it by leaving steaming heaps of dung everywhere but the john.

He was good at keeping appearances. After all, how selfless for an old man to stay involved in his children’s business? Only a select few knew that underneath his fifty-dollar words and wide grin was a man haunted by alcohol, maliciousness, and uncontrolled rage. He shat on all of Chris’ ideas, attacked Jacob’s manliness, and treated Jillian like a hired assistant. The only reason he didn’t eat me up is because he liked having someone on his side – or so he thought. Five years of professional abuse and being his unpaid translator had left me wondering how I ever put up with it. I was sick of playing referee and ready to throw on a jersey. Go millennials.

‘I’m due for a meeting five minutes ago, and I’d rather get it over with so I can sleep for more than four hours tonight,’ I said tiredly. ‘I’m going to pass off the buck – Chris is better making these decisions anyway. If you haven’t already, tell him about this. I’m sure he would love a reason to empty a few rounds into a poster of Garrett.’

‘I think I’ll join him,’ Jill murmured.

I took a bite out of my amoeba of a scone, closing my eyes at the relief of food for the first time today while my hand instinctively grabbed for where the coffee was normally on my desk. Seriously, what do we pay that fucking assistant for? Thirty seconds into case review, I realized that I was going into this meeting with bad news. This one’s going to trial, and Garrett has made sure that I wouldn’t have time for any profitable court time. Besides, it looked like a tough win, and the only feeling worse than coming in second during a 10-K is having the judge’s gavel swing in favor of the opposition at trial.

Centering my tie, I walked through the hallway of glass doors frosted just enough to impress basic privacy while revealing unwanted shenanigans. Managing partners still needed to be couriers and I raised my brows when the room of associates scrambled back into perfect position as I knocked on the door. Eight folders lighter, I sent Chris a text telling him to stop scaring the kids.

I had to hand it to Jillian. She pronounced herself queen of renovations and turned a dead bullpen into a space that’s open and modern – all under budget. Growing up with three boys and their hand-me-down hockey equipment, she became a default tomboy sharing a bathroom that perpetually smelled like a sock. Once Garrett’s firm took off, her inner woman was allowed to indulge on pedis, lipstick, and shoes, but she never shed that brusque exterior, and it’s probably why my brothers and I have never had to kick any boyfriend ass. She spent a lot of energy giving everyone the impression she didn’t care, but two shots in and she became sobs and stories of dead-end first dates.

Recently changed from conference room 2 – a small jab to Garrett’s original naming scheme –, conference room B was all minimalist armchairs and glass tabletops, with a view of the Hudson that’ll silence a crying baby. As I entered, I saw a woman facing outwards admiring the landscape, which would normally warrant at least a passing glance from me, but instead I found myself watching her. Long brunette locks captured the noon sun down to her lower back, and a perfect hip-to-waist ratio appetited an ass that could have been the cure to cancer. Firm and full, a deep desire to squeeze it – hard – made me pocket my twitching palm.

Lines, Luke, lines.

My gentle cough prodding her turn morphed into something of a mute gasp. With sculpted brows and full lips, a symmetrical face stared back at me with blue eyes that flirted with dashes of silver. Radiating softness, the peachy skin on her face ended at just the right level between her breasts to rouse my imagination, as the folder in my hand deftly moved to hide my growing erection. In an all-eyes-this-way business suit that would have brought a proud tear to Ralph Lauren’s eye, curves sweet as honey were wrapped like presents on Christmas morning. And the best part about presents was the unwrapping. She wore a warm smile and issued me a hand. For a moment I was back at high school and it’s Tammy at prom all over again.

‘Hi. Abigail May. I’m very excited to work together.’ I was lost between the caramel cream voice and beauty spot beneath her eye so instead of my cracked teenage voice, I was surprised to hear a fully developed male. ‘Sorry, Miss May, I didn’t mean to keep you. Lucas Brimstone.’ We shook hands and her skin felt as smooth as it looked. I took a long second staring into those eyes that couldn’t decide if they were blue or silver, and then another.

‘None of that Miss May stuff. Abigail will do. Since I have you now, do you mind if we just get right into it?’ While I know what she meant, my mind wanted her to be referring to the laundry list of activities I would have liked to cross off with her. Right here. Over this table. Four hundred feet in the air.

Lines, Luke, lines.

Nodding, I brought out a chair for her – something that I never do for clients. Clacks of heels on hardwood floor brought my attention to those zebra stripe please fuck me heels as she made her way over, and the way her thighs and ass splayed across the Italian leather as she sat made me thank twice for that folder in my hand. She flicked her hair behind her back to uniform any strays, allowing me to catch the origin of a tattoo at the base of her neck. Tatted chicks weren’t normally my thing, but I was left shaking my head free of curious thoughts on where it might end.

Finding myself an inch from infatuation was an anomaly, especially when the cause was someone like Princess Diaries here. I liked tough females. Savages. Girls who preferred dri-fit Under Armor to lacy underwear. Girls who didn’t know color blocking wasn’t referring to Legos but knew six ways to kill someone with a pair of bamboo chopsticks. My job required all my focus, and everything else had to fit accordingly. It’s all got to work, and it’s got to work fast.

Speed is why I drove an R8, ran marathons, and only fucked women who forgot my name the moment I pulled out. No time for kisses and roses. No time for chocolates and pats on the back. Which is why my little black book looked like the list of female members at a Gold’s gym – strong enough to get over a cold shoulder and big enough to handle the swinging pendulum between my thighs.

‘So, I’ve outlined . . .’ Her lips began moving, and while that occupied my ears, it allowed my eyes to wander. Abigail’s a good nine inches under my six-two, and normally that would have been enough evidence to render the glove too tight a fit, but an inescapable desire to leave my prints all over her ass sure made me want to find out for myself. She’s all woman – soft features, wide hips, and a rack that you’d never find at a place like Gold’s. Far from savage.

She’s the type of girl who always had suitors to choose from, and from what Diane told me about her, I was willing to bet that she wasn’t one to wait patiently. I was sure someone smart had already snatched her up and promised her two carats and vows in Paris, and it was really none of my business. But imagining that ass in another man’s hands and those legs strapped around someone else’s waist at night brought bile to my throat. ‘. . . so that means we need to move fast. Lucas, what’s our plan here?’

‘Just Luke is fine,’ I smiled. She returned with a rosy smirk and a compression of her breasts that dried my mouth. I cleared my throat, reigning myself back to deliver my practiced spiel. ‘This is an open-and-shut case. Zero witnesses. It’s your word against his,’ I murmured while blowing out a long breath. ‘Greedy liars have made judges numb to sexual assault and the days of juries siding with the woman, just cause, is over. I’m afraid I can’t help – I can’t take this case.’ Strangely, I had an urge to stuff those words back inside my mouth the moment they left my tongue.

Genuine confusion plastered over Abigail’s face, but instead of contorting her face into something less attractive, the way her nose wrinkled with her brow turned her into something far sexier. She kind of had a pouty thing going on, and that lip looked ripe for biting – or wrapped around my cock. I knew which I preferred. ‘Look Luke, I went through a lot of hassle getting here and I’m not giving in that easy,’ she said amicably, but entirely resolute. ‘I was told you’re the man that takes on hard cases. Now, I’d love to work with a man of such confidence, but if you’re not him, I guess I was misinformed.’

Ouch. She had a fiery mouth and dead shot aim. I prided myself on growing my bank account off of worthy cases. Being a corporate lawyer paid the bills just fine, but after the second vacation home and matte white Bentley, nothing satisfied the ego more than giving real victims the power to stick foots up asses. Being meticulous was a start, but being Terminator-style laser focused was better when you’re against a dream team of Harvard douchebags, and that’s usually the situation when you took a case that no one else touched. Winning against the odds was something that I made a habit of doing – it bordered on orgasmic – and something told me Abigail would be the best courtgasm I’d ever had.

She was playing with my pride here, and I knew it. On any other day I’d be smarter. More detached. If it was anyone but Abigail May and her taunting smirk I’d build my defensive garrison of litigious verbosity and wake up the next day happy knowing what a bullet I dodged.

But forget my fucked up version of climax and the odds and the pounding headache that this suit would be to dispute. My twitchy palm and I wanted to fight for this woman – and then do things that weren’t part of a typical lawyer-client relationship. And I knew if I didn’t do a home run of the first I’d never get an opportunity to do the second.

One quick glance back at those slow eyes and thoughts of spanking and more were replaced by the realization that she had actually been assaulted. A sudden swell of macho pride infused with protective anger allowed me to find my choice. It was obvious why, no matter what morality bullshit I could concoct to justify the reason. The answer was called Abigail May.

She also deserved her pound of flesh to help heal those mental wounds just like any other limping bunny, and while I didn’t know the first thing about her assailant, I also wouldn’t mind bumping into him in an empty parking lot. ‘Let me give your case a personal combing,’ I said with eager pragmatism, barely concealing my newfound devotion. ‘There might be factors that our associates missed. But if I come to the same conclusion they have, you have to believe me when I say it’s a lost cause.’

‘Oh, thank you Luke!’ she beamed, hair and tits bouncing in unison. ‘I’ll take your word on it.’ As if they had a mind of their own, my cheeks touched my eyes to mirror hers, and it felt fucking good knowing I could make her smile that wide. She rose, making her way to my side of the table, and I followed suit. There was obvious joy in her steps, and she practically sprinted towards me to seal my decision. I didn’t know where she went to school but she definitely knew her ABC’s. Always Be Closing.

As she brought herself forward for a welcome embrace, an errant chair leg caught a heel. She squealed, lurched forward, and the next moment her hands were gripping my chest, while I had a handful of waist – my breathing hastened. Adrenaline overrode boundaries, but her body didn’t complain, breasts fitting like Tetris pieces underneath my ribcage.

My other hand invited itself instinctively, and together the two contracted over the supple fabric. Softness covered strength, as I felt firmness underneath the surface layer of femininity. I found myself inhaling deep above her head, a heady mishmash of sugar and pep wafting up my nostrils. Sweet and spicy – an apt combination for her. ‘Careful Abigail, we don’t want you breaking a heel,’ I teased quietly. ‘They look like big-ticket kicks.’

‘Wouldn’t be the first time,’ she murmured below. I didn’t understand how it was possible, but I heard the smile in her voice. ‘You’d think three years in retail would help, but my inner klutz has other plans.’ Perhaps I felt her forehead nuzzling deeper into my pec, but I couldn’t be sure, senses overwhelmed.

As if she suddenly realized the nature of our position, a strategic cough gave her cover to move away, and I felt her hands leave my chest. Though I didn’t want her to go, I was two seconds away from introducing my palm to her ass, and that’s one assault case I couldn’t run from. As she withdrew, I got a close glimpse of her hands. Delicate, long fingers were roofed with glossy tips, and I couldn’t help but imagine how they’d look enclosed around me. While her left index fashioned a gemstone, I noticed that the hand it’s on was otherwise ring-free.

While I liked helping others just as much as the next justice warrior, I always watched out for number one first. In one meeting Abigail May had me scanning fingers for rings and offering help when I was already spread as thin as can be. And I also haven’t forgotten that this was the first pre-noon boner since freshman year college. ‘I’ll look into him, see if I can’t dig something up,’ I said distractedly as we approached the elevators. I tried to end the meeting un-phased, but one grin from Abigail and sparks were flying down my spine. ‘It’s good you can’t trip in elevators,’ I murmured as the doors opened.

‘You’d be amazed at what this klutz could do,’ she said whimsically as she entered. She stood with two feet heel-to-toe, and in that moment, I wished her hourglass could stop time, or at least slow it down long enough for me to figure out why I wanted it to. ‘I think you have all the relevant information,’ she said softly. ‘But please don’t hesitate if . . .’ Her mouth stayed open but it also stayed quiet, unsaid words lingering in the crevice of her tongue. The doors began to close, her mouth followed, and sharp daggers pierced my neck, my chest in the silence to end all silences. I was left staring at her shy smile disappear between the doors, wondering what that tongue missed, and secretly hoping that the damn associates missed something about this case as well.

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