***Jo & Donovan – Los Angeles – 10 days ago***
Jolene Monroe stared out of the window that ran the length of her office. The bright lights of Los Angeles were indeed an impressive sight. Even at one o’clock in the morning, the whole damned thing was awash with pinpricks of light: houses, offices, cars. People going about the business of living. While she went about the business of…
Jo was not sure what she went about anymore. Work for certain. That had not changed in the past couple of weeks. In fact, if she had to be honest about it, and she was always honest with herself, it had been easier than in a very long time. The kid, her intern, Donovan, had proven to be a real asset. She had been shocked to discover that as well as the hottest body and a stunningly handsome face, the man possessed a damned fine mind. One of the best legal minds she had ever known, in fact.
But even more than that, he possessed that same undefinable quality that had set her apart from almost everyone else in her field, that edge that she brought to this game – the ability to see through people. It was a gift that had served her well as a labor lawyer and negotiator. Her ability to instinctively understand others’ motivations had allowed her to craft win-win deals that had set her apart from others who strictly knew the law. Knowing people was the difference between being good and being the best.
And Jo begrudgingly admitted that with some training, experience, and a few breaks, the kid might just one day give her a run for her money. Thinking about the document that was still stuffed so casually in her desk drawer, hell, the little shit already had. Of course, in the end, she had won this round. Despite his initial confidence that she would succumb to his considerable charms, she had held firm to her ‘don’t shit where you eat’ policy. Theirs was now a strictly professional relationship.
So why the fuck did one crazy, wild night of sex in Vegas continue to haunt her dreams and fantasies? Sex was sex, right? An itch to be scratched when it got unbearable, just like hunger. It did not matter whether it was a hamburger from a fast food place or filet mignon from a five-star restaurant; in the end, your shit was just as smelly.
That was what got her, what still bothered her – how had she not seen the kid for what he was? It was one of the few times…maybe the only time that her golden gut had failed to warn her when trouble was coming. And even with that neatly-typed and signed document in her drawer, Jo could not shake the feeling that Donovan Bradshaw was trouble. And for what? The best sex of her life? Even that was not worth what this could cost her.
But neither could she get that night out of her mind. Especially not on nights like this one. They had worked late, later than usual, on the background research for a negotiation that was coming up. They had even ordered in Chinese. Her suit jacket had been discarded promptly at five, once the official business day was done and the real work began. He had followed suit, tossing his coat and tie. He had even rolled up the sleeves on his crisp cotton shirt. At some point during the evening, she had undone the top two buttons on her silk blouse as well.
The damned thing was that they worked so fucking well together. Two minds equally matched and serving the same purpose. He could almost find the information and case law she wanted before she even asked for it. It made this type of work that could be frustrating at best distinctly pleasurable. Hell, she had even discovered that she actually liked teaching. At least with the right pupil, one capable of truly learning. One whose mind grasped the obvious and sought beyond it. In fact, this internship that she had initially dreaded was working out quite well.
If it were not for the near-constant sexual tension that arced unanswered between them. Admittedly, the man could and did turn every female head and more than a couple of male ones. It was something more than just his college football running back’s lithe, firm, young body. Something more than his Hollywood movie star good looks. It was some undefinable sex appeal that had made him the headliner on the Vegas stage.
Some mystery that had tempted her that night to overcome a lifetime of prejudice to fulfill her darkest fantasy. And it had been dark. If she closed her eyes, hell, every time she did close her eyes, she could see the interplay of color. His dark hands moving so teasingly over her pale skin. Black on white did not do it justice. It was much closer to the deepest, darkest, sweetest, hot chocolate sauce running seductively over the cold, frozen surface of vanilla ice cream, melting it, mingling with it until the two became an inseparable delight for the epicurean pallet.
Jo shook her head as she turned from that dark city skyline. The dreams, or perhaps memories, were driving her to distraction. Something she could not afford right now, or ever. She crossed to her office door and opened it. There were a couple of other lights showing under various doors, but that was the nature of this beast they called the law. As a career, it sucked, drawing every single ounce of strength and time from your soul. But overall, the office was as quiet as it was going to get.
She made a decision. Tonight was one of those rare times since she made partner when she would forego the comforts of her bed at home and sleep on the leather sofa in her office. It was something she had done often as an associate but not recently. But this night, she was just too tired and frustrated to make the half an hour-long drive to Santa Monica only to toss and turn restlessly on her luxury mattress, thinking about him.
No, it was better to sleep tonight on the couch here. She would get up early and go to the gym around the corner. A heavy workout would refresh her and burn off some of this tension in her body. If it was not the type of workout her body craved, that was just too fucking bad. It would have to do.
She would pop into the dry cleaners next door. She gave the man enough business she was confident that he could provide fifteen-minute service for a bit extra. There should be a clean set of underwear in her gym bag. Given the wet stickiness of working side by side with him, the casual brushes of forearms against her heated skin, she sure as hell hoped so. Otherwise, she could always go commando.
With a plan forming in her head, she lay down on the couch to get a couple of hours of sleep before starting another hectic and frustrating day…with Donovan Bradshaw as her intern. The one man she could not get out of her mind, whose touch her body craved worse than chocolate, and the one man she could never have. Again.
Donovan sat at his tiny cubicle in the stiflingly small inner office space at Tyson, Turner, and Tyson, LLP. He leaned back in his chair, pondering the past couple of weeks as he casually tossed the small golden chip in the air. The damned thing was worth ten thousand dollars.
Ten thousand dollars. Once upon a time, for the poor kid from Compton, the almost cliché child of a single black mother. The little boy who had never known his father, never got the newest toys for Christmas, never really had a full stomach, that amount of money would have been everything. Hell, who knows, maybe it would have been enough to pay for the treatment that might have saved his mother’s life from cervical cancer.
But now…it was just money. Something that was nothing more than a means to an end. And this chip represented so much more than that to him. It was the symbol of heaven, one perfect night with her. Fuck, what was he thinking? Life was not some fucking romance novel like his auntie read constantly. It was not about handsome heroes saving damsels in distress and riding off into the future with five simple words…they lived happily ever after. He above all people should know that.
So why had he let this woman get so fucking deep under his skin? It was not like his usual logical self. The rational self that had his whole future carefully planned. The guy who had taken the job as a male stripper in Las Vegas on the weekends to fund law school. The guy who had spent weeks researching the options for his summer internship…before he even entered law school. The man who had carefully avoided all emotional entanglements. Not a single girlfriend in his life. Nothing but a string of married, wealthy, older lovers who had been happy to exchange gifts for sex. It had suited his plans well. Easy, sure sex with no strings attached. What more could an ambitious young man want?
He tossed the chip again. What would she think if she knew he had never cashed it in? If she knew that it was only time he had ever accepted cash for services rendered?
When she had walked into the club that night, Donovan could not believe his eyes. He knew exactly who she was, of course. All that carefully crafted research that went into choosing his internship assured that not only did he recognize her face, but he knew enough of her life story to realize that they were more alike than different. They would never really fit into this posh world of TT&T, LLP. The white trailer trash woman and the black kid from the ghetto. No degree, no awards, no amount of billable hours, and stellar wins could make them fit in.
But this woman had come as close as you could get. If she would never fit entirely with the Ivy League assholes surrounding her, she had at least earned their respect for her work. It was what Donovan aspired to. And why he had specifically chosen this internship with her.
So why the fuck had he allowed his little head to screw it all up that night? What the fuck had he been thinking? Had he read his auntie’s damned romance books one too many times? Hell, when you are a black boy growing up surrounded by nothing but strong black women, without access to a computer at home and with all the porn sites blocked on the ones at the school and library, you read what sex you could get your hands on…and that had been his aunt’s dirty books. It still stunned him that you could walk into any bookstore in this country and most grocery and retailers too and purchase erotica that could easily outstrip Penthouse letters. Hell, they even had half-naked men and women on the covers.
This was real life, though. His life. His carefully planned life. And he had almost screwed it all up that night. What had he been thinking? That he could seduce her with his ‘big black cock’ and lovemaking? That this woman that had worked so fucking hard all her damned life to overcome a background as challenging as his own would just melt in his arms? That he would wake up with her in his arms the next morning, explain the whole muddled affair over a cup of coffee, laugh about it, and live happily ever after?
But it did not work that. And for once in his adult life, Donovan Bradshaw’s cocky confidence was shaken. His whole backup plan of coming to this place, calling the shots, and having the woman of his dreams back in his bed by the end of that first day was in shambles. Two weeks and he was still sleeping alone in the same twin bed that he had known growing up at his grandmother’s small ramshackle house in Compton.
Worse yet, he had not seen a single sign from her that she even remembered what had been an unforgettable night for him. He worked side by side with Jolene Monroe from seven in the morning until well past seven at night. Hell, after midnight more often than not. And not one single glimpse of the firebrand that had bound his heart as tightly as she had his wrists.
And all he had to show for the whole fucking thing was a shiny gold chip from a Las Vegas casino that was worth ten thousand dollars…when what he wanted most was the priceless passion he had shared with the woman that night.
What the hell? It was late. Too fucking late. He should head home. He would have to be up again in less than five hours. It was at least twenty minutes, even this late at night when the traffic was almost non-existent to get to Margot Bradshaw’s wood-frame home. He put that chip carefully back into his desk drawer, although he was never really sure why. He should have cashed the damned thing and given the money to his grandmother. She could have used it to fix up the house. But he knew better. Margot would just ‘seed’ it back into the community, the same way she did the money his cousins gave her occasionally.
He closed the office door behind him. There was still one girl there. She had been dozing at her desk for the past hour or so. He wondered if that type of dedication was what had gotten Jolene Monroe so far. Would this girl become like her one day? Would he? He sure as hell planned to.
He knew that he should head straight home, but he could not help glancing towards her office at the end of the hall. There was still a faint light coming from under the door. The old-fashioned desk lamp that set in the corner, maybe? He would have thought the woman would go home an hour ago when they called it a night. What would it hurt to pop his head in? It was only polite to say good night, perhaps see if she needed anything else from him tonight.
Anything else? Donovan, what the hell are you thinking? That the woman is going to just sit on the edge of her desk and spread her legs open for you, ‘yes, since you offered, would you mind terribly giving me another few dozens happy O’s with your tongue?’ Dream on! No, Jo seemed nothing more than one of his wet dreams now.
He turned the handle and peeked into her office. He had been right; the light came from that antique desk lamp on the table in the corner. But her desk was empty. The woman had the sense to leave the office when they finished their work. Not hang around pathetically daydreaming about the apparition of hot sex that seemed a lifetime ago.
He was just about to close the door behind him when he heard the soft moan from behind the door. He would recognize that moan anywhere. How many times had he heard it that night? Dozens? A hundred? It was not quite a moan even. Half sob and half whimper. All hot woman.
Even in the cool crisp air-conditioned office, he could almost smell the sweet saltiness of sex…of woman, needy, wanton woman. The smell that would forever in his mind be connected to Jo. He felt his cock that was always half-hard around her thicken in his pants. He could not resist the urge to open the door just a tad more. To look around it in the direction of the leather sofa against the far wall in her office.
What he saw there knocked the air right out of his lungs. The feeling reminded him of a body slam from a massive defensive end that was determined to take him down. Determined to knock the football from his hands. He felt himself being pushed offsides as surly as he once had when he played the game.
But this was no game. This was real life. Or he sure as hell hoped it was as he got his first sight of her. She lay sprawled somewhat uncomfortably looking upon the sofa. He could not stop his addled brain from thinking that she would have a crick in her neck tomorrow, as his grandmother would say. He could not control his mind from taking the next jump in his fantasy either. He would casually offer to massage the kink out for her. When what he really wanted was to massage the kink right into her.
Then he noticed her hands. One was crossed over her body, holding her tit in the palm. She seemed to be kneading it just as he had that night. Damn, it was like everything else about this woman. It just fit…perfectly fit into the palm of his hand. But it was her other hand stuffed down the front of her skirt that did his head in ultimately. His cock hardened completely then, straining against the zipper, begging with him to free it, pleading with him to cross the expanse of that office and bury it deep inside the heavenly heat and wetness that had tormented his dreams since that night.
When he had brashly walked into this office demanding that she sign the papers that he had drawn up establishing the consensual nature of their relationship, that was precisely what he would have done. But weeks of unrequited love had eaten away at his confidence. His once enormous ego was deflated…even if his hard cock was not.
What made him think that this woman would welcome his advances? What made him think that night was anything more than what all his other sexual relationships had been – an older woman using her money to satisfy her curiosity about everything she had ever heard about ‘young black studs?’ It was a double-edged sword that he had used to make his way in this world, to afford law school, to buy his car, and pay his rent. But in the end, it had cut him down. He was nothing more to this woman than a one-night stand. A dark fantasy to live out and then walk away. He was expendable.
He shook his head and started to step out of her office, leave the woman to satisfy herself and dark primal needs as she saw fit. He would certainly be doing so himself as soon as he was safely in his room at home. Then he heard her…the soft, sweet whisper that he had longed to hear for over a month now.
“Donovan,” it was not just his name upon his lips. That could be anything. It was the way she said it. She…Jo. Not cold, calm, all-business Jolene Monroe. But Jo. His Jo. For a heartbeat, he thought about giving in to the demands of his hard-on. About joining her on that couch. About fucking her until both of them collapsed in a pile of wet and very satisfied sleep.
But where would that get him? Sex had not brought him what he wanted that first night. Hell, it had worked against him almost. This woman was as logical and calculating as he was. Another roll in the hay would probably just set them back, end the grudging respect and perhaps even trust that was blossoming between them. It was not worth it, he told his cock.
Still, he smiled as he pulled that door silently closed. For the first time in weeks, he had that elusive thing called hope. Maybe just maybe, if he played his cards right, he would hold Jo in his arms again. And next time, she was not sneaking out in the middle of the night, leaving him tied to the bed, hard, and unsatisfied. Next time, he was going to hold her tight, capture more than just her body. Or even that incredibly bright mind that had first attracted him to this place. No, this time, he wanted her heart as well as her body and mind. Cause the fucking truth was that the woman had captured his mind, hard cock, and too fucking romantic heart.