Chapter 1 - Evie
I could look.
Take a peek.
God, I want to look.
All afternoon I’ve busied myself in case after case, meting out my life in the six-minute increments of the billable hour, but it’s nagging me like a bar exam question I need to answer.
On one hand, checking out this guy’s blog is technically work-related, so that NSFW warning in his email cancels itself out…doesn’t it?
Surely I need to know what I’m getting myself into before I consider representing him, and I could really use a huge client right now.
Huge. My word choice makes me blush, but I’m guessing he’s well-endowed given the reason he contacted me in the first place.
How will I look him in the eye if I see his Johnson all wild and woolly, swinging like the trunk of an elephant at the zoo?
Please, Jesus, I hope he trims his monster.
Despite my need to bring in some heavy-hitting clients, this project doesn’t exactly fit the upper-crust clientele we typically service.
I mean, we’re talking about full-frontal male nudity. I don’t need to read the novel-length employee handbook to know that viewing his blog on a computer at my law firm is a no-no.
Why did I have to forget my cell phone charger today of all days? I could be locked away in the women’s two-stall restroom right now, scoping out the most interesting client—well, potential client—who’s crossed my desk in the last three years, if my stupid phone worked.
I glance at the open door to my office. Should I close it? Or does that make me seem more suspicious? Does it scream, “I’M SURFING PORN”?
If it weren’t for that stupid memo from Bill Fleming, everyone’s least favorite partner, that “requested” we keep our doors open unless we’re on an important call or with a client, I wouldn’t be concerned.
Tired of debating what I should do, I gaze out the lone window that runs along the far side of my office. While the partners have grandiose views of Mount Hood, I’m just an associate, which means I overlook a three-story parking garage, two dumpsters, and the back alley of a dive bar.
The office manager assigned me a simple oak desk and credenza, and my decorations consist of a ficus tree, a few photos, and a framed diploma from Georgetown Law. At more than $165,000, it’s my most expensive possession. Well, that and my new house, a dilapidating Craftsman bungalow, where I sink any money I can spare after my exorbitant student loan payments.
So hell, yes, I could use the origination credit for a new client. My firm pays a bounty on bringing in business, which could mean the difference between getting new bathroom plumbing now or waiting five years. And I don’t think I can hold it that long.
My attention returns to my computer. I’ll admit that guy’s call this morning intrigued me. At least he isn’t the typical corporate client out to crush the competition, leaving all human resources laws in shambles.
Slowly, my hand moves to the mouse.
It’s not every day I’m told I probably shouldn’t check out a work-related blog from an office computer.
Admittedly, I’m not totally up to date on porn these days. I wouldn’t call myself a prude, but orgasms require time and preferably someone else to lend a hand, and I haven’t had much of either in a while.
Unable to resist, I pull up the email that’s been making me crazy and scan the message again. It’s fairly formal considering the topic of discussion. He writes, “Ms. Mills, per our conversation this morning, I’ve forwarded the link to my blog. Please review so you may ascertain whether or not you can represent me in this negotiation. Best, Josh.”
Josh. No last name. No hint at who he is based on the random Gmail account.
I study the link to his blog, which looks like it’s been truncated. It’s innocuous. Just a short series of numbers and letters that don’t give me any indication of what I’m about to see. Well, except for the “not suitable for work” warning Josh typed above it.
He didn’t sound like a pervo-lunatic on the phone. He said things like, “Acquiring an attorney seems prudent,” and “Given my other ventures, I need a wall of separation to protect my assets.”
In fact, he sounded like a businessman. A really freaking sexy businessman with a deep voice that made me shiver.
Are his photos sexy too? Or would I be grossed out by his junk? Because dicks can be gross, like little hairless moles poking their pale heads out of the ground. Not that anyone ever sends me dick pics. I don’t say this with any sort of judgment. I mean, guys don’t think of me and send me nudes.
Truthfully, I’m probably too girl-next-door to get the interest of some dude who waves a massive wand. So what if I like to wear overalls and grungy T-shirts on the weekend? I don’t need guys to send me cock shots anyway.
My hand twitches to click the link.
Oh, shit. I’m about to surf porn at work. Miss I-Wear-Sensible-Shoes because they’re cost-effective and comfortable is going to surf porn at Waller, Goldman & Associates.
I’m seriously considering having my head examined when my ex’s words worm their way into my mind. “You’re so practical, Evelyn. That’s not a bad thing, but I need to be with someone who has more imagination. Someone who’s exciting and spontaneous.”
I cringe at the memory even though it’s been two years since Elliot and I broke up.
What did he mean, spontaneous? In how I lived my life generally? In what I wore? Or… shudder… in bed?
His answer: All of the above.
I’d barely contained my tears as I laughed it off and scuttled out of Elliot’s Ikea-clad apartment before I broke down into full-blown sobs. Because being with him had made me feel like I wasn’t hopeless when it came to romance. But apparently I was wrong.
Jutting out my chin, I take a deep breath. I can be spontaneous, damn it.
Just last week, I got the quiche when I always order the French dip sandwich.
I wait for a sense of satisfaction to settle over me. Except it doesn’t. One, because we’re talking about a stupid sandwich, and two, that day my BFF Kendall coerced me over the phone into ordering something different. And three, if I’m determining my level of spontaneity by what I got for lunch, I’m probably a lost cause.
Damn you, Elliot.
Three minutes. I’ll review Josh’s website for three minutes.
I reach over to set my timer before I click the link in his email.
And I immediately regret it.
I try to close the page. Try to hit the back button. Try to quit the browser. But the hourglass icon pops up.
Christ on a cracker, the hourglass won’t stop turning. Our traditional law firm hasn’t caught up with the times and upgraded our internet. Perpetually slow bandwidth has now gone from a daily annoyance to makes-me-want-to-tear-out-my-nails. Yes, a decade after the iPhone, some law firms still use dictation machines. At least we have email.
My three minutes are up and the damn thing is still frozen.
I blow my bangs out of my face and pray I don’t need someone from the tech department to fix this.
Finally, Josh’s blog starts to load even though I’ve done everything I can to get it to stop. Sweat builds on my neck and under my boobs as the page fills at a snail’s pace.
Deep breaths, Evie. The ground won’t open up and swallow you. What’s the worst thing that can happen besides boob sweat?
I could get fired and lose my job, my 401k, and my health insurance. Maybe I’d have to sell my house because no respectable law firm will hire someone who was laid off for being a deviant at three o’clock on a Friday afternoon. My dad will be humiliated and wonder why he bothered working all that overtime at the fire station to help send me to good schools. No big deal.
A throaty voice in my doorway makes me jump.
“Evelyn, you need a vacation.”
Angela picks this moment to saunter into my office. Yes, she saunters, swinging her ass like she’s bouncing to some silent beat—the ones her perfect, buoyant boobs keep as they struggle to stay contained in that expensive silk blouse. I’d kill to have her bra size instead of my DDs.
She pauses in front of my desk, and I’m almost at eye level with her knees. The woman is tall, built like a Victoria’s Secret model, the kind you want to hold down and force-feed some deep dish pepperoni pizza. Beautiful black hair tumbles down her shoulders, emphasizing her porcelain skin and sky-blue eyes. Her burgundy Chanel suit molds to her body and screams Confident Bitch from here to the Pacific.
Side note: the only reason I know she’s wearing Chanel is because she told everyone about it this morning. She doesn’t have student loans and isn’t crazy enough to renovate a house. Must be nice to have disposable income.
With irritation, I realize I could never pull off that outfit even if I had her body, but I guess that’s what I get for having my head buried in work and school my whole life.
Where exactly does one learn how to be sexy and wear clothes like her? My dad never gave me the 411 on that.
“Hey, Angela. What’s up?” I ask as calmly as possible even though the blog is still loading. Fortunately, she can’t see the screen from this angle. But I can. So far, it’s just a skyline of New York. Maybe I misunderstood what’s on his website.
My attention is diverted to Angela as she runs her hands over her slender hips and sighs dramatically, tossing her glossy hair over her shoulder. With irritation, I realize she’s eyeing the mess on my desk. Why is she always up in my business?
The skyline keeps loading in my peripheral vision, and it takes every bit of control I have to not fidget when Malcolm Waller walks in behind her, but fortunately, there are no dicks in sight.
Angela taps one perfectly manicured talon on a stack of my files. “Mac wants to know if Penny has dropped another one of your calls.”
I can’t tell if my eye twitches because she’s calling our boss Mac, something no one does—not even his wife—or because she’s angling to get our secretary Penny fired.
Malcolm lets out a weary breath and runs his hand through his white hair. “I hate to say this, but if I hear one more complaint, I’m letting her go.”
Inside, I shake my fist at both of them. Penny is a single mom with three kids, and while she does drop or misdirect our calls on occasion, she’s also the sweetest person I know. She puts up with everyone’s shit and never complains about her endless workload.
Folding my hands on my desk, I tilt my head like I’m thinking. “Honestly, I can’t recall the last time she did that.” This morning. “But she did a fantastic job photocopying that enormous presentation you gave last week, Angela.”
I refrain from giving her a dirty look, but only barely. How quickly we forget when someone saves your ass because you put it off until the last minute.
She rolls her eyes and grabs Malcolm’s forearm. “Let’s go ask Nathan. I’m certain he has something to say on the subject.”
Does she have to practically purr when she says his name? God, I hope she hasn’t slept with Nate. He’s been my work crush since he joined the firm last year, and Angela always acts like she could have a spontaneous orgasm when he’s around.
As she walks out the door, Malcolm motions toward me. “You’re going to bring us a great case this week, right, kiddo?”
Still with the kiddo. I paste a smile on my face and nod, hating that he saw me running around in diapers when I was a toddler.
My mother, while lacking every maternal instinct known to humanity, did me one favor prior to divorcing my father and moving to the East Coast. Before they split and my dad went back to his blue-collar roots, my mother dragged him along to every society function in greater Portland, where he met people like my boss.
So even though I’ve worked my ass off to get good grades and graduated at the top of my class in college and law school, I’m not naïve enough to think that’s what got me this job, a fact that has me even more eager to prove my worth beyond my family’s modest connections.
Malcolm makes that face, the one that says, Tell me what I want to hear.
“Yes, sir. In fact, I’m working on something big—” I do a double-take at my computer screen that has finally loaded. I swallow. “Something huge, actually.”
A nervous laugh escapes me and my cheeks burn. Dear baby Jesus in the manger. Blogger guy is packing some serious heat.
Dragging my gaze from the computer screen, I return my attention to my boss, nodding enthusiastically and praying he stays on the other side of my cluttered desk.
Malcolm rubs his chin and offers me a patronizing wink. “Good to hear it, kiddo. Bring me something meaty.”
I almost snort. Size isn’t a problem.
* * *
It takes me a full minute of staring at Josh-the-naughty-blogger’s crotch for me to come to my senses.
Penny’s about to get fired. Stop staring at porn and move your ass.
I minimize the browser—thankfully, it works this time—jog down the hall and sneak into Nathan’s doorway. He’s at his desk, looking gorgeous as always with that tousled blond hair that falls just over his right eye when he laughs.
He’s still every bit the all-American football star he was before an injury sidelined him, complete with broad shoulders, a charismatic presence, and that beautiful boyish grin.
When he spots me creeping in the hall, I put my finger over my lips. He nods slightly, hiding a smile, the one that makes me wish I hadn’t been friend-zoned.
Malcolm and Angela stand in front of his huge mahogany desk with their backs to me as she whines, “Please tell Mac about the call Penny sent to Miss Frumpy last week.”
Who is Miss Frumpy? There are only three female attorneys at this firm, and one is on maternity leave.
I peer down at my brown pumps, brown slacks and boxy tan blazer.
Oh, no. No, no, no. I’m Miss Frumpy.
Dread and humiliation drain the blood from my face, and I wipe my damp palms on my pants.
So maybe I’ve gone overboard on neutral colors, but I don’t think I look bad. Although… I suppose I don’t need to button my blouse so high. But just because I don’t put my chest on display doesn’t mean I’m frumpy. Does it?
Nate clears his throat, and that’s when my mortification spreads like a wildfire on the dry plains. While Malcolm and Angela are busy complaining about Penny, Nathan offers me a sympathetic smile.
Yes, this will really help him fall in love with me. Loser, thy name is Evie.
It doesn’t matter that I’ve won awards for kicking ass at my job. Because when a stunning woman criticizes you in front of a beautiful man, it stings. I’m twelve years old all over again, being laughed at by eighth grade boys for having big boobs. The pity in Nate’s eyes only makes it worse.
This is one of those times I need to channel Madonna. Don’t laugh. It works. I’ve always loved how she’s a confident, strong woman. Internally, I search for the perfect song, vacillating between “Keep It Together” and “Bitch, I’m Madonna.”
I settle on the latter because I might need to call someone a bitch.
Taking a cleansing breath, I stay half-hidden behind the door.
Malcolm motions toward the reception area and asks for any more examples of Penny’s ineptitude. God, could he sound any more pompous?
Nate and I lock eyes, and I shake my head, pleading, Don’t do it. Don’t sell her out.
He taps a pen on his desk. “Wish I could help you, Malcolm, but I can’t say I have any complaints about Penny besides that one phone call Angela mentioned, which really wasn’t a big deal.”
When Malcolm turns back to Angela, Nate winks at me.
Thank you, I mouth before the butterflies in my stomach take flight from having his megawatt charm aimed my way. Turning on my heel, I race back to my office, hoping that Penny can get off Angela’s shit list before she loses her job. I’ll have to warn her to stay out of Poison Ivy’s way for the next few weeks.
My heart is still galloping when I plop my ass down at my desk and take a few more deep breaths. One crisis down, one NSFW blog to go.
When I click to enlarge the browser, I’m greeted by Josh’s enormous penis, which is winking at me as only a dick can. The logo at the top says All About the D with his behemoth erection towering over it like it’s the Chrysler Building.
A laugh escapes me. Is this supposed to be funny?
Seriously, it’s Photoshopped to look like the Chrysler Building.
Once I’m over the shock of the X-rated python before me, I take a good long look. Because, truthfully, I’ve never seen one this size in real life. I feel like I’m paddling down the Amazon, and I just spotted my first anaconda.
All jokes aside, there’s no wild jungle. Everything is neatly trimmed like a freshly mowed lawn.
His cock is strangely attractive.
Smooth and firm and thick.
I look down at my palm and then back at his photo. I bet I wouldn’t be able to close my hand around it.
The long lines of his body lead to a wide crown that sits proudly on top as though His Majesty might storm the castle any minute now.
I can only imagine taking a slow lick up that muscular body…
Evie, stop perving on the potential client.
Shaking my head, I blow out a breath and ignore the damp fabric between my legs.
Guess it’s been a while since I’ve had some personal time. Maybe I should pencil that in this weekend.
Fanning myself, I try to regroup and check out the other elements of his layout, which are surprisingly engaging. The lighting is artistic, the cropping and placement are amusing, and the captions crack me up with quips like, “Warning: Pressure-treated wood” and “A little caulk for your tongue and groove.”
My eyes sweep over another erotic photo, and the throb between my legs intensifies.
I realize I might need to reevaluate my life if I’m turned on by a skyline of New York with a giant dick Photoshopped in the middle, but I suppose I can’t be the only woman who’s wildly intrigued. Josh-With-No-Last-Name has millions of followers and at least two corporate sponsors who are interested in collaborating on sex toys.
After a few minutes scrolling down the page, I close his blog, erase my browser history, and push the bangs out of my face.
Now how the hell am I going to sell this client to the firm?