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By P.J. Nevada

Copyright 2017 P. J. Nevada, LLC

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WARNING: This story contains sexually explicit content and language and is intended for adult readers. It may contain content that is disagreeable to some readers. This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination and are fictional. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

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Chapter One

The air was muggy. I couldn’t feel it in my glass and steel tower, forty-four floors above the street, but I could sense its heaviness as I stared out my floor to ceiling window. All I could smell and sense was the cold and sterile refrigerated air pouring out of the overhead vent in my office. I knew it was out there, in the clouds and mist and smog that hung over Atlanta, my newly adopted city, the city I now claimed as home before anywhere else. Caged in my fancy office, part of me wanted to lose the tight tie and suit, but success drove me ever forward.

I glanced at the clock on my desk. Two in the afternoon on a Wednesday. I was halfway done with my week unless some unexpected emergency popped up.

A hasty knock on the door followed by the sound of it opening simultaneously made me turn around, catching my legal assistant sweeping over my desk, picking up papers, moving others, and adding a few more to the growing piles in the corners.

“Should I even ask, Gloria?”

She spoke without looking up. “O’Malley Plumbing is on line two, screaming over the Judge’s memorandum and you are late for your meeting with that wood guy. He’s pacing and wearing out a path through the carpet, muttering about our cheap furniture.”

I had to smile as she spoke, knowing that she was my lifesaver and guardian angel, keeping me on track. Her auburn hair was tucked behind her ears as her eyes darted across my desk, still moving paper, making notes on sticky pads as she prioritized my emergencies.

“I told O’Malley that the judge would give us a hard time, but the contract provisions would win it for us in the end. I’ll talk to him, Gloria.”

“No need. I told him that already and I put him on hold to see if I can find you to tell him the same thing.”

“You’re the best. I can talk to him,” I announced as I reached for my phone.

Gloria speedily clamped my wrist, holding it in place, shooting me a mean glance in the process. “I can’t find you, Luke! Let him cool his jets. We’re expecting to get the discovery schedule from the court and I anticipate seeing a different judge in our case. Ours is taking a leave of absence for medical so O’Malley will be happy once we have our new judge.”

“How would I ever survive without you, my dear?”

Gloria stood up and turned to face me, her arms crossed in front, her knowing smile wide and mischievous. “You couldn’t survive without me, and don’t call me ‘my dear.’ That’s sexual harassment, sweetheart! Besides, I’m old enough to be your mother, and you must never mess with Mother!”

“You’re calling me sweetheart? Now who’s doing the sexual harassment?”

“Mothers don’t harass. Its part of the job description,” Gloria teased. She moved around my desk and plopped into my chair, opening my lower file drawer and began looking through the folders.

“Where the hell did you put that file I prepared for your meeting with the wood guy? And like I was saying, I’m practically twice your age, so I can call you sweetheart any damn time I please,” she blurted out, her wry smile giving away her intentions. “Just because you are the new wonder kid around here, making partner in an unheard of four years, doesn’t let you off so easy. You still need to pull your shit together.” She pulled out a file, her face beaming with the accomplishment and stood up and shoved the file at me.

“Half your age? I’m thirty, and no way in hell are you even close to…”

Before I could finish, Gloria shot her hand up, her pointer finger piercing the air. “Hush up, honey pie. Don’t even go there!”

“But I was about to say how good you look for…”

The pointing finger was aimed in my direction, Gloria’s gaze was warning enough. “These lines and creases on my face are my integrity lines and wisdom lines, nothing more. Now go talk to our wood guy and charm the pants off him. The top guys had no luck getting him to sign on, and he would be a good fit for our firm, not to mention great fees from all of the international work this guy’s companies would generate. Make him our client and the senior partners will swoon when you walk by, sweetheart!”

I flipped open the file. “Georgia Pine Industries? They are one of the biggest exporters in the state. They also do construction. I read your summary. It was great.”

Gloria’s finger moved closer to my face. “Correction, they’re one of the largest exporters in the country, my dear, and their construction business has a presence in over thirty states and a dozen countries around the world. This client would be one of our biggest if you can land it. It would certainly justify your oversized salary and bonus package,” she added, her eyes again mischievous.

I ignored that last comment, well aware that Gloria had access to my employee file, but I had also seen hers and knew that she did pretty well for herself, having been with the firm for over twenty years.

I straightened myself out as Gloria reached for my tie, straightening it out as I stared ahead.

“You know I mean it when I say that you are my lifesaver,” I offered, my voice low and calm.

Gloria smiled, saying nothing.

“Too bad I have a fiancé,” I added.

“More harassment, boss?”

I smiled. “It would be worth it,” I teased.

Gloria grabbed my tie and gave it a tug. “You’re like the dog that chases the car, not having a damn clue what to do with it.”

“Of course I know what to do,” I defensively shot back.

“Do you? I’m still not sure. You and that fiancé, Sarah Sue? You sure about that? I don’t see the fit, honey.”

“Are you knocking me or her?”

“Neither. I like you both, I don’t sense the chemistry. You need chemistry, you need fire.” Her eyes flared on her last word, releasing my tie, and brushing off some non-existent lint from the material.

“Hey, I get my share, don’t worry about chemistry.”

Gloria offered her familiar all-knowing grin. “I’m not talking sex, sugar. My first husband and I had the chemistry, and everything about us fit. He died and part of me died with him. I found husband number two. No chemistry. Sadly, he got sick and died a few years later, but that time, I didn’t. Be certain about a fiancé, any fiancé. Make sure the chemistry is there. Your gut will tell you for sure, not your private parts!”

“Too much information, Gloria.” It was my turn to hold up a hand.

She moved around me and opened my door, ushering me out. “Conference room ‘A’ contains one Mr. Jackson Jenkins, founder and president of Georgia Pine. Now go get him, honey!”

My meeting with Mr. Jenkins went smoothly, at least for the first twenty minutes, explaining the type of legal services our firm offered, highlighting some of the skills of our lead attorneys. I made enough references about his company to let him know that I had done my homework. But still, I had a nagging feeling that I was missing something, knowing that my bosses had probably gone over the same points. We weren’t connecting, at least not yet.

Mr. Jenkins closed the firm’s promotion folder that I had handed him when I first entered the room. “Lucas is it?”

“Yes, Sir. Lucas Harper. Most people call me Luke. What is it you want to know, or to hear? I’m sure the other partners already told you everything I just said. So why me? Why did you ask for me to make another presentation?”

Mr. Jenkins leaned back in his chair. “You from around here, son?”

“Yes Sir, about two hours northeast of Atlanta.”

“The Chattahoochee area?”

I was surprised at his guess, then I realized that he must have looked me up on the firm’s online resume, and considering this guy’s reputation, I wondered if he had done some additional research on me. I cleared my throat, treading cautiously. An awful lot was riding on this meeting. “Yes! The national forest. I used to go camping there growing up. School outings, scouting trips. I loved it, especially the morning smell of the pine trees, of the forest. It was magical for me.”

He nodded slowly as if hearing the answer he already anticipated. “And the last time you were there, Lucas?”

“Between college and law school and work, well, it’s been a while. But I am good at what I do, Sir. And this firm is good at what it does, that is to serve our clients with their legal needs.”

“So you grew up in the area then, visiting Hart Falls and the gorge?”

“You mean Bankhead Gorge Park?”

“Yes, a wonderful place to be from,” he stated. “At least that’s what I’ve heard,” he added, tapping the top of the table where we sat.

“Yes, Sir.”

Mr. Jenkins smiled and nodded as he raised his eyebrows when I spoke. I couldn’t tell if he was surprised at my answers or pleased with himself that I would give him the responses he expected. I felt that there was so much more he wasn’t saying to me.

“I am from that area, but as to our firm, like I was saying, Mr. Jenkins …”

He waved away my words. “Eh! I don’t care about firm details. I know this place is good at what it does.” He looked around the room for effect. “And I know all about you, your rapid rise to success, and the wins you pull off when lawyers twice your age can’t even come close. I need an attorney with a soul. Sure, your bosses said the same things you did, and I also asked them the same questions about growing up, looking for that certain something. When you talked about the Chattahoochee National Forest, your face lit up. Did you realize that?”

I sat quietly, not sure what to say, if anything at all.

“I’m going to try your firm, hand over some of my files, but not all, not yet. I believe that I want you to be my lead attorney here.”

“Sir, thank you for the vote of confidence but there are several more senior attorneys here. I’m not sure if I can handle all of your legal work adequately. From my understanding, you have at least half a dozen attorneys working for you now.”

“Actually, it’s a full dozen, including offices around the country, and you’ll need additional attorneys in this office that you can supervise, to assist you. I want you to be my contact, my point man. But I have to test you first. I need to know what isn’t written on your resume, but what’s written on your soul.”

“My soul?” I gulped, not quite certain what to make of this comment.

Mr. Jenkins stood up, sliding his hand across the conference table, a look of disdain spreading across his face. “Lucas, could you please call your bosses to join us here.”

I picked up a nearby telephone and dialed the extension for Mr. Cheatham and then for Mr. Dowager, the two principal partners of our firm, Cheatham and Dowager, LLC.

After putting down the phone, I shared my results with Mr. Jenkins. “Only Mr. Dowager is in today, and he’ll be here in a moment.”

Mr. Jenkins looked displeased as he looked over a nearby credenza and gave one of the legs a swift kick. The sound of a low crack rang out. I distinctly heard him mutter the word ‘shit’ under his breath. I was more intrigued than concerned at the moment.

A few minutes later, Mr. Dowager entered the conference room, slightly out of breath. With a wide grin on his face, he shook Mr. Jenkins hand, shooting me a questioning glance in the process.

Mr. Jenkins then turned to look at me. “Mr. Lucas Harper here has impressed me, but he has a final test.”

“A test?” I asked.

Mr. Dowager gave me an odd look before returning his gaze to his almost client.

“I’m sending over a handful of files for your office to substitute into. Standard contract cases. My people will be available to fill in the details, but I need Lucas here to work on a special project for me. Your more senior partners can handle these basic contract cases,” Mr. Jenkins announced, shooting me a look as if to say he had been listening to me. “I have some work spaces outside of Atlanta and I’d like Lucas to set himself up in one of them. I need him to work there on a temporary, part-time basis. It’s a special project I’d like him to handle, and I want to see how he does.”

The confused look on Mr. Dowager’s face matched my own feelings.

“I have to work somewhere else, Mr. Jenkins?”

“Like I said, it will be only part-time, for two or three months, I imagine. How long will be up to you and how well things develop. It will prove helpful in working for me, and besides, you’ll enjoy it, I promise you, son.”

Mr. Dowager nodded in my direction. “I’m curious, Mr. Jenkins. Is there a specific legal matter or case out there where Lucas needs to be onsite?”

“No case at all. Something fun, actually. I’m curious how Lucas will do.” Mr. Jenkins looked around, as if closing the subject. “Forgive my impertinence but your furniture here is awfully embarrassing. Cheap imported wood with poor craftsmanship. Your firm needs to order replacement furniture for this conference room and Lucas can pick out a new desk as well, but made of real wood, quality wood, with the best craftsmanship available. I’ll sell it to you at cost, I promise. If you expect to represent one of the world’s largest lumber companies, then your lead attorney should sport quality wood furniture. Plus, he needs to know all about wood and the lumber industry. Don’t you agree?”

Mr. Dowager and I both nodded, unsure of what to say.

Mr. Jenkins walked to another table, petting the top surface with a look of seriousness on his face as if he was receiving messages from the wood itself.

I stared at the scene, annoyed that my newest client believed that sending me shopping for furniture would be the right test to determine what legal skills I possessed.

“This is quite an unusual test,” Mr. Dowager offered, looking at me and obviously detecting my unease.

“Trust me, this will be beneficial for all,” Mr. Jenkins added, giving me an odd look. “Let’s say we begin Monday. Does that work for you, Lucas?”

I shrugged, trying to remember what was on my calendar. “I don’t think I have any court in the next two weeks. The motions and pleadings can all be done on my laptop, as long as I have access to my files in the office.”

“Of course you will. I’m not sending you to an island in the Pacific. You’ll be close to Atlanta, able to come in anytime you need. You can even stay in your own home here in town, I’m guessing two or three nights a week for me will be suitable.” Mr. Jenkins’ grin grew even wider, obviously enjoying playing the part of ringmaster, or was it dungeon master?

After a deep breath, I asked my last question. “So, where exactly am I being relocated to?”

“Hart City, Georgia,” Mr. Jenkins answered with a broad sweep of his hand. “You are going to be working with one of my best furniture designers. He knows all there is to know about wood and wood products, the types of trees, their characteristics, everything, and his furniture is amazing. People rave about his work. I bet you will be a quick study and get back that feeling of being part of nature you used to have.”

“Did you say Hart City?” I croaked out, hoping my ears heard wrong.

“Sure. It’s near the Chattahoochee Forest. You said you are from around there, maybe even close to your home town. Some of the best pine and oak forests in the country, if not in the world, are right here in Georgia.”

“Hart City? I can’t, that’s impossible, Mr. Jenkins.” My heart was pounding. I couldn’t go back there.

Mr. Jenkins turned to face me, taking a step closer. Mr. Dowager also moved toward me.

“I could work from here. I can work online. I have great staff,” I nervously offered.

Mr. Jenkins grabbed Mr. Dowager’s hand, vigorously shaking it. “We have a deal. Be sure that our friend Lucas here is in Hart City first thing Monday morning. I’ll send the specifics.”

“Yes, he will be there. I promise you that. And thank you for the confidence in our firm.”

“You are welcome,” Mr. Jenkins replied, shooting me an odd look, not quite annoyed but quizzical in a way.

The door closed behind him and Mr. Dowager stepped closer to me. “I suppose I should thank you for getting this account. It’s a major victory, but what the fuck was that crap at the end, that you can’t go to Hart City? It’s only an hour or something from here. What’s the big idea? You could have cost us this account. It could be massive.”

“It’s maybe two hours away, Sir.”

“Fine, two hours! That’s still nothing. Don’t make this a problem. What’s going on, Lucas? Are you trying to jeopardize your career here? We have high hopes for you, and now they are even higher. Why did you say you couldn’t go to Hart City? Aren’t you from that part of the state?”

“I grew up there, Mr. Dowager, in Hart City itself. It’s a very small town. Everyone knows everyone else.”

“So? Do you have a police record or something? Leave a girl after you knocked her up or something?” he taunted.

“Nothing like that. Just some difficult memories.” I took a deep breath, getting annoyed at his last remark, but I knew I could not back out of this. Too much was riding on it. All that I had to do was work part-time, and only temporarily, in some office looking at wood samples probably, and then picking out furniture. I can do this, I tried to reassure myself. I’d probably be situated out of the way in some stuffy warehouse on the edge of town.

“Then what is it, Luke?”

“I’ll be fine. This task shouldn’t take too long. I’ll be back soon enough.”

“That’s the spirit, Luke. Just be sure not to pick the most expensive furniture out there,” my boss joked.


“What do you mean you’ll be spending half your week out in the country somewhere? I never heard of such a thing. Either you are away on assignment or you are commuting nearby. This half week bullshit makes no sense. What am I supposed to do by myself, show up at events alone? We have the arts society cocktail party at the club in one week,” Sarah Sue whined as she rolled off me.

I stared at her hard. After a sweaty round of sex, her head of blonde hair still looked beauty pageant perfect. I, on the other hand, felt like a pile of jelly.

She sat up and turned on the light, her breasts still pointed northward, thanks to the birthday present I paid for eight months ago. Sarah Sue looked down at my bare chest and patted me hesitantly.

“Ew, you’re all wet and messy. Go shower. When you come back you can tell me that you will tell your boss you can’t take this assignment.”

“Baby, we just had sex. We’re supposed to get sweaty and messy. And I’m not going to tell my boss anything.”

“Daddy said he met someone at the club who knew your boss. You are supposed to be their rising star. You can ask for anything. Where is this place again? Maybe they have a sweet bed and breakfast where I can come visit and do yoga. Is there a decent spa there? They better not have a foreign clientele.”

Her derision was palpable and I shot her an annoying glare.

She ignored my reaction and held up her left hand, fingers outstretched. “My nails are ghastly.” She reached under the blanket and grabbed my balls, as if sending a message. “Go shower and I’ll let you do me again. But better this time. You didn’t seem to have your heart in it, and these abs of yours. Well, Luke, all I can say is the gym is two miles from here.”

I sat up and pushed her hand off me, gathering the sheets around me, pulling it to my waist. “Sarah Sue!”

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