Defense attorney Jake Becker has a reputation for being cold, callous and intimidating — and that suits him just fine. So when Chelsea McQuaid and her six orphaned nieces and nephews come along and complicate the ever-loving hell out of his life, will he soften his edge and let them into his heart?
Read the excerpt from Sustained by Emma Chase:
Mrs. Higgens heads out of the office and a few moments later, Chelsea and her fidgeting, noisy gaggle of nieces and nephews come into my office. She’s wearing a casual outfit — definitely “mommy wear,” but on that body it screams sexy. A dark green sweater that highlights the red in her auburn hair. Snug blue jeans tucked into high brown boots accent those endless legs — and the tight swell of her supple ass. That’s a pleasant surprise — I didn’t notice her ass the first time we met, but it’s f***ing gorgeous.
She adjusts her grip on the baby carrier and her smile is strained. “Hello, Mr. Becker.”
I stand up behind my desk. “Chelsea, it’s good to see you again. What brings you…”
My eyes scan each of the faces that crowd my office, and I realize one is missing.
Chelsea sighs. Before she can speak, the grouchy girl — 14-year-old Riley — answers for her. “The idiot got arrested. He stole a car.”
In a week, the little shit went from mugging to grand theft auto. That escalated quickly.
The small towheaded one, Rosaleen, continues. “And then he crashed it.”
The two-year-old supplies sound effects. “Brooocshhh.”
The smart one, Raymond, adds, “And not just any car — a Ferrari 458 Italia Limited Edition. The starting price is around nine hundred thousand dollars.”
I look to Chelsea, who nods. “Yeah, that’s pretty much the whole story. He’s in juvenile detention — serious trouble this time.”
This time implies there’s been other times — my almost-robbery notwithstanding.
Jesus Christ, kid.
Chelsea explains in a strained voice, “My brother has dozens of attorneys in his contact list, but none of them are defense attorneys. I had your card… and you seem like a good lawyer.”
Out of curiosity, I ask, “What makes you think I’m good?”
She raises her chin and meets my eyes. “You look like a man who knows how to win a fight. That’s what I need — what Rory needs.”
I take a few moments to think — to plan.
Chelsea must interpret my silence as rejection, because her voice turns almost pleading. “I don’t know what your typical retainer is, but I can afford —”
My lifted finger stops her. “I don’t think that’s going to be necessary. Wait here.” Then I point to Raymond. “Come with me.” And to the oldest girl. “You too, Smiley.”
As they follow me out the door, the brooding teen corrects me. “My name is Riley.”
“I know. But I’m going to call you Smiley.”
“Why?” she asks, like it’s the stupidest, most vile thing she’s ever heard.
I smirk. “Because you’re not.”
Let the eye-rolling commence.
I lead them into the office next door. Sofia Santos’s head is bent over her desk, her perfectly manicured hands scribbling rapid notes on a document. She looks up as we enter.
“Hey, Sofia.” I hook my thumb at the sullen girl behind me. “This is Smiley McQuaid — her aunt is a new client and we have to head downtown for a few hours. Is it okay if she hangs with you?”
Stanton’s daughter, Presley, is almost 13. I figure if anyone is adept at dealing with a teenage female, it’s Sofia.
“Sure. I’ll be here all afternoon.”
Riley moves to my side. “My name is Riley.”
Sofia smiles. “Hi, Riley.” Then she points to a chair in the corner, next to a wall outlet. “The phone charger’s over there.”
Riley almost cracks a grin. Almost. “Swag.”
I turn to Sofia’s office companion, who’s staring at images on his laptop. “Brent, this is Raymond. Raymond, Brent. Can you keep him out of trouble for a few hours?”
Brent nods. Then, with the excitement of a boy allowed to watch his first R-rated horror movie, he asks Raymond, “You want to see pictures of blood splatter?”
The boy steps forward. “Is it as cool as it sounds?”
And my work here is done.
I pop my head back into my office and crook my finger at Rosaleen. She looks up at her aunt, who nods permission, and Rosaleen steps out to join me in front of Mrs. Higgens’ desk.
“Mrs. Higgens, this is Rosaleen. Can you mind her for a bit while her aunt and I head to the courthouse?”
Rosaleen looks down shyly, and Mrs. Higgens pulls up a chair beside her. “Of course. I have a granddaughter about your age, Rosaleen. I keep coloring books right here for when she visits. Do you like to color?”
Rosaleen nods eagerly, climbing into the chair.
I stride back into my office, where Chelsea and the two youngest rug rats await. I point at them. “You two look like the real troublemakers in the group, so you’re coming with us.”
“Hi!” the two-year-old replies with a deceptively sweet smile.
“Oh no, you’re not roping me into that again.”
I take the baby carrier from Chelsea’s hands — and almost drop the thing. “Wow,” I say, glancing down. “You’re heavier than you look.” He gurgles back with a mouth full of drool.
I turn to Chelsea. “You grab Thing One. Let’s go.”
Her voice stops me. It’s a whisper, quiet and inquisitive.
It’s the first time she’s said my name. One small syllable that makes my gut tighten. That makes me want to hear her say it again — in a moan, a gasp. A pleasure-spiked scream.
“Can I ask you something before we go?”
She searches my face with an honest curiosity that could pierce body armor. “If it’s not the money… why are you helping us?”
It’s an interesting question. I’m not the noble type. I’m more of an “every man for himself” kind of guy. So why the hell am I helping them?
Because I want in her pants, of course. Doing Chelsea a favor is the most direct route to doing her. Really not that complicated.
I shrug. “I’m a sucker for a lost cause.”
And because I just can’t hold back any longer, I reach out one hand and gently stroke the ivory skin of her cheek. It’s softer than I ever could’ve imagined.
“And for a pretty face.”
About the author: By day, Emma Chase is a devoted wife and mother who resides in a small, rural town in New Jersey. By night, she toils away bringing her colorful characters and their endless antics to life. Writing has always been her passion, and the 2013 release of her debut romantic comedy, Tangled, was nothing less than a dream come true.
You can buy the full book here.