As promised, this is the first chapter of Elastic Hearts. It hasn't been edited. Enjoy :) Chapter 1.
Nicole Alessi rarely visited the law firm these days. I could count on two hands the amount of times she’d come, and six of those were before she’d gotten engaged. One of the last few times was after the ring graced her finger. I saw her in passing and she made sure to steer clear of me. As if I was going to pull her into my office and have my way with her while that thing was glaring at me, reminding me she belonged to somebody else. It was fine by me. It wasn’t like I felt hurt by the engagement, I was more caught off guard. One day we were talking about how crazy people were to want to get married, and the next she’d become one of those crazy people. She’d given me no inkling, no sign that she’d wanted more, out of me, out of life…out of anything. Even though that ship had long sailed, or more accurately had never taken off to begin with, the buzz of her name around the office put me on alert. Everybody from my secretary to the receptionist was whispering about the beautiful Nicole, wife to the handsome Gabriel Lane, coming for a visit as if she herself were Hollywood royalty. Maybe she was. I made it my job not to keep up with her whereabouts. What was the point, anyway? And because I knew she was coming in, I busied myself in researching Sam Weaver, a star running back I was representing in a high-profile divorce. I’d asked him more questions than the SAT and the guy still hadn’t been one hundred percent honest with me. How people expected me to represent them in court without all the information I asked for and win was beyond my understanding. My focus was cut by the loud knock on my office door. It was pushed open before I gave permission, and I didn’t have to look away from my screen to know it was William. He was the only one with enough balls to do that. It also helped that he was my boss and owned the building. “What can I do for you?” I said as my eyes scanned the latest TMZ post about Sam and his encounter with not one, but two prostitutes. I looked away from the screen when I heard Will walk toward me without saying a word. He had the look on his face, the one that told me he was about to ask me to do something he knew I didn’t want any part of. Like the time he asked me to take on a case of a porn-star divorce, which my sixteen-year-old self would have literally cum all over, but the thirty-one-year-old me was too busy using disinfectant every time I went near any of my client’s “work spaces.” “Fuck. Just spit it out.” Will chuckled, unbuttoning his suit with one hand as he took a seat across from me. The fact he didn’t just come out with it and actually sat down to discuss it made me develop a little ringing noise in my ears. I gave him my full attention. “You know you’re the best damn attorney on my team,” he said. I stayed quiet. I knew he wasn’t going to fire me, but starting a conversation out like that could only mean…my heart skipped a beat at the mere suggestion in my thoughts. “Your worth ethic is enviable. You’re driven, you’re a cocky son of a bitch, but somehow you maintain a level of humanity with clients.” “Unless you’re about to drop down on one knee and propose to me, I think you should just ask for what will clearly be a massive, Victor-please-don’t-leave-my-firm-after-I-say-these-words favor,” I said, mainly because I was starting to feel uncomfortable with the way his blue eyes leveled on mine. He smiled. “I want to make you partner,” he said. My mouth dropped. Those six words were my reason for everything. I’d dreamed about them every night since I started law school. I worked hard every day to hear them come out of his mouth. I reeled in my emotions before they let me get ahead of myself and sat back in my seat a little. “Just like that? What about Bobby?” Bobby, whose parents were old family friends of Will’s, had been hired a year before I was. Even if I was a much better lawyer, I couldn’t imagine him not giving Bobby the opportunity first. “I’ve spoken to him about this at length. He knows where I’m coming from and he agrees that you’re better suited.” “Better suited…to make partner,” I said, needing to clarify. “To make partner, and for the job I need you to do in order to make partner.” He delivered that with a wide grin. My heart sank. What the fuck was this man going to ask me to do? “What is it this time? An actor needs representation because his wife slapped him with a divorce after he was caught cheating with their nanny?” “Not quite, but good guess,” he said, his smile turning somewhat serious. “I need you to represent Nicole in her divorce.” I blinked. What? No. I shook my head and swallowed loudly. It wasn’t often I was at a loss for words, but this was just… “She’s getting a divorce?” “Yes, and obviously I can’t be her attorney, so I wanted her to get the next best thing.” Me. The next best thing. That in itself was high praise from William. I closed my eyes momentarily, but the only thing I could visualize was the day she’d come in here and Will had introduced her as his daughter. Suddenly, I wanted the world to swallow me hole. It might as well have since I already felt like my career was beginning to sink as the memories of her and I in a bathroom stall at one of LA’s most popular nightclubs choked me and I barely got an audible nice to meet you out. She’d smiled, like it was no big deal, but the blush that crept over her face and neck had said differently. The way her eyes widened at the sight of me, as if her vision had to adjust to what I looked like in real life, outside of the dark club and dimly lit bathroom. And how that memory rushed through my body and to my cock when she came back the following week and started to flirt with me. I’d promised myself I wouldn’t get involved with her then, but from one second to another Nicole’s tanned legs were spread open in front of me on this very desk, and I became addicted to the way she threw her head back and said my name with that slight Spanish accent regardless of what I did to her body. I swallowed, cleared my throat, and took a deep breath. “I can’t do it,” I managed to say. “Is this about the Sam Weaver case? If you want to take on less, you can give that one to Bobby. I want you for Nicole.” I want you for Nicole. Nicole, who I knew the first time I laid eyes on her could be my downfall. Nicole, whose blue eyes held wicked promise every time she looked at me. Nicole, who had sworn she was completely against marriage, an oath I disputed when the tabloids dropped the bomb of her engagement. Nicole, who weaved some powerful shit with her wild streak and funny comments that rivaled anything that came out of my mouth. Nicole, whose fucking mouth was made by the gods for the gods and hadn’t been anywhere near me for at least five years. I breathed out a heavy breath, trying to rid myself of all things Nicole. He had no idea what he was asking of me. “Did she request me?” “No. She doesn’t know yet. She should be here shortly. I wanted to give you a heads-up first. But, Victor, you do this, you do right by her and then I’ll make you partner.” Fuck. My. Life. That word was too tantalizing to fuck around with. It was the sole reason I was billing so many damn hours. “Okay.” “You’ll do it?” “Yes.” Now I just had to make sure I didn’t do her and lose my goddamn license in the process.