Read Fat Girl Online

Authors: Leigh Carron

Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Erotica, #Plus-Size

Fat Girl (2 page)

BOOK: Fat Girl
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THE CLICK OF THE FRONT door, followed by the report of heavy footsteps, breaks my concentration.

My first thought: definitely male. My second: I’m not expecting anyone and walk-ins are rare. As I begin to rise from behind my desk, the thud of leather soles on the hardwood comes to a halt.
Ah.
My heart settles. Whoever is out there must see the toy box and Wii console in the waiting area, and realize he’s wandered into the wrong office loft. It happens sometimes. Even with Deeana Chase, Child Advocacy Services, embossed on the glass.

Lowering myself back into my chair, I’m about to return to the case I’ve spent the past hour prepping for mediation, except there are no sounds of retreat. I cock an ear and listen. Nothing. My nerves begin to buzz again as my mind swings back to something Lena, my assistant, said before she left for the day. A man called to ask if I would be in this evening but wouldn’t disclose his name or purpose. Strange for sure and I should have locked up. A rule I set for both Lena and myself when either of us was working alone. But, true to form, preoccupation with a case took over and I forgot. Now I wish I’d been more vigilant.

Imagination racing in time with my rapid pulse, I pull a can of pepper spray out of my purse and, slipping off three-inch heels, silently move across my office. I’m cautious by design, though rarely this jumpy. The only logical explanation is that last night I stayed up late watching
The Deliberate Stranger
, an old movie about a notorious serial killer who lured his victims with charm and good looks. In hindsight, probably not the type of program a woman living on her own should watch. But having worked in Chicago for all of my adult life without encountering a problem, I feel relatively safe here.

Still…

I angle my head and peer around the doorway into the reception area. The man standing with his back to me is partially concealed by a giant leafy ficus, but the parts of him I can see are impressively built. He has to be more than six feet, judging by the bit of dark hair peeking just above the leaves. And he’s broad and muscular, if the way one shoulder fills out half of a black leather jacket and one rounded butt cheek flatters blue-washed denim are any indication. Under different circumstances I might enjoy the view, but all I’m thinking is his fine ass isn’t going to matter much if he’s another Ted Bundy.

In sheer masculine volume, this Adonis would have no trouble taking me and my extra weight down without breaking a sweat. I tighten my grip on the metal trigger with a good notion to spray first and ask questions later.

Fortunately, logic kicks in before my imagination spins further out of control. Would any man intent on harm stand there all this time studying the corkboard on which I proudly display cards and drawings from my young clients? The rational answer is no.

I take a deep breath and chide myself for being ridiculous. “May I help you?” I ask, moving into the open doorway.

There’s a pause—a noticeable hesitation—before he steps from behind the plant and slowly pivots.

I know even before our eyes meet.

My breath stutters.

I freeze.

And the can falls from my numb fingers.

“Hello, Deeana.”

His voice, deeper with age, packs an unfair sexual punch. Just like the rest of him.

As handsome as he was at eighteen, it didn’t come close to his appearance at thirty-three.
People
magazine has called it right. Micah Peters is the Sexiest Man Alive. No amount of shock or disdain could deny him that.

Partly Brazilian, on his mother’s side, he is blessed with exotic good looks. Short black waves carelessly styled, caramel skin that doesn’t pale even in winter, and espresso-brown eyes fringed with the darkest, thickest lashes I have ever seen.

Like his body, his facial structure is harder—more masculine, more defined. And the inky stubble framing his strong jaw and full, gorgeous mouth only adds to the instant, powerful impact.

But I’m not that naive girl anymore. I’ve taken my knocks and know all too well that the quality of a man’s character doesn’t lie in the quality of his looks. The fact that time has been unjustly charitable to him only fuels the resentment I’ve kept secret and locked away for fifteen years.

It takes every ounce of my trained composure to push civility past the bile rising in my throat. I lean against the wood frame for support and manage to say, “This is a surprise.” The fake calm of the words burns my tongue.

If he’s affected, it doesn’t show in the easy strides that move him toward me. The delicious aromas of leather and earthy cologne fill my senses. As he comes closer still, I struggle not to breathe him in. Mustn’t let him think he has any effect on me either.

Without smiling, his dark gaze slides over my every feature, studying them one by one, as if comparing them with his memory. “It’s been a while,” he says.

Not nearly long enough to forget or forgive. “Several years,” I reply.

Now he smiles. A mocking grin that tells me he knows I remember just how long it has been. That I remember the very night I left him—and everything else that mattered to me—behind.

“I see you didn’t run very far.”
He’s good at reeling me in, but this time I’m not taking the bait. Rehashing the past would only conjure up memories I have tucked away, nice and tight. “Chicago U had a good child and family studies program,” I say, as though that were reason enough to flee only two hours away.
I didn’t even get running away right.

“Humph.” He puts a lot of judgment into that one breath and studies me hard for a moment longer.

Under his scrutiny, I tug the lapels of my jacket together. I haven’t done that in a while—tugging my clothes to cover myself.

His gaze lowers to my fidgeting hand and then to the floor. “You dropped something.”

He bends down to pick up the bejeweled canister at my stocking feet. A tongue-in-cheek gift from my two girlfriends that affectionately pokes fun at my conservative nature. My friends are good for me because I tend to take myself too seriously.

As Mick straightens to his imposing six feet five inches, I watch his gaze leisurely climb up my body—past the ample curves of my thighs and hips to the fullness of my breasts. I’ve worked hard to weed self-consciousness out of my system. Yet picturing myself through Mick’s eyes, my efforts fail and I come up lacking.

I didn’t follow his former NBA career; I made it a point not to. But unless I had become a hermit, a once-tempting proposition, I couldn’t have avoided the occasional run-in with his photos splashed across the tabloids, most often with superbeautiful women with supermodel bodies. Photos that never failed to do a number on my psyche. But I’d sooner walk buck naked through Lincoln Park on the Fourth of July—a fate I’d rank right up there with facing a death squad—than allow Micah Peters to witness my lingering insecurities.

I thrust my chin up, ease my hand away from the lapels, and extend it toward him. “I’ll take that.”

He looks at the can and laughs. The cynical sound rumbles low in his chest. “Do you greet all your visitors with sparkly weapons?” he asks and sets the gaudy pink canister on Lena’s desk, out of my reach, as if he doesn’t trust me not to open fire. If ever there were an occasion to pull the trigger, this would be it.

“Only visitors who make cryptic phone calls and then show up without warning.” I would congratulate myself on matching his sarcasm, except the bravado gets stuck in my throat when he takes another step forward.

“Would you have agreed to see me if I’d identified myself?”

“Assuming I was available.”

He stalks closer and leans in low—eight inches low—until his mouth is a hairbreadth from mine. In another time, I would have kissed his lips or lovingly traced the faded scar across his right cheekbone. But those days are long gone.

Grinning smugly, he says in a cocky, declarative whisper, “Liar. You would have avoided me like the plague.”

He’s right. But admitting as much would be weak. And I hate showing weakness to anyone. Instead, determined to brazen out his unnerving presence, I hold his gaze and my ground. “Since you went to so much trouble with your cloak-and-dagger act, I assume this visit has a purpose.”

Something indiscernible slices through the cockiness as he backs off and reaches into his jacket pocket. “Will four grand cover your retainer?”

I blink at the crisp stack of hundred-dollar bills he tosses onto Lena’s desk. “You want to hire me?”

“Why else would I be here?”

His biting comment stings a lot more than it should. Not that I have any romantic illusions about Mick coming here to pledge his undying love. He professed that sentiment years ago, and it turned out to be as worthless as the dirt on the bottoms of his designer shoes. But hiring me? It doesn’t make any sense. Unless…

Oh, God… I grip the doorframe. “You have a ch-child?” I’m stammering, shaking on the inside, but I can’t help it.

His level stare turns to stone. I don’t understand his anger, but the curt
no
expels from me a breath of relief that I hide behind an impatient huff. “Then what exactly do you need my services for?”

He lets the question hang in silence before saying, “It’s Victor’s son who needs your help.”

Victor Torres
—my former foster brother and Mick’s accomplice. Too quickly for me to defend against, visions of that summer night fifteen years ago come crashing back, and with the memories I feel the brutal slap of betrayal and the piercing pain of loss all over again.

I long to hurl the ugly truths in his face. Of course I don’t. I didn’t let Mick see the angry hurt then, and I won’t let him see it now. From an arsenal of practice, I pull out an indifference that belies my quaking insides. “I’m busy with a full caseload at the moment,” I say, my blood running cold. “But I can suggest another attorney.”

 

 

 

IF TURNING TO FIND DEE framed in the doorway felt like I’d taken a fisted blow to the chest, hearing her say
I’m busy
in that ice water tone was like getting a steel-toed boot to my gut.

Beyond her surprise at my sudden appearance, the least I expected was concern. Hell, an inkling of interest.
Something.
But as our eyes stay connected, mine in anger and confusion, hers register hardly any emotion. Those big amber eyes, which I fell for long ago, now chill me to the bone. Where is her fucking remorse?
She
was the one to leave, not the other way around.

My impulse is to fire a scathing missile that will thaw her icy front, but I remind myself that I’ve come here for reasons that have nothing to do with us. Or with noticing how Dee’s generous body spices up an otherwise dull gray suit.

In high school, she wore mainly loose, dark clothes in an attempt to disguise the voluptuous curves she hated. Curves that I found soft and sexy. And damn her, I still do.

Frustrated with my errant thoughts, I ruthlessly tamp down memories of all the ways in which I enjoyed her silky body and redirect my mind back to why I swallowed my pride and hostility to come here.

“I don’t want another lawyer,” I say, mirroring her cool. “I’m asking you to take the case.”

BOOK: Fat Girl
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ads

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