Authors: Lane Hart
A Cocky Cage Fighter Novel
By Lane Hart
This book is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents, and dialogue were created from the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual people or events is coincidental.
The author acknowledges the copyrighted and trademarked status of various products within this work of fiction.
© 2015 Editor's Choice Publishing
All Rights Reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
For permission requests, write to the publisher, addressed “Attention: Permissions Coordinator” at the address below.
Editor’s Choice Publishing
P.O. Box 10024
Greensboro, NC 27404
Edited by Wendy Ely
Cover by vocaldesign
WARNING: THIS BOOK IS INTENDED FOR MATURE AUDIENCES 18+ ONLY AND CONTAINS EXPLICIT SEX SCENES AND ADULT LANGUAGE!
Table of Contents
I tap my perfectly manicured nails rhythmically over the laptop keys while watching the clock. I'm bored out of my mind waiting for this “urgent and extremely important” meeting to commence. The one my father's secretary said would begin promptly at three p.m. sharp.
And he's late.
But really, what else is new?
Ever since I started full-time at the firm I've felt like dad's errand girl. While some of his requests have actually involved trips to the United States Attorney's Office, my responsibilities in the building only included delivering or picking up documents. I've also been assigned the extremely important task of hole-punching a thousand pages of discovery before organizing them into binders. And last, but certainly not least, to remind me I'm the lowest on the totem pole he's actually sent me out to pick up his freaking lunch! I keep wanting to remind him that there is in fact a law degree hanging in my office, just like the one in his. I may have only recently graduated and passed several state bars, but being treated like a freaking intern is getting tiresome.
"Page," my father says when he breezes quickly into the room. "Sorry I'm late, got held up on a conference call. We may have just settled our trade secret violation case with SynTech for a million."
"Good for you," I say with as much enthusiasm as I can muster. It's not much, since I know our clients are making a killing stealing their old company's ideas.
My dad, Miles Davenport, has always specialized in corporate law. My older brother, Logan Davenport, is an expert at patent law. My uncle, John Davenport, has been doing wills and estates for twenty-five years. All three areas of law put me to sleep faster than an elephant-sized tranquilizer dart. I'm still trying to figure out my specialty; what cases I'll actually enjoy doing for the long-term.
The senior Davenport settles into the rolling chair at the head of the conference room table, slapping down a brown accordion file in front of him with a thud. Could it be that he's actually going to give me a real case to handle on my own? Usually the closest I get to a case is when I'm assigned research projects for him or my brother.
"Our three o'clock is late, not that I'm surprised. His father just posted his bond this morning, so they probably got held up at the jail," he tells me while checking his phone.
Oh no, no, no. I'll practice any area of law, but I won't do…
"It’s a new criminal case," my father says, grinning greedily from ear to ear.
? He can't be serious. There are two attorneys in our firm who do all of the criminal work. Ryan handles the state court cases, and Mark takes all the federal cases. So why the heck is my dad, a corporate attorney, talking to a potential criminal client?
"I'm sure you've heard of him, Jackson Malone, the famous MMA fighter?" he asks. I probably dislocated my jaw based on the speed at which it hit the wooden table. "His head coach, Don Briggs, and I grew up together. Don called me this morning and asked if we'd take his case."
"You mean Jackson ‘
’ Malone, the man who
a woman?" I ask in horror. It's been all over the news ever since the story first broke three days ago.
"Innocent until proven guilty, remember?" my father says, finally glancing up at me to raise a condescending gray eyebrow that matches his perfectly combed hair.
"Yeah, that's the motto of all criminals," I snort. "So what am I doing here?"
"You're going to represent him," he says, sliding the file across the table to me.
"Like hell I am!" I exclaim, jumping to my feet and raising my voice at my father for probably only the third time in all my twenty-four years. "I don't have any criminal law experience other than a summer internship with the DA's office, and even if I did have experience, I wouldn't represent
"You are," he says with the narrowed cobalt blue eyes I inherited, and the cold tone of finality I've always dreaded. It means he isn't going to budge and there's no convincing him to change his stubborn mind. "This is going to be a huge case. Not only is he going to pay us a small fortune, but the national publicity we'll get will be incredible! It's also exactly what you need, to put yourself in the spotlight to boost Elliot's campaign."
Oh please! Like I give a rat's bare bottom about Elliot's campaign. I don't even bother responding to that nonsense.
"There are nine other attorneys in this firm, why can't one of them do it? You know, maybe one that has
criminal courtroom experience," I argue.
"You and Logan are the only ones who've passed the bar in New Jersey, which has jurisdiction in this case. And you're the only female in the office. It'll look better to the media and the jurors to see a woman sitting beside Mr. Malone at the defense table. Don't worry, Ryan will carry the brunt of the load."
Oh no. Now I'm starting to understand. My father isn't giving me this case because he thinks I deserve it. No, he wants me to be the sacrificial lamb. The woman the media and feminist groups will all tear into for representing a chauvinistic pig. He really doesn't give one shit...ake mushroom about my reputation. After this case, I'll be nationally known as the idiot woman who represented the rapist jerk. Speaking of…
My dad's secretary cracks the conference room door, and announces in her nauseatingly sweet voice, "Mr. Davenport, the Malones are here."
I have a slight dislike of Margo. Okay, maybe a tad more than slight. She's so freaking nice, it's obviously fake. As soon as her back turns her smile falls and is replaced with a gaping maw of gossip, spewing filth to anyone who will listen.
"Show them in," my father instructs her while straightening his blood red tie, the color appropriately representing his strict conservatism. Then he turns to me, and says, "Be nice, and don't you dare fuck this up," sternly through his clenched teeth.
I make an attempt to ignore the knife sticking out of my chest from the second half of my father's directive, and instead try to come to terms with the idea that he wants me to be nice. Be
to a ruthless, cocky meathead who thinks that since he's all rich and famous because of a brutal, barbaric sport that he has the right to do whatever the heck he wants with women and get away with it.
Maybe my uncle will hire me if I get up and walk out the door. Sure it'd be boring work filling in blanks on templates for old people, but at least I wouldn't be stuck working with an actual hard core, violent criminal.
An older man, looking roughly in his fifties with shaggy black hair and a beard sprinkled with a dusting of white, steps into the conference room first. The heavy bags under his hazel eyes and his deep frown lines make him look tired, and highly annoyed. I paste on my fake smile and reach across the conference table to shake his hand.
"Mr. Malone, I'd like you to meet my daughter, Page Davenport. Page, this is Martin Malone and his son. I'm sure you'll recognize Jackson Malone from his outstanding MMA career," my dad says when he makes the introductions.
"Nice to meet you," I lie as I hold out my hand to the older man. Shaking it, he gives me a polite nod of his head while assessing me. He's not looking at me in a creepy, sexual way, but his eyes are narrowed and his crinkled brows meet, making it obvious that he's asking himself, ‘
Is she really old enough and experienced enough to represent my son?’
Of course not, and everyone in the building knows that.
My curious eyes finally dance around the older man to the one standing behind him. The spacious conference room, that can easily accommodate ten ego-inflated attorneys, suddenly feels too small. Intimidating doesn't even begin to describe the vibe this man is putting off. He practically comes with his own flashing neon sign over his coal colored pompadour cut that says in big, bright letters, "
Danger! Stay back at least 100 feet!"
It isn't necessarily the guy's size that makes him scary, even though he’s built like a tank at more than six feet tall, with a wide, muscular build. But when you add in his black bottomless-pit eyes and tight, unshaven jaw...he looks like Mount Vesuvius about to erupt. Violence and tension radiate off of him in waves that are almost visible. In nothing special faded jeans and a plain white tee contrasting nicely with his tan golden skin, he's absolutely, without a doubt, the most…scrumptious looking man I've ever laid eyes on. His mug shot photo plastered all over the television and Internet doesn’t do him justice.
How the heck is it physically possible for someone who lets other people punch him in the face for a living still look like...like...a gorgeous
Abercrombie & Fitch
And how can someone so bad-ass and angry still come across as...well, I'd never actually say this to his face, but pretty?
The man is nothing like the type of guy I'm usually attracted to. He's missing the requisite white collar and tie. I have a feeling that the brute before me never wears either. Instead of clean cut, he's ruggedly and dangerously handsome, singularly able to make women stop, drop their panties, and roll over...and cause men to run away like cowards with their penises tucked between their legs. Speaking of penises I bet his is...
"Page?" my father's commanding voice interrupts my perusal, that has gone on far too long and much further south than is professional.
He is a monster, not a sexy man you should be wanting a life size poster of for your bedroom!
My inner sanity finally surfaces and reminds me of the rape and strangling he's charged with. Yes, that's exactly what I need! A reminder of why he's here and the horrible things he did.
"Nice to meet you," I lie again, intentionally not offering him my hand to shake. It would've been a serious stretch to reach him across the table anyway.
The dangerous man's dark, seemingly soulless elevator eyes assess every single inch of my body. And, unlike his father, his gaze is definitely sensual, lingering on the buttons and fabric of my dress shirt that is stretched tautly over my breasts. He runs his tongue over his full bottom lip like I'm a brand new flavor of
Ben & Jerry's
. One that he can't wait to dip his…spoon into the cream, gorge himself on until he scrapes the very bottom of the carton, and then lick the sticky container completely clean with his tongue.
Even if I had looked at him the same way, his sensual stare helps cool my overheating hormones, seeing him for the pig that he is. I retake my seat, using the table in front of me as a shield from his intensity.
There isn't even a hint of a polite smile on his perfectly sculpted face, and he doesn't speak a word to me or my father. When he realizes that everyone else is already sitting down, he finally lowers himself into the chair beside his father.
"We're really sorry you're having to deal with this media circus, Jackson. We appreciate Don's referral, and you can be assured that our firm will do whatever it takes to clear your name," my dad begins his ass kissing spill right away.
"Do you think I'm guilty?" Jackson’s voice is a deep and gravely rumble, causing the goose bumps on my arms to stand up and take notice.
"It doesn’t matter whether or not you did it," my dad responds coolly, clasping his hands in front of him on the table. "We're going to make sure your case is ready for trial, and do whatever it takes to defend you. Page is licensed in New Jersey as well as Maryland, and Pennsylvania. She'll be first chair, since we believe having her leading the defense team will go far in how the public and media views this case."
"Do you think I did this shit?" Jackson asks again intently, directing his question toward me.
My heart stops, and my mouth and mind are suddenly paralyzed. I'm unable to form a single thought. How the heck do I answer that? If I'm honest I'll piss him off and he might not hire us, which will make my dad furious. If I lie, well, he'll probably see through my bullshit and call me on it.
He continues staring black daggers at me, waiting for my response, along with the other two men in the room.
"I haven't heard your side of the story, seen any of the reports, or evidence yet." I force my mouth to respond with a politically correct response.
"Are you going to ask me?"
"Well, of course we'll need to get your statement," I respond, annoyed when my shaky voice makes me sound like an uncertain little girl.
"Mr. Malone, why don't you and I head to my office to discuss the general procedures and timeline we're looking at while Page and Jackson get to work. The attorney-client privilege is severed whenever there's someone other than the client and attorney present during confidential communications," my dad explains, narrowing his gaze at me in warning when he stands up as if to leave.
My heart is suddenly racing in my chest with the onset of my panic. He's leaving me in here?
? I'm so surprised that he's abandoning me in this situation that I'm too paralyzed to react. Without a backward glance, the two men leave the room before I can think of an excuse to ask them to stay. The door clicking shut makes me jump, instantly putting me on edge. The room falls silent and I can't yet find any words for several awkward seconds.