Most people get nervous performing in front of an audience. The sensation of a thousand pairs of eyes watching and waiting for a mistake would be enough to turn the average psyche into mush. A lifetime of playing violin concertos to an audience of thousands had desensitized Leslie to the sensation of butterflies in her stomach. She'd learned to quit caring about the opinions of the general public.
"Ms. Hampstead, Mr. Overton will see you now."
Butterflies exploded inside her belly, and she fought the urge to run for the nearest exit. Nervous about performing in front of people? Definitely not. Nervous about a ten-minute appointment with Seth Overton? Terrified.
Don't forget to breathe. You won't impress him by fainting dead away on his floor.
The pencil-thin secretary navigated the hallway on her five-inch heels. Every few steps, she glanced over her shoulder, no doubt wondering what business an unfashionable redhead like Leslie could possibly have with a high-powered family attorney like Seth Overton. It was no wonder. Leslie's cheap jeans and worn-out sweater didn't exactly fit with the elaborate crown molding or the upscale cream and navy decor.
She'd never been to Seth's office before. They'd dated for only a month. It had been long enough to push the boundaries of her comfort zone, but not long enough to satisfy her body's craving for his touch.
The nervousness twisted into another type of anticipation altogether. Her womb clenched, and blood rushed to her groin. Her labia grew plump and warm, the hood of her clit pulsing as the ugly, cotton granny panties she'd put on that morning created delicious friction against her damp pussy.
How was it possible to know so little about a man and yet want him with such mindless intensity? They'd had sex only once. But even the hazy memory of being held in Seth's strong arms as he filled her cunt with his cock was enough to give her wet dreams. It'd been three months since that night in her shabby apartment, and she still woke drenched in sweat with an ache in her pussy that no amount of self-stimulation would ever satisfy.
The secretary approached the double doors at the end of the hallway. A nameplate announced that the office belonged to senior partners Overton & Breckenridge. That was most likely why the secretary couldn't understand Seth giving Leslie ten minutes of his day. There were plenty of lower-level associates who handled the day-to-day cases at O & B. But Leslie didn't want one of them. Her situation called for the biggest bullies on the playground.
The doors swung open, and she stepped into a posh suite with a sweeping view of the city. It was bigger than the entire apartment she'd shared with her roommate, Niles. Two desks sat at right angles opposite a putting green. One was cluttered with files and random bits of paper, the empty chair askew. The other was occupied by Seth Overton, his immaculate desktop like a wall between them.
He didn't stand.
"Ms. Hampstead to see you, sir."
"Thank you, Evie." His gaze locked on Leslie. "You can close the door on your way out."
Evie slanted another curious glance in Leslie's direction before demurring her way out the door. Something in her expression suggested she was on her way to the nearest water cooler to exchange a few tawdry bits of gossip with whoever passed by.
He waited until the door eased shut. "You never called."
Even half-hidden by the desk, Seth was all man and sexy as hell. He leaned back in his chair, laced his hands behind his head, and lifted one dark eyebrow. The planes of his face were angular, his jaw covered in a faint shadow of stubble. His nose was slightly crooked, courtesy of his years as a top Harvard lacrosse player. His lips were firm and soft and talented beyond endurance. But his eyes had always been her fascination.
Calling them brown wasn't enough. They were much more than that. Seth's eyes reminded her of the whisky her grandfather had kept in his study for special occasions. A complex color that opened memories of a time when she'd believed it was possible for two people to have a long-term relationship without one of them choosing to screw it up with an affair. Fortunately, life had handed her a reality check long ago when her parents' marriage had ended in disaster. No matter how much she wanted Seth Overton, she knew lasting relationships were for dreamers looking for heartache.
She inhaled deeply to gather her composure. He watched her from his reclining position behind the desk, his eyes warm brown flecked with gold. The longer he watched, the more she could see the accusation in his gaze.
Seth would've stood to greet her like any gentleman, except that his cock was tenting the front of his dress pants. The damn thing had snapped to attention the moment Leslie Hampstead had walked through his office door. Now it was reminding him he hadn't had sex in three months. Not since she had left his apartment without looking back.
His wounded pride wanted to demand answers to the questions that had festered away since that night. But the strategist in him knew there was a far better way to go about getting what he needed. Besides, while she collected her thoughts, he'd get a chance to drink in the sight of her and get his cock under control.
She was dressed for Boston's damp spring weather. Her dark sweater, turtleneck, and thick jeans hid gentle curves he would never forget. She had full breasts, a flat belly, and a nice, round ass with hips that didn't leave a man with nothing but bones to hold on to. And she had the longest, most graceful legs of any woman he had ever met. They could wrap all the way around his waist until her ankles locked in the small of his back while he buried his cock to the hilt in her warm cunt.
Definitely not helping the hard-on, Overton.
Leslie was almost five feet ten, a perfect complement to his six feet. He had only to glance down to meet her melted chocolate gaze. Something about her made him feel like he could conquer the world. Leslie was unlike any of the women in his past. With her, it was more than sex. She stirred protective instincts he'd almost forgotten he possessed.
She would've been perfect for Joshua too.
A lock of dark red hair slipped over her shoulder, and she reached up to brush it behind her ear. "I need your help, Seth."
Of all the things he'd expected her to say, that hadn't been one of them. The lawyer portion of his brain cranked into action. "What sort of help? Are you in legal trouble?"
She shifted, wringing her hands. "Not me exactly. It's my friend Niles Sullivan."
Seth vaguely remembered meeting the guy a few times. He was almost utterly forgettable until he picked up a violin. Talented, yes, but totally out of it otherwise.
"His late wife's parents are trying to take his son from him."
At least this conversation would be guaranteed to get his cock under control. "You need to back up. How does a gay guy get a wife and a kid?"
She took several steps toward him. "Before he came out. He married young. They had a good relationship after the divorce, but her parents always hated Niles. They're big fans of the traditional family unit."
Not a surprise. People in general were inclined to be narrow-minded about anything that didn't fit into their comfort zone. He and Joshua had dealt with their fair share of those types in the past. Having a preference for sharing a woman would never fit within the parameters of normal in the relationship arena. "This is really between him and his ex. If the two of them have been sharing custody, it's up to her to put a leash on her parents."
"Niles's ex-wife, Gina, died of breast cancer about two months ago. His son, Caleb, came to live with him full-time, and he's been working really hard to make a life for him. He even took a factory job so he'd have benefits and enough money to cover their bills."
The warmth in her gaze was eclipsed by a weariness that triggered Seth's protective instincts. "If Caleb is sharing the apartment with Niles, where are you living?"
"That's not important. Niles needed to give Caleb the closest thing to normal that he could. But Gina's parents still aren't satisfied. They've filed for full custody of Caleb. The legal notice he got yesterday said they're claiming it's in the best interest of the child."
Cases like this just pissed him off. "The best interest of the child" was a deliberately vague phrase people used to force unnecessary protection on kids who would be better off left alone with their parents. Not every parent was perfect, but the interfering party usually wasn't much better. In most situations, the turmoil created by legal battles was far worse for a kid than a slightly eccentric or, in this case, gay parent.
She gazed at him squarely. "Niles needs a good lawyer."
The pleading in her expression was enough to rip him in two. How the hell could he turn her down? But how could he take the case when he knew beyond doubt she was only telling him half the story? For starters, why had she made this her problem?
The sound of his name crossing her lips was agonizing pleasure and pain rolled into one. He wanted to hear it again, hear it when he held her in his arms, when he dragged his fingers through her wet pussy, when he fucked her and made her his, made her theirs--his and Joshua's--as she should've been all along.
Seth forced his mind back to the matter at hand. "Someone in Niles's position has a lot of legal support in the Boston area. All you have to do is contact the media. They'll do one story, and he'll have a dozen or more offers for free legal representation from organizations like GLAD. They specialize in this type of thing."
Leslie's chest began to rise and fall quickly, tears forming in her eyes. She stared at the ceiling and sucked in a deep breath. "Niles can't do that. You know him. That kind of media circus would chew him up and spit him out. Please help him."
"Free of charge, of course." Seth couldn't quite keep the bitterness from his voice. Leslie wanted his legal expertise, not him, and certainly not him and Josh.
"I'm not that naive. Nothing in life is free." Her tone matched his. "I'd give you a percentage of the Trio's take. Over five years, you'd make your fee and more. You're a lawyer. Draw up the papers. According to my agreement with Jen and Niles, they draw a salary based on how many engagements we book. The rest is mine."
Leslie's words left Seth deflated, all his anger washed away by shock. She taught at the Boston School for the Arts, but she'd spent years pulling together and shaping the reputation of a talented string trio she'd dubbed Trio Dolce. The group played all over the city, including some fairly high-end events. Why would she promise him something so vitally important to her? And why would she offer it on behalf of Niles?
Leslie turned away and walked toward the windows. She wrapped her arms around her midsection and gripped her sweater until her knuckles turned white.
Seth should've been drowning in doubt. In fact, he was almost sure she was being deliberately vague. He should've been formulating some kind of interrogation strategy to get some answers, but this was Leslie. She needed help, legal and otherwise. As they had in the past, his protective instincts bubbled to the surface. All that mattered was eliminating the barriers between him and the woman he'd never stopped wanting.
Leslie was so tired. Since giving her room to Caleb and moving out, she felt like a vagabond. A night here or there in whatever cheap motel she could afford and the last two weeks on Jen's couch. She hadn't had a real bed in two months. Niles was barely scraping by with the added expense of taking care of Caleb on his own. Gina hadn't had much in the way of life insurance, and her parents were holding on to whatever was left just to spite Niles.
It really wasn't her problem, but she liked Caleb. She didn't want him to lose what was left of his family. She knew what it was like to grow up without a decent parent. Niles was a good dad. Kids deserved a parent who loved them.
Times like these when she was worn out and groveling on her knees left her wishing for an escape of some kind. Some kind of release, something to siphon off the tension, anything to make her forget for a little while that she was alone.
"Leslie." Seth's hands were warm on her shoulders. She should've shrugged him off, but she longed for the strength in his body and the heat of his kiss. This was escape.
Their mouths met, teeth clicking together. She lost any sense of self and sank into the feeling of being held in Seth's arms. She'd never stopped longing for his spicy taste or the familiarity of his touch. His tongue slipped between her lips, flicking over her teeth to mate with hers. The motion mimicked the ebb and flow of the primal sex her body craved.
She pulled him closer and stretched her body full length against his. The heat of his skin seeped through the cloth of his business shirt. Hating the barrier, she picked apart his buttons and smoothed her hands across the rippling muscles of his abdomen.
Seth nipped her lower lip, startling a cry from her before devouring her with another kiss. She raked her nails down his ribs, and he groaned.
"Damn woman, I'm going to come in my pants."
Strange but she felt utterly comfortable with him. Even there in his office where they could be interrupted at any second, she was beyond self-consciousness, and almost beyond coherent thought. "Seth, I'm on the pill, but we shouldn't do this without protection."
His mouth was everywhere, nibbling her earlobe, pressing kisses against the side of her neck, and lingering in the hollow of her throat. Each touch sent shockwaves of desire to the thrumming orgasm building below her belly. She didn't want to stop, but she didn't want to be totally irresponsible either.
"Josh and I go every month for testing. I'm clean. And I don't want anything between you and me." He thumbed her jeans open and yanked them over her hips, touching her horrible panties. Pulling back for a better look, he gave a snort of laughter. "Those may require an explanation later."