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I’m gonna be her first and her last.
Featuring the eldest Beckett brother, Mason, from Long Game, Brute is a full-length, standalone bad boy romance with a happily ever after and no cheating.
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The stale courtroom air is pregnant with anticipation as the jury shuffles in. They’re a motley crew of housewives, bitter retirees, impatient professionals, and that one nerdy programmer who looks ready to piss himself with glee. It’s as if his fantasies of being transported into an episode of Law and Order finally came true… minus Mariska Hargitay.
I look over at my opponent, a leggy new Deputy District Attorney. Ever since closing arguments wrapped she’s been sending me not so subtle looks that tell me she’s not just wet behind the ears.
“We have reached a verdict, Your Honor,” the nervous, sweaty foreman announces to Judge Thomas, looking up from the typed, fill-in-the-blank verdict form.
Judge Thomas looks bored as the pause stretches awkwardly, the lines of her face sagging in a tired expression. Twenty years deep on the bench. Even felony fraud doesn’t spark interest in those cold eyes.
“Well, Sir, that verdict isn’t going to read itself,” she says, irritation flashing.
“Oh, yes, ma’am, I just didn’t know if you, uh, cue my line or if I wait for you to say…” he trails off as Judge Thomas looks back at him expressionless and annoyed.
“Sorry. Yes, uh, we, the jury, find the defendant, Mr. Bad… uh,” he says, nervously fumbling over my client’s name.
She seizes on his stumble.
“Mr. Bad-Uh? What is this- 7th grade health? Should I declare a mistrial now or do you think you can manage to say ‘cock’ without reducing to a fit of giggles and titters?”
The Harpy taps her long, perfectly manicured nails on the bench and quirks a brow over her severe, horn-rimmed glasses. In her prime, I’m sure this authoritarian deal was more hot than scary. But time and bitterness have tipped those scales.
“No, ma’am. Wait, I mean yes ma’am. Oh boy, um… We, the jury, find the defendant, Mister… Tyler Atterbury Badcock II, on Count 1- ‘Felony Fraud in the First degree,’ not guilty. On Count 2- ‘Felony Fraud in the Third Degree,’ not guilty. And, on Count 3- ‘Elder Abuse by Wrongful Appropriation of Property and Assets,’ not guilty.”
He looks briefly proud of himself.
She sniffs. “Congratulations, Mr. Foreman. I’m sure we can find a cookie for you somewhere,” Thomas says without looking back at him.
The jury is led out by the bailiff and the foreman slinks out, figurative tail between his legs, looking like a naughty puppy.
“Well, it would seem, Mr. Badcock, that your fortune today is not reflective of the fortune that landed you with such a godawful name. Thank your lawyer for that. Well done, Mr. Beckett,” she nods curtly in my direction.
Had I been fresh out of law school, newly minted and green, the Harpy’s recognition would have been a thrill. Now it just feels empty.
“Never thought I’d be congratulating a Beckett in my courtroom again. My regards to your father,” she says.
And there are those infamous talons…
Dad’s got another year to go on the sentence Thomas handed down to him after his bribery and gratuity convictions. So thoughtful of her to bring it up, but hey, that’s Thomas.
I can’t say I blame her anyway, not after the fall out of all the shady dealings it turned out my father was involved in. The scandal was nothing short of devastating to the legal community, taking down politicians, law enforcement… even a few judges.
But here I am, Mason Beckett, dutiful son, doing my part to bring back the firm’s reputation among the New York elite by representing charming scions like my client today.
Tyler is a smug bastard, but a rich one, and amongst the greed-driven partners of Beckett, Lathan & Partners LLP, that’s all that matters, even if the thought leaves me wanting a scalding shower. He’s clapping me on the back and reaching for his phone, ignoring the Judge’s final words.
Long Legs at the table next to us has gone from misplaced confidence and overt flirtation to red-in-the-face pissed off.
“Congratulations, you’ve really contributed to the greater good today, Beckett. Living up to the family name, I hear,” she hisses at me as we’re shuffling out.
“Take it easy, sweetie, and don’t worry, losing will get easier,” I say patronizingly, sending the point home with a well-placed wink.
I may be a Beckett, damn it, but I won that case fairly. I don’t pull the same bullshit my father did to win. Yes, I may hate the job, but I’m fucking good at it.
“Speaking from personal experience?” she asks, garnering a laugh from me.
I smile. “Okay, Legs, you’re new to the big kid’s table, so I’ll let your ignorance slide this time. You go back to your shitty little public offices and thank your colleagues, because while they were busy filling that pretty little head of yours full of gossip, they forgot to tell you one important detail about me. I. Do. Not. Lose… ever. I suggest, if you last long enough to face me again, you offer one hell of a plea deal. That is, unless you enjoy getting your ass spanked in the courtroom. Kind of kinky, I know, but I’m always willing to oblige a lady.”