Authors: Cee Smith
Working at a law firm comes with its own set of rules, and Blaire has broken rule number one. Consorting with the opposition could get her fired. In the blink of an eye, all of her hopes, dreams, goals, and aspirations could be dismissed.
She knows this.
Joel, EJ—whoever he is—is the enemy.
Persona non grata
. Her mind is aware of his standing. But her body? Not so much. It remembers every moment shared. Every flirty smile and witty comeback. Every whispered word with carefully placed hands.
Falling into bed with him was easy. Getting him to stay away will be the hardest thing she’s ever faced.
Shut In is intended for mature audiences due to explicit language and mature themes.
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© 2015 Cee Smith
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Shut Out (Just This Once series, Book 2)
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This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events, and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
“Did you know?”
I spent hours staring at my phone, willing the bars to appear so I could finally tear into my friend and co-worker, Kerri.
“I’m assuming this is about Trevaunt?”
“You think?” I sounded hysterical, but the pain of learning the truth, of seeing Joel’s reaction when I confronted him—nothing could compare to the feeling of betrayal. Because when I looked in his eyes, I knew he had been keeping the truth from me. I just didn’t know when he started feeling guilty about it. Was it when he picked me up at the bar? Did he recognize me? My co-workers? Was everything planned from the very beginning? Was this an attempt to get the case potentially thrown out?
Or were his intentions a little less nefarious. Did he only realize the truth after I opened up to him, revealing details of who I was and what I did for a living? Did I bring this on myself?
“I’m sorry, honey. I swear I didn’t know until I looked through my pants from that night. He looked familiar, but I was drunk. Everyone looks familiar. He’s been in hiding for weeks. I would never think he’d have the audacity to show up at a club. Did he tell you?”
“No! I found out on my own. He told me his name was Joel,” I said, recalling the exact moment that made everything click. “I feel like such a fucking idiot. I slept with him,
Kerri—a defendant in a case with our client.
I could get fired for this! All of my hard work—”
“Calm down, Blaire. What did he say when you called him out on it? Was he mad?”
I sifted through everything that happened yesterday. How I woke up surrounded by a thick arm pressing me up against the length of Joel’s body, wrapping me around the block of muscle like the cotton sheets that cocooned us. How I felt when he leaned in the doorway of my office watching me do yoga like he’d found enlightenment in the stretch of my limbs. The way I laughed while I clung to his back like a child riding a pony at a carnival, while he lifted the weight of my body up and down with every push-up.
It all came crashing down with the one slip of his name.
A name I wasn’t supposed to know.
A name that made me question if the man I spent the last week using my body like his own personal playground was the same man who pulverized our client’s face. I didn’t know what to think of that possibility, but what I did know was if my employers found out about my involvement with Mr.
, I would be kissing my career goodbye.
“Mad? I don’t know. I wasn’t really concerned about his feelings, Kerri. What am I going to do? Should I
Maybe if I tell him first—”
“Absolutely not! You need to act like you didn’t know it was
! It’s believable. Hell, it’s the truth. You didn’t know it was
. I won’t say anything, and if Joel says anything, you can just say he concealed his real identity. Everything’s going to be fine, Blaire.”
I got off the phone with the acrid taste of lies and deceit still coating my tongue like morning breath.
Asking Kerri how she weathered through the storm didn’t even cross my mind. In my defense, I was dealing with far more serious issues at the moment, such as
whether or not I’d have a job by the end of the week
She didn’t seem too offended by my call. If anything she didn’t sound as surprised as I expected her to be. Truth be told, it wasn’t like I could blame her for my fuck up. If anything,
of the blame fell on me. The most she did was goad me by saying he was too much of a man for me. It wasn’t enough to have me drunkenly falling into his lap, but it was enough that when I left the bathroom only to find his smiling face staring into mine, I batted my eyelashes and may have even twined my hair around my fingers. That was after double-checking behind me to ensure there wasn’t someone taller, prettier, more
standing behind me. I wasn’t so far drunk that embarrassment would have eluded me.
For the first time in days, I walked to the window, opening the blinds to allow the burn of light to drift into the room and brighten up the darkened part of my soul. Ever since the PSA aired across our phones saying it was safe to leave our homes, I hadn’t taken the time to look outside.
I no longer cared about the stucco that surely littered my yard like crushed popcorn in a vacant theater.
The neighborhood mirrored what I felt inside. Apocalyptic. My yard faired better than some of the surrounding houses. The strength of the storm was apparent in the melon-sized rocks that sat in the center of the street amongst a river of various rocks and debris. If only my situation were as easy as picking up some misplaced rocks.
---The Day Before---
Prior to his visit to the club, Joel had been missing for weeks, evading my firm’s attempts to
schedule a meeting with him and his lawyer. I’d even heard he’d been skipping out on his responsibilities at his newly inherited company.
That’s what Joel was good at. I’d had a good dose of his medicine when we were cooped up in the house with nothing to do but have sex and learn details about each other. Except, whereas I was open and honest about
I was, the same couldn’t be said for Joel. He was sly like a fox and charming in a way that made me forget I hardly knew the man who had occupied my home for nearly seven days.
“You fucking knew when I talked about my job that my firm was representing your ex-girlfriend. How could you put me in such a compromising position? Is all of this just a fucking joke to you?”
“I…yes, but what did you expect me to say? We were stuck here together. Look at how you’re acting now. Imagine, if we were stuck together for another week with you knowing who I was.”
“I shouldn’t be surprised. It’s not like you’ve got the best decision-making skills—”
“Wait. What the fuck is that supposed to mean? You don’t actually think I—”
“Ah! I don’t want to hear it,”
I threw my hands over my ears like earmuffs, protecting myself from anything having to do with the open case. The only thing keeping me from looking like a complete freak was my lack of singing “
, I can’t hear you”
over the words he so desperately wanted me to hear.
“I’m already too involved as it is. That’s if I even have a job after this, thanks to you.”
“You’re acting like I planned for this to happen.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“Oh, it’s just a fucking coincidence that you just so happened to be waiting for me when I left the bathroom.”
“Well, not exactly—”
“See! You planned it!”
I noticed you earlier, and when I lost sight of you, I sought you out. You just so happened to be leaving the restroom at the same time I was standing outside.
But I didn’t follow you to the club like some super-spy if that’s what you’re suggesting. That was the first time I even ventured to leave my house in weeks. I’m a fucking social pariah right now! Have you seen the things they’re saying about me? Two weeks ago, those same people were kissing my feet in honor of my father, and now they’re dragging me feet-first through the mud.”
“You don’t have to tell me. I know firsthand, and let me tell you, it’s not nearly as bad as it could be. They don’t have the pictures. They haven’t been tricked into fucking you.”
“It wasn’t a trick,” he responded, annoyed.
“You know, Joel, I don’t know a lot about you, but I know enough that you’ll talk me in circles before you see how wrong you are here. As soon as you’re safe to leave, I want you out of my house.”
Well, it looks like I can do that now
His movements blurred as he stormed from the room, leaving to the bedroom
where I imagined he was changing out of my brother’s stash of clothes and back into the suit that lay tossed across the top of my dresser.
Joel’s eyes clung to me the whole way to the door. His footsteps halted just inside of it. The air felt heavy, full of all of the unspoken words still lingering between us.
Whatever he wanted to say, whatever words holding him hostage didn’t matter. Not after everything that had happened.
I was staring down a problem like the edge of a cliff, with
no option other than to jump and hope I survived the fall
. “Sorry” wouldn’t be able to fix my problem.
He did that to me. Backed me into a corner, where I would either have to lie to my colleagues and hope they never found out about my one-night stand
with the defendant in the Farrows case
or tell them the truth and find myself looking for a new job
At least I could say I put in the effort to keep my distance. Of course, I didn’t know who he was at the time. Lord knows I tried though.
Every time he walked around my house without a shirt on, sometimes without pants on, when he was fresh from the shower and his hair was slick and damp reminding me that my panties probably held a similar look. He was too easy-going, too masculine. He smelled too good. I should have known that he was too good to be true. Men like that should come with a warning: “Could be hazardous to your life. At the very least your libido.” Because as I awoke the next morning in a bed full of cool sheets and the smell of him still clinging to my pillows, I realized how much of a failure I really was. I didn’t just let him between my legs; I let him into my heart. The room felt vacant without him. There was no sneaky finger looking to touch, no mischievous grin,
warm body to snuggle up to in the night. I was completely alone. It wasn’t the first time I’d been alone, but it was the first time I found it mattered to me.