by AC Arthur
Part of the After Hours Trilogy
NOTE: This book was previously published. This version contains significant changes and added content. Please DO NOT purchase older print versions with different covers as they do not contain newer content. This book will be combined with two other books in this new trilogy to create an ebook bundle and 1 print book titled AFTER HOURS.
Ambitious and tenacious litigator, Cienna Turner has just been assigned the city’s most high-profile sexual harassment case. Despite misgivings, her job requires her to provide a stellar defense and she’s ready to do that when she learns her colleague, the sexy and debonair, Keith Page, will be working with her. Now, Cienna not only has to bring in a big win for the firm, but also face the demons from her past that resurface when Keith makes his desire for her known.
Keith Page has his eye set on becoming one of the city’s youngest black judges but stepping into this case involving a possible city contractor and several of the guy’s employees, might not be the way to get there. Working alongside one of the firm’s most successful attorneys is the highlight of this situation, especially when their first kiss promises more passion to come.
When the tables turn and Cienna finds herself at the center of the harassment claims and office drama comes to a fevered pitch, Cienna and Keith will rely not only on their legal acumen to stay on top, but also their love for each other to stay alive.
This book is also available in the After Hours print anthology.
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Part of the After Hours Trilogy
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A roomful of attorneys had assembled around the long conference room table to review caseloads and settlement options. Charles Benton was at the head of the table, along with one of the partners, Byran King, who, after thirty-two years of practicing law, rarely did anything now but show up for staff meetings.
Keith sat directly across from Cienna watching her every move. How her head tilted to the side, fluffy honey-blonde tinted curls easing over her shoulder as she listened to whoever was speaking at the time, to the way her eyes remained fixed on the person to whom she was speaking and the way she held her pencil between long slender fingers with nails polished and perfectly manicured. He could almost feel those nails raking over the skin of his back as he pumped mercilessly into her. And when she spoke, her melodious voice ignited a fire deep within him.
He’d been watching her like this for about a month now. Ever since Chris had pointed out that if he weren’t married, he’d be sweating her like a horny teenager. Keith knew the guy was full of hot air and he’d seen firsthand how Cienna had brushed off him and all the other attorneys in the office. But the remark had brought his attention to her once again. He’d forgotten about her for a while and explored other options but now he was back to her.
Mmmmmm. He watched her lick her lips—they were of medium thickness and just right for sucking. Damn, what he wouldn’t do to have her licking him like that. Placing his hand between his legs he quickly adjusted his growing erection. He didn’t think she even knew what she did to men.
“So, Keith, do you have anything to say?” Charles asked. “Keith?”
Clearing his throat, Keith shifted in his chair and returned his hands to the table. “Oh, I’m sorry, Charles. No, I think that’s it.” He hoped that was the correct answer. He hadn’t been paying a bit of attention to the meeting agenda.
“Okay, meeting adjourned,” Charles announced. People began to collect their legal pads and pens and file out of the conference room. As Cienna rose from her seat, his eyes were riveted to her breasts; her nipples puckered through the sheer material of her blouse. Was she aroused? Did she know what he’d been thinking about her?
Cienna had been sitting across the table from Keith trying like hell to think of anything but him. He hadn’t talked much in today’s meeting, just sat there looking as fine as ever, with his smooth almond-toned complexion, low cropped wavy black hair and beard. He’d left his jacket in his office and his muscles strained against the cotton dress shirt he wore. With each breath he took, the rise and fall of his chest caused her mouth to water. She yearned to kiss every ebony inch of him.
She’d tried not to be attracted to him. Lord knows, she didn’t want to want him, but damned if she could control her craving for him. Every time she saw him, every time she heard his voice, her heart did somersaults and her juices began to flow.
Now he was quietly siting there deep in thought. She wished they were alone in that room, wished he would put those big thick hands on her, wished he’d caress her breasts and take them into his mouth. Oooooh his mouth, damn, she’d love to feel that on her too.
But alas, he was a co-worker, which one way or another, always spelled trouble. Her desire had to be suppressed. It was inappropriate and unprofessional, as she’d learned from prior experience. She reminded herself of that as she stood to leave and didn’t even look in his direction. Instead, she hurried out of the room as if the devil himself were chasing her.
Nine Months Later
“Good morning, Benton and King,” Reka cheerfully spoke into the phone. “No, I’m sorry, Mr. Page isn’t in the office yet this morning. Would you like his voice mail?” Her fingers were already poised to push the appropriate button to transfer the call.
“No, ma’am, I cannot take your message. It’s our policy to use the voice mail system.” The woman on the phone was beginning to irritate her. “I can assure you that at some point in the near future Mr. Page will check his voice mail for messages.” The woman still didn’t get it. She apparently wanted Reka to track the man down and give him the message personally, but that wasn’t her job. Even if he were in, she wasn’t about to get up from her desk to take him or anybody else a message.
“Ma’am, I can put you into his voice mail or you can call back later.” Reka’s voice strained with annoyance. “Well, I’m sorry if you don’t like the voice mail system but that’s the way our office functions. Please feel free to call Mr. Page later.” Pressing the appropriate button Reka disconnected the call and rolled her eyes.
“Silly ass woman,” she muttered to herself. At least she thought it was to herself before she looked up to see Tacoma getting off the elevator.
“Who was that? One of Keith’s ladies?” he asked as he hung his suede jacket in the closet and proceeded to brush the invisible lint off his tight black sweater.
“Yeah, he probably took her to a nice, expensive restaurant for dinner then back to her place, fucked her brains out until they fell asleep, and she’s just now rolled over to cuddle with him only to find he’s up and gone,” Reka surmised. She smiled to herself, thinking how she’d give the whole twenty-seven dollars and fifteen cents in hr savings account to sleep with Keith Page.
“Girl, you know that’s right,” Tacoma chirped. His hand lingered a little longer on a non-existent piece of something he was trying to remove from his sweater. Then his cornflower blue eyes seemed to glaze over and his tongue moved slowly across his top lip. “Ooh what I wouldn’t do to roll over next to that man,” he crooned in a sultry voice.
“Yeah, right. You’ll be in line right behind me.” Reka knew her words were like cold water splashing over his head. Tacoma stayed horny. “You know Keith doesn’t swing that way.”
“You never know. A big strong man like Keith, he might be something else behind closed doors.” Just as he finished his remarks the elevator bell rang, signaling a new arrival.
“Good morning,” Tyrese spoke, breezing in from the elevator. She walked over to the time clock to punch herself in. “Who are y’all up here talking about this early in the morning?” she asked when they’d stopped talking.
“Oh, nobody. How was your weekend, dear?” Tacoma asked her.
Reka rolled her eyes, she hated to hearing about Tyrese’s weekends. They were always so glamorous, so exciting, and so full of it she could puke.
“Oh, we didn’t do much. Went out to the house. You know they have the frame up now and we took some pictures. I’ll show them to you later. I’ve gotta to put this case down. It’s killing my back.” She fiddled with the Givency briefcase she carried.
Reka wondered why she even bothered to carry it, like she was that important. She was only the bookkeeper, and nothing in that bag that had jack to do with the firm. “You took pictures of wood again?” Reka asked, not making any attempt to hide her disgust.
“It’s not just wood; it’s my house. Come around to my office and I’ll show you.” Speaking specifically to Tacoma, Tyrese sent Reka a hateful look. She knew Reka couldn’t move from the front desk, but it didn’t matter. Reka couldn’t stand Tyrese’ uppity attitude and wouldn’t have gone to her desk to see pictures if somebody paid her.
“I’ll be right around,” Tacoma promised as Tyrese turned the corner to her office. “Like I wanna look at some wood in the middle of a forest,” he added to Reka.
“Well, you should’ve told her that.” Reka rolled her eyes. She hated phony people and while Tacoma was a good friend, he could be as phony as a two-dollar bill.
Cienna Turner stepped off the elevator and walked to the large coat closet in the lobby to hang up her coat. Reka was on the phone with one of her boyfriends, she was sure, so she didn’t bother stopping to speak. Before she could reach her office, Max, one of the firm’s partners stopped her.
“Hey, Cienna.” He spoke with a bright smile.
“Hi, Max.” Cienna spoke politely and tried to walk around him to her office.
She was neither surprised nor pleased when he stepped to the side with her.
“I was wondering if maybe you’d like to get some dinner tonight,” he said. Maxwell ones was in his early forties and had been at the firm for about twenty years. He worked in the products liability department and as far as she knew was good at what he did. His wife had divorced him last year after he’d returned from Aruba with his personal trainer. Ever since then, he’d been on the prowl. This was the fourth time in the last six months that he’d asked her out.
“No, Max, I don’t think that’s a good idea. Besides, I already have plans for tonight,” she said casually. She was used to his advances, along with the ones from some of the other attorneys in the office. But being used to them didn’t mean she liked or appreciated their unprofessional attention.
“Come on, it’ll be fun. It’s about time we got to know each other better.” He casually placed a hand on her shoulder.
“Actually, I think we know each other as well as colleagues should. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have work to do.” She tried stepping to the side once more. This time when he moved with her she frowned and lightly pushed him aside before proceeding to her office.
“Well, your loss.” She heard him say as he walked away.
“Yeah, I’m sure,” she muttered to herself. Once in her office she dropped her briefcase on the floor behind her desk and wondered once again why men thought she wanted them to ask her out all the time.
It had been that way all her adult life and most of her childhood. Even as a child she’d drawn attention. An exceptionally pretty baby, Cienna had also been an only child to Donald and Adelle Turner. Her dotting parents had commemorated every second of her life until she was seventeen and left home to attend college, by taking pictures. Not only were they extremely proud of their daughter’s looks and affable personality, they’d been ecstatic when she’d graduated tops in her class in undergrad and law school.
In high school the boys had been drawn to Cienna, the football team, the baseball team, the debate club, everyone. Even the male teachers who’d been just a tad too friendly with her, always asking her to stay after class so they could go over the lessons with her. Cienna hadn’t had a problem with any of her schoolwork, so at first the requests for her to stay behind to receive extra tutoring were a bit baffling. But when the sessions began to focus more on her and what she was doing in her personal life than on English or math, Cienna knew something was wrong.
She’d been forced to learn early in life how to brush men off and was convinced they saw only her exterior attributes. They didn’t know, nor did they care to find out who she was on the inside.
Her senior prom date, Darryl Simpson, had been the captain of the football team. Darryl was gorgeous in his own right, so of course only the prettiest girl in school would do for him. Their pictures were, of course, dazzling. Everyone wanted to be them. They’d been voted most likely to succeed and best-looking couple.
This had pleased Darryl to no end, but Cienna had remained unmoved by the ridiculous awards and the unwanted attention they seemed to bring to her.
Once in college, Cienna had foolishly thought that she’d meet more mature men, with goals and aspirations. But once again, the best-looking guys who had nothing on their mind besides her looks, had confronted her. They didn’t care that she was a straight ‘A’ student. They didn’t care what she intended to do with her degree in criminal justice. They only cared about how her hair was fixed and what she was wearing on their date that night.
It had taken her awhile, but she’d finally given up shallow partnerships with men and resigned herself to being alone. While she occasionally dated and sometimes went so far as to sleep with a few of her dates, in the end she always walked away first. It was safer that way.
Her mother would be quick to remind her that she was twenty-nine now and her biological clock was ticking. Still, she was bombarded with men of no substance, men of no character and men of no sense. Bobby had been a perfect example of this, a mistake which she had no intention of repeating.
Rubbing her eyes, she allowed herself a few minutes to regroup after that trip down memory lane. When she opened them again and refocused on where she was and what she was supposed to be doing, she noticed there were two files on her chair–probably new cases—her message light was flashing on her phone and there was a bright yellow sticky on her computer screen that read,
Cienna, see me in my office at 10:30. Charles.
That was just what she needed first thing on a Monday morning, a meeting with the boss. The phone on her desk buzzed just before Reka’s voice filled the room via intercom.
“Hey girl, I was talking to that damn Jeff so I couldn’t say good morning,” she said.
“Good morning, Reka.” Cienna turned on her computer.
“Girl, you ain’t gonna believe what he did this time. He had the nerve to come up in the bar with some silly looking chick, tryin’ to tell me she’s his brother’s girl. What he think I am, a cabbage head? Uh, wait a minute…I’ll call you back. I gotta get the phone.”
Cienna shook her head and chuckled. Reka and her soap opera life. Every day she had a story because something was always wrong with somebody she knew. A few seconds later Tacoma came into her office. He was another one who always had something going on.
Tacoma was small-framed and always impeccably dressed. His hair was cut and trimmed and dyed a golden blonde that wasn’t too offensive and seemed to fit him perfectly.
“Hey, Cee Cee, what’s up girl?” he asked and proceeded to shake his ass into the chair on the other side of Cienna’s desk.
“Good morning, Tacoma. How was your weekend?” She dreaded what was sure to be a detailed answered.
“Well, I went shopping. I told Terry, ‘Look, I need some new clothes.’ You know we’re going to Cancun next month. So I need some tank tops and things like that,” he continued.
“Don’t forget your Speedo.” Cienna couldn’t resist. Tacoma and his partner were both in their mid-forties and trying desperately to fight the aging process. So the mere thought of the two of them running along the beaches of Cancun in Speedos was hilarious to her.
“Now you know I ain’t puttin’ on no Speedo for nobody. I’m a little too old for that. But I did find these nice swim trunks with parrots on them. They’re green and blue and yellow. Doesn’t that sound cute?” he asked.
“They sound…interesting,” Cienna replied.
Reka buzzed in again. “So let me finish telling you.” Reka continued, not caring that Cienna hadn’t picked up the receiver so her voice could be heard throughout Cienna’s office.
“Excuse me, miss, I was tellin’ her about my weekend, thank you,” Tacoma interrupted.
“Tacoma, you need to be getting to that copy job. Besides, we’ve all heard about your shopping spree and how Terry’s going to kill you for spending so much money. We don’t need to hear it again,” Reka answered.
“Well, we’ve all heard about your cheatin’ ass boyfriend and we don’t need to hear that again,” Tacoma snapped back.
Finally reaching her limit with both of their drama-filled lives, Cienna interrupted their conversation. “Can you two take this out of my office? I have work to do.” This was a daily occurrence. Tacoma was constantly in and out of her office, gossiping, slacking off, talking. Whatever you might want to call it, he was doing it. And Reka called her a million times a day to say nothing. It was a wonder Cienna ever got anything done.
end of excerpt
by AC Arthur
is available in the following formats:
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