Wrapped In A Donovan
Book 12 in the Donovan Friends
‘Tis the season to fall in love…
Jenise Langley has always been known in her family as “Ms. Independent”. A seasoned trial attorney now managing the Miami branch of the prestigious Langley Law firm, she’s all about taking care of herself and her business. Until Savian Donovan walks into her office and opens the door to unbridled passion. But outside the bedroom there’s turmoil brewing behind Savian’s stormy eyes and pending murder charges on his doorstep. Now, Jenise must decide if she’s on board for a bumpy road to love or if the shields she’d learned long ago to erect around her heart should remain in place…forever.
Savian Donovan is in big trouble. He’s suspected of murder and he’s sleeping with his attorney. His name is being dragged through the mud and his father and uncles are still keeping secrets from the family. There isn’t one good thing about the upcoming holiday season that Savian wants to celebrate…nothing, except the fire that burns bright and fierce between him and a woman he never expected to meet…or love.
**AUTHOR’S NOTE: This book is #12 in a series. While it may not be necessary to read each book that has come before this one, it is recommended that HEART OF A DONOVAN and EMBRACED BY A DONOVAN be read before reading this book, as there is a continuing plot in each of these stories.
The print version of this book is included in the Donovans III anthology.
Wrapped In A Donovan
38 Years Ago
Las Vegas, Nevada
“Well, looks like we’re stuck at the airport for the night,” Bernard Donovan said, dropping his carry-on bag down beside the barstool he then slid onto.
Beside him, the woman with the long, curly hair signaled to the bartender for another drink. He’d been watching her from across the bar twenty minutes ago, before they’d both gotten up and went to gate number 5 with the intention of boarding their plane. He was returning to Seattle after visiting with his brothers, Henry, Everette, Al, Reggie and Bruce. Henry was getting married in six weeks and they were all going to be his groomsmen, so they’d met in Las Vegas where the wedding was taking place to get fitted for their tuxedos and to plan the massive bachelor party they were going to throw for him.
Bernard was booked on the ten thirty flight to Seattle where he had business meetings scheduled. His marketing firm was just getting off the ground and he had back-to-back meetings scheduled with an up and coming internet and coffee house chain tomorrow at noon. The ten thirty flight had been postponed to five in the morning. So it looked like he’d be staying at the hotel across the street from the airport instead of traveling all the way back to Henry’s house. The woman from earlier, the one with the curvy and attractive body, was also back in the bar.
“Looks that way,” she replied, sparing him a quick glance before going into her purse to pull out the money for her drink, he suspected.
“I’ll get this round,” he said, touching a hand to her wrist to still her movements.
When she didn’t pull quickly away, but looked over to him again, Bernard figured he had a shot. She had a pretty face, a little heavy on the make-up, but he could work with that. Besides, he wasn’t looking for anything beyond the drinks, or maybe a shared room for the night.
“Why? You don’t think I can pay for my own drinks?” she asked, the right side of her mouth tilting into a smile.
Her hair draped down, covering just part of her face, but it looked soft and her voice was sexy, like those he’d heard during the private parties some of his friends held back in Seattle. Bernard considered himself a virile man, with needs and desires that he knew his name and bank account had contributed to. His brothers thought he was a bit too free in his exploits with women, that at twenty years old and having just graduated from college, and starting his own business, he should be calming down a bit more. Bernard begged to differ. To him, his life was just getting started, the life he wanted to lead, and not the one anybody had laid out for him. Hence the reason he hadn’t gone to work at Donovan Oilwell in Houston or at the branch Henry had started up in Vegas. He did not want to be like his brothers, or his father and uncle before him. Bernard wanted to be his own man, smart, rich, happy and on his own terms.
It just so happened that women played heavily into that equation.
“I’m sure you can pay for whatever it is you want,” he told her. “But I’m also certain that I’d like to buy you a drink and maybe move over there to that booth to get to know you a little better.”
She’d tilted her head, staring at him for a few seconds. Sizing him up, Bernard thought. He’d considered poking out his chest a little more—he’d been working out but his body had always been more on the beefy side than the toned build Henry and Al possessed. None of that matter because he also had the dark chocolate complexion of his father and the wavy black hair and brown “bedroom” eyes from his mother. His clothes were expensive—jeans, a button down navy blue shirt, black jacket and suede tie-ups. After all, image was everything, as his father had always said.
“You know what?” she’d replied after a few seconds more. “I think that sounds like a wonderful idea.”
Two hours later Bernard was lying on his back and she was riding him hard and fast. Her hair fell over her shoulders, curls dancing over her high breasts as he reached up to tweak her dark nipples. She moved like she was on a mission, to pull every drop of release from him as fast as she could. He didn’t bother to tell her that he was known for his longevity, just figured he’d let her go as long as she could before he finally brought it home for the both of them.
They’d come over to the hotel, going into the room the airline had booked in his name after two more drinks and a plate of hot wings. As soon as the elevator doors had closed she’d been on him, pressing him back against the wall, cupping his dick in one hand, reaching up to place the other to the back of his neck before bringing his mouth down to hers. In the room, he’d barely gotten the door closed and locked before she was pushing his jacket off his shoulders. Game for whatever, Bernard began unbuttoning his shirt.
“Take that off,” he said nodding to the red dress she’d been wearing.
She stepped out of her heels slowly, keeping her gaze on him as she reached behind to unzip her dress. When the material fell to the floor Bernard was unbuckling his belt, staring at her small waist, the curve of her hips and breasts that just about fell out of the lacy excuse for a bra she wore. After taking off his shoes he’d been about to push his pants down when he reached for his wallet, dug inside and pulled out a condom. She was there in seconds, standing in front of him as he’d sat on the side of the bed, taking the condom packet slowly from his fingers.
“Let me do this for you,” she told him.
He heard her ripping the package open as he removed his jeans and boxers, then returned to the bed, wrapping an arm around her waist and pulling her between his legs. She’d stepped up to him with a sexy sway of her hips, moaning when he kissed her navel. He reached up and grabbed her tits. In the next seconds she’d pushed him back on the bed, taking his mouth in a scorching hot kiss as she straddled him. Bernard grabbed the heavy globes of her ass, squeezing and moaning with delight as she slid her core down over his rigid length.
And then she rode.
And he moaned and swore and loved every second of the deep, hot thrusts. She was wet and eager and he was feeling his buzz after three vodkas on the rocks, four if he included the one he’d had before the plane had been delayed. When she’d dropped down over him, her hair tickling his face, he’d figured she’d run out of steam.
“I got you,” he’d told her, grabbing her by the waist and turning her over, lifting her legs before diving back into her waiting heat.
It was his time to ride and he’d done so until his body had trembled with his release, her thighs shaking with hers.
Afterwards, Bernard had gone into the bathroom alone to clean himself up. Now sated and still buzzed, he was ready to get some sleep. Going back out into the room he set his watch to wake him up at three-thirty so they could get back over to the airport in time to wait for their flight. Then he fell face first on the bed, sleep quickly claiming him.
“Good morning, Bernard,” she said from the chair where she sat fully dressed across from the bed.
He’d just rolled over, his watch in his hand as he’d just stopped the alarm and was contemplating if he had a few more minutes to lay there while his head continued to throb.
Bernard turned to her, his eyes cracking open, the sight of her coming slowly into view. He hadn’t told her his name. In fact, they hadn’t exchanged any of the typical information a man and a woman probably should before having sex.
Yet she knew. He frowned then, not just because of the name thing, but because her long, curly hair was gone. It had been replaced by a shorter cut, lying flat against her head in an auburn color. Her make-up was much lighter than before, he could easily see that with the light from the lamp on the nightstand glaring down at them. Bernard sat up in bed, staring at her more closely then.
“Ah, I see it’s all coming back to you,” she said, a big grin spreading slowly across her face. “Not the fun we had just a few hours ago in this bed, but well before that. Like three years ago, that’s the last time we saw each other.” She nodded and chuckled a little. “Yeah, you definitely remember now.”
“Roslyn Ausby,” Bernard said with a sickening clench to his gut. “You gold-digging bitch!”
“This is not what I expected,” Savian Donovan said with a frown, his hands hastily moving to unbutton his shirt.
“You mean you didn’t expect to be attracted to a full-figured woman with brains and beauty to match?” Jenise Langley asked, as she stood staring at him, wearing only her nightgown.
It was black satin, hugging her heavy breasts then flaring out past her full hips and thighs. She was right in that she was full-figured, Savian thought as he lay his shirt on the back of one of the two armchairs she had at the foot of her queen sized bed. Yet that wasn’t how he’d thought of her these past weeks. Actually, it had been more like three months since he’d begun sleeping with Jenise, his attorney.
The first time had happened only hours after he’d met her. He’d left her office in the high-rise building on Brickell Avenue, not at all sure she was the right attorney to handle the case between his older brother Parker and his now fiancé Adriana Bennett. That had been an identity theft and libel case. Now, Jenise was handling a murder case. Only then, Savian hadn’t known he would need representation.
All he’d known was that there was something about this woman that had rubbed him the wrong way. As Savian wasn’t the most sociable of Reginald and Carolyn’s children—or a good majority of the Donovan family as a whole—he would have normally taken that slight alarm as his second nature and ignored it just the same. But hours later, after he’d left her office and returned to his own to try and get some work done, she’d still been on his mind.
When he’d leaned back in his office chair, closing his eyes and squeezing the bridge of his nose, he hadn’t felt relief. Instead it had been more like concern because the second his eyes had closed a vision of her sitting behind her desk in that prim and proper, yet sexy as hell black business suit, formulated in his mind. For the duration of the work day he’d tried to convince himself he was simply tired and that maybe a couple hours of weights and cardio in his home gym, a hot shower and a bottle of wine would make things better.
He’d never even gotten that far.
Savian had pulled up in front of that office building with those turquoise colored windows for the second time in one day. He’d gotten out of his car and took the elevator up to her office. It was well after six in the evening but something told him she would still be there. She was, but her secretary was just leaving for the day.
“I can make an appointment for you for tomorrow, Mr. Donovan,” the tall, slim woman with the too-short skirt had advised.
“It’s alright, Gwen,” Jenise said as she’d approached from the hallway where her office was. “I’ll talk to Mr. Donovan and I’ll see you in the morning.”
She’d smiled at her secretary, a wide and totally sincere smile that showed lots of teeth and lifted her already high cheekbones. The action made her look different. Enough so that Savian frowned.
“Did you come here to scowl at me one more time, Mr. Donovan? Wasn’t sitting across from me for forty minutes looking as if you’d rather jump off the roof of this building enough?” she’d asked once her secretary had gone through the glass office doors and they stood alone in the lobby.
“I don’t know why I’m here,” he’d replied and hated hearing the words.
Savian always knew what he was doing. He always knew what he wanted and how to get it. There was never a time in his entire life that he’d been unsure, or uncertain, or even confused. Never…until now.
“If it’s not about your brother’s case, then it’s pointless. We obviously do not like each other and—” she’d been saying.
Savian did not want to hear anymore. He did not want to stand there with the strange and unknown feelings hanging over him like a dark cloud. In that instant he’d decided what he wanted and he’d taken the steps to close the distance between them so he could get it. With one arm going around her waist, he’d pulled her to him just as her words had drifted off. For what seemed like endless seconds he looked into her dark brown eyes, waiting for an answer, a reply, a rebuff, something to stop what he knew was about to happen. It never came.
Instead, his lips touched hers. Her mouth opened instantly. His tongue slipped inside. Her arms went around his neck. His tongue slid sinuously over hers. His other hand went to the nape of her neck. And before either one of them could think better of their actions, Jenise’s back was up against the lobby wall, and Savian had unzipped his pants. He quickly sheathed his throbbing shaft, pushed up her skirt and thrust his thick erection deep inside of her.
As crazy as it was totally satisfying, that had been the beginning of the hottest and most delectable sex Savian had experienced in all his years. That, he told himself repeatedly, was why he kept coming back.
“I don’t see a full-figured woman,” he’d told her when he was completely naked and his mind was once again in the here and now.
“Oh really?” she’d asked with an arch of her brow as she moved to lay across the white comforter on her bed. “Then what do you see, Savian? What do you see on the nights you come to my apartment and enter my bedroom?”
He licked his lips and let his gaze run the length of her five foot, eight-inch tall frame. It had never occurred to him to lie, that just wasn’t in his nature. What he said to women and what he did with them would always be in truth and with full disclosure. Savian did not operate any other way.
“I see my pleasure,” he told her simply.
Savian knew the moment he lay on that bed with her that everything that was going on in his real world—the Donovan name appearing on every tabloid, gossip news show and local news broadcasts, the murder investigation, and whatever the hell was going on between his father and uncles—would disappear. There would be nothing but her, nothing but their combined pleasure and that’s what he wanted most. That’s what kept him coming back.
He climbed onto the bed, lying directly across from her, propping himself up on an elbow.
“I need that pleasure, Jenise,” he whispered hoarsely. “I need it right now.”
She’d smiled at him then. Not that happy smile that lit up her dark eyes and almost made Savian want to smile at whatever it was in response. No, this was that sexy half smile, the one that promised him everything and then some. It was the one he dreamed about and longed to see throughout the long work hours of the day.
He’d moved closer to her then, touching his palm to one full breast and squeezing lightly. He loved the feel of her in his hands, the heaviness of each globe, coupled with the softness of her skin. With quick movements he pushed the thin lacy cups of material away from her breasts and palmed her again. She arched her back to give him better access and Savian ducked his head down to lick one dark puckered nipple.
Jenise held his head tightly to her bosom, an action Savian adored. With her soft flesh surrounding his face, he inhaled the sweet scent of the soap she used, opening his mouth wider to gorge on her tender flesh. She didn’t whisper his name, but moaned with the pleasure she received from his ministrations. They didn’t talk much during sex, both of them too engrossed in the simple bliss of the act, Savian supposed.
With that in mind he reluctantly tore his mouth away from her generous breasts and shifted positions so that she was now lying on her stomach and he was straddling her. Today had been a particularly stressful day with the latest headlines and his cousin Dion calling an emergency meeting first thing tomorrow morning. Savian knew that he needed to unwind tonight. That’s why he’d left the office an hour early, sending Jenise a text message that he was on his way. Savian had known without a doubt that she’d be right here waiting for him, like a savior.
He ripped the nightgown away from her body, resigning himself to having to replace it later. Beneath him she’d made a sound but he was certain it wasn’t in dispute to his actions. Her fingers gripped the comforter and her head turned to the side. For endless moments Savian stared down at Jenise’s back, to the tattoo she had going down her spine. Each time he saw it, Savian was compelled to touch it, thinking long and hard on what it said and how close to his own way of thinking it was.
Alis Volat Propriis written in a swirling script font and surrounded on each end by a spread winged red robin. It was Latin for ‘she who flies with her own wings’. Savian’s fingers tingled as he grazed over the first robin, then slid gently down to touch the second. Jenise moaned. She always did. He enjoyed that sound, much more than he figured he should have.
Averting his hands and attention to the plump globes of her ass, Savian rubbed and squeezed until his erection grew harder and more painful. With a whispered curse, he moved back a bit until he could reach his pants that he’d thrown over the side of the chair. He wasn’t a fan of the way she had her furniture set up in here, but had to thank the heavens the chair and his pants were so convenient because he didn’t think he could wait another moment before sinking inside of her.
Seconds after he was sheathed Savian was between Jenise’s legs, loving the softness of her thick thighs, recalling how it felt to have them tightly tucked around him as he worked himself inside deeper. He lifted her hips from the bed, spreading her until he could watch the tender folds of her vagina open and then positioned himself right there. On a ragged moan from him and a blissful sigh from her, Savian pressed into her until he was buried to the hilt.
Jenise clutched the sheets even tighter as he began to move. Savian let his head fall back, eyes closed, his fingers gripping her by the waist as he pumped in and out. This was everything Savian needed to remain calm in the disastrous situation he found himself in. With each stroke he let go of a little more stress, relaxing into the damp warmth of her body.
The sound of his groin slapping rhythmically against the generous globes of her ass filled his ears and had tendrils of pleasure sliding down his spine. This felt so good. Here, inside of her felt so sublime, it almost felt…right.
Savian opened his eyes in that moment, hoping to get rid of that thought with a blast of reality. He was riding her from behind, a position he’d grown to favor with her because it gave him deeper access and because he enjoyed watching her ass as he took her. He was so completely inside of her now, enjoying how wet and eager for him she always was. She gave him so much and yet, at the same time, they both gave so little.
This was okay because there was nothing deep here, nothing beyond these moments of pure physical pleasure. He needed this release and so did she. While he was certain they both had pasts, that had shaped the adults they eventually became, he never offered any details of his and neither did Jenise. It was the first bit of equal footing Savian had discovered about them, all they concerned themselves with was the here and now.
For him, Jenise was the lawyer that was being paid to clear his name and the woman that was fulfilling a sexual need. Savian had no idea specifically what he was doing for her, besides the pleasure, and he refused to think beyond that point. It was simpler that way and would make for a cleaner break when the time came. It was what they both wanted, what they’d silently agreed upon. It was the way things had to be.
Things were getting out of hand.
Jenise knew it and still she closed her eyes again and let the feel of Savian so thick and hard and fully inside of her, take over. On impulse, she’d pulled away from him turning over and spreading her legs once again in welcome. She’d wanted to see him tonight. With her eyes wide open she saw his slight pause and then sighed with glee as he held his shaft at the base and guided his length to her waiting center once more. It felt so good when he began stroking in and out of her that she’d lifted her hands to cup her own breasts, loving the multiple spikes of pleasure shooting throughout her body.
The feel of him pushing her hands away from her breasts, his body leaning in closer so that while one of his hands took over kneading the now sensitive mounds, his mouth could minister to the other. He touched and kissed her breasts like he adored them. It was two-fold, she thought as her hands went to the back of his head, holding him in place as she arched her back.
Jenise was no stranger to good sex. She’d had lovers before and she knew how to give herself pleasure when need be. This wasn’t new. Well, on one hand it was. She’d never had an affair with a client, had never let that thought enter her mind. Long ago she’d sworn against such tricky situations that could end up disastrously, as they had before. She’d been so intent on that goal that no one, not one single man that she’d met in the eight years she’d been practicing law, the last one here in Miami, had even remotely appealed to her, on any personal level. Every date, every sex partner had been in a totally different career than her, and of the same mindset that the relationship was casual and could end at any time.
That was the way she preferred to operate. It was the way things had to be in her mind, to keep the last shreds of her sanity she had in place. This plan had worked for her, until three months ago, when Savian Donovan had walked into her office.
He’d looked at her as if there was nothing from her head to her toes that he liked or approved of. That was the first time she’d seen him. When he’d shown up in her office again, later that same day, she’d been surprised to see him. She’d been even more surprised about how that visit had ended.
They’d had sex in the lobby of her law firm—the only branch of Langley Law in Miami. The firm she was solely in charge of on a trial basis, against her parents’ wishes. She was just a woman after all and while it was commendable that she’d been the first Langley daughter to follow her father and grandfather into the field of law, the belief was still that she’d continue to work at the main branch of their firm in Chicago until she was married. Once she found the perfect husband, there would be no time for work. Children would come next because continuing the Langley bloodline was of utmost importance. It was the only thing her parents had ever really expected of her and her younger sister Morgan.
“You’ll both marry well,” Marianne Langley had told her daughters when they were teenagers. “You’ll make your father and me very proud.”
Jenise wanted them to be proud of her for graduating cum laude and receiving a BA in Sociology from the University of Chicago. While they were at it, they could also manage to feel some semblance of pride in the fact that she’d also graduated in the top five percent of her class at the University of Chicago Law School. She wanted them to acknowledge that she was just as good a lawyer as the men in their family and that she was doing the right thing by expanding the firm that her grandparents’ started on the heels of the Civil Rights Movement.
At the same time Jenise understood that approval might never come. She also knew that with or without it she planned to continue on, to create her own legacy if need be. To do that she had to remain focused, and not get caught up the way she had before. Caught up and almost destroyed.
When Savian’s clever mouth moved down her torso, kissing her navel, as he’d pulled out of her and now stroked her clit until her thighs convulsed, she cried out in ecstasy. The foggy sense of floating through an abyss of pleasure comforted her and muddled the painful thoughts of her past so that they mixed with those of her reality. In seconds, her entire body was shaking, her fingers gripping the comforter once more as her release ripped through every pore of her body.
Her eyes were still closed but she knew he was watching her, knew he liked to watch her when she came. She’d looked at him one time, saw how intensely dark his eyes became. When she’d first met Savian and Parker Donovan she’d immediately noted the differences between these brothers. Parker was of a darker complexion and had an athletic build that wore his designer suits well. He was also the more laid back brother, the one who smiled and charmed. While Savian’s complexion was lighter, like perfect caramel, his build was broader, his suit custom-cut and made to accentuate how totally fine he was. Their eyes were startling but Jenise had recognized immediately that Parker’s were lighter and brasher against his dark skin. Savian’s on the other hand, while still green but filled with darker brown and gray flecks that made him look more ominous and to her chagrin, sexier, gave him a steadier, more intense look. When he watched her come, his eyes grew even darker, his mouth partially open, and body perfectly still.
At six feet, three and a half inches tall, he always looked down at her when they stood. Lying down, his sculpted body—thanks to the hours she now knew he spent working out—lay perfectly aligned with hers, flanking her with a sense of strength and power she’d never experienced before. Not that she needed to feel anyone’s strength or power, because she had enough of her own. Still, she had to admit she liked it. She liked it a lot.
He was, once again, turning her over, rubbing his hands over her ass as she came up on her knees and again arched her back. Even though she’d desperately wanted to see him take his pleasure this time, Jenise knew that Savian liked taking her from behind. He always ran his fingers up and down her spine, pressing his palm at the base of her back to see if he could get her to arch a little more. She also sensed that he liked looking at her tattoo, even though he never said a word about it since the first time he’d asked, “What’s this for?”
Apparently, he’d already known what it said and while she’d been a little surprised at that fact, Jenise had replied honestly, “It means I do what I want, not what is expected or demanded of me. My life. My choice.”
Savian had nodded his response as if he understood, even though he’d never said those words exactly.
She sighed when his fingers brushed slowly down her spine while his thick, hot length, poked persistently at her bottom. He found his target in no time, finally sinking into her waiting heat. Jenise could think of nothing else at this point—only the way he expertly stroked her, pulling out and then sinking in once more. It was a delicious sensation that rippled through her body like a fine wine after a long day’s work. No, it was so much better than that, so much more addicting.
That’s precisely what Jenise was afraid had been happening. She was becoming addicted to Savian Donovan.
He stilled over her at that moment. His fingers gripping her waist tightly. His moan came next, long and slow, as if the sound itself omitted some sort of relief. Very much needed and coveted relief, at that. Jenise’s eyes were wide open at this point, her gaze fixated on her headboard since she couldn’t see him. That was most likely his plan, she’d thought long ago, because this was how their sexual escapades always ended. No matter which position they started in, or the others they enjoyed throughout the session, it always ended this way. Savian would find his release from behind her. He would then pull slowly out of her and offer to help her to the bathroom.
There were no shared showers. No holding or cuddling. No words of endearment or promises of a next time.
Jenise knew the drill, and after a few seconds when she felt him moving off the bed, she moved as well. When she stood she was on the opposite side of her bed, looking up just in time to see Savian’s gloriously naked body standing at the chair where he’d dropped his clothes.
“You can have the bathroom first,” she offered this time, but knew he would decline.
“I’ll just use the guest one out here,” he said, dropping his clothes over his arm and ready to turn and walk out of the room.
“That’s fine,” she said. “I’ll be out in a moment.”
She moved a little faster than normal, wanting to get away from him sooner than she ever had before. Once she was in her bathroom with the door closed securely behind her, Jenise leaned against it. She closed her eyes and cursed softly.
She didn’t want to get away from Savian. What she really wanted was to lay in her bed curled in his arms and ask him how his day went. He was stressed, she could see it the moment he walked into her apartment. Then again, that had been Savian’s look since the first day he met her. Still, she knew the ongoing murder investigation was weighing heavily on him. It was her job, as his attorney, to assure him that she would take care of his legal troubles, and she was confident that she could. But there was more. In the past weeks she’d seen the worry in his eyes, the heaviness of his shoulders each time they were together. That was the real reason he was here tonight.
It was the reason every night he showed up.
She was his release, his safe haven so to speak. Jenise knew that and at first she hadn’t minded at all. As she preferred, Savian was good at the “friends with benefits” theme. He didn’t ask questions, didn’t give any unnecessary information and didn’t intrude. He requested her time, at the very least, hours in advance and whenever—which in the past weeks had grown even less frequently—she needed to reschedule or cancel, he’d been understanding. Their arrangement had been perfect.
It had been.
“I need to get going,” he’d said after a soft knock on the bathroom door.
Jenise had jerked away from the door for fear he’d somehow known she’d been standing there thinking about him and what she might be beginning to feel.
“Ah, oh okay,” she said grabbing her robe from the hook and hurriedly slipping it on. She opened the door to see him standing right there, completely dressed and ready to leave.
“Early meeting tomorrow,” he said, with his brow furrowed, his lips in a thin straight line.
“Is it something I can help with?” she asked, then immediately regretted the question as it went against every nuance of their arrangement. “I mean, is it about the case? Do you need me to speak with your family to give them an update on where the investigation is now?”
Circling back to their professional relationship, the one with the only true commitment, Jenise tied the belt at her waist tightly.
“No,” he replied immediately. “I can handle my family on my own.”
He could handle everything on his own, Jenise thought. He always did.
“That’s good,” she said with a curt nod.
They stood there for a few silent moments, the room still heavy with the scent of their sex—or was that her? Yes, she thought. She could still smell him on her skin and if she closed her eyes she would feel his hands and his mouth on her, just as it was so devilishly good only minutes before.
“It’s time for me to leave,” he announced, although he did not move.
Jenise cleared her throat and her mind of those pointless thoughts. There were never two times in one night, or one visit. Only one very potent and exceptionally pleasing encounter and then they went their separate ways. Every time.
“Yes,” she said, more quietly than she realized. “It is.”
Savian still did not move. In fact, he stood just a few feet away from her for so long Jenise had to fight the urge to close the space between them and initiate another interlude herself. That wasn’t what Savian wanted. It wasn’t what they’d silently agreed upon. And so, with her mind still reeling with traitorous thoughts, she said, “Good night.”
Another few seconds and Savian was nodding. The light and perfectly barbered beard almost hiding that muscle that twitched on the left side of his jaw. She’d seen that before and had wanted to reach out and touch it, to possibly rub that bit of tension away. This time she thrust her hands into the pockets of her robe and gave him the smallest smile she could muster.
“Good night, Jenise,” Savian said finally, before turning and leaving her standing there.
He knew his way out. He would flip the latch on her door knob to lock it before closing and walking down the hall to the elevator. From there he would ride down to the garage where he’d parked his car two levels up. Jenise had no idea if Savian knew anyone else in this building, but since the first time that she’d invited him to come here, he’d insisted on parking on another floor so as to hopefully not be seen leaving her apartment or even coming from the floor where her apartment was located. It wouldn’t do for the press to find out about them sleeping together. Not the press, or his friends, or his family.
She was Savian Donovan’s secret. And he was hers.
Three months ago that had made perfect sense to her.
Now…her phone rang, thankfully jerking her away from those thoughts.
“Hello?” Jenise said into the phone after retrieving it from her nightstand.
“Well, hello,” her mother, Marianne Langley, replied. “It’s so nice to hear my daughter’s voice after so many weeks.”
Jenise closed her eyes and took a deep breath, trying to re-calibrate her patience. This was always a required act when speaking to her mother, or her father, or one of her older brothers. It was only those calls received or made to her younger sister Morgan that had the relaxed and familiar tone that should be had with family.
“Hi, mom,” was her response. She opened her eyes and moved to take a seat in the chair opposite the one where Savian’s clothes had been.
In fact, she looked away from that chair altogether.
“And that’s all I get is a ‘hi mom’. This is exactly why you shouldn’t have moved so far away from home. You’re losing all your manners down there.”
Marianne Langley spoke in the crisp tone she thought would keep her daughters in line. Only Jenise and Morgan had always been the insubordinate ones in their family. They’d been bucking against their parents’ strict rules and regimens for them ever since they learned to talk. There was no sense in stopping now, Jenise thought with another sigh.
“How are you, mom? How’s dad? And Gramps and Nana?” she continued, without addressing her mother’s sarcasm.
“Your grandparents are in Italy. Emma finally convinced Victor they didn’t need him hanging around the firm looking to find something wrong. Your father has been running that firm expertly for too many years to count now and your brothers are holding their own there as well. Langley Law is thriving just as it always has been.”
All of this was said with pride and enthusiasm because Langley Law Chicago and Bradford Langley were the sun, the moon, and everything in between to Marianne.
“Langley Law Miami is also doing well,” Jenise said because she knew her mother would never ask. “Referrals are bringing in more clients. I may have to hire an associate in the next few months to help with the litigation workload, although I try to settle as many of those as I can. Some of the larger malpractice claims are going to take more of my time and attention. And I have a couple of criminal cases that may go to trial.”
Her gaze had wandered back to that chair, then to the door where Savian had walked through. She shook her head.
“I knew Wade should have been the one to go down there,” her mother said. “I tried to tell your father.”
“And I told both of you that I wanted this opportunity to manage the firm on my own. I don’t need Wade to come down here. I’ll hire associates, just like Dad does at the Chicago firm. That’s what managing partners do,” Jenise snapped.
“Well, it shouldn’t be all your responsibility. That’s all I’m saying. All that working takes too much of your time. When’s the last time you’ve been out on a date? I haven’t heard anything about a man in your life.”
No, Jenise thought. Nobody had.
“That’s not important,” she said, her mind begging to differ with that comment.
“It is important,” Marianne argued. “A woman your age should be happily married and having children by now. The clock keeps on ticking regardless of how many cases there are to be tried.”
“I’m only thirty, not sixty, mom,” Jenise countered. “Besides, there is more to life for a woman than finding a man and having his babies.”
That shut Marianne up as surely as if Jenise had hung the phone up on her instead. Then, came that wave of guilt that never failed to assail Jenise when she’d done what she felt like she had to with her mother.
“I know it’s what worked for you, mom. I just think I was made to be different,” Jenise added in a much more amiable tone.
“You strive to be contrary, you always have. And it’s rubbed off on your sister. No matter how I’ve tried to give you two the best of everything, and to teach you all that I know, you insist on going in the opposite direction.”
“Did it ever occur to you that it might be the direction we’re meant to go in? I mean, not everyone is created the same,” she continued the same old argument with her mother.
It was pointless, Jenise knew. Marianne had been born and bred to be a wife and mother. Her mother had taught her just as Marianne tried to teach her daughters. It was her only goal in life and she’d achieved it in spades by marrying into one of Chicago’s
most affluent black families. Now, Marianne hoped to make the same advantageous love connections for her daughters, if only they would cooperate.
“You need a man to take care of you so you don’t work yourself to the bone.”
“I need to stand on my own two feet and to know without a doubt that I can take care of myself. That is more important to me than any husband or baby.”
“It does not keep you warm at night,” Marianne rebutted.
“And neither does dad because you’re in bed most nights before he returns from work.”
The silence fell like a gavel in a courtroom and Jenise instantly regretted her words.
“Look, mom, I love you for all that you’ve done for me and I appreciate your care and efforts. I’m just saying that this is the life I want to lead right now and I’d really appreciate it if you could find a way to respect that.”
“I don’t like it,” Marianne said finally.
“I know,” Jenise agreed.
“Your father wants to talk to you about work. Call him sometime tomorrow so he doesn’t continue to worry,” her mother said after that, her tone indicating she was finished discussing the disappointment of Jenise’s life goals for the moment.
“Get some rest,” Marianne continued. “You sound tired and irritable. You probably have bags under your eyes too. Boil some tea bags and put them on before you go to sleep. Are you eating healthy? Did you get the juicer I sent to you last week?”
Jenise took another deep breath and slowly exhaled. Marianne’s other big disappointment in her oldest daughter was that she was overweight.
“I did get the juicer but have absolutely no appetite for pureed vegetables and/or fruit. But you’ll be happy to know that I received a clean bill of health at my last physical,” Jenise reported.
“Oh that’s good. What was your weight? Has it gone down?” Marianne asked in a much brighter tone.
“It’s exactly the same,” Jenise replied thinking of the lovely sage green dress she’d purchased just after her doctor’s appointment in celebration of that fact.
When she’d entered law school Jenise had been a size twenty. By the time she’d graduated she’d gone up to a size twenty-four, causing her mother much worry. But in the years since then and after claiming her own peace and developing an appreciation for herself that she never had before, she was able to come down to a size eighteen. That’s where she’d been for the last three years and Jenise had discovered it was where she was the happiest. She loved herself, her life and her size and didn’t care who didn’t.
“I’m fine, mom. I know what to eat and I know what I like. There’s no need for you to worry.” Even though she knew Marianne would, especially since she was convinced that Jenise’s size had something to do with why she wasn’t getting a good man to offer a proposal.
That thought had Jenise wondering once more about what she was doing with Savian and how smart it was to continue. Savian Donovan was not going to ask her to marry him. Hell, Jenise didn’t want to marry Savian Donovan. The sex was good and she wouldn’t mind spending a night or two with him, or having a real conversation with him for that matter, but marriage? Hell no, that wasn’t on either of their agendas and she was glad of that fact.
After a few more familiar exchanges with her mother, Jenise finally managed to get her off the phone. Then it was time for her shower and afterwards she went to her home office prepared to work for an hour or so before she went to bed. Of course, the shower and work were both designed to keep her mind from circling back to where it seemed determined to go tonight. But when she opened her email box to a message from the detective assigned to the Giovanni Morelli case, she couldn’t help but whisper his name once more, “Savian.”
Her heart sank as she read the message knowing that this new development was going to be a hard blow to the man she was still trying to convince herself she wasn’t falling for.