Do I have what it takes to win? Or will I crash and burn? Alone... I suddenly got a message from Gabriel. I can't stop thinking about you. I hope you're not sitting in your bedroom alone, working yourself up about tomorrow.
Jade: how did you guess? :/
Gabriel: because I know you. You'll do amazing tomorrow. You know our defense inside out. I have every faith in you.
Jade: that means a lot coming from you. But I'm still worried about the sex tape going viral.
Gabriel: over my dead body. You can trust that I'll do everything in my power to erase that video for good. Your well-being is my priority.
Jade: that means a lot, Gabriel :)
Gabriel: Get some rest, we both have a big day ahead of us tomorrow.
That was nice. He sure does seem to care and I fully trust him. I can always count on him to come through for me.
Despite Gabriel's words, I sleep restlessly... Aware that tomorrow could make or break my entire career and reputation.
*The next morning: Today is my big day, so I'd better get ready for it. Once I got to the courthouse, I saw Byron standing in the hall. "Hi, Jade."
"Hey, Byron. Hope you're ready for today."
"I am, but why the hell isn't Mr. Howard? I received an email yesterday that he won't be attending. What kind of stunt is he trying to pull?"
"I know it doesn't make much sense right now, but the plan is still the same."
"I don't like being kept out of the loop. Especially when my daughter's future is on the line. I'll be feeding back by disappointment to Bakewell after the hearing."
Oh no! This could give Bakewell more reasons to fire me, and it could prevent Gabriel from becoming a partner. "I know you'e confused. Why don't we talk about this somewhere more private? I'll try and explain what's going on the best I can."
"Well, that's the least you could do."
I lead Byron into a small side room and shut the door behind us. "Tell me, Jade...Has Mr. Howard given up on you? Does he think we're going to lose?"
"No! On the contrary, he thinks having m up there instead will give us a better chance of success."
"Please, explain to me how that's the case."
"Unfortunately...we were approached yesterday by some opposition. They agreed to hold fire, as long as Mr. Howard wasn't present today."
"I don't understand. Are we in trouble?"
"No, it's all under control. Mr. Howard is taking care of it as we speak. That's why he can't be here. I just need you to trust me. Besides, Melany and I share a bond. I care deeply about her. It's good for us if the judge can see we're speaking from the heart. And Mr. Howard...Well, he can be a little cold sometimes. Having an emotional plea may cause the judge to sympathize with us."
"You have a point. I know you're talented at what you do. And you've been preparing for this for months. I apologize. I shouldn't have doubts, but the last-minute change in plan made me panic."
"Well then, maybe the solution is to find a way to calm you down again." I walk over to him, and his attention focuses on me.
"How are you going to do that?" His eyes are already widening in anticipation and desire.
"I have a few tricks up my sleeve." I close the space between us and slide my arms around his neck. I bite down on my lower lip, and his gaze immediately shifts to my mouth. I lean towards his face and gently brush my lips against his. His hands caress my back, slowly moving downwards and pulling me against him as he goes along. I open my mouth an inch, allowing him in. He kisses me softly, slowly having his tongue touch mine. Our kiss evolves with an increasingly passionate rhythm, and I can't help but let a moan escape my lips.
He tightens his grip on me in response. His hands move from my back to my ass, holding it firmly against him. I'm not sure where this is heading, but it feels too good to stop. I toss my head back and close my eyes, trying to regain composure. "Damn, is that the time? They'll be starting the session in a couple minutes!
Damn it. "Sorry, I got ahead of myself there."
"Don't apologize. I...I needed that." He caresses my face gently and smiles. "Your lips worked their magic. My fear has disappeared."
"I'm sorry for doubting you and threatening to speak to Bakewell. You won't have to worry about me doing that anymore."
"I'm happy to hear that. I knew we could resolve this between us." I shoot him a wink, and he chuckles. "Let's go."
Byron takes his seat at the front of the courtroom. Shortly after, Carmen enters with a smug smile plastered on her face. We lock eyes, and she makes a beeline towards me, with her lawyer behind her. "So, the rumors really are true. Mr. Howard couldn't care less about his client, so he sent his amateur assistant to come and lose his case instead. Mr. Phelps and I can't wait."
Mr. Phelps, her lawyer, scratches his arm nervously. "You couldn't be more wrong. I don't need Mr. Howard to kick your ass in court."
"You're awfully confident for someone who's never even stood in court before."
"Hey mom, hey Jade!"
"Melany?! What on earth are you doing here?"
"This case is about me, duh." I hold back my laughter as Carmen's jaw hangs open in shock.
"You seem lost for words, Carmen. I hope you find your voice before the trial starts." The bailiff interrupts us. "All rise. The court is now in session."
"Judge Julie presiding. Please be seated."
"Good morning. Calling the case of Carmen Jones versus Byron Jones. Are both sides ready?"
"Ready, your honor." Mr. Phelps said, cockily.
"Ready, your honor." I couldn't feel more than ready.
"You may now give your statements."
"Your honor, the evidence that I present to you today will prove that the defendant, Mr. Byron Jones, is an unfit father, and has prevented my client from seeing her own daughter in recent years. In light of this, my client would like to file for full custody over Miss Melany Jones."
"Your honor, during this trial, you will hear no real evidence against my client. Our evidence will show you how Melany has flourished under the care of her father and that Ms. Jones had plenty of opportunities to visit her daughter if she so wished. Moreover, we will examine Mr. Jones's intentions to file for full custody only months away from Melany's eighteenth birthday. This is in light of Melany's trust fund, which she will gain access to once she is no longer a minor."
*Meanwhile... "Good morning, Mia."
"Hello, you. Missed me?"
"Let's cut the shit. We both know why we're here."
"Because you realized you made a huge mistake of letting me go?"
"I know you planted a camera in my office. You're responsible for the sex tape."
"I don't know what you're talking about. But a sex tape? Now that's an idea."
"I've been a lawyer for almost 10 years. I can sniff out a liar within seconds."
"I have no idea what you're talking about."
"Last time I checked, sex exploitation is equipped to a shitload of jail time. You always did say orange wasn't your color. So are we going to do this the hard way, or are you going to cooperate?"
"Okay, fine. This so isn't what I signed up for. When you blew me off a few months ago, I was pretty pissed off. Especially since you got your assistant to lie to me. So, I..."
"What did you do?"
"I...might have tried to start a smear campaign against you on social media. No one took much notice, apart from this random woman called Carmen. She asked me to put a camera in your office. She wanted to know what your plan was for this court case that involved her daughter. She said if I did that, you'd sure lose your case, and your perfect name would be finally ruined. It was the perfect revenge."
"I knew it. I've done a lot of things I'm not proud of in my lifetime, but I never thought someone could stoop so low to do something like that."
"I acted in anger, okay? The next day, I felt immediately guilty, and by the end of the week, I managed to get the camera back but not before discovering the footage of you sleeping with your assistant. I couldn't believe you were back to your old tricks again. You're nothing but a womanizer! It was a no brainier. I sent the video to Carmen to use as she pleased. It's time you were taught a lesson."
"You think you're teaching me a lesson? I'm not the one at risk. You've put Jade's career on the line. She's a new name in the law, she hasn't built a name for herself like I have. At worst, I'd have to wait a few more years to become a partner at a firm. But Jade? She would be destroyed."
"Her career wasn't exactly at the front of my mind when I was watching her fuck you. Why do you even care? You usually give a toss about your latest play-toy."
"She's different. I care about her. She's made me a new man. I'm not the bachelor you once knew. She's good for me, and I think...I think I love her."
"You what?! Gabriel Howard... in love?"
"She's the best thing that's ever happened to me. And I won't let you destroy her with that tape."
"Well. I didn't expect this at all. I only wanted you to realize that women aren't disposable toys. But it seems like you've learned that on your own. Hmmm...My intention wasn't to ruin Jade. I'll delete all the copies of the tape that I have. But I already sent it to Carmen."
"I figure that. That's why I need you to do one more thing..."
*An hour later: "Jade, would you like to cross-examine Mr. Jones?"
"Yes, your honor." This part will be short and sweet. "Although we have now discredited all evidence against my client for being an unfit parents, I'd like to finish off by asking you about Melany's statement about Byron. She described him as being "the best dad I could ever ask for". Were you aware she felt that way about her father before you decided to file for full custody and take her away?"
"Yes. I mean, no! I mean...I don't know."
"That's all, your honor."
"I've heard enough to make a decision. It's clear there's no grounds to consider Mr. Jones to be an unfit father. Therefore, I see no reason to grant full custody to Ms. Jones. Shared custody will remain that both parents have access to Melany. However, in light of the conflict of interests surrounding her trust fund, I will approve yhe request to protect the money under a new set of terms and conditions. Case closed. The court is adjourned."
Oh my god! I did it! I won my first court case! "Jade, you were amazing up there. I'm sorry that I ever doubted you could do this without Mr. Howard's help."
"Jade! I'm so happy I'll get to continue to live with my dad and see my mom if she wants...Without worrying about my stupid trust fund. Thank you, Jade."
"Thank you for everything."
"You're both very welcome. I'm just grateful Judge Julie favored our case. And of course, although Mr. Howard isn't here, I couldn't have done this without him."
"Your'e very modest. You did an amazing job of representing me today."
I see a furious looking Carmen approaching us from the corner of my eye. Oh no, now that we've won the trial, she might release the sex tape! I completely forgot about that! I wouldn't be surprised if she's already done it, judging by how mad she looks.
"Hey, Mom. I'm sorry it had to come to this. Are you angry with me?"
"Not at you." She glances at Byron and I.
"I'm just happy that the verdict won't stop me from spending time with either you or Dad. That is...if you still want to see me? And the whole trust fund thing...it was just making everything so complicated. I don't want the money until I'm ready for it."
Once she's faced with her daughter, Carmen softens her facial expression. "That's quite mature of you, Melany. Most teenagers couldn't be trusted with that amount of money. I must say, I'm impressed with how you've handled yourself throughout this. I know your father and I put you in a difficult position. And this trial made me realize that maybe I could've done things differently as a mother. You've grown into a pretty amazing young woman. I'd still like to get to know you better, trust fund or no trust fund."
A wide grin spreads across Melany's face, and she runs over to embrace her mother. A warm feeling spreads over me. I'm glad Melany finally has a chance to get to know both of her parents. I'm honored that I was able to help make this happen.
Melany waves her mother goodbye and leaves the courtroom with Byron. I'm left standing face to face with Carmen. "You got what you wanted. Congratulations."
"Look, I know it was you who sent Gabriel the email yesterday."
"Ah. So he told you. Well then, it isn't rocket science to work that one out. I wanted to win."
"Melany is just a child, trapped in a legal battlefield between her parents. I wanted to fight for her best interests today. A 17 year old girl's future means more to me than a leaked sex tape. So, I'm not sorry that I didn't voluntarily lose our case. You can do what you want with that tape. I don't care anymore."
"I doubt that. But you had a lucky escape. The video has been erased."
"My accomplice, Mia, betrayed me. I received an email from her during recess, in which she told me something unpleasant. She'd handed over a signed confession to Mr. Howard in exchange for her own freedom. It would have implicated me in sextortion and given him grounds to prosecute unless I deleted the video. It wasn't worth jail time."
"I had no idea."
"Just thank your boss. Maybe he does have more than a single brain cell in that head of his."
Carmen glances behind me, and I look around, startled to Gabriel's handsome smile. She rolls her eyes and stomps out of the courtroom, leaving Gabriel and I alone.
I feel so emotional, and I'm desperate to talk to Gabriel. I need to say thank you. "I can't believe you pulled that off- you erased our sex tape."
"I can guarantee you there isn't a single copy of it in existence."
"Thank you. You saved my job."
"Of course. You're a natural-born lawyer, Jade. I saw you up there. I managed to sneak in at the end. You were flawless. The way you held your own and read the room, it reminded me of myself when I was starting out. I'm proud of you, baby."
He pulls me into his chest, and places a single kiss on my forehead. "Why don't we go celebrate at my place I have a bottle of champagne with your name written on it."
"That sounds perfect." He doesn't need anymore prompting. He grabs my hand and leads me out of the courthouse. As we reach Gabriel's home, I realize this is the first time I've been here.
"Do you bring many women here."
"I don't believe that."
"Jade, you're the first."
"I didn't expect your place to be like this."
"Warm and cozy."
"Why? Because I'm a cold-hearted "shark in a suit"?"
"Precisely." I laugh and go sit on the couch. When I turn around, he is coming to sit next to me with a champagne bottle, two glasses and a bowl of strawberries. "It feels like you panned this..."
"I might have. I knew you'd win. I had to make sure I had a bottle to celebrate." He pops the bottle open, and the fizzy liquid overflows.
"Don't move." He takes a strawberry and brushes it against my lips. "Open." I do as I'm told and part my lips, taking the tip of the strawberry into my mouth. I take a small bite of it, and the sweet flavor explodes on my taste buds. Gabriel is watching me, his pupils dilated. He lowers the rest of the strawberry and licks up the remaining juice from my lips. I don't think I've ever been so aroused.
"Here." Without taking his eyes off mine, he moves away and hands me my champagne. He picks up his own and raises it in the air to toast. "To us."
"To us." We clink our glasses together, and I take a heavy gulp from the glass.
"I kind of also have one more thing to celebrate."
"Jade, when you first started working for me, I didn't know that I'd fall for you like this. Ever. But, seeing how hard you worked, I'd be crazy to let you go."
"What are you trying to say, Gabriel?"
"I've made my mistakes, but there's only one woman who I want and that's you, so..."
He pulled something out of his coat pocket and smiled before getting down on one knee. "Jade, will you marry me?"
"Oh my god, yes!"
He kissed me and slid the ring on my finger.
"I can't believe this, Gabriel. It's amazing."
He smiled. "I know."
Unable to fight the separation any longer, we launch for each other. His mouth is heavy and needy on mine. I try and moan at the sheer intensity, but I'm unable to speak or breathe.
My limbs are entangled within his, and our tongues twist together. I'm desperately clinging onto him, as if I might fall if I let go. Without breaking the kiss, he lays me on my back and begins to undress me. He stops once I'm down to my lace underwear, sitting back for a second to admire me.
"How did I get so lucky?"
My chest heaves, and I arch my back toward him. I want him to touch me. "You're ready for me, aren't you, baby?"
"Yes." I reach toward his pants, but he grabs my hand and moves it away.
"No. I want to taste you first." Gabriel props his body over mine with one hand, and with the other reaches down to my underwear, and pulls them down my legs. He plants wet kisses from my breasts, down to my stomach and straight to my clit. I know I'm already wet. I feel him exhale against me as he too realizes how ready I am for him.
He rolls his tongue against my clit, and soon I feel his fingers slide inside me too. The feeling of pleasure is almost too much. He's going to make me cum already if he doesn't stop. As if reading my mind, he strips off his own clothes, and positions himself above me. He enters me, gently at first... I raise my hips to meet his, wanting to take him deeper and harder. Heat begins to rise in me, and my body tenses. He picks up the pace, slowing down, then speeding back up... I know I can't last much longer. It only takes a few more thrusts until I'm tipped over the edge.
He soon follows, stimulated by the sight of my orgasms beneath him. "You're so fucking amazing, Jade" he murmurs against my ear, exhausted.
"I could say the same thing about you." We collapse together on the couch, and he pulls a blanket over us. "Would you stay the night?"
"Yes. I'd love to." I shut my eyes and lay my head against his. Just as I'm drifting off to sleep, he picks me up and carries me to his bedroom. I'm completely exhausted after everything we've been through today, but he ended the night with something amazing.
I'm in love with Gabriel Howard and he'll be all mine. Forever.
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