Shh. I'll Be Your Lover - Annie J. Rose Page 0,2

one. A happier one where my boy felt nothing but loved and wanted all the time.

Chapter 2


I hated losing.

As I stomped through the halls of my office building, my heels clicked, my briefcase slung across my body, and my phone was clenched so tightly in my hand that I was pretty sure I pressed the button that made it power off. I didn’t care. I needed to get outside as fast as possible.

I made it out in the open and took a deep breath, hoping against hope it would help me not scream. I was so angry that I thought I might anyway. I hated losing in general, but when I lost in a case that resulted in a kid going back to an abusive dad, it was worse. I hated that the reason I lost this case wasn’t because I was bad at my job or because the merits of the case were against me, but it was because of shoddy police work leading to inadmissible evidence, which was the worst reason of all.

It wasn’t justice.

It was law.

I hated the outcome of this case.

There was nothing I could do now. The mother was despondent and fired us. I didn’t blame her. She was lashing out, and I understood it. She wanted to appeal and use a law firm closer to where she lived in Charlotte. I offered to help her pro bono. She said no.

Deep breaths kept me from inventing new curse words and kicking the shit out of the brick building just to get the frustration out. I hoped she would find a team that could help her. A team that could find a loophole somewhere to make sure that kid got taken care of. A team better than mine.

I needed a drink.

Luckily, it was Friday, and that meant I had a plan. It was the same plan I had every Friday when my friends didn’t corral me into something else. I was going to go to the diner that Simone’s family used to own, grab dinner, bring it home, put on my oldest and comfiest sweatpants and a T-shirt with no bra, and gorge on pancakes and wine.

Like a classy lady.

It was a good plan, and one that had helped me through many tough cases and before that, tough coursework. I’d put in a lot of hours studying in order to get to this point in my life. I had sacrificed a lot to do it, too.

All my other friends, my circle of ladies I held so close to me and had known all my life, were all married with kids now. Avery had just found a partner in a former military man named Tex. Beth had the firefighter, Austin. Tara had her former detective and all-around handyman extraordinaire, Chris. And of course, Simone had David, the star football player who came back home after his injury and fell right back into her arms and discovered the kid he never knew he had.

My friends’ lives were all Hallmark movies. Mine was an episode of Law and Order. And not even one of the good ones. Where was my Christopher Meloni? Hell, where was my Jerry Orbach?

It wasn’t like I defined myself by a relationship. Hell, I barely had any experience with them myself. Relationships with men weren’t exactly a strong suit for me. My focus was always on my career, and that had been true even in school. I wanted the best grades. The highest chances of scoring a scholarship. I’d achieved that, and then some.

Now, just like I had always wanted, I was working in family law. I realized it wasn’t what most young lawyers wanted to be, but I loved it. I always wanted to help people, not get bogged down in constitutionality. I didn’t care to challenge political norms or try killers or defend innocent men on death row. Those things didn’t interest me.

I wanted to help families. Specifically, families who were trying to work things out to give their children the best life possible. Sometimes that meant two people who just didn’t love each other anymore but were trying to figure out how to split time and resources for their offspring. Sometimes it meant getting the kid the hell away from a toxic situation.

I didn’t always win. Like today.

Gutted, frustrated, and now suddenly out of energy, I slogged my way to the car and slid in. I checked my phone and realized I had, indeed, turned it off. Flipping it back on sent