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The Pecker Briefs (E-Book)

The Pecker Briefs (E-Book)

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I never thought a pecker would get me in so much trouble.

I mean, sure… if you’re talking about a certain anatomical feature of mine that the ladies just love. Given my bachelor status and appreciation for all things curvy and feminine, I could absolutely see that. But a different pecker is making my life much harder than it needs to be.

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My name is Ford Daniels, partner at the law firm of Knight & Payne, and my latest case has me wading through the finer points of peckers—woodpeckers that is. Specifically, the red-cockaded woodpecker. I swear, I can’t make this stuff up but that’s what the sexy-as-hell blonde chained to a tree told me this morning.

Her name is Viveka Jones and she is so much more than a pretty face. She’s got wit, charm, and razor-sharp smarts. Turns out my client is looking to bulldoze the red-cockaded woodpecker’s natural habitat in favor of a multimillion-dollar subdivision and the sexy attorney with legs for days (and days), just happens to be counsel for an animal rights group looking to put a halt to construction.

My client’s pissed, but all I can think about is getting Viveka across the table from me. And then on the table underneath me. Perhaps up against the wall. And then—

Well, let’s just say when it’s all said and done, I’m hoping the red-cockaded woodpecker isn’t the only pecker that gets some attention from Miss Viveka Jones.

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Chapter 1

Ford

Normally, the sound of an incoming text—that tiny, single note—doesn’t cause me anxiety. But when it’s followed by another “ding,” then another, and finally another, I can feel my pulse pick up slightly. It takes a lot to rattle me, even though I’m not rattled now.

Just… perturbed.

I snag my phone off the passenger seat, letting my fingertips briefly drag across the buttery leather. Drawing in air through my nose, I let the scent of brand-new Mercedes wash through me and it makes it palatable when I see Alison is the one texting me as I thought. She has the most annoying habit of splitting up whatever she wants to say in a flurry of multiple texts.

My glance at my phone is brief, because I’m not about texting and driving. I’ve represented far too many people injured, maimed, or killed by some dumbass who believes they have the mental and physical acuity to operate a vehicle and carry on a conversation with their fingers at the same time.

After tossing the phone back down on the seat, I drum my fingers lightly on the steering wheel. It’s wrapped in the same, supple black leather as the seats. I’d just bought this AMG G63 three days ago, and it’s absolute perfection.

Five-point-five liters, V8 biturbo with 563 horsepower under the hood.

Totally puts Alison and her annoying texts out of my mind, although I will have to deal with her at some point. I’d cut things off with her over two weeks ago, and she just doesn’t seem to understand. I still get perky snippets from her several times a week—split into multiple messages of course—and despite the fact I stopped responding five days ago, she doesn’t seem daunted.

I might be concerned she was stalker material except her texts are nothing more than friendly greetings or funny little things that happened to her. Friendly, light, and in no way suggestive that she’s upset we’re not dating anymore.

Or fucking.

Whatever you want to call it. I’m sure she saw things differently than I did, but I was never anything but honest with her from the get-go. I’m just not long-term boyfriend material.

Don’t get me wrong.

I’m a monogamous man. Loyal and focused on the woman I’m with—for the time I’m with her.

But that time often isn’t very long. My interest always wanes, and it could be for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, it seems like no reason at all. Leary says I’m merely in a rut, and I don’t want to put forth the real effort.

And I disagree with her wholeheartedly. While I don’t give her the down and dirty details—because that’s not the way our relationship is anymore—she knows me well enough to know that when I’m with a woman, I’m with that woman. I give it my all.

Until I just can’t anymore.

Or don’t want to, rather. That would be the honest thing to say.

My phone rings, but I don’t need to grab it from the seat to answer. I tap a button on my steering wheel. Through the convenience of Bluetooth, I answer, “Ford Daniels.”

It’s a formal greeting, but most people who call are clients or business associates. I don’t recognize the number, so whoever it is gets my best “attorney” voice.

“Ford…” It’s a rumbling voice with a thick southern drawl. “I need you to get down to the site.”

No need for me to ask what “site”. Drake Powell is the president of Landmark Builders and one of my larger clients. He’s referring to a sixteen-hundred-acre tract of land he’s breaking ground on today to build a new subdivision on the north side of Raleigh.

“What’s going on?” I ask as I approach a red light. I slow my vehicle, enjoying the purring vibration as my G63 idles.

“What’s going on is that some crazy bitch has tied herself to a pine tree, claiming it houses some fucking endangered species of bird. I can’t very well just run her over, so you need to get down here and handle it.”

He grinds those words out with almost an anticipatory relish because Drake Powell likes to run over people.

Metaphorically, that is.

“Or can I run her over?” he asks, undisguised hope in his voice.

“No, you can’t run her over,” I say sternly. “But can’t you just… I don’t know… cut her out and gently escort her away?”

“She says she’s got legal papers. An injunction,” he mutters, and then he yells at someone. Not me. “Can you go any slower, you jackass?”

“Where are you?” I ask.

“On my way to the site,” he growls, laying on his horn for several seconds. “That’s right, Grandma… get out of the way.”

My eyes shift briefly to the dashboard clock. My first appointment isn’t until ten, and it’s not even eight yet. It would be a very short detour to meet Drake and help him with this. Plus, I charge him attorney fees of $575 per hour, so I can’t really complain.

It only takes me about fifteen minutes to reach Swan’s Mill since I’m going against the flow of the morning rush. Drake was the one who named this subdivision, and it fits with the whole It’s a Wonderful Life vibe this place is going to have. Charming and unique houses that will have secretive courtyards and second-story balconies. Gas-lamp-styled lighting set every thirty feet on every sidewalk will create a cozy glow at night. There will be low, wrought-iron fences bordering each yard, making it easy to chat with your neighbor or pass that cup of sugar across. The absolute perfect place to raise kids, or at least make people think they were in the safest place in the entire world by the neighborly vibe Drake’s aiming for. The plans and architectural renderings that I’d seen were quite impressive.

It ought to be for the millions of dollars that are being invested in this project.

But right now, Swan’s Mill is nothing but sixteen-hundred wooded acres off a two-lane road just three miles north of the city limits. So close to the city of Raleigh, yet seemingly in the middle of nowhere. I park near the road as what little bit of clearing that’s available is filled with several trucks, bull dozers, backhoes, a flat-bed tractor trailer to haul off tree trunks and one small beat-up Volvo station wagon.

I lock my vehicle, even though it’s probably not necessary, before making my way through a group of workers waiting around. Some sit on tailgates, others sip on drinks and tell jokes. Drake is talking to one of his men. By the way he’s waving his arms and leaning in aggressively, I don’t need to hear the conversation to know he’s pissed.

His head snaps my way as I approach. Drake spins on his heel and jerks his chin in a silent demand I follow him. We step into the copse of trees that were scheduled to be cleared today, walk thirty paces, and then I see her.

I’m not quite sure what I was expecting, but a beautiful woman in chains was not it. I guess I figured some hippie tree hugger who had a few screws loose was what we’d be facing. Maybe in jeans, a flannel, and with a granola bar clutched in one hand for sustenance.

Instead, the woman chained to the tree is absolutely exquisite. Her blonde hair is so pale it’s reminiscent of moonlight. Long and braided into a pattern that resembles herringbone, it hangs over her left shoulder. She has a heart-shaped face, high cheekbones, and full lips. Her eyes are pale blue, filled with intelligence and defiance. Most striking is the way she’s dressed, and it’s most definitely not the outfit of a granola muncher.

It’s a mid-April morning. There’s a tiny nip to the air, but I feel comfortable in my suit jacket, so I doubt she’s uncomfortable in what she’s wearing. Her black pencil skirt comes to her knees. She’s wearing a form-fitting white blouse with her sleeves rolled up, and the best way I know she’s not cold is because her nipples aren’t poking through.

More’s the pity.

Black pumps adorn her feet—legs bare of panty hose. The heels to her shoes are quite sensible, unlike most women who use fourspiked inches to ratchet up their sex appeal. But this woman doesn’t need it because, by my guess, she stands around five-ten without shoes on her feet. Very tall for a woman, but she’s also filled out in all the right places.

“Holy shit,” I murmur under my breath. Gorgeous woman in chains. I had no clue my day would start off so fucking awesome.

Drake isn’t swayed by her beauty in the slightest because the man is only motivated by money, pure and simple. He stomps up to her, sweeps a hand in her direction as if I can’t see her for myself, and barks, “Do something about this!”

The woman’s gaze shifts from Drake to me, and oh yeah… she’s smart as a whip. I can see it shimmering in her defiant stare. There’s no doubt she has a very purposeful agenda here today.

Stepping forward, I sweep my eyes down the length of her. The chains are massively thick, and I’m not sure regular bolt cutters would work. They wrap around her from just above her breasts to below her hips. I take a slow walk around the tree, observing a thick padlock at the back that’s heavy duty, but could easily be cut. Clearly, she had someone help her out because there’s no way she did this by herself.

When I get back to the front, she stares at me with an unrepentant smirk. I wait for her to say something, but she remains quiet.

“I’m Ford Daniels,” I finally say by way of introduction before pointing to Drake. “He’s the owner of this land, and I’m his attorney. You’re impeding a building project that’s supposed to start today, so want to tell me what this is all about?”

The woman’s lips tip upward, and she gives me a challenging smile. Bright white teeth that are almost mesmerizing in their perfectness are revealed before she says, “I’m Viveka Jones. And your client, Mr. Powell, cannot start clearing today. This tree and several others in the vicinity house the red-cockaded woodpecker, who, unfortunately for you, is on the endangered species list.”

My head tips back to stare up the length of the tree, seeing nothing unusual.

“It’s on the other side, about thirty feet up,” Viveka says. “They burrow out their holes to live in. It takes them years to create a nest.”

I don’t bother walking around to confirm. It’s obvious she’s telling the truth. But since I don’t know fuck-all about the red-cock-whatever-pecker, I don’t bother with it.

Instead, in my sternest, most lawyerly voice, I say, “You’re trespassing. If there’s an endangered species here, there are proper judicial channels you can go through—”

“In my purse,” she interrupts.

“In your what?” I ask, befuddled.

Her eyes cut to the ground. There’s a black leather purse that’s big enough to be considered a briefcase. She turns back to me. “You’ll find I’ve already gone through the proper legal channels.”

I cock an eyebrow.

Her smirk gets bigger, and Christ… it makes her sexier.

Shit.

I bend down, pull the edges of the black leather apart, and see a document I assume is the one she wants me to read. Nabbing it, I straighten up and turn my back on her, walking a few paces away.

As an attorney who represents Landmark Builders, I should be affronted by whatever this ploy is.

But I’m not.

I’m amused as I read the legal order entitled “Temporary Injunction”. It’s brief and to the point, but essentially says the red-cockaded woodpecker has been recognized by the federal government as an endangered species and may be inhabiting the sixteen-hundred acres known as Swan’s Mill.

A hearing has been set for next Tuesday for further review, but until such time, any construction on the property of Swan’s Mill—in particular, anything that could potentially damage or endanger any tree—is hereby forbidden until such hearing.

Although this presents a legal dilemma for my client and me, what I find most fascinating about this strange morning is the certificate of service—that page at the back that lists all the people who will get notice of this document—lists one especially gorgeous attorney by the name of Viveka Jones.

I turn to glance over my shoulder at her for a moment, deciding I very much like the intelligence, challenge, and bit of ego shining back from those gorgeous eyes.

Turning to Drake, I motion him over. When he reaches me, I incline my head toward the document in my hand and say, “This woman has a temporary injunction to stop you from doing anything until we have a hearing next Tuesday on the matter. Apparently, there is an endangered woodpecker here… or some shit like that.”

I wait for a good thirty seconds while Drake curses and bitches. He spews about how time is money, and he’s losing both because of this bitch—his words obviously, not mine. Since he does nothing to lower his tone, Miss Jones and every other person standing around can hear him.

When he’s done, I calmly say, “I suggest you let the men know what’s going on. They might as well clear out. You can’t do anything today. You and I need to talk about this, though, to prep for the hearing next week.”

More cursing and glares aimed at Viveka Jones, who is still chained to the tree and when Drake mutters the word “cunt” loud enough that a few men standing nearby definitely hear it, I stop his tirade.

Taking him by the elbow, I turn him toward his truck and start marching him that way. “Enough, Drake. Get everyone out of here. I’ll call you later.”

To my surprise, he obeys, but I’ve learned over the years he’s comprised mostly of hot air. Once properly deflated, he’s easier to deal with.

Turning back to the tree, I approach the attorney who managed to stop an entire construction project.

“Viveka Jones,” I say when I’m almost toe to toe with her. “Interesting spelling of your first name.”

“It’s Swedish,” she says. I tilt my head, my ears straining. Does she have an accent?

“Jones doesn’t sound Swedish,” I point out.

“That’s my married name.”

There’s not a word to describe the surprising disappointment I’m feeling over that. “You’re married?”

“Divorced,” she clarifies. “I kept Jones because it’s a lot easier to spell than Sjögren.”

And yes, I do hear the accent now. Can’t say I would have been able to pinpoint it was Swedish. It’s very faint and very subtle. I’m guessing Viveka Sjögren may have been born in Sweden, but she’s spent a lot of time in the States.

“Want help out of those chains?” I ask dryly.

“Key’s in my purse,” she replies with a grin and another nod to the bag at her feet.

It’s not a chore to squat to retrieve the means to unlock her, not since I get an eyeful of her beautiful bare legs. After I retrieve it, I round the tree and open the padlock. The chains are heavy and once I loosen the top strand, they slither down her body to pool around her feet.

I walk back around the tree and offer a hand to her. She smirks and places her fingertips against my palm. My fingers curl around hers. She steps gracefully out of the pile of chains while saying in a flirty tone, “Very gentlemanly of you.”

“My pleasure,” I reply with just a touch of innuendo because everything about this exchange has been delightful. “So… your accent is very faint.”

I’m hoping to elicit more dialogue. We’re technically adversaries now, but that means nothing right in this moment.

Next Tuesday in court, the fight will be on.

Today… right now… I’m talking to a very attractive, sexy, and intriguing woman. No harm in flirting.

“I worked hard to get rid of it,” she says. She squats gracefully and with knees pressed together to retrieve her purse from the ground.

“And why is that, Viveka?” I ask in a low voice, wondering if I could convince her to go to dinner with me tonight.

Miss Viveka Jones, though, is all business when she stands back up and pins me with a hard look. “Only my friends know that story, and we’re not friends. Those people in my life who are privy to such things either call me Viv or Veka.”

She pronounces Veka with a long e.

Veeka.

Pretty. Unique. Sexy.

She’s also not interested in my flirting, and I know this meeting is winding down. Still, I can’t help but ask. “Why the chains? I mean, you could have just been waiting here and handed Drake the injunction.”

To my surprise, those pale eyes light up with mischief. She gives a subtle nod at something behind me. I crane my neck to peer over my shoulder, seeing what appears to be a reporter and cameraman standing near a white crossover with the logo for one of the local news stations emblazoned on the passenger door. The cameraman is clearly filming us as we speak, although they’re too far away to hear anything.

When I turn back to her, she grins. I’m momentarily dazzled by her spectacular smile. She leans toward me. “Wouldn’t be nearly as dramatic without the chains, and Mr. Daniels… the media coverage on this matter is extremely important. You’ll find that out soon enough.”

I can’t help but laugh.

At her audacity and her ingenuity. Her sass, cunning, and clear enjoyment of the win she is relishing here this morning. Good for her.

I nod and turn my body, opening a direct path to the reporter. Viveka gives me a wink and pushes past me, shoulders held back and a sway to her hips. Her arms swing slightly as she walks, full of confidence and poise. Her ass is fantastic from behind.

“Miss Jones,” I call. She stops and turns to me. “Who chained you up?”

This is not an attempt to flirt again, but is a definite curiosity.

She gives me a grin that pops out two perfect dimples. Inclining her head, she replies, “Someone who calls me Veka.”

My laughter follows her until she reaches the reporter and cameraman. If I stick around, they’ll want my statement. I don’t know nearly enough about whatever the fuck this is to sound intelligent, so I make my way to my G63 and head to my office to start my workday.

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Product Release Date: April 17, 2018

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