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Winning Appeal

By:NM Silber

Winning Appeal - NM Silber


Chapter One


Beth



10:30 AM

When you wake up and find a pair of pantyhose without a run on the very first try, you know it will be a good day, but I had no idea how good, and it certainly didn’t seem that way at first. I came charging down the hall from my office at The Justice Project, reading the file in my hand, en route to the law library to find Bruce, the head researcher at our small legal nonprofit. As soon as I cleared the door, I felt an impact like I had crashed into a brick wall. Glancing up in shock, I saw smoky gray eyes, first filled with surprise, and then twinkling with amusement. Oh God, not again.

I had managed to run smack into Mark Patterson, staff attorney, one of my big brother’s closest friends and the reason I went through so many batteries every month. I felt burning heat travel up my neck and into my cheeks. Why was I such an awkward klutz around this one man, when I had always been known for my poise? And why was I always having these conversations in my head these days?

“Oh God! I’m sorry,” I apologized with a shaky laugh. I took a step back, biting my lip, and fiddling with the file in my hands.

“You okay?” I heard Braden, my big brother asking. I looked over and saw him standing on the other side of the room next to Adam Roth, also an attorney and a close friend of Braden’s. He had a trace of a smirk on his face, but then, that was Adam’s natural expression.

“Yeah, I wasn’t paying attention,” I said, backing up quickly. Suddenly, I just wanted to get out of there before I embarrassed myself any more than I already had. “I was just… I was looking for…”

“Watch out,” Mark warned, and suddenly, I felt another impact, this time against my back. I had misjudged the doorway and slammed into a bookcase behind me. An avalanche of legal journals came tumbling down, and I dropped my file and threw my arms on top of my head. “Beth!” Mark rushed toward me, tripping over something in the process. He slammed into me, knocking us both over, while a mountain of paper covered us. I’m so glad I left before I embarrassed myself.

I looked up at him, and even through the chaos and confusion, I felt a powerful energy surge between us, almost like an electrical current. For one brief moment, I was intensely aware of his weight on top of me, and the feeling of his breath on my cheek, and then Braden and Adam crossed the room to help us, and the spell was broken. Mark quickly got up, and Braden took my hand and helped me to my feet.

“Be careful or you’re going to kill somebody,” my brother warned after he made sure that I was okay. Mark seemed to turn me into a walking disaster area.

“She was just distracted,” Adam said, kneeling down to reassemble and collect my abandoned file. Something in his eyes told me that he knew how distracting Mark was to me. But then, this was a very tight-knit office. Everyone probably knew, including Mark. I felt myself blushing more if that was even possible; and starting to sweat. It probably sounds immature. I mean, I was twenty-six, not sixteen, but since he had never demonstrated a romantic interest in me, and he was my co-worker and a friend of Braden’s, I tried to be as subtle as possible about my little infatuation. So much for subtlety.

“No, really guys don’t worry. I’m fine,” Mark said, brushing himself off, and straightening his shirt cuffs.

“You landed on top,” Adam reminded him.

I knelt down too and began stacking journals in an effort to clean up the mess. Braden pitched in, and I stood up and spun around, moving forward and kneeling down again to start forming a new pile. Unfortunately, Mark was moving forward to help too, which meant that I fell to my knees directly in front of him, and inertia almost brought us crashing together again - this time face to crotch. He jumped back about three feet, and then immediately began retreating around the conference table, obviously getting as far away from me as possible.

Just then, Bruce came in with Liz, our office manager. Both of them stopped in their tracks to take in the scene. I was wildly grabbing journals, probably shredding a few in the process. Braden and Adam were forming legal journal Stonehenge, and Mark looked like he wished that he had a chair and a whip.

“What’s going on?” Bruce asked, looking at us like he was watching aliens land.

“Mark and Beth were rolling around on the floor together,” Adam answered helpfully as continued to stack.

“Okay,” Liz commented, seemingly taking that information in stride. Not much seemed to throw Liz, which was probably a good thing working here.

“It was an accident,” Mark said quickly.

“I backed up into the bookcase and he tried to help me.”

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