The School's In Session Boxed Set including stories by Maggie Carpenter, Dinah McLeod, Kate Richards, Renee Rose and Me releases on September 6.
Today I am sharing the first chapter of my story, Laying Down the Law.
Blurb: Newly divorced and returning to law school after a twenty year absence, Ali Stewart has just one class to complete before sitting for the bar exam, becoming a lawyer and moving on with her life. She feels out of place with her much younger classmates, but she's determined to succeed and put her ex-husband far in the past.
When she is paired with Griff for the semester, she learns that he even though he is younger, there is much he can teach her, in and out of the classroom.
Laying Down The Law is an erotic romance which includes spanking, anal sex and graphic sex.
Much had changed in the twenty years since Ali last sat in the main lecture hall of the Patterson College of Law. Changes in technology, fashion, hairstyles (thank goodness), but mostly, changes in her.
The passage of time became even more evident as she watched her classmates take their seats. Laughter and inside jokes permeated the air as the students who had survived nearly three years of law school together entered the room for their last required class before graduation.
Twenty years before, she’d spent the first day of classes giving birth to twins…born twelve weeks early. She’d had no other option than to leave law school assuming she’d finish up that last requirement someda”. Someday turned into two decades.
It might have been forever if not for the divorce that forced her back to school. She told herself it was an opportunity to fulfill her own postponed dreams, which was true. She’d dutifully nursed the twins while her husband, Dirk, studied for the bar exam.
It had been an exciting time, even if exhaustion was her constant companion. The twins were so active, she and Dirk had joked they weren’t really premature, just impatient.
And now the twins were nearly the same age as her classmates. That was a funny term to use for the roomful of soon-to-be lawyers. She’d been just like them years before, but looking around the room now, all she could think was they’re so young.
But, they were light years ahead of her when it came to technology.
Despite her trepidation, excited butterflies flapped in Ali’s belly. She’d always dreamed of being a lawyer and though she’d set that dream aside and barely thought about it over the last twenty years, but now her dream was within her grasp.
Trial advocacy. It brought out hubris in the showboats and struck terror in the hearts of the bookworms. Ali was a bookworm.
She’d taken a seat in the back of the room, but the class had quickly filled up. A second before the professor began to call the roll, a young man slipped into the seat next to her.
“Just in time,” he whispered with a grin. “I’m Griff.” He held out his hand. Startled, she pulled her hand from her lap and shook his while glancing out of the corner of her eye at the professor who had begun to call the roll. “Ali,” she whispered.
Griff winked. “Don’t worry. I won’t get you in trouble for whispering during class. Though sometimes I pass notes.”
A snort of laughter escaped her lips before she realized it. Tension caused her to overreact and several students turned to stare.
Griff signaled for the gawkers to turn around and surprisingly they complied.
“Allison Stewart?” the professor called out. “Is there an Allison Stewart in the room?”
That name sounds familiar. Oh, it’s me.
“Yes, I’m here.” She waved her hand from the back row.
The professor looked up from his roster, adjusted his glasses and squinted in her direction. “Ali Burke? Is that you?”
Shocked Professor Dearing had remembered her all these years later, she had trouble speaking. Griff gave her a gentle elbow in the ribs. “I think he’s talking to you.”
“Y-yes,” her voice squeaked across the distance of the lecture hall. “It’s me, professor.”
Professor Dearing left the podium and walked up several rows of seats to get a better look at her. “Did you think I wouldn’t remember you if you used your married name?” he teased and what seemed like a hundred pairs of eyes turned to stare and take in the scene.
“No, professor. I just never expected you to remember me, regardless of my name.”
“And how is your husband, Dirk? I see his name in the news often.”
“He’s not my husband anymore,” she said, hoping to keep her voice neutral. So much for keeping my personal life personal.
“I’m sorry to hear that, but I’m glad to have you back. How long has it been? Ten years?”
“Oh dear. Where does the time go?” He gave her a nod and went back to his task.
The thousand eyes staring at her turned back to the front of the class while Ali’s face continued to burn with embarrassment.
“You must have been pretty memorable.” Griff passed a fresh bottle of water to her. He appraised her with his eyes. “I can understand why Professor Dearing couldn’t forget about you.”
Ali choked on her water and for the third time classmates turned and stared. Maybe she should just pick up her book and leave.
“Careful there.” Griff stroked his thumb over her bottom lip. “You’ve got a bit of water there.” His eyes held hers for a split second longer than appropriate. A thrum of awareness stirred in her belly.
Is he hitting on me?
Yes, she really ought to grab her oversized mom purse and get the hell out of there.
But she stayed.
“The first two weeks of the semester will be spent in the classroom where we will discuss ethics, professionalism, law office management and most importantly, how to handle a case from start to finish,” Professor Dearing said, and Ali’s stomach did more flip-flops. “Of all the classes you take in your legal career, this class is the only one which will prepare you to represent real clients. In fact, you will have real clients. Yes, actual people with actual problems who need, and expect, your best efforts.”
“I love it when he gets all jurisprudential, don’t you?” Griff sat perched on the edge of his chair, soaking up everything Professor Dearing said.
Apparently nothing phased Griff. Ali snuck a peek at him while he was glued to Professor Dearing’s words. He was nice looking with dark hair and piercing eyes. Firm muscles and hard pecs indicated a regular work out schedule. His most appealing feature was his unwavering confidence and comfort with himself. He seemed unflappable. But not at all arrogant. No, Ali had spent the last twenty something years with arrogant and she was well-versed in that cardinal sin.
Maybe I should introduce him to Carrie. No, having her daughter dating a classmate was fraught with too many problems and all Ali wanted was to finish this class, move on to take the bar exam, and find a job to support herself.
“I trust that all of you have gotten your legal intern licenses from the state supreme court. That license is what enables you to practice, under my supervision, even though you are not licensed attorneys.”
“I can’t wait to get into a courtroom. How about you?” Griff’s eyes shone bright with enthusiasm.
The last time Ali had been in a courtroom was for the final hearing of her divorce. It hadn’t been much of an event. Dirk and his lawyers had crushed the will of both Ali and the kind man who had agreed to take her case. Few lawyers in town were eager to be on the opposite side of Dirk Stewart. The one concession she’d gotten was rehabilitative alimony for as long as it took her to finish her law degree. She’d been surprised when the dean had agreed to give her credit for all the classes she’d taken years before. She suspected Dirk played a key role in getting her on the fast track to graduation. The sooner she got a diploma, the sooner he could stop making payments.
She hadn’t been too eager to repeat all those classes either, but the fact that Dirk seemed to want nothing more than to be rid of her as quickly as possible stung. Most of her emotions had been squelched over the eighteen months it took to finally end their twenty year marriage. Finding Dirk’s summer associate with her mouth around Dirk’s cock had pulled back the curtain on a nightmare of infidelity she’d suspected had been playing out for their entire relationship. She’d been moving in a fog ever since.
“You will all be paired up in teams of two. You will both receive the same grade, regardless of the amount of work, or not, that each of you do.”
Partners? Ali could just imagine the look of horror on the face of the poor classmate who found an old lady as their partner.
“I have placed the names of everyone whose last name begins with the letters N to Z into this hat. Those of you whose last names are A through M, please come forward and draw a name.”
Stewart. Her name was in the hat. Someone was going to get a booby prize.
Drawing names from a hat. Professor Dearing was going old school and Griff liked that. Maybe that was part of what he loved about studying the law: it was steady and consistent. The same theories that applied years ago could be adapted to apply today.
He had a feeling today was his lucky day and when his slip of paper said “Allison Stewart”, he fought against breaking into a wide grin. Professor Dearing noted the partnership on his master list then gave Griff a wink. “A formidable pairing,” was all he said.
Griff didn’t have a lot of concern for whether or not they were a formidable pair, though he liked the idea of it. What he liked most was a challenge. Which was what led him to law school in the first place.
A motorcycle accident postponed his arrival on campus by a few years. Now fully healed, he appreciated the perspective he’d gained in that time.
Griff liked people and had enjoyed getting to know his classmates, but most of them were fresh out of college with almost no life experience. He’d been just like that once too. Sometimes he envied them, their naiveté about the rough parts of life, but he’d never want to trade places with them.
He had been intrigued when he stumbled in to class late and found himself seated next to a stranger. Her blush was charming. He had nothing against women being strong and self-assured, but something about Ali’s self-consciousness had touched him.
He returned to his seat. He slid the piece of paper with her name on it across the table to her. The color drained from her face.
“I’m so sorry,” she whispered and rested her head in her palms. “I had no idea we’d be working in teams. I don’t want to hold you back.”
Though she was the oldest woman in the room, she was suddenly the most childlike. He had the strangest urge to gather her up and hold her on his lap.
“Now that you have all been paired up,” Professor Dearing addressed the class, “I am going to hand out a factual scenario and I’d like each team to work together to come up with a strategy for how you’d handle the case. You’ll need to prepare a list of questions for the client as well as a list of potential witnesses and evidence you’d like to gather. That will be due at our next class. Remember, you are to work as a team on this…in person. I know you all like to use email and chat for these things, but for this assignment you are to meet face to face and work together.”
As soon as the assignments were handed out, class was dismissed.
“Let’s get a cup of coffee and get to work on this, okay?”
“I really ought to talk to Professor Dearing. I’m so sorry you got saddled with me as a partner. Maybe he’ll make an exception and let me work alone.”
She started to walk away. Griff took a firm hold of her arm. “No, we are partners and that’s all there is to it. Get your things and I’ll buy you a cup of coffee.”
He moved his hand to the small of her back and guided her out of the room to the coffee shop in the student lounge. Once they were seated with their drinks, he leaned across the table and looked into her still troubled eyes. “When I saw your name on the slip of paper I pulled from the hat, I was thrilled.”
Ali gasped and covered her mouth. “Why?”
“Because you are clearly an interesting and determined woman. You have some life experience. That’s much more valuable than reading casebooks. Besides,” he looked into her eyes, “I think you’re cute.”
“Cute? I’m forty-five years old.”
“You can be cute and forty-five at the same time. They are not mutually exclusive.”
She rolled her eyes. “I might have just gotten to this class, but I didn’t just fall off the turnip truck. I am not cute.”
“Cute is in the eye of the beholder. Now, let’s see what Professor Dearing has in store for us.”
He picked up the assignment and read aloud, glancing up at Ali to enjoy her flush of discomfort as the words sunk in.
A young woman comes to your office and reports that her now former boyfriend has posted explicit pictures of her online. The pictures have caused her great embarrassment and might have cost her a job she applied for. She wants the pictures taken down.
How do you proceed?
“Uhoh. She’s been sexting. What do you think of that, Ali?” He knew he shouldn’t tease her, but she was so adorable when she was embarrassed.
“Sexting? What’s that?”
Griff tried not to show his surprise. “Sexting. It’s when people use their phones to take sexy pictures of themselves and then send them to their boyfriend or girlfriend or spouse or both.”
Ali gave him a skeptical look. “Are you making this up just to embarrass me? Let me see that assignment.”
He laughed. She might be shy but she wasn’t stupid. “Sure, now you read it out loud.”
Her eyes scanned the piece of paper and a delightful flush started at her neck and moved upward.
“Why would anyone do such a thing?”
“Oh come on. You’ve never sent a naughty picture to your husband or a boyfriend?”
“I’d be mortified. Besides, look what happened to this girl. That’s why you should never act that way. You can’t trust anyone.”
Something in her demeanor changed when she said ‘you can’t trust anyone’. He already knew she was divorced, so that probably wasn’t a big discovery.
“You can trust some people, you just need to select them carefully.”
“I disagree. Everyone is just out for themselves, no matter how much they might try to tell you otherwise.”
“Well, we are partners for the next fifteen weeks. I hope you’ll eventually learn to trust me.”
She looked chagrined. “I’m sorry. We’ve just met. I don’t have any reason not to trust you, though your thinking must be a little addled since you said you were happy to have me as a partner. I will do my best to at least not distrust you. How’s that?”
“Excellent. Does that mean you’ll send me a sexy picture of yourself?”
“You mean it’s impossible for you to ever trust me?”
“No, it’s impossible because no picture of me would ever qualify as sexy.”
“Every woman is sexy. Just not all of them believe it.”
Ali sipped her coffee and appraised him with her eyes over the rim of her cup. When she finished, she changed the subject. “Maybe we ought to work on the assignment now.”
“Good idea.” He smiled. “What are some questions you think we ought to ask her?”
“Besides, ‘what were you thinking?’”
“Yes, we’re here to help our clients. Not judge them. I bet she’s getting plenty of that already, probably mostly from herself.”
“Okay, Mr. Smarty. What would you like to know?”
“I want to know what she means by explicit.”
Ali rolled her eyes. “You just want to have her tell you what she did.”
“No, the assignment only says they were explicit. Maybe we need to clarify her definition of explicit. If they were just shots of her in a bathing suit, that’s hardly the same as photos of her pussy.”
Ali nearly fell off her chair. “You can’t say that in public.” She stage whispered like a shocked mother, which he assumed she was, and glanced from side to side to see who might have heard what he said.
“I’ll agree that’s not an appropriate word to use in court, so I apologize, but you need to lighten up. Are you Amish or something?”
“No, I am not Amish. I just don’t use words like that.”
“What sort of law do you plan to practice after you pass the bar?”
“I thought I’d like to do something to help the poor. Maybe abused women and children.”
“That’s great. I bet you’d be good at it. Now do you suppose in that situation your clients would say ‘vagina’?”
He really wasn’t trying to make her blush, but he wasn’t trying too hard not to either.
Ali finally dumped her backpack on the kitchen table and poured herself a glass of wine. It had been quite an eventful first day of school and all she really wanted was a long soak in the tub.
But before she did, she went to the computer and looked up sexting.
Some of the photos shocked her. Bare breasts, glistening vaginas. Women touching themselves. But she kept looking. She wondered how many women had sent similar pictures to Griff.
Then she wondered why the idea of it made her jealous.