“Mr. Bastardo?” She rolled her eyes. “How did I not figure this one out?”
“Because you don’t speak Spanish.” I smiled, but she wasn’t amused.
“Chance. I’m at work. I can’t play your games here. You need to leave.”
I buttoned my jacket. “I’m here on business.”
“Nice try. I’m a copyright attorney. If you’ve gone and gotten arrested for public intoxication or lewd and lascivious behavior, you’ll need to go three doors down to Celino and Barnes.”
“I’m in need of a copyright attorney.”
“Is that so?” She wasn’t believing a word I was saying.
“Well in that case, you’ll need to see another attorney.” She stepped around her desk and folded her arms over her chest. Fuck if her getting tough with me wasn’t the sexiest thing I’d seen in ages.
“I don’t want another attorney.”
“That’s too bad.”
We stared at each other for a moment. Then she smiled. It wasn’t a happy smile, it was an I’m about to stick something up your arse and enjoy it smile. I didn’t care. I liked seeing it anyway. I smiled back—twice as broad.
She huffed and left the office.
A few minutes later, she returned. I’d settled in and made myself comfortable in a chair in front of her desk. I stood when she walked in. A man walked in right behind her. The princess fucker.
Aubrey looked pretty pleased at herself when she spoke. “Richard. This is Mr. Bateman. Mr. Bateman is in need of a copyright attorney, and I seem to be double booked for this afternoon, so I thought perhaps you could take him on.”
The Clark Kent wannabe extended his hand to me. “Richard Kline.”
I nodded. “Dick. Good to meet you.” The squeeze I gave his hand when I shook it bordered on assault.
I caught the clench in Aubrey’s jaw. Then she corrected me. Through gritted teeth, “His name is Richard.”
“It’s fine.” Dick waved her off. “I’m used to it. I don’t usually shorten my name, but my dad was a Richard, and everyone called him Dick.”
I gave Aubrey a little smile.
“Why don’t you come down to my office, and I can see what I can help you with?”
“I’d actually prefer to wait for Ms. Bloom. I was referred to her specifically.”
“I’m not available,” Aubrey snapped.
Dick seemed taken aback by Aubrey’s little attitude. That warmed me for some reason. I liked that she didn’t give him her sass. Save it all for me, baby. I want all your sass and your ass.
“Well.” Dick turned to Aubrey. “What else do you have today? Maybe I can handle one of your afternoon appointments?”
“I’d prefer you handle Mr. Bateman.”
Dick looked at me apologetically then spoke to her, his tone mildly patronizing. “It seems Mr. Bateman wants his affairs handled by you, personally, Aubrey.”
I smiled at Aubrey. “I’ve been really looking forward to you handling me.”
Dick came to my rescue. “Why don’t we step into my office and see what I can do to help clear up your schedule so you can get things started with Mr. Bateman?”
Dick and Aubrey left the office, and Aubrey returned five minutes later, with the receptionist, Kelly. “Have a seat, Kelly.” She’d brought a chaperone.
I was disappointed I wouldn’t be getting quality alone time but far from deterred. Aubrey, on the other hand, was not happy. With a huff, she pulled a yellow legal pad from her drawer and slammed it down on her desk. “What’s the nature of the legal services you need, Mr. Bateman?” Her pen was poised to write and she didn’t look up. Kelly looked bewildered at the entire scene playing out before her.
“I have two, actually.” I opened the folder I was carrying, took out a large manila envelope and slid it across the desk to her side. “I’ve received an offer from a company who would like to use some photographs of me in their ad campaign.
She snickered. “Oh. That’s right. You’re an ass model.”
I ignored her. “Anyway. The company that wants to use the photographs in their campaign wants the exclusive rights to the photo, and there’s an American company that is using the photo on their website without permission. I need to send them a cease and desist letter to remove it before I sign the contract.”
“And I’d like the contract reviewed as well.”
“Perhaps you’d like to discuss the terms of the contract over dinner?”
“I don’t think so.”
“Get out, Mr. Bateman.”
I stood. I’d pushed pretty hard, and I didn’t want to test my limits. “You know how to reach me when you’ve had an opportunity to look over the documents?”
“Yes.” She finally looked up at me. “Apparently, now you’re available all the time.”
She was pissed. But somehow, her being pissed gave me hope. If she didn’t care, she would have eased up by now. “Thank you for your time.”
“Kelly. Show Mr. Bastardo out, please.”
Over the next three days, I stuck to my routine. Well, mostly to my routine. I arrived on Jefferson Street at my normal time, only I went inside Starbucks in the morning and read the paper while I had my morning coffee. Each day I paid for Aubrey’s coffee and added a little something to the order. Yesterday, it was a banana nut muffin. Today, I decided on chocolate chip coffee cake. I ate the same thing and drank the same coffee. It was as close to having breakfast with Aubrey as I could get right now.
Melanie, my barista, and I were becoming fast friends. She handed me my latte. “She smiles when I tell her you paid, you know.”
Melanie nodded. “She tries to cover it up quick. But I see it.”
She had no idea she just made my day. “Thanks, Melanie.”
She leaned over the counter as if to tell me a secret. “We’re all rooting for you.”
It was sweet. But they didn’t know what I’d done to Aubrey.
At eight o’clock, I went back into my pick up truck. I wanted to be near her but not piss her off by being completely in her face. She didn’t acknowledge me, but she knew I was there every morning.
Like clockwork, at nine thirty, Aubrey walked into Starbucks. A few minutes later she walked out. With her coffee and chocolate chip coffee cake in hand, she took two steps toward her office, then stopped, surprising the shit out of me when she headed right for my truck.
I rolled down the window.
“Could you at least make my breakfast lowfat in the future?”
I had to stop myself from saying what I really wanted to say—that I would make her whatever she wanted every morning at her place. Instead, I said, “Sure thing.”
She nodded and turned away but halted after only two strides. She didn’t turn around when she spoke. “The princess flowers bloomed this morning. They’re beautiful.” Then she was gone for another ten hours.
I went to the gym and spent a few hours at Home Depot picking up the supplies I’d need for my next project at Aubrey’s. When I originally decided to drive down to Temecula, I had taken my pick up truck rather than the motorcycle so I wouldn’t be as easily recognizable. Turned out, the truck was coming in handy.