She thought about him while lying in bed.

Interesting.

LATER THAT NIGHT, having been asleep for a few hours, J.D. shot up in bed.

He suddenly remembered—her shoe.

Oops.

Twelve

J.D. RACED INTO the office early the next morning, eager to get there before anyone else. A quick look around told him he was the first one on the floor. He headed straight for Payton’s office, and a hurried search revealed what he feared would be the case.

The shoes were gone.

He hadn’t received any death threats that morning, so either the heel he had tampered with had held up on her way home from work last night, or she had simply left her yoga shoes on after class.

Fine. No problem. He would wait for her to come in. Not that he had any f**king clue what he was going to say when he saw her. “Hi, Payton, thanks for the apology, that was nice. Did you see they’ve got muffins in the break room? Oh, by the way, I sliced off one of your heels and shoddily glued it back together hoping it would break off in court and leave you hobbling about like a drunk one-legged prostitute. Have a nice day.”

Somehow, he had a feeling that might not go over so well.

When nothing else came to mind, J.D. decided he would wing it. He was good at thinking on his feet.

So he waited in his office. He looked up from his desk every time somebody walked in, expecting to see Payton at any moment.

When 8:00 a.m. rolled around, then 8:30, he grew a bit concerned. By 9:00 he was in a full panic, thinking of the worst-case scenario. What if she wore the shoes on her way into work and the heel suddenly snapped and she fell and broke her ankle? Should he retrace her route into the office? Wait—she rode the “L” into work. What if she had tripped while getting on, sprained, maimed, or separated something, and was now trapped inside one of the train cars, calling for help, riding endless circles around the Loop?

J.D. decided to check with Payton’s secretary. Maybe she had heard something.

He walked up to Irma’s desk, where she typed steadily away at her computer. He oh-so-casually leaned against her credenza, being careful to appear as nonchalant as possible.

“Good morning, Irma, my, that’s a lovely brooch—is it a seagull? Nice weather outside, isn’t it? Hey—by any chance have you heard from Payton this morning?”

Irma paused her typing for a brief moment, looked J.D. over, then resumed her work.

“It’s a kangaroo, not a seagull; actually it was quite cloudy when I walked in, and yes, she left me a message, she went straight over to the courthouse this morning.”

Straight to the courthouse? Son of a—

Fighting to maintain his façade of disinterest, J.D. idly fingered the leaves of the plant sitting on top of Irma’s desk.

“So, by any chance did Payton say what she was wearing this morning?” He picked imaginary lint off his suit. “More specifically, did she happen to say anything about her, um, shoes?”

Irma stopped her typing and slowly peered over at him. J.D. knew he needed to say something quick by way of explanation.

“I just want to make sure she’s, you know, accessorizing appropriately.”

Irma folded her hands politely.

“Mr. Jameson. Whatever this is, I don’t have time for it. If you have questions about Payton’s attire this morning, I suggest you take a stroll on over to the courthouse and check it out for yourself. She’s in Judge Gendelman’s courtroom.”

J.D. nodded. Yes, yes, fine, thank you. Nice attitude, by the way. Like boss, like secretary.

But always a gentleman, he smiled and thanked Irma for the information. He stopped by his own secretary’s desk and told her that he had an errand to run.

Then he hurried out of the office and headed straight for the courthouse.

BY THE TIME J.D. walked into Judge Gendelman’s courtroom, court was already in session.

He quietly closed the door behind him and slipped into the back row of the galley, wanting his presence to go unnoticed until he figured out what he was going to say to Payton.

J.D. took a seat. As he tried to get comfortable on the hard wooden bench, his eye was immediately drawn to the action up front. Payton stood before the witness stand, which meant that she was in the middle of either a direct or cross-examination. He sat back to enjoy the show, figuring this was a great opportunity to observe the enemy in her nor—

Holy f**k—would somebody please tell him why a massive photo of a penis was sitting front and center in the courtroom?

J.D. glanced around warily. What the hell kind of law did Payton practice around here? Everyone else in the courtroom, however, seemed wholly unfazed by the exhibition.

His interest now really piqued by this spectacle of a so-called trial, he turned his attention back to Payton. Remembering why he was there, he sat up to get a better look. He watched as Payton walked around to the other side of the podium, and—wait—

Shit. She was wearing the shoes.

J.D.’s eyes narrowed in on the left shoe—the heel he had made a few, shall we say, “special modifications” to. The heel appeared to be holding together, although it was anyone’s guess how long that would last. With every step Payton took, he held his breath, expecting to see her stumble. He would have to pull her aside at the next break and warn her. He only hoped the glue he had applied would hold together until then.

Having no choice but to sit idly by in the galley and wait, J.D. distracted himself by focusing on Payton’s interrogation of the witness. He could tell within seconds from the way she leadingly questioned the woman on the stand that this was not a friendly party.


Tags: Julie James Romance
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