Assistant District Attorney Damien Parnell leads a double life above and beyond his membership with the Indigo Knights. Driven by dark desires considered shameful by most, he covets the one thing he can’t allow himself to have – a real relationship.
Enter Ally Blaylock, an innocent by Yale’s standards. She’s the sweet and beautiful girl who makes his coffee at the café across the street from his office. She’s done her best to flirt off and on with the high powered attorney and he can’t help but be drawn to her whimsical charm.
When Ally finds her world tipped on its axis, Yale goes against his better judgment and offers her some unlikely help. He knows better than most that the road to hell is paved with good intentions, but in this particular case, could it be the opposite? Could Allison Blaylock be the start down the road to his salvation?
I got to the doors of the café and tugged on them to find them locked, muttering, “Ahhh… damn it!”
Movement caught my eye as I went to go back across the street. and I turned. Ally, the morning coffee-girl, came to the door and unlocked it.
“Working late, Mr. Parnell?”
“As, so it seems, are you.”
“Right, yeah… Come on in. I already shut down the till and counted it out, do you have cash?” she asked meekly.
“No, I’m sorry I was going to…” I held up my phone, and she bit her bottom lip.
“That’s okay; I’ll take it out of my tips.”
I smiled as she turned around and set her mop aside. She went behind the counter and began making my coffee without asking. She knew what I liked. I stood, hands in my pockets, and vowed to tip her the cost of the coffee plus more, the next morning.
“How come so late?” I asked.
“Millie needed someone to close, and I could really use the extra hours, so I volunteered to stay and work straight through.”
She poured the shots of coffee into a paper cup and smoothed her hands along her long, baseball tee over a pair of form-fitting black leggings. I let my gaze linger, as she added hot water to the cup to make my Americano.
“How about you?” she asked.
I cleared my throat and tried to decide what to say. The case we were working was horrific. Jordan Reeves, an eighteen-year-old high school student, had buried her baby alive in her parent’s backyard. Her mother had discovered the nineteen-day-old remains when tilling her rose garden. The family had circled the wagons, and their high-priced attorneys were stonewalling. We were in the midst of trying to have some of their motions quashed, and it would, honestly, be a near thing. This case was proving to be a nightmare, and we were barely past arraignment. Still, none of that was anything to burden Ally with, so, “Tough case,” I finally settled on, lamely.
Ally’s face softened, her expression empathetic, green eyes searching mine. “The Reeves thing?” Her voice was soft. Delicate and gentle, sensitive, it was a soothing balm to the burns caused by the utter depravity I waded through on a daily basis.
“You know about that?” I asked, taking a careful sip of my coffee. It was good. I always appreciated how Ally made it.
She leaned a hip against the counter and sighed, hugging herself. Her long, stiff, blonde hair with dark roots fell around her pale face, making her green eyes shine that much more. I didn’t typically like it when women processed their hair, but Ally’s white-blonde hair with their dark roots worked well for her.
“Hard not to know about it, it’s been all over the news.”
“Ah,” I said, nodding. She’d likely seen the press conference on the courthouse steps that morning. I’d had to speak. It wasn’t my favorite thing, dealing with those jackals. The media always left a bad taste in my mouth, one I attempted to wash away with another sip of coffee.
I swept Ally with my gaze and decided that as much as I would like to sully her in other ways, I didn’t wish to defile her with anything pertaining to any one of my legal cases. I smiled slightly, feeling the weight, the mantle of responsibility, return to my shoulders. The scales of justice were attempting to balance and needed my attention. So too, did my scales.
“I should get back,” I said, and she nodded, smiling.
“Good luck,” she murmured, and followed me to the door.
“I’ll see you tomorrow, maybe?”
“Tomorrow,” she agreed. “Have a good night.”
I nodded and waited until she locked the door behind me.
I went to the bathroom, fixed my makeup, took a good hard look in the mirror and nearly broke down – but I couldn’t. I needed to work, I needed to go to the care facility they had Gran in, and I needed to make all of the arrangements. I went back out and slipped behind the counter, tying on my apron.
As luck would have it, my favorite customer, Mr. Parnell, was standing next in line. I smiled at him, and he looked me over. His eyes were lovely, dark and deep, framed in long lashes any woman would kill for. I don’t know what it was about him that I found so attractive. By all accounts, his affect was cold, almost heartless, but something about those deep, soulful eyes called to a piece of me.
There was just something about him I found alluring. Maybe it was the way it felt like he saw right down to the deepest parts of me. Like now, the first words out of his mouth were, “What’s wrong, Ally?”
“Nothing,” I lied, putting on my best and brightest customer-service smile. His brow crushed down and it made him look so fierce and so angry. I tried to deflect even more and asked, “The usual?”
“And Ms. Franco’s order, if you please.”
I began making the two coffee drinks, and he leaned in saying low, as to be barely heard over the grinder, “Please, don’t ever lie to me again.”
I froze, and the breath was stolen from my lungs as he caught my eyes with his, the intensity of his look as he searched my face causing my own eyes to go very wide.
“I’m sorry,” I murmured. “I just… it’s…”
“Private?” he asked with a chilled, but not unkind, little smile.
“Yes,” I breathed.
“That’s fine, I don’t want or need to know, but I value honesty above all else.”
I gave the portafilter a twist onto the machine and hit the two switches, waiting for the moments it would take for the two heavy shot glasses to fill.
“I’ll remember that,” I murmured.
He smiled, and this time it was kinder, gentler as he said, “Just remember that it’s okay not to be okay.”
I looked up sharply at where he’d stood at the corner of the counter, but he was gone. He’d moved to the register to pay for the drinks. He looked over at me and winked and thrust some money into the tip jar. I set his two cups on the round drink station, and he swept them into his hands and backed out the front door. I couldn’t help it, I sighed and watched his ass in his slacks as he jogged across the street. It was a guilty pleasure of mine, what could I say?
I may have been too busy with life to add a relationship to it right now, but I wasn’t dead. Not that I thought anything would happen with the city’s best ADA. He was way out of my league. I was just a poor inner-city girl.
Text Copyright © 2017 A.J. Downey
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.
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