From the author of Kicked and the co-author of the Cleat Chaser duology comes the second book in the BAD BITCH trilogy by Celia Aaron.
I cave in to no one. My hardass exterior is what makes me one of the hottest defense lawyers around. It's why I'm the perfect guy to defend the notorious Bayou Butcher serial killer - and why I'll come out on top.
Except this new associate I've hired is unnaturally skilled at putting chinks in my well-constructed armor. Her brazen talk and fiery attitude make me want to take control of her and silence her - in ways that will keep both of us busy till dawn. She drives me absolutely 100% crazy, but I need her for this case. I need her in my bed. I need her to let loose the man within me who fights with rage and loves with scorching desire...
*This is a standalone romance with an HEA.*
About the Author
Christina Saunders is an Alabama girl who loves to tell stories that are always hot and sometimes dark. In addition to being an unrepentant book hoarder, she has a particular affinity for dirty jokes and foul mouths. She lives with her husband and two sassy daughters, who put up with her antics and outlandish writing habits. She's also indie-pubbed under the pseudonym Celia Aaron. She is the author of Bad Bitch, Hardass, and Total D*ck.
Christina Saunders is an Alabama girl who loves to tell stories that are always hot and sometimes dark. In addition to being an unrepentant book hoarder, she has a particular affinity for dirty jokes and foul mouths. She lives with her husband and two sassy daughters, who put up with her antics and outlandish writing habits. She's also indie-pubbed under the pseudonym Celia Aaron, whose titles include the Bad Bitch trilogy.
Read an Excerpt
By Christina Saunders
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2016 Christina Saunders
All rights reserved.
I snort-laughed. The sort of laugh that catches in the back of your throat and then ricochets out in an awkward sound. The conference room quieted. Every pair of eyes turned toward me. I kicked Terrell in the shin with my pump for telling me a dirty joke before the morning meeting.
He shrugged and began doodling on his yellow legal pad.
The other associates were still looking at me, some with puzzlement, others with open dislike.
I settled back into my leather conference chair and rolled my eyes. "What? You idiots wouldn't know a joke if it bit you on your smarmy backsides."
"I thought all lawyers had to take a professionalism class before being admitted to the bar, even lawyers from backwoods no-name law schools like yours, Caroline." Yvonne smiled, her perfect face begging for the back of my hand.
I leaned over the table toward her. "Talk shit, get hit, Yvonne. I guess they didn't teach that at your charm school."
"Ladies, take it down a notch." Terrell knocked his knee into mine.
"If Caroline takes it down any further, she'll be back in the trailer park she came from."
"You fucking cunt." I tried to stand, but Terrell gripped my elbow and shoved me back down.
"Caroline!" His sharp tone cut through my pissed-off haze. "Get it together. Don't listen to her."
"I'm not listening to her. I'm imagining pummeling her face. There's a difference."
"Even so. Calm down." He gave my elbow a hard squeeze and went back to doodling. He seemed confident the situation was defused. One look at Yvonne's smirk left me unconvinced. I flipped her off and gave a shit-eating grin.
"Stop," Terrell hissed.
"Fine." I sat back in my chair and eyed the rest of the associates, who shifted and refused to meet my gaze, discomfort in every awkward move. "Jesus, it's not like Mr. Hardass Granade is even here yet. Get your panties out of a wad."
Then the worst thing that could have happened occurred. Every associate lifted their gaze to a point above and behind me. If they'd looked uncomfortable before, they looked like they were getting a sriracha enema now. It could only mean one thing.
"Is he standing behind me? He's standing behind me, isn't he?" I whispered to Terrell, who continued doodling unawares.
"If you're done with your assessment of my demeanor, Ms. Montreat, I'd like to get the meeting started. Unless, of course, you have any more fascinating commentary?" His voice, the deep baritone that rumbled through the office on an angry roar at times, settled over me like a funeral shroud. Fuck.
I straightened my back, trying not to telegraph the panic that was engulfing me. I needed this job. Pink warmed my cheeks as Mr. Granade stalked past me to the head of the table. He was tall, well over six feet, with a broad chest, trim waist, and piercing blue eyes that happened to be turned on me. At this point, piercing was an understatement. I wanted to crawl under the conference table and hide.
Instead, I sat taller and tried to salvage it. "Mr. Granade, I ... would like to apologize — "
"Save it, Ms. Montreat. I've already had enough of your mouth today." He gave me a look that could melt lead, his angular face stony and his dark brows drawn down.
I swallowed. Hard. It wasn't just that he was my boss or that he was scary or that he was known to fire associates for far less than what I'd just done. No. It was more that I had been lusting after him for the six months that I'd been working at Palmer & Granade. He was, simply put, the god of my idolatry.
Washington Granade was one of the most sought-after criminal defense attorneys in New Orleans. He could get a jury of twelve in the palm of his hand and work them any which way he pleased. I'd seen him do it when I was a law student, watching him defend a white-collar criminal from charges of cooking his company's books. Wash Granade was charismatic and, I had no problem admitting, handsome as the devil.
I was so happy I'd landed the job working at his firm right out of law school. I would meet my idol and learn from him, not to mention I would get to be around one of the greatest trial lawyers in the state — and did I mention he was smoking hot? But it didn't take long for me to realize the charm was something he turned on and off like a spigot. Sadly for me, the spigot seemed to be permanently in the "off" position.
"Now that Ms. Montreat is done with her morning antics, I need to know which of you has time to take on a particularly complex murder case. You'll get second-chair trial experience if I think you can handle yourself. But I warn you" — he undid the top button on his charcoal gray suit and sat, placing his large hands on the table — "this is not going to be a cakewalk. I'm going to need someone who can work nights, weekends, and who isn't afraid to get their hands dirty. Who wants it?"
Of the eight associates at the table, eight raised their hands. I tried to hold my hand the highest, like an idiot, as if that would mean that I won. I was a climber, so naturally, competition was in my nature.
Mr. Granade looked around and sat back in his chair. "So all of you are up to the task?"
A round of yes-sirs went up.
He smirked and flicked his gaze across the eager faces at the table. "Are you certain?"
Another round of affirmative, yet also kiss-ass, responses.
The smirk changed to a smile, his even white teeth making him look like more of a stunner. He had dimples. I'd seen them only once before, when his brother visited him at the office and made an off- color joke. That smile was locked in my memory, dimples and all. I'd never seen it again.
If Mr. Granade ever smiled with delight at me, the dimples would appear and my panties would melt. I knew it. I hoped one day I would say something so amazingly clever and brilliant that it would bring out the smile, dimples and all, and he would sweep me off my feet and do unbelievably inappropriate things to me in his corner office. My panties stayed put this morning, because his smile was more wolfish than anything else. No dimples. Not even a trace.
I surreptitiously pushed out my boobs, hoping to get some sort of edge. Terrell straightened his tie. He was handsome, intelligent, and knew how to please even the most discerning of cocks, but this particular cock was mine. Not a chance, bestie.
Mr. Granade looked up in thought, his Adam's apple tantalizing me above the edge of his sharp white dress shirt and navy tie. "Here's what we'll do. We'll have a little competition." He lowered his head and leveled his gaze at us. "Whichever one of you can answer this question to my satisfaction will get to assist me in this case."
I glanced around at the eager faces. I had to beat them. I didn't care if they went to a better law school or had better grades or maybe were a little thinner — especially Yvonne, that skinny bitch — I had to win.
The room simmered as Mr. Granade paused. Every associate was gunning for the spot. Yvonne twirled a lock of midnight hair around her finger and sneered at me. Like I said, skinny bitch.
Terrell sat at my elbow, pen poised and at the ready, as if this were a math competition. If that were the case, I was already good and screwed.
Mr. Granade rapped his knuckles on the table. "Here we go. The question is as follows: You're defending one of two accused bank robbers. The State decides to prosecute the defendants separately. Your guy is going first. The State lists only one witness against your client on its disclosures — the co-defendant bank robber. The co-defendant is set to give particularly damning testimony about how your client masterminded the entire robbery, including plans to kill a guard upon escape. Trial is set to start in an hour. Your guy is looking at twenty years in prison, minimum, upon conviction. What do you do?"
He crossed his arms over his chest, his toned but not overly muscled pecs straining against his shirt. I wondered if he was hairy under there. If the strands were the same chocolate color as the smooth locks on his head. Maybe there was a dusting and then a goodie trail leading down below.
Shit. What was the answer? Plea deal? I chewed on my bottom lip, trying to decipher the trick. There had to be a trick. Mr. Granade was too smart for a straightforward answer. Tricksy hot Hobbitses.
Mr. Granade's voice sliced through the worried silence. "Mr. Lynch. What's the correct answer?"
Terrell jerked to attention, though his pen was still poised over his notepad, empty save for his doodles.
"I, um, I would ..." He drummed his pen on the pad, his dark eyes focusing on the movement as if the answer were there in the tap, tap, tap. I could almost hear the machinery spinning in his head. "I would try the case and bring the bank tellers as witnesses to refute the co-defendant's testimony?"
Terrell winced when his voice went up at the end of the last word. Answering a question with a question was never a good idea. Answering Mr. Granade that way? Epic fail.
Mr. Granade gave no sign whether the answer was correct or not. He simply barked out another name and went around the table. There were a variety of answers — some creative plea deals, some intense defense strategies with security footage and testimony. Yvonne had a pretty good idea about discrediting the co-defendant on the stand. Too bad she was wrong. And, also, still a skinny bitch.
He kept going, calling names and getting answers. I was glad he saved me for last, though I wondered whether it was on purpose.
"Ms. Montreat, our class clown." He said it with such derision. "What would you do?" His deep blue gaze settled on me, and my heart did that weird stutter-step thing. The same thing it did whenever I spotted a tub of my favorite — yet elusive — gelato.
"Nothing." My voice came out louder than I'd intended. Nerves.
The corners of his mouth quirked the slightest bit before he returned to his usual stony self. "Nothing?"
"Nothing," I continued, somehow breathless, as if I'd forgotten the overwhelming importance of respiration in the space of two seconds. "I would let the State try their case and I wouldn't do a thing."
Yvonne giggled. I wanted to cunt-punt her. Instead, I just kept my eyes on the prize. The prize was canting his head at me, seemingly intrigued.
"You wouldn't cross the State's star witness even though he's implicated your client in a Class A felony that will most certainly result in a hefty sentence?"
"I sure wouldn't." I leaned forward and put my elbows on the table, returning Mr. Granade's stare.
His dark brows rose, as if he were surprised by my boldness. You ain't seen nothing yet.
"And why is that, Ms. Montreat?"
Was that color rising over the impeccable collar of his dress shirt? A delightful pink hue on his tan skin? A thrill went through me at the thought of him reacting to me. It was highly inappropriate to have such a thought about my boss, so it fit me perfectly. "Because I wouldn't have to. There would be no need."
Yvonne laughed louder and stage-whispered to the associate at her elbow, "Now I see why she couldn't get into a first-tier law school."
The Yvonne cunt-punt went from being a "want" to gaining a spot on my mental to-do list. But Mr. Granade didn't seem to hear her. His gaze was still focused on me. "So, as I understand it, you would let the co-defendant destroy your client on the stand and you wouldn't do a thing about it. Then what?"
Exhilaration rushed through me and mixed with the fear that maybe I was wrong. Shit, what if I'm wrong? I shook the doubt away and continued, still holding Mr. Granade's eyes with my own. "I would do nothing until the State rested its case. Then I would move for a dismissal via judgment as a matter of law."
Yes, there it was. I definitely saw it this time — the hint of a smile. "And would that work, Ms. Montreat?"
"Yes." I was leaning so far forward that I knew the girls were on display. All the better to lure you with, my dear.
"Why?" He was leaning forward, too.
There was no one else in the room, no Terrell, and certainly no skinny bitch Yvonne. It was just me and Mr. Granade. The way I wanted it.
"Because the testimony of a co-conspirator can never be used as the sole basis for a conviction. The State failed to prove its case. I win by default." I couldn't stop the smile from spreading across my face. I just had that feeling, the one where you know you nailed it — like that kid in that meme doing the fist pump. I was that kid right then in all his ecstatic glory.
Mr. Granade blinked, as if remembering himself, and sat back. He scrubbed a hand along his perfectly smooth jaw and broke our eye contact. "Looks like the class clown wins it."
I strutted out of the conference room, no shame in my game, after the meeting adjourned. I'd beaten the other associates and was riding a victory high.
"I expect you in my office in five minutes." Mr. Granade strode past, his long legs making easy work of the hallway leading to his office. His confident steps were quicker than usual, and his head was cocked slightly to the side, in my direction.
Terrell was at my elbow. "You sure pulled that out of your ass."
"Don't be jealous. Or do. I like when people are jealous. It means I'm doing something right."
Terrell snorted and took my arm in his. "You are in it now, Caroline. Mr. Granade doesn't suffer fools — "
"Mama didn't raise no fool." I elbowed him in the ribs.
"I know. I'm just saying maybe you should tone it down a bit if you're going to be in close quarters with him. I kind of like having you around." He peered down at me, the dark brown skin around his eyes crinkling with worry.
He led me to my office and waited in the doorway as I grabbed a legal pad and pen. I hated to admit it, but he was right. Mr. Granade was a tough nut to crack, and I needed to keep my head in the game. The game wouldn't be as much fun without a slew of dirty jokes, but I needed to make an effort at professionalism if I was going to have any chance at actually sitting second chair in a murder trial.
"Be you. You know there's nothing I love more than you being you. Just be smart about how much you let him see."
I bent over and dug around for my Rules of Evidence book. Snagging it, I turned back to Terrell. He had put his manicured hand to his face, as if shielding his eyes from the sun — but it was just my ass.
"And I mean that literally and figuratively. Are you wearing underwear?"
"This skirt's too tight. I didn't want any panty lines." I shrugged.
"Don't bend over like that in Mr. Granade's office. That's all I can tell you."
I winked and walked past him. "He's into what I have downstairs, so it may be a good idea to do just that."
"See." He was at my heels. "This is what I meant by 'toning it down.'"
"I got this. I am toned down. Stop your fretting. Besides, if I get fired you might get a chance for some alone time with him."
He stopped. "Good point. You do you, Caroline."
I threw him a small wave before turning down the hallway to Mr. Granade's office. The door was closed. It was usually open. I hesitated outside, wondering if I should knock or just wait. I looked to Shirley, his secretary, in the cubicle at my back. She was on the phone and paid me no mind.
I smoothed my skirt down, given Terrell's warning. It was still tight, but it didn't display the goods more than I wanted. My top was low cut — as were almost all my tops (what's a turtleneck?) — and I made sure my jacket sat on my chest so as to show just enough to keep it interesting.
I took a breath and knocked, heat rushing into my ears from sheer nerves. Get it together, Caroline.
"Come in." His deep rumble skittered over my skin like electricity.
Tone it down. Tone it down. Tone it down. I pushed the door open and strode in. Then I almost dropped everything. He'd taken his jacket off. I'd never seen him without a suit jacket. His sleeves were rolled up. And was his hair rumpled? Had he run his perfect fingers through his almost-too-long hair? It was sex hair. I peeked behind me. Nope, there wasn't some law clerk hiding out post-BJ.
"What are you doing?" He was typing, his eyes on the screen at the edge of his desk.
"I was just looking for — nothing. I wasn't doing anything."
"That's not what we pay you for, Ms. Montreat. Close the door." He kept typing as he spoke.
"Right." I swung the door shut, catching Shirley giving me a pensive look as I did so.
I turned and took a step toward Mr. Granade, wondering if we were going to sit at his small conference table or if I should take one of the leather seats in front of his desk.
Several large windows graced his corner office, the sunlight streaming in and bathing everything in a golden morning glow. His décor was understated, as if to let the view of the New Orleans skyline rule the room. It did, buildings rising high and gleaming in the cloudless sky.
"Have a seat. I'm almost done."
"Sure." I threw a glance to the conference table but decided to choose the chair closest to his desk instead. I sank down and crossed my legs at the ankles before arranging my legal pad and rule book.
Excerpted from Hardass by Christina Saunders. Copyright © 2016 Christina Saunders. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I completely loved this book and am loving this series. This book had a good bit of suspense and many twists and turns. A little humor and alot of hot steamy.... Washington and Caroline's story line was great.
Such a fun read!! Caroline & Wash are a awesome couple. The story was so interesting & I loved the twist it took! Great writing style & fun, interesting characters. And the sexy scenes- wow! I will be reading more by Christina Saunders Advanced Reader Copy provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.
I loved this book! Not only do you have a hot couple in Caroline and Wash, but this was also a suspense novel. Wash, short for Washington is a named partner at his firm and he takes on Associate, Caroline to help him clear their clients name who's accused of being the Bayou Butcher. There is a no fraternizing rule at the firm so Wash and Caroline's attraction is forbidden. Add in the thrill of these two investigating a serial killer and you get a steamy read that keeps you on the edge of your seat! I highly recommend this book and I learned at the end that the author, Christina Saunders also writes under the penn name Celia Aaron. After learning this, I'm not surprised I loved this story since I love Celia Aaron's books as well. ARC provided by NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
This is the second book in the series but it's easily read standalone. Wash Granade is a ruthless defense attorney and his always in control attitude makes him perfect for his current client. That control is being tested by his newest associate Caroline Montreat. She's feisty, sassy, and sexy! His no fraternization policy is being tested daily. When she earns the right to work on his new high profile case with he, try as he might, he can't stay away from her. And when the case turns deadly, he'll do anything to keep her safe! Definitely a recommended read.