Parties bored him. Office parties bored him most of all. But he’d
been too busy to meet anyone in the busy city chambers since arriving in the country
to head up an exchange programme between promising young lawyers in the UK and
the US, and this was both an opportunity to show his face, as well as to weigh
up the raw material.
He paused in the entrance to the room. The reception was being held in honour
of the latest judge on the local circuit to be elevated to the House of Lords.
An uneasy silence had fallen and he knew immediately that something was wrong.
The room was packed with the local legal aristocracy, together with a swarm of
pupil barristers all hoping to be noticed. His gaze was drawn to the podium where
a red-faced girl was struggling to make an introduction, while next to her stood
the guest of honour, Judge Deadfast of Dearing. His lordship appeared less than
amused by the fact that girl seemed to have forgotten his name.
He held his breath as she tried again. Judge Dredd? It was time for
him to step in…
The elderly man at Carly’s side shifted impatiently as she tried again.
‘And it is my great pleasure this evening to introduce Judge…’
Why had her mind chosen now to blank? Was it because the most incredible looking
man she had ever seen in her life had just entered the room? Tall and fierce,
with dark flashing eyes, he took in everything at a glance, including her red
face, no doubt. With his tan, athletic build, and thick chocolate brown hair he
was the quintessential Latin lover made flesh. While she was the quintessential
fat girl battling to introduce a geriatric judge with eyebrows that badly needed
No wonder she’d lost her audience! Who wouldn’t prefer to look
But would she be defeated? Sucking in a deep breath, she tried again. ‘Ladies
Response: nil. Humiliation: a bottomless pit.
She was a back room girl not an MC. But if she hoped to pursue her career at
the bar and become an effective advocate she had to get over her stage fright
fast. But now it was too late! The cavalry had arrived in the form of the man
with more testosterone flying off him than sparks off a Catherine wheel.
A path formed in front of him as he strode across the room. ‘Ladies and
gentlemen,’ he said, smiling confidently at his audience as he rescued the
microphone. ‘My apologies for being late…’ He wasn’t late
of course, but no one knew that, did they?
He turned his charm on the judge next, keeping the microphone close to his
lips. He could feel the rustle of interest in the room, the shower of pheromones
in the air. He could also feel the abject misery of the girl who had failed, but
he’d see to her later.
‘Your lordship, what an honour…’ He continued in this vein
until the apoplectic look on his lordship’s face had paled into his usual
He stood back well pleased with his performance as the grimly smiling judge
left the podium to be toadied by his colleagues. Courting judges was his area
of expertise; courting women, his passion. His spirited Italian American mother
had taught him that keeping women happy was fundamental to life. He had since
learned that it was fundamental to his sanity. The red-faced girl was next in
line for some TLC, but not before he’d won back her audience.
‘My lords, ladies and gentlemen… Some appreciation, if you please,
for my learned colleague-’ As he spoke he laid a protective arm over the
culprit’s shoulders and drew her forward. ‘Who amongst us would have
made the connection between our honoured guest Judge Deadfast of Dearing and that
legendary comic strip character Judge Joe Dredd, law enforcement par excellence?’
He paused to allow the mood against the young woman under his protection to change.
He also had his lordship’s interest now. ‘And let us not forget,’
he added, raising his hands to silence the oohs and aahs of understanding rippling
through his audience, ‘that Judge Joe Dredd has the power to arrest, sentence,
and even execute criminals on the spot. So I advise prudence tonight…’
As his lordship led the laughter, he relaxed, job done. ‘Enjoy the rest
of your evening everyone!’
He turned to rescue his charge and found her gone. His mouth firmed when he
spotted her at the bar.
She knocked back a second glass of wine, but nothing helped. She was over;
finished. She wasn’t a natural party animal, though happy enough to arrange
one- Perhaps that was why her fellow pupil barristers had set her up for this…
As the she picked up the wine bottle to pour herself another glass he made
his move. Realising he was coming over she fired red and turned away, but not
before he’d had chance to assess the voluptuous figure. It appealed to his
Latin soul, likewise the tilt of her chin and abundance of Titian hair. Those
were the points in her favour. On the reverse side of the coin she had the fashion
sense of a-
Of an English woman he reminded himself, as she glanced around to see how close
She gasped to find him right behind her. ‘I’m really, really
grateful,’ she blurted, drawing his attention to her wine dampened lips.
‘I don’t know what came over me…’ She gulped as he took
the wine glass out of her hand. ‘Thanks for rescuing the situation. Can’t
imagine why you did it,’ she finished awkwardly.
Chivalry would sound outdated to her, and he’d moved on in any case to
those urges and fantasies yet to be explored. His body like his mind was meant
to be used. Years of study hadn’t robbed him of the need to express himself
physically, hence the work-outs, tarmac, the gym, the sparring he indulged in
twice a week. ‘Think nothing of it,’ he said, pouring her a glass
of water. ‘Here, drink this- you’ll feel better in a minute-’
‘Thank you,’ she said, sipping demurely.
Dio! She was a contradiction. In unguarded moments her green eyes flashed fire,
which gave him a hint of the busy thoughts beneath her frumpy exterior, and now
he was close enough he could see her skin had the translucency of delicate porcelain.
She might be considered gauche and awkward compared to the polish of the other
girls in the room, but she had his attention. Taking the wine bottle she thought
she had so cleverly hidden behind the punch bowl he replaced it in the ice bucket
where it belonged. ‘I think you’ve had enough. It doesn’t do
to blunt the senses…’