With Even Stronger Reason
~ Chapter Four
It was not a good idea to let my client's kid run around my office while said client was out to 'pick-up' a few things. I knew better than to believe that Dorothy was indeed picking up a few things. She was probably out with some random man competing with her husband in their apparent and wholly inexplicable race to bed the entire male population of this town of one million three hundred thousand sixty four and counting. I was infuriated to say the least.
Winner junior (I prefer not to call him Sam) was causing havoc. I would have dropped him off with Duo who was great with kids, but Attorney Maxwell was in the zone. It was a rare occurrence when he worked with so much concentration that he did not care for anything around him. I had a feeling he had a deadline coming up soon. Talk about procrastination. Even Heero was locked up in his office with a deadline to meet. That left me as the sole babysitter in the entire firm. Oh, and did I forget to mention that Junior was my client's kid and therefore my responsibility?
"Trowa," the child said, probably noticing my tense shoulders and silent stare.
"I would prefer it if you called me Mr. Barton," I responded.
"Preference denied," he replied in surprisingly adult words. I felt a time bomb full of anger explode in my head. "Trowa, have you met my father?"
"Yes." My answer was terse.
"Do you like him?"
"No." This response was heated. Yes, I did like Quatre, but I was dead set on murdering Mr. Winner. After several clandestine encounters with the guy amidst the frenzy of passion, I was yet to receive the gift of exclusivity. I may as well have been sleeping with the entire town the way he'd been sampling every part of it.
"You should look again."
"What?" I asked a little louder than I should have.
"My father is very pretty."
I tensed. This kid sounded too much like Dorothy. Those pointed fringes at the tip of his brows mocked me with every wag, lift, and pause. Was he selling his father to me or was he just mimicking his mother? Even I wouldn't use the word pretty. He was probably copying the mother who was absent at the moment. In some ways I pitied the kid. With parents like the ones he had, I would rather have given him to this Samuel fellow I had yet to meet.
"Who would you prefer to live with?" I decided to ask. Sometimes it was better to get the answer from the source. If he did not want to live with his mother then that meant I was going to break his heart if I ever won Dorothy the custody. If he did not want to live with his father then all the better for me in so many ways.
"You," Winner junior responded. "I want to live with you."
I felt myself blink. It was either I was confused or manipulated. Both mother and father loved manipulating me, so I would not be surprised if this kid was doing it too.
"Why me?" I asked to clarify his response.
"You're pretty," he responded before screaming 10 decibels more than necessary and swiping my wood-carved nameplate off the table. The gift from my sister survived the abuse but caused a dull thud as it hit the carpeted floor.
"Huh," I said, ignoring the ruckus. That was probably the line his mother used to pick up pretty boys off the street. I wondered what Mr. Winner used.
My cell phone went off just as I thought that with the caller ID revealing one Mr. Quatre Raberba Winner calling. I took the call while keeping an eye on the kid who ran back and forth in the hallway just outside my office door.
'Want to fuck, gorgeous?' was the greeting I received. I didn't know if I would have preferred him calling me pretty instead. Somehow, pretty sounded purer and unsoiled.
"I'm with your spawn," I responded with a frown. Why did he want custody of this kid when he didn't even know where junior was or who he was with?
"Oh," he responded. I couldn't tell if he sounded disappointed or not. "Where is his mother?"
"Probably out doing what you were proposing to do," I said with a shrug. These people were monsters. If I had Duo's patience, I would adopt this kid and save him the heartbreak of inattentive parents.
"I'll call my attorney."
"What?" I said with mild surprise. "Whatever for?" I followed-up. I was not going to deal with Chang again unless absolutely necessary.
"I want to pick my son up from your office and since we have a temporary custody order from the judge, I can't come near him unless I'm scheduled for it. If you've already forgotten, I'm set for Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Saturdays. Today is Friday."
I fished the thick folder of Winner pleadings from the growing number of Winner-related files collected in my office. Going through the pages, it took me a bit of time before I landed on aforementioned temporary order. He was right.
"Fine," I said. Dorothy did tell me not to disturb her and that she would leave the decisions to me for the day. "But he has to be with someone - and I don't care who - very soon because I have a mediation for another case in three hours."
The look on Quatre's face was asking me if I still had time for a quickie anyway. Why was I sleeping with this guy again? He was trouble.
"I'll be there soon," he said and believe me when I say that it was a little too soon.
Not even after Winner junior's twelfth scream did I hear the roar of a helicopter just outside my window. Upon further inspection, I noticed the gigantic and very intricately designed W plastered on the side of the aircraft. I was not even aware that our building had a helipad.
Duo suddenly stepped into my office and delivered only three words before disappearing again into his own office.
"Deal with it," he said before hauling Winner junior into my office and shutting the door as he left. Winner junior stared at me. I stared back.
"You told daddy you didn't want me," he said with an accusatory look and a finger pointed directly at me. I never promised him that I would keep him. I had no answer to that. Therefore, I continued to stare back at him.
"If you want my daddy, you'll have to go through me."
Now that, if I ever heard one from a child, was a threat. Next time, I should learn how to pick my adversaries. Being in this kid's good graces was probably the best means of winning both this case and my complex situation. Still, junior should have gone along with his mother in her underhanded attempts to couple me and Mr. Winner. If this got any uglier, Samuel would surely show up when I wanted to see him the least.
The knock on my door came as junior sustained his disappointed and threatening stare at me.
"Come in," I said.
The first thing I saw was a big, burly man who immediately handed me a document and retrieved the Winner heir from my floor. The document was unsigned by the judge and had probably not been filed with the court. It was invalid.
"This is not valid," I repeated my thought. They could not have filed it with the court in the time it took them to get here.
"My lawyer said it wouldn't be," Mr. Winner confirmed after stepping out from behind the burly man. "But I'm not letting you leave my son in your office unsupervised."
"Sammy boy," a third person said. This was all before I ever consented to letting Winner junior out of Dorothy's custody for the day. From behind the burly man appeared another person who took junior out of said man's arms. Junior looked torn between annoyance and happiness as he let himself be transferred to a younger man's care.
"You should know better. I do not have your wife's consent," I said. My words were brutal. How dare he show up in my office to take his son away from my client without the proper paperwork and with another one of his toys in tow. I stared at this new man who was talking delightedly with junior.
"Have you met Samuel?" Quatre asked with a smirk when he noticed my discomfort and apparent rage. He wore his glasses today making him look a little older and more sophisticated than usual. I wanted him bad.
"Obviously not," I said as I held my head up in an attempt to be pompous and arrogant.
Samuel, who did not seem like the type to hold grudges, waved his hand at me in greeting.
"Nice to meet you," he said to me before addressing Quatre. "I can see why Dotty likes him."
Winner junior pushed away from Samuel in order to be let down. When his feet touched the ground, he immediately took the toy off the big man's hand and sat in a corner to play. My eyes strayed to the kid. That was the trick. Next time, I would bring a toy so he could behave better.
My eyes strayed back to Samuel once again only to find his malicious right hand positioned comfortably on the small of Quatre's back. His thumb was moving in a smooth, circular motion against Quatre's lower spine as they discussed something in soft voices. I would do everything in my power to give this guy the biggest headache he ever experienced in court. I already thought of hiring someone to follow him around and dig the dirty secrets off his closet. From the way she talked about him, Dorothy seemed to like this guy as well, so there was no use in soliciting her help in that matter.
"Are we finished here yet?" I asked. Quatre turned to look at me before addressing the entourage that had followed him to my office.
"Please allow us some privacy for a few minutes," he requested.
My office was vacated. Even junior did not protest having been too concentrated on his toy. The door closed not soon after to allow us time alone.
"You sounded fine over the phone," Quatre said while pocketing one hand. His expensive watch came into view. He could model for me any time he wanted. "You wanted my boy out of your office since you had prior engagements. Why the change of heart?"
I was a seasoned liar by now, but I couldn't lie to him. For that reason, I didn't answer.
"Samuel - I brought him with me because he insisted on meeting you," he continued.
Still, I did not respond. He couldn't have picked Samuel up in the time it took them to get here which meant that this guy was already with Quatre while we were talking over the phone. I wanted to reiterate the fact that I was angry. At the same time, I was also eyeing that delicious suit I wanted to tear off him.
"You're being childish," he said next.
"I'm not the one playing around," I finally answered.
"And that is what this is about," he said, raising his free hand into the air and dramatically raising his eyes to the sky in disbelief. "I was not planning to sleep with him just because you were busy today."
"You were planning to sleep with him whether or not I was busy today," I corrected him. "And do not attempt to correct me because I am not wrong. His hand on you was public foreplay."
I looked at him. He was a very attractive man. Who wouldn't attempt something - anything - on him? My hands itched to lock my door and attempt something with him despite the likely audience outside.
"I thought we agreed that we weren't exclusive," he said calmly.
While he did propose that we weren't exclusive, I never agreed to anything of the sort. I knew I should have considered it a fling, a momentary lapse of sanity if you will, but for some reason, I wanted him for the long run. Yes, I'm crazy to think that. I'm crazy because it was not feasible to get a serious commitment out of a man dead set on beating his wife at everything.
"You may take your leave," I said. I had more important things to do than ponder on the intolerable behavior of these individuals. I still did have that mediation in a few hours. That was no lie.
Quatre went around my desk and approached me. I feared him as I did not expect for him to do such a thing. Taking a perfectly manicured hand, he brushed his fingers against my cheek. This man had the ability to catch me off guard and that was slightly infuriating. I was paralyzed as I let him move my bang aside and kiss me very gently. The hairs at the back of my neck tingled and my stomach did flip-flops. What was I so angry about again?
I could no longer comprehend what was happening, but thankfully, Quatre's lips lost its purchase on mine. I realized that he was pulled roughly aside and I noticed this because the big man from earlier was ready to pummel Heero for doing so. Heero simply stared back at him with his best glare. Quatre told his bodyguard to back off for the time being, preventing the bloodshed I was fearing.
"In my office, now," Heero said. I stood to do what I was told. I was surprised when he told me to sit back down.
"Not you," he said, pointing at me. "You," he said with a growl at Quatre who followed him with no protest to the office just a door next to mine, but not before picking my nameplate off the floor and putting it back on its proper position.
I was curious. I wanted to hear everything they talked about but that was not necessary since I could hear Heero's perfectly audible words of warning through the apparently thin walls.
"Stay away from him," Heero said like a strict father.
I still placed my ear against the wall in order to hear better.
"Only if he could do the same," Quatre responded with not a note of temper in his voice. It was a smart-ass remark that would earn him Heero's contempt.
"I heard your conversation perfectly fine. You have invalid paperwork. Trowa may be young, but he's no idiot. He's not giving you that kid."
"Who said I was just coming for the kid?"
Like a thorn on my side, Samuel suddenly appeared. My ear was immediately taken out of its favorable position against the wall as my eyes reluctantly strayed to my latest intruder. He was grinning at me and I had inkling why.
"I didn't think you were the type to eavesdrop," he said.
I stared at him without responding. What was the point? He would deliver his next statement regardless of what I said.
"What do you like about him?" he asked next.
I somehow felt like today was the day I get interrogated. My interest in Quatre was simple really. He was an attractive older man. I liked attractive men. I also liked the often distorted sense of maturity older men tended to give off. That was probably the reason why I ended up with flukes. I was too superficial, a flaw that will haunt me for the rest of my life as I go about trying to find someone, anyone both attractive and decent enough to keep me content. Yes, there will be numerous misses, and in fact, there have been several already, but I can't help but fall for them.
"Probably some of the qualities you like about him as well," I responded, purposefully keeping my answer as vague as possible.
"He's a sick fuck who picks up pretty little things with an even sicker sense of competitiveness. He's a manipulative, arrogant bastard with a pretty face and a lot of money."
I stared at the guy. He had pretty much summed up what Quatre was without going around in circles and dolling up the truth. I did almost forget that I somehow liked those things about him too.
"He's charming," I defended with a worthless response although I didn't know why I did.
"He has a thing for you."
I waved my hand in dismissal. He had a thing for a lot of men. I wasn't surprised.
"No. I mean he has a thing for you."
Somehow, that didn't clear anything up. I stared at this Samuel fellow before taking position behind my desk and ignoring him altogether. I was not one for small talk if any talk at all. If he was trying to catch me admitting to liking Quatre more than an ordinary fling, his attempts were useless. Not only was I a liar, I was a poker-faced miscreant who was anything if stubborn.
"You don't believe me," Samuel said. I thought I spied a slight pout as he said it. That pout made him look younger; reminding me again that Mr. Winner was into those types.
"Then what are you?" I responded to him with a sigh. I was at least accommodating enough to humor him with the small talk he so wanted.
"I'm a passing interest. I've become passé and uninteresting, but he keeps me around because Dotty likes me a lot. I suppose you could say it pisses her off that I'm with him too."
"And you're agreeing to this arrangement, why?" I questioned next. Everyone had their motives. Mine was simple. I wanted Quatre Raberba Winner for myself because he was smoking hot. Again, I was shallow but at least I was honest with myself.
"They're a fun couple. I guess you could say I get a kick out of seeing them argue."
Despite the allure of these selfish individuals, there was still a kid involved and that, in my book, was more important than all the fooling around these three potential parents were doing. None of them deserved the kid and so began my other dilemma. I was representing at least one of them.
"But still, I think he likes you too since you're good for his kid," Samuel said next.
"No, you are," I responded without hesitation. "Constants are good and the fact that they're keeping you around makes you a constant. As long as you're not some criminal with an interest in children, you'll probably be the most likely candidate."
"Why thank you for the support, Mr. Barton," the Winner family toy said with a naïve smile, a smile that was probably worth a cover spread on some teenage girl's magazine.
"Please don't mistake a statement of fact for support," I said with disgust.
"Aww, don't be too haughty, Mr. Trowa," he said in response. He definitely sounded condescending. "He's a liar you know. He still had me even when he was planning to have you."
I was not surprised. Being the liar that I also am, I could tell when someone was lying. An insignificant revelation such as that, coming from him of all people, did not affect me. However, as the case happened to be, I did not have to respond to his goading because both Heero and Mr. Winner showed up at my office door.
Quatre did not say a word. He just looked at me once before he left with his entourage. It was very much uneventful and I was disappointed that I was not able to speak to Quatre before he left. Heero revealed the child hiding behind his back and gave me a look that told me everything I needed to do. I called Dorothy immediately and because of Heero's threatening voice in the background; she came to pick him up not soon after.
I expected Heero to reprimand me as he looked at me critically after everyone had left and our office was cleared. I was ready for anything but what he said.
"Next time, use your dick on safer territory."
I think I turned a strange shade of purple as I heard the very busy, procrastinating Attorney Maxwell next door laugh and fall over his chair. That was about the harshest reprimand I would ever get from those two.