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Unfortunately gorgeous and quality me time material: big hot tick.
Maxwell Callaghan demanding my teaching oom for his law seminars means only one thing: war.
The fact he’s a successful lawyer, earns more money in a week than I probably do in a year and has a house with a front door that actually shuts is completely irrelevant. I don’t care when his emails get a little flirty, or how our arguments somehow turn into something else, or that he has a growing obsession with collecting my underwear. I’m focused on finishing my PhD and carrying out the ambition I’ve had since I was a child.
Neither of us can compromise. He has his own demons. I have my own dreams. But for the sake of our own hearts, we need to come to an agreement…
COMPROMISING AGREEMENTS is a feisty, fiery enemies to lovers romance with no cheating and a happily ever after. Only read if you like your stories steamy hot! It’s part of the CALLAGHAN GREEN SERIES but can be read as a standalone.
- Broken Hero
Intro to Chapter One
Intro to Chapter One
“I’m sorry, but that room is already taken for the duration of the semester.”
Those were not the words I expected to hear. My hand immediately went to stroke my jaw and I tried to concentrate on the fact that my beard needed a trim in order to cease and desist the tantrum that was building. I wasn’t a spoiled brat, although my upbringing and bank balance would give evidence otherwise, but I was impatient and had no time for people who didn’t read their emails.
“Look,” I said to the dark brown head of hair that was half hidden by the biggest computer monitor I had ever seen. “I used that room for all my seminars last year. It’s close to my offices which means I get there on time for my students and it’s steeped in history. It gives more credence when trying to get undergraduates to understand the legacy of what they’re studying…”
“I understand that, Professor Callaghan—”
“It’s Mr Callaghan. I don’t use professor,” I interrupted, this time rubbing my jaw in a firmer manner. I had been lecturing at King’s College, one of London’s top universities, for three years, writing articles and contributing to the odd publication. I didn’t grow an ego on purpose but the office staff knew me and generally made sure any new employees knew me too. It stopped time wasting conversations like this when I needed to get back to my desk to prep for court tomorrow.
“Apologies, Mr Callaghan, but the room is scheduled for someone else to teach in, and while I’m aware that puts you to some inconvenience, it can’t be altered. Maybe we can find an alternative time, or maybe another room in that building?” Her tone was flat, almost as if I was listening to a pre-recorded response.
I didn’t think I was that predictable.
“I’ve already worked my meeting schedule around that time and not needing more than five minutes to get to the venue,” I said, my hand flecking through my hair which also needed a cut. I’d been too busy. Even though summer was only just ending my desk was swamped; I’d just received a huge class action case and had two new solicitors working for me that needed training in the very basics despite allegedly being at least three years qualified.
The brown head sighed. “Leave it with me. I’ll see what I can do around the use of the other rooms in that building.”
“Can’t you just ask the other class to move times or elsewhere? If my seminars can’t be accommodated there I’ll have to rethink lecturing and teaching this year.” Which might be a good thing given how heavy my workload already was, although teaching was something I enjoyed immensely. I thrived from the buzz I got when students understood some of the complexities of law and became engaged with it, seeing it as being a real life embodiment of our society. And I liked the interaction that wasn’t just with my family and work colleagues, which rather sadly summed up my life.
The door to the back office swung open and a slight, white-haired woman walked in, looking somewhat startled as she caught my last words. “Victoria will sort it, Max,” she said, squinting at the huge monitor.
Carol Sommers was the Dean of Law and her mere presence made Victoria sit up a little straighter. “One of the other rooms will have to be freed up.” Carol pointed to something on the screen.
“The history department are using it at that time. They can move.” She squinted and stared at Victoria. “The room next door is being used by the Assassins’ Guild. They can also shift.”
“I’m not sure…” Victoria began. I caught sight of thick rimmed glasses but the rest of the side of her face was shielded by long hair that was almost black.
“They were struggling for a space—there aren’t many departments that will let them use a room.”
“With good reason,” Carol said. “It’s the Assassins’ Guild. Surely you’re not that far removed from your undergraduate years to have forgotten the amount of havoc they cause. If their meetings are located near to you when you’re teaching, at some point you’re going to be interrupted.” She looked half angry, half amused. “I’m sure Max won’t mind the Assassins’ Guild going homeless.”
She beamed at me, just as she had in court once, when I was newly qualified and had a case against her. I lost. I’d hated her beam ever since, which she knew. Carol Sommers was the best in her field.
“My youngest brother was in the Assassins’ Guild when he was here,” I said, thinking of Seph with what could almost be described as affection. “Unfortunately, he wasn’t shot often enough or hard enough. If they’re stuck for a room, I’m sure Seph can sort something with his friend who runs a bar near Borough Market.” I rubbed my chin again. The Assassins’ Guild had been a pain; a society of students who were given targets to ‘kill’ before they were killed themselves, usually with a nerf gun or a water pistol. The last person standing won. Seph had managed to win three consecutive times, which was probably the result of the skills he’d picked up from escaping me, Jackson and Callum when he was younger and we wanted someone to torment that wasn’t our sisters.
“That will solve the problem,” Victoria said. “Can you ask your brother for that favour? I’d try to sort it myself but I’m struggling for time.”
Wasn’t that her job as an administrator? I felt my heart rate climb up with irritation and knew I needed to get to the gym tonight and box a few rounds in the ring. “Sure. Seph’s in court all day but I’ll ask him. I’d prefer the other room if possible. It does have significance for one of topics I’ll be delivering. Would the history professor mind swapping?”
“I think that could be arranged. Don’t you, Victoria?” Carol said, opening a drawer and taking a sweet.
“That particular room has some historical significance for the seminars taking place there too. The war memorial…” she said, her voice sounding tense. “I think the person teaching would also like to use that room.”
I didn’t have time for these arguments; not when I’d sent a detailed email about three months ago outlining what I’d need and why. Most professors had a certain degree of eccentricity: Niall McInnery, who’d written the book on Torts when I’d been a student, demanded a fresh pot of coffee and two apple Danishes at the start of each lecture he gave; Ruth Reece would only use lecture theatres with an odd number. My choice of time and location was, to be fair, rather rational. “I sent an email requesting that room some months ago. I don’t mean to act like a dick, but I don’t ask for much and it’s not my fault if someone hasn’t checked their email.”
I heard another sharp intake of breath from Victoria, admin extraordinaire. She was clearly pissed off with me. “If you emailed it to Michelle directly rather than the admin account then it won’t have been picked up. Michelle’s taken extended leave. I’ve been brought in to cover for her. I don’t think the person delivering the history seminars will want to swap. Maybe you could do the hour after?”
“How do you know the history faculty won’t switch? Isn’t it worth contacting the person teaching rather than just speaking for them?” My fingers tapped on the desk, peering over at the brown head and spying her hands flattening either side of the keyboard with a slight thud.
Then she stood up and I heard Carol laugh quietly at my mouth gaping open. The computer screen had masked a woman who would now star in my fantasies for at least the next few weeks: tall, slender, wearing a high-necked, sleeveless shirt that showed off more than a handful of breasts, large doe-like eyes and lips that my cock now wanted to meet up close.
“Because I’m leading the seminars there. And I’m going to use that room!”
* * *
My oldest younger brother took a long swig of his beer, sat back in his chair and eyed me as someone would do a rabid bear. “So, exactly how did you lose your shit?” he said. “Because if it’s anything like you’ve done in the office you could be looking at her pressing charges.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m not that bad.”
Jackson raised his brows.
I shook my head. This year I had been through four secretaries until Claire, one of my sisters who also worked for our law firm, had found me Jean, a wonderful woman who had raised five boys and scared the shit out of me. She was also bloody good at being a legal secretary, one who dealt with medical malpractice and didn’t get the basics wrong. We were going to have a hopefully long and happy relationship where I brought her coffee and croissants every morning.
“I didn’t raise my voice too much. I just mentioned about her using her position as an administrator to serve her best interests rather than the department she was taking a salary from.”
“Oh,” Jackson said mildly, rolling up his shirt sleeves as if suspecting we were in for the long haul. “And how did she take that comment?”
I shrugged, turning away to glance around the bar. I hadn’t made it to the gym. My altercation with Victoria the administrator had slowed my day down considerably; plus, one of my team had forgotten to file documents at court, which resulted in various phone calls and calling in favours from the judge. I had agreed to meet Jackson at our usual after work bar. “As you would expect, I suppose.”
“What was her reaction?”
“Feisty. It was feisty.” Feisty enough to give me a raging hard on and have to fight the urge to fuck the sass out of her temporarily, because that would’ve resulted in a lawsuit.
Jackson laughed quietly, finishing the rest of his beer. “Who won?”
I rested my elbows on my knees and held my head in my hands. “Neither. She won’t change rooms or her time.”
“So she’s won?”
“No. I didn’t say that.”
My brother smirked. “But you haven’t got the room. Therefore, you have lost. To a history lecturer. I think this could be the highlight of my day. Tell me, was she attractive?”
I groaned, shaking my head. “That’s irrelevant. She works in the admin department and lectures in history. And she has my room.”
“It’s not your room. And it’s already booked.” Jackson’s eyes flickered over to the door, probably looking for Vanessa, his fiancée. They’d been together for just over six months or so and had the wedding booked for next May. My brother had changed, becoming less work-obsessed and more Vanessa-obsessed instead. Thankfully, she’d felt the same way, else we’d have been looking at a restraining order. “Therefore there is nothing you can do. Get Seph to sort a room for the Assassins’ Guild and hopefully they’ll adopt him, we’ll no longer have to see the fucker on a daily basis and you get a room in the building you want at the time you want, so your schedule remains unsullied.”
“But I sent an email requesting that room months ago. It’s not my fault the admin person was on leave and it wasn’t picked up. Someone should’ve been checking her emails.” I paused, finishing the rest of my beer. I didn’t often drink, not always liking how it made me feel, however, today was an exception.
“Yes, they should. But that’s not Victoria’s fault either. Why is a history lecturer working as an admin in the law department anyway?” Jackson sat up straighter and I figured Vanessa had arrived. “I didn’t think lecturing was that poorly paid.”
“I have no idea. Nor do I care. Another beer?” I stood up, feeling a soft hand grasp my arm. “Hey, favourite sister-in-law to be.” I leant into her and kissed her cheek. “How are you? Seen the light and changed your mind about which brother to marry yet?”
She laughed softly. “It depends on whether he lightens up over the space I need in the bathroom.”
Jackson shifted to his feet and pulled Vanessa into him. “You can have as much space as you need. Ignore Maxwell. He has nothing to offer.”
She kissed him on the stubble he called a beard. “I’ll get the drinks. Same again?” She gestured to the glasses and we both nodded.
“Stop trying to pretend you can steal my woman,” Jackson said, and I realised he was almost serious.
I spluttered. “Chill the fuck out, Jacks. You know I just trying to wind you up because it works. Besides, I don’t think she even realises anyone else exists. Can’t you bring the wedding forward or something?”
He shook his head. “It’s all booked and it’s exactly what she wants, so that’s what we’re having. She likes you and Seph way too much. She actually mentioned having everyone over for Sunday lunch this weekend.”
“You’re not up for that, I take it?” I said, very much amused with Jackson. He had been terminally single until Vanessa was contracted to rebrand Callaghan Green, our law firm. Our father had been the senior partner up until his retirement earlier in the year; now, Jackson and myself were the senior partners, with Jackson managing the day to day running of the firm and running a few litigation files. His love was for business, second only to Vanessa. Mine was for the law and had been since I was a kid and old enough to go into work with our father and—before he retired—my grandfather too. My grandfather had a fascination with law and its history; how it changed and how it would reflect societal values at the time. I suppose it was that fascination that was passed onto me and, thankfully, Jackson was keen to run the business side of things, leaving me to the academic and messy legalities. My specialism was mainly medical negligence cases, but I kept on top of most areas and ended up advising my siblings and colleagues when necessary. It left me with little time to spend arguing with history lecturers, however pretty they were.
“I see enough of you lot during the week and not enough of her,” Jackson said, his eyes fixed on Vanessa who was at the bar. “But she really wants everyone over. Even Seph.”
“Give me a time and I’ll be there. I’ll even come over earlier and give Van a hand in the kitchen,” I said, grinning at my brother.
“Fuck off. It’s bad enough how she tries to look after Seph—who is round at our house far too often, by the way—without her being nice to you too. You need to find you a girlfriend and then she’ll stop worrying about you being ‘lonely’,” Jackson said. “Maybe you could bring one of your stable with you and she’ll stop fretting.”
“I’m not seeing anyone at the moment,” I said, pushing away the image of Victoria with her long brown hair and oversized glasses from my memory. “Too busy.”
“You mean you haven’t been to a university social yet and met the new science professors? Or was science last year? Geography this time maybe?” Jackson said, his eyes still flickering towards Vanessa.
“You make it sound like I was dating half the university faculty,” I said. “I went out with two women who lectured there. How many other lawyers have you dated?” For some reason my family thought I would only date women who had a doctorate.
Jackson shrugged. “Fair enough. But you’re tense and more irritable than usual. Maybe you need to get laid. Have you met Vanessa’s friend Sophie?”
“Yes and I’m not going anywhere near a friend of your fiancée’s as that’s just a recipe for disaster. Although I suppose Van would stop speaking to me and that would make you happy,” I said as a pint of beer was deposited in front of me. “Thank you.”
“You’re welcome. Did Jackson mention Sunday lunch?” Vanessa said, squeezing onto the seat next to Jackson. “Callum’s said he can make it.”
I glanced at my brother. Since Callum had returned from doing veterinarian work abroad we had seen very little of him. “I’m available. Is there anything you want me to bring?”
“I’ll text you and let you know. Jackson mentioned something about you having a run in with a history lecturer. Do I need to prepare a statement for the media in case she presses charges?” Vanessa said, clutching a glass of red wine like it was her life blood. It was a Thursday and she generally looked frazzled by this point of the week.
“Is nothing a secret between the two of you?” I said before swigging the beer. This would be my last one of the evening. I’d head off home and hit the new case I’d been given today to familiarise myself with the medical reports before meeting with the claimant next week.
“Some things,” Vanessa said coyly. “My wedding dress, for example. Do you still have a half empty room at your apartment?”
I raised a brow. “Why?”
She smiled. Jackson rolled his eyes and looked away. “I need somewhere to store wedding stuff. The sort of things Jackson can’t see.”
“You’re finally showing me your underwear?” I couldn’t resist.
“I’ll see if one of your sisters has space,” Vanessa said. “Comments like that turn him into a caveman later.”
“I thought that was a good thing,” Jackson said, his arm slipping around her waist.
I looked away, not needing that visual. I let them carry on their conversation while I attempted to enjoy my beer and tried not to think about the history lecturer with the body wet dreams were made of, trying to dismiss the thought that I’d be spending two hours each week in the room next to hers.