Justice(10)

By: Laurann Dohner


He hesitated before reaching for the chicken. “I’m partial to chicken. I never had it before we were freed.”

“I didn’t know that. They didn’t feed you chicken?” Jessie reached for the prime rib.

She set the plate down on the coffee table carefully. Justice moved across from her and sat opposite her a few feet down so they could both comfortably stretch their legs under the table without touching. She sat on the floor too. Her back settled against the couch, finding it really comfortable.

Justice was nearest to the cart. “What kind of soda do you want? Do you mind soda?”

“The cherry one, please. I love them.”

He smiled. “So do we.”

“You were never given caffeinated drinks. I knew that one.”

“Just water. Sometimes we received juice.” He gripped the cherry soda and handed it over. Their fingers brushed.

“Thank you.”

They both popped the tabs of their cans and arranged the silverware. Justice dug in to his chicken and Jessie smiled at his amazingly good table manners. It surprised her again. She had eaten with the female Species plenty of times. They ate with their fingers mostly, tearing things apart and swallowed food quickly as if it were about to be snatched away.

Justice cut and chewed his food leisurely. She glanced at the baked chicken. He ate fully cooked meat too, also astonishing her. Maybe men were different from the women and his time away from his cell had changed his eating habits. Jessie knew she thought cooked food tasted a hell of a lot better than raw or almost-raw meat.

Justice’s cell phone rang and he sighed. He looked tired to Jessie suddenly as his features seemed to turn haggard. He shifted his body to reach inside his back pocket to dig it out. He glanced at the screen before he met Jessie’s curious gaze.

“I’m sorry. I have to take this.”

“Go right ahead.” She hoped they’d get to talk before he was called away.

He flipped open the phone but kept eating. “What is it?”

Jessie ate as Justice listened to the caller, responded with abrupt answers and kept eating his meal. He looked like a man used to working around a phone since he didn’t struggle to eat while holding a conversation. He could juggle the phone and his silverware with practiced ease. He chewed between words. He finally hung up and used his face and shoulder to close the phone. That was talent that drew a smile from her.

Justice lifted his gaze to stare at her while the phone slipped down his chest to perfectly land in his lap. “What is so amusing?”

“You. I’ve never seen that kind of talent before. You closed your phone without ever having to use your hands and then you wiggled a little so the phone would slide down your chest into your lap. Do you do that often?”

He smiled. “It is a skill I have learned.”

The phone rang again and he sighed. He closed his eyes for a second before releasing his fork to reach into his lap. He studied the caller ID and set the phone on the edge of the table. His gaze met Jessie’s.

“I can skip that one. It’s one of the news stations trying to get an early comment from me.”

“Do you ever get days off?”

“Never.” He shrugged one shoulder. “I knew it would be a tough responsibility when I was asked to take the lead.”

“Take the lead?”

“My people asked me to lead them. I was calmer than most and reasonable. I was the best fighter too and I had the quickest response time adjusting to where they took us after we were freed. I did not try to kill any humans who annoyed us with their way of criticizing everything we did. I was always the cushion between my people and yours. I became the negotiator when there were disagreements between us. The Species were asked to elect a spokesperson to represent them and I was asked by my people to lead. I accepted.”

She took a sip of her drink. “You’ve done an amazing job. My father is Senator Jacob Hills and he always tells me that your job originally was supposed to be limited but you stood up for Species and argued to get them where they are today. He says you are a force of nature that no one should be stupid enough to mess with.”

Justice chuckled. “I like him. I didn’t realize you were his daughter.” His gaze skimmed her. “You look nothing like him.”

“I resemble my mother but I barely remember her. She died when I was five years old after a drunk driver hit her car on her way home from the gym. I have a lot of pictures of her though and I definitely take after my mom.”

“I’m sorry for your loss. Your father is well liked.”

“He likes you too. Not many people realize I’m his daughter and he tries to keep that off the radar. I’m kind of wild.” She touched her hair. “He hates the hair.”

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