Authors: Janet Lane-Walters
Seducing the Attorney
At First Sight
By Janet Lane-Walters
Copyright 2016 by Janet Lane Walters
Cover Art 2016 by Jasmin Attalla
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
Bright morning sunlight glinted on the stained glass windows of the gray stone church. Lauren Grant left the memorial garden where the ashes of her sister and brother-in-law had been interred. They rested inside the stone wall near her parents’ site. She rubbed her arms to chase the chill of the autumn day.
Conversations flowed around her. She drew a deep breath to force back the tears ready to flow. She had to leave. Hearing one more word of sympathy might release the flood. As she dashed past the steps leading to the sanctuary door, she saw him standing with the pastor, two of Jim’s colleagues and a teacher friend of Carrie’s.
Tall, broad-shouldered with dark hair seemed in his element. She felt sure his piercing brown eyes compelled witnesses to tell the truth when he grilled them on the stand. Jim’s brother and the man she had to share custody of their ten month old nephew troubled her. She didn’t know why but sharing wasn’t part of his nature.
She reached her six year old sedan. In the sunlight the car appeared more blue than green. She slid into the driver’s seat, buckled up, started the car and drove through the streets of the Hudson River village to her classmate’s house. The action gave her time to control the urge to let tears cascade. She was on her way to pick up Jamie. The baby didn’t need to see her grief.
She parked in the driveway of the white frame house and bounded to the door. She rang the bell. With Jamie in her arms, her friend opened the door.
“Tee, Tee.” Jamie’s happy cries greeted her.
She held out her arms and he nearly leaped into them. “Miss me, squirt. Were you a good boy?”
Marsha smiled. “He was a dream. Wish my hellions were so easy. I have your notes from yesterday’s class. Will you be there tomorrow?”
“Have to be.” Lauren sank on the couch. “With mid-terms looming I can’t afford to miss another day.”
“Makes two of us. I made a list of classmates willing to watch Jamie. Do you have someone for tomorrow?”
Lauren nodded. “The young man who was Carrie’s student signed up for weekend duty. He watched Jamie several times so they could go out to dinner.” She struggled to fit her squirming nephew into his blue jacket.
“Study hard tonight,” Marsha said. “I’m sure there will be a quiz.” She walked with Laura to the door.
“She never fails to have a quiz.” Lauren wished she could follow her friend’s suggestion. Hopefully there would be time to copy yesterday’s notes as well as do battle with Tony over the guardianship issue. What did a playboy know about caring for an infant?
The trip from her friend’s house to Carrie and Jim’s took ten minutes. Jamie’s chatter had ceased the moment she’d fastened him into the car seat. At least he hadn’t cried the way he had when she brought him home from the hospital. Did he remember the accident?
She turned into the circle of the development and parked in the driveway of the unit. She’d lived here since the day of the accident and the deaths so Jamie would be in a familiar environment. After opening the garage door she lifted Jamie and carried him inside.
She nearly lost her composure. “Just Auntie.” Tears she dare not shed burned her eyes. “Just Tee.”
“Tee.” He patted her face.
“Hungry?” She removed his jacket and popped him into the blue and yellow highchair. After setting a pan of water to heat she opened two jars of baby food and heated the meat and vegetable combination. She poured milk from one of his bottles into a sipping cup.
Jamie used the plastic container as a hammer. He quieted as soon as she fastened a plastic bib in place. She sat at the counter separating the narrow kitchen from the rest of the open first floor. With a spoon she fed him.
After Jamie finished both jars of food and drank milk from the cup she carried him upstairs to the spacious nursery. She changed his diaper and sat in the rocker to feed him the rest of the bottle.
When she placed him in the crib he was asleep. She turned on the monitor. For a time she studied him. How much he resembled his father and uncle except for his hazel eyes, a gift from Carrie.
With a sigh she walked downstairs, straightened the kitchen and leaned against the counter. Her grief refused to be contained any longer. As though a water pipe had ruptured tears gushed and gasping sobs accompanied the flood.
Attempting to control the gushing grief she gulped deep breaths. She cried for her nephew deprived of the parents who had adored him. The tears turned bitter when her own loss hit. Carrie and Jim had dragged her from a slide into self-destruction and helped her become a woman with a future. The sobs morphed into mourning for the couple who would never reach their potential and never see their son become a man.
As she wiped her eyes thoughts of Tony rose. He had as little family as she did. Only Jamie belonged to both of them. Her body shook. He was determined to shove her from their nephew’s life. His vision of her was based on a single meeting four years ago in California, a few months after Carrie and Jim had helped straighten her life. A few of her rebellious quirks had remained.
Not now. Not for a long time.
Two years ago she had returned to the area where she and Carrie had grown up. She’d started college. When Jim had accepted a position at a nearby research laboratory she’s been happy. Carrie had found a position teaching English at a local college. Since their arrival she’d seen them several times a week.
Grains of resentment abraded her thoughts. In the five months Carrie and Jim had lived here Tony had never visited once. Her sister and brother-in-law had trekked to the city maybe three times to see him. They hadn’t wanted to intrude on his busy work and social life.
What was wrong with him? Didn’t he care?
She didn’t know why Carrie and Jim had named Tony and her as co-guardians for Jamie. She didn’t know what kind of relationship Jim had with his brother. She only knew she missed them. Fresh tears began.
The doorbell rang. She blew her nose and blotted her eyes, a useless gesture. Tears continued to drip. The glass panel of the door and her tears blurred the man’s face but she knew the dark hair and broad shoulders meant he had arrived. She opened the door.
In an instant his arms enfolded her. She pressed her face against the gray wool of his overcoat. As he stroked her back Lauren fought the desire to allow the comfort he offered make her forget they weren’t friends.
His hands slid lower. He cupped her rear pulling her against his erection. Lauren raised her head to protest. Before a word emerged his mouth covered hers in a kiss shooting jolts through her body.
One of his hands slipped beneath her sweater and stroked her skin. Slowly he backed her from the door, past the kitchen and the stairs leading to the second floor. He steered her toward the couch. His tongue played along her lips. Awareness struck. He didn’t like her. Why this passionate assault? A reason shoved into her head. He would use her response against her when she asked for sole custody of Jamie.
She jerked her mouth from the drugging kiss. “Stop!”
“Stop. You’ve gone too far.”
“I haven’t gone far enough.” His dark eyes glittered with lust.
She pulled free and nearly tumbled over the arm of the couch. His hands on her arm prevented a fall. She glared. “I know what you’re thinking. You’re wrong.”
He grinned. “I don’t think so. I want you. You want me. Believe me, it’s going to happen.”
A cry from the monitor ended the discussion. She ducked under his arm and ran upstairs. Hopefully once she rescued Jamie, Tony would be on his way back to the city.
* * *
Tony stood at the foot of the stairs. What had just happened here? He would have taken her like an animal in rut. The moment she stepped into his arms and cried an urgency to claim her had driven every thought but possession.
Not his style.
Slow seduction with every move orchestrated brought great rewards. His body throbbed with desire and frustration. He wanted her beneath him while he pounded his way to completion.
What had brought on these thoughts? He didn’t know her. He didn’t like her. There’d been a single meeting four years ago at Jim’s and Carrie’s wedding. Granted Lauren had changed, at least in appearance. Still he wondered if a runaway rebellious teen changed into a solid citizen.
Sure her blonde hair no longer had blue and green streaks and didn’t flow to her waist. The nose and lip rings were gone and she didn’t wear skirts so tight and short little was left to the imagination. The first time they’d met she’d dressed like the hooker he believed she was. He’d been sorely tempted.
He had to fight this insane attraction. Why had Jim allowed her to be named as one of his son’s guardians? From all he’d seen she seemed to have a rapport with the boy he didn’t have. Babies had never been his thing. But he couldn’t permit Lauren to have custody of the child. Not with the lifestyle he believed she followed.
On Wednesday and Thursday evenings he’d called the condo. Both times the phone had been answered by a person claiming to be the sitter. When he’d asked when Lauren would return, the answer was late. He definitely knew what that meant especially when the sitter refused to give him Lauren’s location.
The opening notes of Beethoven’s Fifth sounded. He pulled the phone from his pocket. “Mark…You heard the message. Thanks…I wish I could…Matt or Jules can take my place…Tell them the teacher and the shopkeeper are hot…Good luck…Call me when you return.” He laughed. “I’ll be playing Daddy…Not sugar…To my nephew…Ciao.”
He broke the connection and sank on the couch. He would miss his best friend’s wedding but leaving here before his right to the baby’s custody was established wouldn’t do. He groaned. Visions of the hot babes he’d met the last time he’d stayed at the inn in Vermont danced in his thoughts. While he was stuck here instead of scoring with one or both women Matt would enjoy the pair. That was an event to regret.
No sense thinking about what might have been. He called the number of the agency he hoped would provide an instant nanny. The second one was in place the happier he would be. The moment the news about the accident and the deaths had reached him, the search for a nanny had begun.
"Tony Carlin calling for Mrs. Bunche.”
A moment later the pleasant voice greeted him. “Mr. Carlin, I’m sorry there’s been no action taken on your request. You haven’t visited the agency to complete the paperwork so I can finalize the choices.”
“Why can’t I do this over the phone and through emails?”
“Agency policy. If you can stop by the office on Monday at one we can complete your application and I can arrange interviews with our current available candidates.”
“One PM, I’ll be there.”
“Just to warn you. Since the nanny will be a live-in she must have her own room, one separate from the child. Most of our employees insist on either Saturday or Sunday off plus one other day during the week.”
The moment she stopped talking he hung up. He had no choice except to accept the agency’s demands. How soon would the boy be ready for nursery school? When that day arrived the nanny would only be needed for evenings and nights. He found paper on the counter and made a to-do list. There was another option. He could let Lauren share custody.
He nodded. She could have the kid every weekend. A frown tightened his forehead. Was that a good idea?
Might put a spike in her ability to earn a living.
He leaned against the back of the sofa.
Perhaps another arrangement was possible. Like the one she had fled from moments before.
Laughter reached him. Lauren appeared with the infant in her arms. She dropped a blanket on the deep blue carpet and crouched to straighten the cloth. She added toys and rattles.
“Watch him while I start laundry.” She ducked upstairs and returned with a basket. She entered the area near the door into the garage.
“We need to talk,” he said.
She peered around the wall. “I know.”
“I’ll be staying for the weekend. Since I must be at the office Monday morning I’ll leave Sunday evening. You should plan to move out of here by next weekend. I want to sell the condo and put the money in the bank for the boy.”
The look on her face puzzled him. She stepped toward the couch. “I don’t live here. I’ve stayed because it’s important for Jamie to be in familiar surroundings. I’ll ask my landlady if she minds having a baby in the apartment. I can move his crib and dresser there.”
“Wrong. I’m taking the boy to the city. I’ve arranged for a nanny.”
“Jamie. His name is Jamie.” She strode forward. “Did you forget we have joint custody? I refuse to allow my nephew to be in a dark cell with a strange woman so you can forget he exists.”
Tony clamped his lips together and sought an answer. He didn’t trust her. He knew what she was. “I refuse to allow you to drag a different man into his life every night.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I know how you earn a living. If you’re hurting for cash I’ll pay you for tonight and tomorrow night.”