By: Emma Scott

“Really, Lilah. Give me some credit, will you? I’m a grown woman…”

“Do you remember when we were in junior high, talking about our perfect lives? Being a lawyer like your dad was number one. But being a good mom to your kids—being there for them like your mom wasn’t. That was always your next priority. Always.”

I bristled, an angry retort on my lips. But Lilah had known me for too long; she was the only person who could talk to me like that and get away with it.

“That was junior high, Lilah,” I said placidly. “I also dreamed of marrying Chad Durant and living in Fiji every summer to watch him surf. I grew up. Things change.”

Lilah gentled her tone as the valet pulled up with her BMW. “Yes, things change. They can change. Just remember that when you think it’s too late.”

She took off, leaving me to ponder her words. Irritation welled in me. First Don Knight and now Lilah. Today was supposed to be my victory day and instead I was plagued with lectures.

“Is my car anywhere close to being ready?” I snapped at the valet. “I’ve got a schedule to keep.

Chapter Three


I marched into the towering edifice of United One Bank, my shoes tapping over the marble floor. I managed a brief smile for the portly security guard but it quickly fell away when I saw half of Los Angeles had decided to do their banking at lunchtime as well.


A mahogany teller counter stretched across half the main area’s length—buzzing with personnel. To the right, rows of desks bearing green-shaded lamps were occupied with bankers and customers who had come to discuss loans or mortgages. The waiting area before these desks was also filled with people. The tall-ceilinged room echoed with at least fifty voices.

I took my place in the teller queue behind a tall blond man in jeans and a rugged brown jacket. The whiff of perfume—I recognized Burberry—filled my nose as a beautiful, immaculately dressed young woman of Indian heritage stepped in line behind me. She spoke animatedly to seemingly no one; her Bluetooth device hidden underneath her shoulder-length hair.

I settled in to wait, wondering if I should be making my own calls to Abed, to make sure nothing was going haywire with any of my cases. But he knew me well: waiting until I came into the office to give me news was a bad idea. I checked my cell phone for messages and saw none. No word from my team, and nothing from the court’s clerk that told me a verdict had been reached.

I eased a sigh and then tightened up again when I realized I hadn’t filled out the withdrawal form, or whatever the hell it was I needed, to get the cashier’s check out of my firm’s expense account. Isn’t all banking electronic by now? I wondered, irritation mounting.

The line behind me had grown and the line in front wasn’t moving. I made a questioning motion to the young woman behind me to save my place. She nodded and waved a gold-ringed hand absently without interrupting her conversation. I hurried to a wooden bank of slips, grabbed one, and stepped back in line with a brief smile of thanks.

Another problem presented itself: I hadn’t a writing surface. The man in front of me had a broad back. Maybe he’d let me make a desk out of him. I smirked and admired his physique from behind. Broad shoulders, narrow waist. His jeans fit him rather nicely. Nice ass, I thought and tingles of a very real, likely very bright blush colored my neck.

Oh, grow up, I laughed at myself…and stole another quick glance before rummaging in my bag. I pulled out a small stack of engagement party invitations, figuring the thick stationary would make a sufficient backing. I fished out a pen and started to fill out the little withdrawal form when woman behind me issued a sudden laugh and bumped my elbow. The little stack of envelopes flew out of my hand to scatter around my feet and that of the man in front of me.

“Sorry, so sorry,” the woman muttered to me but didn’t cease her conversation.

“Honestly,” I muttered, and knelt to gather the envelopes. The blond man in front of me turned and knelt to help. “Thanks.”

“No problem.”

I looked up and might have gasped. I prayed I hadn’t but someone issued a sharp intake of breath, and my neck went beet-red again. I could feel the fire of it burning my pale skin.