By: Emma Scott

Hello, gorgeous.

The face bent close to mine was ruggedly handsome with a strong jaw, chiseled chin, broad mouth with full lips, and—most surprisingly for a man with lighter hair—rich brown eyes, which were sharply intelligent and soft at the same time. I smelled his clean scent—aftershave and something like freshly chopped wood—and it seemed that scent settled into my chest and remained there, warm and clean.

Wow, you’re being extra ridiculous right now.

“Have I got something stuck in my teeth?” the young man asked, amused. His voice was deep, gravelly…


I gave myself a mental shake and gathered the rest of the spilled envelopes. “No, I just…I thought I recognized you from somewhere. Are you an actor?”

He made a face. “Not remotely.”

“Oh. Well, you never can tell around here. And you look like you could be one. An actor.” Or a model. Jesus, those eyes…

He shrugged and smiled crookedly. “I think I look like me.”

I smiled back. Good answer. I had never seen a man as good-looking—on screen or in real life—as this man in front of me. If I were a romantic sort—which I wasn’t—the word breathtaking would not be overstating it.

We both rose from the floor. His eyes were warm but he seemed to stiffen slightly as he took in my suit, my jewelry, my bag. He ran a hand through his unruly blond hair and handed me the envelopes he’d gathered. “Yeah, so. Here you go.”

“Thanks,” I said.

“Sure thing.”

He turned his back to me and I wondered at the small twinge of disappointment that nipped at me. Focus, Gardener, I admonished. Judge Kirkpatrick could call us back at any moment. The thought wasn’t a millisecond old when my iPhone chimed an incoming text from Abed. I’d told him to loiter around the courthouse after lunch in case anything of import occurred.

The foreman has requested the jury see Exhibits 14 and 23 again.

“Damn.” Those exhibits: Munro’s toxicology report, and the deposition of the eyewitness who had seen the idiot climbing the shelf to get at a brass doorknob he didn’t even need. They were the weakest aspects of my case. I wanted to demand from my paralegal when deliberations would wrap up, but of course there was no way to tell.

I sent: Thnx. Keep me posted, and dropped my phone back in my bag along with the invitations.

The blond man in front of me sighed impatiently and checked his watch—a nice looking silver timepiece with a beat-up leather band. He carved a hand through his hair. “Is it just me or has this line come to a complete standstill?”

“It’s not just you,” I said, steadfastly ignoring the little tingle that sparked in my belly at the sound of his low, bedroom voice. I cleared my throat. “Looks like they’re short a teller or two.”

“Or ten. Fucking hell,” he muttered. “Oh, hey, sorry, but there isn’t a worse day for this kind of…”

“Bullshit?” I supplied with a wry grin.

He laughed, and some of the tension in his face relaxed. I tried my hardest not to stare. If he was breathtaking just standing there, there wasn’t a strong enough word for how he looked when he smiled.

“I’m Cory Bishop, by the way.” He extended his hand and I took it. Large, rough, calloused. Working man’s hands.

“Alexandra Gardener,” I said. “Alex.”

“Nice to meet you, Alex,” he said, and it seemed his smile softened around my name.

I shouldered my bag to buy time for a response. No man had ever affected me this way, and I grew irritated with myself for letting him. “It’s always busy when you’re in a hurry and traffic lights are always red when you’re running late. Murphy’s Law.”

“Is that your specialty?”

“No, litigation. How did you know?”

“That you were a lawyer?” He shrugged. “Lucky guess. Mostly lawyers and accountants around here. Or movie producers.”

“Or actors, but we’ve already established you’re not one of those,” I said lightly.

Cory’s smile tightened. “Nope. Just in the area for work and in need of a bank before I get back. Looks like I picked the wrong one.”