“Hi, Jacob, what can I do for you?” I ask with a smile, and open my front door wider for the friendly county sheriff deputy.
“Well, I’m serving you.” He offers me an embarrassed smile and hands me a large envelope, then backs away. “Have a good day.”
I move back inside, shut the door, and stare down at the envelope in surprise.
I rip open the envelope and see bright, flaming inferno red as I read the court document. And read it again.
“The fucker is suing me?” I exclaim to an empty room, and read the letter clutched in my now trembling hands for the third time. “Hell no!”
I grab my handbag and slide my feet into flip-flops, barely managing not to fall down the porch steps as I tear out of my house to my Mercedes and pull out of the circular driveway.
I live at the edge of Cunningham Falls, Montana. The small town was named after my great-grandfather Albert Cunningham. Ours is a tourist town that boasts a five-star ski resort and a plethora of outdoor activities for any season. Thankfully, summer tourist season is over, and ski season is still a few months away, so traffic into town is light.
I zoom past the post office and into the heart of downtown, where my lawyer’s office is. Without paying any attention to the yellow curb, I park quickly and march into the old building.
The receptionist’s head jerks up in surprise as I approach her and slam the letter still clutched in my hand on her desk.
“This,” I say between clenched teeth, “isn’t going to happen.”
“Ms. Cunningham, do you have an appointment?”
“No, I don’t have an appointment, but someone had better have time to see me.” I am seething; my breath is coming in harsh pants.
“Lauren.” My head whips up at the sound of my name and I find Ty Sullivan frowning at me from his office doorway. “I can see you. Come in.”
I turn my narrowed eyes on Ty and follow him into his office, too agitated to sit while I wait for him to shut the door and walk behind his desk.
“What’s going on?”
“I need a new lawyer.”
“What’s going on?” he asks again, and calmly leans against the windowsill behind his desk. He crosses his arms over his chest. The sleeves of his white button-down are rolled, giving me a great view of the colorful tattoo on his right arm.
“This is what’s going on!” I thrust the letter at him. “Jack is trying to sue me for half of a trust fund that he has no right to.”
Ty’s handsome face frowns as he skims the letter. “You came into the trust while you were still married?”
“Yes,” I confirm warily.
“And you didn’t tell him about it?” he asks with raised brows.
“I didn’t even know the damn thing existed until after my parents died, Ty. Until after I kicked Jack out.” I turn and pace away, breathing deeply, trying to calm down. “He doesn’t deserve a dime of my inheritance. This isn’t about money, it’s about principle.”
“I agree.” Ty shrugs. “Have you talked with Cary?”
“I was just served with the letter,” I mumble, and sink into a leather chair in defeat. “Cary’s a nice guy, but I just don’t think he’s the right lawyer for this job.” I glance up at Ty and my heart skips a beat as I take him in now that I’m calming down. He’s tall; much taller than me, which is saying something, given that I stand higher than five foot eight. He has broad shoulders and lean hips, and holy hell, the things this man does to a suit should be illegal in all fifty states.
But more than that, he’s kind and funny and has a bit of a bad-boy side to him too, hence the tattoos.
He’s been front and center in many of my fantasies for most of my life.
I bite my lips and glance down as his eyes narrow on my face.
“Why do you say that?” he asks calmly.
“It took two freaking years for the divorce to be final, Ty. I don’t want Cary to drag this out too.”
“It wasn’t necessarily Cary’s fault that the divorce took so long, Lauren. Jack had a good lawyer and your divorce was a mess.”
That’s the fucking understatement of the year. “Will you take my case?”
“No,” he replies quickly.
“What?” My dazed eyes return to his. “Why?”
He shakes his head and sighs as he takes a seat behind his desk. “I have a full load as it is, Lo.”
“You’re more aggressive than Cary,” I begin, but halt when he scowls.
“I really don’t think I can help you.”
I sit back and stare at him, stunned. “You mean you won’t.” I hate the hurt I hear in my voice, but I can’t hide it. I know Ty and I aren’t superclose, but I’ve considered him a friend. I can’t believe he’s shooting me down.
He folds the letter and hands it back to me, his mouth set in a firm line and blue-gray eyes sober. “No, I won’t. Make an appointment with Cary and talk it over with him.”
My hand automatically reaches out and takes the letter from Ty, and I’m just deeply embarrassed.
“Of course,” I whisper, and rise quickly, ready to escape this office. “I’m sorry for intruding.”
“Lo . . .”
“No, you’re right. It was unprofessional for me to just show up like this. I apologize.” I clear my throat and offer him a bright, fake smile, then beeline it for the door. “Thanks anyway.”
“Did you want to make an appointment, Lauren?” Sylvia, the receptionist, asks as I hurry past her desk.
“No, I’ll call. Thanks.”
I can’t get to my car fast enough. Why did I think Ty would help me? No one will help me.
All the connections I have in this town, all the money I have, and that asshole is still making my life a living hell.
I drive home in a daze, and when I pull up behind a shiny black Jaguar, my heart sinks further.
Today fucking sucks.
I pull my cell phone out of my bag, prepared to call for help if need be, and climb out of my car. I walk briskly past him and up the steps to the front door.
“I told you not to come here, Jack. I don’t want to see you.” How can he still make me so damn nervous?
“Aww, don’t be like that, baby. You’re making this so much harder than it needs to be.”
I round on him, shocked and pissed all over again. “I’m the one making this hard?” I shake my head and laugh at the lunacy of this situation. “I don’t want you here. The divorce has been final for weeks now, and you have no business being here. And now you’re going to fucking sue me?”