I need to get this over with.
When I stride to the front door, I’m surprised to find it unlocked. Sylvia isn’t in yet, but I hear voices back in Cary’s office.
I step through his door like I belong there, and both Cary’s and Ty’s faces register surprise when they see me in the doorway.
“You know, Lo, we have these things called phones, where you call and make what’s called an appointment.” Ty’s gray eyes are narrowed, but his lips are quirked in a smile. He’s in a power suit today, making my mouth immediately water. His shoulders look even broader in the black jacket, and the blue tie makes his eyes shine.
“Ha ha.” I sit heavily in the seat before Cary’s desk. “I’m sick of this shit.”
“Ty told me you came by yesterday.” Cary leans back in his chair.
“I was fucking served papers,” I mutter, and push my hands though my hair. “But I think I want to settle.”
Ty’s eyebrows climb into his hairline. “I’ll leave you two alone.”
“You can stay,” I mutter. “I could use both of your opinions. I’ll pay double for the hour.”
“That’s not necessary.” Ty’s voice is clipped and he frowns as he gazes at me. “Why the change of heart?”
I lean back in the chair and tilt my head back, looking at the tin tiles on the ceiling. “Because Jack’s an asshole. Because now he’s decided to threaten me.” I shake my head and look Cary in the eye. “But no payments. It’s going to be in one lump sum and he needs to sign a contract stating that he’ll never ask for another dime.”
“Wait, back up.” Ty pushes away from the desk and glowers down at me. “What do you mean he threatened you?”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Lauren,” Cary interrupts, “it does matter. What the hell happened?”
“When I returned home, Jack was at the house.”
“Does he still have a key?” Ty asks.
“No.” I shake my head adamantly. “I changed all the locks and installed a new alarm system the day he left.”
“So he was waiting outside,” Cary clarifies.
“Yes. I told him to leave, that I didn’t want to see him and he isn’t welcome at the house. He said I was making things harder than they need to be.” I laugh humorlessly as Cary’s eyebrows climb toward his blond hairline. “I reminded him that there’s nothing difficult about this at all. We’re divorced. It’s over, and he can just go away.” I shrug and look away, not wanting to continue.
“What did he threaten you with?” Ty asks softly.
I raise my eyes to his and suddenly my stomach rolls. “I’m going to be sick.”
I bolt from the room and run to the restroom in the hallway, barely making it in time to lose the half gallon of coffee I consumed this morning. When the dry-heaving stops, I rinse my mouth and open the door, finding Ty on the other side.
“Are you okay?” he asks quietly.
I nod, embarrassed.
He reaches up and gently tucks a stray piece of my hair behind my ear. “What did he threaten you with?” He leads me back to Cary’s office.
I swallow and cross my arms over my chest. I don’t want to say it aloud. “He just threatened to be a dick.”
“Bullshit,” Cary responds, leaning forward in his chair. “Lo, the man wasn’t afraid to put his hands on you when you told him to leave—”
“What?” Ty exclaims.
“—so you need to tell me what he threatened to do to you if you don’t give him what he wants.”
I shake my head and close my eyes, remembering the feel of Jack’s nose pressed to my neck and the crazy look in his eyes when he wasn’t getting what he wanted.
“Excuse us for a minute, Cary.” Ty takes my hand in his and leads me toward the door.
“Uh, my client, Ty, remember?”
“We’ll be right back,” Ty assures him, and leads me into his office and shuts the door behind us.
“What did the asshole threaten to do to you, Lauren?”
“You said no yesterday, Ty. This isn’t your case.”
He shrugs, as if what I just said is of no consequence. “Answer me.”
I simply shake my head. “It doesn’t matter. Cary and I will figure it out. You don’t have to stay in there with us.”
I try to walk past him but he catches my hand in his, keeping me in place.
“Lauren . . .”
“Stop, Ty. You don’t want me, I get it.”
“Are you fucking kidding me?” His voice is deceptively calm. “Do you know why I turned you down yesterday, Lauren?”
I shake my head, my eyes wide and pinned to his.
“Because it would be a conflict of interest. I can’t be your lawyer because I’m your friend, and I want to be a whole lot more than that.”
If I thought I was stunned before, it’s nothing compared to this. My jaw drops as he closes the gap between us. He doesn’t touch me, but his face is mere inches from mine. His eyes are on my lips as I bite them and watch him, completely thrown by this turn of events.
“You have the most beautiful lips, Lo.”
“What?” I whisper.
He takes a deep breath as he lays his thumb gently on my lower lip and pulls it from my teeth. I can’t tear my gaze away from his mouth and I take a deep breath, inhaling the musky scent of him.
I’ve forgotten Jack and his threats, the lawsuit.
Ty clears his throat and backs away, watching me carefully. “Cary will remain your lawyer, but I want to know what the hell is going on, Lo. I can help.”
I blink and continue to stare at him, completely dumbstruck. He wants me?
“And another thing, Lauren. You’re not settling. Fuck Jack and his lawyer.”
“Court is in recess until Monday,” the judge announces as he leaves his bench. I smile reassuringly at my client, shake her hand, and grab my briefcase, ready to head out for the day.
It’s been three days since Lauren’s appearance in the office, and I haven’t been able to reach her.
As I push through the courthouse doors, I pull my iPhone out of my pocket and dial her number, but it goes straight to voice mail.
I’m worried about her. She’s not mine. She’s not my girlfriend. She’s not even my client, so I have no reason to be this worried.