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1538760185 (ISBN13: 9781538760185)
Talk about an embarrassing introduction. On her first day of law school, Kailyn ran – quite literally – into the actor she crushed on as a teenager, ending with him sprawled on top of her. Mortified to discover the Daxton Hughes was also a student in her class, her embarrassment over their meet-cute quickly turned into a friendship she never expected. Of course, she never saw his betrayal coming either…
Now, eight years later, Dax is in her office asking for legal advice. Despite her anger, Kailyn can’t help feeling sorry for the devastated man who just became sole guardian to his thirteen-year-old sister. But when her boss gets wind of Kailyn’s new celebrity client, there’s even more at stake than Dax’s custody issues: if she gets Dax to work at their firm, she’ll be promoted to partner.
The more time Kailyn spends with Dax and his sister, the more she starts to feel like a family, and the more she realizes the chemistry they had all those years ago is as fresh as ever. But will they be able to forgive the mistakes of the past, or will one betrayal lead to another?
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Eight Years Ago
“The key to success is to visualize it.” The soothing voice commands my attention, mostly because I’m wearing earbuds and it blocks everything else out. I resist the urge to check my schedule again—I know exactly where my class is since I walked the route yesterday and focus on the podcast. It’s my first day of law school and I’m determined to go in with a clear mind. “Close your eyes and visualize what your success looks like. Visualize success.”
“Visualize success,” I murmur, and close my eyes as I cut across the open field. It’s a shortcut and also a place where students hang out between classes.
“Exhale your anxiety,” the motivational podcast woman exhales into my ear. “And breathe in success.” Podcast Woman sucks in a windy breath.
“Inhale success.” The fresh scent of grass and trees tickles my nose, and I think maybe someone nearby might be wearing cologne, because I get a whiff of that, too.
I crack a lid, just to make sure I’m not wandering off course.
“What does your success look like? Visualize that success. Say it with me . . .”
I close my eyes and repeat it, visualizing finals and graduation and getting the best possible internships, having the best average in the class, getting the best job. I repeat the mantra as I continue across the open green space, more and more excited for my first class. I’m going to kick all the asses this year. I’m going to beat every single one of my classmates and climb my way to the very top. Like Mount Everest, except not terrifyingly dangerous.
I’m in the middle of visualizing winning my first case when I’m startled by a loud shout. I open my eyes to find a Frisbee hurtling toward me. Worse than the Frisbee, though, is the huge guy jumping to catch it—the air he gets is rather extraordinary—unfortunately, it’s sending him on a collision course, and I’m the object he’s due to hit.
My knapsack slips from my shoulder, and I trip over it as I try to avoid either the Frisbee or the guy. The mantra in my ears silences as the headphones pull free.
“Watch out!” someone yells.
I spin around, disoriented, and am slammed into by the guy with the amazing vertical.
“Oh shit!” he yells.
I grab on to his shoulders as I stumble over my stupid knapsack and pull him down with me. We land on the ground with an oomph. I’m still gripping his shirt, trying to figure out how this happened, and thinking about how much this is not how I visualize success at all.
“I’m so sorry. Are you okay?” He braces himself on his forearms, pretty much doing a push-up on top of me. I’d be impressed if I wasn’t so embarrassed.
“I’d be a lot better if people watched where they were going,” I mutter as I try to extract my limbs from his without doing any damage to either of us. He’s straddling my leg, so any sudden movements and my knee and his man parts will meet in an unfriendly way. I note that he smells like fresh laundry, deodorant, and a hint of cologne, accented by watermelon gum.
His face is only about six inches from mine, so his frown is up close and rather personal. “You walked through the middle of our game.”
I glance toward the group of Frisbee players, realizing he’s right. I was so busy visualizing my own success that I totally screwed up their game.
“I’m so sorry. I was listening to a podca—” I look back up at him, and my explanation gets stuck in my throat when I stop to really take him in.
I recognize his face as one I’ve had endless fantasies about all through my teen years. And into my adult ones. As recently as last week, even.
His slightly annoyed expression shifts into amusement as I stare up at him, slack jawed. I’m still fisting his shirt. He’s still doing a push-up on top of me. Daxton Hughes’s thigh is between my legs.
“Holy crap!” My voice is too high and far too loud, especially considering my face is less than six inches from his. In fact, it’s a full-on shriek. As if I’m an eleven-year-old girl again. “You’re Daxton Hughes! I love you!” I take him totally off guard when I throw my arms around him, setting him off balance so that he lands on top of me. He’s remarkably heavy, but I don’t care because our bodies are flush against each other. I will never forget this moment for as long as I live. Daxton Hughes is lying on top of me! Too bad we’re not at the beach and both in bathing suits. Or in bed. Naked.
I’m still hugging him as he drags me up into a sitting position. It’s super awkward with the way we both have a knee perilously close to each other’s crotch. I also register how stiff he is, and exactly what I’ve just said and what I’m currently doing. We’re in the middle of an open expanse of field, and there are people everywhere.