Love Proof (Laws of Attraction) - By Elizabeth Ruston
“You’re the hired gun?” Joe asked.
Sarah made two pistols with her fingers and shot Joe Burke in the gut. It felt remarkably satisfying.
She had been looking forward to the look of shock on his face when she showed up at her first deposition, the one in San Diego, but instead Joe had the bad judgment to smile.
“Well, welcome to it, Red,” he said. “Nice to have you along.”
“Red, huh?” said the other lawyer, a man named Paul Chapman. “You two know each other?”
“No,” they both answered at once. Joe shot her an amused glance.
They took their seats around the hotel conference table, Joe and his client on one side, Sarah and Paul Chapman across from them, the court reporter at the end of the table between them.
“This ought to be interesting,” Joe said, looking Sarah in the eye.
She had learned that sometimes the best strategy when dealing with other lawyers was to say nothing at all. Let her opponents talk and talk, let them bluster and threaten and boast, until finally they realized they sounded more idiotic and less effective with each passing moment. That was when Sarah would quietly enter back into the conversation with one simple statement—“The judge won’t see it that way,” or “You can try that, although the jury in my last trial gave the plaintiff absolutely nothing for the same argument”—then she would quietly wait again while the lawyer blustered and threatened some more.
In the end, Sarah usually got what she wanted, whether it was a favorable settlement for her client or a ruling from a judge on a key motion. Her opponents had learned over the last five years never to underestimate her. Not to be fooled by the package she came in. The petite, feminine redhead in front of them could be as lethal at trial as any silver-haired, seasoned litigator or one of those tough-talking women Sarah used to look up to until she actually had to try cases against them and saw them for what they were.
What Sarah realized was that nearly everyone in the law business was insecure. Some of them tried to cover it with fancy offices and expensive cars and other proof that they were successful and unafraid. Others drank. Some believed the more they bullied people, the less likely anyone would notice their own weaknesses.
But Sarah noticed. She’d been noticing her whole life. And finally she reached a point in her own career where she could use that knowledge to bring her the kind of success she had worked so hard for since high school.
Until one single moment six months ago had brought it all crashing down around her. And now she found herself in this cramped conference room, sitting as calmly and as casually as she could across from the man who had hurt her almost as much as losing everything six months ago.
But he never needed to see that on her face. So when Joe spoke directly to her—“This ought to be interesting”—Sarah practiced what she’d perfected since the last time they saw each other. She simply gazed at him in return, saying nothing, keeping her face as neutral as possible.
While Joe made absolutely no effort at all to hide a wicked smile.
He’d filled out since she last saw him, Sarah thought. Not fattened up—far from it—but become broader in the chest and shoulders, as if he put on more muscle. He even looked taller than the six-foot-two she remembered, although she doubted he kept growing between the ages of twenty-five and thirty-one. Maybe he’d just grown into a man, period. Better late than never.
He wore his dark hair shorter now, clipped closer to his head, and his face was clean-shaven instead of scruffed up with that constant stubble she had gotten used to. He looked good—better than she expected, better than she had hoped—dressed in his navy suit, striped shirt, and tie. She wanted to find him hollow-eyed and haunted, with the look of a man who knew his best years were already behind him. Instead he looked fit, strong, and, worst of all, content.
Joe glanced up just then, and Sarah quickly started typing again on her laptop. That was all she needed, for him to catch her studying him.
Maybe it wasn’t so surprising that he looked better, she thought. They had all been so unhealthy and malnourished in law school, living off of fast food, caffeine, and beer. Sarah kept up with the first two, unfortunately, for another several years before finally seeing the