Love Irresistibly(5)

By: Julie James



Glad she scored high when it came to the important things in life. “But?”

“But you seem to be really focused on your career right now—which, don’t get me wrong, is totally fine—except, well, I’m thirty-four years old. I’m starting to think about getting married, having kids, the big picture. And I guess what I’m trying to say is .

. . I don’t see a woman like you in that big picture.”

Brooke blinked. Wow.

A woman like you.

That stung.

“Fuck, that came out harsh,” Justin said. “I just meant that you’re so independent, and I don’t even know if you want to get married or have kids, and half the time I think you just like having a warm body to cuddle up with every now and then—”

“Hold on. This is the non-harsh version?”

“Sorry,” he said, sounding sheepish. “I just think we’re looking for different things. I want—”

“A big-picture girl,” Brooke interrupted. “I got it.” She definitely didn’t need to have it spelled out for her any clearer than that.

When both of them fell awkwardly silent, Brooke glanced at the clock on her phone. “I hate to say this, since it’s apparently what makes me a small-

picture kind of girl, but I have to go. I’ve got a conference call with a bunch of other lawyers in Los Angeles that can’t be rescheduled.”

“I understand. You do your thing. Good-bye, Brooke.”

After hanging up, Brooke stared at the phone for a long moment.

Another one bites the dust.

That was her third breakup since starting at Sterling.

She seemed to be in a pattern with her relationships, where everything was great in the beginning, and then somewhere around the fourmonth

mark things just kind of fizzled out. The men would give her some speech about not getting to the “next level,” or about wanting “more” than hot sex at midnight after a long workday.

“Hold on. A guy said this to you?” Her best friend, Ford, had looked both shocked and appalled by this when they’d met for drinks after Breakup Number Two. “As in, someone with an actual penis?”

“Two guys now,” Brooke had said, her pride admittedly wounded at being dumped again. “I don’t get it. I don’t put any pressure on these men, I’m happy to give them all the space they want, and the sex is good enough. What else could your gender possibly want in a relationship?”

“Beer and nachos in bed?”

“This is the advice you offer, your sage insight into the male perspective? Beer and nachos in bed?”

Ford had flashed her an easy grin. “You know I’m not good at the relationship stuff. Even other people’s relationship stuff.”

And, judging from today’s turn of events with Justin, Brooke wasn’t all that much better.

I don’t see a woman like you in that big picture.

The intercom on Brooke’s phone buzzed, interrupting her thoughts.

“I have Jim Schwartz, Eric Keller, and Paul Fielding on the phone for you,” her secretary said, referring to ll.A. Arena’s in-house counsel and the two outside attorneys who represented them. “Can I put them through?”

Right. Back to work—no time for a pity party. As Brooke shoved her now-cold tacos back into the bag and reached for her phone, she spotted the note on her desk and belatedly remembered the call from the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Well, Cade Morgan would just have to wait.

She told her secretary to put the call through and forced a cheerful note into her voice. “How are my three favorite Los Angeles lawyers today?” she asked.

As they said in Hollywood, the show must go on.

Two

CADE STRODE UP to the lobby desk and presented his U.S. attorney ID to the security guard.

“Cade Morgan, along with Special Agents Seth Huxley and Vaughn Roberts,” he said, gesturing to the two men in suits who stood behind him. “We’re here to see Brooke Parker with Sterling Restaurants.”

The security guard reached for his guest list.

“She’s not expecting us,” Cade said.

“O-kay . . .” The guard shifted uncertainly as he looked at all three men. Cade waited unconcernedly, knowing exactly how this would turn out. As he’d come to realize during the eight years he’d been an assistant U.S. attorney, there were very few places a man flanked by two armed FBI agents couldn’t get into.

After a moment, the guard gestured to the guest book sitting on top of the gray marble desk. “I just need you to sign in.”

“Of course.” Cade grabbed the pen and quickly scribbled his name. “Cade Morgan. Plus two.” After he set the pen down, he noticed that the guard stared at him curiously. He was familiar with that look of recognition; his was a name many people in this city recognized—often because of the highprofile

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