Authors: Brenda Rothert
Copyright © Brenda Rothert 2016
Published by Silver Sky Publishing Inc.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved. No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from the author or publisher.
Cover design: Sara Eirew
Cover photo: FuriousFotog
Cover model: Ryan McNulty
Silently Correcting Your Grammar
Copy editor: Taylor Bellitto
Interior Design and Formatting:
Christine Borgford, Perfectly Publishable
Table of Contents
t was raining. Not that my closet of an office had any windows through which I could see that. No, the
of raindrops falling from the ceiling into the bucket I kept on my desk for days like this was all the indication I needed.
I pressed a button on my phone to ask Sara, the secretary in the state’s attorney’s office where I worked, to page Maintenance and put in my monthly request to get the leak fixed. I’d been asking every month for the thirteen months I’d worked here. So far the only response I’d gotten was the bucket.
I got her voicemail and glanced at the clock. 6:45? She had left for the day.
Where had the afternoon gone? I’d been holed up doing research for a case and hadn’t even realized how late it was.
Just another reason I was looking forward to getting a new office—a window. A window and no bucket on my desk would make me feel like I’d arrived.
The work of an assistant state’s attorney wasn’t glamorous by any means. But I was happy here and grateful to have landed the job fresh out of law school. And once I got promoted to the vacant first assistant position, I’d be doing the work I’d always dreamed of.
Prosecuting crimes against children was why I’d gone to law school. When the former juvenile prosecutor had left for another job, I’d put in for her spot immediately. My boss Wren had told me it had to be left open for two weeks so internal applications could be accepted, but that my chances were very good.
My chances were
. The only other assistant state’s attorneys were Carlton, who would be retiring soon, and Riley, who was my boyfriend. He had no interest in the job, so it was mine for the taking.
Two weeks had passed since the job opened up, and I was planning to stay late tonight in hopes that Wren would come give me the good news. She worked late every night.
A light knock sounded at my door, and my heart thudded with hopeful anticipation.
“Charlotte?” It was Riley, his wavy, beach-blond hair falling over his forehead. He brushed it back and grinned at me.
“Hi.” I smiled back. “I haven’t seen you all day.”
“Yeah, the traffic docket was a bitch this afternoon. You feel like getting some dinner?”
I sighed and shook my head. “I need to get this research done for a case tomorrow. Rain check?”
“Sure. Or . . . I could work some more and wait? I was kind of hoping to talk to you about something.”
“What’s up? We can talk now.”
Riley drew his brows together, looking serious.
“Is something wrong?” I asked, my concern mounting.
“Not . . .
, per se.” He took a step inside and closed the door behind him. “I just wanted to talk to you outside of the office.”
“Well, now I’m worried. Sit down and spill your guts.”
I pushed the bowl of peanut M&M’s I kept on my desk over his way as he sat down in the chair on the other side of my desk. The chair groaned despite Riley’s lean frame. I’d had two chairs in front of the desk before, but one had broken while a sheriff’s deputy was sitting on it last month. He’d asked me if a splinter in the ass was enough to get him out of testifying in traffic court that day and I’d told him no way.
Riley and I had spent many late evenings in this office, eating M&M’s and discussing cases. We didn’t necessarily have a passionate love affair, but something based on friendship and mutual respect. And the sex wasn’t bad, either.
“You know I love you, Charlotte,” he said.
“And I love you. So what’s up?”
He sighed and looked down, his elbows resting on his knees. “I wanted to be the one to tell you that . . . uh, Wren offered me the first assistant job and I accepted.”
of rain into the bucket was the only sound in the room for a few seconds.
?” I finally said. “How is that even possible? You didn’t apply.”
“I actually did. A couple days ago.”
“And you didn’t
He grimaced and met my eyes across my desk. “I knew you’d be upset.”
My cheeks warmed and my heart thundered in my chest. “You think that’s a good enough reason to hide it from me?”
“Keep it down, Charlotte.”
I stood up, my palms on my desk. “I will
keep it down! How could you do this to me? After all those times you told me I was meant for that job and I’d be amazing at it?”
“You would have been.” He looked down again. “But, Charlotte, I have aspirations, you know? If Wren doesn’t run for state’s attorney next time around, I might. And I need this experience.”
I pulled the bowl of M&M’s back over to my side of the desk. He didn’t deserve them anymore.
“You went behind my back and applied for the job you knew I wanted.” I gave him an icy glare.
He gave a half shrug. “Look, Wren chose the best candidate, and it was me. If I run for her job and win, you know I’ll give you the juvenile spot then. If you play your cards right.”
I possessed a bad temper at times, and it took over as Riley gave me a smug half smile.
We are done.”
I grabbed the rim of the half-full rain bucket, hauled it off the desk, and threw the collected water at him. Then I put it back in place, because I didn’t want a wet desk in the morning.
Wet ex-boyfriend? Hell yes. And he was dripping, his mouth open in shock, when I grabbed my purse and headed for the door.
“Charlotte,” he said, standing up. “I can’t believe you—”
I cut him off. “Yeah, well, I can’t believe
, either. Get out, Riley.”
“You’re crazy,” he muttered as he left my office.
I got out of there as fast I could because I was in no state to run into my boss right now. Beneath my shock was deep disappointment. Over Riley and over the job.
When I reached my car and started it, I headed for the place I always went when I was too angry to even think. The shooting range. And there was no doubt who I’d be picturing when I aimed at the faceless target tonight.