Authors: Ava Hayworth
Laws of Seduction
Copyright © 2016 by Ava Hayworth.
All rights reserved worldwide. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, businesses, locales, or events is purely coincidental.
No part of the book may be reproduced, uploaded to the Internet, or copied without express written permission from the author.
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Cover by Domi, Inspired Cover Designs
I’m not a rebellious teenager anymore, but here I am sitting in the back of the auditorium. This is not by choice. I had spent the evening before avoiding the advances of Lecherous Larry. Lecherous Larry is not his real name, but it should be. He apparently thinks that a legal conference is a place where people come to hook up. Although I am not at the far back of the auditorium, I am much further back than I prefer. The auditorium is an architectural masterpiece with sheets of windows on two sides and grand views of the park outside. Since it is cloudy, the lighting in the auditorium is dim. Looking around, I don’t see Lecherous Larry. I glance down at my program and see that there are two speakers left.
My best friend, Samantha, had convinced me that this symposium would be a great place to make connections, but so far it had been a bust. Although my dark blue business suit is proper business attire, I feet out of place. I am the only attendee under the age of thirty. This spring I will be graduating from NYU School of Law and have not yet been able to find a position. Sam keeps telling me I need to be patient because many law firms don’t hire until after graduation in May, but I am anxious to land a paying job.
I don’t want to be dependent on my parents for any longer than necessary. My parents divorced when I was a baby, and my mother’s complaints about insufficient alimony payments were the soundtrack of my childhood. Enthusiastic clapping jerks me out of my daydreaming. One more speaker and I can put this miserable weekend behind me. The last speaker is James McAllister, who will be giving a talk on the Art of Negotiation. I feel a subtle shift of energy in the room and look toward the front of the auditorium as an outrageously hot guy walks out onto the stage. I suck in my breath afraid to breath for fear that he will disappear. Taking in the magnificent physic wrapped up in a dark suit, I briefly wonder if he is a GQ model that has lost his way. When he walks up to the podium and begins to speak, it finally clicks in my mind that he is the final speaker. The sound of his rich baritone voice hits me, and I sit up straighter and re-cross my legs. Sure, I admire good looking guys as much as the next red blooded American girl, but I have never been the type to go gaga over a guy’s looks.
Staring at the man in front of me, I attempt to pinpoint what exactly has me riveted to my seat. He is tall, well over 6 feet, with a straight narrow nose and chiseled jaw. His dark hair is slightly long for a business type, curling over the collar of his suit shirt. Even from where I sit halfway back in the auditorium, I can see his eyes are a piercing blue. His words barely register as I let the sound of his voice flow over me. I am mesmerized by the graceful way his body moves and the gestures he makes with his hands. The impact his presence has on me is outside my realm of experience. I struggle to understand what it is about him that is effecting me so.
At the end of his presentation, as if on cue, a clap of thunder and a bolt of lightning lights up the auditorium. I hear shocked exclamations and nervous laughter from the audience members in front of me, but my eyes remain glued to the man stepping off the stage. When I can no longer see him, I glance down at my watch, I realize that if I leave now I can still make the next Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) train back to Manhattan. I would have to miss the wrap-up of the symposium, but it would be worth it to avoid Lecherous Larry.
As quietly as possible, I gather up my things and head for the door. The hotel checkout was at noon, and I had left my rolling suitcase with the concierge this morning. I debate trying to figure out Hempstead’s public transportation system or taking a taxi to the train station. One glance out the door at the heavy sheet of rain pouring down is all it takes. I opt for the taxi. As the taxi drives me to the station, I try to get a glimpse of Hempstead, but the rain obscures everything. It is only an hour by train from Manhattan, but I doubt I will be returning anytime soon. Images of the last speaker flash before my eyes as I watch the windshield wipers moving furiously back and forth. I try to remember the last time I was so attracted to someone and draw a blank. This is a first I realize. I’m crushing on someone I have never even spoken to and will probably never see again.
My phone pings with a text.
Hey Lainey, when will you be back in the city? Want to go out tonight? Sam
Drinks with Samantha after the tedium of the last two days sounds like just what I need. I can tell her all about Lecherous Larry and hot Mr. McAllister.
Hi Sam, my train gets into Penn Station a little after 7. Definitely on for tonight!
K, give me a call when you get in. Can’t wait to hear about the conference
Since I didn’t bring an umbrella, I am completely soaked from the dash from the taxi to the door of the train station. Luckily, I have plenty of time after buying my ticket to duck into the restroom and change into dry clothes from my suitcase. I pull out jeans and
a soft, gray cardigan that I button over the silky camisole that I have on under my suit jacket. I also take my hair down from the twist I had managed this morning. My hair is wavy from being up, which also kept it from getting frizzy in the rain. Maybe I wouldn’t have to do anything to it before going out tonight. I had always considered my hair my best feature. It had some natural curl, so I could
make it curly or straight, and I always received compliments on the color. Although it is a light brown, the sun has lightened it to a dark blond. I look into the mirror as I am brushing out my hair and notice mascara smudges underneath my green eyes. I take a few moments to remove the eye make-up that is making me look like a raccoon and smear on some cherry lip balm.
On the way to my platform, I stop and buy myself a skim latte and a scone as a treat for the ride back to Manhattan. The platform is steaming from the press of wet bodies, and more and more people crowd on to wait for the train. When the train finally arrives, people jostle each other
trying to claim a good seat. I’m pulling my suitcase behind me while trying not to knock into people. When I finally reach an unoccupied seat, I carefully set down my coffee. I am startled when
someone swings my suitcase up over my head into the overhead space. I turn around, and my breath catches in my throat. Standing in front of me is none other than James McAllister, looking even more attractive up close.
I can feel the heat rising in my face as I stare at him for too long. Desperately, I inhale a breath and utter a much too breathy “Thank you.” His hair is damp from the rain outside and curlier than it was earlier.
“No problem. Is this seat taken?” James asks, indicating the seat next to the one I had placed my things on. “It’s all yours
” I say and scoot in toward the window seat. I feel him settle in beside me. The smell of fresh rain, soap, and some other scent that I cannot quite identify, but vaguely reminds me of the tangy smell of cedar, washes over me. My pulse quickens. This is ridiculous, I tell myself. It is not as if you haven’t sat next to a handsome man before. I have to resist the urge to lean in closer to him. If I don’t calm down, this could get embarrassing.
Out of the corner of my eye, I notice him take out his smart phone and start scrolling over the screen with his thumb. I notice how
still he sits, no fidgeting or tapping his fingers. The hand closest to me rests on his knee. I stare at his hand. It is a
nice hand, large with long fingers that are perfectly shaped. His fingernails are oval shaped and well groomed. I start to imagine what it would feel like if he touched me with that hand. Squirming in my seat, I imagine his hand sliding down my cheek,
my shoulder, and over my breasts. My fantasy is broken when he puts his phone away and stands up. I turn and look out the window so it won’t be obvious I was staring.
James takes off his overcoat, folds it, and places it next to my suitcase above our heads before sitting back down. Behind us a couple is trying to calm their one-year-old without much luck. The crying becomes shriller and shriller. I feel James McAllister tensing beside me. I guess he is as much a fan of screaming babies as I am. I
hope the baby falls asleep soon; otherwise, the ride back to Manhattan is going to be absolute torture even seated next to Mr. Hotness.
He pulls out his phone again. I doubt he remembers me from the seminar, and I do look a bit different now since I have changed. Should I tell him that I enjoyed his presentation? It would definitely be something that I can start a conversation with. Just as I am gathering my courage to say something, his phone rings. “What’s up?” he says curtly. “I can’t
talk right now. I’m on the train back to Manhattan.” After a pause, he continues, “Yes, that was today. Oh, just the usual idiots. I don’t know how Elizabeth managed to talk me into this. She owes me big time. I’ll catch up with you tonight after I get back.”
Idiots? Does he mean the symposium participants? Okay, I am not mentioning that I was there. How embarrassing after he just called us all idiots. I give an internal harrumph at his arrogance. How dare he? He was only there for the last few hours. I doubt he even talked to anyone. He may be good looking, but his personality sure could use some improvement. The train pulls out of the station, and I consider eating my scone, but I don’t think I can eat in front of Mr. Hotness. Instead, I pull out my phone and check my email while sipping my latte. Something from my study group that meets next Wednesday is the most interesting thing in my inbox. I am extremely aware of my seat mate who is also looking at his smart phone. Despite my doubts about his character, I still feel a buzzing excitement just sitting next to him.
I decide that listening to music will distract me from the wall of testosterone sitting beside me. The bag with the scone falls to the floor as I bend over to reach into my messenger bag for my headphones. I turn back to reach for the scone bag, but he is already handing it to me. He is looking at me with his lips curved into a half smile as he hands me the scone.
“Thank you?” I murmur. Why did that come out as question? Under my breath I practice “Thank you” several times as a statement, not a question.
Just then my phone rings. I
slide my finger over the screen hastily to accept the call. “Lainey,” says my friend Nick. “I am having the most fabulous party in Brooklyn next Saturday night. You have to come. I am not listening to any excuses.” He rushes out without taking a breath. Okay, you know what Carrie Bradshaw said
about every girl living in New York having a gay friend? Well… it’s true.
“Well, hello to you too, Nick. Long time no see.”
“Does this mean you are coming? Because you would see me if you come. Plus, Brad will just be wrapping up a shoot, and I’ve told him to bring all his male model friends.” Nick’s boyfriend, Brad, has a successful modeling career.
“I will definitely be there as long as you do not invite any strippers this time.” Nick’s last party had been unlike anything I had ever been to before. He and Brad were out at a gay strip bar and had convinced most of the strippers to come back to his place for a party. I had met some interesting individuals that night.