Jealous in July (Spring River Valley Book 7)

BOOK: Jealous in July (Spring River Valley Book 7)
11.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Jealous in July

 

By

Clarice Wynter

 

 

 

Published by:
Clarice Wynter

 

copyright 2013, Clarice Wynter

 

Cover art by Niina Cord

 

 

This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, places, brands, media and events are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be confused with fact. Any resemblance to living persons or events is merely coincidence.

Kindle Edition

 

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to Amazon.com and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

* * * *

 

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

This series is for everyone who needs a little romance in their lives.

 

Once again with gratitude to: JB Lynn, Jean Cooper and Niina Cord for helping me to see this project through.  

Chapter One

 

 


Getting Serious about Casual Sex
? Oh, please tell me this is research for a case you’re working on.” Chase Turner set his lunch tray down directly across from Brenda and settled into the cafeteria seat, his light brown eyes fixed on the book jacket she’d been attempting to hide.

Brenda set the hardcover down flat and eyed her co-worker sternly. “Can you say that a little louder? I don’t think the partners heard you.”

Chase shrugged and dug into his lunch, a mound of pasta salad and grilled chicken. “If it’s not work-related, why would they care?”

“Well, it’s not, but still. You don’t have to broadcast to the whole caf
eteria that I’m reading about S-E-X.”

Chase grinned wolfishly. “If you have to spell it, sweetheart, you’re too young
—or too old to be reading about it.” He gestured with his fork between hurried bites. “You’ve been toting that tome around with you for a couple of weeks now. Is it really that fascinating?”

Brenda studied the remains of her own lunch, a green salad. In an office building full of high-
powered professional women who barely ate so they could fit into their Prada business suits, she had to struggle to maintain a size twelve. Chase’s pasta salad and garlic bread looked good enough to steal. “Uh…yes, well, actually…”

“Don’t be embarrassed. I passed health class.”

Brenda rolled her eyes. Chase worked with her at the law firm Esterhause, Brady and Danziger, but while she toiled as a paralegal, most often assigned to Mitzi Danziger, Chase worked in the company benefits department. Though he often wore contacts, today his quick, eagle-eyed gaze hid behind wire-rimmed glasses that made him look studious and just on the cute side of nerdy. “I’m not embarrassed. I’m just not sure how to characterize my interest in the book.”

“Oooh,
your lawyer is showing.” Chase could be devastatingly charming when he wanted to be. The rest of the time, he just skated around being in a pain in the butt.

“Cool it.”

He held up his hands. “Touchy. Sorry. It’s just that I usually see your pert little nose buried in a romance novel during lunch. I never thought you were interested in pop psychology.”

Brenda squinted at Chase. They took lunch at the same time but rarely ate together. He
normally sat with the men, among them Riley Thayer, Brenda’s current and only love interest, and she usually sat with the women. Today a staff meeting had screwed up everyone’s lunch hour and left Brenda somewhat gratefully on her own in the cafeteria. That was, until Chase showed up. “I didn’t know my reading habits interested you.”

“I’m an observer. I take note of things. Would you like to know what Milton the security guard likes to read?”

“Point taken, and no. If you must know, my friend Samantha bought this book, and she ended up dating the guy she…” How could she politely finish this sentence? The guy she’d been casually sleeping with? Samantha had gotten in a little bit over her head after starting a casual sex relationship with a guy she really liked. Fortunately things had worked out for them, but more than once Sam had warned Brenda not to try it for herself. Offering to sleep with Riley, no strings attached, had seemed like the perfect way to get his attention, but only if it led to everlasting love, which the book neither guaranteed nor even particularly encouraged. “Let’s just say things worked out for her. So I’m taking notes.”

Chase eyed the book intently
, and Brenda had to wonder if his many talents included being able to read upside down. “Don’t take this the wrong way, but why does a girl who looks like you need a book to get a guy? Seriously?”

Brenda might have been flattered by the rather obtuse compliment, if it had come from Riley.
Instead she waved it away, refusing to allow herself to blush. “It’s not to get just any guy. I have a particular one in mind.”

“And the walking up to him and saying,
‘Hey, I’m available, let’s go out’ didn’t work because he’s…in a coma?”

“He’s not in a coma. Well, not quite.”
She scanned the cafeteria. Riley was likely working through lunch again. He did that more days than not. “He’s just distracted.”

“It’s Thayer
, isn’t it?”

Brenda nodded, suddenly unsure if she should have divulged that information to a member of the firm’s personnel department. “Is that a problem? For your office?”

“Not if nothing’s happening. And even if it is, as long as you’re not making photocopies of your unmentionables on company time, it’s none of our business. We have a ‘don’t ask, don’t tell’ policy about intra-office romance. Just no dating clients.”

Brenda sat back in relief. “Good to know.”

Chase made a show of checking the cafeteria as well, though Brenda harbored no illusions that he didn’t already know Riley wasn’t around. “Can I offer you a little unsolicited advice? No pun intended.”

She sipped the last of her bottled water and quirked a brow in response. Likely he would echo one of the many reasons Samantha had already given her not to use any techniques from the book on Riley. A relationship based on anything less than perfect honesty was doomed to fail.

Chase leaned in, the masculine scent of his expensive aftershave just reaching her across the table. “Don’t waste your efforts on Thayer.”


And why not?” Her question came out a bit defensively, which she instantly regretted. It wasn’t like she hadn’t asked herself a million times why the golden-haired, blue-eyed, studious law student turned her on, but he did. Maybe it was his quick wit, which she glimpsed on rare occasions when she caught him coming out of meetings with the partners. Maybe it was his voice or his long, skillful-looking fingers or the occasional stubble he sported after pulling an all-nighter working on a case. Something had drawn her to Riley from the moment he’d first stepped over the threshold at EBD, and even though his attention always seemed to be on work or studying for the bar exam, she was determined to one day not only get him to notice her, but make him aware that he couldn’t live without her.

“Let me tell you a story about the Riley archetype. And trust me when I say, I’ve seen enough of his brand of clone to know what I’m talking about.”

“Clone?”

“Yeah…he’s an assembly
-line product, turned out from a prestigious northeastern law school, driven by the desire to make partner. Do you think he’s the first of his kind around here? He’s—” Chase counted on his fingers. “—the sixth, since I’ve been here, and that’s not including Mitzi herself. She’s the model after which all the others pattern themselves, the success story they kill themselves to emulate. She was a law student who worked her buns off and made partner.”

“And she didn’t sleep with Tyler Brady?” Brenda whispered.

“Well, yes, she did, but that falls under don’t ask, don’t tell, so the other clones usually never find that out. They think they’ve got the same chance she had, so they come in and they work. Nights. Weekends. Holidays. They work while they eat. They work while they sleep. They take the bar. The partners congratulate them if they pass, and they commiserate with them if they don’t. If they pass, some time goes by and they get a few cases. They continue the seven/twenty-four work ethic.”


Seven/twenty-four?”

“Seven minutes off out of every twenty-four
hours.”

“Then what happens?”

“They start making noises about having their name on the letterhead, they start hinting about a promotion, and the next thing you know…they’re moving on. Once they discover the hard truth, that there’s only ever going to be one Mitzi, they look elsewhere for success.”

Brenda wasn’t sure whether to feel sorry for Riley if this was all true or sorry for Chase that he’d become so cynical during his years working for EBD. “
It doesn’t matter to me where Riley works.”

“But don’t you see? That’s
all
that matters to him. What you see now is all there’s ever going to be of him. Mr. Billable Hours. Have you ever met Mrs. Esterhause or Mrs. Brady or any of the other top-tier wives?”

“Sure, I see them at the Christmas party and the company picnic.”

“Do they look happy?”

Brenda thought about the immaculately dressed, perfectly manicured women the senior staff members brought to company functions. They seemed happy. She shrugged. “I suppose you’re going to tell me they’re not?”

Chase sat back in his seat. “I can’t tell you that. But I will tell you, you don’t want to be one of them.”

Brenda closed her book and gathered up the remains of her lunch. Her decent mood for the day had deflated thanks to Chase’s comments.
“Thanks for the insight,” she said as she rose. “I’ll take my chances, but I appreciate the warning.”

Chase nodded, his gaze fixed on her for a second before flicking away. “Just my personal observations.”

Brenda dumped her trash in the receptacle, stuffed her book into her purse, and left the cafeteria just as Riley was entering. She offered him a bright smile and received a distracted nod in return.

Maybe Chase was right. Her heart skipped a beat every time she saw Riley, but how many times had their eyes actually met? How many words had he actually spoken to her? She had a crush on his boy-next-door good looks and his professional potential, but was he really the kind of man she wanted to spend the rest of her life with?

Maybe not, but she’d never know if she didn’t at least give it a shot. To hell with Chase. She’d figure out a way to get Riley alone for some one-on-one time if she had to try every trick in the book, whatever book that turned out to be.

 

*

 

Chase watched Brenda Samms saunter out of the cafeteria, her hips swaying just a little more seductively the moment she caught site of Riley Thayer in the corridor beyond the door.

The lawyer-to-be barely noticed the stunning
brunette with her exotic blue-green eyes and sassy little smirk. The guy might be a brilliant legal mind, but in every other area of life he was completely brain-dead.

Unfortunately, the poor girl was going to end up making a fool of herself if she thought throwing herself at Riley would work. Thayer wouldn’t see a ten-ton truck bearing down on him if he couldn’t bill the firm for it. The man had so much as said he didn’t have time for a personal life, but women lined up to snag him anyway.
Rumor was he even had the town matchmaker trying to fix him up on blind dates.

Where was the justice in that?

Chase finished his lunch, brooding about all the luck Thayer had. Maybe if he tried that aloof act, the “I’m so busy I don’t know which end is up” attitude, he’d get some female attention, or maybe some more Brenda attention.

Well, that was a lost cause. She’d basically just said she wanted to be Mrs. Thayer someday.

“Hey, Chase, this seat taken?” Riley’s tired voice brought Chase out of his daydream in which he helped the lonely future Mrs. Thayer cheat on her unsuspecting husband.

“Yeah…I mean, no. No one’s sitting there. You just missed Brenda.”

Riley stared at him for a minute, the wheels turning. “Oh, Brenda.”

He doesn’t even know who I’m talking about.
“You know, long brown hair, pretty eyes.”

“She works with Mitzi.”

BOOK: Jealous in July (Spring River Valley Book 7)
11.87Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

Other books

Evidence of Guilt by Jonnie Jacobs
Promises by Ellen March
Raphael by D. B. Reynolds
Whisper Gatherers by Nicola McDonagh
Worth the Risk by Robin Bielman
The Witch Narratives: Reincarnation by Belinda Vasquez Garcia
Constance by Rosie Thomas
Blood and Snow 9: Love Bleeds by Workman, RaShelle