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I am the Co-Author for this series. I was a reader for my Co-Authors other books and decided that he needed to spice up his writing and suggested that he let me write some of a book with him. After the first chapter was written the series was born and has been the most fun to write. “I am a southern belle born and raised on the Gulf Coast of Alabama. I am married and have three grown children, I have been a paralegal for 30 years working with Patent law, Domestic, Bankruptcy, probate, criminal law, wrongful death and litigation. I decided briefs, complaints and motions were not enough to keep me busy so decided to try my hand at writing. It has been the most fun I have ever had. Writing is not as easy as I thought it would be but very rewarding.
Excerpt from Counselor’s Sinful Kiss (Counselor’s Sinful Collection, Book 1)
Chapter 1 -The Kiss
Patti rolled down the window and let the salt air come into the car. It was good to get out of the city. A gentle flapping sound came from the papers beside her and she pulled her jacket over the file to keep it shut.
As her long brown hair blew into her face and out again, she watched the land flatten out and the number of streams increase and she smiled despite the difficulty she envisioned. The leased convertible fit her compact, voluptuous frame with its plush leather seats and smooth styling. The contract on one of those seats next to her was designed to extinguish the conflict that arose between an international construction conglomerate called Whirled and the financier group represented by Patti’s law firm.
The two warring factions couldn’t sit in a room together so it was in the hands of the attorneys to attempt to keep the multi-faceted project going. The construction project on the east coast was tied by the loosest of strands to a project on the west coast and other projects around the world, of which the closest was located in the Bahamas. Each project had to be built with its own problems and each was tied to the central vision which tied the development to a large regional bank which connected every project to one another.
The consortium of lenders, represented by Patti’s firm had stepped in both to try to stem the conflict and find out why the project was off budget despite being ahead of schedule.
Even the lenders were a diverse group. One group of lenders was from Asia and the project extended over at least 4 languages and the language barriers between the parties only complicated matters more.
Patti pulled into the large parking area which was paved from a prior project. While clearly some effort had been made to clear the sand off, there were piles of sand around the edges and pockets of sand making mini beaches on the interior. The old hotel, a low rise affair with a stylishly old fashioned yellowing facade had been turned into the office according to the senior partner, Victor Biggs who had given her the task of delivering the draft contracts which they hoped would prevent the parties from reaching a deadlock. Patti had done most of the work on them and at the last minute it was determined that someone had to make the delivery in person and as the junior attorney on the team it was up to her.
Patti could have shifted the burden to someone lower, a runner or a more junior attorney, but she needed an excuse to get out of the office. Recently, her shuttling between her shared apartment with her long term boyfriend, Max Nathan, and the office had created a strange sense of claustrophobia.
As she stepped out of her car, her high heels, clearly the wrong thing for this partially abandoned beach resort parking lot, sank so far into the sand that her feet were flat on the surface. Sighing, she sat back down in the car and took off her shoes, then thinking better of it, she also removed her panty hose. Well, she thought looking at her long, athletically muscled bare legs, at least she had a tan. Fortunately, it was still warm enough to spend a few hours each weekend working in the sun. She felt that a pantsuit would have been better for this, but she’d worn a short cocktail dress because she had plans to get drinks with her cousin who was in town scouting locations for her studio. Looking at this mostly abandoned hotel, Patti stopped and took a picture for Sue. She texted the picture, “This would make a great scene for a haunted hotel. I may be a little late getting back to town.”
It did seem a little frightening despite the sun and the trees peeking around at the sides of the buildings. Perhaps it was the age of the building and the fact that the huge parking lot only had a couple of cars in it.
Entering the lobby through a side door, the main sliding glass doors didn’t open to her approach, she looked around at the echoing emptiness. The building atrium had a sad, abandoned elegance. Patti found a chair, and since no one was around, brushed the sand off of her feet and put on her shoes. Next, she smoothed the black dress which might have been just a tad too short, showing a little too much thigh and cut a little too low to show the freckles on her chest. Hopefully it was the right thing for a presentation to an angry group of shareholders. As she was smoothing the dress, and preparing to straighten her windblown hair she heard someone clearing her throat. Looking up she saw a conservatively dressed, but very young woman staring at the sand around her feet.
“You must be the attorney,” she said. “I’m Betty, I guess you’d call me the assistant manager here.”
“Oh, yes. I’m sorry about the sand…” Patti started.
“Don’t worry,” Betty said with a sigh. “The contractors are a lot worse. I think you’ll find the person you’re looking for on the second floor. There are a bunch of meeting rooms up there facing the beach. The one in the middle, you’ll see it. It has glass doors.”
“Thank you,” Patti said. “Is there anything I can do about the sand?”
“Not unless you’re looking for a job as a maid,” Betty said. Then looking her up and down added, “Not likely.”
As Patti walked towards the elevators, Betty called, “Oh those don’t work. You need to take the stairs.”
Patti reached the top of the stairs. The lights were off, but it was easy to spot the central meeting room although the shades were drawn so she couldn’t see in. The door was partially opened so instead of knocking, she walked in. A tall man in a business suit was standing on the other side of a long conference table littered with schematic plans. He was looking out at the ocean and looked striking with the bright light coming in through the tinted window turning him into a tall, straight backed, black silhouette. His feet were apart as if he were steadying himself on a ship’s deck.
The door in front of him was partially open and the sound of the ocean waves outside apparently hid her entrance so she cleared her throat, “I’m hear from Biggs and Taylor, I hope I’m not interrupting you.”
The shadow slowly turned around and then froze. Patti felt a little scared despite the knowledge that it was ridiculous. This building was so empty and the figure so spectral with the light behind him.
“I’m here to deliver this to the construction manager,” She said holding up the file, as if some additional clarification would banish the specter and replace it with a person.
“Patti Cromwell?” A deep man’s voice, full of surprise said. The voice was familiar.
“I can’t see you,” Patti said, angry at herself for stuttering a little, despite her surprise at being recognized.
The large man came toward her almost hopping around the table and she stepped back. Then, as the light shifted to his face a memory from many years ago surfaced as she recognized the tall, good looking man in front of her. “Jimmy Warren? You’re the construction manager on this job?”
“Every bit of it,” Jimmy broke into a broad grin and held his arms out to take in the room. He hadn’t cleared the table yet, but he stopped, unsure what to do next. “Patti Cromwell! Who would have guessed? Yes, I’m the manager. This job and everything else in the Whirled entertainment complex. I can’t believe it’s you! I haven’t seen you in years. Are you still dating Max Nathan? You guys should be married already.”
“Yes, still dating, but not married yet.”
“Ahhh, he must be a coward. Can’t bring himself to pop the question?”
“Well,” Patti hesitated. “He asked, but I wasn’t ready. Too much work to do.” She laughed nervously. Her original fear had been replaced with pleasant surprise. He was wearing a richly tailored suit that showed, rather than hid his athletic build. She remembered him, he’d always been handsome, but time had been very, very good to him. It took her breath away to see him standing there, strong, handsome, self assured, just enough of the boyhood mischief she’d known burned off to make him a very sexy man.
Jimmy reddened a little under the deep tan, then he broke into a large smile. It took him a minute to compose himself, then he said a little ambiguously, “Can’t say that bothers me completely. Patti Cromwell! It’s good to see you.”
“You too, Jimmy. It must have been 5 years.”
“Closer to 10. I’ve been out of the country a lot. As a matter of fact, most of the time putting together this cluster fuck.” He laughed. “I hope they haven’t roped you into working on this disaster.”
Patti held up the thick file, “All my work.” And they both laughed.
“If you’re working for the lenders, then we’re on opposite sides of this project,” Jimmy said. “Do you want some water? Something stronger? Have a seat I’ll grab a bottle from the refrigerator. Just push whatever’s in front of you out of the way and set your file down.”
They sat and talked a little of old times, they both gave what information they had on the friends they both knew. Patti said she’d moved in with Max about a year ago and talked about the beautiful apartment they had, but stumbled a little when the issue of the plans they made came up. She almost said something about the claustrophobia but stopped herself.
Jimmy talked about the project and admitted that he lived out of a suitcase most of the time, but had a small condo that the company had lent him at the beach. “Although I have the run of half a dozen empty hotels and half completed high rises on beaches like this one. If you don’t mind not having any neighbors, they can be a good place to crash.”
Jimmy apologized that the entire team including the lawyer were not there. “They went off an hour before to look at one of the other properties on the beach and haven’t returned yet.”
“Do you want to go over these contracts?” Patti said after they stopped going over old times, winded from catching up, the water bottles empty. They sat in chairs facing each other, the long conference table separating them from the huge windows that looked out on a deck that looked toward the ocean.
“Can it wait? It’s so good to see you I don’t want to get into an argument with you right away.”
“I guess that’s pretty expected. All I could do is cover the highlights and it might make sense to wait till everyone’s together so I only have to say it once.”
Jimmy moved his chair to the end of the table to sit next to her.
“Just right,” Jimmy said grabbing, her calf unconsciously, it seemed, but only for an instant. “Can’t run up those legal fees.”
Patti took a deep breath. He’d only touched her leg for a moment, but her skin tingled and the sensation went all the way up her leg so that she became conscious of the panties between her thighs. She could tell and it pleased her that he had been a little surprised at how toned she was, how strong her calves were. After a few more words, he repeated the gesture, as if trying to confirm to himself how strong her muscles were, how soft the skin of her bare legs were to the touch. Again it was only for the briefest moment.
“I’m supposed to be meeting my cousin who is in town tonight. You remember Sue?”
“Of course,” Jimmy said quickly standing up. “I didn’t mean to keep you. I wasn’t thinking.”
“No, that’s fine” Patti said standing up so she was right in front of
him. “I enjoyed catching up with you. It’s been a long time.” She had to look up at him, he was at least a foot taller than her. They stood there in close proximity that should have made them uncomfortable, but neither seemed to care. She felt a slight flush and hoped it didn’t show. She noticed his breathing seemed a little deep although he seemed casual, his legs spread a little bit again in that ‘sailing pose,’ balancing against a non-existent rolling deck although she felt a little unsteady in her heels. So when he held open his arms she allowed herself to lean forward and gave what she hoped was a professionally reserved hug.
“It was really good to see you,” Jimmy said a little husky.
She started to say something in return, but Jimmy bent to kiss her cheek, but she kept her face to him, mesmerized by his dark brown eyes. For the briefest moment their lips met. It lasted a beat and then Jimmy pulled back a little surprised at himself. But still smiling slightly. Neither of them relaxed their hug, but their hands were only on each other’s arms, it didn’t seem too personal. “I always liked you, Jimmy,” Patti said hoping it struck the right professional note, between two friends whose lips had accidently touched, but it seemed a little too personal with their hands still loosely on each other’s arms after she said it. Her voice seemed to deepen as if trying to match his voice.
Then Jimmy’s head came down to hers again and their lips touched, this time on purpose. At first Patti didn’t open her lips or move her arms despite the fact that Jimmy’s arms had slipped around her back. It might still be considered something a little bit like friendship. And Jimmy had not opened his lips either, but they stayed like that and it was comfortable and more than a little erotic and without her conscious intention her mouth opened a little to take a breath and she breathed in his breath and then his tongue. She kept her head, even thought about pulling back, but his tongue against hers felt good, and it was long, touching the roof of her mouth and then with a slight moan he gripped her tighter and his tongue moved farther back into her mouth and she did not struggle.
Patti didn’t move her arms against his body, but she let her arms go a little further around his back and his hands moved along her sides to her hips and she gasped a little, their lips still locked when those strong hands reached her bare thighs. Then suddenly his hands moved away and their lips broke.
“Wow, I’m a little surprised at myself,” Jimmy said.
“That was nice, a little shocking but nice.” They had moved back from each other but still held each other.
Jimmy bent back down and their lips met and she let hers part, but it was only for an instant and he pulled back again. There was a sound from outside. He smiled, “It was surprisingly good to see you. I hope you aren’t offended by…”
“No, no. Please don’t apologize. It was,” She smiled at the effect she saw she had on him seeing the bulge in his pants with her peripheral vision, “interesting.”
“I’ll…look through the documents, go over them with the others. Maybe we can get together next week?”
“I think that would be nice,” Patti said, but professionally, her voice in control again. “Strange that we are on opposite sides of this dispute,” She gave a nervous laugh.
“Can I walk you out?”
“No,” she said after a moment’s thought. If she found herself in the quiet stairwell with him she was…afraid? Well maybe that wasn’t the word, but for some reason she felt that it was a good idea to put some distance between them. The moment’s passion was not yet spent and seemed to hover, not between them, but to fill the room. “I’ll show myself out. Ummm, after you go over the contracts, you’ll call me? Or have someone else…”
“No, I’ll make sure to call you myself if it’s ok?”
“Yes,” she said quickly. “That will be fine. Maybe we can sit down together if anything needs to be changed, but I have a dinner date I am late for.”
She smiled and waved and they both managed to avoid reaching for each other, although it seemed clear that they both wanted to. She left and got into her car, feeling warm and comfortable and more than a little turned on. Patti was experiencing a sense of turmoil. That one, accidental kiss, had upset her on a level so deep she couldn’t put her finger on it. She was a professional and tried to keep everything in its place. Now, she wanted to hope that Max would be home when she arrived, but she found the idea strangely unpleasant, even repugnant, as If that would be interfering with something else. But what was the something? She shook her head a little to clear it, her soft hair floating around her head like a mink coat. Rolling down her windows to let the heat out of the car, she started the engine and with the sea breeze coming in she drove towards the city.