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I despised Reed Pierce.
He thinks he’s God’s gift to the law, but I know the real reason he wins so many cases, and it has more to do with those persuading green eyes than his fancy law degree. Not that I can blame the jury. I was once on the receiving end of that perfectly tilted smirk and deceiving charm, and I learned the hard way not to trust him.
Now, a year later, it’s a virtual tug-of-war in the courtroom, and I refuse to fall for his witty banter and flirty smiles again. I was determined to show the playboy of appeals that he messed with the wrong lady of the law. Only, the joke was on me, and a drunken night of hot, mind-numbing sex has my aversions toward him wavering …
One bottle. One dare. One night.
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L u s t;
To have a very strong sexual desire for someone.
To feel a strong desire for something.
synonyms: crave, to be consumed with desire for, find sexually attractive, crave, covet, ache for, burn for.
I was going to die in an elevator.
In an effing elevator during an effing earthquake.
Two years ago, I’d done one of those ridiculous How Will I Die quizzes on Facebook, and even though the results had been completely outrageous and would never happen, it had also been something inventive, exciting, and somehow wildly satisfying.
Well, as exciting and satisfying as death could be.
I would be ninety-five and skydiving, but instead of pulling a parachute, I would release a hang glider and float toward the ocean where I would land perfectly on a moving jet ski and proceed to do crazy flips before slipping, hitting my head, and drowning.
Granted, the drowning part was tremendously anticlimactic, but as I said, it was completely outrageous and would never happen.
To some, drowning after skydiving didn’t sound all that exciting, but to my ninety-five-year-old self, that didn’t seem like a bad way to go. Considering living until ninety-five seemed like an accomplishment in and of itself.
Now standing in this elevator, waiting for the drop, I felt cheated.
Four years at Duke University.
Three years at Yale Law School.
My first solo case and now all my hard-earned work would amount to me plummeting to my death.
Not to mention dropping my once-in-a-lifetime clerkship with Judge Richard Willis to fill the last position for a first-year junior associate at Jamison, Jones, and Associates—the most sought-after law firm in Charleston, South Carolina.
I realized my list of priorities probably seemed a little effed up, considering most people would be more upset about the things they hadn’t done before their sudden demise. But I wasn’t like normal people—I rambled and half-ass cursed Facebook quizzes.
I didn’t even know South Carolina had earthquakes. Why the hell did Mother Nature have to pick today to prove she was a badass?
The elevator floor trembled again.
It probably only lasted five seconds, but it was enough to forever ruin my relationship with elevators.
It lasted longer this time, and then everything went black, enclosing me in the small space like a coffin.
I instantly regretted my own morbid thoughts.
Biting the inside of my cheek, I gripped the metal railing until I thought the steel bar would twist and crush under my sweaty palm.
“Stay calm, Meela,” I told myself. “You’re not going to—”
I cried out as the elevator floor shook harder this time, throwing me off balance and against the side of the elevator wall. The railing ground into my hip roughly, bruising the muscles there instantly.
“Holy hell,” I whimpered. It echoed off the steel walls of what would probably be my final resting place.
“It’s okay, Meela. It’s almost over.” A deep voice filled the small space. “We’re just feeling the aftershocks now.”
The sound of his voice triggered a small heart attack, and I realized I wasn’t going to die because I’d decided to take the elevator instead of the stairs—for the first time in four years because I had gained the freshman fifteen times two—all because I didn’t want to sweat in my new suit, only for there to be a fucking earthquake. I had upgraded from half-ass to full-on curse words.
“Oh god, shut up, Meela. You’re rambling again,” I whispered to myself.
I heard the snicker, drawing my attention back to the fact I was not alone in the elevator of death.
“How the hell did you get in here?” I demanded and tried to remember when someone had joined me.
“The same way you did. Those magical things they call elevator doors.” He laughed, and the sound was deep and smooth.
I might have laughed too—maybe—if I wasn’t desperately trying to remember when someone got on the elevator with me. Sometimes I scared myself with how easily I got lost in my own thoughts. Apparently, it had gotten so bad that I could be in an elevator with another person and not even realize it.
“Is there anyone else in here?” I asked stiffly, looking around even though I couldn’t see anything.
“Nope. Just the two of us,” he whispered in a way that made stomach flip. I quickly covered the spot with my hand, half expecting my insides to be on the outside of my body.
“I guess I wasn’t paying attention,” I admitted.
I was still having a hard time paying attention as I waited for another aftershock.
“Well, that’s a first,” he mused, and I frowned.
“What?” I asked, my curiosity winning over and giving the stranger, who was oddly calming my nerves, a bit more of my attention.
“I’m not used to a woman not noticing me.”
I stared into total darkness for a full second before my laughter cut through the silence. It bubbled up my chest, making me drop my head back and wonder was this actually happening?