Home > Meet Cute(7)

Meet Cute(7)
Author: Helena Hunting

“Apparently they decided to change guardianship from Linda to me when I turned thirty, and didn’t tell either of us.” I take a sip of my beer.

“What the fuck were they thinking?”

I shoot him a look, although that was pretty much my first thought, too.

“I’m not saying it to be an asshole, well mostly I’m not, but come on, it’s not like you’re a candidate for the responsibility award.”

“I’m responsible.”

He snorts. “Remember that time you went to Vegas for the weekend? You forgot to manage the thermostat in your condo and all your tropical fish died.”

“That was one time, and it was an accident.”

“Accident or not, your condo stunk for weeks. We had to move poker twice until it went away.”

“I’m not good with pets.”

“Fish are the easiest pets in the world. They require minimal effort to keep alive. You sprinkle food in there and clean their tank, what, once every two months, if that? Teenage girls are like rabid, angry puppies. They’re yappy, they want your attention all the time, they make a mess. Take it from someone who grew up with three younger sisters: Even when they’re adorable, it doesn’t really make up for the rest of the bullshit,” Felix says.

I give him a sideways glare. “You should definitely never have kids.”

“I’m just saying, this isn’t like raising her from birth. You’re taking over someone else’s job when she’s on the downslide, you know? Like you missed all the years when kids actually like you and rely on you, and now you just get to deal with moodiness and fending off boys.”

“Has anyone ever told you your pep talks are legendary?”

“I just think you might need to consider what you’re getting yourself into.”

“My parents gave me custody. It’s not like I asked for it.”

“What about your aunt? Hasn’t she already raised a couple of kids?”

I’ve thought the same thing more than once today. “Yeah, but if your parents had just died and entrusted you to take care of your thirteen-year-old sister, wouldn’t you at least try?”

Felix drums his fingers on the arm of the chair. “I guess. But it’s a lot to take on. It changes everything, Dax.”

“I know. Linda kept saying that. Talking about what’s best for Emme.” I rub the back of my neck. “You know what’s weird? My parents didn’t leave anything to Linda. She’s my only aunt, and she and my mom were pretty close. Or at least it seemed that way. They helped her through some rough spots in the past, so I figured she’d get something, you know?”

“Maybe something happened that you don’t know about?”

“Maybe, it’s just . . . odd.” I scrub a hand over my face. I’m so tired. “I should talk to a custody lawyer so I can get a handle on all of this.”

“It’s probably a good idea,” Felix replies.

“I’m going to have to talk to the lawyer who set up Emme’s trust, too, since I can’t seem to find anything but the initial draft, which should be fun.” I recall the way Kailyn reacted to me the last time I was in her office. She seemed less than excited to see me, which was strange since I’d kind of had a thing for her back then, and I’d thought it was mutual. “My life is so fucked right now.”

“It’ll get better,” he assures me.

I nod, but I have a feeling it’s going to get a lot worse before that happens.

chapter four



Cara, my regular assistant, who is never allowed to go on vacation on weeks that don’t coincide with mine again, knocks on my office door and pops her head in about thirty seconds after I sit down at my desk. I’ve had a hell of a morning. It’s been meeting after meeting and I finally have a breather.

Cara holds a takeout cup from the café down the street and her tablet. “Nonfat, double-espresso, two-pump vanilla latte with extra cinnamon?” It’s framed as a question.

I raise a brow. “Is there some kind of emergency you’re buttering me up for?”

“I’m so sorry, but there’s a drop-in appointment, and Beverly said it was urgent so . . .”

Beverly is my boss, and she’s highly aware my schedule doesn’t permit for drop-ins. “I only have an hour until my next meeting.”

“I know. I’m so sorry, Kailyn, but she said you would see him—”

“Him who?”

“Beverly wouldn’t give me a name.” Cara clutches her iPad to her chest and glances over her shoulder, possibly checking for interlopers. “I think it might be someone famous.”

“Someone famous?” I parrot. It’s LA; there are a lot of famous people in this city.

Cara pushes her glasses up her nose. “I only caught a glimpse of the back of him. She brought him to the conference room about half an hour ago and she won’t say anything about who it is. I tried, Kailyn. I know how much you hate surprises.”

“I’ll just stop by her office before I go in there.”

Cara’s gaze darts around the room for a second before returning to me. Her cringe isn’t reassuring. “She’s in a meeting.”

“Shit. Okay. I guess I’m going in blind.”

“I’m really sorry.”

“It’s fine.” I give her what I hope is a genuine smile. She’s a fabulous assistant, and if Beverly is being mysterious, it’s certainly not Cara’s fault. “I’ll just be a minute and then I’ll head to the conference room.”

“Okay. Great. When you’re finished with the mystery client, we can review missed calls, and I’ve already adjusted your schedule for the afternoon just in case the meeting takes more of your time than you anticipate.”

“Perfect, thank you.” This is why I love her.

I wait until Cara leaves before I pull my compact out of the drawer and check my reflection, frustrated that I have no idea with whom I’m meeting or why. The last time this happened I embarrassed the hell out of myself. I smooth my hair and reapply my lipstick. Appearance is half the battle in this world. Appear poised and successful, and people will believe you are. Visualize success. I smile at my personal mantra. It’s gotten me where I am, albeit with a few bumps in the road.

I adjust my glasses one last time and scoop up my tablet but leave the coffee on my desk so as not to appear as though I have time for chitchat. Cara is already behind her desk, typing away frantically. This whole thing has probably stressed her out and understandably so; I’m particular about how things are run, and while unexpected situations arise, this unpreparedness is exactly the kind of thing I prefer to avoid.

I approach the conference room quietly, hoping I’ll get a peek at whoever is in there. A man in a slightly rumpled suit stands facing the windows, with his hands shoved in his pockets. I take in the broad shoulders and sandy hair, a little unkempt, and realize Daxton Hughes is back in my office.

I lean against the doorjamb. “To what do I owe the pleasure?” My tone intentionally lacks warmth.

He turns away from the window, eyes slow to follow. I take in his typically gorgeous face with those piercing blue eyes, and the cut jaw with what I would guess is two days’ worth of stubble. He looks . . . rough. Maybe he’s been on a bender.

He blinks a few times, like he’s clearing his head, and rounds the conference table. He takes my hand in both of his. It’s disarming and unexpected. His voice cracks and he turns his head, clearing his throat before he tries again. “Thank you for agreeing to see me without an appointment. I know you must be very busy, so I appreciate you taking the time to speak with me.”

I’m not the least bit moved by this show of false sincerity. “Beverly insisted it was rather urgent.” And I assume she fell prey to his pretty face; even as rough as he looks, he’s still stunning.

“It was. It is.” He clears his throat again and motions to the chair across from his. “Can we sit?”

“Of course. I don’t have long, though.” I drop into the chair and cross my legs, fighting not to do the same with my arms. This man seems to bring out all my worst traits, which includes excessive fidgeting and flailing.

“Right.” He runs his palms over his thighs and exhales, eyes moving slowly over my face. It feels intimate and searching. “I have a personal custody issue.”

Maybe Holly was right and there is an illegitimate love child. I can see the headline now: WASHED-UP FORMER CHILD ACTOR DAXTON HUGHES KNOCKS UP DEBUTANTE. “I don’t deal with paternity issues. I deal with trusts.”

His brow furrows and he shakes his head. “It’s not a paternity issue. And it has to do with a trust, the one you set up for my sister.” He rubs his lips with his fingertips, drawing my attention there. “I’m sorry. It’s been a difficult week.” He rests his elbow on the table and bows his head, squeezing the bridge of his nose. He swallows thickly and his voice cracks again. “My parents . . .”

I’m thoroughly enjoying his discomfort, and how hard this seems to be for him, until the next words come out of his mouth.

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