Home > Meet Cute(9)

Meet Cute(9)
Author: Helena Hunting

I leave him with Cara and return to my office. I can’t believe I have to meet with him again. It’ll just be to deal with the trust, though, and then I can be done. It should be fairly straightforward. Anything to do with custody is on Beverly. At least it will be when I speak with her.

I dump my cooled latte from the takeout cup into my Daxton meme mug. I’d like to heat it up, but that would mean having to pass him on the way to the break room, so I settle for lukewarm. I try to tune out Cara’s conversation with Daxton while I check my email, but it’s difficult to focus on anything but his presence outside my office door. Cara’s voice is high-pitched and overly sweet, but she manages to keep herself together until he leaves the office. She practically trips over her own shoes and almost face-plants into my desk as soon as he’s gone.

“Oh my God. He’s so gorgeous. That’s so sad about his parents. He’s pretty much a single dad now. I think ovaries around the world will explode over this.” She drops into the chair on the opposite side of my desk and fans herself with her tablet. She glances pointedly at my mug. “I had such a crush on him as a girl. Or his character, I guess.”

“So did every other teenage girl who watched that show.” I toss my pen on the desk so I don’t chew on the cap. I’m annoyed that I want to share in the freaking fangirling. He really was dreamy back then. Not much has changed, at least in the looks department.

“He seemed to know you,” she presses.

“I went to law school with him.”

She leans forward, eyes wide, tablet clutched tightly in her hands. “Really? What was he like?”

“He was an asshole.”

“Oh, that’s . . . disappointing.” She fiddles with her glasses. “I wonder why he left acting.”

I don’t know the answer to the last question, although I assume it was because he decided to go into entertainment law. “I have no idea. What can I do for you, Cara, aside from discuss exploding ovaries? Have you already pulled the Hughes files?” I know she hasn’t had time to pull anything. She’s still trying to get over meeting Daxton.

She stops slouching and bolts upright. “Oh, Beverly would like to see you in her office.”


“Yes. As soon as you have a moment.”

“Did she specify what it was about?”

She blinks twice. “Um, no.”

I tap my pen on the desk. “Did you even ask?”

She sinks in her chair. I should feel a little bad that I incite this kind of response, but any incompetence on her part directly affects me.

“No,” she says meekly. “She called when I was speaking with Mr. Hughes.”

“Ah, so you were distracted.”

“No. Well, maybe a little.” She hangs her head. “Yes. I was distracted.”

“It happens to the best of us.” I stand and gather my tablet. “Please pull any files related to the Hughes trust right away, and I’d like to email him a copy so he’s able to review it over the weekend. Did he provide potential dates and times to meet next week?”

“He said he would make whatever we had available work regardless. I’ll pull his files now.”

I leave Cara to collect herself, and head for Beverly’s office. I dislike going in to see her unprepared, and that’s how this situation makes me feel.

As a senior associate I have a good working relationship with Beverly. Whitman and Flood is a small firm, giving me the opportunity to move up quickly. I’ve proven myself over the past five years, and pushed even harder since my dad passed, hell-bent on making partner before I turn thirty. My dad and I made a bet before he died, and even though he’s gone, I don’t want to disappoint him. I also like to reach for the top, always, and partner is the next step.

I knock on Beverly’s door and wait for her to call me in. She gestures to the chair across from her desk and tents her fingers, resting her chin on them. “How did everything go with Mr. Hughes?”

“Fine, for being unprepared. I need to review the trust files so we can discuss them next week and make any necessary amendments.”

She nods and leans back in her chair. “I apologize for springing this on you without notice, and I appreciate that you were able to carve out some time to meet with him. It’s such a shame about his parents, and then having custody of his sister.” Her gaze drifts to the window. “I’m sure it’s been quite a shock. I can’t even imagine.”

“It’s a lot of responsibility to take on.” And so much grief to manage on top of his own. I’m not sure how to feel about any part of this. “His sister’s trust is very substantial. He seems rather concerned about it, which makes me question if perhaps he’s after it for some reason.”

She shifts her gaze away from the window, her expression unreadable. “I’m sure he has his own money.”

“Unless he’s spent it all.”

Beverly smiles. “Always a cynic.”

I lift a casual shoulder, trying to keep the bite and skepticism out of my tone. “Well, it would make sense, wouldn’t it? He takes custody of his sister, and all that money is available for him to manage.”

Beverly tilts her head a fraction, observing me closely. “How well do you know Daxton Hughes?”

I sit up straighter, uncertain as to where the question is coming from. “We went to law school together, but didn’t associate with the same people. Why do you ask?”

“He hugged you in the conference room.” I try not to show any emotion, but I must frown because her expression is smug. “I wasn’t eavesdropping. I was passing by and saw the interaction. I wondered what your relationship was.”

“There isn’t a relationship. We went to school together, and I worked on his sister’s trust fund when his parents set it up months ago. The connection is purely by chance.”

Her long nails rap on the arm of her chair. “You’re meeting with him again, though? How soon?”

“Early next week. Why?” Where is she going with this? She’s the one who sprang him on me; I assumed that means she wants me to deal with him. And it’s not like I have an actual choice since I’m responsible for the trust in the first place.

“He seems to trust you, or at least have some kind of connection to you.”

“I don’t know that he trusts me, he’s just grieving.” I don’t like the look in her eye. She’s planning something.

“You might try to persuade him that working here would be beneficial for him when you meet with him next.”

I’m at a complete loss for several very long seconds—in that time I consider how much I do not want to work in the same office as Daxton Hughes, regardless of whether he’s in a state of grieving. “We don’t even really know each other, and you want me to convince him to come work here?”

“He felt comfortable enough to hug you.”

“He was emotional and under duress. I assure you, he likely would not have hugged me under normal circumstances.” There was that one time in second year when we were on the same side for a class debate, and when we won he spontaneously hugged me, but it was excitement, nothing more.

Beverly gives me one of her knowing looks. I hate them, because it means she thinks she has something on me, something she thinks I want. Which is not Daxton Hughes. Maybe once upon a time, when I was young and stupid and easily influenced by a wink and a smile, but not now.

“Regardless, there’s a level of comfort and familiarity that you can capitalize on.”

Fine. She wants to play this game, well, I can play, too. If I’m going out of my way to bring the traitorous lion into my own den, I better reap the rewards. “What’s in it for me if I get him to come to the dark side?”

“The reward of knowing you’ve strengthened our team.”

“If I’m going to persuade Daxton to switch firms, I’d like to pick up another pro bono case.”

Beverly purses her lips. “You just took on a pro bono case.”

“That was months ago, and it’s been resolved.” I haven’t been able to stop thinking about a foster situation Holly mentioned last week. If I’m going to invite someone I loathe onto our team, I want something in return. This is the perfect opportunity to get what I want without having to fight for it.

“Fine. As long as it doesn’t interfere with you convincing Daxton to work for me, you can take the pro bono case. Any other negotiations?”

I flip my pen between my fingers, considering all the angles. I can’t believe I’m entertaining bringing the man who pulled the rug out from under me into my life and my building on a daily basis.

It’s not like I’ll run into him all the time. Entertainment law is on the opposite end of the floor. Although I may see him occasionally in the break room. I rarely eat lunch in there. I can deal with seeing him across the boardroom for weekly meetings. I think.

“I’ll let you know if I have anything to add to the list.”

chapter five



I have no idea how people single parent without going insane. I don’t cook. It’s never been my thing. I order groceries from a delivery service and supplement with takeout. I have a menu for every day of the month. Surprisingly, it turns out thirteen-year-olds don’t love McDonald’s enough to eat it for an entire week. After six days of fast food, Emme boycotts it entirely.

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