She muttered something he didn’t catch and he shifted his gaze from the drawn window shades to her face, taking in her profile for the first time. Severe hair and black glasses aside, she had chiseled features, high cheekbones and even minus the makeup, porcelain skin most actresses and models would kill to possess. But she did nothing to enhance her looks. In fact, she did everything possible to detract from them. He wondered why.

He shrugged and transferred his gaze. This flight was definitely too damn long if he was looking beyond the surface and contemplating Mallory Sinclair’s grooming habits.

“What are the basic facts of the case?” As she spoke, she leaned down and pulled a yellow legal pad from her briefcase, then grabbed for a pen. “Ready when you are.” She sat up straight in her seat.

The woman was brusque and efficient, the way he liked his associates. But not his women. Women, he preferred soft and pliant, warm and giving. With at least a week at a resort ahead of him, there’d be no shortage of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, strangers no longer appealed to him, which meant life was becoming increasingly complicated.

A short, no-strings affair suited his lifestyle and beliefs best. He couldn’t end up in divorce court as anything other than counsel if he lived by his self-imposed rules. With no commitments, he couldn’t be the cuckolded, sad excuse for a man his father had become. But with age came wisdom and discrimination-and an increasing restlessness he couldn’t understand.

“Mr. Latham? Is something wrong?”

At the sound of her lush tone, a ripple of awareness meandered through his veins. A trickling, growing warmth pulsed in his groin. Something was wrong, all right. Everything he was feeling about his associate was off-kilter and he didn’t like it one bit.

“What did you want?” he bit out.

“The facts of the case.” She waved the legal pad in the air, reminding him of why they were together on the plane. “I want to be up on things to help impress the client.”

He met her gaze behind the thick lenses. Sanity returned and he immediately felt better. “You might as well call me Jack.”

She nodded, wide-eyed.

He forced his stare away from the blue eyes he couldn’t see clearly. “Lederman’s been married for years. He’s fifty-eight and wants out.”

“Why?” She paused, pen ready to write down his every word.

“Irreconcilable differences.”

“That’s the legal definition. What’s the behind-the-scenes take on things? What will boost the settlement in his favor? Assuming we get the case.”

Jack stretched his legs out in front of him as much as he could, but made sure he didn’t touch Mallory as he moved. “That’s what we’re here to find out. Then we decide how to take her faults and spin them in our client’s favor.”

“Interesting turn of phrase-her faults.”

“How so?”

She crossed her legs in front of her, and his gaze fell to her ankles. He’d never been a leg man, but she made him rethink his preference.

“You’re assuming it was Mrs. Lederman’s fault that the marriage disintegrated. There’s always the possibility that our client was equally to blame. And if that’s the case, we need to put a positive spin on his negative actions.”

He leaned his head against the seat and turned toward her. “That’s what I said. We need to put a positive spin on things.”

“You said we need to spin her faults…” Her voice trailed off, and she shook her head before capping her pen. “Never mind.”

“I’m not sure I get the distinction you’re trying to make.”

She let out a long-suffering sigh. “I’m sure you don’t.” She busied herself putting away her things and latching her briefcase.

“Good afternoon, folks.” A voice sounded on the loudspeaker, from the cockpit of the small plane. “We’re about ready to begin our descent, so go ahead and fasten your seatbelts…”

The captain’s voice prevented any further talk. Mallory checked her safety belt and stared out the window. She obviously had no desire to finish their conversation. Yet she’d gone and given him an odd, empty feeling in his gut. As though in the brief minutes of their discussion, she’d judged him and found him lacking.

He didn’t like the sensation of coming up short in her estimation and he wasn’t sure why. Once again, she had him off balance, only this time she’d left him with the burning desire to shift both her negative opinion as well as her lack of interest.

Jack loved a challenge, but he only acted when that challenge made sense. And his interest in Mallory Sinclair did not.

A WARM BREEZE blew off the ocean, carrying the scent of salt water in the air. Mallory’s hair frizzed in the humidity, destroying the bun she’d worked hard to make earlier this morning. She glanced at her watch. It was 8:00 a.m. and there was still no sign of their host.

“He’ll be here,” Jack said in response to her unspoken aggravation. “He said to go ahead and have breakfast and he’d meet up with us by the time we were finished.”

She raised her gaze from the cinnamon-raisin French toast on her plate to glance at Jack’s face-something she’d been avoiding doing all morning. If she’d thought him devastating in a suit, he was overwhelmingly handsome in khaki shorts and a collared, short-sleeved shirt. Powerful muscles flexed in his arms and tanned skin peeked through the open buttons over his chest. His jet-black hair had been combed neatly back, and a pair of Oakley sunglasses covered his piercing gray eyes. He was perfection in a masculine package while she was a frizzy mess of conservatism in a bland, navy dress.

Oh, well. She wasn’t here to impress Jack with her looks, she was here to dazzle both him and the client with her brains. If only she could pull her thoughts off his sexy frame and focus on the task ahead of them. She’d spent last night in her room across from his, tossing and turning, unable to sleep. Unable to forget the scent of his musky cologne or his deep, rumbling voice.

“Glad you could make it. So what do you think of my place?” A booming male voice interrupted her inappropriate thoughts before she could take them to the sensual conclusion she’d experienced in her dreams.

“It’s incredible, but then you already know that.” Jack rose from his seat and Mallory followed suit. “Makes me realize I’m in the wrong line of work,” Jack said and laughed.

“You’re welcome out here any time,” a burly man said. “Now help me get rid of the albatross I married and I’ll name a suite after you and this colleague of yours.”

Mallory did her best not to wince at the callous words he used to describe his wife. The woman he’d married, for better or worse. The woman she assumed he’d once loved.

“Paul Lederman meet Mallory Sinclair, one of our top associates. Mallory, Paul Lederman.” Jack gestured between Mallory and their client who was dressed even more informally than Jack in boxerlike bathing trunks. Eccentric was putting it mildly, she thought.

She extended her hand. “Nice to meet you at last, Mr. Lederman.”

“Call me Paul.” He pumped her hand with enthusiasm. “Can’t be so formal while sitting at the beach and looking at this view.”

She glanced over his shoulder, taking in the clear blue sky and the glistening water in the background. He was right. She’d been so caught up in not watching Jack, she’d all but ignored the beauty in front of her. “You’re a lucky man, Mr. Lederman.”

He corrected her with a shake of his head.

“I mean Paul. Jack’s right. This place is incredible.”

“Then after we talk, make sure you let loose and enjoy it a bit. I like my attorneys on the same wavelength as I am.” He pulled out a chair and joined them at the table beneath the large umbrella. “Marriage.” He shook his head. “Risky business.”

Mallory grabbed for her pad and pen, while Jack leaned back in his seat. “Yours made it twenty-five years. Something must have held you two together,” Jack said.

Mallory liked the fact that Jack didn’t automatically bow to Lederman’s point of view, even if he silently agreed

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