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By:Chantal Fernando


The elevator door pings open, and I walk towards my reception desk. The click of my heels is the only sound echoing through the empty offices. I clutch the cup of coffee in my hand almost desperately, relying on it to get me through a long day. I shouldn’t complain, I know. I should be grateful to have a decent paying job, especially in today’s economy. But, it’s Monday, and I’d rather be at home in bed, curled up with a book than be stuck here all day. I’ve been looking for a new job for a month now. Truth be told, I’m too damn stubborn to leave this place. That would mean that he wins, and I can’t have that.

“Good morning, sir,” I greet Jason Cannery, one of the four lawyers who works here at the firm.

“Morning, Jacinta,” he says, smiling warmly as he stops by my desk. “Did you bring me my coffee?”

“Did you bring me my chocolate?” I fire back, a private joke between us. When I first started working as a legal receptionist here, the men would ask me to bring them coffee every morning, which isn’t in my job description. At least, I don’t think it is, nor do I want it to be. I told them if they expect coffee, I better be getting something in return, because we’re all equal in the workplace. Luckily, they found me amusing, and I got to keep my job.

“Tomorrow,” he replies, grinning. “When is my first client due again?”

I look at my watch. “You have thirty minutes.”

He nods and enters his office, closing the door behind him. Two more of the lawyers arrive, and I wish them a good morning, then open my laptop and turn it on. When he arrives, however, I don’t bother to look up. Yes, Cohen Lake is also a lawyer here, and yes, he’s good at what he does. He’s a criminal lawyer and, at thirty years old, he’s done extremely well for himself. But that doesn’t mean I have to like him.

“Jacinta,” he says, and I pretend that the deep baritone of his voice doesn’t have any effect on me. I’m good at that, pretending.

“Mr. Lake,” I say, still not looking up at him. Rude, I know. I do, essentially, work for this man, and he could have me fired, but he hasn’t yet. I don’t know why—guilt, probably. Maybe he just likes to torture me. I’m guessing the latter.

He sighs and puts a folder on my desk. “New client. Can you add her details to the system?”

I nod, reaching out for the file. When I grab it though, he puts his hand on top of mine, stopping my movement. I raise my gaze, our eyes locking. His green ones look back at me, framed in thick lashes, assessing, always assessing. His light brown hair is growing a little too long, and in need of a trim, but he manages to pull it off. He’s wearing a crisp white shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, and I know that shirt probably costs more than I make in a week. With his tan, smooth skin, and the dimple on his right cheek, this man is a danger to women. He’s the one who should be locked away.

“Let me go,” I demand, now looking down at our hands, keeping my expression impassive. “I don’t remember giving you permission to touch me.”

He looks almost sad for a moment, before he shields it. He lets go of my hand—reluctantly, it seems. “Are you always going to be like this? It’s been a week. Why don’t you just—”

“Why don’t you just walk into your office and leave me the fuck alone,” I say quietly, so no one else can overhear. I force a fake smile on my face. “Your first client will be here soon. Have a nice day, Mr. Lake. If I’m lucky, today is the day you’ll be run over by a car.”

His jaw goes tight, and he opens his mouth to say something, but then thinks better of it. Instead, he walks into his office, closing the door behind him harder than he needs to.

How mature.

I pick up my coffee and bring it to my lips, taking a long sip.

He’s a Scorpio. That should have been the first sign. Scorpio’s are very intense, complex people, and that was putting it mildly. He’s the king of mind games, the master of manipulation. He has to win at everything, no matter what it is. He expects you to give your all to him, while he gets to remain safe and emotionless.

Cohen Lake is the reason I now hate my job, but he’s also the reason I won’t quit. If I do, he’ll know it’s because of what happened between us, and I can’t let that happen. No, I just need to forget all about him. He’s nothing to me now, just someone I used to know. Someone I once trusted.

Someone who broke my heart.

Chapter One

One Year Ago


I walk into work at least twenty minutes late, frantically looking around, hoping no one will notice. I run my fingers through my long, dark hair, trying to tame it as much as possible, and then check my makeup in a small mirror I keep in my handbag. I managed to line my blue eyes with eyeliner and coat my lashes in mascara, but that was the only product on my face. I put the mirror away, knowing it wasn’t going to get any better today; it was just one of those days. When I think I’m safe, finally letting myself relax in my chair, I look up into the green eyes of Cohen Lake, one of the lawyers here at the firm.

“There you are,” he says, smiling warmly at me. I smile back, or at least I think I do. He’s a very, very good-looking man, and it’s hard to pay attention in his presence.

“Yes, do you need something, sir?” I ask, quickly opening my laptop.

He grins and hands me a piece of paper. “Could you please email Mr. Smith and let him know his court date and time? I have to head out to court now myself.”

I nod and look down at the paper, familiar with the name of the client and his case. “No problem.”

“Excellent,” he replies, glancing at his watch, then looking back at me. “You know it’s not a crime to come in late every once in a while. I think this is only the second time you’ve done it since you started working here.”

My eyes widen. He pays that much attention? “I know it’s not a crime,” I say, looking him in the eye. “I just didn’t think that my honest excuse of my bes