when the earth moves
Cameron McGrath never
missed the first pitch of a Yankee game. He considered
it low class, bad luck and downright disrespectful to
a near-holy tradition. So when the receptionist announced
that a woman waited in the main lobby of Futura Investments
and insisted on seeing him, he swallowed a colorful curse.
have any more appointments today, Jen." To
be certain, he flipped open his PDA and checked
the calendar. Of course he wouldn’t schedule
anything past six on a game night. Especially
when they were playing Boston. "Who’s
smiled, and silently forgave the
young girl’s mistake. Jen
had personality and charm, and
that’s why she was out front. "Did
she say what company she’s
with? One of our clients? Or is
it some kind of sales call?"
doubt it was. Since he’d
taken over as the top attorney
at Futura Investments, it seemed
he spent far too little time on
the law and way too much time on
the legal department.
not with any company, Mr. McGrath." The
receptionist lowered her voice. "I
think this is personal. I mean – she
looks like someone, like maybe
she’s...she looks personal."
Amanda? She could be relentless
when ignored. It had only been
a week since he’d called
her – or was it two? Geez.
He’d been perfectly honest
from the beginning of their short
relationship, but that didn’t
stop any marriage-starved Manhattan
woman who had her sights set on
a new last name. His.
glanced at his watch. He’d
bring her along to the game. At
least he wouldn’t be late
and she’d count it as a date. "Tell
her I’ll be out in a minute.
Hope she’s dressed for a
laugh sounded a little surprised. "I
guess it depends on what you’re
Amanda, he’d place his bets
on a short leather skirt, a skimpy,
but painfully expensive top, and
heels as high as the Chrysler Building.
He smiled. She could be relentless
all right. And sometimes that worked
in everyone’s favor.
smile was still there as he loosened
his tie and turned the corner of
the Futura lobby, ready to greet
the former model he’d met
at a fundraiser two months earlier.
as he reached for the handle of
the glass doors, he froze mid-step
was not Amanda.
stood with her back to him, studying
the panoramic city view out the
floor to ceiling windows. A pair
of worn, faded jeans hugged a heart-shaped
backside, with one cowboy-booted
foot tapping the carpet, either
in impatience or to a tune that
played in her head. A thick mane
of reddish-brown hair covered most
of her back, just about kissing
the top of those sinful looking
jeans. And on her head, she wore
a black cowboy hat.
looked like one long, lean, bull-riding
he know this woman?
the sound of the lobby door opening,
she slowly turned, tipped her hat
back on her forehead and answered
that question with one heart-stopping
gaze. Nope. He’d never forget
that face. Wide-set eyes the color
of copper pennies, buttercream
skin and a mouth that demanded
hours of close scrutiny.
he noticed with a bit of surprise,
not a spec of makeup. He’d
never even seen Amanda without
makeup -– or at least the
remnants of it.
McGrath?" She took a few quick
strides toward him, the sound of
her boot heels on the marble floor
echoing the beat of his increased
I..." Help? No, help
was not on the list of things he
wanted to do to and for her. "I’m
Cam McGrath." He reached out
to shake her hand.
Ellen Tremaine." Her handshake
was solid, but her gaze held a
question, a sense of anticipation.
Was he supposed to recognize her
name? Was she opposing counsel
on a Futura case? He was drawing
a blank. Or maybe that was because
his brain cells had shut down in
deference to an alternative organ.
forced himself to focus on her
face, but she hoisted a tote bag
over her shoulder, sliding her
shirt a little to the side and
revealing the translucent skin
of her throat and collarbone.
know you’re off to a meeting," she
said. "So I won’t take
but a second of your time."
problem. It’s nothing urgent." Had
he just told her the Yankees and
Red Sox were not urgent? He had
to get a grip. Pretty women were
on every street corner in New York.
They just didn’t generally
come dressed for the rodeo. "What
can I do for you?"
glanced toward Jen, who hadn’t
missed one second of the brief
interplay. "Could I speak
with you privately?"
weighed his options. Spend some
time talking to this gorgeous cowgirl.
Be late for the Yankees. Cowgirl.
office is right down the hall." He
tilted his head in invitation.
She took off her hat and shook back her hair, causing some silky strands
to fall over her shoulders. His gaze dropped over her pale blue button-down
shirt, complete with silver snaps.
Holding the door, he managed
a good long look at the fitted back pockets of her jeans again.
The Yankees would play at home eighty-one times this season.
A jaw-dropping version of Dale Evans would only appear in his
office once. He had definitely made the right choice.
"Can I offer
you something to drink, Ms. Tremaine?" he asked
as they entered his office and he closed the door.
can call me Jo. And unless you
have an ice cold Bud on tap, I’m
chuckled a little. "Wouldn’t
you know it? My office tap is out." He
suddenly remembered the six-pack
of Amber Bock in his refrigerator
at home. Intended for Saturday’s
softball game, but easily replaced. "Or
we could go somewhere else."
thanks." She stood in the
middle of the room, her gaze direct
and unwavering. "This won’t
take that long. I hope."
heard an infinitesimal catch in
her voice, something only a lawyer
trained to sniff out half-truths
and cover-ups would notice.
gestured toward the sofa in the
sitting area of his office. "Please.
Have a seat."
folded herself into one of the
chairs, her endless faded denim
and black boots looking oddly out
of place on the chrome and leather
divan he’d had designed when
he took over the massive corner
you from around here...Jo?" The
name suited her. She wasn’t
feminine. Womanly, oh yeah. But
nothing fluttered in her movements,
not her fingers, not her eyelashes.
Jo. He liked it.
from Sierra Springs, California."
inched back in surprise.
you heard of it?" She sounded
like she expected him to say yes.
can’t say that I have, but
you’ve come a long way. Is
Sierra Springs near the Silicon
Valley?" They had clients
out there, several of them. This
had to be related to Futura somehow.
shook her head, smoothing her jeans
with one long, slow stroke of her
hands, a whisper of a cynical smile
tipping her lips. "Not that
valley. Sierra Springs in on the
border between California and Nevada,
a hundred miles from Sacramento,
in the foothills of the Sierra
knowledge of the area geography
was scarce, at best. No clients
that he could think of. No potential
investments. Not much of anything
but the Ponderosa Ranch and some
second-class gambling in Reno. "Pretty
quiet up there, I bet."
was. Until the earth shook us down
to our boots and rattled our brains
into scrambled eggs."
earth?" He zipped through
a mental hard drive. What was she
talking about? "Oh, yes." He
snapped his fingers and pointed
at her. "I have heard of Sierra
Springs. There was an earthquake
there a few months ago. A big one."
nodded. "Five point six. And
some nasty aftershocks."
was definitely a lawsuit waiting
to happen. "Five point six,
whoa. That is major. Did it affect
-- were you hit hard?"
gaze traveled over those jean-clad
legs again, hoping against hope
that whatever her business they
wouldn’t be adversaries.
He’d very much prefer to
counsel her. Among other things.
She shrugged. "I
Family? Whoever, he had no doubt
that was at the root of this unorthodox
sorry to hear that." He seemed
to recall five people died at one
site. An apartment building. And
then the image of a firefighter
carrying a one-year-old from a
hellhole of debris flashed in his
mind. Of course – the baby
found in the rubble. It had been
on every news station for days.
she own the building? Did Futura?
Surely he’d have been briefed
on that kind of potential law suit
if they did.
what do you do in Sierra Springs?" With
some witnesses, the most innocuous
questions cut right to the truth.
He half-imagined she’d say
she roped horses and cattle, but
more likely, she was another lawyer.
They just dressed differently in
do body work."
pulse kicked up again. "Excuse
a collision repair expert." A
little light danced in her bronze-brown
eyes as she narrowed them. "I
own my own body shop."
she wasn’t a rodeo queen
or a lawyer. She pounded steel
for a living.
thinking, his gaze slid back to
her hands, long and slender and
not a grease stain on them. And
free of any jewelry – not
even a single gold band. "Well
you’ve certainly piqued my
curiosity, Ms...Jo. What brings
you to New York?"