Authors: Toye Lawson Brown




Dillon Stevenson and Taylor James are young, carefree, and practice law
at the prestigious law firm of Cartwright & Associates LLP specializing in
complex litigation.  The two were not just colleagues, but best friends that
grew up together in the same neighborhood and attended the same high school. 
They separated to attend different colleges after graduation where somehow fate
reunited them to practice law at the same firm.  Both were vying to make
partner at the end of the year.  The two spots available for the lucrative
title to be chosen by the Managing Partners, had Taylor and Dillon looking to
further that next step in their careers by snagging the title and larger office. 
Until the hiring of a new attorney and an envious girlfriend, upset the


This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and
incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used
fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business
establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental.

This ebook is licensed for the buyer’s personal enjoyment only. This
ebook may not be re-sold, uploaded via the internet, copied, printed, or redistributed
without the written permission of the publisher or author. If you would like to
share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for
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First published
by BooksbyToye 2013

Cover design
copyright Toye Lawson Brown, Lenny C. Middlebrook, and David Gunnels

Editors and
Proofreading provided by Lois Jean and Kim Barnum

Copyright © 2013 Toye
Lawson Brown

Published by: BooksbyToye

All rights



Chapter 1

Taylor James and Dillon Stevenson ate lunch together on the
patio of the restaurant located on the property of the building where they
worked.  This routine was one they did almost every day, at the same time, and
if the weather permitted, outside.  Today was one of those days to eat
outdoors.  The sun was shining, and the seventy-five degree temperature made
perfect for the beginning of summer in downtown Cleveland.

Taylor picked apart the majority of the salad she had for lunch. 
She did this with each purchase of a Spring-mix salad.  She hated the dark
purple leaves and would dig and deconstruct the salad until every bitter piece
was gone.

Sitting across from her, watching as she scavenged through
the container of mixed greens, Dillon chuckled. “Why do you get that salad and
then dissect it down to nothing?  You have maybe two forkfuls left to eat after
you’re done.”

“Yeah, it does look pretty sad,” she laughed.

“Why not just make a salad from the salad bar and get the
stuff you do like?”

Taylor frowned making a sour face. “Ew, I will not use the
salad bar.  You know I have concerns with people sneezing or coughing over open

“You are a classic germaphobe.”

“I won’t argue that.  Anyhow, I am trying to stay healthy so
we can take that cruise to the Bahamas.  Will Kate be able to secure a deal for
us in August?”

He nodded. “Yeah, she confirmed us for the week of August
4th.  It will be good to get away for seven whole days.  I’ve had it with work
and need a vacation.”

She threw her hands in the air clapping and wiggling. “Thank
goodness you have a sister that is a travel agent.  This has been a rough year
with the heavy caseloads and Dustin quitting in the middle of a hot case. 
Plus, it has been hard for me to keep my tongue in check with some of the other

“Tell me about it.”  Dillon slathered his burger with
mustard and mayo shoving a big bite in his mouth.”

“So, have you told Kelly about the cruise yet?” She asked
drizzling a tiny portion of the balsamic vinaigrette over the remainder of the
salad greens.

He shook his head.  “Not yet.”

“The excitement of holding it in must be killing you.  Why
won’t you tell her?  She will need to request vacation time.”

He adjusted his horn-rimmed glasses up on his straight nose.
“I’m going to tell her soon.  Lately, she’s been a little snippy with me.” He
tapped his finger on the table nervously. “I’ve been mulling around the idea of
maybe just the two of us going by ourselves….how would you feel about that?”

Chewing slowly, Taylor lifted her head squinting from the
beam of bright sun shining straight in her face. “That would be awkward.”

“Why? Taylor, we are close friends and have been for a long

“Yes, this is true, but people also know you are engaged to
Kelly.  It would be best if we kept the plans the way they are and not give
people a reason to talk.”

“Geez, would it be a bad rumor being connected to me?”

“It is not like that, Dillon, and you know it.  If we went
out together, it would be like dating my brother.  I think of you as my brother
from another mother,” she joked.

He mumbled under his breath a barely audible reply. “One day
I will get you to change your mind about me.”

She pressed the button on her cell phone to check the time. 
“What did you say?”

Dillon shook his head disposing the remainder of his lunch
in the container after losing his appetite. “I didn’t say anything.”

“Kelly is probably snapping because she is stressed from
planning a huge wedding and needs a break,” Taylor said applying fresh lipstick
using the mirror of her compact to see what she was doing.

Dillon’s mouth dried when she pouted and twisted her lips to
check for smudges.  She had the sexiest set of lips he had ever seen on a
woman. “She probably is stressed and so am I.  I wanted this vacation to be my
last hurrah before tying the knot.”

“Too late for that, your hurrahs ended when you proposed. 
I, on the other hand, am still deciding if I should take a date or maybe go
alone and meet a handsome, mysterious man on the cruise,” she said tapping a
long manicured fingernail against her chin.

Unexpectedly, he abruptly said, “I don’t want to marry her,

Once the shock wore off from his words, she pounded her fist
on the picnic table.  “Dillon, why didn’t you bring this up when we had time to
talk about it?  We have to go back to work in a few minutes!”

“Come on, Taylor.  You know I had doubts about getting

“You did mention doubts and they didn’t seem serious to me. 
I assumed you were kidding.  You and Kelly have been a couple since college.”

“She has changed over the years.  I’m getting a vibe there
may be someone else in the picture.”

Taylor leaned back looking at her friend.  Dillon was the
quiet type but likable and witty once he warmed up to people.  He wasn’t extremely
handsome or muscular, but above average in looks and stood five feet, ten
inches tall, weighing around one hundred and fifty pounds with straight
brownish-blonde hair and dark blue eyes.

“We’ll have to take a break for coffee and discuss this. 
You can’t drop a bomb like that and not explain why you’re having suspicions
about her all of a sudden.”

He dropped his head running his fingers through his hair.
“My suspicions are not sudden, I’ve always had them.”

Taylor stood up from the table.  Her five feet, six inch
slender curvaceous frame, filled the sleeveless blue linen dress to
perfection.  Long thick black curly hair flowed over her shoulders. The auburn
highlights streaking through the black tresses, stood out under the bright

His eyes followed the length her body to meet her angelic
face.  “Taylor, I need your advice.  What should I do?”

“Kelly is not cheating on you.  That girl loves you too much
to jeopardize what you two have together.  What you have is a classic case of
cold feet, and you are getting them too soon.  The wedding isn’t for another

“Maybe that is what I’m going through….cold feet.” He rose
from the table to follow her. He let her go ahead of him as she started up the
steps for the walk back to their office.  He didn’t do it as a courteous
gesture but as a way to watch her.

Taylor James carried herself in a feminine manner.  She
always smelled good, dressed impeccably and spoke eloquently.  He grinned as
her plump hips elegantly swayed beneath the tight-fighting dress. Her bare
flawless legs were shapely, and the high-heeled shoes emphasized her sexy walk
as she took the stairs one at a time. 

He cleared his head as they stepped into the elevator.
Taylor pushed the button for the twenty-first floor.  She fingered a wisp of
hair away from her face. “Do you and Kelly want to go to a wine tasting at
Bella’s tomorrow night?” She asked.

A man quickly placed his arm inside the elevator to stop the
doors from closing.  A handsome man of Hispanic descent stood next to Taylor. 
Dillon caught the expression on Taylor’s face.  She flashed an intriguing smile
as his mild cologne filled the car.  The man’s eyes lingered on Taylor as he
nodded at Dillon.  Pushing the button to the thirtieth-floor—the reception area
of the law firm, he settled against the wall of the elevator car looking forward.

Dillon shook his head knowing he’d lost Taylor’s attention
to the muscular, smelly stranger standing beside her, but answered her anyway.
“I’ll ask Kelly if she wants to go, if not, we can go together.”

She blinked turning her attention to him. “Um…oh okay, just
let me know.”

The doors opened to the twenty-first floor.  Dillon allowed
Taylor to exit first.  He watched as the man tilted his head to the side
checking her out.  Dillon rolled his eyes slightly and moved behind Taylor to
block his view as they entered the security doors.

The pair parted ways in the hall. Taylor waved as she went
to her office, and he went to his.  Sitting behind his desk, he turned on the
computer.  His mind drifted to Taylor as it always did when he was alone.

He adjusted his glasses and attempted to settle into work.
Grabbing a manila folder from the pile on his desk, he removed the contents.
Taylor poked her head inside his office. “Hey, Mr. Brantley wants to see us in
his office, ASAP.”

Dillon removed his glasses rubbing his eyes. “What does he

She shrugged her shoulders now hidden under a blue suit
jacket that matched her dress. “Lynda caught me in the hall saying he wanted to
see us immediately.  We’ll find out what he wants once we get to his office.”

Dillon took his suit coat from behind the chair putting it
on as they left his office.  Taking the elevator to the thirtieth-floor, they
waited for Brantley’s secretary to announce their arrival instead of walking
inside the Managing Partner’s office.

The secretary escorted both inside the spacious office that
made two of the standard-sized associate offices.  Todd Brantley greeted them.
“Taylor, Dillon, I’m sorry to take you away from your work, but this is worth
it.  I have heard how overworked you two have been recently, and I did
something about it.”

Taylor smiled. “Thank you, Mr. Brantley; we could use more
hands on deck.”

“I have you extra support. I would like you both to meet
Mario Infante. He is joining the firm as a partner in the Complex Litigation
department.  Mario is a highly respected litigator in complex ligation among
other practice areas and holds a ninety-eight percent win ratio. I think he
will fit in with us just fine.”

Mario ran his hands through his sleek black hair.  His
Spanish accent flowed prevalent as the words rolled from his mouth. “Todd,
you’re laying it on a bit thick aren’t you?”

“I’m not embellishing on your talents, Mario.  You are what
this firm needs to kick this practice area up a notch.”

“I will make sure my work is up to par to match all the
glory you are giving me.”

“I’m sure it will and these two are on the fast-track to
making Partner in a short time.  They are mainly responsible for holding down
the Gallop Industries matter.  They have been working around the clock at
achieving a settlement with opposing counsel.  And, I believe they are close to
getting one.”

Dillon removed his hand from the pocket of his trousers
extending it to the man politely. “That we are.  Mr. Infante—we met informally
on the elevator.  Welcome aboard.”

“I’m Taylor James, Mr. Infante,” Taylor said smiling and
extending her hand. “I’ve heard of you and you have quite a reputation around
town.  If I can be of any assistance in helping you get settled, please don’t
hesitate to elbow into my office and grab me.”

Mario dropped Dillon’s hand to take Taylor’s hand in his.
“Thank you both for the warm welcome and I will be sure to do that, and, please
call me Mario.”

Todd Brantley stood between his two rising-star associates. 
“I’m glad you offered your services, Taylor.  I want you to work directly with
Mario and bring him up to speed on the Gallop Industries case.   The two of you
will be handling that project together.”

Dillon frowned. “Todd, are you pulling me from the case? 
Taylor and I have been negotiating a settlement for months.  If you pull me
now, it could possibly compromise all the hard work we’ve put into getting this
matter settled and closed.”

“Why would that happen?  Taylor will remain on the case, and
is capable of continuing the negotiations.”

“I’m aware she is capable of handling it.  I’m just saying
we both have contacts we’re dealing with on different levels.  Why shake the
boat and have people become uncomfortable with the sudden change.”

“Dillon, you were taken away from a bigger case to help Taylor
when Dustin quit.  Well guess what is back. Electric Tech Medical Products has
returned to the front-burner.  We need your expert talents to help put it to
bed again.”

The tone of Dillon’s voice was somewhat arrogant. “Really,
my expert talents are needed?  Tell me, Todd, in what capacity will I serve on
Electric Tech this time?  Last time all I did was coordinate and delegate work
to the paralegals.”

Todd uneasy with Dillon’s tone replied, “I had not planned
on getting into specifics today, but since you’ve asked, Anderson Cartwright
requested you take lead duties.  Taking on Electric Tech comes with an early
promotion to Partner.”

Taylor’s eyebrow rose from the blow of Todd’s announcement. 
Keeping her professionalism intact, she leaned over to him. “Congratulations,

Dillon’s body language did not reflect the same excitement
as Taylor’s congratulations on his promotion. “Thank you, Todd, but Partner
promotions aren’t made until the end of the year.  Why is this requiring me to
be promoted now?”

Todd became irritated with Dillon’s persistent pressure on
talking about a private matter.  He suggested strongly to the man threatening
to cut his own throat. “Dillon, we will meet later to discuss and go over the
details of why this is happening so suddenly.”

Dillon shrugged his shoulders. “I apologize if I sound
ungrateful, Todd.  Making Partner has always been my goal; I’m concerned about
leaving Taylor in a loop.”

Taylor spoke up. “Are you crazy? Take your newfound status
and run with it.  I’ll be fine, and Mario IS the best in the litigation
business.  I’m sure he will catch on quick and be able to charm the client with
the change in arms.”

Dillon threw up his arms and surrendered.  Turning to Mario,
he said, “Gallop is all yours.  I will have my assistant organize my files and
have them to you by the end of the week.  Until then, I will forward you all
electronic data so you can get familiar with what I’ve done so far.”

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