On October 15, 2013, my latest book, Finding Forever, will be released. Now, for the first time, check out the cover and read the first chapter
Jordan Priestley buried her mother, her alcoholism, and her California dreams to start over in Grande Valley, Texas. Defending the accused in a violent border town is a far cry from the entertainment law practice she abandoned, and that’s the way Jordan likes it. Happiness eludes her until a former client-turned-lover reappears, tempting her with a hopeful future, while dredging up mistakes from her past.
Jake Morrison paid his dues in the acting business. Now, his big break has arrived with a starring role in a major director’s next blockbuster film. The movie shoot takes Jake to Grande Valley, where he seeks to reconnect with the one woman he couldn’t forget. As Jake slowly breaks through Jordan’s defenses, an old girlfriend resurfaces, threatening their future and Jordan’s fragile sobriety.
Will Jake and Jordan take a chance on forever, or will reminders of their past be too much to overcome?
Jake Morrison stared out the window as the plane taxied to the gate, wondering what he’d gotten himself into. For the last half hour, as they made their descent into Grande Valley, Texas, he’d studied the scenery, trying to find something—anything—appealing about the place he would be calling home for the next three months. He’d found nothing other than dirt. Lots and lots of dirt.
For a born and bred Midwesterner who’d called Southern California home for the past fifteen years, life in the desert of West Texas would be an adventure. Thankfully, only a temporary one. That was the great thing about movie locations. They were sometimes awful, but always temporary. Still, as Jake retrieved his carry-on bag from the overhead bin and made his way through the horde of people into the airport terminal, he almost wished his agent could have scored him a movie location in Maui, complete with surf boards and bikini-clad women. Then again, no woman in Maui could hold a candle to one in particular in Grande Valley, Texas, giving Jake’s current location an edge.
He scrolled through the messages on his phone while waiting at the rental car counter. Three from Macy, but she was the last person Jake wanted to talk to. Heck, getting away from her was one of the reasons he signed on to do this movie. He couldn’t take the drama anymore. There were two other calls, from his agent and his publicist. Jake knew which one he wanted to return first, as well as which one he should. He made the practical choice. If he didn’t check in with Greg right away, the agent would just keep calling.
“So you made it,” Greg said.
“Obviously.” The electronic doors opened and Jake stepped outside, immediately feeling the blast of heat. “Son of a bitch,” he muttered.
Greg laughed. “I was just going to ask if you’d been outside yet. I guess that answers my question.”
Jake shielded his eyes as he dug sunglasses out of his bag. “Christ, it’s hot enough to melt hell here.” Already his shirt clung to his body. Maybe having the airline deliver his luggage directly to the hotel later was a bad idea. Now he wouldn’t have a change of clothes for at least a couple hours, but he didn’t want to wait to see Jordan.
“Yeah, but it’s a dry heat.”
“If you say so.” Jake walked in the direction of the rental car lot. “I thought I told you I wanted a beach. Instead, you gave me tumbleweeds.”
“You can’t exactly film a movie about border-town drug wars on the beach, Jake,” Greg said. “And we’re talking Reece White here. This could be your big break.”
Big break. Jake had been hearing that one for years, ever since he got his first contract role on a soap opera that ended up being canceled. Still, he wanted to believe that this movie really could be his ticket to stardom. Reece White was certainly an up-and-coming director. “If it is, I’ll forgive you for stranding me in the desert for three months.” He located the numbered stall containing his car. “I need to make another call. I’ll check in later.”
Jake tossed his bag in the car, cranked the air conditioner on, put his phone on speaker and rang his publicist as he drove out of the lot. “Do you have her address?” he asked when Val answered.
“I do.” She hesitated. “Whether I think it’s a good idea to give it to you is another matter.”
He figured she might pull something like that. They’d gone a few rounds when he made the request right before leaving Los Angeles. “C’mon, Val. Don’t play games. I need the address.”
“You’re there to film a movie, Jake. No distractions.”
“My first set call isn’t for two days,” he reminded her.
Val grumbled, but rattled off an address. “Fine, but get this little dalliance out of the way before you report to the set.”
“This one’s no dalliance,” Jake said. “She’s special. She’s the one who got away.”
“I’ve heard that before,” Val said, and everything about her tone indicated she was skeptical.
“Yeah, but not from me,” Jake countered. “Thanks. You’re the best publicist a guy could ask for.”
Val chuckled. “I’ll remember you said that. And you remember what I said. Any hint of trouble out there, you’re finding a new ‘best publicist.’”
“Yes, ma’am,” Jake said. “And don’t worry. I left trouble behind.”
Fifteen minutes later, he arrived at the address Val provided. A window-front office building a few blocks from the county courthouse. Jake was used to high-rise office buildings and big firms, not solo operations. Still, as he walked inside and looked around the small reception area, he found it very inviting, with its leather chairs and soft earth tones. A Southwestern motif adorned the wall, and an attractive brunette sat behind a reception desk.
“Can I help you?” The girl greeted him with a friendly smile.
“Yes. I’m here to see Jordan.”
“Ms. Priestley is in court this afternoon, but if you’d like to leave your name and number, I can have her call you to set up an appointment.”
Jake glanced at the clock behind the desk. Almost four. “The courthouse ought to be closing pretty soon. I think I’ll wait, if you don’t mind.” He had nothing better to do, and besides, at least it was cool in the office.
The receptionist frowned. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea. She’s finishing up a big trial and she doesn’t accept new clients by walk-in. You need an appointment.”
“Oh, I’m not a new client,” Jake said. “I’m an old friend.” He just hoped Jordan would agree with that description.
Jordan stood and watched as the jury exited the courtroom before turning to her client. He might be two months past his nineteenth birthday, but he looked much younger. He was also now a convicted felon, but at least wasn’t heading to prison. In that regard, Jordan’s afternoon wasn’t a total loss. “Good luck, Trey,” she said.
“Thanks for everything you did, Jordan.” He extended a hand. “I mean that.”
The verdict hadn’t gone in their favor, but the sentencing had, and she knew he was relieved to receive probation. Jordan chalked that up as a victory, guilty verdict notwithstanding. “You’re welcome. Just don’t mess this up.”
He vowed he wouldn’t, but as Jordan watched the young man exit the courtroom, some doubt lingered whether her words would carry any weight.
“I should probably congratulate you,” the prosecutor said when they were alone.
“Likewise,” Jordan said. “You got your conviction.” Her former law school classmate, Beth Brewster, was finishing her first term as district attorney and up for re-election. The conviction was what mattered, though Jordan knew Beth wasn’t happy to have lost the sentencing phase.
“He should do time,” Beth said. “But you swayed the jury with the whole rotten childhood thing.”
Jordan shrugged, not offering any apology for her tactics. “He’s practically still a kid. He deserves another chance.” The jury obviously agreed with her.
“Bleeding-heart liberal,” Beth teased.
Jordan laughed. “Bite me.” It was a familiar refrain. There was a time when Beth would have looked at Jordan with pure spite, and Jordan didn’t blame her. Thankfully, they were past that, and she now counted Beth as a close friend, even though they landed on opposite sides of the courtroom as well as the political spectrum.
“What are you doing later?” Beth asked as they left the courthouse. “Want to come over for dinner? Aaron’s still in Dallas.”
Jordan squinted in the blazing summer sun and stopped to remove the jacket of her business suit. “I’ll take a rain check,” she said. “It’s my meeting night, and I don’t want to miss.”
Beth’s brow furrowed. “Are you okay, Jordan?” Concern was evident in her voice. “I know it was a tough case.”
“I’m fine.” One of the hardest things about being an alcoholic in recovery was making others understand that when Jordan said she needed to go to a meeting, it didn’t mean she felt vulnerable. It meant she didn’t want to get to the point where she did. “I just want to make sure it stays that way.”
Jordan said goodbye to Beth and walked the two blocks back to her office, grateful she’d chosen a sleeveless blouse under her suit. She was even more grateful that Jen always kept the office thermostat set to frigid and she was met with a blast of cold air as soon as she opened the door.
“How’d it go, boss?” Jen asked.
Jordan flashed a thumbs-up. “Probation.”
Jen grinned. “You’re a rock star.”
“I am indeed.”
“There’s a gentlemen in the conference room who would like to see you.”
Jordan sighed. “I don’t take walk-ins unannounced, especially when I’ve just finished a long trial. You know that, Jen.” Still, she kept her tone gentle. Good office help wasn’t easy to find, and Jen had been with her since the early days of opening a solo law practice, when she struggled to make payroll every two weeks. Jen was loyal, and Jordan appreciated that.
“Yes, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer,” Jen said. “Oh, and he’s very handsome.”
Which explained why her receptionist let him stay. Jordan rolled her eyes. “That might be important criteria if I were looking for a husband. In a prospective client, not so much.”
Jordan walked down the hall to the conference room and pushed the door open. The man was seated with his back to her, resting his legs on her cherry conference table, which immediately annoyed her. Presumptuous, much? At least he wore nice loafers—probably Italian leather, she decided—rather than dusty cowboy boots.
“I see you’ve made yourself right at home,” she said. “I’ll have to ask you to leave, though. I’m not seeing clients today.”
“Oh, I don’t need a lawyer. I have a whole team of them back in Cali.” The man stood and turned around. “You were always the best, though. In more ways than one.” He smiled. “Hiya, Jordan.”
The deep baritone of his voice was instantly familiar even before he showed his face, and she’d never forget those gray eyes. Four years ago, Jordan had left California behind and never looked back. She preferred it that way. Now a piece of her life there was standing in her office, and damned if he wasn’t still as sexy as ever. “Jake.”
Available October 15 in eBook and paperback.