Marriage Terms(5)

By: Barbara Dunlop


“My life. My job. Just like everybody else.”

“You’re a lawyer.”

“I’m aware of that.”

“Amanda, lawyers usually—”

“Daniel,” she warned. Whatever it was they were here to discuss, it wasn’t going to include her clothing.

“All I’m saying is drop by a boutique. Get a standing appointment at a salon—”

“My hair?”

He paused and something flickered in his expression. “You’re a beautiful woman, Amanda.”

“Right,” she huffed. Too bad she had ugly clothes and bad hair.

“I’m talking a couple of blazers and a bit of a trim.”

“So I won’t get carded at Boca Royce?”

“It’s not just the ID card, and you know it.”

She stiffened her spine. Maybe not. But it was also none of his business. “Back off, Daniel.”

Unexpectedly, he held up his hands in surrender. A few beats later he offered an apologetic grin.

Somehow his easy capitulation felt unsatisfying. Which was silly.

He reached across the table and snagged her napkin, dropping it beside her glass so their view of each other was unobstructed. Her gaze caught on his strong, tanned fingers, and she had a split-second flashback to his hand against her skin. She swallowed.

Their waiter appeared, setting their drinks down on coasters and leaving an appetizer menu behind.

“Hungry?” asked Daniel, letting the menu fall open.

As if she was going to drag this out over phyllo or sushi. “No.”

“We could get some canapés.”

She shook her head.

“Okay. Then I’m good with the scotch.”

She focused on the expensive amber liquid, ruthlessly reminding herself of who he’d become. It had been a long time since she’d served him Bud in a can.

“Thirty-dollar scotch?” she asked.

He closed the menu and set it aside. “What’s wrong with the scotch?”

“You ever drink beer anymore?”

He shrugged. “Sometimes.”

“I mean domestic.”

He lifted his glass and the ice cubes clinked against the fine crystal. “You’re a reverse snob, you know that?”

“And you’re a straight-up snob.”

He stared at her for a long moment, those knowing eyes sending a shiver up her spine.

Out of self-preservation, she dropped her gaze to the tabletop. She wouldn’t let Daniel’s opinion get the better of her. Forget the haircut. Forget the designer clothes.

His opinion of her meant nothing, nothing at all.

“Why do you suppose…?” he asked softly, and she glanced up. He started again.

“Why do you suppose we argue so much?” The question was undeniably intimate.

She refused to match his tone. “Because we cling to the hope that one day we might change each other’s minds.”

He was silent for a long moment. And then a genuine grin grew on his face.

“Well, I’m open to improvement if you are.”

Uh-oh. She didn’t know where he was going with this disarming act, but it couldn’t be good. “Can we cut to the chase?”

“There’s a chase?”

“The confidential legal matter? The thing you brought me up here to discuss?”

A fleeting expression tightened his features, and he shifted in his chair. “Oh, that. It’s a matter of some, uh, delicacy.”

That got her attention. “Really?”

“Yes.”

She leaned forward. Was there a veiled message in those words? Was Daniel in some kind of trouble?

“You telling me you did something?” she asked.

He blinked. “Did something?”

“You actually broke the law?”

His brows knit together. “Don’t be absurd. Jeez, Amanda.”

“Well, then, what’s with this secret meeting in the middle of the day? And why with me?”

“This isn’t a secret meeting.”

“We’re not at your office.”

“Would you come to my office?”

“No.”

“There you go.”

“Daniel.”

“What?”

“Get to the point.”

Their waiter appeared. “Anything from the menu, sir?”

Daniel barely turned his head. “The canapé tray will be fine.”

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