Marriage Terms(6)

By: Barbara Dunlop

“Very good, sir.”

As the waiter left, Amanda raised her eyebrows in a question.

“You never know,” said Daniel. “We might be here awhile.”

“At the rate you’re talking, we sure will.”

He took a sip of his scotch. “Fine. I’ll cut to the chase. I’m looking into an interpretation of our employee manual.”

“The employee manual?”

How on earth was that a delicate matter? Here she thought the conversation, his life, was about to get interesting.

He nodded.

She shook her head in disappointment and reached for her athletic bag. “Daniel, I don’t practice corporate law.”

He trapped her hand on the table, and her entire arm buzzed with the sensation.

“What do you mean?” he asked.

She tried to ignore his touch. “I mean it’s not my specialty.”

“Well, maybe not labor relations…”

She shifted in her chair. She couldn’t yank her hand from his. That would be too obvious. “I practice criminal law.”

He stared at her in silence, the pulse in his thumb synchronizing with hers.

“Crime,” she offered helpfully, tugging her hand ever so slightly.

He blinked in confusion.

“Surely you’ve read the newspapers, seen the dramas on television…”

“But…Private lawyers don’t prosecute criminals.”

“Who says I prosecute them?”

His hand tightened convulsively. “You defend them?”

“Yes, I do.” She made no bones about trying to free herself this time.

He let her go. He glanced away. Then he stared at her again. “What kind of criminals?”

“The kind that get caught.”

“Don’t be facetious.”

“I’m dead serious. The ones that get away with it don’t need me.”

“Like thieves, prostitutes, murderers?”


“Do the boys know about this?”

“Of course.”

He hardened his jaw. “I don’t like the sound of that.”

“Really?” As if his opinion had any bearing on her career decisions.

“Really, Amanda.” He reached for her hand with both of his this time. “I thought…” He shook his head. “But this is dangerous.”

His touch might be disturbing, but his words were even more so.

She fought him on both fronts. “This is none of your business, Daniel.”

He stared at her intently. “But it is my business.”


“You’re the mother of my children.”


“I can’t let anything—”


His hands tightened, and he got a familiar look in his eyes. That look said he had a plan. That look said he had a mission. That look said he was going to save her from herself.

Chapter 2

Daniel needed to talk to his sons. Well, one son, to start off with. He supposed he’d have to wait until the bandages came off to confront Bryan. But Cullen was getting a piece of his mind right away.

He tossed his credit card on the counter at the Atlantic Golf Course pro shop.

Amanda a criminal defense attorney? Of all the lunatic ideas. After their divorce she’d pursued her B.A., then a graduate degree in English literature, then three years of law school, and she was throwing it all away on lost causes?

The pro shop clerk bagged a royal-blue golf shirt, while Daniel signed the receipt.

Her clients probably paid her off in stolen stereos.

Maybe the bank robbers had cash—small, unmarked bills. And then only as long as they’d pulled a few successful jobs before they got caught.

His ex-wife was defending bank robbers. His sons had known she was in danger.

All these years, and they hadn’t bothered saying anything. Was it not a salient point to bring up in conversation?

“By the way, Dad. You might be interested to know that Mom’s consorting with thieves and murderers.”

Sure, he and Amanda had agreed not to bad-mouth each other in front of their kids. And, for the most part, that meant not talking about each other in the early years of the divorce. But Bryan and Cullen were grown men now. And they were perfectly capable of seeing danger when it hovered in front of their eyes.