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Beacon news reporter Lindsey Fox is on the verge of breaking a huge story of political corruption that will make her career and make her famous journalist parents proud—or she could be thrown in jail and fired. It really could go either way. Her streak of bad luck continues when Lindsey finds herself facing a bogus contempt charge—and attorney and former bad date Ben Gillespie is appointed to get her out of the slammer.
Ben can totally believe that Lindsey is behind bars. The woman is trouble. Now he has to get his new client out of jail and away from a shady P.I., help her save her job, and convince her to put down the pepper spray and give him another chance.
This book is near and dear to me because it was so much fun to write. I hope you enjoy spending time with Lindsey and Ben, too.
Read on for a sneak peek at A Good Kind of Trouble!
Ben Gillespie checked his watch for the third time in as many minutes. How long was it going to take these two clowns to wrap up their petty dispute? The judge was going to rule for the plaintiff. The defendant’s lawyer—a sleazy, overpaid blowhard named Gregory Stanton—hadn’t met the standard for getting the civil case dismissed. Yet the jerk was going on and on, dragging the argument out far longer than necessary, as if he were being paid by the word. Or by the minute, which was more accurate.
Ben shifted in his seat. The courtroom, which had been packed at the beginning of the morning calendar, was now nearly empty. His case was up next and would take five minutes. No sign of opposing counsel, so it might only take three minutes. He’d tried sweet-talking the clerk into putting him at the top of the docket, but others had gotten to her first. Instead, he spent an hour watching other lawyers haggling over motions, trial dates, settlements and procedural disputes.
To be honest, it could have been worse. He could have been at the office.
“Motion to dismiss denied,” Judge Camille Kinley said.
Finally. Ben gathered his briefcase as the plaintiff’s attorney passed by, giving Ben a curt nod. The defense attorney paused and picked up his briefcase from the seat next to Ben, his presence bringing a sense of dread. Gregory Stanton straightened the collar on the ugliest suit jacket Ben had ever laid eyes on.
“See you back in the office, Gillespie,” he said. “Good luck.”
“Thanks, boss,” Ben said, watching Stanton leave the courtroom.
The clerk called Ben’s case and he walked to the podium.
“Good morning, your honor,” he said. “Ben Gillespie for the defendant, Oaks Insurance.”
The appearance in front of Judge Kinley was a routine matter. Ben’s client, an insurance carrier, had finally worn down the plaintiff and convinced him to settle the case over a car accident for an outrageously low sum. The settlement meant the trial date could be vacated. The papers were filed, the case closed, and Ben took a few steps away from the podium.
“Um, Mr. Gillespie,” Judge Kinley said.
Had he done something wrong? Forgotten to dismiss a motion or ask for a waiver of … something? He searched his memory, but nothing came to mind. Then again, he sometimes felt like he handled these appearances on autopilot.
“Yes, your honor?”
Judge Kinley took off her glasses and rubbed the bridge of her nose.
“I have an unusual request, Mr. Gillespie,” she said. “I need someone to represent a person on a civil contempt matter just referred from Judge Chinn’s court. It won’t take long.”
Ben paused, his mind on his calendar. He didn’t have anything pressing back at the office. And he’d rather avoid that hellhole if possible. He couldn’t very well say no to Judge Kinley anyway. He had far too many cases in front of her.
“Of course, your honor,” he said.
She sighed. “Your client is in the holding cell.”
Ben followed the courtroom bailiff out the side door. He’d never been back to the holding cell. His clients were insurance companies and corporations, not actual people. Especially not criminal-type people.
The holding cell looked like a wall of bars had been thrown up at the end of a hallway as an afterthought. A woman sat on the bench built into the back wall. She was leaning forward, her head in her hands, and her long blonde hair obscured her face. She was wearing a white blouse, a blue skirt, and had really nice legs.
He was still staring at those legs when his new client gasped.
“What are you doing here?”
That voice. He knew that voice.
The last time he’d heard that voice, he was in unspeakable pain. Out of instinct, he took a step backward, his eyes scanning the room. Her purse sat on a table by the door, safely out of her reach.
“I was just appointed to represent you.”
The blonde stood and walked to the front of the small cell. She grasped the vertical bars and raised her chin to look him in the eye.
“No,” she said. “Officer, I want a different lawyer. This one doesn’t do criminal law. He chases ambulances.”
“Not quite, but I appreciate the sentiment,” Ben said. “Judge Kinley appointed me, so you’re stuck with me. And by the way, this—” He motioned toward the bars with both hands. “This doesn’t surprise me one bit.”
She put her hands on her hips, her eyes narrowed, and her mouth tightened. The bailiff snickered and Ben turned toward him. “I need a minute with my client.”
The bailiff grinned. “Good luck,” he said in a low voice, giving Ben a wink.
“You have no idea,” Ben replied.
The door to the courtroom closed and Ben approached the cell, careful to stay about three feet from the bars. He was reminded of his trips to the zoo as a child, getting close to the tiger’s cage, but not close enough for those claws to slash out between the bars.
“No, no, no,” his new client said. “The newspaper is going to get me a lawyer. A real lawyer.”
“Until they do, I’m your lawyer,” Ben said. “So you might as well tell me what you did this time, Lindsey.”
Lindsey Fox may have looked like any other young, professional woman—polished, pretty, intelligent—but he knew better. Ben only felt safe because of the bars between them. She was not to be trusted.
“The judge doesn’t seem to understand that California has a shield law. And I’m a reporter, and therefore I don’t have to testify.” She sounded pretty sure of herself for someone on the wrong side of the bars.
“Yeah, how’s that working out for you?” Ben said.
“Just get me out of here, Ben. Think you can manage that?”
“I don’t know, I think I hear a siren,” he said, putting one hand to his ear.
“I’m supposed to rely on you to get me out of here? Are you kidding me?”
“Gee, Lindsey, it almost sounds like you don’t trust me to help you out,” he shot back. “What are you afraid of? That I might want to keep you locked up?”
Her eyes narrowed. “Did it occur to you that you might have a conflict here?”
Ben shook his head.
“We had one bad date. I’m over it. I’m a professional. I can do my job,” he said. “Though, just to be clear, that was by far the worst date I’ve ever had in my life.”
“Oh, really? And that was my fault?”
“Well, let’s see, you got drunk and—”
“I was not drunk.”
“You kept falling down.”
“I was wearing new shoes. They were heels. It was hard to walk in them.”
“Here’s a tip, sweetheart—men don’t notice shoes. But they sure as hell notice a woman who is constantly falling on her ass.”
“I merely stumbled,” Lindsey argued.
He leaned in toward the bars. “Then you were eavesdropping on the people at the table behind us.”
“It was the mayor and he was dining with a lobbyist. The lobbyist who was trying to get the stadium built downtown.”
“Then I got food poisoning,” he said.
“Okay, that one is not my fault.”
He supposed he had to give her that one, but he was unwilling to concede the point. “Then, of course, the finale—”
The door from the courtroom opened and the deputy stuck his head in the holding cell area. “You two done talking?”
Ben shook his head. “Give us a few more minutes.”
The door clicked shut again. Ben studied Lindsey, who was now pacing the small cell. She looked good. For a criminal.
“Seriously, Lindsey, what did you do?”
“I refused to testify and the judge wants to throw me in jail,” she said.
“Why isn’t the Beacon’s attorney here?”
“Because I haven’t had a chance to call anyone. Gomer there took my cell phone.”
“Good to see you’re making friends here,” Ben said. He took his cell phone out of his pocket and she reached through the bars for it. He held it out of reach. “Give me the number.”
She recited the phone number and Ben dialed. It was the direct line to the editor’s desk and he answered with an indecipherable, and likely profane, greeting. Ben explained the situation to the editor, who seemed unperturbed by the news that one of his staff was in jail. Then he was put on hold.
“What’d Sam say?” Lindsey asked.
“He put me on hold,” Ben said, rubbing his forehead where a headache began to form.
Lindsey paced the length of the tiny cell. “Is he back yet?”
“No, but don’t worry, I bill in six-minute increments.”
“You’re a jackass,” Lindsey said. “And for the record, you were the worst date I’ve ever had, and I’ve had some doozies.”
“Really? You think—”
Ben’s retort was cut off by the woman’s voice on the cell phone. “Lara Petrie.”
“What? Really?” Ben asked, confused. “The Laura Petrie?”
In his mind, he could clearly see the flickering black and white image of Laura Petrie, the pert and beautiful TV wife of Dick Van Dyke.
A long sigh. “No, a different one. Lara, not Laura. Is this Mr. Gillespie?”
“It is,” Ben said. “I’m with Lindsey Fox at the holding cell in Judge Kinley’s court. You coming down here to get her out?”
“No, I’m in-house counsel,” Lara Petrie said. Ben imagined her as a tall woman in slim capri pants with a flippy haircut. “I left a message for our—“
“Outhouse counsel?” he asked.
“Outside counsel,” she said. “They can’t be there today. Can you handle getting Ms. Fox out and setting this over for a hearing at a future date? The newspaper will pay you, of course.”
“Yeah, I think I can handle that,” Ben said. Lindsey was leaning toward him, trying to listen in on the call. He disconnected and gave her a grin. “Baby, you’re in good hands.”
She shook her head, her eyes wide with panic. “No, no, no.”
It almost felt too good to needle her. “Trust me, I’m a lawyer.”
This was possibly the worst day of Lindsey’s life. Worse than the time she got pulled over on the way to her brother’s wedding and had to do a sobriety test on the side of the road while wearing a bridesmaid dress. Worse than the time she accidentally gave her boss a peanut-laced cookie and he swelled up like a parade float and had to be revived by paramedics in the middle of the newsroom.
Even worse than the time she went out on a date with that lawyer who complained about his job all night, even though she was clearly trying to eavesdrop on what that sleazy lobbyist was promising the mayor, and then the jerk didn’t even call her again, even though the kissing portion of their date was fairly spectacular. Objectively speaking, she had to admit that her one and only encounter with Ben Gillespie had ended on a sour note. She probably wouldn’t have called, if their situations were reversed. Except for that part in the car. That sort of chemistry was definitely worth a phone call.
She certainly didn’t expect to see Ben ever again and especially not under these circumstances. Not sitting in a cell, waiting to face an angry judge. How had she ended up with her fate in Ben’s hands?
“This sucks,” she said.
“You do have a way with words,” Ben answered with a smug smile.
He wouldn’t be so smug if she could reach him through these bars. Stupid lawyers. She was stuck in this cage because of a lawyer.
“How long do you think I’ll be here?” She had a deadline to meet. She had a dog at home who needed to be fed and walked. And her feet were killing her.
“Not long. We’re going to set this for a hearing in a day or so, ask the judge to release you on O.R.—that’s ‘own recognizance’—and get you out as soon as possible.”
“I know what O.R. means,” she said.
“Well, someone’s been watching Law & Order reruns,” Ben said.
“No, I just date a lot of lawyers,” she said, feigning a yawn. “They do go on about their work.”
Ben gave her a tight smile. “I’ll tell the deputy—what was your charming nickname for him? Gomer? I’ll let Gomer know we’re ready to go before the judge.”
He left and Lindsey continued pacing. Three steps, turn, three steps. Was this what jail was like? Were the cells larger in the real jail? What if Ben couldn’t get her out and she had to spend the night in jail? What if, because of their disastrous date, he didn’t even try to get her out? There wasn’t another lawyer in this building who could help her? Maybe someone who didn’t have a grudge to avenge? The walls were closing in on her. She’d never been claustrophobic before. Then again, she’d never been in a jail cell before.
Ben didn’t return, but the bailiff did. He had a smirky look on his face, like he’d totally whip out that stun gun on his belt if she made any sudden moves. What had Ben said to him? Probably nothing good.
The deputy led her to the courtroom and minutes later, she was agreeing to return next week with the newspaper’s lawyer. Gomer handed her the confiscated cell phone and her leather messenger bag, and Ben practically pulled her out of the near-empty courtroom.
“What’s your hurry?” she asked, tripping as she tried to keep up with him. “I thought you’d want to slow down, bill another six minutes.”
“I want to get you out of here before the judge changes her mind.”
“Why would she do that? She’s not even the judge who threw me in jail.”
Ben glanced over his shoulder and tugged at her arm. “Let’s just get out of here,” he said again, tapping the elevator button repeatedly. When it didn’t immediately cause the door to open, he pulled her toward the steps.
“It’s the fourth floor,” Lindsey protested. She was wearing three-inch heels and a pencil skirt. Unless the building was on fire, stairs were not an option.
The elevator dinged and Lindsey dove for the barely opened door, Ben close behind her. He pushed the button to close the door, his eyes on the hallway outside the courtroom.
“I’m sure the judge isn’t going to chase me down the hallway,” she said. They were the only ones in the elevator. Ben’s eyes were on the door, so Lindsey studied his profile. Even though she was five foot nine with the extra height from her heels, she had to tilt her face up to look at him. His brown hair waved slightly and her fingers flexed at the memory of running through the soft strands. The overhead fluorescent light accented his chiseled face, but his cheekbones were softened by the shadows cast by his long eyelashes.
The door opened to let a group of jurors in at the third floor. Lindsey was pushed against Ben as more people crowded in. She could feel the heat from his body and before she could stop it, her mind flashed on the night of their date when they’d been in his car parked in front of her apartment building. The man looked good in a suit. And he looked great halfway out of one. She swallowed hard and tried to focus on something else. Anything else.
The doors opened and the crowd slowly exited the elevator. Ben pushed her toward the opening and away from him.
Fine. She could take a hint. She hurried toward the courthouse exit.
Outside, a warm wind blew autumn leaves around the steps. Lindsey took a deep breath of freedom and promptly sneezed. The wind was also kicking up some dust.
“Where are you parked?” Ben asked.
“At the newspaper. I walked here from the office.”
“Okay, we’ll take my car,” Ben said. He still had her arm, as if she’d bolt.
“Why do you need to escort me back to the newsroom? I’m sure the paper is good for the money.” She paused, recalling the layoff rumors that had been circling lately. “Pretty sure.”
Ben put an arm around her shoulder and steered her through the courtyard and down the concrete steps to the street. He leaned toward her. She felt his breath on her ear and hated that the intimacy wasn’t altogether terrible.
“This source you’re protecting,” he said in a low voice. “Does this have anything to do with your coverage of the stadium contractor?”
How the hell could he know that? Her head jerked up and she met his gaze, but didn’t say anything.
If only he weren’t so good looking. It would be easier to hate him.
“Did you notice the couple of goons in the courtroom gallery?” he asked.
“No, I didn’t,” she said. She scanned the street. Just normal courthouse people—jurors on a mid-morning break, attorneys with briefcases, some clerks sitting on the benches across the street drinking coffee, a bike messenger speeding toward them. Nothing out of the usual. Certainly no goons.
As she watched, the bike messenger veered across traffic. His eyes were hidden by dark glasses, but he seemed to be looking right at her. Lindsey glanced around, but she and Ben were the only people on this side of the street. The messenger took advantage of a gap in traffic and crossed the street, bearing down on them, one hand off the handlebars.
“Oh, shit!” Ben pushed Lindsey out of the way just as the messenger took a swipe at her leather bag. Lindsey tumbled between two parked cars as the messenger’s grasping hand caught the edge of the strap and tugged. She hugged the bag to her chest, wresting it from the messenger’s hand. Her hands full, Lindsey couldn’t break her fall and hit the curb with her shoulder, her head snapping to the side and smacking the sidewalk. A flash of pain radiated from her temple to her shoulder.
The bike hit the side of a car with a thud and a long scrape of metal on metal.
“Oh, fu—” The man’s muttered curse was cut off as his midsection met the car’s side-view mirror.
“You okay?” Ben asked. Their legs had tangled on the way down and the weight of his body pressed her into the concrete. It was much less fun than the last time they were in this position.
“Yes.” Her vision had blurred from the pain in her shoulder and head, but the sound of his voice brought her to her senses. “I think so.”
She looked around, but the bike messenger was gone. She wiggled her fingers and started to stand. Her skirt was now split along the seam and a good six inches of her left thigh was now on display.
“I hope you’re wearing better shoes today, sweetheart,” Ben said, raising himself to a crouch. “Because we need to run.”
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