WHY DID IT HAVE TO BE YOU
Connie Wilkerson has worked her butt off to go from heartbroken paralegal with a drinking problem to becoming Pineville, Michigan’s fiercest new lawyer. But she’s still short on luck. Exhibit A: her very first case is against bad-boy contractor David Carelli.
Carelli has been a thorn in Connie’s side since high school, getting away with whatever he dreams up. He’s blond, handsome, and he dresses like a model. But everyone in town knows he cuts corners. Just the way he looks at her really gets Connie’s goat. She’s going to get him into chambers and settle the smug right out of him.
There’s just one problem. Exhibit B: Their supposedly hostile negotiations are turning hot instead. Now the jury is out on whether a second chance is recommended . . .
She knew he was trouble the moment he crossed her path. Big caramel eyes. Shaggy dark hair. An attitude as big as Lake Michigan. Head lowered, legs wide, he stood in the middle of the road like he owned it.
The brakes of her Jeep squealed as she rolled to a stop and put the vehicle in park. She met his suspicious glare with one of her own.
Connie Wilkerson peered down her narrow drive. It was about an eighth of a mile from her home to the main road along the bumpy dirt road, and no one else was in sight. What the hell was he doing here? And how had he gotten onto her driveway? Those were mysteries she didn’t have time to deal with. She had twenty minutes to make it to the courthouse for her first ever case as an attorney, and she couldn’t be late. Big and hairy didn’t look like he planned on moving out of her way anytime soon. Connie eyed the tuft of coarse brown hair jutting from his chin, and then the rows of rough-cut stones forming close walls around this stretch of driveway. Her fifteen-year-old Jeep had taken her over some rough terrain before, but attempting to roll over a two-foot rock wall would be foolhardy.
Leaning on her horn, she made shooing motions at him through the windshield. He dipped his head lower. Connie dug her nails into the steering wheel, her breaths coming short and fast. The clock on her dashboard told her she had eighteen minutes until court would be in session. She wiped away the dust covering the plastic clock face to confirm it. Yup, she was going to be late. Why did this crap always happen to her? She honked again, but the obstacle stood firm. She had to face the beast. Connie opened the door and lowered her sensible navy pumps to the ground, her two-inch heels sinking into the dirt. She reached into the backseat for the old steering wheel lock she never seemed to get around to throwing out, and held the metal bar in front of herself like a cattle prod.
“Move along.” She shook the club at him and took a small step forward. “Time to go on home.”
The goat cocked its head.
Connie narrowed her eyes. Sure, the mongrel might not understand her words, but any animal could understand from her waving a bar around that she wanted it to move. He didn’t have to look at her like she was crazy. Choking up on the club like a baseball bat, she swung it back and forth in the air. Unfazed, the goat snorted and pawed the ground. He must have escaped from a local farm, but she didn’t know of any that kept goats. Where the hell did he belong? She didn’t know that either, except it wasn’t on her driveway—or anywhere on her forested lot, for that matter.
“Well, you don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.” And now she was giving the stupid animal the bartender talk.
The goat reacted to it about as well as she had in her heyday. He blew her a big raspberry, a string of drool dripping into his chin hair.
Connie’s foot paused inches above the ground. She looked down at her double-breasted silk skirt suit, the one that she’d spent her first paycheck as an attorney on, and back at the slobbering beast. She took a step away. Retreating to her Jeep seemed like a much better idea. Maybe if she nudged him with her bumper he’d scamper off? And really, if he decided not to move and worse came to worst, would anyone miss the scruffy animal? Goats went missing every day. Her butt bumped the hood, and the animal chose that moment to charge. Throwing her torso on the Jeep, she reached for the seam where the hood met the windshield to pull herself up. The metal bar in her hand slammed into the windshield. A crack splintered along the glass, and her jaw dropped with each inch. She had barely a second to process the damage when something tugged sharply at the back of her skirt. Connie craned her neck and shrieked in outrage when she caught sight of the navy silk
caught firmly between the goat’s teeth. He smiled around his mouthful.
“No!” She kicked out, and the animal danced sideways, avoiding her foot while maintaining his grip. He backed up.
“Oh shit.” Abandoning the club, she gripped the waistband of the skirt being pulled down her hips. “Let me go!”
He lowered his head and took another step back. Something had to give: either her skirt or her position on the Jeep. Connie slid off the hood and landed in a heap on the dirt. She pulled a dark lock of hair away from her mouth and looked up at one pissy goat. The animal blew a foul smelling breath across her face, and nausea coiled in her stomach.
“I didn’t mean it about running you over. I swear.”
He jutted his chin, appearing unconvinced.
A branch broke, and both Connie and the goat swung their heads around as a deer walked through the pine trees about fifty feet away. The goat took off, leaping over the low wall, spraying clumps of dirt onto Connie’s lap. He trotted toward the buck, looking like he’d found his new best friend. Short black tail perked up straight, tongue lolling out the side of his mouth, he pranced around the deer, apparently forgetting the woman he’d just assaulted. The buck continued its stroll, ignoring the goat. Connie’s heartbeat thundered in her ears, and she pressed a hand to her chest. “What just happened?” Neither animal answered. Connie was used to wildlife around her home. She’d bought the small house out in the woods because of its rundown back porch where she could sip her coffee and watch the mourning doves and woodpeckers flit about. She’d even seen an elk and a fox roam her property at different times. But a goat with anger management issues was definitely a first.
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