The week after the penis pointer, Jane had a date with a guy who was allergic to peanuts but failed to tell the waiter, then puffed up like a toad when he ate the French fries made with peanut oil. Nothing says romance like a trip to the ER.
Then, a week after that, came the guy who was so obsessed with an online game, he actually played it on his phone under the counter at the bar. She excused herself to use the ladies room and had dinner at the restaurant next door. When she returned forty-five minutes later, the guy was so engrossed in his game, he didn’t notice her grab her jacket and leave. Hopefully, her date with Eric’s friend, Aldo, would go better tonight.
Jane peeked her head out of her office to see if Eric’s morning meeting had ended, but his door was still closed.
Spending time with him after each fiasco was the only high point in all this dating madness. Always funny, always supportive, and always…there. If it weren’t for the fact he was a lawyer, he’d be the ideal man. She heaved a deep, soap opera-worthy sigh, and smoothed her hair, which was rolled into a tight bun. Clearly, her crush on Eric wasn’t fading even a little bit. In fact, it had grown from schoolgirl crush to heavy-duty full-grown-woman crush with all the requisite heated body parts and inappropriate thoughts. Well, the thoughts would have been perfectly appropriate if he’d been anything but a lawyer. Or co-worker. Or interested.
She returned to her desk and stared out the window at the morning rush hour gridlock on the street below. Since it looked like the Anderson deal was going through and she’d gotten excellent settlements on her last two cases, there was a strong likelihood they would both be promoted to junior partner soon. One of them would have to quit if they were to date, and you don’t quit a job when partner’s in the offing. Even if you hate that job.
Her stomach dropped to her feet, and she slumped into her chair as realization hit: she hated her job. That had never occurred to her before.
Dixons were lawyers. All of them. It was what they did. Men and women both. It was a legacy. A right of passage… She looked around her perfectly appointed office at the best law firm, in the best building, in the best part of the city.
She covered her face and took a deep breath. She’d worked hard for this. She’d earned it. She deserved it. She was a Dixon. This was what Dixons did. It was expected of her. She lowered her hands and pushed the intercom button. “Okay, Marcie. I’m ready for my appointment. Please send Mrs. Zimmerman back.”
Eric couldn’t believe it. The Anderson contracts were signed by both parties and the financials had been approved by the bankers. He stared at the documents in a tidy pile on his desk and fought the urge to shout and fist-pump in the air.
This was what it was about. This was what he wanted. What he needed. All he needed…
Only, it would be a lot better if he could share his news with Jane. When he’d checked her door a few minutes ago, it was closed with a note saying she was in a client meeting. Funny how over the past month, he’d become so close to her. How sharing good news with her made it even better. They not only had their Friday movie nights, they shared their lunchtime every day as well, ordering in and sitting on opposite sides of his desk, laughing over jokes or childhood stories. Jane Dixon knew more about him than anyone.
He’d been so focused on work and making money the last several years, he’d not maintained any close friendships. His single-minded, focused lifestyle hadn’t bothered him really, until now. Even breaking up with Shannon hadn’t brought home what a workaholic he’d become like this last month had. This was the first time in his adult life that he’d wished for something else. Even with the closing of this pivotal deal, work didn’t feel like enough anymore.
He moved the Anderson papers to the side of his desk.
Surely, this was just a phase. He was probably just getting sick or something. Work was his life. His dad had lived it up and played, and look what a mess that turned out to be.
But there was something about Jane that made him want to play. To work normal hours and come home to her every night and share stories of their days and then strip down to their underwear and…
He opened his file drawer with a bang.
No! No more daydreams about Jane Dixon in her underwear—or out of it. The non-fraternization clause prohibited it. Her distaste for dating lawyers prohibited it. And his commitment to work-first prohibited it.
He pulled out the Smith Steel merger file and set it in the center of his desk. If he could make this merger happen by Monday, the promotion to junior partner was in the bag. While he still had his wits about him, he fired off a text to Jane.
“Can’t make it tonight. Hope it goes well with Aldo.”
Jane pushed the tissue box closer to her client, Kim Zimmerman.
“I’m so sorry, Ms. Dixon. I’m just so miserable. I wish I could go back in time and change everything.” She blew her nose and adjusted her designer frames that coordinated with her bag and shoes.
If this woman didn’t get her act together, she’d be accessorizing at Big Bob’s Bargain Store.
Jane sat up straighter, girding herself for the customary speech she delivered when a client exhibited signs of capitulation. “In order to achieve the most beneficial settlement in this divorce, we need to have a strong case to present. Your husband’s lawyer is making unreasonable demands regarding the division of property and it will hurt you and the kids in the long run.”
The woman wasn’t listening, and Jane knew it. She’d seen this hundreds of times: divorce remorse—the case of cold feet that comes after the marital cold feet. If Mrs. Zimmerman didn’t pull herself together, this whole deal might turn into a major loss. This was a nasty, public divorce, and her politician husband was pulling out all the stops since he switched lawyers.
“The goal is to be awarded as much of the property and assets as possible to assure a secure future for you and the kids.”
“No.” Mrs. Zimmerman wiped her eyes. “That’s your goal. My goal is love and happiness for myself and my children.”
Well, what the hell was she supposed to say to that? Nothing, that’s what. What could she say? Her heart went out to her client, and anyone who was in turmoil. Jane’s job, though, was to secure a financial settlement as amicable and profitable as possible for her client—something Mrs. Zimmerman would need when the divorce was finalized and the smoke cleared. She flipped a page in the most recent demands from the spouse’s lawyer.