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Authors: Lynne Roberts

Creative License

BOOK: Creative License
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Dedication

To my Internet family. I’ve never seen some of you face to face, yet through emails, texts, IMs and long telephone conversations, we’ve shared laughter, joy and pain. You’ve been a network of support during a difficult year. I sincerely love you all. This book is for you.

Chapter One

The computer screen blurred. Lily blinked to refocus her tired eyes on the deposition and sighed in relief when the phone rang. She loved her job, loved working for a law firm, but staring at a computer screen for hours took its toll.

Blowing a strand of dark hair out of her eyes, she reached over a stack of law books. “McPherson.” Lily glanced at the clock as her stomach rumbled. She’d worked through lunch again.
Damn.

The other end of the line was silent for so long, she thought the caller had changed his or her mind. “Hello?”

“Yes, hi.”

The rich, masculine voice sent chills down her spine and knotted her stomach. Eyes closed, she gripped the phone so hard it hurt. Even after all these years, she knew that voice. “Caleb?”

A low, sexy chuckle rumbled through the line. “You remember me.”

Oh shit, why was he calling her now? Memories of the most erotic night of her life flashed through her mind. Lily opened her eyes, reminding herself the most embarrassing morning of her life had followed. “How did you get this number? Never mind.”

Despite the deep breath, the receiver trembled in her hand. “Can I do something for you?”

An intake of breath and then a pause. “We have a slight problem.”

Lily’s stomach churned acid. None of their problems had been small, not for the twelve hours and twenty-two minutes they’d been married. “Yes?”

Caleb cleared his throat. “It seems the annulment didn’t go through.”

“Oh, shit.”
I’m in a bad movie.
This has got to be a joke.
She leaned against the back of her chair. “What do you mean it didn’t go through?”

“We’re still married, sweetie. The annulment was never processed.”

Married?
“Why?” Lily rubbed the ache growing between her eyes. “No. I don’t care. Just get it processed.”

“It’s too late now. We’ve been married too long.”

“We are not married.” Lily tried to swallow past the tide of rising panic.

“The state of Nevada would disagree, sweetheart.”

She could almost see that sexy grin, those sparkling green eyes. She definitely remembered what they did to her. She’d been chocolate under the heat of his sun. “I am not your sweetheart.” She reached for a notepad. Who to call? Certainly no one in the firm. Though they were all professional and talented, people talked. She couldn’t let it get back to her family or…
Oh, God. Stewart
. “I’ll file for divorce in the morning.”

“Um, about that.”

She didn’t have the patience to wait out the pause. “What?”

“I was wondering if we could delay that a bit.”

A pain in her hand alerted her to the death grip she’d taken on the phone. She was suddenly glad she’d skipped lunch. “Delay? Why?”

“I need a favor.”

“Well you’re out of luck. I’m fresh out of favors.”

“Lily, please listen.”

His voice had lowered to almost pleading. Something in her heart softened.
What’s wrong with me? I don’t owe this man anything! He’s a stranger.
“You call me out of the blue to tell me we’re still married and now you need a favor?” It came out a little more acerbic than she’d meant.

His chuckle sounded nervous. “I guess that pretty much sums it up. You’re not married or anything, are you?”

Lily closed her eyes. “No. I’m not.”

“Well.” He cleared his throat. “Except to me.”

“Not for long. Thank you for letting me know about the clerical error. I’ll handle it from my end. Good-bye.” Lily set the phone in its cradle. Quite a feat when she wanted to slam it down. She stood and walked toward the window, leaned against the sill and stared out at the tops of the trees and below them to the expanse of grass. Interns didn’t usually merit an office with a window, let alone a window facing the courtyard. It was one of the benefits of almost being engaged to her boss’s son.

Ah, Stewart.
He wouldn’t mind that she slept with someone in Vegas, though he’d be a bit irritated she hadn’t been smarter about keeping it quiet. But in his eyes, marrying a divorceé was socially unacceptable. No one could ever find out about what happened in Vegas. It had been a mistake, a horrible mistake.

She closed her eyes and the image of waking next to a naked Adonis filled her mind. His long blond hair had spread over perfectly sculpted shoulders, his head cradled by well-muscled arms. A silk sheet covered his lower back to mid-thigh but had only served to tantalize the imagination of her sleep-fogged brain. For a moment, she’d been tempted to explore the promising hills and valleys of his body and then she’d moved to touch him and seen the gaudy fake diamond ring on her left hand.

She still could only remember flashes of their night together; falling into his arms, the silky warmth of his skin next to hers, his lips. She opened her eyes in an attempt to wash out the images that had tinted her fantasies in the three years since. An ache built in her lower abdomen as she remembered the sound of his voice. She couldn’t recall standing in front of a minister and saying I do, but the documents didn’t lie. “Shit.” Caleb Anderson might be a talented artist and sexy as hell, but he wasn’t in her ten-year plan.

Behind her, the phone rang again and she sighed, turned and picked it up. “Macpherson.”

“Lily, please, listen,” Caleb asked.

“You have three minutes.”

“It’s… Damn it, Lily. It’s a long story.”

“Three minutes,” she repeated. The sound of Caleb’s sigh into her ear sent shivers down her body.

“I need you to…come out here for a few days.”

Her jaw dropped open.

After a long pause, Caleb cleared his throat. “Are you still there?”

“Is this a joke?”

“No. It’s not. If you’ll let—”

“No. Absolutely not. You’re crazy.”

“Please. I know it’s inconvenient—”

“Inconvenient? That’s an understatement. Why would I fly across the country?”

“Because it could make a permanent difference in my career, in my life. Listen, it’s complicated but…” he paused and his voice thickened. “My patroness did a background check, she found out I was married. I panicked. She wants to meet you.” The words came out in a rush.

“I appreciate your position, but…” Lily hesitated. She could vividly remember the passion with which he described his art. It had been one of the many things that had kept her by the bar ordering drink after drink until her memory faded to black.

“I’ll pay for your air fare and—”

“It’s not that.”

“Then what? Lily, I need your help. Please. It’s my one big chance. It would only be for a couple of days.”

A couple of days. That’s what got her into this mess in the first place, but something inside of her softened further. She did have some vacation time coming and she’d heard San Francisco was beautiful in the summer.
Holy heaven, I’m considering it.

She had to admit, part of her hesitation was the memory of his skin on hers and the fear she’d tumble back into bed with him in a heartbeat. She’d done it in her fantasies enough times. Would that be so bad?

No, it would be so good. That was the problem. She took a deep breath. “I’ll think about it, Caleb.”

“Thank you.”

She hung up the phone, buried her face in her hands, and then grimaced. “I’ve just had my first argument with my husband.”

“What did you say?”

Light from the expansive wall of windows softened the color of her tan leather sofa. Lily watched dust flecks dance in the beams and ignored her sister’s question.

“Lily Macpherson, you answer me right now.”

A coffee cup clanged against ceramic tile, echoing in the large room.

Lily smiled. Sharon hadn’t used her big sister tone in years. She stormed around the eating bar toward the living room, her dark brows drawn together and wrinkles lining her forehead.

“Better stop that or you’ll need Botox,” Lily said.

“Damn it, Lily, you can’t just drop an
I’m married
bomb and expect me to take it in stride. Do you want me to congratulate you?” Sharon sat on the couch next to Lily and laid a hand on her knee. Her brown eyes darkened. “What the hell is going on?”

Lily sighed, reached over and brushed a strand of her sister’s chocolate-brown hair back into its neat bun. In the back of her mind a warning bell dinged. Unlike Lily, her sister never had a single hair out of place. “Remember that trip I took to Vegas a few years ago?”

One perfectly manicured eyebrow rose. “You got married.”

“I still am married.” Smoothing her skirt, Lily stared out the window at the pale blue sky.

“Were you planning on telling anyone? Does Stewart know?”

“No. I just found out yesterday.” Lily turned back to her sister. “Caleb called—”

“Caleb?”

“Yes, well, that’s his name.”

“Does Stewart know?” Sharon repeated.

“No. And he’s never going to.”

“He has a right. He’s almost your fiancé.”

Lily sighed, folded her legs under her and placed a fluffy red pillow on her lap. “Please. He belongs to the don’t ask, don’t tell club. You know he wouldn’t understand.”

“Shit.” Sharon rose to her feet, walked to a cabinet, removed a bottle and poured generous amounts of a tawny liquid into two glasses.

“It’s not even noon!” Shock radiated through her body. Lily couldn’t remember her sister ever drinking hard liquor. Technically, growing up, Sharon had been the rebellious one, but she’d excelled at it. She excelled in everything she attempted. From stressing their parents during her wild period, to graduating first in her class to prove she could and marrying the stereotypical perfect man. Lily had to work twice as hard just to stand in her sister’s shadow.

“Some occasions require something stronger than coffee.” Sharon handed Lily a glass. “Your sister telling you she’s been married for three years is one of them.” She shook her head. “It’s been one hellava week.” After raising her glass, Sharon downed half the liquor in one gulp.

“What’s wrong?” Lily peered at her sister’s face, noticing the dark smudges not quite hidden by makeup under her eyes.

“Oh, no you don’t. Not changing the subject.”

“Did something happen between you and Patrick?”

Tears formed in her sister’s eyes for a moment before she blinked them away so fast Lily wondered if she’d imagined them. Having been married only a little over eight months, Sharon was still a newlywed, but she’d already lost that newly-married glow. If she’d ever had it. Had she ever had it?
And why am I noticing this now?

“Spill it, the whole story,” Sharon demanded.

Lily recognized she wouldn’t get anything more out of her sister, but she had to try. “If you ever want to talk—”

“There isn’t much to say. And you, little sis, are changing the subject. This is about you and a certain husband who has remained a dirty little secret.”

“I wouldn’t call him a dirty little secret,” Lily began. There wasn’t anything little about Caleb. Not his personality, his passion or his dreams.

“Lily! When and where? What happened?”

“Oh.” Lily’s cheeks warmed at the direction her thoughts had taken. Even from a distance, Caleb affected her. But then he always had. She’d pushed thoughts of him away and pretended they didn’t exist, but they’d always been there. Waiting. She sighed and stared at the painting over the mantle until Miró’s abstract blurred into splotches of color replaced by a memory of green eyes, a sexy smile, wide muscular shoulders and arms. His sculpted abs flashed through her mind and she blinked, turning from the Miró to her sister. “He was gorgeous. I suppose he still is. We talked and drank and talked some more. One thing led to another.”

“And you married him?”

“I don’t remember that part.” Warmth flooded her core as she thought of the parts she did remember. She’d sung for him. Heat flushed from her neck to her cheeks. She’d danced around the hotel room and sung for him. Naked.
Oh God. Could this get any worse?

“Fine, have an affair, sow some wild oats. But marriage?”

“It wasn’t like I planned it.”

“Why didn’t you file for an annulment?” Sharon’s voice took on a lecturing tone.

“We did. The next day.” She rubbed her temples.

Sharon’s brows met in the middle. “I don’t get it. What happened?”

“I don’t know, Caleb said it didn’t get filed correctly or something.”

“Lily.”

“Don’t start. Okay?”

Sharon opened her mouth and then closed it. “So you beat me to the altar, huh?” She laughed. “What’s your last name?”

“What?”

“You know. If you were so drunk you don’t remember getting married, I doubt you thought to keep your last name.”

Lily sipped her drink. The alcohol burned her throat and warmed her chest and stomach.
It just got worse.
“Anderson.”

“Lily Anderson. It does have ring to it.”

“Shut up.” Lily retrieved the throw pillow on her lap, smacked her sister with it and then placed it by her side. For a moment, her fingers toyed with the fringe. “He wants me to fly to San Francisco.”

BOOK: Creative License
13.82Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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