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Chasing Forever

By:Lisa Cardiff

Chapter One

This cannot be happening. This cannot be real. That cannot be him. Regan Pierce stared dumbly at the man who wore a custom dark black suit, hoping against all odds that he was an illusion brought on by the stress of starting a new job, the job of her dreams, a coveted summer associate position at Martin and Black, LLLP. Just when she thought she had buried the memories so deep they ceased to exist, proof of her most humiliating experience stood less than five feet in front of her. Six years, six months, and three days—that was the last time she saw him. Now, two universities and thousands of miles later, the wounds from their last encounter oozed through her veins, raw as ever.

If someone paid her a million dollars to reveal her most embarrassing moment, she would categorically refuse. After six years, six months, and three days, she wished she had the strength to laugh at her mistakes, but Lucas Evanston was one mistake she would regret forever. The wound he inflicted would always be too fresh, too raw to forgive. She’d spent years cultivating a new persona. She scrubbed every last shred of that naïve girl from her soul. Now she was strong and forceful, demanding perfection from others as well as herself. No one could accuse her of being starry-eyed and gullible anymore. The joke would never be on her again.

With that thought, she took a deep breath, squared her shoulders and lifted her chin defying this man to ridicule her, to remember her, to face her without all his lackeys in tow.

Sensing the charged silence, Mrs. Langston, the human resources director, cleared her throat. “Regan Pierce, this is Lucas Evanston. He’s been assigned as your senior associate mentor for the summer.”

She watched Lucas reach out to shake her hand in greeting. For a moment, she considered playing along and pretending she didn’t know him, but she refused to cower or hide. So instead, she looked at him as though he had just offered to share a communicable disease rather than shake her hand. “We’ve met, right, Lucas? If I’m not mistaken, we attended the University of Texas at the same time.”

Lucas’s hand froze in the air, the ingrained look of arrogance on his face replaced with an expression of pure astonishment. Shoving his hand in his pocket, he quickly hid his surprise by shuttering those hooded amber eyes, letting an indolent smile play at the corner of his lips. Yes, she was intimately familiar with those hooded eyes and those egotistical lips. The look nearly stopped her bitter heart when the humiliation she suffered at his hand surfaced like a bad habit. Instead of crumbling as she had in the past, she let her bitterness escape and fester so she could harden herself against him.

“Right,” Lucas responded. “I thought your name looked vaguely familiar when I reviewed your file. What are you doing so far from home? You were raised in Austin weren’t you?”

“You know I was,” she replied snidely, toying with the bracelet on her wrist.

“Right, of course.” He smiled, flashing that dimple in his left cheek, and she looked away trying to ignore the fluttering in her chest. She wouldn’t be defeated by that dimple, not this time.

Mrs. Langston cleared her throat again, obviously trying to ignore the tension building in the room. “It’s great that you two are already acquainted. Regan, Lucas will show you around, explain our firm’s policies regarding lunch and his expectations for the summer.”

When she turned to leave, Regan raised her hand in inquiry. “Mrs. Langston, is it too late to be reassigned to another mentor for the summer?”

Speechless, Mrs. Langston’s head shifted back and forth between Lucas and Regan like a ball in a pinball machine. She clearly didn’t have any idea how to respond to Regan’s request. Regan wanted to kick herself for opening her mouth in front of Lucas. The instant the question fell out of her mouth, she knew she should have waited to broach the subject in private.

“Regan, I can present your request to the partners. However, the partners assign mentors based on your area of interest. Generally, the partners don’t condone reassignments unless the intern wants to change their specialization or if there is an unavoidable personality conflict. Is there something you’d like to discuss later, perhaps?”

Groaning inwardly, she knew she’d made an error. She should have kept her mouth shut. Lucas Evanston would never control life ever again, and that meant not walking away from her dream summer associate position so she could avoid facing him. Maybe Lucas’s position at Martin and Black made obtaining one of the coveted offers for an associate position after she graduated next spring impossible, but there were other top tier law firms. “No, I don’t want to change my specialization. I think Lucas and I can manage to work together for a few months.” She bit on her lip and looked away from Lucas’s penetrating stare. “It was just a hypothetical question. There’s no need to bother the partners.”

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