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Marissa Mason's receptionist jerked her head toward the law office waiting room behind the closed door at her back.
Eyeing her usually calm employee with concern, Marissa closed the computer file of the legal brief she was preparing. Seldom did anything perturb small and scrappy Kitty Stancel, not even the most hardened criminals who came to Mason and Mason for representation, but something - or someone - had definitely spooked her today. Behind her designer glasses, Kitty's brown eyes were wide with alarm, and her voice had an uncharacteristic tremor when she spoke.
"What's going on?" Marissa reached for the phone, ready to dial 911.
"Big guy in the waiting room. I told him you weren't seeing clients this afternoon, but he insisted. He has this wild, desperate look. Says he isn't leaving until he's talked with you, even if he has to spend the whole day and night waiting."
"What's his name?"
"Blake Adams. He's not one of our regulars. I've never seen him before."
The familiar name threatened to inundate Marissa in a sea of nostalgia, but before she succumbed to a cruise down memory lane, she had to make certain the man in the waiting room was the same Blake Adams she had known so welland not some total stranger.
After shoving from her chair, she circled her desk, motioned Kitty aside and opened her office door the slightest crack. The tiny slit gave her a view of the reception area, where the man sat cooling his heels, dwarfing the Danish-Modern chair with his tall body, one work-booted foot tapping an impatient rhythm on the beige Berber carpet.
Marissa's heart stuttered at the sight: long, tall and tanned, the man in the waiting room had shaggy black hair, a chiseled jaw, high cheekbones and startling gray eyes. His big hands were clasped between knees bared by cargo shorts that displayed well-muscled calves above the tops of his work boots. A spanking-white, short-sleeved polo shirt revealed his knotted biceps and sported the logo Adams Landscape Designs with a stylized palm tree embroidered above the pocket.
Marissa grabbed the doorknob to support her weakened knees. It was her Blake, all right. Not the lean, lanky insecure boy she'd known and loved, but a mature man, even more attractive than the teenager had been. "Beefcake," her sister, Suze, would call him, a man with the physique and steamy sex appeal of those featured on calendars of firefighters and police officers.
Marissa gave herself a mental shake and tried to slow her pulse and order her racing thoughts. She doubted anyone produced calendars of hunky landscape designers, and even if they did, Blake's glowering expression would negate his participation. He looked ready to chew nails and spit.
Marissa eased the door closed and turned to Kitty. "What's he done?"
Marissa was a defense attorney, and since Blake had demanded to see her, she assumed he was in trouble with the law. All her clients were, in one way or another. Lots of folks in Dolphin Bay had prophesied years ago that Blake, with his checkered background, would probably end up behind bars. But Marissa hadn't.
Sure, Blake had been impulsive, even reckless at times. She recalled that August night when she was thirteen, when Blake had thrown rocks at her bedroom window to awaken her. He'd talked her into sneaking out of the house at midnight to go down to a darkened stretch of beach. They had lain on their backs and watched the spectacular shower of Perseid meteors until just before dawn. She'd been grounded for a week for that particular trick, but the experience had been worth it.
Then there'd been the time he'd enlisted her help to steal a dog from old Mr. Sellars, who'd kept the poor animal chained in a shadeless yard with no food, water or shelter. They'd taken the pathetic pooch back to her garage, where Blake fed it, bathed it, then dyed it black with Grecian Formula that had cost him a week's allowance. Once the dye had dried, they'd placed the dog in the basket of her bike and ridden to Clearwater, where they turned the lucky pup over to Doris Fitzgerald, who ran an animal rescue service out of her home. Checking later, they'd learned that Doris had placed the dog in a loving home with a lonely old man who'd needed a canine friend.
Yes, Blake had often bent the rules, but he'd never hurt anyone. Marissa hadn't paid any attention to the local consensus that the untamable boy was eventually destined for jail. She'd known him too well to believe such nonsense.
Or had she?
Evidently, he had fulfilled the expectations of the small-town gossips or he wouldn't be sitting in her waiting room now, demanding to see a defense attorney and effectively terrorizing her usually unflappable receptionist.
"He wouldn't tell me what his problem is," Kitty answered. "Refused to speak with anyone but you. Not even your father."
Excerpted from Verdict: Daddy by Charlotte Douglas Copyright © 2004 by Harlequin Enterprises, Ltd.. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Posted December 9, 2008
In Dolphin Bay, Blake Adams visits the law office of Mason and Mason to meet with the junior partner, his childhood pal defense attorney Marissa Mason. Blake explains rather poorly that he needs her help with a three-month old baby he calls Annie left on his doorstep this morning. Marissa grills him on the possibility that the infant is his, but Blake insists no way, hiding from her that his business Adams Landscape Designs has destroyed any fun socializing..................................... Marissa helps Adam with his and the child¿s legal rights and in seeking the mother. Though attracted the moment she saw him in her waiting room as if the years since she last seen him as a college freshman were yesterday, Marissa insists on a professional relationship; she remains shaky from a divorce. However, Blake wants both of his ¿new¿ women in his life permanently and will do what it takes to achieve his objective as he loves Marissa and Annie, but one more young surprise awaits him................................. Though the premise of abandonment is in the news a lot, Blake¿s immediate need to raise Annie as a single father never fully comes off especially since he is always working while her reason to move in with him is even less rationale for such a logical person. Still, he is a heroic individual who does the right thing even if he has to bend the law to the breaking point. Marissa is a fine counterpart to Blake while the support cast adds depth to a fine contemporary romance starring two caring people and a matchmaking toddler or two.................................. Harriet KlausnerWas this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.