The Diary of Brad De Luca Page 1

Author: Alessandra Torre

Series: Innocence #1.5

Genres: Romance

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the block

Brad De Luca sat across from Kent Broward and Hugo Clarke, the large conference room crowded with tension in the well-appointed room. It was how meetings between them always were, and why they restricted this pain to quarterly events.

They had discussed the financial statements, upcoming cases, and a litigation that had been filed against the firm. Now there was only one item left, and he glanced at his watch impatiently. It was already seven o’clock.

“Okay,” Clarke said, sliding a slim stack of folders before him. “Interns. We have twelve coming this semester.”

Both men turned to Brad expectantly, and he groaned, leaning back in his chair with a cocky smile. “I know. No f**king the interns.”

Kent Broward winced, the word unpleasant to his ears. “It’s not a joking matter. You opened our firm to serious liability when you did that—”

Brad interrupted, shooting him a look that silenced his next sentence, “We open ourselves up to liability every time we take on a case. Don’t preach to me about liability.”

The third man leaned forward. “Kent, Brad understands the situation. It’s not going to happen again.”

Brad gave the silver-haired man a steely look, his jaw tight, and reached across the table, flipping the top folder open and looking at the file. It was bullshit that they still went through this, at every quarterly meeting, at every opportunity that an intern was mentioned. It was three years ago, and the girl had all but spread her legs on his desk and forced his c**k inside.

He stared at the first folder.

A slim Asian girl, the type who would shrink every time he raised his voice, stared out at him, paper-clipped to an impressive resume which indicated her complete lack of social life. He tossed it aside.

A black kid with glasses, who had an interest in criminology.

A redheaded girl with sunburnt skin and braces, ‘crocheting’ on her list of activities.

A blond kid, perfect features with a side of preppy, his personality visible through the cocky grin he flashed the photographer.

Another Asian, this one male, whose serious expression alone depressed the hell outta Brad.

He flipped through five more folders, his brain counting as he went. All intelligent. All impressive. All uninteresting. He reached the last one and looked up.

“Where are the rest?”

Clarke cleared his throat. “Kent and I already selected our candidates.”

“That’s bullshit. Let me see their files.” He held out a hand, a pointless exercise since neither man had a green folder in their slim stack.

“We don’t have the files here. We chose them yesterday. It’s done. Choose yours.” Kent shot him a bored look, one that barely masked disgust.

“We’ve never done it that way before,” Brad said evenly, looking at Clarke.

“It’s an intern, Brad. You’ve barely given two thoughts to any you’ve had in the past … with the one notable exception. Pick one and let’s move on. My wife’s got dinner waiting.”

He flipped back through the stack, going for the most interesting out of the bunch—the blond with the cocky smile—tossing the others back into the center of the table. They would be distributed among the junior partners, each bookworm going to a proper attorney who’d work their free bones to the quick.

“Fine. Anything else?” he asked brusquely.

“That’s all I have. Kent?”

The man shook his head in response. In unison, all of their chairs slid back.

the child

Two weeks later, he pushed open the door to his office and came face-to-face with a kid straight off the pages of J. Crew—short blonde hair, piercing blue eyes, and a jawbone that would be a breeze to crack. Brad stopped, glancing into the lobby and then back at the kid.

“Who are you, and what are you doing in my office?”

His tone made the kid blink, and he fidgeted, moving a black folder from one hand to the other, before tucking it under his arm. “I’m Todd Appleton, sir. I’m your intern.”

Oh, right. It was already here. Intern season. “And who told you to come in here?”

“I just assumed … sir. No one told me.”

Brad grinned, moving past him and behind the desk. “You got past those three women?” He pointed toward the large lobby desk that housed his secretaries, three women who made a habit of chewing and spitting out little children. “And waltzed in here?”

The kid shifted again, adjusting the collar of his blue shirt that perfectly matched his eyes. “Everyone seemed to be in a meeting when I came in. This office had your name on it, so—”

Brad waved his hand. “Whatever. Don’t come in here again unless I call for you. Rebecca, or one of the other girls, will get you set up in an office. In the meantime, sit down and shut up. You can listen in on my calls.”

There was a sharp rap on the door, and he glanced up to see Marilyn step in, a stack of folders in her hand. She moved forward, sending a quick look toward the kid.

Brad gestured with his hand. “Todd, this is Marilyn—she runs this wing, listen to whatever she tells you. Marilyn, Todd will sit in on my calls, please come and get him when Mrs. Washington arrives.”

The woman nodded quickly and stepped for the door, shooting the boy a smile that contained more vinegar than sugar.

Brad chuckled, glancing at his desk clock and writing down the time as he dialed a number on his phone.

first sight

Two weeks later.

He saw her speaking to Marilyn, a bit of hair falling over her forehead, catching on her glasses. He stood by the glass wall of his office, his eyes studying her, trying to place her face, her body. The name escaped him, but the hair, the glasses … She worked downstairs, handled travel arrangements. He watched the folder exchange hands, watched her smile and begin to turn. And reaching up, before she stepped outside, he rapped on the glass, gesturing for her when the noise caught her eye.

He finished his call, watching her walk to the door, picking up details as she moved closer. Small waist. Small bust. Huge eyes, shielded behind thick glasses. A confidence to her step despite the tremor in her hands. She was nervous.

He ended the call, his mind working, filing the clues and realizing the possibility of error in identification as he spoke. “I need a car.”

She was confused, and the longer she stood there, the more certain he was that she was not the travel girl. She was someone new, someone different. Someone who had somehow escaped his notice. Someone, given her employer, he should avoid.

He watched her walk out, noting the curve of her ass, his c**k responding without thought, his hand reaching for the phone, dialing the number before he had good mind to rein it in.

And when he found out who she was, his smile widened with the discovery of the forbidden.

Brad stopped by Rebecca’s office, stepping inside and shutting the door.

She looked up from her computer with raised brows, plucked to perfection. “Wow. That didn’t take long.” She glanced at her watch. “Four and a half hours. Hell, I’m surprised you made it that long.”

He stuck his hands in his pockets, glaring at her in a way that would cause most to tremble. “What are you talking about?”

She met his glare head on, her beauty not affected by her two hundred and fifty pound figure. “Cut the bullshit. I know you’re here about her.”

“Who?”

“Julia she’s-an-intern-so-forget-about-her Campbell,” she said the name with a smug smile, entirely too happy with herself.

“Who?”

She snorted. “Oh please. Give me one other reason you are in my office with the door closed.” She waited expectantly, her brows raised. “Well? Spit it out.”

He furrowed his brow, searching for a case name, a menial errand, anything to shut her up, but came up blank. He pulled out a chair and sat down. “Fine. You know me. Now give me the goods.”

She pulled open her file cabinet, her fingers deftly dancing over the tabs until she stopped, yanking out a file and holding it to her ample breasts. “What’cha got to offer?”

“Your job,” he said pointedly.

She scrunched her mouth to the side and looked at the ceiling. “Nope. You couldn’t sharpen a pencil without me here. Something else.”

“Is there anything in there I even want?” he drawled out, leaning forward and looking into her eyes.

She leaned forward as well, her mouth curving into a playful smile. “Ohhhh yeah, De Luca. But you already know that or else you wouldn’t be darkening my doorstep.”

“Fine. A day of PTO.”

“Three days,” she countered.

“Two,” he said with a wry smile. “Though I don’t know who will sharpen my pencils during that time. Now speak.”

She flipped open the file, a glossy 4x6 staring out from the pages. He inhaled without thought, the brunette beauty devastating with her glasses off and hair down.

“Yep,” Rebecca said smugly. “No wonder Broward snatched her up. Word in the halls is that they almost didn’t accept her, given her looks, but Broward said he would handle it—keep your paws at bay and her safe and sound.”

He frowned, flipping over her photo and picking up the application. Fucking with Broward’s intern wasn’t the best idea for office politics, not when combined with his rocky past. The right thing, the smart thing, would be to forget he saw her and move on. “Impressive GPA,” he remarked, noting her Dean’s List standing and numerous accolades. “She a bookworm?”

“More like brilliant,” Rebecca said. “Going off her Facebook page, she’s got an active social life. So she either lives off no sleep, or doesn’t have to work hard for that 4.0.”

“A boyfriend?” He looked up from the file to meet her eyes.

“Does it matter?” she said, with the voice of a disapproving parent.

“I’m not in here asking about her because I need a new file clerk. Answer the question.”

“It isn’t in her application,” she pointed out.

“Neither are her Facebook status updates.” He gave her a hard look.

“Fine. She just ended an engagement,” she said flatly. “So she’s vulnerable. Not looking for someone to waltz in and f**k with her head.”

He shot her a wounded look. “You give me no credit.”

“Wrong, Mr. De Luca. When it comes to f**king, I give you all the credit.” With that, she snatched the folder away, shutting it and pushing it to the side. “We’re good, right? You’re going to behave? Keep to this wing and let her keep to hers?”

He regarded her carefully, his eyes unfocused, and pondered the question.

the chase

Thursday: two days later.

He couldn’t get away from this girl. She was a vice that followed him around, from her Tuesday appearance in the East Wing to the Wednesday early morning call. A call from his cousin, digging for information on Julia for a man named Bob. A call that had stuck with him, the forbidden fruit becoming more enticing the more he discovered.

Broward’s intern, who apparently hid a sexual fire beneath that sweet cardigan. Another man hot on her trail. Calling around, asking questions. Competition.

He had gone straight to the office after the call, finding her in the west kitchen, butter on her lips, the scent of fear coming off her skin. But she’d had bite, shrugging off his advances, pushing away despite the attraction that flickered in her eyes.

It was there. Heat between them. And when he had pulled up to her in the garage? Ordered her to get in the car and go to lunch? She had obeyed, as she should have. He was a senior partner, she an intern. She should have wiped drool off her mouth and scampered in, ready to assist him in any way that he deemed necessary.

But she didn’t behave. She was unimpressed, sarcastic. Not swooned by Centaur’s grandiose entrance or the restaurant’s exorbitant prices, she had looked him in the eye when she spoke and called him out on his bullshit. She had been, simply put, fascinating. He wanted more, wanting to know what made her tick, what her story was, if she was a local college slut or the innocent that her flushed cheeks portrayed. And what he really wanted, what he thought about every time she put a piece of meat into her mouth, or sipped the glass of white wine, was putting his hands and c**k on every part of her body. Making her quiver, making her grip his skin and scream his name.

And now, the third day of her spell, he was stepping into Kent Broward’s wing, glancing at his watch. He had ten minutes, max, before the staff started to arrive. Ten minutes to talk her into a second date.

She wasn’t alone in her office, and he stared at the pair, Julia nervous, her gaze flitting from him to the man, then back again. The man also quaked, his hand shaking as it smoothed down the hair on his soon-to-be balding head. This must be the man whom his cousin had called him about. The accountant who was head over heels obsessed with the intern who would soon be Brad’s.

What did she see in this weakling? His pressed suit, fresh haircut, and girly scent practically screamed whipped. Maybe she liked that, maybe she wanted to run over her partner, have him scurry around whenever she barked. He met her eyes, seeing the flash in her depths. She had fire. He liked fire.

He spoke, allowing his words to come out as a grumble, the threat in them causing the scrawny man to widen his eyes. “I need to speak to Julia if you are both done here.”

There was an awkward goodbye, and then the man was gone, and Brad and Julia were alone in the office. She crossed her arms and stared at him with a look that was meant to be intimidating. “What, pray tell, did you need to speak to me about that just couldn’t wait?”

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