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Returning to Laguna Beach after four tours in the Middle East, Christian Wolfe leaves the military behind and buys a wine bar, vowing to keep his life simple. He fights to keep his devastating PTSD a secret and refuses to burden anyone else with his baggage. When stunning Kelly Prescott and her red stilettos saunter into town, she drives him past the bonds of his self-control.
Successful in her father’s stuffy law firm, Kelly’s too compassionate to survive in the cutthroat world of corporate litigation. Leaving behind both family and courtroom drama, she moves to Laguna to become general counsel for a nonprofit veterans’ organization.
She didn’t bargain on a gorgeous modern-day Heathcliff, and in Christian, she sees another kind of challenge—one she can’t resist.
She’d restrain her natural tendency to fill the silence with words. Cool, calm, and collected. She leaned forward and selected a heavy-metal-rock station. Metallica barked out it was time for the sandman to enter.
“Nice choice.” He aimed a sidelong glance at her but still hadn’t smiled.
She grinned. Someone who could appreciate her eclectic taste in music. “Thank you. It’s my ‘get fired up to kick ass in court’ music. The courthouse parking attendant used to crack up when I rolled in dressed in a navy suit and pearls, blasting rock and roll.”
“Nice. So why did you move up here?” He kept his gaze on the road, his long tanned fingers gripping the steering wheel.
“Oh, it’s a long story. I don’t want to bore you.” Or reveal too much about my soap-opera family.
“We’ve got time.” He glanced at her again and smiled a crooked smile.
Had she noticed he had a dimple in his right cheek? “Okay, Reader’s Digest version. My father’s kind of a shark.” Actually, he’d make the shark in Jaws look like a tadpole.
He nodded and gestured with one strong hand for her to continue.
She sighed and glanced out the window. Savored the brisk breeze on her face cooling her now warm cheeks. Here goes nothing.
“I was expected to work for the family firm and take it over when my father retires. Let’s just say the clients and the cases began to wear on me.” She rolled her now tense shoulders back and kept her gaze fastened on the passing scenery. “Everything is about making money or destroying and dismantling what others created. I hit my breaking point last month.”
“A particular client or case? Or just in general?” His quiet voice encouraged her.
“In general—for years, actually. I realized I just didn’t care about those battles. They seem so meaningless, all about money. I’d always hoped to use my law degree for justice, to help people, to create, to rebuild.” She braved a glance at him. He hadn’t stopped the car and run for the hills yet. She took a deep breath. She didn’t want to divulge too much.
“So you were too idealistic for corporate law, right?” He smiled again.
“Well, in a nutshell, yes. And recently the corruption of some of the clients became too much. I couldn’t look at myself in the mirror.” She’d had “idealistic woman” tossed at her by her father on countless occasions. He’d used it as an insult, though. Christian made it sound like a strength.
Claire Marti started writing stories as soon as she was old enough to pick up pencil and paper. After graduating from the University of Virginia with a BA in English Literature, Claire was sidetracked by other careers, including practicing law, selling software for legal publishers, and managing a non-profit animal rescue for a Hollywood actress.
Finally, Claire followed her heart and now focuses on two of her true passions: writing romance and teaching yoga. At Last in Laguna is the second book in her Finding Forever in Laguna series from The Wild Rose Press.