Home > Forever with Me (The Everhart Brothers #4)

Forever with Me (The Everhart Brothers #4)
Author: Claudia Burgoa


Chapter One




Should I hire an interior designer?

My watch buzzes. I glance at it. It’s a text from Winston, my assistant, telling me to pay attention to the meeting. I don’t need to focus on a conversation to know what’s happening. It’s called multitasking. It’s called being efficient. I can claim that during this meeting I wasn’t just wasting my time.

This guy could keep counting his money, showing me his properties, and measuring his dick, and I still wouldn’t take him as my client.

By definition, lawyers are bloodsucking, corrupted assholes who’ll do anything for money.

I’m not.

I work hard for those who I believe deserve my services. Do I overcharge? No. I think I’m worth the fifty-thousand retainer and two thousand dollars an hour I charge. I also take a lot of pro bono cases. It’s a balance, like everything in life.

Which is why I think I should bring in a professional to make this conference room the best. Feng Shui it, to make it a happier place. Right now, it’s sleek and modern with a dark stained wood table and winged executive chairs.

This is my happy place because it’s where I close deals and generally win. I think I need something more personable. We could go from modern minimalist to classic neo-eighteen hundred. Is that even a style? I’m thinking old cedar stained bookcases with rare editions from great authors. Something that says, Fitzhenry Everhart, seasoned lawyer. Erase that. I’m forty-five and cool, unlike my older brother, Scott.

I should call his wife, and my BFFL, Hazel. She’ll know what to do with my office.

Winston texts me again.

I try not to roll my eyes.

This is the most uncomfortable meeting I’ve been to in years. I remember not to adjust my tie right before my hand twitches toward it again. This is the longest hour—and day—of my life, and it’s not even daylight saving or the summer solstice.

I press my lips into what I hope is a pleasant smile. Across from me is my newest potential client, Andrei Maes, a businessman from Belgium. He came to New York looking for new opportunities, and like many, he wants to expand globally.

Maes, I just watched Anna Sorokin’s story. I don’t believe in wire transfers or new opportunities to make everything great. He wants me to be his flashy legal guard dog. Red flag number one. He’s telling me beforehand that there’s a blurred line and he’s probably going to scam people—including me.

If he thinks I’ll agree to be kept on retainer to negotiate his deals and intimidate others, he’s wrong.

I look down at my cufflinks just to break free from Winston’s shark eyes. He’s taking notes, making sure I’m not falling asleep and maybe eye-fucking Mr. Maes. Winston is an equal opportunity fucker—anything goes.

Is my potential client handsome?

Maybe. I lift my gaze to study him closely.

Andrei Maes wears a well-cut suit that’s probably custom, by the looks of it. Nice lines, beautiful dark-blue color, complements his slightly bronzed skin perfectly. The kind of suit I’d want in my closet for sure. The man in the suit is a little less pleasing to the eye. His face is pulled tight by the eyes in a way that only many shots of Botox, and possibly plastic surgery, can achieve at his age.

It’s a little creepy how few wrinkles the guy has when he should be pushing sixty. Not that plastic surgery spoke of anyone’s character. No, it’s something else about this guy that bugs me.

We’ve been going over every corner of his holdings company and subsidiaries, as well as the potential expansion opportunities in the States, for almost two hours now.

Did Winston tell him that the initial consultation only lasts one hour?

This is a lot to go through. I should be charging him my hourly rate, plus the emotional damage he’s causing me. I need nourishment.

If I were less of a consummate professional, I would have demanded a snack break an hour ago. Instead, I settle for the sweating cold water bottle my assistant brought me.

“It’s a big job, that’s for sure,” I say as we are finally, blessedly, wrapping up.

Maes smiles at me as if I’ve just told him his oldest son made the honor roll. Not that I have children. My nieces and nephews are smart, but I’d never tell a client about them.

“I have the utmost confidence in you and your associates, Mr. Everhart,” Maes says.

If I look up slimy in the dictionary, I’m pretty sure I’d find a picture of this guy. Not that I haven’t worked with slimy before but this guy is their leader. He’s giving me some really bad vibes. I stare at the documents he’s providing. They look so well-organized, I should be happy that I have the chance to work with a methodical person. But somehow, the way he’s presenting himself gives me a bad feeling.

Luckily, I know just how to hold the guy off for at least a couple of days.

“We have to look into our workload and see which associate can take—”

“No. I need you,” he interrupts me.

No? Well, this is bold of him. I don’t take orders from anyone, much less a pompous ass who’s wasting my time.

“As my assistant must’ve explained when you called, I screen our potential clients, but I don’t take new cases. My load is full.”

“You. I hire you,” he insists.

I run a hand through my hair as I try to keep my cool. “That’s impossible.”

“You’ll make it happen, yes?”

Pushy. I stare at the papers. There has to be a reason why he needs me and it has nothing to do with growing his business. I might’ve been tuning him out, but he highlighted the part that states we handle more than just corporate law in this firm. If he does something illegal, I’ll have to defend him. He’s never going to be my client.


I’ll turn him down easily. “We’ll see if we can move things. I’m going to need to look into our workload here at the firm to make sure we can take you as a client.”

It’s my classic line when I want to shake a client. Winston gets the hint. He stands to gather some of the paperwork and put it neatly in my folio.

I rise from my seat. “I can get back to you soon.”

“I’m willing to pay whatever retainer fee you feel is required to obtain your services.” His voice is deep and heavily accented. My sister-in-law, Luna, taught me that when her father is flustered or angry, his almost perfect enunciation goes out the window and his accent thickens.

My previous discomfort transitions to full alarm bells now, and I barely resist tapping my fingers against the table. Still, I do a motion for Winston to continue gathering up the meeting materials. He bustles around the table and shuts down the projector and laptop in efficient fashion.

“We are quite eager to begin reviewing potential contracts, so we’d like you to start immediately, or as you Americans say, ASAP,” he continues.

“As I said, I’ll get back to you very soon,” I say. “Just a few checks on my end to ensure we can provide the very best service.”

Or really, only one check—a very thorough background check from my eldest brother, Harrison.

He can tell me exactly what my firm’s perfunctory research on this guy missed. Because I’m certain we missed something. No one gets that slimy without some actual slime in the works somewhere.

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