About That Night (Berkley Sensation)

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9780425246955: About That Night (Berkley Sensation)

From the New York Times bestselling Julie James--a delicious new romance featuring a beautiful Assistant U.S. Attorney who has some unfinished business with a brash billionaire heir.  For fans of Susan Mallery and Rachel Gibson.

HE’S PLAYING GAMES

Though Rylann Pierce tried to fight the sparks she felt for billionaire heir Kyle Rhodes the night they met, their sizzling chemistry was undeniable. But after being stood up on their first date, Rylann never expected to see him again. So when she finds herself face to face with Kyle in a courthouse nine years later, she’s stunned. More troubling to the beautiful Assistant U.S. Attorney is that she’s still wildly attracted to him.
BUT SHE’S MAKING THE RULES
Just released from prison, Kyle Rhodes isn’t thrilled to be the star witness in a high-profile criminal case—but when Rylann comes knocking at his door, he finds she may be the one lawyer he can’t say no to. Still as gorgeous and sharp-tongued as ever, she lays down the law: she doesn’t mix business with pleasure. But Kyle won’t give up on something he wants—and what he wants is the one woman he’s never forgotten. . .

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About the Author:

After graduating from law school, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Julie James clerked for the United States Court of Appeals. She then practiced law with one of the nation's largest firms for several years until she began writing screenplays. After Hollywood producers optioned two of her scripts, she decided to leave the practice of law to write full-time.

Julie's books have been listed on the American Library Association's Reading List for Top Genre Novels, Booklist's Top 10 Romances of the Year, and have been featured as one of Cosmopolitan magazine's Red Hot Reads. Julie's novels also were chosen as the Best Contemporary Romances of 2010, 2011, and 2012 in the All About Romance Readers' Polls. Her books have been translated into fourteen languages and Julie's sixth novel, Love Irresistibly, is now available.

Julie James lives with her husband and two children in Chicago, where she is currently working on her next book.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

“Julie James rocks!”

—Sandra Hill, USA Today bestselling author

Praise for

A Lot Like Love

“Julie James writes books I can’t put down. A Lot Like Love kept me up way past midnight!”

—Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author

“Sexy fun, romance fans will pop their corks over this one.”

Library Journal

“Fueled by equal measures of seductive wit, edge-of-the-seat suspense, and scorching-hot sexual chemistry, James’s latest scintillating novel of romantic suspense is a rare treat.”

Chicago Tribune

“[James] exhibits her trademark sizzle and wit.”

Booklist

“You’ll fall head over heels for A Lot Like Love.”

USA Today

“Julie James…is mastering the genre of romantic suspense.”

The News-Gazette (East Central Illinois)

“James writes characters so real you can almost reach out and touch them. A delicious blend of romance and suspense.”

RT Book Reviews

“Just the right balance of charm, love, action, and touches of humor and suspense.”

Fresh Fiction

“There’s a whole lot to love about A Lot Like Love from Julie James. This is a superb read, plain and simple.”

Babbling About Books, and More

Something About You

“Smart, snappy, funny yet realistic. I can’t count the number of times I laughed while reading the book…This is one book I can totally recommend.”

Dear Author

“From first impressions to the last page, it’s worth shaking your tail feather over…This is a contemporary romance well worth savoring, and laughing over, and reading all over again.”

Smart Bitches, Trashy Books

“Just plain fun! James is a master of witty repartee.”

RT Book Reviews

Practice Makes Perfect

“A tantalizing dessert—a delicious, delightful read that all hopeless romantics will enjoy.”

Chicago Sun-Times

“A fast-paced romantic comedy, packed with hilarious situations and sharp dialogue…A talented writer…Expect a lot of sparks to fly.”

San Francisco Book Review

“A sophisticated contemporary romance…proves that [James] is a master at conveying both courtroom and behind-the-scenes maneuvering.”

Booklist (starred review)

Just the Sexiest Man Alive

“Fantastic, frolicking fun…Read Just the Sexiest Man Alive, and you will be adding Julie James to your automatic-buy list!”

—Janet Chapman, New York Times bestselling author

“Witty banter and an amazing chemistry…bring this delightful story to life.”

Chicago Sun-Times

“Remind[s] me of Katharine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy movies: they have that funny edge.”

—Eloisa James, New York Times bestselling author

“Witty and romantic.”

Publishers Weekly

Berkley Sensation Titles by Julie James

JUST THE SEXIEST MAN ALIVE

PRACTICE MAKES PERFECT

SOMETHING ABOUT YOU

A LOT LIKE LOVE

ABOUT THAT NIGHT

About
That Night

JULIE JAMES

BERKLEY SENSATION, NEW YORK

For Charlene—
I know you’re watching,
and I’m keeping that promise.

Acknowledgments

First and foremost, I owe tremendous thanks to John and Chris, two assistant U.S. attorneys who were unbelievably generous with their time in answering my many, many questions about federal criminal procedure and life as an AUSA. Since my days as a federal appellate clerk, I’ve had the utmost respect for the talented prosecutors who serve in those positions.

Special thanks as well to Special Agent Ross Rice and Assistant U.S. Attorney Russell Samborn, who opened the doors to their offices and gave me glimpses of day-to-day life at both the Chicago division of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Illinois. I’m grateful also to Dave Scalzo for sharing his business expertise and to Jen Laudadio for, well, you know what.

To Elyssa Papa and Kati Dancy—thank you so much for your wonderful feedback and insights, and for working with some really tight deadlines. Simply put, you ladies rock.

Thanks as well to my editor, Wendy McCurdy, and my agent, Susan Crawford, for their understanding, helpfulness, and patience during what turned out to be a very eventful year for me. I also want to express my gratitude to the entire team at Berkley—all of whom do such a fantastic job—including my incredible publicist, Erin Galloway, and Christine Masters, copy editor extraordinaire.

Finally, to my husband: I know I always thank you in my books, but—wow—I think I may actually owe you my first-born child after this one. Good thing he’s already yours, or I’d probably be in a lot of trouble with DCFS for that arrangement.

Table of Contents

One

May 2003

University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

SHE HAD SURVIVED.

Pressed against the wood-paneled wall of the bar, her chin resting on her hand, Rylann Pierce listened as her friends chatted on around her, quite content for the first time in a month to think about nothing whatsoever.

Along with five of her law school classmates, she sat at a crowded table on the second floor of the Clybourne, one of the few campus bars frequented by highbrow graduate students who demanded that their watered-down, four-dollar drinks be served in actual glasses instead of plastic. Everyone in the group was in the same section as Rylann, which meant they’d all completed their last final exam, Criminal Procedure, late that afternoon. Spirits were high and boisterous—at least boisterous by law-student standards—punctuated only by occasional lows when someone realized a point they’d missed during the obligatory post-exam recap.

Someone nudged her elbow, interrupting her reverie. “Hello? Anyone there?”

The question came from Rylann’s roommate, Rae Mendoza, who was seated at her right.

“I’m here. Just…picturing myself at the pool.” Rylann tried to hold on to the mirage for a few moments longer. “It’s sunny and seventy-five degrees. I’ve got some kind of tropical drink with one of those little umbrellas in it, and I’m reading a book—one I don’t have to highlight or outline in the margins.”

“They make those kinds of books?”

“If memory serves.” Rylann exchanged a conspiratorial smile with Rae. Like many of their classmates, they’d both spent nearly every waking hour of the last four weeks outlining class notes and textbooks, taking practice exams, staring bleary-eyed at Emanuel Law Outlines into the wee hours of the night, and meeting with study groups—all in preparation for four three-hour tests that would help determine the course of their future legal careers. No pressure there.

The rumor was that the second and third years got progressively easier, which would be nice—there was this interesting activity called sleep Rylann had heard of, and she was thinking about trying it out. Perfect timing, too. She had a week off before her summer job started, during which she planned to do nothing more strenuous than roll herself out of bed every day by noon and mosey over to the university’s outdoor pool, which was open to students.

“I hate to burst the bubble on your daydream, but I’m pretty sure they don’t allow alcoholic drinks at IMPE,” Rae said, referring to the university’s Intramural Physical Education building, which housed said pool.

Rylann waved off such pesky details. “I’ll throw a mai tai in my College of Law thermos and tell people that it’s iced tea. If campus security gives me any trouble, I’ll scare them off with my quasi-legal credentials and remind them of the Fourth Amendment’s prohibitions against illegal searches and seizures.”

“Wow. Do you know how big of a law school geek you just sounded like?”

Unfortunately, she did. “Do you think any of us will ever be normal again?”

Rae considered this. “I’m told that somewhere around third year, we lose the urge to cite the Constitution in everyday conversation.”

“That’s promising,” Rylann said.

“But seeing how you’re more of a law geek than most, it might take you longer.”

“Remember that conversation last night when I said I was going to miss you this summer? I take it back.”

Rae laughed and slung her arm around Rylann’s shoulders. “Aw, you know you’re going to be so bored here without me.”

Rylann was overcome by a sudden pang of sentimentality. Now that finals were over, Rae and nearly all their law school friends were heading back home. Rae would be in Chicago for the next ten weeks, working double shifts at a bartending job that sounded glamorous and fun and that would pay her enough money to cover nearly a year of tuition. Rylann, on the other hand, had scored a summer law internship with the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois. While the internship was a prestigious and coveted position among law students—particularly among first-years—she would be paid at the not-so-glamorous GS-5 salary, which would earn her little more than what she needed to cover her rent and living expenses for the summer. Perhaps, if she were particularly frugal, she’d have enough left over for next semester’s textbooks. Or at least one of them. Those darn things were expensive.

But despite the meager GS-5 wages, she was thrilled about the internship. As much as she grumbled about her student loans, she wasn’t going to law school for the money. She had a six-year academic and career plan—she was big on having plans—and her summer internship was the next step in it. After graduation, she hoped to land a clerkship with a federal judge, and then she’d apply to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Although many law students had no clue what type of law they wanted to practice after graduation, this was not the case with Rylann. She’d known since she was ten that she wanted to become a criminal prosecutor and had never wavered in that, despite the lure of money offered by big law firms. Sure, that paid the bills—and then some—but civil litigation seemed too dry and impersonal for her tastes. Corporation X suing Company Y for millions of dollars in a lawsuit that could go on for years without anyone giving a damn except for the lawyers who billed three thousand hours a year working on it. No thank you.

Rylann wanted to be in court every day, in the thick of things, trying cases that meant something. And in her mind, not much could be more meaningful than putting criminals behind bars.

A male voice coming from across the table interrupted her thoughts. “Three months in Champaign-Urbana. Remind me how the girl who’s second in our law school class couldn’t work herself a better deal.”

The voice belonged to their friend Shane, who, like everyone else at the table, had a drink in his hand and a good-humored glow about him. Rylann could guess the reason for the glow. In addition to being done with finals, summer break meant that Shane got to return home to Des Moines and see his girlfriend, with whom he was adorably smitten—although being a guy, he naturally tried to conceal that fact.

“It’s not the place that matters, Shane,” Rylann said. “It’s how good you are when you get there.”

“Nicely said.” Rae laughed, high-fiving her.

“Scoff if you want,” Shane replied. “But my car is packed, gassed up, and stocked with snacks for the road. At seven a.m. tomorrow, come rain or shine, I’m blowing this popsicle joint.”

“Seven a.m.?” Rae looked pointedly at the drink in Shane’s hand, his third so far that evening. “I’m thinking that’s not going to happen.”

He waved this off, the drink spilling slightly. “Please. Like a little hangover’s going to get in the way of a man in love.”

“Aw. That’s very romantic,” Rylann said.

“Plus, I haven’t gotten laid in two months, and the reunion sex is awesome.”

“And there’s the Shane we know and love.” Rylann took the last sip of her drink and shook the ice in her glass. “Speaking of hangovers, I think the next round is mine.” She collected orders from the group, then scooted around the crowded table and headed over to the bar.

“Three Amstel Lights, one rum and Diet Coke, one gin and tonic, and a Corona with two limes,” she told the bartender.

A voice, low and masculine, came from her right.

“Sounds like a party.”

Rylann turned in the direction of the voice, and—

Whoa.

Guys like the one leaning against the bar next to her did not exist in Champaign-Urbana. Actually, guys like the one next to her didn’t exist anyplace she knew of.

His dark blond hair was thick and slightly on the longer side, just brushing against the collar of his navy flannel shirt. He was tall, with piercing blue eyes and an angular jaw that was slightly scruffy, as if he hadn’t shaved for a couple days, and had a leanly muscular body. He wore dark jeans and well-worn construction-type boots and, together with the flannel, looked ruggedly masculine and wholly, undeniably sexy.

Undoubtedly, she was not the first woman to blink twice at the sight of him, nor would she be the last. And he appeared to be fully aware of this fact. His blue eyes sparkled with amusement as he rested one elbow against the bar, all confidence as he waited for her response.

Run.

It was the first thought that popped into Rylann’s head.

Her second thought was that her first thought was ridiculous, and she nearly laughed out loud at herself. Run. Really? He was just some guy in a bar; having spent five years in a college town that allowed people to enter bars at the age of nineteen, she’d seen plenty of those.

She gestured to the crowd around them. It was after eleven o’clock, and the place was packed to the gills. “Last day of finals. It’s a party for everybody.”

He looked her over with assessing eyes. “Let me guess. You’re graduating this weekend. You just took your last exam, and tonight you’re celebrating your entry into the real world.” He cocked his head. “I’d say…advertising major. You scored a job with Leo Burnett and are about to move into your first apartment in Chicago, a quaint and overpriced two bedroom in Wrigleyville that you’ll share with your roommate over there.” He nodded in the direction of Rae, obviously having noticed which table Rylann had been sitting at.

She rested her arm on the bar. “Is this ‘guess my major’ routine your typical opening line or something you break out only on graduation weekend, hoping most women are too drunk to notice how generic it is?”

He looked offended. “Generic? I was going for confident and perceptive.”

“You ended up somewhere around clichéd and smug.”

He grinned, revealing two small dimples that added a hint of mischief to his angular jaw. “Or maybe I was just so dead-on perceptive that it scared you.”

The bartender pushed the six drinks Rylann had ordered in front of her. She handed over two twenties and waited for her change. “Not even close,” she said to Smug Dimples, happy to prove ...

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