She’d dressed carefully in a slim-fitting, knee length dress, the gold color flattering with her auburn hair. High heeled pumps of a similar color made her taller and upped her confidence. She needed every bit of it to pull this off.
She eyed Jack as he drove. He wore his dark glasses, his thick sun-bleached hair shaggy and sexy, face and arms bronzed. Unlike her, he hadn’t dressed up, wearing baggy green cargo pants and a black t-shirt that emphasized his broad shoulders and muscular chest. He looked insanely sexy. She swallowed a sigh of pleasure.
She twisted the strap of her purse between her fingers while Jack found a lucky parking spot on a side street. They walked into the lobby of the building, all gleaming granite, stainless steel and glass. Ally marched right over to the elevator and punched the ‘up’ button, and when they stepped in, she stabbed the button for the thirtieth floor.
“You know where you’re going,” he murmured.
“Yes.” She nibbled her bottom lip, then composed herself to look cool and confident.
Stepping off the elevator, they faced an elegant reception desk of dark wood, the name of the law firm Chipman, Barratt displayed in shiny brass letters. Ally greeted the receptionist. “Hi, Stephanie.”
“Ally!” Stephanie’s eyes widened, then a small crease formed between her brows. Her eyes moved to Jack and recognition lit them. “Hi! Are you here to see Carter?”
“Yes, we are. We have some business. Can we just go on back?” Ally started toward the door to the left of the reception desk without waiting for Stephanie’s somewhat uncertain agreement.
Jack followed behind Ally as she pulled open the door and stepped into the long hallway. She started down the hall, her heels sinking slightly into the plush carpet. She remembered exactly where Carter’s office was.
As they passed by an open door, a man stepped out into the hall, almost bumping into Ally. She stopped. The tall, slightly balding man looked at her face and a broad smile crossed his.
It was Glenn Chipman, one of the senior partners of the law firm and Carter’s boss. This couldn’t be better.
“Hi Glenn.” She extended a hand to him. He took it and leaned in to kiss her cheek. “How are you?”
“I’m well, thank you.” He studied her. “I haven’t seen you for so long. In fact, not since you and Carter split up. I was so sorry about that.”
She smiled and lifted her shoulders. “Yes, well. I’m fine. How is Jillian? And your new baby?”
His eyes lit up at mention of his wife and child. “They’re doing great. You knew about the baby? He’s nine months old now.”
She nodded, smiling warmly. “Yes, I heard. Congratulations. You must be so proud.”
“I am. The little guy is just amazing. And Jillian is well, too. She’s enjoying being a new mother.”
Ally’s smile felt stretched tight. “That’s great.”
“And you...your book is doing well, I hear.”
“Yes. It is.”
“Congratulations to you, too.”
“Thank you,” she said sincerely, tipping her head. “Well, I’m so glad I ran into you. We’re just here to see Carter on a little business. Glenn, this is my friend Jack Templeton. Jack, Glenn Chipman.”
The two men shook hands and Ally and Jack continued down the hall. She found Carter’s office exactly where she remembered and luck was with them. The door stood open and Carter sat behind his desk, tapping away on the computer keyboard.
She knocked on the open door and stepped in as Carter looked up. His eyes widened, then narrowed, a small crease between his eyebrows.
“Ally!” he exclaimed. “And Jack. What are you doing here?”
Ally smiled and walked across the office. “That’s not much of a greeting.”
Carter’s frown deepened. He didn’t look happy to see them, but that was okay. He was going to be even less happy in a few minutes.
“We wanted to talk to you,” Ally said.
“Oookay.” Carter waved a hand to the chairs in front of his desk and she and Jack sat down.
She took a deep breath. “We came to talk to you about Sarah.”
Carter’s eyes flickered. “There’s nothing to talk about.”
“Sure there is.” She pasted on a smile. “Jack and I both think you need to do the right thing. You need to acknowledge she’s your daughter. And you need to meet with the oncology clinic and find out if you’re a good donor for her.”
Carter just stared back at Ally blankly. “I’m not going to acknowledge I’m her father,” he replied slowly. “I already said that. No way in hell. She’s not getting a penny out of me and she never will.”
“Carter, you know that’s not what this is about. This is about saving that little girl’s life. You may be the only one who can.”
He shook his head. “I said no, Ally. And if that’s what you came to say, you can go now.”
“No.” Now she shook her head, glanced at Jack. He gave her an encouragingly smile, although he looked both disgusted and expectant.
She looked back at Carter. “Brittany is going to get a lawyer.”
He shrugged. “Let her. She’ll need a damn good lawyer to fight me. Technically, she doesn’t have a chance.”
Ally lost patience. “Yes. You said that before. And you may be right. I’m not a lawyer, what do I know? But you know, I’m sick of hearing ‘technically’ this and ‘technically’ that from you. It annoyed me when you defended clients who were clearly guilty, getting them off on technicalities just because you could.”
“That’s what a good lawyer does.”
“Maybe so, but I hate it. Technically, you may not owe Brittany or Sarah anything, but Christ, Carter, what kind of monster are you?”
Ally studied the man she’d once thought she loved. He was a monster. A cold, callous monster. She almost shuddered at the thought that she’d been with him, cared about him. She swallowed, forcing herself to remain calm and controlled.
“It’s not that bad, Carter,” Jack put in. “I found out all about the donor thing. If you end up donating, you probably don’t even have to stay in the hospital overnight. You have a sore back for a few days, have to go back for a few follow up appointments. The risks are very small.”
“I don’t care about that.”
Silence expanded in the room, thick and pulsing.
Then Ally asked softly, “What if Glenn found out about all this?”
She sensed Jack’s head swivel and his gaze on her. She just kept staring steadily at Carter. “I just ran into him in the hall,” she continued. “We had a nice chat.”
The corners of Carter’s mouth tightened, then relaxed. “You wouldn’t tell him,” he said. “And even if you did...it’s not that big a deal. The law is on my side here.”
“The law may be, but how about just plain ethics? How about your reputation? Don’t you care about that?”
He considered that, and she hated him for his coldness. “I don’t really think a hysterical woman who kept a child a secret for nine years is going to make people hate me,” he replied. “Besides, there is some doubt about the paternity of the child.” He glanced meaningfully at Jack. “You did have a relationship with her too.”
“It’s already been proven I’m not the father,” Jack reminded Carter quietly.
“But who knows how many other guys she slept with? After all, if she screwed around on you once, she could have screwed around on you more.”
The muscles in Jack’s jaw tightened.
“We all know you’re the father, Carter,” Ally said. “Are you going to get tested, or not?”
“Not.” He leaned back in his chair. “Look, I’m getting bored with this. And I do have to go to a meeting. You can tell Glenn about it if you want, but I don’t think I’m going to lose my job or my reputation over this.”
Ally paused for three slow heartbeats. Then she said, “How about if I tell Glenn you slept with his wife?”
Extreme Close Up Chapter 33