Read Ties That Bind Online

Authors: Kathryn Shay

Tags: #Divorced People, #Man-Woman Relationships, #Lawyers, #Women Judges, #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Romance, #Romantic Suspense Fiction, #General, #Legal Stories, #New York (State), #Love Stories

Ties That Bind

BOOK: Ties That Bind
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Ties That Bind

by

Kathryn Shay

Chapter 1

WHEN REESE BISHOP approached the front door of his ex-wife’s chic condo, and it swung open to reveal her young lover, he felt like he always did when he encountered Tyler Sloan—old!

“Sloan,” Reese said tightly.

“Bishop.” The guy always seemed uncomfortable around Reese, which gave him some satisfaction. “Is Kaitlyn expecting you?”

“No.” And she wasn’t going to be happy, he thought, gripping the newspaper he held in his hand. “She’s here, isn’t she?”

His hair askew, his clothing rumpled, it was obvious how he’d spent the night. “In the shower.” Tyler scowled as he shrugged into a casual, unconstructed jacket “I’ll let you inside,” he said tightly, “and wait till she’s finished showering and dressed.”

“That won’t be necessary. I’ll be fine. I’ll wait downstairs until she’s done.”

As he watched the other man trundle down the slate walkway in the warm April sunshine, Reese sighed. It came as no surprise that Kate had a younger man in her life. Though she was forty-five, and had never been drop-dead gorgeous, there was a vibrancy about her, in the snap of her dark eyes, in the glow of her complexion. Hell, even her rich, mink-colored hair shimmered. Men had never been able to stop staring at her. He’d been smitten himself the first time he laid eyes on her, while in law school at Yale. But that had been a lifetime ago. Now, when he thought about the past, he remembered only the fights and the pain of their permanent split. It had ripped him apart.

Reese stepped inside the condo and closed the door. Most everything was white in Kate’s house—walls, carpets, leather furniture. The stark decor was accented by black-and-white prints that decorated the walls, black geometric-shaped pillows, and black vases sprouting white flowers. So different from the warm wood-and-earth tone furnishings of the home they had bought just before Sofie was born. A sprawling cedar-sided farmhouse just on the outskirts of town, they’d lovingly restored every single room. Some of the work they’d contracted out, but they’d done much of the renovation themselves, which had made it theirs. He’d bought out Kate’s half during the divorce, but had been unable to live there without her. Though he couldn’t sell it then—it was on the market now—he’d used the rental money to pay the mortgage on his current, simpler ranch house.

Reese was examining a photo on a coffee table and turned when he heard Kate speak behind him. “Ty? Is that you? Did you bring back that buff bod to—” She broke off when she entered the room and found Reese.

For some reason, her sexy tease irritated him. Whenever he was around Kate, Reese felt like there was a coil inside him that was ready to spring at the slightest provocation. So there was a clip in his voice when he said, “Sorry, my bod doesn’t appeal to you anymore.”

Her dark eyes fired at his retort. “What are you doing here?”

“I need to talk to you. Sloan let me in.”

Rubbing the towel on her wet hair, she shook her head. Wrapped up in a red satiny robe, even her dishabille was attractive. Damn her. Though he hated her for what she’d done to their marriage, and worse, had lost respect for her as a person, the physical spark between them had never quite been doused. “Look, Reese, I don’t have time for you this morning.”

“Well, make time, sweetheart.”

Her whole body tightened. “Oh, my God, is something wrong with Sofie?”

He softened his tone. “Not the last time I spoke with her. Our daughter’s fine. Well, as fine as a sixteen-year-old can be living a hundred miles away from her parents in that private school.”

The cool façade, the one Kate adopted with him routinely now—she was none too happy about his part in their breakup—replaced the worried mother. “Then can’t this wait? My day’s packed. I’m running late already.”

“It can’t wait. And you may have to alter your schedule.”

“Really, Reese.” She hated being told what to do and always needed to be in control. Then again, so did he. The combination had worked surprisingly well for them for almost fifteen years.

He handed the newspaper to her. “You won’t be in any hurry to get to the courthouse after you see this.” His heart beat faster. He still couldn’t believe what he’d read in this morning’s Herald.

She dropped the towel onto the floor; he remembered how much she cluttered things up…and another towel she dropped years ago.

My messiness is part of me, love.

You’re lazy, Katie, admit it.

However, at the time, since she’d bared her luscious body to him, and she’d plastered the whole length of her against him, he hadn’t cared that she was a slob. He’d taken her against the wall, if he remembered correctly.

Ruthlessly, he shoved the reminiscence back into the compartment where it belonged. Those memories only caused his anger at her to seep out. “Read the headlines.” He’d memorized them. LONGSHORE FEDERAL CORRECTIONAL INSTITUTION INMATE DIES OF DRUG OVERDOSE. And beneath it, Local judge and lawyer blamed in suicide note.

Kate’s hands gripped the paper. “Not us,” she whispered.

He fought hard not to be moved by her vulnerability. “Yes, us. A woman we defended years ago, Anna Bingham.”

“Tell me. My glasses are upstairs and I haven’t put in my contacts.”

He eased the paper from her hands. “We defended her on credit card fraud.” Which wasn’t the kind of case they usually represented in the law firm they’d started together here in Westwood, New York, but they’d taken on a lot of pro bono work that year and needed more paying clients. “She was running a dot-com scam and got caught. She ended up in a federal prison camp.” The level of incarceration for white-collar crime.

“Longshore’s not a prison camp. It’s medium security.” She referred to the New Jersey prison, two hours from Westwood.

“Apparently, she did her time, got out, and repeated her offenses. Twice. She was sent to Longshore six months ago.”

“Read me what it says about us.”

“This is her suicide note. ‘I had an affair with Reese Bishop during my trial. When his wife found out, they didn’t do enough to keep me out of jail. After that experience, my life went downhill. Now, I’m in for ten years. I can’t handle the bars, the cell, the other inmates. I don’t want to live.’“

Kate’s entire body stiffened. Her dark eyes lost their hot-chocolate warmth and turned frosty. “I see. Is it true? Did you have an affair with Anna Bingham?”

He reined in his pique. “No, I didn’t. It’s all a lie. You know we didn’t act unethically because of some ridiculous allegation that I screwed her and you wanted her out of the way.”

“You could have told her I knew.”

“Accusations again, Kate?”

“Well,” Kate said in her best judge voice, “it wouldn’t be the first time, now would it?”

Reese stared at the woman he once loved to distraction, unable to believe she could still drive him crazy. “You forget, darling, I was provoked.”

Her face turned ashen but she regrouped quickly. “There’s blame on both sides, Reese.”

Slowly folding the paper, he pulled himself up to his six-foot-plus height. She was five-seven, so he had an advantage. “Could we for once try to be civil to each other?” His tone was sharper than he intended, so he calmed himself and finished, “This is going to cause havoc in both our jobs. We have to put our animosity aside.”

Crossing her arms over her chest, she tossed her head back. Her hair had started to dry, and without the blower to tame it, the thick locks were curling around her face. These days she wore it straight or in a knot at her neck. He preferred the wild tangle it used to be. “Give me a minute to put some clothes on. And call my assistant. Then we can talk this out.”

He merely nodded.

“There’s coffee. Tyler made it.”

“Of course,” he muttered. “Tyler—the incarnation of Mr. Wonderful.” Damn, he hated that talking doll who quipped all the things an ideal man should say.

With one last flinty look, Kate headed out the door and up the stairs. Reese drew in a heavy breath. She made him crazy and reduced him to making nasty comments. He couldn’t think clearly around her now.

Not that he ever could, he reminded himself as he found her all-white, sterile kitchen and grabbed for the pot of coffee her lover had brewed. From the day he met Kaitlyn Renado, his life had been a roller-coaster ride. Only after their divorce had it evened out.

One broken heart was a small price to pay for being off that ride.

o0o

TWO HOURS LATER, in her sunny breakfast nook, Kate sat across from her ex-husband, and tried to study the file before her. Earlier, she and Reese had had a phone conference with their attorneys, who planned to talk to the New Jersey police regarding the investigation into Bingham’s death, then contact the prison to see what they could find out. Because it was Friday, they weren’t sure how far they’d get.

Kate and Reese also had some tasks. Their first step was to analyze the law office’s file on Anna Bingham. They each had a copy of it, thanks to Reese’s efficient secretary, Yolanda, who used to be Kate’s secretary, too. The woman had mothered them both when they started their firm and hired her. Kate and Reese, each having been motherless for years, had loved it. Kate now stared down at file, blocking the nostalgic memory, shutting out the sight of Reese, wishing she could shut him out of her life completely.

It had been five years since their divorce, and, thank God, she’d gotten a handle on her feelings for him. For the first year or so, she’d cried at night because of what happened those last few months, but gradually she’d begun to heal. The following two years included days and weeks when she didn’t think about him at all. Eventually, her life was fine without him. But at times like these, when she came face-to-face with him, or especially when what had happened in the past reared its ugly head, her resentment toward him and the hurt he’d caused her surfaced abruptly.

Thank God no one except her dearest friend, Jillian Jenkins, knew how being with her ex could still affect her. Tyler had some stupid male insecurity about Reese, so Kate never admitted to him how hard it was to have contact with Reese, nor how much their split had hurt. Only Jillian was privy to the fact that losing the only man Kate had ever really loved, and the horrible way they treated each other at the end, could still cut her heart to ribbons.

Damn it. She had to concentrate on the matter at hand. She could work on this until one p.m., then she had to take her afternoon cases. Family court judges heard an average of fifty to sixty cases a day and had no room for absenteeism. That she’d shuffled her load to someone else this morning didn’t sit right with Kate. But she’d had no choice. They had to get to the bottom of this mess.

She sneaked a peek at Reese; he was due in court, too, for a pretrial hearing at three. He wore a beautiful pinstriped suit but had removed his tie and jacket and rolled up the sleeves of his shirt. His dark hair fell onto his forehead, which was tanned. He’d probably spent some vacation time in the Caribbean, his favorite place now, with his own private beach bunny. His sage-green eyes were intense even through the glasses he wore only when he was tired. Absently he rolled a pen between his palms, something he often did when he was thinking. For a brief minute, she remembered what those hands felt like on her bare skin.

Really good.

Her cell phone rang, dragging her from her memories. Reese scowled at it, but said nothing as she picked it up from the table. “Hello.”

“Hey, gorgeous. I was just calling to see how it went with the ex.” Tyler’s voice pitched sexily low. “And protecting what’s mine.”

“I’m at home, and Reese is still here. Something’s happened.” Briefly she explained, in case he saw the paper.

“Kaitlyn, honey, I’m so sorry.”

“I’ll call you when I have more information.”

Reese glanced over when she clicked off. His mouth thinned. “Lover boy checking up on you?”

“He’s concerned.” Her eyes narrowed. “Does your little sweet thing know about this?”

“Not yet.” He closed the file and held it up. “I don’t see anything here, do you?”

She shook her head. “It’s pretty cut and dried. Anna Bingham came to our firm ten years ago, and we defended her for fraud. She was guilty as hell. Only your expertise got her self-surrender at Danbury, and a stint of sixteen months with time off for good behavior. I heard that at some point she got a prison advocate to help her through the process.”

Frowning, he sat back in the chair. “I wonder why she didn’t come back to us when she got in trouble again.”

Kate’s jaw clenched.

He noticed. “What?”

“Nothing. Unless what she says is true.”

Slapping the file on the table, he leaned forward. “Fuck it, Kate! If you’re not going to believe me, no one else will. We won’t have a shot in hell of coming off innocent if my own partner-at-the-time doesn’t stand behind me.”

He was right. She hated when he was right. “I know. Swear to God you’re not lying in this. If you are, it’s okay. Just tell me. We’ll go from there.”

The corner of his mouth turned up in a begrudging grin. It had been one of many private things between them, for big and little testimonials…Swear to God you like this dress and aren’t just saying you do…Swear to God you don’t think I was wrong in that case…Swear to God you still love me like you did when we were first married.

BOOK: Ties That Bind
4.94Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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