From the book
She'd lost the job of a lifetime because of a man!
Every time Laila Riley allowed herself to think back--how hard she'd worked to gain her father's trust, how desperately she'd wanted to prove herself capable of running the bank he'd established years ago in Chesapeake Shores, only to throw it all away for what had to have been the most ridiculous fling of all times--it made her a little crazy. She was not the kind of woman who did anything because of a man. She wasn't impetuous or flighty. She was better than that, more sure of herself, more independent.
She allowed herself a sigh. Surely she must have been out of her mind to think that she and much younger playboy Matthew O'Brien could possibly have a respectable future. That had to explain her uncharacteristic behavior.
But because she'd taken leave of her senses, here she was, back in a tiny office, doing the sort of accounting work that bored her to tears. None of the hoped-for jobs at other area banks had materialized. Her credentials were impeccable. Everyone had agreed on that. But in the current economy, no one was hiring at her level. If that changed, she'd be the first person they called. Blah-blah-blah. She'd seen the encouraging words for what they were--so many empty promises.
Within weeks of quitting her job in a huff at the family owned community bank, she'd started berating herself for her foolishness and resenting Matthew for his role in it. If only he hadn't been so blasted irresistible, she'd thought accusingly. So determined to win her heart. She'd been caught up in the romance of his pursuit.
Even as she was blaming him for all that charm and sex appeal, she was forced to admit that Matthew himself had been totally supportive in the aftermath of her impulsive decision to leave her father's bank. He'd even found--or created, she suspected--an accounting opening for her at his uncle Mick's architectural firm, but she didn't want his handouts. She no longer wanted anything from him, in fact, except to be left alone.
Correction: she wanted sex, but that was out of the question. Lust, combined with loneliness and envy for all the happily married couples around her, was exactly what had gotten her in trouble in the first place.
Ending their misguided relationship within weeks of quitting her job had been her only choice. If she'd also packed up and left Chesapeake Shores, it would have been the ultimate trifecta, a complete upending of her life.
But, no, she didn't quite have the will to cut the ties to the town she loved and her infuriating family. So she was stuck here, alone and miserable and working for half a dozen pitiful clients who barely kept her in the Rocky Road ice cream that lately she craved by the gallon.
"Sulking, I see," Jess O'Brien Lincoln said, braving Laila's dark mood by stepping into the office uninvited. She looked around, took in the drab beige walls that needed paint, the tiny window with no view and the seriously scarred desk, shook her head, then sat on a chair that had seen better days. Not even the bright posters Laila had framed could save this place, and they both knew it.
"I am not sulking," Laila protested. "I'm working."
"Yes, I can see all the work piled up on your desk," Jess noted, her tone wry.
"It's on the computer," Laila informed her. "Haven't you heard? Financial records are computerized these days."
Jess tried to settle more comfortably onto the cramped...