"I don't think I'll be spending much time in the other wings. Mr. Broward seems pretty intent on keeping me in our office."
His eyes narrowed. "In your office or out of mine?"
I shifted uncomfortably, no doubt my body language answering the question before my lips even opened. "More likely the second."
He waved away the offer to taste the wine and the waiter took the hint, hurriedly pouring two glasses of wine and then scurrying away.
"I recall you making a stripper comment earlier. I'm not sure what you have been told about me, but I'm not nearly as bad as they make me out to be." His deliciously deep voice carried a little bit of ego. I'm sure you are exactly as bad as they make you out to be.
"Okay then, let's verify some of the rumors."
The challenge stood on the table, between us.
De Luca took a swig of wine, his eyes never leaving mine, and then set it down firmly and nodded at me. Bring it on.
I started to open my mouth to speak, and he raised a hand up, stopping me. "Wait. Before I agree, lets make a deal. For every…. rumor you bring up, I get to ask you one question." I nodded in response. I put caution to the wind, and grabbed the second glass of wine and took a sip. Our duel was postponed again by the over-attentive waiter.
"Are we ready to order Mr. De Luca?"
"Sure, Mimmo. I'll have my usual. Julia?"
I had not looked at the menu, but went with my initial thought.
"Porterhouse please. Medium Rare."
Mimmo raised a brow but did not comment on my choice. "Would you care for a salad?"
"No. Baked potato, please. Just butter."
"Certainly." He did a little bow of some sort, and departed.
De Luca looked back at me. Okay, let's go.
"Have you ever slept with an intern?"
"I'll save that for a second date."
"We aren't having a second…date."
"We'll see. My turn. Why did you choose CDB for your internship?"
"It's the best. I have no desire to settle for second best."
"Have you been with the best in the past?"
"I've never had a job before."
"That's not what I meant."
I shot him a look. He put up his hands in innocence and grinned.
"Why do you think I've been told to avoid you?"
He shrugged and took a sip of the wine. "All good reasons, I'm sure."
"I'm an attorney. It's my job."
"And you think you are good at your job."
He raised an eyebrow. "I know I am good at my job. There is a reason I have a nine month wait."
"I've heard other reasons that divorcing females might want to wait for your services."
"So you think I am good at that job?" His eyes brimmed with mischievous and I suddenly had a very good idea of what he was like as a ten-year-old boy.
"You're being evasive again."
"Just trying to figure out what you think you know."
"Do you sleep with your clients?"
"Just the female ones."
His blatant and unashamed response floored me, and I stumbled over the next question. He had leaned forward, across the table, and was meeting my eyes dead on. I felt locked into an stare-off.
"All of them?"
"I'm not a jiggilo. I have sex for pleasure. If I am not sexually attracted to the woman, there is no purpose in having sex."
"Don't you think that that would be bad for business?"
"On the contrary, it is extremely good for business." He leaned back and put one hand to his temple, playing with his pinkie with his mouth. His gaze had started to smolder. "I am very good at pleasing women, Julia."
I blushed and looked away, praying for our food to arrive. It did not, but there was a different interruption. A ringing cell phone.
Brad reached for his cell without breaking his gaze at me and touched the screen.
"Yes, you can patch her through."
He looked at me apologetically, and looked around for our waiter. Mimmo materialized at his side with a pen and pad in hand. This seemed to be an old pattern they had. De Luca grabbed the pen, looked at his watch, and scribbled "12:33pm" on the notepad. De Luca ripped off the top page and returned the notepad, but not the pen, to Mimmo.
Hysterical babble was heard from the phone pressed to De Luca's ear. To his credit, he listened intently to the hysterics without an eye roll or sign of impatience. At the first pause, he spoke.
"Claudia. Listen to me. You need to trust that we know what we are doing and we will handle it. I will have him covered by the private investigator. He won't sneak anything by us on my watch, I promise you."
More hysterical shouting, then something that sounded like pleading.
"Those assets are safe. We already have a court motion in place that has frozen those. Please relax Claudia. Why don't you let me send Alfonzo over? He can massage those worries right out of you."
I tuned his conversation out when Mimmo brought our food out. My steak was enormous, and smelled incredible. I had my knife and fork ready and dove in the moment that the plate hit the table. De Luca shot me a bemused look. I ignored him, chewing furiously. The steak had just enough fat to add flavor, and was tender and perfectly cooked. I like my steak bloody, and this fit the bill. I paused in my intake to sip some wine. The glass was full. I paused and looked at it. Did I finish the first glass? Or did he refill this early? I shook my head and pushed it to the side, reaching for the water glass instead. I had broken enough cardinal rules today. I didn't want to add "Drunk at Work" to the tally.
I was 80% through my steak and had demolished the baked potato when De Luca finally ended the call. He glanced at his watch again and wrote 12:42pm on the piece of scrap paper. I glanced at it and rolled my eyes.
"Your going to bill her for 9 minutes?!"
"It was 9 minutes I could have spent talking to you. And yes, at $850 an hour, I damn sure am going to bill for 9 minutes."
His mouth twitched. "Not 10. For the same reason."
Well, it looks like the man has some shred of moral fiber. Shocker.
"I've got to get back to the office." He mumbled the words through a hefty bite of steak.
"Do we have time to run an errand?"
"Depends on what it is. Rick in IT is not expecting you to return with a… cable port thingy? I think that's how you referred to it."