"Is that De Luca?"

"DRIVE away. Then you can grill me."

She obediently put the car in drive and pulled off, waiting until she hit the first light before turning to me with an expectant look.

"Yes, that was De Luca. No, I don't want to talk about it."

"Damn, Jules - the man is a God! Those shoulders -"

I held up my hand, stopping her gush. "I really don't want to hear about it. I spend at least a half hour a day trying not to think about his body. Can you just take me home?"

"Sure. Just so I know, where's your car at?"

I groaned. "A metered spot by Cantina del Mer. I'll have a taxi take me by it in the morning." I leaned against the cool window, watching the streets zoom by. She pulled up at my house just when I was beginning to doze. I gave her a grateful hug, and drug myself inside and into bed. Crawling under the sheets, still in my work clothes and makeup, I barely remembered to set the alarm before I fell asleep.

----

My alarm rang at 5:45am - 45 minutes early so I would have time to figure out my car situation. I hit the alarm, stumbled to the bathroom to pee, then wandered back into my room. I grabbed my phone to look up a taxi company's number and saw a new text from Olivia, sent at 11:20 last night.

BECCA AND I PICKED UP YOUR CAR. IT'S IN THE DRIVEWAY, YOUR EXTRA KEY IS BACK IN THE HIDDEN MAGNET.

God bless friends who know every aspect of your life. I crawled on my bed over to the window, looked outside to verify that my car was, in fact, in the driveway and then crawled back under the covers, resetting the alarm for 6:30am.

---

7:35am. Jogging into the CDB lobby, I called Olivia's phone. It rang once and then went to voicemail. I left her a short but sweet message thanking her profusely for both rescuing my ass last night, but also for returning my car. I decided to wait to call Becca; she was undoubtedly still asleep. I made coffee in record time, a feat I had now mastered, and my butt was firmly in my seat by 7:45am. I nodded a "good morning" to Broward as he passed, then rose to pour him a cup.

"Morning, Julia." Broward said as I set the cup of coffee in front of him.

"Good morning. Anything special on the agenda today?" I smiled at him pleasantly.

"Not really," he said, flipping through some papers on his desk. "Except that I have that mediation next week that I have to fly to Dallas for, so I'll be gone from Tuesday through Thursday." He looked up at me expectantly.

Yes! Three days without Broward. I tried not to let my exuberance show and nodded calmly at Broward. "Anything I can do to help you prepare, sir?"

"Yes, I'll need all of the files related to the Bandor Construction suit. And it will be informative for you to sit through the mediation prep calls with me. Check my calendar and invite yourself to any events that are related to that case between now and Tuesday. When I get back, we'll have a lot of mediation paperwork, and hopefully a settlement offer to work on."

I nodded mutely and turned to leave. "Oh Julia?" Oh no. I turned demurely and smiled at him, my eyebrows raised. "Yes sir?"

He stood, now at eye level with me. "Last time I was out of town, I heard from Shirley that De Luca had been… bothering… you. I was worried, but it appears that he has backed off. Is me leaving town again going to cause a problem?"

I kept my voice light and my eyes perplexed. "I don't see why it would sir. I've only spoken to Mr. De Luca a few times, and always regarding work items. He hasn't bothered me."

He looked relieved and sank back to his seat. "Great. That's great. Just checking Julia. You have a bright future ahead of you, and I didn't want it being tarnished by Brad. I know don't need to tell you again; but please stay in the West Wing and as far as you can from Brad De Luca."

---

Back at my desk, I held my head in my hands. Halfway through my internship, and I was lying to my boss and breaking the only rules he had given me. The right thing to do seemed obvious - stay away from Brad and hope that no one ever finds out. Stick to the plan, and maybe salvage this ridiculous internship that I was already regretting taking. My phone rang.

"Julia Campbell."

"It's me." Brad.

I hung up the phone.

CHAPTER 28

Thursday morning, 10:45am.

Todd Appleton knocked on my door, and stuck his head inside. "You busy?"

"Nothing I can't pause. Come on in." I smiled at him hesitantly, him doing the same to me. Neither one of us spoke for a minute.

"Look, Julia - De Luca came and talked to me yesterday. He said I could talk to you, or hang out, or whatever. It's cool."

"So he gave you permission."

"I guess. He just let me know that he shouldn't have said anything, and I can hang out with whoever I want."

"How swell of him."

He sat down in the chair across from me, and played with a lone paperclip that was lying there. "What's the deal with you two?"

"What do you mean?" I said. I swore silently to myself. I should have realized that this would all seem really weird to Todd.

"I mean, you act so pissed at him... and the way he warned me about you - are you seeing him or something?"

I laughed harshly. My laugh sounded weird, not the casual way I had meant it to come out. "Todd, I've never even met the guy. Maybe once, in passing. I just hear all the stories and he sounds like an ass**le."

"De Luca? No, he's like the coolest guy ever!"

"Well he sounds like a jerk. I just don't like anyone telling you what to do. Last night I was drunk, and overreacted. I'm sorry."

"Yeah, you like wigged OUT. We were all wondering where you were headed, you had this death stare going."

"I was just pissed about something else. I'm sorry. I swear, I'll be normal and sane next time."

"Yeah, heard Broward's going to be out of town next week some." He looked down at the paperclip, which he had now twisted into something resembling a fortune cookie. "Maybe next week, you'd like to hang out or something?"

Just what I need right now, more workplace drama. "I don't know Todd. I've heard they take interoffice dating really seriously."

"Dating! No, I didn't mean dating." he laughed nervously. "I just meant, like hanging out. Watching a movie or something."

"Sure, Todd. Something like that sounds good." I smiled at him and his whole face lit up.

"Awesome! Really awesome. Okay, I'm, ah, gonna get back to the East Wing. We got a lot going on today."

"Thanks for stopping by." I waved at him and he did the same, turning so fast he bumped into the doorframe. He blushed and ducked out, closing the door softly behind him. I groaned and returned to the brief I was proofreading. I don't know why, but it seemed my good girl days were gone, and all I knew how to do now was break the rules.

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