Exclusive Excerpt: Hot Asset by Lauren Layne
“You’ve done four Ironmans,” I point out, catching my breath.
“Exactly. Because I like the swimming and biking. If I liked the running part, I’d do a marathon like Prefontaine up there.
I slow my cool-down jog all the way to a walk. “Hey, Kennedy,” I call out. “Slow your roll.”
My other best friend doesn’t glance back, but I know he hears me because he slows his damn sprint pace to a walk, then stops and waits for Matt and me to catch up.
Kennedy’s not even breathing slightly hard, damn the man. We’re all in good shape, but of the three of us, Kennedy’s the runner. Matt’s all about the competition, and me . . . well, to be honest, I just like a good old-fashioned gym session, preferably with a hot female trainer.
Today, though, I’d talked the guys into a run with me. I see them enough around the office, but today I need them as friends not coworkers.
And there are no better friends than these two.
Matt Cannon, Kennedy Dawson, and I all came up with one another at Wolfe. We started the same year and worked the bullpen together, even as we were competitors. Investment brokerage is an up-or-out business—you either make it to the next level, burn out, or are pushed out.
All three of us had made it. We’re competitors still, fighting for the same clients, the same accounts, but friends in spite of it. Hell, maybe friends because of it. All of us are fighters in our own way.
Matt drops into a stretch. “For real, what was with the double-time sprinting?” he asks me.
“If the SEC were on your ass, you’d be running, too,” Kennedy says.
“I was running.”
“Could have fooled me,” Kennedy says, leaning against the railing along the Hudson, looking every bit as polished after a five-mile run as he does in the office.
Matt shoots Kennedy the bird, then turns his attention back to me. “So what’s our plan? How do we clear your name?”
See that? Loyalty. Told you these guys were solid. Not once since this went down have they thought or implied I was guilty of anything other than bad luck.
I brace on the railing and, dipping my chin to my chest, take a deep breath. “I don’t know, man.”
“Who’s your lawyer?” Kennedy asks.
“Damn it, Ian. You need a lawyer.”
I look up in irritation. “Yeah, thanks for the brilliant words of wisdom, Dad. I said I didn’t know yet, not that I wasn’t going to get one.”
“You found out about the investigation on Monday. Today’s Thursday. What have you been doing if not lawyering up?”
“Flirting with the SEC,” Matt chimes in.
Kennedy snarls, “What?”
Matt gives me a grin as I glare at him. “Kate filled me in. Dude, you bought her a Frappuccino? That was your grand plan?”
Kennedy braces both hands on his thick head of hair and turns in an agitated circle.
“We got off on the wrong foot. I was trying to make amends,” I say, defending myself as we start walking back toward our respective apartments.
“Bull,” Matt says. “You were trying to use the infamous Ian charm on her in hopes she’d go easy on your case.”
Kennedy’s arms drop. “Tell me he’s joking. Tell me there’s another explanation for why you haven’t made time to find a lawyer that doesn’t involve bringing the SEC whipped-cream concoctions.”
“In Ian’s defense, whipped cream has led me to many an interesting encounter with women,” Matt says, lifting his hands above his head in a stretch.
Damn it. Now a vision of Lara McKenzie wearing only whipped cream and her librarian glasses has me biting back a groan.
“Grandpa here’s right, though, about you needing a lawyer ASAP,” Matt says, his face turning serious. “Kate’s looked up every detail there is to know about this woman. She’s good. Doesn’t lose cases, doesn’t miss a beat, doesn’t screw up on a technicality. Doesn’t back down. Ever.”
“Sounds like someone we know,” Kennedy says with a pointed look in my direction.
“Right, because you two are so easygoing,” I snap, losing patience with the lecture. “Look, I’m working on it.”
“Work harder. McKenzie will send you to jail if she can, man.”
Ian Bradley is the definition of a Wall Street hotshot: seven-figure salary, designer suits, and a corner office. His drive off the floor is just as potent. Every woman who knows him has felt the rush. But now he’s met his match in Lara McKenzie—a woman with the power to bring Ian to his knees.
An ambitious, whip-smart daughter of FBI agents, Lara is a rising star in fighting white-collar crime. Her latest case—the investigation of Ian Bradley for insider trading—could make her career. She knows a scoundrel when she sees one. Ian fits the bill: a cocky, ridiculously handsome bad boy with a slick swagger.
She’ll do anything to prove he’s guilty. He’ll do anything to prove he’s not. But it’s only a matter of time before their fierce battle of wits gets oh so hot and personal. Now, taking down Ian has become more than business for Lara. It’s become a pleasure—and there’s more at risk than she ever dreamed.
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