Title: Undone (Disclosure Series Book #1)
Author: R.E. Hunter
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Expected Release Date: January 6, 2014
Five years ago, Embry Jacobs ran... She ran from a past that still hasn’t let her go, but her dream of becoming a lawyer is stronger than her fear of confronting that past. Embry’s sole focus is to get through law school—with the help of her best friend, Morgan—and make something of the broken girl she became. Not thinking about falling in love, being in a relationship or even entertaining the idea of romance, Embry is moving forward one day at a time. Luke Brody is charming and sexy, and has a past of his own. He wants nothing more than to put his demons to rest and move on with his life. But, when Embry enters the picture, is he destined to repeat those same mistakes? Blindsided by their instant attraction, neither Luke nor Embry are prepared for the feelings they’re developing. But will it all be for nothing? Will they let their pasts destroy them, or will they risk everything to fight for their relationship when it all comes undone?
Undone Goodreads Link: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17793837-undone
This can’t be happening. That thought ran on a constant loop through her head as she sat in the cold, uninviting classroom, the smell of antiseptic invading her nostrils. A shiver crept up her spine, and she couldn’t tell if it was from the temperature or her nerves. Maybe both. She sat on a hard plastic chair, hands gripped in her lap, her foot tapping furiously against the linoleum. The anticipation was killing her. She studied the three people at the front of the room, their heads bent together as they whispered amongst themselves.
Her heart thumped in her chest, the dull thud echoing in her ears as she sat silently, waiting. Her head swam, and she struggled to keep herself afloat instead of drowning in the anxiety that threatened to pull her under. She strained forward, hoping to catch even a small piece of their hushed conversation, but all she could hear was the shallow murmur of their voices. She wanted to get it over with. Like a Band-Aid, it would hurt either way. Might as well make it quick. She’d had to pick up the pieces of her broken life and move on once before. But she couldn’t do it again, not after all of her hard work. She wouldn’t accept it, she couldn’t.
How did this happen? They’d been careful. Hadn’t they been careful? She swallowed the lump in her throat and tried in vain to think of something, anything else.
The older gentleman on the end cleared his throat, pulling her from her thoughts. “Miss Jacobs?”
She looked up at the members of the university’s disciplinary committee, taking them in one at a time. She straightened her back and lifted her chin, hoping the outward display of confidence would give her some semblance of the same feeling on the inside. That was shot to hell as soon as she opened her mouth. “Y-yes, sir?” she answered, her voice trembling.
“Do you know why you’re here?” the other man asked, his eyes kind.
“No, sir.” She shook her head, but she was pretty sure she had an idea.
“Let me tell you,” the older man interjected, opening the folder in front of him. He explained the purpose of the hearing and the university’s policies regarding disciplinary sanctions.
She sat back, rubbing her palms on her pants and trying to calm down. As she listened to his words, she was hit with a rush of emotion so strong it almost bowled her over. Good. Bad. Happy. Sad. Betrayal. Rage. Shock. Relief. Relief? She fought to keep focused on the seriousness of the situation before her as a litany of memories assaulted her consciousness.
Four months earlier.
“Look to your left … now look to your right. One of you won’t be here at the end of the year.”
Those same words were repeated year after year at law school orientations around the country. Embry Jacobs fought to keep her composure as the dean continued his sad attempt to scare her out of the next three years at Whitman Law School. The old theater seats made her itch, and her long, blond hair stuck to the back of her neck, making her antsy.
She leaned over to whisper to her best friend, “Seriously? I thought they stopped giving this speech years ago. Did the dean take this straight from The Paper Chase?”
Morgan chuckled and elbowed Embry’s ribs. “Shhh, this is very important stuff, Bree.”
Embry had read the books and watched the movies. She knew all about the scare tactics used on first-year law students. As cliché as the dean’s speech was, a good number of the students in that auditorium wouldn’t make it through the first semester, let alone all three years.
Failing out wasn’t an option for her. Embry had one chance, and she had to make it count. All she’d ever wanted was to be a lawyer, and the only thing standing in her way was the next three years of school. Already in debt from her undergraduate degree, she was relying on a scholarship to get her through law school. If she didn’t keep her grades high enough to maintain the scholarship, she’d be forced to take out more loans. At least once she graduated, she’d be able to make enough money to pay them off. Embry was startled from her thoughts by a hard poke to her arm.
“Bree, you coming?”
Embry looked up to see Morgan waiting for her. Morgan Maxwell had been her best friend for as long as she could remember. She’d been through everything with Embry, and even though they’d lived far apart for the past five years, their friendship had never suffered. When Embry left home after high school without any warning or explanation, Morgan was the only person who knew why. The real reason. Even though Embry’s leaving put a strain on Morgan’s relationship with her own parents, she stuck by Embry’s side, always supportive and never questioning. When they started applying to law schools at the same time, Morgan convinced Embry to finally come home so they could experience it together. Embry had never believed they would be so lucky to get accepted to Whitman together, so when she got her admission letter, she planned her move immediately.
Morgan’s voice broke through her thoughts again. “Earth to Embry! Did you hear a word I just said?”
“What? No, sorry,” she answered.
“Where were you just now?” Morgan asked, tilting her head and shooting Embry a curious glance.
“I was just thinking about being back home,” she said, shrugging.
Morgan bounced up and down. “Oh my God, I know! Can you believe we’re really doing this? Morgan and Bree back together again! And in law school!” She grabbed Embry’s arm and pulled her up out of the seat. “Come on, I wanna catch the next campus tour.”
Embry gave Morgan a big smile, trying to match her enthusiasm. “Okay, okay, let’s go.”
The girls exited the auditorium into the bright summer sun. Embry rummaged around in her purse for her sunglasses, and her fingers brushed the hard edge of an envelope. She dragged Morgan to a stop.
“Hey, I totally forgot I have to run to student services.” She pulled the envelope from her purse. “Something to do with my tuition. You okay to do the tour yourself?”
Morgan huffed sarcastically then gave Embry a bright smile. “I’ll be fine. You know I make friends wherever I go!”
Embry chuckled. “Okay, I’ll catch you later.”
She made her way to the law school’s building and walked through the rear door. She hadn’t been through that entrance yet and found herself disoriented as she navigated the long, empty hallways. She turned a corner and stopped to take in her surroundings. She realized she had been walking in a circle about the same time something crashed into her, spinning her around. Before she could get her bearings, she felt a large, warm hand on her arm.
“Sorry about that.”
Embry looked up at the owner of the deep, raspy voice and into a pair of the bluest eyes she’d ever seen. He was beautiful—dark, perfectly mussed hair, straight nose, square, chiseled jaw, full lips—and she could have lost herself in those eyes for days. “I–um…” Struck speechless by his good looks and the warmth of his touch, she nodded and tucked a stray strand of hair behind her ear.
“Are you okay?” he asked, his brow furrowed.
“Yeah. Yes, I’m fine,” she forced out, nodding again. Stop nodding, Embry!
“You sure?” he asked, raising an eyebrow.
“I’m good, thanks.”
He quirked his head to the side, studying her. His face twisted into something just short of … pain? He looked perplexed and frustrated. Embry watched him shake his head slightly, as if trying to clear the emotions playing across his face. He slowly dragged his thumb across her skin before he removed his hand from her arm, leaving a trail of goose bumps in its wake.
“Sorry again,” he said with a sheepish grin, and just like that he was gone. He turned and walked away as though they hadn’t just collided and had the most intense moment.
Their entire exchange couldn’t have lasted more than a minute, but Embry felt it in every fiber of her being. Shaken by her run-in with the mysterious stranger, she retraced her steps until she found the atrium. The large, open room was filled with sunlight streaming in from the sky-lit ceiling. Tables and chairs, filled with new students laughing and talking, were scattered around the big space. The walls were covered with pictures of Supreme Court justices and esteemed faculty members, and at the end was the student services office. She made her way into the office, and as she waited for her advisor, she couldn’t help but think about those bright blue eyes.
“I’m sorry to take you away from your orientation activities,” her student affairs advisor said as she flipped through a folder full of papers.
Embry sat with her hands in her lap, glancing around the office as she waited.
“But I’m glad you’re here. There was a problem regarding your tuition that I wanted to resolve as soon as possible.”
Embry had dealt with that multiple times in college. Loans and scholarships were paid out late all the time. “Was my scholarship not disbursed yet?”
The woman paused her paper shuffling and glanced at Embry before shifting her attention back to the pile. “No, no, your scholarship came through,” she answered. “Ah, here it is.” She pulled a piece of paper out of the pile and handed it to Embry. “It appears that maybe you were misinformed about the amount that the scholarship would cover.”
Embry stared at the paper and felt as if the ground had been swept out from beneath her. She was free-falling, and panic took over as she looked at the amount of the scholarship. It was ten thousand dollars short for the year.
“But, I–” Embry tried and failed to get out the words. She looked down again, hoping maybe she had read the numbers wrong. No, her scholarship didn’t cover her full tuition. How could she have missed that? She was positive that the award letter said her tuition was completely covered. She handed the paper back to her advisor, hands shaking. As she looked into the woman’s eyes, the pity she saw made Embry feel that much worse.
“I can see that this is a shock to you.” Her advisor reached for another stack of papers and handed it to Embry. “I’ve compiled the financial aid application, if you’re interested. I’m not sure if they’ll be able to disburse funds in time to cover the remaining tuition bill, but at least, if awarded, the aid check will reimburse you.”
Embry nodded numbly.
“The good news is, for students who weren’t awarded full scholarships at the outset, Whitman offers merit-based scholarships during the second and third years to those who maintain academic excellence.” The woman smiled, her voice rising an octave as if that would somehow make it easier on Embry. “So just keep up those grades, and you never know!”
Great. No pressure. Embry knew she would be sick if she didn’t get out of that office. Thanking her advisor, she tucked the financial aid packet in her purse and hurried out.
Embry walked through the crowded atrium, her head spinning. She crunched the numbers again and again but came up with the same answer. Ten thousand dollars to cover tuition for the year. She had that in savings, plus a bit more, but that was supposed to go to her rent. And what about money for groceries, bills? She would be forced to shell out all of the money up front, and financial aid was never a guarantee. She took her pity party to one of the empty tables and sat down to look through the packet her advisor had given her.
A large iced coffee was placed in front of her as Morgan sat down beside her. “Looked like you could use this. I saw you pouting from across the atrium.”
Pouting was a mild term compared to the major meltdown going on in Embry’s head. “Thanks, M.”
“That’s what best friends are for. Now tell me what’s wrong.”
Embry filled her in on the meeting with her advisor. She skated over the finer details, like the fact that she wouldn’t have money for rent. Morgan’s family owned Embry’s apartment, and the last thing she wanted was their charity.
But Morgan, being Morgan, picked up on it right away. “What aren’t you telling me? You have money saved to cover the tuition, right?”
“I have money saved...” Embry trailed off.
“But it was for your rent,” Morgan said, putting the pieces together.
Embry nodded, humiliated.
“Embry, my parents don’t need the money. The only reason you’re paying rent is because you insisted.”
“I know, but I just don’t feel right doing it any other way.”
“What about your parents? Can they help?”
The thought had crossed Embry’s mind, but she’d dismissed it as quickly as it came. “I can’t ask them. Not after leaving like I did, with no explanation. I know they love me and I’m sure they’d help if they could, but I just don’t feel right asking. I’ll look around town to see if I can pick up a bartending job somewhere. Besides”—she held up the papers—“there’s always financial aid.”
“Stubborn,” Morgan scolded.
“Spoiled,” she shot back with a grin.
The girls talked until it was time to head to their classes. They hadn’t been able to talk their way into the same section, so they had completely different schedules.
“Criminal law?” Embry asked Morgan as they walked out of the atrium.
Morgan nodded. “Professor Charles.”
“Gasp! I heard he’s a nightmare. Good luck. I’ve got contracts with Coleman.”
Morgan shrugged. “I’m pretty sure she learned the art of torturing first years from Charles himself.”
“Sounds like we’re both in for some fun then!” Embry said with fake enthusiasm. She turned down the hallway leading away from Morgan.
“Good luuuuuck,” her friend called.
Embry walked into the classroom and stood in the back, getting her bearings. Rows of stadium seating lay before her, and she watched students mill around. She wandered down the stairs and chose a seat toward the middle of the classroom. As she pulled out her computer, someone slid into the seat next to her.
“This seat taken?”
Embry looked up into a handsome face and a pair of chestnut-colored eyes. They had nothing on the sexy guy from the hallway, but he definitely wasn’t lacking in the looks department. What has gotten into you, Embry? It had been a while but not that long. She hadn’t been in a relationship in five years, not since him, but that hadn’t stopped her from having fun. Law school was different, though. She didn’t want any distractions: no guys, no sex, no drama. At the rate hot guys were popping up, though, she’d fail out by the end of the week.
“Nope, all yours,” she answered, busying herself with her computer.
“Cool, thanks. I’m Jeremy.” He gave her a half wave.
“So what’s your story, Blondie?” he asked, reaching out to twirl a piece of her golden hair between his fingers.
“What?” Her head snapped up and she tugged her hair out of his grasp.
“You know, your story. Where are you from, what did you go to school for... the usual.”
She pointed at herself. “Embry. Not Blondie.”
He raised his hands in surrender. “Okay, sorry. I like nicknames. You’re a little uptight, aren’t you?”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” she asked, losing her cool.
“I could help you loosen up a bit, you know.” He winked.
Winked! The guy was hot—she had to admit that—but was he serious? “Are you serious?”
“Only if you say yes.”
She had no words. She rolled her eyes and went back to her computer.
He didn’t leave her alone for long. “I got your mind off your first-day jitters though, didn’t I?”
All she could do was stare at him. Who is this guy?
“I did, didn’t I?” He nudged her arm.
She finally let her guard down and laughed. “Yes, yes, you did, okay? Happy?”
“Not until you go out with me.”
“Really,” she deadpanned.
“You sure?” he asked, wiggling his eyebrows.
“Friends?” he said.
She glared at him.
He tilted his head, widened his eyes, and pouted, giving her what she was sure was his best puppy-dog face. “Come on, we got the sex out of the way. Now we can keep it strictly platonic.”
Her eyes nearly popped out of her head. “Sex? What sex? There will be no sex!” A few curious gazes settled on Embry. She said that louder than she meant to. She should have been aggravated, but for some reason, Jeremy was making her laugh. And he was right; her first-day jitters were history.
“It’s out of the way. I hit on you, you friend-zoned me, so we’re all good. It’s platonic now.”
“Okaaay,” she said reluctantly.
“That is, until you realize how ridiculously attractive I am and regret your decision. I can’t promise I’ll wait for you, though.”
She rolled her eyes again. “You’re unbelievable.”
“Believe it, baby.”
“Embry,” she stated, pointing toward her chest again.
“We’ll work on it, Blondie.” He winked again.
He was infuriating, but she couldn’t fight the smile tipping her lips. “Friends,” she agreed. And that was that.
“So, you hear anything about Professor Coleman?” he asked.
He nodded as he tapped his pen on the desk. “You know, after that Oscar-worthy performance by the dean, I’m starting to think this is all just a big setup to make us go running for the hills.”
“Yeah, I thought he was laying it on a bit thick,” she said, searching her bag for her textbook.
“I’m pretty sure it’s all a big act. It can’t be that bad,” Jeremy said.
“Let’s hope….” Embry’s sentence trailed off as the room went silent.
Students craned their necks toward the door to catch a glimpse of the professor. After the rumors she’d heard, Embry expected someone a bit more intimidating. Instead, Professor Coleman was a petite woman, about mid-forties, with librarian glasses, shoulder-length brown hair, and a stylish skirt suit. She glided up to the podium, put down a stack of papers, and headed to the whiteboard.
“I’m Professor Coleman.” The dry erase marker squeaked across the board. “I’ll be your contracts professor. This is my contact information. My door is always open during office hours, so feel free to stop in. We’re going to go over the syllabus and class objectives today. Then I’ll tell you a bit about myself and send you on your way, so you can all let out that breath you’ve been holding.”
The entire class breathed an audible sigh of relief as they realized Professor Coleman was not going to torture them on their first day.
At the end of class, Embry packed up and felt Jeremy’s eyes on her.
“So really, where are you from? What did you study?” he asked.
“Oh. Um, well, I’m from here. I did my undergrad at the University of Florida. Studied political science. What about you?”
He smiled as he gathered his things. “I’m from Rochester. My dad owns a law firm back home and one in the city. I’m going into the family business, so law school was the next logical step. I went to Syracuse.”
Before Embry could ask Jeremy about his father’s firm, Professor Coleman gave a late announcement. “Oh, before I forget. I’m looking for a research assistant for the year. If any of you are interested, come and see me.”
Embry’s ears perked up. The research assistant position would be the perfect solution to her problem. She could make the money she needed and still focus on law. All she had to do was impress the professor. “I’m going to go check that out.”
Jeremy raised an eyebrow. “Apply at your own risk. I hear she can be pretty tough.”
“Thanks for the warning.” She waved good-bye and made her way to the front of the room.
Embry walked out of the classroom in a far better mood than when she had entered it. Professor Coleman seemed nice, and Embry had a good feeling about her chances of getting the position. She was actually excited for the semester to officially start. She fished her phone out of her purse to text Morgan, and when she glanced up, she froze.
Walking toward her was the sexy stranger. He was farther away, and she had time to take in his beauty. He was tall, well over six feet, and wore a tight gray V-neck shirt and faded jeans. His dark hair set off those blue eyes, framed by long lashes. Gorgeous. He was carrying a box, and it must have been heavy because his muscles strained against his T-shirt and Embry couldn’t look away. When she finally dragged her eyes from his biceps, she found his baby blues searching hers. He held her gaze as he walked toward her, causing her cheeks to flush under the intensity of his stare. As he drew nearer, she noticed his lips twisting into an amused smirk.
“We have to stop meeting like this,” he joked, stopping in front of her.
She was momentarily stunned but recovered quickly. “If I didn’t know better, I’d think you were following me.”
“Maybe I am,” he said, and then he smiled. Not a polite smile shared with a stranger, but a real smile. A gorgeous smile. An all-out, eyes-crinkling, dimples-popping, panty-dropping smile.
Something stirred inside of Embry. Her knees loosened, heat crept up her neck, and a swarm of butterflies took up residence in her stomach. Before she had time to acknowledge her reaction, he turned and walked away again. Sauntered, really. As she studied his backside, she realized she was in big trouble.
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About the author:
R.E. Hunter is a native New Yorker and lives on Long Island with her husband and their crazy kitten. She works as an attorney by day and writes every spare second she has. She's currently working on the sequel to Undone, which will be released sometime in 2014. When she’s not writing, you can usually find her somewhere near a beach with a book in her hand.
Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7046339.R_E_Hunter
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