Author: Vivian Winslow
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Camila Cohen is a highly ambitious and driven third-year NYU law student who works as a part-time bartender to help pay her way through school. She prefers no-strings attached relationships, afraid that anything serious could get in the way of her goals. But when chef Eliseo Perez ditches her for a job in Miami, she realizes even a casual arrangement can leave you feeling burned. Just as Camila’s close to accepting a position at the high-powered law firm of Sullivan & Moore (more appropriately known by its initials, S & M), her uncle Arthur, the head of the Cohen Real Estate dynasty, makes a proposal that compels Camila to question the career path she’d always assumed would be right for her. As she attempts to balance her busy final year of law school with her bartending job, what should have been a random Tinder date for a hot hook-up leads to something unexpected. Meeting the incredibly brilliant and handsome Marshall James forces Camila to face her greatest fears and realize that creating a life for herself means making decisions that could potentially hurt the ones she loves.
“Soooo, the host,” he says. “Obviously single, no kids . . . .”
Camila shrugs. “Someone new to the school. I’m not in any of his classes, so I don’t know much about him.”
“You’re being weird. You’re always about extraneous details, and now you can’t say the man’s name or look at me.”
“What? I’m making you a cocktail.” Camila forces herself to look at Jared.
He regards her suspiciously. “You’re a terrible liar, my friend. I’ll figure out what you’re hiding.”
It takes all of one second when he sees Marshall walk into the apartment.
“Oh my God, it’s Mr. Gucci,” he whispers into Camila’s ear.
“Shut up. This isn’t the time.”
“Oh, it totally is,” he replies and heads into the adjacent kitchen to introduce himself to Marshall.
“Good evening. I’m Jared. I work with Camila over at L,” he says, hinting he recognizes Marshall from the bar that night.
“It’s great of you to come.” Marshall casually extends a hand.
“Remind me of your drink of choice, and I’ll be sure to keep your glass full tonight.”
“Yeah, that’d be great. You know how to mix a Metropolitan?”
The bartender suppresses a smile. “Funny. Camila really enjoys those too. I’ll be right back.”
“You f*cked him didn’t you?” Jared wags a finger at his friend.
“How can you tell? You spoke to him all of two minutes.”
“While you hid in here like a scaredy cat. What happened? Buyer’s remorse? Hard to imagine though.” He turns in the direction of the kitchen and shakes his head. “No way. With that mouth, the way he stands, and his posture. He’s definitely good in the sack.”
Camila makes a face. “I didn’t realize he was my Professor.”
“I thought you said you weren’t in any of his classes.”
“I dropped it on the first day when I saw him. But what’s worse. He’s my faculty advisor for Law Review.”
“That’s classic,” Jared laughs out loud. So loud it gets Marshall’s attention. He spots Camila standing by the bar. “Oh, hey C.,” he begins to say then clears his throat. “Camila, I didn’t realize you were here.”
“I came early to help Jared set up,” she says, finishing her drink in one gulp.
“This is worse than my cousin’s bar mitzvah down in Palm Springs,” Jared groans to Camila when she approaches him for another drink.
“It may kill you to hear this, but this is one of the better networking parties I’ve been to,” she replies.
“That guy in the corner talking to your boyfriend looks like my Uncle Mordy.”
Camila slaps his arm. “Shut up already. And that man happens to be the foremost expert in Trusts and Estates in the country. I think Oprah is his client.”
“Seriously, honey. You do not belong with this crowd. You are so downtown cool, and they’re uptown uptight.”
“For your information, I just spoke with a woman who runs a legal aid office in the Bronx. She said her work was ‘rewarding’. How many people ever say that about their jobs?”
“Most teachers, except middle school ones, and saints.” Jared leans on his elbow. “So fine, not all lawyers are like my Uncle Mordy. But most of them are.” He checks his watch. “Cover for me a minute. I’m going to the bathroom.”
“I thought I was paying Jared to work, not you.” Marshall says.
“He’s taking his Union fifteen,” Camila answers wryly.
“I guess I can’t interfere with that. I would hate to get a letter from a union lawyer.” He holds up his glass. “Would you mind? I think I prefer your Metropolitans to his anyway.”
“I told you it’s because I don’t sweeten it. Besides, I could use something to do.”
“You’re not giving up so quickly, I hope. There are plenty of attorneys I can introduce you to.”
“So this was a plan to get me to consider a different line of work.”
“Not a plan as much as a hope. But I know better than to interfere in your life. You know what you want.”
Camila looks up when she hears that last word. “Up until recently I would’ve agreed with you. But I realized that I’ve been confusing need with want. I need a job. I don’t know if I want the one I thought I did.”
Marshall furrows his brow. “That’s a tough one. You want to talk about it?” He looks around at the party. More people have arrived. Students are always game for free alcohol, as he knew they would be. However, if he could, he’d snap his fingers and make them all disappear so he could be alone with Camila.
“Maybe later,” she says vaguely, pouring his drink into a clean glass.
Marshall drops five dollars into a tip jar. “Later then.”
“I’m glad you came tonight,” Camila says as she stacks the shakers and places them into a small box. “It was nice to have a friend around.”
“Students are terrible tippers, but you know I’d do anything for you,” Jared replies. He hooks a cord around the box of alcohol and stands. “At least I got to check out your secret boyfriend.”
Camila slaps his thigh. “Shh. He is not.”
“Oh please. You and Felicity should start a club. You guys can make a SLAM book and write Felicity + Todd and Camila + Marshall on the cover. This is so junior high with your sad, longing faces.” He presses his cheeks down. “A crush on your professor, and a crush on your boss, I swear I am living in the middle of a young adult drama.”
“Oh come on. You said they’re probably sleeping together. That’s not happening here.”
Jared puts a hand on his hip. “You’re lying to me, and you’re lying to yourself. I can see what’s going on. My vision is 20/10.”
“Enough. You’re being weird.”
“Pot, kettle, honey. I’ve known you for seven years, and I’ve never seen you act this strange.”
“But he’s my professor,” she whispers as the catering staff bustle around her, clearing out the dishes. Most of the party has emptied out with the exception of a few lawyers who seem to be friends of Marshall’s.
“No he isn’t. He teaches at the law school where you happen to be a student. I’m not an idiot. That’s gray area at best, but still within acceptable boundaries. And I should know a thing or two about boundaries because I’m always breaking them.” Jared hands her the container with the shakers. “Walk down with me and wait while I get a cab.”
Elizabeth Ann Hayes writes Romance under the pen name Vivian Winslow. Elizabeth was born in San Diego, California but has spent most of her adult life as the consummate wanderer. Her nomadic life took her abroad to Paris, Madrid, London, Hong Kong, Los Angeles, and São Paulo. After eleven moves across four continents over a span of seventeen years, her journey brought her back to New York City in 2011 where, despite the chaotic pace, she’s managed to make it home for herself and her family.
Since 2014, Elizabeth has published nine novellas in her Gilded Flower Trilogies as well as two installments of Wildflowers, a New Adult series of standalone novels. These contemporary romance books are female-driven with strong, beautiful and intelligent women as well as diverse characters, reflecting her own multi-cultural heritage.