Pursuing (Alluring Book 3)

By: Sarah Curtis

Chapter One

Jo was running late for work. There was nothing she hated more than rushing first thing in the morning, it always threw her whole day off. Jo usually liked to wake up slowly, sipping a cup of coffee while reading a few chapters of whatever book she may be reading, liking to start her day with peace and quiet and end her day the same because she sure as hell had no peace or quiet in between.

Rushing around the bedroom, she cursed the fact that her phone had died sometime in the middle of the night, so her alarm didn't go off this morning, putting her in her current state of upset, then cursed her idiocy for not having a backup alarm and made a mental note to rectify that soon.

She threw a black, V-neck, cotton top over her head and shimmied into a pair of jeans while slipping her feet into a pair of leather flats. Spending most of her day out in the field on her feet, she refused to dress up or wear heels. Her supervisor had argued with her for a year on her choice of casual wardrobe before finally giving up. Jo could be stubborn, but it was a useful quality for her job in social work.

In the bathroom, she did a quick brush of her teeth and hair, throwing her long, brown locks into a high ponytail and with no time for make-up, dashed to the kitchen where thankfully a full coffeepot awaited her. She sent up a quick prayer to the coffee gods for automatic timers while pouring coffee into a travel mug and screwing on the lid. Throwing her phone and charger into her purse, she scooped up her keys and snatched her black blazer from the back of the kitchen chair before running out the door.

Jo lived in a quiet neighborhood on the outskirts of central Las Vegas in a cute little starter home she'd saved two years for a down payment on. Her parents, while not wealthy, were well off and paid for her college education, leaving her debt-free as she forged into adulthood. And while Jo didn't make a ton of money as a social worker, she did make enough so was comfortable and not struggling to pay her bills.

She'd lived in Las Vegas her whole life, growing up in a cozy, upper-middle class neighborhood, not too far from where she lived now, in a house her parents still lived in. She learned ballet and how to drive a car in Vegas. Had her first kiss with crappy boyfriend number one, lost her virginity to crappy boyfriend number two, and met her best friend, Debbie, in Vegas. Went to and graduated from UNLV with a bachelor's degree in social work, got her first job, and bought her own home all in Las Vegas.

Although she'd lived in Vegas her whole life, she'd traveled to various places. Her father, a prominent and well-respected pediatrician, religiously took two weeks off from his practice every year to take his family on vacation. They visited the Grand Canyon, Pikes Peak, Carlsbad Caverns, Disneyland, and one year even Disney World and while she'd enjoyed the many places they'd visited, Vegas felt like home.

Jo made it to the office in good time. Traffic had been surprisingly light for a Monday morning, making the drive refreshingly stress-free. The Department of Family Services (DFS) building was about five minutes from the Las Vegas strip, and it always amazed her how drastic a neighborhood could change in such a short distance. Like the scene from The Wizard of Oz when Dorothy opens the door in her black-and-white world and steps into a realm full of color, that's the Las Vegas strip compared to the rest of Las Vegas.

She parked her car and no longer late due to her frantic getting ready skills and the ease of the morning commute, calmly made her way into the nondescript city building and took the elevator up to the Child Protective Services (CPS) department. Her department took up half the floor and was one large, open room with the exception of a small supervisor's office in the back. The décor was "city" dreary with a splash of "government" chic. Desks–made of some type of metal that would survive world destruction–were strategically placed, creating rows and aisles. No one had any privacy and thank goodness everyone mostly got along.

After fishing out her cell and charger, she threw her purse under her desk and plugged in her phone. While booting up her computer, her desk phone rang. "Joanna Welsh." She listened for a moment. "Yes, sir, I'll be right in."

Brandy Davis, her desk neighbor, gave her questioning raised eyebrows as Jo stood from her desk. She returned her silent question with an answering shrug and made her way to her supervisor's office, tapping lightly on the door and entering at the responding shout.

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