Excerpts for Because of You

Jordan Wainwright turned the collar to his ski jacket up around his neck and ears as sleet pelted his face and exposed head. He chided himself for not accepting the doorman's offer to hail a taxi to drive him sixteen blocks to where his parents lived in a Fifth Avenue beaux arts mansion overlooking Central Park.

It was Christmas Eve, and he'd promised his mother he would spend the upcoming week with her, while reconnecting with his sister and brothers. Since joining Chatham and Wainwright, PC, Attorneys at Law, he hadn't had time to do much socializing. The exception was business-related luncheons or dinner meetings with his partner, Kyle Chatham.

Jordan had hit the snooze button on his love life after a whirlwind summer romance ended. Natasha Parker had returned to culinary school and her estranged husband, whose existence the very talented aspiring chef had neglected to disclose. He'd made it a practice not to date married women and those who were on the rebound. And, whenever Jordan ended a romantic liaison, he was usually reluctant to start up a new one, unlike some men who jumped right back into the hunt.

He'd recently celebrated his thirty-third birthday. And although he hadn't ruled out any plans to settle down, he wasn't actively looking for someone with whom he could spend the rest of his life. This didn't mean he hadn't kept his options open for a casual relationship.

The cell phone attached to his waistband vibrated. Taking a hand from his jacket pocket, he plucked the phone off his belt, punched a button without looking at the display and announced his standard greeting. "This is Jordan."

"Where are you, darling?"

"I'm on my way, Mother."

"Don't tell me you're walking."

Jordan smiled. "Okay, I won't tell you that I'm walking."

"Why didn't you have your doorman hail a taxi?"

"Because I could be at your place by the time he flagged down an empty taxi. Remember, Mother, this is New York and whenever it rains or snows a yellow cab without an off-duty sign becomes as scarce as hen's teeth."

"If you hadn't wanted to take your car out of the garage, then you could've called me and I would've sent Henry to pick you up."

"Hang up, Mother, because I'm on your block."

"You must be chilled to the bone," Christiane Wainwright cooed.

"A little," he half lied. "Goodbye, Mother." Jordan ended the call, mounting the steps to the magnificent building, spanning half a city block, where he'd grown up and still maintained an apartment.

He'd placed his booted foot on the first step to the four-story gray-stone when the massive oak doors festooned with large pine wreaths and red velvet bows opened. "Thank you, Walter." The formally dressed butler who also doubled as his grandfather's valet had come to work for the Wainwrights the year Jordan was born. Walter Fagin was one of six full-time, live-in household staff that included a chef, driver, housekeepers and a laundress.

"It's quite nasty out there, Master Jordan."

Jordan slipped out of his jacket, handing it to Walter. "If it gets any colder, then we're definitely going to have a white Christmas."

The lines around bright blue eyes deepened when the older man smiled. "It's been a while since New York City has had a white Christmas."

Sitting in an armchair in the expansive entrance hall, Jordan unlaced his boots, leaving them on a thick rush mat, because he didn't want to track dirt onto the priceless Persian and Aubusson rugs scattered about the gleaming marble floors. Lifelong habits weren't easy to forget.

The mansion was decorated for the season: live pine boughs lined the fireplace mantel, as a fire blazed behind a decorative screen. Lighted electric candles were in every window, and