Her mouth dropped open, her eyes big. “You’re shitting me!”
“Now I feel really old,” Tim said with a groan. “You’ve got millions and I’m watching my retirement dry up to nothing.”
“I can help you invest it. All perfectly legal,” Jason added quickly. “That’s what I do—well, partly. It’s how I built this place. Legit business, nothing shady.”
“Conflict of interest,” Tim said sadly.
“I can give you advice on where to invest then,” Jason said.
The men jumped at the chance to get financial advice. They chatted and yammered for quite awhile while dinner finished cooking.
Taylor said nothing. She sat quietly to the side, not really even listening. She was stunned by Jason’s pronouncement of how old he was—more like how young. She hadn’t realized there was quite such a difference in their ages, and it bothered her a little that he was six years younger than she. Having never dated younger men, she wasn’t sure what she thought of it.
Conversation over dinner was animated, but general. They brought the others in to eat in shifts, spotting them on security so they could enjoy their meal. Jason sat, talking to all of them, getting to know his protectors. He thought that making friends with them was probably a good thing, considering their lives lay between him and potential death or disaster. One thing he made sure to do was thank them for their help.
The agents all thanked him for the meal and put their dirty dishes in the dishwasher. Jason and the others finished cleaning up and moved to the sitting room upstairs between their bedrooms.
“So, what’s on the third floor?” Tim asked.
“Not a lot yet. Still working on it. Couldn’t make up my mind if I wanted work space, bedrooms or a gallery. Maybe I’ll put in a shooting range.”
The agents laughed.
“Speaking of which,” Tim replied. “I’ve got us time at Lloyd’s range tomorrow. He’s away at a gun show, so his place will be empty. Think you can get over your fear of guns in order to learn how to shoot one?”
“I can face anything I have to. I’ll learn,” Jason said.
Taylor firmly believed he could and would overcome any adversity that he encountered. He was the strongest willed, most tenacious man she had ever met. He might not like it, but he’d learn to handle a weapon and, if she was any judge, would be damn good with it too.
Around 10:00, they headed to bed. They planned to get up early the next day so they could take full advantage of the gun range.
Jason indulged in another long, hot, relaxing shower. Dressed only in pajama bottoms, he lay down on the bed to watch some TV. Nothing interested him, not even from his huge DVD collection, most of which had never been opened.
He wanted—needed—a woman. Not just any woman, not since meeting Taylor. Having never been in quite that situation before, he wasn’t sure how to cope.
He had always been able to pick any woman he desired and have her fairly expeditiously. He hadn’t told the judge the truth about that, he thought with a grin. He never struck out. He always got what he set his mind on. The fact that he wanted Taylor and couldn’t have her was making him slightly irritable.
He could have her if he pushed, but he didn’t want to do that either. Forcing the union would drive her away. The only thing worse than not having her at all, would be having and losing her. Greg had told him to let her come to him. If she didn’t, he didn’t know what he would do.
Around midnight, he finally fell asleep. Waking with a lurch, he sat up in bed. He thought he heard someone call his name. It was a woman’s voice, but didn’t sound like Taylor. It sounded like—Orchid. She couldn’t be here. She couldn’t have found him so quickly—could she? No, it was ridiculous even to speculate. It had to be something else.
He heard it again, very distinctly. Looking at the door, he saw light under it. He knew they’d left the hall light off when they went to bed. He went to the door, listening. There was a light tap and someone said his name again.
Wishing he’d put a peephole in, he leaned close. “Taylor?”
“Let me in,” she said quickly—quietly.
He opened the door a crack. It was indeed Taylor, fully dressed as she’d been at dinner. She slipped in urgently, her gun drawn.
“Not sure. We got an alert a moment ago. We’re to head to the panic room, you and I. Hurry.”
He keyed in the code and locked the door behind them. She put her gun away, standing in the center of the room.
© Dellani Oakes
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