(The next morning)
Max awoke, stretching and yawning, and turned his head to glance at the clock. Seven-thirty.
It was nice to sleep in, he thought.
He was so used to getting up at the crack of dawn to go to basketball practice, and then working out for hours. It would be good to take a break from that schedule.
Putting his arms behind his head, he settled back against his pillows.
There was no reason to stay in tip-top condition now that he was retired. Maybe he’d take a break from working out too.
He would like to stay in bed a little longer but the new bodyguard was due at eight and he was anxious to meet him. Max just hoped that the new man would be able to take care of the Tess situation.
Stretching again he got out of bed and lazily headed toward the shower. He slept only in boxers and pushed them down as he walked. Stepping under the hot spray he thought about his day.
He supposed he should send flowers to Julie, a sort of get well present. Or maybe not. Would she think he wanted to get back together with her if he did? He didn’t want there to be any misunderstandings. Maybe he’d just do nothing. She would think he was a bastard, but what did he care?
Scrubbing at his hair, he stepped under the water to let it wash the shampoo away.
The new bodyguard was due in a few minutes, and he wondered what plans the man had to keep him safe. He’d never really taken much interest in things like that. He was used to everything around him happening smoothly and on schedule. He supposed he was spoiled.
Growing up rich he’d always had things taken care of for him, his food, his schedule, the cleaning, the laundry. He didn’t have to think about any of it. But maybe he should take a more active role in his safety. He was sick of sitting around waiting for Tess to attack him.
Turning off the water, he stepped out of the shower. He grabbed a fluffy towel and quickly rubbed himself dry as he went back into his room. Maybe he’d ask the new bodyguard to give him self-defense lessons or something. He knew a few moves, but it wouldn’t hurt to learn more.
He dressed and descended the stairs, noting that it was about five minutes until eight. He was anxious for the new man to arrive now, but as he reached the bottom of the stairs, he heard voices coming from the study.
Pushing the door open he was surprised to see Steve talking to someone, their heads bent over some papers on a table.
But he got the shock of his life as the pair turned to greet him. The new bodyguard was a woman.
And she wasn’t just any woman. She was gorgeous.
His eyes raked over her several times. Black, shining hair rippled down her back, framing a delicate face with large, dark, intelligent eyes, and pouty, kissable lips.
But she was definitely a bodyguard. She’d tossed her suit jacket aside exposing the straps of the holster she was wearing. She was small but her tank top allowed him to see the soft curves of muscles in her arms, and she moved with the easiness he associated with hours of training.
His first thought was that he wanted to take her to bed.
Steve’s voice broke into his thoughts. “Max, I’m glad you’re here. I want you to meet my replacement, Liz Parker.”
Max stepped forward, putting on his most seductive smile as he held out his hand. “Nice to meet you, Liz,” he rumbled in a low voice that he knew women loved.
She shook his hand, but didn’t linger and barely reacted to him, and he felt a rush of disappointment. He’d never had to work to get women to fall all over him. He’d just have to try harder to win her over when they were alone.
“Mr. Evans,” she said in a business-like tone, “Steve and I have been going over your file to catch me up on your case. We’ve studied the blueprints of your property, and I’ve checked the whole house for security measures. We did find GPS tracking devices on two of your cars, and there is a window in the basement that doesn’t latch properly. That is how the stalker has been gaining access to the house, and finding you when you leave.”
Max was shocked. “You found all that already? How long have you been here?”
Liz shrugged. “About two hours. I wanted to get a head start on your case to see if we could make any progress catching this woman.”
“Wow,” Max said, impressed. “Do you know how she’s been getting into the yard?”
“Not yet,” Liz admitted, “but we’re working on it.”
Steve turned to Max. “I’m sorry I failed you,” he said. “I should have caught those things that Liz found. I’ll be leaving as soon as she is finished with me.”
Max shook Steve’s hand. “Thanks.”
Liz looked at Max. “I just have a few more things to go over with Steve, it shouldn’t be more than an hour, and then I have some questions for you, Mr. Evans. Would that be a convenient time for you to meet with me?”
Max nodded. “Um, sure.”
His head was racing as the two bodyguards left the room, and he couldn’t help his eyes lingering on Liz’s ass as she walked away.
Damn he wanted her. For all of her cool demeanor, he’d bet she was a wildcat in bed. He just had to break through her stiff exterior. And that shouldn’t be too hard. He was an expert at seducing women.
She’d be back in an hour, he mused. Maybe he would work out after all.
Liz really didn’t have that much more to go over with Steve, and they parted about fifteen minutes later. But she’d wanted the extra time to calm herself.
She didn’t think Max would have an effect on her after all these years, but it was like no time had passed. A rush of desire filled her when she’d first seen him, and she’d had to work hard to stay professional and detached.
And when he’d started looking at her, she’d felt her heart racing. He’d never paid any attention to her when they’d been in school together but she’d seen desire in his eyes as he’d taken her hand. And his sexy voice had made her insides melt.
He was even sexier now than he had been in college, she thought. It certainly wasn’t going to be easy working around him.
In exactly an hour Max was back. He walked into the study glistening with sweat, a towel clutched in his hand, and Liz couldn’t stop her eyes taking in every inch of him. He was now in a lose-fitting tank and shorts and he’d obviously been working out.
Muscles bulged in his arms and chest as he moved, and Liz felt her mouth go dry. He was absolutely beautiful. All she could think about was being held in those strong arms, naked, joined together as they moved rhythmically, both slick with sweat.
“Sorry,” he said, motioning to himself. “I lost track of the time. I’ll take a quick shower, and we can talk.”
Liz nodded, swallowing hard. “Right,” she choked out.
“Shit,” she said, after he disappeared. “This is going to be harder than I thought.”
At least she had a few minutes to compose herself before he got back.
Damn it Liz, she said to herself, you have to do better than this. You can’t let him see how much you want him.
Max grinned as he stood under the hot spray of his shower for the second time. He’d seen the naked desire in Liz’s eyes as she looked at him. Maybe she wasn’t going to be as difficult to seduce as he thought.
He finished quickly and dressed in record time, jogging down the stairs to meet her.
When he entered the study she was sitting in the same place, but her business-like mask was back in place.
His smile widened. She was going to fight her feelings for him, but in the end he would win.
He took a seat opposite her, so she couldn’t help but look at him. “So what do you want to talk about?”
“I’ve read the file,” she said, taking out a pad and pen, “but I’d like you to tell me about Tess in your own words.”
“Okay,” he agreed. “There isn’t much to tell. She’s this psycho chick that I went to junior high with. I didn’t even know her, but I guess she noticed me and kept up with me through my basketball career in high school, college, and the pros. A few months ago she followed me to a bar and I met her, and after that she started stalking me, sending me stuff, showing up at the house.”
“She says she loves me and nothing can keep us apart. It was a little disturbing at first and then she started attacking my dates, and one time she showed up here with a knife. I think she might really hurt somebody or maybe stab me.
He sighed. “My security and the police can’t find her, it’s like she just appears and then disappears. She’s completely nuts but she’s gotta be really smart to keep getting away.”
Liz nodded, quickly jotting down notes as he spoke. “She attacked another woman last night.”
“Yeah,” he said frustratedly. “Somehow she found us at the restaurant and got past Steve and attacked Julie in the restroom.”
“Maybe we should have a discussion with Julie, so she knows the protection plan.”
Max shook his head. “Julie won’t be coming around, she and I aren’t together anymore.” He met Liz’s eyes. “I’m not with anyone right now.”
She felt her heart skip a beat, indrawing a quick breath, and nodded to cover. “Okay,” she said breathlessly, “well, we can just concentrate on you then, Mr. Evans.”
Max smiled wickedly. “I like the sound of that,” he said seductively. “But call me Max.”
Liz decided that ignoring his flirtations was the safest thing to do. “Okay, Max,” she said, trying to put the conversation back on a professional level. She looked down at her pad, making more notes. “The first thing I want to do is go over your schedule. I’ll introduce you to my team, and I’ll need to meet your staff and any regular visitors.”
Max watched her closely as she wrote and he was suddenly struck with a wave of familiarity. There was something about her, the way her dark curtain of hair fell across her face as she leaned down. She reminded him of someone.
Liz looked up at him, waiting for his answer, breaking the moment.
“Um,” he said, recovering himself, “my manager is due any minute,” he said, checking his watch, “and I’m sure my sister will be over soon.”
Just then they heard noises from the hall. A tall, blonde woman raced into the room. “Max,” she called out, throwing her arms around him, “are you okay? Why didn’t you tell me you got attacked? I had to hear about it on the news.”
Liz got up from her chair, and her eyebrows rose as she witnessed the scene. Another blonde, she thought. That was definitely Max’s type. And she’d actually believed him when he said he wasn’t involved with anyone.
“I’m fine,” he assured the beautiful woman in his arms. “She didn’t hurt me.”
He motioned to Liz. “I fried Steve and I hired a new bodyguard. Liz” he said, “this is my sister, Isabel.”
Liz was surprised that Max’s sister was blonde when he was so dark. She smiled and noticed that Isabel took her in with a long look.
“It’s nice to meet you,” Isabel said regally, “but…”
She was cut off as more noises came from the hall, and three more people came in.
Max was hugged by another blonde woman, and a tall, thin, dark-haired man. A second tall man with longer dark hair patted him on the back.
“We’re so glad you’re okay,” said the woman.
“Yeah, Maxwell,” the longer-haired guy said. “Way to attract the psychos.”
Max motioned to Liz again. “Meet my new bodyguard, Liz Parker” he said. “And Liz this is my manager Maria Deluca.” He motioned to the guy with the longer hair, “This is her fiancé, and my best friend Michael Guerin.”
Michael nodded to her.
Max motioned to the thinner guy, “And this is Isabel’s husband, my brother-in-law and lawyer, Alex Whitman.”
“Nice to meet you,” Alex said.
“New bodyguard,” Maria said looking her over. “You’re so small. How can you protect Max?”
“That’s just what I was going to say,” Isabel agreed.
Liz nodded, having heard the same thing many times in her work. “Size doesn’t make that much difference really, and I am very good at what I do.”
Max spoke up. “Jim Valenti at the bodyguard agency said she is the best he has, Isabel. She’s already found out that Tess was Lo-jacking my cars, and she figured out how Tess was getting into the house. And she’d only been here a few hours.”
Isabel looked Liz over again, but Liz spoke up, addressing them all. “I understand that you are concerned about Max, and I promise I’ll do my best to protect him.”
Saving Max Main
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