Max waited until Isabel, Maria, Michael and Alex left before he approached Liz. “So I was thinking,” he said, “that you could teach me some self-defense moves.”
Liz nodded. “That’s a good idea.”
She couldn’t help her eyes traveling over his body. He was fully clothed now, but she’d seen a good portion of him earlier, and she knew he was strong and sculpted. She swallowed hard, trying not to think about it. “Have you done anything like that before?”
He shrugged. “I did a little kick boxing, but just to train.”
“Okay,” Liz said, ‘why don’t we start with a few basics?”
She shed her jacket, tossing it on a chair. “Of course you want to get away if possible, but if you can’t…” She trailed off as she took her gun out of the holster, popping out the clip before putting it on a table. “Well then it’s all about balance and leverage,” she said. “So even someone smaller than you could get the upper hand if they know what they’re doing.”
“It would be easier to come at you from behind,” she said, motioning for him to turn. “So if I grab you like this,” she said, demonstrating by putting her hands on him, “there are a couple of things you can do.”
Max smiled. This is exactly what he’d had in mind.
For about half an hour Liz showed him different escapes, punches and kicks. And he’d used the excuse of getting everything exactly right to make sure that they had their hands on each other as much as possible.
He held her waist as he threw her, she put her hands to his chest to demonstrate pushing him away, he embraced her from behind as she showed him how to break free. The lesson was very physical, and they were both starting to sweat a little and their breathing was hard. He could definitely get into this kind of foreplay.
Liz was having a hard time keeping her mind strictly on the lesson herself. She’d tried to convince herself that she was only teaching him these things to keep him safe, but she was enjoying it way too much whenever Max touched her, or wrapped his arms around her.
She wasn’t as immune to him as she’d thought.
Max turned to face her and his eyes met hers as he spoke. “I think she’s more likely to come at me from the front, like she did before, with the knife,” his voice was low and sensual not matching his words.
“Well…” Liz said breathlessly.
But her words were cut off with surprise as Max suddenly rushed at her, grasping both of her arms and using his body weight to press her backward into the wall. He held her there, looking into her eyes, their lips inches apart. “What should I do then?” he purred.
Liz’s heart was racing and she couldn’t seem to look away from him. He was going to kiss her. Somewhere inside she knew it was wrong and she should stop him but she couldn’t move. Every one of her college fantasies was coming true in that moment and she felt helpless against them.
Slowly Max’s head descended toward hers and finally his lips brushed hers, just a feather’s touch that left her feeling lightheaded and wanting more.
Eyes closed, her head swayed toward him and Max took her movement as an invitation. Again and again he slowly brushed her lips, coaxing, seducing.
One of his hands smoothed up her arm until he reached her head, and then he cupped the back of her neck, holding her as he kissed her properly. He fit his lips squarely to hers, no longer seducing, but hungry and demanding a response, and Liz gave it to him.
Her hands that had rested passively on his chest, wrapped around his neck, and her body pressed into his.
Max’s other hand smoothed down her side, brushing the edge of her breast and rested on her hip, pulling her closer to him. He moaned into her mouth as he felt himself growing hard.
Using his knee, he nudged her legs apart, settling fully into her, letting her feel his erection. He licked her lips, urging her to open up to him, and when she did his tongue stroked into her mouth.
His hand left her hip and moved up, cupping her breast, his thumb stroking over her already hard nipple.
A small whimper escaped her and her hands tightened in his hair.
She was his, he thought. She wanted him and responded so perfectly to his every touch. He couldn’t wait to be inside her and see her beautiful body beneath him as he made her cum again and again.
He was just about to pick her up and carry her to his room when she started to pull back.
“Wait,” Liz said, finally coming to her senses. It seemed like she’d been drugged by the overwhelming passion, but she had to stop it.
She pushed at Max’s chest. “We can’t do this,” she protested in a still-husky voice.
Max kissed her neck. “We seem to be doing it just fine,” he said, kissing another spot on her neck. “And once we’re upstairs and I get you naked, I guarantee we’ll be explosive.”
A shiver of desire raced through her. She’d never been so turned on and she wanted him desperately. She was sure they’d be explosive together too, but she couldn’t let it happen.
“Max stop,” she said in a stronger voice. “We have to stop.”
“Why?” he breathed into her neck. “I want you, and you want me.”
“It’s not right,” she said, pushing him away. “I work for you. I protect you, and I need all of my concentration focused on keeping you safe. I can’t be distracted by, um, other things.”
Max nodded, stroking her cheek. He heard what she said, but he also knew what her body was telling him. She might not be ready yet, but he wasn’t going to give up.
“Okay,” he said casually, stepping back and releasing her.
Liz was actually a bit disappointed that he didn’t put up more of a argument, but it proved to her that he was only looking for a roll in the hay and she was convenient.
She nodded decisively. “Okay,” she said, reaching up nervously to push her hair out of her face.
The movement seemed to trigger something inside Max and he knew he’d seen it before. “There’s something about you,” he said. “You seem so familiar to me. Do we know each other?”
For a moment Liz was alarmed. Did he remember her? But almost immediately she pushed the thought aside. It was impossible, he couldn’t remember. She probably just reminded him of one of the dozens of women he’d dated over the years.
Liz shook her head. “No.”
At that moment one of Liz’s security team, Brody, came rushing into the office. “A letter just arrived from the woman,” he said.
Liz knew he meant Tess and she motioned for him to put it on the table. They all stood around as she carefully used a knife to open it and pulled out the contents.
“There’s no postmark,” Liz said, “so this didn’t come through the mail.” She looked at Brody. “No one saw her put it in the mailbox?”
He shook his head. “We didn’t have it under constant surveillance, but I don’t know how she could have gotten onto the property without being seen.”
Liz nodded. “We’re going to go over every inch of this place until we find out.”
The letter was like others Tess had sent to Max, composed of letters she had cut out of magazines. Liz often wondered why she bothered when they already knew who she was. Maybe Tess just liked the look of the colorful letters pasted to the paper, or maybe she was just insane.
She’d used tiny letters and words to make this letter. And even though they were rough, uneven and crooked, Liz thought it must have taken hours, maybe most of the night to complete.
She read it out loud.
I knew you were testing my love for when you brought that tramp to the restaurant. You wanted me to prove myself to you again.
You knew she wasn’t right for you and I was happy you brought her to me so I could get rid of her for you. And I’d do it a thousand times more. I will do anything for you, pass any test you give me so that you know I’m the one who really love you. And then we can be together.
We will be so happy, my love. I knew we were meant to be together since the first time I saw you. It’s destiny that we met again after all those years. I saw the sign you sent me and knew you wanted me to prove myself worthy.
Soon I will come to you and we’ll be together for eternity.
I’ll always love you.
Despite himself, Max shivered. The same words that he’d used himself insincerely a thousand times to women he’d dated, sounded so creepy coming from a sincere psycho.
Liz noticed that he was a little pale and she touched his arm. “It will be okay,” she assured him. “We’ll catch her and make sure she doesn’t come near you again.”
Max nodded, smiling at Liz. Even though she was small, he had absolute confidence in her ability to protect him. She would keep him safe.
“You should stay inside the house,” she said, “unless one of us is with you, okay?”
He nodded again. “No problem today,” he said. “I don’t have any plans.”
“Good,” Liz said. “My team and I are going to search the grounds and figure out how she is getting in.”
Tess danced around her room with a shirt of Max’s she had taken from his house. She was so happy. She and Max would be together soon.
Surely he had gotten her letter by now and he would know she was the one who loved him the most. He would know she was the one who was the most worthy of his love.
She wanted to go rushing to him, but she had to be smart. She had to make sure he was ready for her.
Instead she went to her computer and turned it on. First she would check to see if he was home, and that would be a sign that he wanted her to go come him tonight.
She opened the tracking program she was using on his cars to check their location, but there were none of the usual little blips on the screen.
Scowling she thought there must be something wrong with the program. She tried refreshing the tracker, but still there was nothing. Frustrated, she ran a diagnostic, tapping her fingers as it slowly checked the program for errors.
When it was about half-way through she saw it.
The program wasn’t picking up any signals because there were none to pick up. They had been deactivated. Someone had turned them off.
Rage surged through her and she knocked a jar of pencils off the desk. They crashed to the ground, smashing the glass, scattering everywhere. Someone was trying to keep her from Max and she wanted to hurt them, cut them. With a growl she reached for a large shard of glass, but stopped when she suddenly realized the truth.
It was simply another test Max was putting her through.
She hadn’t proved herself to him fully and he just wanted to see how much she loved him.
She had relied on technology too much, she could see that now. Max wanted her to prove her devotion, to watch him, to follow him, not find out where he was using a computer.
It made perfect sense to her now.
A smile crossed her face. It was just like she’d told him in the letter. She’d do anything for him and she just had make him see that.
Two hours later Max was sitting in his office at his desk. He’d spent the afternoon thinking about how to get Liz into his bed, and finally he’d sent for her.
Max smiled when she came into the room.
“You needed to see me?” Liz asked, stopping before his desk.
He nodded, amused that she was keeping a piece of furniture between them. Getting up, he walked around to her, and sat on the edge of the desk. “I was wondering if you brought a nice dress with you?” he rumbled seductively.
Liz’s brow creased and he knew he’d caught her off guard.
“What?” she asked. “Why?”
His smile widened. “Because I want to you to come to this fundraiser with me tomorrow night.”
“Oh,” Liz said, “of course I’m coming with you. I’m your bodyguard.”
“No,” Max said, standing up and taking a step closer to her. He held her eyes as his smile widened. “I want you to come as my date.”
Liz’s heart jumped in excitement, but she instantly took a step back, shaking her head. “Max, we already talked about this. We can’t get involved like that. I’m your bodyguard, not your date.”
He took another step closer. “So you’re saying you wouldn’t mind if I took a date?”
A sinking feeling washed through Liz. She would mind, but it’s not like she had any claim on Max. Swallowing hard, she concentrated on keeping her face neutral. “Of course I wouldn’t mind,” she said. “Your personal life…”
He cut her off. “Liar,” he said softly, reaching out to touch her arm. “You want me just as much as I want you.”
Liz shook her head. “Even if that was true, which I’m not saying it is, but even if it was true I wouldn’t get involved with you while I was working for you. Not only is it unethical but it’s dangerous. I couldn’t concentrate like I should to protect you.”
Max nodded, storing the information away. “Well, you’re coming with me anyway,” he said with a wink, “and we will have this conversation again.”
Saving Max Main
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