Max’s evening was uneventful and he’d slept peacefully. He got up late, showered, dressed and then grabbed a bagel before he went in search of Liz.
He went through several rooms on the ground floor without seeing anyone, and finally headed to the front door. He knew there was always one of Liz’s men posted there.
Opening the door he was greeted by Brody. “Mr. Evans.”
“Where’s Liz?” Max asked.
Brody motioned out across the grounds. “She found out where Tess was getting into the yard,” he said. “I’ll take you to her.”
Max was surprised. “She found out? Where is it?”
“In the side yard, near the wall,” Brody said, starting around the front of the house, “there’s an old storm drain cover. It’s right were the grass ends and the hedge begins, so it partially concealed. Steve ruled it out because it’s so small, but Liz knew it had to be the entrance when she saw it. She said she could fit into it, so Tess could too.”
Max smiled. He wasn’t surprised. Liz just had a way about her. She was beautiful, sexy and smart.
He could see her across the lawn near the high wall that surrounded his property. Liz and two other men were standing together, looking down at what Max assumed was the storm drain.
Liz was dressed in a suit similar to yesterday, and she’d tossed the jacked to the ground so she was standing only in a tank top and slacks. Max noticed that her holster and gun was next to jacket.
She was pointing down, making motions with her hands as if she were explaining something. Reaching up, she went to push her hair back, but realized at the last moment it was already pulled back and dropped her hand.
Again Max was struck with a feeling of familiarity. It seemed like he’d seen that gesture a million times.
She looked up as they approached.
”Brody said you found where Tess was getting in,” Max said.
Liz nodded, pointing down to a small, metal lid that resembled a square manhole cover.
“Wow,” Max said, examining it carefully. “I can see why Steve didn’t think it was possible. It’s so small.”
“It’s definitely how she was getting in,” Liz said. “I climbed down and it goes into a system of tunnels and there was evidence she’d been there recently.”
“You went down there?” Max asked concerned. “Isn’t that dangerous?”
Liz smiled. “I do this for a living, remember? Sometimes it’s dangerous.”
Max scowled. He didn’t like Liz putting herself in danger. He opened his mouth to argue, but Liz was already talking.
“We can’t weld the cover shut,” she said, “but we can padlock it, and that will stop her from getting in here again. We could leave it open and set a trap for her, but only if everything else fails. I’d like to get this place secure first.”
The other two men nodded.
She continued. “And we need to check the rest of the property to make sure it’s the only one. There are so many trees, plant beds and hedges, there could be another one anywhere.”
Nodding at one of the men she spoke to him. “Owen you stay here and make sure she doesn’t come in this way until we can get it locked down.”
She turned to look at the other man. “Larry, you keep checking the yard.”
“I’m impressed,” Max said to Liz. “You’ve made a lot of progress in only a couple of days. At this rate Tess will be in custody by tomorrow,” he teased.
Liz smiled. “Well let’s hope so.” She raised her eyebrows. “Were you looking for me for a reason?”
“No,” Max said, not wanting to admit in front of the other guys that he’d just wanted to see her. “I just wondered what was going on.”
She nodded. “We’ll finish checking the yard, and then I’ll brief you on what’s happening.”
“Okay,” Max agreed. He paused, as he was struck again with how familiar she was, and leaned closer to her, speaking softly. “Are you sure we’ve never met before?”
For a moment Liz looked surprised, but she quickly shook her head. “We don’t know each other.”
He held her eyes, feeling she was lying. But why would she lie?
Liz shifted uncomfortably as Max’s perceptive gaze pinned her. She spoke up, quickly changing the subject.
“You should stay in the house until we get the whole yard checked.” She nodded toward the other man with them. “Brody can take you back inside.”
Max felt like a child being ordered around. “Sure,” he said.
Liz turned to follow Larry, and Max watched her closely as he walked back to the house with Brody. He was positive Liz was lying. They had met before.
When he entered the house, he went to a window, pushing the curtain aside so he could see Liz, and reaching into his pocket, he took out his phone. Pressing the speed dial, he only had to wait a moment until it was answered.
“Hey, Alex,” he said, watching Liz through the glass, “I need you to do something for me.”
Max headed downstairs, straightening the bowtie on his tuxedo, more than ten minutes early for their departure time. He was aware that Liz would probably be late coming down, but he couldn’t wait to see her.
She’d be wearing a formal dress for the fundraiser they were attending and he was hoping for more than a glimpse of her skin.
He went into his office to pour himself a drink while he waited, but stopped short when he saw that Liz was already inside. And she looked stunning.
His eyes traveled greedily over her, taking in every inch. She was dressed in a black, off-the-shoulder gown that seemed to be wrapped around her in layers of some kind of diaphanous material. The dress was from-fitting, skimming her body to her hips where it flared out slightly and flowed almost to the floor. And it had a slit up the front that ended just above her knees, exposing her slender legs to him.
Her hair was pulled up in a sort of twist, but several tendrils had been left loose so that they hung down framing her face. She was wearing black high heels and held a small, beaded evening bag.
Max swore he didn’t breathe the whole time he looked at her, and then he noticed that she was looking at him.
He smiled as her eyes met his, and he was satisfied to see that she blushed.
“So,” he said smiling, and going farther into the room, “you couldn’t possibly have a gun in that dress. It must be in your purse.”
Liz smiled. “Actually,” she said, pulling the slit of her skirt open wider, “I do have a gun on.”
She showed him the small pistol strapped to her thigh just above the slit in her skirt, and then let the material fall back into place.
“Wow,” Max said, amazed. “You can’t even tell.”
“That’s the point,” she said. “I just look like your date and not your bodyguard.”
Smiling, he moved even closer to her, lowering his voice seductively. “So what do you have in your purse,” he asked teasingly, “a bazooka?”
She smiled back. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”
He held out his arm, offering it to her, and she took it. Leaning down he whispered into her ear. “You look incredible, Liz.”
Tess smoothed back her hair, checking her reflection in the mirror, nodding in approval. She was seeing Max tonight and she had to look just right.
She’d found out weeks ago that Max was attending the fundraiser, and she knew he’d expect her to be there. So she’d used a fake ID and resume to get hired by the catering company as a server. A male server.
In her disguise she looked like a young dark-haired man, but she knew Max would be able to feel her presence. He would know she was there, and she might even get close enough to touch him.
Standing in a long line with the other waiters, she picked up a tray of hors d’oeuvres and went into the main room. The lights were dim and she quickly searched the faces of the people sitting at the seemingly endless tables.
People were laughing, talking as they listened to the speaker, but she blocked it all out. She was only interested in one thing. Max.
Finally she spotted him sitting at a table half-way across the room and her heart sank in disappointment. She wasn’t assigned to serve his table, but at least she could see him.
Her eyes traveled over him, and she thought how good he looked in his tuxedo. He was smiling and she was sure he’d never been so handsome.
He turned to talk to the person next to him, and instantly Tess was enraged. Max was talking to a woman.
He rested his hand possessively on the back of her chair, and leaned close to her, speaking into her ear. She was obviously his date.
Tess couldn’t believe that he’d replaced the last woman so quickly. She couldn’t believe he hadn’t turned to her. But he must be angry with her, Tess thought. He found out about Lo-jack and he was mad and punishing her for it. So he’d brought this new woman here to taunt her.
She watched Max and his date all through dinner, talking and laughing, and afterward he led her out onto the dance floor.
The new woman was small, with long, dark hair. Tess couldn’t help thinking that Max had chosen the brunette to highlight the differences between the two of them.
He wanted to challenge her, to make her even more committed to winning him. And she was accepting his challenge.
She would get rid of this new woman for him and prove herself worthy of his love.
Max and Liz had a leisurely dinner and then they danced for what seemed like hours.
Max held Liz in his arms feeling more content than he ever had in his life. He barely knew her but everything he learned just made him like and respect her more and more, and he thought he must be falling in love.
At first it had just been about getting her into bed, but now he wanted so much more. For the first time in his life he thought about something other than just sleeping with a woman. He wanted to spend time with Liz and get to know her.
Of course he wanted her too. As a matter of fact he planned to seduce her the moment they got back to his house.
The rest would come in time but he intended to have her in his bed starting tonight.
Liz did her best to play the role of Max’s date while still keeping her attention on all the people around them. But she was enjoying herself too much and kept finding her mind wandering back to Max.
It was just like she’d warned him. She was getting too involved with him.
Her team was in the room too, helping her keep Max safe, and it was a good thing. She was afraid if she was alone she might have missed something.
The music ended and they stopped dancing and Max leaned in close whispering in her ear. “Are you ready to go?”
Liz smiled. He was treating her like a date. “I’m your employee,” she reminded him. “I leave when you’re ready.”
Max nodded. “Then let’s go.”
He wrapped his arm around her waist, leading her out of the room.
Liz motioned to Owen and he called the driver to bring Max’s car to the front of the building so it was waiting when they got there.
The drive to Max’s was uneventful and they all relaxed a bit as soon as the heavy gates were closed behind them.
Liz, Owen & Larry went inside with Max, and the rest of her team spread out to patrol the grounds. Max waited with Liz in the office while Owen and Larry checked the whole house.
It only took a few minutes until they came back, pronouncing the house safe. Then they left Max and Liz alone, taking up their positions outside.
Max turned to Liz. “I had a great time tonight,” he said.
Liz shook her head. “Max, I’m not your date,” she said again. “You’re treating me like…” she trailed off as he moved closer.
“I asked you as my date,” he reminded her as he slipped his hand around her waist. “I took you as my date.”
“Max,” she said, putting her hands to his chest to keep some distance between them.
He cut her off. “You’re incredible,” he said, stroking her bare arm. “I’ve never met anyone like you, and I want to get to know you a lot better.”
“Max,” she started again, “we can’t do this.”
“Do what?” he whispered, leaning in as he cupped her face. “Give in to our feelings?”
He kissed her softly. “I want you, and you want me.” He kissed her again. “So I don’t see the problem.”
More than anything she wanted to give into him. Her whole body craved him but she pushed him away, as she spoke. “Max, I like you, I really do, but it’s already interfering with my job protecting you. I lost concentration a couple of times tonight. I need to keep my distance from you so I can keep you safe.”
Saving Max Main
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