Liz’s alarm went off at six a.m., her usual time, but it seemed much earlier. She hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep.
After Max had brought her back to his place last night she’d lain awake in her bed for hours, thinking. She couldn’t turn off her mind. It replayed everything that had happened between them, over and over, until she’d finally drifted off in the early morning.
But it didn’t matter how little sleep she had the night before, she had to get up and do her job.
Slowly she dragged herself out of bed and stepped under the hot spray of the shower. And even though she was tired, she couldn’t seem to stop thinking about Max.
The whole thing was like a dream come true.
When they’d been in college together she would have given just about anything for him to notice her. She’d spent hours staring at him in class and working up the courage to try to talk to him. She’d dreamt about just spending time with him, getting to know him, kissing him, and being with him.
But the reality was better than anything she’d imagined. He was nice, and funny and so sexy, and he went after what he wanted.
And she still couldn’t believe that he wanted her.
A shiver of pure desire shook her as she remembered what had happened between them last night. She could still feel his touch.
Having Max kiss her and put his hands on her was incredible, no wonder she hadn’t been able to stop him sooner than she had. Because even though she didn’t think it was a good idea for them to get involved, she couldn’t deny that she wanted him.
She’d been so in love with him in college, and she thought she’d gotten over it years ago, but to her surprise, her feelings for him were as strong as ever.
Stepping out of the shower, she quickly dried herself. She had put all of this out of her head. She had work to do, and it was literally a matter of life and death. Max’s life.
Max slept fitfully and awoke late. It was getting harder for him to ignore the desire he had for Liz, and at night when he was in his bed alone, it was overwhelming. When he should be sleeping, all he could think about was her, kissing her, touching her, making love to her.
She’d looked incredible last night and he’d anticipated having her, but she’d denied him, again.
But he certainly wasn’t giving up. If anything her denials made him want her more. She was obviously interested in him, he just had to convince her that it would be okay from them to be together.
After a brief shower and some breakfast, he went looking for her. The house was empty, except for himself, and he had an idea that he knew where she was. He slipped out a side door to avoid Liz’s men at the front.
Max found Liz where he expected, alone in the corner of the yard, near the wall where she had discovered the storm drain where Tess had been getting in. She was examining the new lock they had put on it, and she got up as she heard him coming.
“Hey,” she said, blushing slightly.
Liz was embarrassed to see Max after last night. She couldn’t seem to control herself around him, and she should have let him kiss her again.
Max smiled. He loved that he had such an instant effect on her. He didn’t even stop, but went straight to her, his hand sliding behind her head as he fit his lips to hers.
He could tell he surprised her, but he brushed her lips again and again until she started to respond.
Liz knew she shouldn’t be kissing Max. She’d just been berating herself for doing it last night, but it was like his kisses and touches set her on fire. She couldn’t deny him, and found herself wrapping her arms around his neck and pressing her body to his.
As soon as Liz started to respond, Max deepened the kisses, gripping her head in both hands, devouring her lips. He slid his tongue along the edge of her lips and she automatically opened to him.
Dipping into her mouth, he stroked her tongue, causing small whimpers to escape her.
Max felt like his blood was boiling. He left her lips and tipped her head back, attacking her neck. “I’ve want you so much,” he growled. “I’ve never wanted anyone as much as I want you.”
He nipped at her neck with short kisses, and pressed his tongue hard into her throat, licking his way up. His hand rested in the small of her back, holding her against him so she could feel his erection.
“You feel so good in my arms, and your body fits so perfectly against mine,” he growled in between kisses. “And my cock will fill you up until you scream with ecstasy when I make you cum again and again.”
His words were so arrogant, but Liz knew he was right, and a shiver of desire like she’d never felt before ripped through her. Her whole body ached for him and her feminine core pulsed and dampened. She wanted him just as much.
But it couldn’t happen, she reminded herself. Not like this. She worked for him, was protecting him.
She started to come out of the sexual spell he was wrapping around her, and pushed at his chest. “We can’t,” she protested.
But Max held her tight, meeting her eyes. “Just admit you want me,” he hissed.
Liz didn’t think it was a good idea to admit to anything, although surely he already knew she wanted him from the way she kept responding to him. She opened her mouth to deny it, but instead the truth came tumbling out. “I want you,” she said breathlessly.
A triumphant smile crossed his face, but she quickly hurried on. “But we can’t,” she said again. “Not while you’re in danger, and certainly not while I work for you.”
Max kissed her again. “I want to strip off your clothes and kiss every inch of you right here,” he growled. “And then make love to you for hours,” he said, nuzzling her cheek as he spoke softly into her ear, “giving you orgasm after orgasm, until you beg me to stop.”
She shivered again, picturing his beautiful body thrusting into her, but swallowed hard and shook her head to keep her mind straight. “Max,” she protested breathily.
He cut her off, holding her eyes. “Okay, not here or now, but it’s going to happen.”
Liz couldn’t say anything, and simply stood looking at him incredulously.
Max smiled, noting her stunned expression, and brushed his thumb over her bottom lip. “Remember we’re going out later,” he said.
“What?” Liz asked, confusion clearly written on her face.
“Tonight,” Max teased with a lopsided grin, “you, me, dinner.”
“Oh,” she said, remembering. “But Max…”
He cut her off again. “I know,” he said with a wink, “it’s not a date.”
Max smiled all the way back to the house. She’d be his soon.
Liz watched Max walk away, and as soon as he was out of sight, she started to move. She paced around restlessly, trying to work off the excess energy that was filling her, and clear her head.
Her reactions to Max were out of control. She realized now that even though she denied it, she’d been in love with him for years. And being so close to him was too tempting, especially when he made it more than clear that he wanted her.
But she had to put that out of her head. If she couldn’t concentrate better and control herself, she would have to remove herself from the case. She wouldn’t put him in danger because she let her emotions or her lust get in the way of her job.
Tess looked around the alley carefully, making sure she was alone before she slipped behind the dumpster. It only took her moments to get the cover of the storm drain off, and she lowered herself inside, replacing the cover after her.
She’d been so angry all night that she’d barely slept, and all she could think of was getting to Max. She had let him down, and she wanted to make it up to him.
He would understand she was making amends by coming to see him. He would be able to feel her presence even if he couldn’t see her. And she would be able to leave him the letter she’d made for him, explaining, apologizing.
She loved making letters for him, carefully selecting each letter and word, using her hands to craft them, putting all of her love into them. And she knew Max appreciated them too. He would know how much work she had put into them because she loved him.
Quickly she made her way through the familiar tunnels. She’d been in them so many times she knew them all, and navigated the many twists and turns without hesitation, arriving below Max’s yard in no time.
Carefully she stayed in the shadows, looking and listening for anyone around her exit. Max had a team of security guards and she could understand why. Unworthy women and crazy fans were always throwing themselves at him, and he needed someone to keep them away.
Tess crept forward silently, looking through the small holes in the storm drain cover and was shocked to see someone there. A dark-hair woman was kneeling down examining the opening, and Tess barely realized who it was when the woman turned away, getting up and moved out of her sight.
Instantly Tess was furious. It was the dark-haired woman Max had been with last night, and now she had found Tess’ entrance.
Obviously Max had brought her home and slept with her to punish Tess for her failure. And she knew she deserved it. She had let him down, and she had to prove herself to him again. Prove how much she loved him.
Suddenly she heard the woman greet someone and somehow she knew it was Max. Automatically she drifted closer to the opening, just to get a glimpse of him. Her heart leapt with joy when she saw him, but she nearly cried out in pain when he grasped the dark-hair woman and kissed her right in front of her.
Tears gathered in Tess’ eyes. Max was punishing her cruelly. He knew she was there. He would be able to feel her presence, and he was kissing this other woman to show her how deeply she had disappointed him.
He must feel so lonely, Tess thought, wondering if anyone was truly worthy of him. But that is exactly why she had to work harder to prove herself to him, so they could be together.
Suddenly Max tipped back the woman’s head, kissing her neck, and Tess could hear the low rumble of his voice. She couldn’t hear his words, but she could feel his loneliness and pain.
For the first time Tess wished she had a gun instead of her beloved knife. With a gun she could simply shoot through the small holes in the grate, killing the unworthy woman instantly, and Max would know she had done it for him.
Max and the woman parted not long after, and he went back to the house, but the woman remained behind, and Tess couldn’t help but think she was trying to keep Max from her. It enraged Tess even more that this mousy, dark-haired woman thought even for a moment that she deserved Max.
She watched the dark-haired woman pacing back and forth, and could see the confusion and frustration on her face. Tess smiled. This other woman wasn’t sure about her place in Max’s life.
Suddenly Tess heard jogging footsteps and a man in a suit that she had never seen before approached, calling out.
“Liz,” he said, “we’ve got that fax.”
The dark-haired woman nodded. “Great, let’s take a look.”
They turned and headed toward the house, and as they disappeared from sight, Tess approached the grate. She put two hands on it and pushed like she had before, but this time it didn’t move. With a puzzled expression on her face she pressed harder, but it was being held in place.
Walking around to get a better view, Tess finally saw it. The cover had been locked with a long, heavy-duty padlock. There was no way she’d be able to cut it or even pick it through the tiny holes in the grate.
And instantly Tess knew that the dark-haired woman Liz had done it. Liz was blocking her way. She wanted Max for herself.
Max had only been back at the house a few minutes when Alex and Isabel arrived. He clapped his brother-in-law on the back and gave his sister a hug.
“How are you?” she asked anxiously.
“I’m fine,” he assured her. “I went to that fundraiser last night and nothing happened. Liz was right there with me the whole time, playing my date.”
“But Max,” Isabel argued, “she’s so small. Can she really protect you?”
Max smiled, knowing his sister was concerned for him. “She’s smart, Iz,” he said. “She figured out how Tess was getting into the yard and got it sealed up, not to mention she has this whole team of guys that are helping her.”
“But believe me,” he said with a grin, “Liz can kick plenty of butt on her own. She was showing me some self-defense moves and she took me down several times.”
Isabel couldn’t help smiling. “A big hunk of muscle like you got thrown to the floor by that tiny woman?”
“Yeah,” Max said, nodding, “that’s right, laugh it up, but she really knows her stuff.”
Isabel was still shaking her head, but Max continued. “The point is that Liz is making real progress, and Tess hasn’t been inside the house or the grounds since she started. I feel a lot safer.”
“I’m glad,” Isabel sighed. “I’ve been so worried about you.”
Max hugged her again. “I know, but I really am safer with Liz here.”
Alex held out a folder to Max. “I got that information you wanted,” he said, “and I think it will surprise the hell out of you.”
Max opened the folder, and stared at the photo on top in shock. “Well, I’ll be damned.”
Later that evening, Max couldn’t stop smiling as he sat beside Liz in the back of his limo.
He’d told her that he wanted to check out a new restaurant, but it was only an excuse. He really just wanted to spend time with her and get to know her. In his mind it was a date even if she would never admit it.
He smiled wider. It was definitely a date. They were dressed up. They were going to eat at a table alone in a romantic restaurant, and if Max had his way they would end the evening naked in his bed.
Liz was trying to treat him only like a job, but he wasn’t going let her. He was going to do everything he could to get closer to her.
The car stopped in front of the restaurant and one of Liz’s men got out first, checking out the area before opening the car door. Max climbed out and then turned back to help Liz out of the car. She placed her hand in his, playing his date, and together they went into the restaurant.
Down the block another car rolled to a stop and ice-blue eyes peered through the window at Max’s limo. Tess had followed it from his house not knowing where he was going.
She had gotten his schedule when she broke into his house, but there was nothing on Max’s calendar for this evening. It was obviously a test he’d planned for her, and she wasn’t going to fail.
A smile crossed her lips and her eyes widened in excitement as she saw Max get out of the limo. He was wearing a dark green shirt that she knew would make his golden eyes glow, with a charcoal jacket and slacks. He looked good enough to eat.
Mentally she started undressing him, but only got as far as his shirt when her fantasy was shattered. Max turned back to the limo, holding out his hand to help someone out of the car.
Tess only had seconds to go from completely happy to miserable and furious. Max was with a woman and it didn’t take a genius to figure out who it was. Liz.
Liz was trying to get into Max’s life, but obviously Max didn’t think she was worthy either. That’s why he’d brought Liz to her, Tess thought, cheering up. Max wanted her to prove herself by getting rid of Liz.
Watching carefully, Tess counted the bodyguards around Max, memorizing their faces. Only two she thought with a smile. Max really was giving her a gift, but she still had to come up with a plan.
She couldn’t stop smiling. Tonight she would kill Liz, and finally Max would be hers.
Saving Max Main
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