Authors: Capri Montgomery
She shrugged. “I have some background on the people you work with, and the people in your opera, but what I need to know more about are the things I can’t find on paper. So, tomorrow, when you have some time I want you to tell me more about all of them. I also want to know more about your former assistant. Her name is mentioned, but there are few details as to why she left. So, details on everybody in the opera, and on this Lani Davison woman.”
He laughed. “There are a lot of people in my opera you know…and that’s not even taking into consideration the people who are behind the scenes outside of the show.”
“Okay tough girl. I’ll give you details as I can. But Lani is a non issue so we don’t need to go there.”
“You think she’s a non issue. Maybe she is; maybe she isn’t, but I’d like to cover all bases before I dismiss any possible threat. I just need you to answer some questions and provide some details. That’s all I’m asking.” Was he finally starting to warm up to the idea of a female bodyguard? She doubted it. He was too arrogant for that.
“Valencia,” he let the name roll of his tongue. “Does anybody ever call you Val?”
“Not if they want to live,” she mumbled.
“You don’t like the name?”
“If my parents had wanted my name to be Val they would have named me Val. The name is Valencia and I like it.”
“Me too,” he admitted. “Look, I’m…I want to apologize for earlier.” He seemed to be having a hard time getting the words out of his mouth. Clearly he wasn’t a man who was used to delivering apologies. “I shouldn’t have inquired about your heritage. It’s not important to your job, and I shouldn’t have brought it up. It’s just you’re so…beautiful,” he exhaled sharply.
She knew the signs and she figured she should nip it in the butt before it went beyond a budding crush. “This is business,” she stated firmly. “We should be sure we keep it that way.” She watched the hardened expression grace his eyes. Harrison was clearly a man who wasn’t used to having women turn him down. She knew from some of the articles she had read about him that he was popular with the ladies, although he hadn’t had as many girlfriends as she would have assumed he would have had. Apparently he was highly focused on his work when he was working on a new opera…when he was on hiatus that was a different story.
“If we’re going to pretend to be intimate with each other I need to know more about you.”
“You know what you need to know, but I can understand that there may be some questions you’ll face and I’ll help you prepare for them.”
“Thanks,” he mumbled. “I’m going to bed,” his voice was cold and distant. Had she offended him? Probably. But she couldn’t let him think their pretend relationship was going to become a reality.
“Harrison,” she waited until he looked at her. “You’re good with your attack skills. If you’d like I can help you acquire some new techniques.” A smile graced his lips. She wasn’t trying to flatter him. He was good, and had he been going up against the average fighter he would have been equally matched. She wasn’t the average fighter. She had been training in several forms of martial arts since before she could walk. She was skilled in martial art forms that the average person had never heard about. She had trained to be the woman she is her entire life, and so he wasn’t equally matched skill for skill. Although that didn’t matter much in her book; equal match or not he had to be ready to take on the opponent. He had to put brains above brawn and figure out what the best line of attack would be. That was something she could help him master—if he could get over his ego long enough to listen and learn.
“I’d appreciate that,” he grinned. “About tomorrow…how are you planning to get a gun on board the plane?”
“I don’t carry a gun,” she never had use for one. She could shoot like a sharp shooter, but she preferred using her hands for a kill and for defense. The weapons she wore everywhere always made it through any security checkpoint. She had even walked right into the Whitehouse with ten deadly weapons on her, and she did it unnoticed. “I have other weapons of choice. You’ll be protected. Don’t worry about your safety because I promise I will protect you.”
“I know you will,” he acknowledged. “But I just don’t think this is necessary.”
“Then why did you agree to protection?”
He shrugged. “Geneva,” he let the one word tell the story for him. She was his sister and he was doing this because she wouldn’t let it go.
“You don’t see this as being a serious problem?”
“No. It’s just some crazy letters.”
“I’d say;” she had read the letters and she knew very much that some dillusionally obsessed woman had latched on to Harrison and she wasn’t going to let him go easily.
“We’ll give this a go for a month or so. Nothing will happen and Geneva will see this wasn’t necessary.”
She shook her head. “First lesson,” she kept her tone unattached as always. “Never underestimate your enemy.”
“I’ll keep that in mind.”
“You do that,” she prepared herself to do one more walk through of the downstairs before going up to bed herself. She was prepaid for a little more than a month of service. Whether or not Harrison decided to keep her on past that time was up to him. If he decided not to then she would go back to her home in Hawaii and be done with Harrison Sinclair. Of course, she was determined to figure out who this stalker was and stop her before she left. She knew Harrison’s ego wouldn’t allow him to hire another bodyguard. She knew once her time was up he would go back to living his life unguarded and if he did that he wouldn’t be living it for long. It was evident from the letters that his stalker wanted control, love, and his complete attention. Harrison was too stubborn to pretend to give affection. He would underestimate this woman because she was a woman and he would think there was nothing else he needed to do other than ignore her. And at some point, she would stop with the professions of love and go on the attack in anger.
“There’s one more reason I said yes, Valencia.”
“You,” he stated flatly. “A man would have to be insane to say no to somebody as beautiful as you guarding his body. The fact that you can fight was the icing on an already beautiful cake.” And on those words he left her there with her thoughts. This man was going to be trouble. He was cute and sexy, arrogant as the day is long, but something about his confidence was alluring—and he knew it. She was a professional. No matter what seduction Harrison Sinclair threw her way she was going to have to resist. One of her rules was to never get involved with a client. Getting involved would be a distraction—a distraction could get him killed.
“What was I thinking?” She mumbled. Thomas had called her and asked if she could help out a friend of his. He was so sweet and genuine. He told her that he knew he didn’t have a right to ask this favor of her, but if she could just meet with Drake Daniels and consider protecting his brother-in-law, it would mean the world to him. Thomas wasn’t an easy man to say no to. It wasn’t that she had a hard time saying no in general, but every time she thought about Thomas she thought about the man she helped get out of Afghanistan and get to some place where he could have a chance of survival. She thought about the man with big blue eyes and jet black hair. The man who looked up at her while he was in that hospital bed, and the man who tracked her down—a near impossible task, and he thanked her. There was something about him that pulled at her heart. And in some ways he reminded her of her brother. Percileo and Thomas were the same height, six-four and muscular with the type of personality that told a person they meant business. For some reason she felt a need to protect both men at all cost—even though they were both highly capable of taking care of themselves. Funny, they were both a year older than she was. Thomas and Leo had both been born in the same month which meant they had both just celebrated a birthday. They were both thirty-three now, to her thirty-two years of life and ironically, she had more experience in her thirty-two years than either of them had in their thirty-three years. All of her experiences had been hard, tough, cold and deadly life experiences mixed with the right amount of love from her family, but she was definitely a different breed than Leo.
He was outgoing, had a lot of friends and worked in the honest profession of saving lives. He was at the top of his game on the bomb squad in Waikiki. She, however, had trained to be lethal, just as he had, but she had taken it to a deeper extreme. She had been recruited at the age of ten to work for the government and her father supported that decision. He, of course, had some advantages to her employment as well. There was no surprise in the fact that her father’s side of the family had been mostly on the opposite side of the law. Her father was taking the family legit, just as his father had tried to, but at the same time, the old Mishoto ways existed. If anybody messed with one of the family, they didn’t live long to talk about it. What she had become, the lethal link in the family, is what most thought Leo would have been…had he wanted it he probably could have, but Leo wasn’t that kind of guy. Thomas reminded her so much of that good nature, that protect and keep alive nature that her brother had been lucky enough to inherit from their mother. While she, she had managed to inherit the Mishoto family law—strike to kill or don’t strike at all.
She smiled, thinking about her brother and Thomas. They would be friends if ever they had a chance to spend more than two seconds in passing. That day when Thomas had finally found her, Leo had been coming up the drive as Thomas was leaving. They missed each other, even though they did see each other in passing. Thomas had called her later that night to make sure he hadn’t caused any trouble with her husband. She had laughed and told him that Leo was her brother. Leo took more after their father. He was tanned from the Hawaiian sun, but he also had a bit of permanent bronze to his skin anyway, while she was slightly darker in her complexion, taking more after her mother. She thought about the two men who were the current fixation of her thoughts. She would have to be sure to introduce the two of them one day.
She was also going to have to establish some boundaries for herself…as if that was going to happen. Thomas, just like Leo, would probably always pull at her heart strings and she would probably always want to protect both men with every fiber of her being. When Thomas called her she couldn’t say no, not to him. Plus, she had heard of Drake Daniels and she was rather intrigued to meet the man behind the legend.
She wasn’t booked to protect anybody. She had a contract she was reviewing, but she hadn’t committed herself to it, so it was easy to close up her house, ask Leo to look after things while she was gone, and get herself on the first flight to the mainland.
She reviewed information on Harrison Sinclair before she arrived in D.C. and then she met with Geneva and Drake and acquired more information about the man. She hated opera herself so she didn’t know him from his work, but by the time she finished her pre-assignment study, she knew everything about his work. She realized by the time she walked into the room that the man might be dangerous. He was sexy, and brazen, and she liked what she saw. But he was confident to almost a point of arrogance. He clearly had an inadequate view of women being the weaker vessel, and he was far too accustomed to getting his way. She wondered if anybody had ever told the man no and actually got away with doing it.
A smarter woman would have backed away and let him stick with his “no bodyguard” stance, but she hadn’t. There was something in his, “I feel as if I should be protecting you,” statement that made her want to show him just how much she wouldn’t need him to protect her, and just how wrong he was about a “little” woman not being able to hurt him. He needed protection, and something inside of her knew that if she didn’t take the assignment then he wouldn’t allow anybody else to watch over him. He could, and probably would, be dead within months. He might not have taken the threats serious, but she did, and so did the people who cared about him.
She signed on for one job and one job only—guard Harrison and keep him safe. But now it would seem as if her job just took on a second task—she was going to have to keep lover boy focused on his work and not her body.
By morning they had already gone through security checkpoint. Her weapons went completely undetected while Harrison’s buckle on his belt had kept him from making the smooth transition through the checkpoint.
“Empty your pockets,” the blonde haired, blue eyed, guard had smiled at him while uttering those words. She hadn’t smiled at anybody else that morning, but she had taken to flirting with Harrison. Valencia stood on the sidelines watching as Harrison took three trips through the metal detector before the TSA agent smiled and told him to remove his belt. Harrison, devious as the day was long, looked right into Valencia’s eyes and grinned as he unfastened his belt buckle and slowly pulled it from the loops. If he thought that was going to turn her on he was right, but she didn’t let him know that. She had spent her entire life hiding her emotions and she wasn’t about to toss out years of training over one man giving her a mini strip tease.
The flight into Phoenix had been uneventful—just the way she liked it. She talked with Harrison about the cast of the opera, about the people who worked behind the scenes, and then she needed to know more about this assistant that had made Harrison decline all future female assistants. She didn’t get a chance to hear more because the flight attendant came over and started giving instructions for landing. Harrison had told her he would get to it later. She wanted to get to it now, but clearly he was going to avoid it until they arrived at the resort where he had booked an executive top floor suite for the month. The cost alone should have made him just lease a house, but he had assured her the hotel was more adequate for the month. He wouldn’t be in Phoenix long with the show. After Arizona they had three more stateside venues, Hawaii being their last stop. He also told her that if the person behind the letters hadn’t become a threat by that final destination he expected her to stay in Hawaii while he went back to his home in D.C. In short, once the show ended so did her employment. That was fine by her. She actually, given the schedule, would be finished after their next location, but she could discuss that with him later. At some point she was going to have to get back to her world. He would be going back to his home once all was done with anyway. D.C. wasn’t exactly one of her favorite places to visit. The less time she spent there, the better.