The protector, p.23
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       The Protector, p.23
 

           Jodi Ellen Malpas

  have to work myself up to facing my father, the better. Until then, I’m happy to let Jake work me up, all day, all night…forever.

  “Hmmmm…” I let my mind go blank and my body come alive under his attention. It’s blissful, his lips all over me, his body sliding against mine. I feel his cock swell against my thigh.

  “Jesus, angel, I just can’t take enough of you.”

  Bang!

  “Jake!” Lucinda’s voice, followed by a loud thwack, yanks us both from our euphoria, as if we could have fallen into ice water. Jake growls and is up from the bed in a second, abandoning me.

  “I thought you said she’d left,” I mutter, annoyed.

  “She did.”

  “Jake!” Lucinda’s rankled yell rings out once more.

  “For fuck’s sake, what?” Jake shouts, stalking away.

  I roll onto my side, disliking her that little bit more. If she’s brought another magazine loaded with snaps of us, then I’ll take great pleasure in shoving it up her arse. That’s if Jake doesn’t get there first.

  Sighing my frustration, I drink in Jake’s naked back as he paces away. But my desire immediately turns to worry when he freezes in the doorway, every muscle in his back going hard.

  I’m off the bed like a shot, my legs working before my brain, running over to join him and find out what’s gotten his attention. I just make it to him when he steps back without warning and I collide with his back. His arm comes up and extends behind him, keeping me back.

  “What’s up?” I ask, trying to see around his big body, not giving the fact that I’m naked a second thought. “Jake!” I muscle past him with some effort and make my way to his side, enough to see, but enough to still be safely concealed by his body. “Oh my God!” I gasp as I take it all in, my eyes jumping from one place to another, trying to make some sense of it.

  I can’t.

  Jake hauls me into his side. His skin is electric, shocking me. “What the fuck is this?” he asks, his eyes fixed firmly in one place.

  On my father.

  He’s standing by Jake’s couch, looking worried but determined. He’s taking me in, his eyes refusing to fall below my neck. My heart sinks as I cling to Jake, as if I fully expect my dad to physically drag me away. He’ll have to. I’m not moving.

  “You immoral arsehole,” he says, landing Jake with a contemptuous glare. “I trusted you to keep her safe and you take advantage of her?”

  I clench my eyes shut, everything inside of me deflating. “He didn’t take advantage of me,” I grate, feeling the anger Jake just chased away returning. I’m a grown woman. I have my own mind and my own life.

  “Quiet, Cami,” Jake whispers, forcing my eyes open and up. He’s still staring Dad down, still unwavering in his death glare. Jake looks set to charge, and part of me is willing that he does.

  Casting a look around the room, I take in the rest of the occupants. Lucinda is looking inconvenienced more than anything, flanked on each side by Grant and Pete.

  “How did you find out where I live?” Jake asks, flipping a glare to Lucinda.

  She shakes her head. “I’ve already had your gun pointed at me this morning,” she mutters indignantly to Jake. “I didn’t fancy being sandwiched between these two oafs.” She tosses Pete and Grant a filthy look. “They must have followed me.”

  “Don’t think you can outsmart me,” my dad snaps. “Cami, get your clothes on. You’re coming with me.”

  “No.” My answer is quick and automatic. Never.

  “Don’t push me, young lady!”

  Young lady? Like a child who can be told what to do? I stand my ground, something I’ve never had a problem doing with my father, except now he looks the angriest I’ve ever seen him. It just makes me dig my heels in more. I move behind Jake, keeping my hold of him. “You’ll have to rip me away.”

  “Pete!” my dad orders with a gesture of his hand, and his arsehole of a bodyguard starts pacing toward me. Is he serious?

  Jake steps back, taking me with him. “Touch her and I will kill you,” he breathes, calm as can be, yet I can feel the rage coursing through his veins like a dangerous poison.

  Pete pulls to a stop, his hesitance clear. He’s wise. I’ve seen what Jake’s hands are capable of. I’ve watched him spiral into a destructive madman and go apeshit all over a group of five men, all comparable in size to Dad’s security. Pete isn’t going to present him with much of a problem.

  “Jake,” Lucinda pipes in, giving him a cautious look.

  “Listen to her, Sharp,” Dad says, stepping forward. “Is a meaningless roll around in the sheets with a woman worth losing your job for? Your credibility? Quit while you’re ahead. My Camille is too good for you, and you know it.”

  I gawp in shock at the words coming from my father’s mouth. The malicious, selfish bastard!

  “And what about your daughter’s safety?” Jake asks. “Is that worth compromising because of your pathetic need to control her?”

  “I know what’s best for my daughter. As of now, Camille is no longer your concern. Walk away from her and I will not destroy you.” Dad cocks his head and raises his brows, watching Jake closely.

  “Why are you doing this?” I ask, feeling my control slipping the more my father persists with his relentless threats.

  He looks at me, an edge of sympathy marring his round, crabby face. “Because I love you, Camille. Everything I do is because I love you and I want the best for you.”

  “How the hell would you know what’s best for me?” I yell, my entire body quaking with frustration and despair. “You’re on your third wife! All you want is a trophy on your arm. A good pair of tits until it all goes south and you find a replacement! Someone who won’t question you and take the money you shower them with! You don’t want what’s best for me! You want what’s best for your fucking business!”

  “Do you think you’re not a trophy to him!” Dad roars, flinging his arm out at Jake. “A score for a man who’s clinging onto his ego after being thrown out of the SAS!”

  I withdraw, staggered by my father’s low tactics. He’s been looking into Jake? “You know nothing about him!”

  “I know enough!”

  “How dare you!” I scream. “You have no right to dictate who I see. What I do!”

  Jake swings around and pushes me back into his room, his hands finding my face and holding tightly.

  “Shhhh,” he hushes me, his lips pressing a kiss to my forehead.

  The tender compassion makes me break down completely, and I’m crying uncontrollably as I cling to his forearms.

  “Calm down,” he whispers.

  I’m staggered by his self-control. I know the agony he shoulders, the self-abhorrence and regret. His parents died at the hands of terrorists. Innocent people caught up in the war. He needed to play a part in stopping them. No one can strip away Jake’s efforts or the danger he put himself in to protect his country, no matter how badly it turned out for him.

  “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about,” I sob, being pulled forward into his arms. “Don’t listen to him. He’s a hateful bastard.”

  “I want you to get dressed,” he says, nuzzling down, pushing his face into mine and raining kisses all over my face. “Get dressed and I’ll go talk to him.”

  “No.” I refuse point blank. “He’ll never listen. Just throw him out.” I’m sniffling over my words, my breath catching constantly in my throat.

  Jake grabs my face and pulls it up, gazing down at me with nothing but adoration. “Do you trust me, angel?” he asks, throwing me for a loop.

  But my answer is still dead easy. “More than anything.”

  He nods, swallowing, and releases me. Walking over to a chair in the corner of his room, he takes some jeans off the back and yanks them on, then pulls a T-shirt over his head before slipping his feet into some leather boots. He says nothing more to me and walks out of his room, closing the door behind him. I stand there, desperately trying to fight off the dread tha
t’s engulfing me, not being able to stop myself from fearing that Jake might not come back.

  Chapter 21

  JAKE

  I saw the look in Logan’s eyes when he cocked his head at me. That look told me he knows. My military history, the shrink reports, the statements—everything is confidential and stored on a secure system somewhere in an impenetrable building. If he can get access to that, there’s no telling what else he’s found out. I’m not having him using it as ammo to drive a wedge between Cami and me. She knows some things, but she doesn’t know everything. Not yet. I need redemption. I need to fix too many things and accept myself before I can expect Camille to accept me. All of me, every dark, dirty, sinful piece.

  I leave her in my bedroom, out of earshot, and quietly lock the door behind me, for no other reason than if this turns nasty, I don’t want her in the firing line. I enter my living space, taking in every inch—what’s positioned where, who’s standing where, while mentally plotting my moves.

  I look across to Lucinda, seeing her holding her iron composure, but I’ve known this woman for many years, and I know when she’s anxious. She’s anxious now. Not because she feels threatened, but because she knows as well as I do that this pond scum has the power and influence to wreak havoc at the agency.

  “She can go.” I nod toward her, making sure I don’t make it sound like a request. There’s hesitance in Lucinda’s face, but none in Logan’s. He nods and she shakes her head, heading out without a word.

  As soon as the door closes behind her, I speak. “There’s nothing casual about my feelings for your daughter,” I start, kicking plan A into action. I’ll only hurt him if I absolutely have to. I hope I don’t have to. Logan’s many things, but he isn’t stupid. Taking me on would be stupid. He might surprise me yet. Voicing whatever he might have found out about me would be stupid, and I guarantee it will tip me over the edge. That would be a shame. So far I’ve managed to keep a lid on the violent beast that’s so desperately trying to break free. “The sooner you realize that your daughter isn’t some damsel in distress, the quicker we can clear this up.”

  Right on cue, Cami starts banging on the door. “Hey! Why’s the door locked?”

  No, there’s no damsel in there.

  Logan keeps his narrowed stare on me and sniffs, giving me a hint of how easy and clean this is going to be. Not easy and clean at all. “Walk away and I won’t tarnish her belief that you’re a hero. I’ll also keep the scandal of the agency’s top bodyguard bedding a young subject from public knowledge.”

  I look at him, my head cocking. “You think you can keep me away from her with threats? I don’t give a fuck about the agency. My purpose goes beyond that now.”

  “How much?” Logan asks, while Cami bangs relentlessly on the door.

  “Are you fucking kidding me? You think you can buy me off like that lowlife drug addict?” I ask, disgusted.

  Logan definitely flinches. He didn’t know that I knew about the payoff. He might have shit on me, but I have shit on him, too.

  I walk forward, ignoring the two fat twats moving in from both sides. I’ll floor them in a fucking heartbeat. “Get the fuck out of my apartment.”

  “Not without my daughter.” Logan moves back and looks over his shoulder to the door.

  I come to a stop, because I can tell he’s not gauging the distance that he’s got to run and escape. Plus, a noise has just rung out from the elevator shaft. “Ah, the police,” he says casually. “It was really rather brutal what you did to poor Sebastian Peters.”

  My frown is unavoidable, but the pieces slowly start to fall into place.

  He smirks at me. “You can’t see her if you’re locked up.”

  Motherfucker!

  Pete and Grant move in fast, one grabbing me on each side. I don’t bother wasting energy wrestling them off. I let them seize me, let them think they’ve won.

  “How much have you paid Sebastian Peters to press charges against me, you immoral fucker?” I ask, my lip curling. “He physically hurt her!” My anger is getting the better of me, rising fast. “He hit her!” I roar.

  Logan frowns, and I remember…he doesn’t know that part. To him, Sebastian Peters is simply an addict who dragged his daughter down a temporary dark path. He didn’t know his daughter’s ex knocked her about a few times, and Cami didn’t want him to. Logan’s face straightens out, quickly telling me that this news isn’t going to make a bit of difference.

  “Good-bye, Sharp.” His tone is drenched in victory.

  Pete and Grant tighten their hold of me, like they think I might start struggling.

  There’s no need to struggle.

  My bedroom door starts jumping off its hinges from the force of Cami’s bangs. “Let me out!”

  I keep calm and still for a few seconds, just enough time for Logan’s “security” to relax a little. Then I throw my head back, catching Pete clean across the nose. His scream comes after he’s released me, the pain of his broken nose taking a few startled seconds to register in his bewildered mind.

  I hear him stagger away and before Grant can react, I grab his wrist, twist it, dip and throw myself forward, hauling the lump over my back and launching him into the air. I keep hold of his wrist, watching his body twist awkwardly as he meets the ground, the clean crack of his shoulder ringing through the air.

  “Whoa!” Logan stumbles back, his hands coming up in defense.

  But as I’m about to claim my final prey and shred him, the sound of the elevator reminds me of the more imminent threat. The police.

  Fuck!

  I look at Logan, my lips twisting. “If one hair on her head is damaged before I make it back to her, I’ll kill you with my bare hands.”

  “She’s my little girl. You think I’d let anyone hurt her?”

  His words stand for shit, but I haven’t got time to fuck about. “Your daughter is still in danger and you know it. You haven’t been telling me everything and I’m going to find out why.”

  The elevator doors rattle.

  “You’re going to wish you’d never met me, Logan.” I break into a sprint and head for the only window that opens in my entire apartment.

  * * *

  So now I’m a wanted man, on the run from the fucking police.

  Worse, I have no idea where Camille is. Her fucking phone is turned off, or it’s been taken from her. If her father thinks I’ll just go away, he’s so wrong. I won’t rest until I find out what the fuck is going on.

  I go to the only place I have to go, and she’d best not give me a hard time about it. Lucinda throws the door open, her tiny frame encased in an oversized dressing gown and her petite face riddled with disdain. I push my way past her, ignoring it.

  “Come right in,” she says, condescending as hell.

  I stomp over to her drinks cabinet and pour myself a healthy helping of Jack. “You led them to me. Quit your whining.” I knock back my drink, praying for some calm in my shaking world.

  “You let him take her?” The door slams and she joins me by the cabinet, placing a glass in front of me in an indication to pour.

  “I didn’t let him take her,” I snarl. “The depraved prick paid her scumbag ex to press charges against me.” I leave her glass empty and pour myself one more. Just one more. “The police turned up. I ran.” I stalk away, this time sipping my drink as opposed to downing it, and put myself in front of her window.

  “I’m sorry,” Lucinda says, perplexed. “You’ve lost me. He paid her ex to press charges? For what?”

  “The picture in the magazine,” I breathe. “I was getting her away from her ex. I gave him a pair of black eyes. And probably broke his nose. And I might have stripped him of the ability to reproduce.” I’ve done the world a fucking favor. I should get an award, not a sentence.

  “You did what?” she yells, showing rare shock.

  “Don’t even.” I turn and lift a finger to point at her. “He cornered her in the ladies’ and hit her before tossing her to the ground
like a piece of rubbish.”

  Lucinda wisely backs down, reaching for the hard stuff and pouring one for herself. “You know, none of this would have happened if you hadn’t gotten emotionally involved. It’s rule number one. And you’re you, for crying out loud! Women love you for as long as it takes them to make you come. Then you piss them off and they hate you! What the fuck has changed?”

  “Camille Logan,” I breathe, letting my head fall back, my eyes searching for the heavens and a God I don’t believe in. Someone needs to help me out. Lucinda’s right. Emotion hasn’t featured in my makeup for a long, long time. I can’t blame her for being
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