Tempting the Bodyguard, Page 2J. Lynn
Strange. Most people who came looking for his services didn’t ask for him. He owned and ran CCG Security, and on very rare cases, he took the jobs instead of letting his team handle them. Very rare. “What’s her name?”
“She didn’t leave one.”
“And you didn’t ask?” His brows lowered.
Murray snorted. “Of course I did, but she didn’t give it to me. And before you ask, she was out the door and down the street before I could get my gimpy ass out of the chair and follow her to get her tags.”
About three weeks ago, Murray had taken a nasty gunshot to the leg during a security detail in Chicago and was now on desk duty for at least another three weeks. Shit happened. Chandler had a matching bullet wound on his arm and his thigh from an incident a few years back.
Shaking her lace-covered ass at him, Paula purred softly.
All right. That managed to get his attention. His jeans tightened by the slightest measure, but still. He got this hard when he saw a 1969 Dodge Charger in mint condition.
Maybe he needed to see his doctor about low testosterone or something.
“What did she look like?” he asked, sliding forward on the chair as he sent Paula an apologetic look.
Murray sighed. “Mean.”
“Mean as in cup your balls, she’s a scary lady.”
A strange feeling crawled up the back of his neck. “What did she look like, Murray? A bit more descriptive, if you have the time.”
“She had dark hair—dark brown with matching dark eyes. Wore glasses,” he went on, and Chandler’s hand tightened around the slim phone. “Wearing a black pantsuit and black heels. I could tell you that she looked plain, but also like the kind of woman—”
“Did she leave a number or anything?” he interrupted, that strange sensation now crawling over his skull. Muscles clenched in his stomach.
“Nope. She bounced like a ball when I said you weren’t here.”
His mouth opened, but there were no words. The image that came to mind was Miss Gore. Sounded like her, but that made no sense. There was no reason why she would seek him out. Not like she didn’t know where his brother Chad, her former client, lived.
It couldn’t be her.
“Call me immediately if she comes back,” he said.
Murray laughed. “That’s what I’ve been doing. Try answering the phone next time.”
There wasn’t much Chandler could say to that. He hung up, sliding the phone back into his pocket. His mind was still on the conversation, on the bizarre possibility…
“Are you okay?” Paula asked, startling him.
He blinked and nodded.
“Then come join me. I’m getting lonely over here.”
Without thinking about it, he stood and slowly made his way over to the chaise longue. When he looked down at Paula, it wasn’t her he saw. The picture that formed in his mind? Well, he’d like to say it came out of nowhere, but it hadn’t. He’d seen it a time or two since that annoying publicist showed up at his door, looking for Chad.
Kneeling on the longue was Miss Gore. Dressed in that damn black pantsuit. Except her hair was down, falling around her face in dark waves. The glasses were on. He liked the glasses.
And now Chandler was hard as that fucking brick wall he’d been thinking about earlier.
Good news? His dick worked.
Bad news? Shit. There was a lot of bad in this.
Paula’s gaze dipped below his belt, and her eyes lit up. “That for me?”
He opened his mouth, but the door swung open unexpectedly and his chin jerked up, eyes narrowing. No one in this club would barge into any of these rooms unless they were invited. There were rules, for chrissakes, and…
In the dim red glow of the small overhead light, a slight form appeared like an apparition, straight out of the shadows and out of his fantasies.
Miss Gore stood just inside the room, clenching a folder to her chest like some kind of shield. Behind her glasses, her eyes moved from him to Paula and back again. A pink blush bled into her cheeks, and screw him, he got harder.
Her expression remained cool, though, as she cleared her throat. “We need to talk.”
Anyone who had ever met Alana Gore and was around her for ten minutes would agree that she was determined and impatient. Those two things made for a nasty combination.
And could lead to really awkward situations.
When she’d gone to the offices of CCG Security and was told that Chandler wasn’t there, her next stop had been his house. Of course, there’d been no answer there, either, and while Leather and Lace had been a shot in the dark, it had been one she’d been willing to take. While she’d poked around in Chad Gamble’s personal activities several months ago, she’d discovered this “exclusive club” in the Foggy Bottom district. The middle brother was known to frequent the club every once in a while, but Chandler was a regular, from what she’d discovered.
Leather and Lace was nothing more than a sex club fronting as a regular nightclub, and as much as Alana wanted to be disgusted by the whole thing, she couldn’t help the slight wiggle of curiosity whenever she thought about the place and what went on inside the rooms on the second floor. Were there really people hooking up and engaging in all kinds of sexual play inside?
Well, now she knew for sure.
Her gaze crawled between Chandler and the barely dressed woman on her hands and knees. Alana doubted she was searching for a missing contact lens dressed in a corset and little else. Unless her clothing had fallen off in the process.
Alana’s stare lingered on the woman’s chest, and she suddenly felt like she was rocking a training bra. Christ on a crutch, were those things real? Her gaze finally drifted up to the woman’s face and something about the pretty features was familiar… Holy fuck balls, wasn’t she a district attorney?
Chandler cleared his throat, drawing her attention back to him. “We need to talk? Right now?”
For a moment, she couldn’t speak. Her brief encounters with the elder Gamble brother hadn’t served her memory well. Good God, this man…
His dark brown hair was loose, brushing broad shoulders that seemed bigger now that she was seeing him in person. His cheekbones were well defined and high, setting off a strong jawline and wide, expressive lips. While the other two Gamble brothers were lean, Chandler was taller and built like a heavyweight boxer.
Her gaze traveled down his throat, over the gap in his shirt at his neck, and then down his arms. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up, exposing powerful forearms and large hands.
“Miss Gore?” Amusement colored Chandler’s voice.
Heat flooded her cheeks. Dear God, was she flustered? She was never flustered. An obnoxious giggle was building in her throat. Shit. Giggling? That ticked her off. Latching onto the irritation, she regained the use of her brain. “I know I’m interrupting…important business, but this can’t wait.”
“Is that so?” Chandler shifted his weight, and it was only then that she realized he was standing behind the woman. Was he about to…?
Oh Lord in heaven, she couldn’t finish that thought. “Yes. I need to talk to you in private.”
Chandler said nothing.
She looked at the woman who had at least sat up, demurely crossing her legs, and then back at Chandler. Did she have to point out they weren’t alone? By the expectant look on his face, she was going to go with a yes. “We’re not alone.”
“And you weren’t in here first.” A small grin appeared on those lips. Just one side tipping up. “It would be rude of me to ask my friend to leave, and I wouldn’t want to be rude.”
Alana’s spine stiffened. Something about his tone told her that he was messing with her for his amusement. “I seriously doubt she’s your friend.”
“And what do you think she is to me, Miss Gore?” When she opened her mo
uth, his blue eyes sharpened. “And think carefully before you make a statement.”
She bristled. “I’m not crude, Mr. Gamble.”
“Really? That’s not what I’ve heard.”
A different kind of heat invaded her veins, and her fingers bit into the folder. The soft crinkle of paper reminded her why she was here, which was not to get into a verbal pissing match with Chandler. Taking a deep breath, she leveled her voice. “I need your help.”
Chandler’s chin tipped down, but his expression remained the same: remote and impassive. Not an ounce of emotion. Something about him, the intensity that he bled into the air around him, told her that this man would be a violent storm if he ever lost control.
Silence stretched out between them, broken by the soft, impatient sigh of the dark-skinned woman sitting on the chaise longue. It struck Alana then, in a way it hadn’t before, what she was doing. Coming to Chandler for help had seemed logical while she’d been in her apartment, as she knew he would be discreet in his services, but busting up in a sex club looking for him?
Ah, probably not the wisest of decisions. Not to mention supremely awkward, but there wasn’t anything she could do about that now. The letter had rattled her. I’ll be seeing you tonight. Finding Chandler couldn’t wait, but now?
Holding her head high, she stepped back. “Perhaps another time will be better. When you’re not about to engage in hopefully protected sex.” She smiled tightly. “Good evening, Mr. Gamble and…uh, Miss… That’s a really nice corset.”
The woman smiled. “Thank you.”
Alana made it to the door, feeling an odd burn in her skin. Humiliation? It had been a long, long time since she’d felt that way, and she didn’t much care for it now, either.
“Miss Gore.” Chandler’s deep voice stopped her.
She turned halfway. “What?”
He glanced at the woman. “I’m sorry, honey, but maybe we can pick this up again later?”
“I understand.” The woman stood, and at once, Alana felt like she belonged in the Lollipop Guild. The woman strode past her, smiling. “Work is work.”
Was that a dig? Alana couldn’t be sure, but then the door shut quietly behind her, and she was alone in the room with the guy she admittedly had fantasized about a time or two or twenty. In a room that he had most likely been about to have wild, lustful, animal-like, noise-making sex in. At that thought, an image of her on that chaise longue with Chandler behind her, his hands gripping her hips, filled her head. Warmth sparked in her belly and much, much lower.
She really needed to get control of herself.
Clearing her throat, she met his stare and flushed at the almost knowing gleam in his blue eyes. “You didn’t have to make her leave. We could’ve—”
“I think it was obvious that she needed to leave,” he cut in, crossing his arms across his broad chest. “So what is it that you need help with, Miss Gore?”
“But I was interrupting.”
He arched an eyebrow. “And I’m sure you knew that before you burst through that door, right?”
“Well, yes, but—” Actually, no. She hadn’t thought of anything except getting to Chandler. She refused to examine why the thought of reaching him had been the only thing that had calmed her pulse since receiving the letter.
“But you now have my full, undivided attention.” Chandler took one step forward, and sweet Jesus, he was right in front of her. It had to be those long legs that seemed to eat up the distance in one stride. “And that is a very, very rare occurrence.”
Swallowing again, she felt her gaze nervously flit over his shoulder. What the…? Were those handcuffs hanging against the wall? She was totally out of her element and off her game. Who could blame her? She was in a room used for all kinds of kinky sexual acts.
“I need your help,” she said, relieved to hear her voice was somewhat steady.
He unfolded his arms, and as he did, the rolled-up sleeves of his shirt brushed her hands, causing her body to jerk. That one-sided smile spread. “I think we’ve already established that, Miss Gore.”
Irritation pricked at her skin, mostly at herself for becoming so frazzled. “I have a problem.” When his brows shot up, she wanted to smack her face with the file folder. Had she lost brain cells somewhere between entering this room and right now? Fuck. “I’ve been receiving threatening letters.”
Chandler didn’t respond, so she shoved the file folder toward him, which wasn’t very far, since he was in her personal space and then some. He didn’t take it, and her irritation grew into frustration. “They’re all in here—twenty of them.”
“Okay.” He drew out the word as his gaze dipped. But not to her hands. To her chest.
Alana didn’t know what to think or say at that point. She was a logical woman. A minute ago, he had had a woman in here who had two baby butts for boobs and she was barely a B cup. Not to mention there was no way in holy hell he could see her goods. She was wearing a white blouse buttoned straight up to her chin and a suit jacket. Unless he had x-ray vision, he was just being an ass.
Struggling to get a grip on her quickly rising anger, she snapped the file folder against his chest. “Do you want to look at them? Or do you want to continue staring at my breasts like a pig?”
That ghost of a smile spread into a full smirk. “I think I’ll keep staring at your breasts like a pig.”
“Well, that’s lovely.”
“They sure are,” he replied.
Alana took one deep, even breath. “Mr. Gamble, I’m here—”
“Because you need my help,” he interrupted. “I got that.”
“And I’m trying to show you what I’ve been receiving.” She smacked the folder off his chest once again. “So can we— ”
His hand shot out, as fast as a cobra striking, startling her. He wrapped his fingers around her wrist, gently but firmly. Lowering his head, he brought his lips to within an inch of hers. So close she could taste the minty scent of his breath. “While I like to be smacked in the chest with random objects from time to time, you keep it up, I’m going to think that’s an invitation for me to return the favor.”
Her mouth dropped open.
“On a different part of the body,” he added, winking. “And with my hand.”
She gasped and her skin burned, but not from embarrassment. Oh no. The mere thought of his hand on her ass almost had her forgetting why she came here. Almost. She jerked her arm free, knowing he simply allowed her to do so. “That was extremely unprofessional.”
Chandler laughed deeply, sending a shiver down her spine, and spread his arms wide. “What about any of this would be considered professional?”
He had a good point, but still. She took a step back, which grated on her nerves. “Mr. Gamble, I am trying to—”
Having no idea where he was going with that statement, she shook her head. “Say what?”
Her brows knitted as she stared up at him. “I do believe I’ve been saying your name. Perhaps all that muscle and hair are impairing your hearing.”
He chuckled again as he stalked forward, reclaiming the distance between them. “That wasn’t very nice, Alana.”
At the sound of her name rolling off his tongue, the muscles in her stomach tightened. “What? Do you want me to say your first name?”
“Yes, actually, I do.”
She rolled her eyes. “Well, no thank you. I prefer to keep this businesslike.”
“Again, what about this is business appropriate?” He moved his arms out to his sides once more, gesturing around him. “The handcuffs? Or the lovers’ swing folded in the corner? Or the lounge, which comes complete with stirrups?”
Oh dear Lord…
“Or the fact you hunted me down?”
Her lips mashed together. “I didn’t hunt you down. It wasn’t that hard to find you. After all, if you weren’t at your office, home, or with your brothers, where else would you be but at a club with su
ch a stellar reputation?”
He cocked his head to the side. “Have you been stalking me, Alana?”
“It is Miss Gore to you, and no, I’m not stalking you.” She took another deep breath. “Are you going to listen to me or continue to derail the conversation?”
“I wasn’t aware that’s what I was doing,” he said. “I’ve been following along easily. You’ve been receiving threatening letters, which I assume are in the folder you keep using as a weapon, but I’m not sure how I can be of any help with that.”
She stared at him a moment, absolutely baffled. “Doesn’t it seem obvious? You run a company that specializes in personal security. I’m coming here because obviously I need security.”
Another deep laugh erupted from him, but this time, it didn’t make her warm on the inside. “I’m not sure if you understand the kind of security we offer.”
Bristling, she tipped up her chin. “I’m sure I do.”
He shook his head slowly. “We offer security to people who are under a real threat, Alana. Those who have received death threats or have had attempts on their lives made—attempts made by very serious and very deadly people.”
“How do you know attempts haven’t been made or that I haven’t received death threats?” she demanded, clinging to her temper with a fine thread. “You’ve been too busy ogling me and making sexual innuendoes.”
“Back to your breasts?”
The base of her neck was starting to tingle. “Oh my God.”
“You brought them up. Both times. Not me.” A quick grin flashed across his face. “And if attempts were made on your life, you wouldn’t be here showing me letters. And while I’m sure you have a list as long as my arm consisting of people you’ve pissed off, I doubt any of them are a serious threat.”
Her eyes narrowed. “How would you know that?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe it’s because you blackmailed my brother’s fiancée and nearly drove him insane?”
A bit of heat peaked on her cheeks. “Whatever. Look at them now. They’re getting married. They should be thanking me.”
He shot her a dry look. “How many other people have you helped like that?”