I hear my boss, for lack of a better word, approach the door I’m standing outside of, waiting.
His voice is muffled but I clearly hear him threaten the woman in the room with him. “Don’t fight me on this Quinn, or I will call Sloan myself and get her and Garrison back here. She’ll make you see reason even if I can’t.”
I wince not at all surprised she’s not on board with his plan. Even though I expected her attitude, it’s not going to make my life any easier. And this before she even knows all of it.
He opens the door to his study and then returns to the front of the room and his chair behind his desk. She’s still facing the other way and hasn’t noticed me yet. I’m glad I have a minute to drink her in before she’s aware of me.
I should feel guilty she won’t have that same opportunity but I don’t. I want to see her unguarded reaction. It’s been years since I’ve seen her in person and even though I haven’t seen her face, just being in the same room with her has my body tense. I school my features to hide my reaction.
“That was low,” Quinn mumbles, referring to his threat about calling her sister.
“But effective,” he responds. Senator Abbott can be frustratingly smug at times.
“I’m taking the bar exam in a week.”
“The team leader,” that’s me, “Is aware of your schedule. He won’t interfere,” the Senator promises.
Inwardly I cringe. That’s going to be fun to deal with.
I should not have taken this assignment.
I watch as she takes a deep breath, drawing up straighter. She’s resigned to the fact Senator Abbott is going to get his way. “Okay, fine. Let’s meet the bodyguard.”
Smirking the Senator starts scribbling on a pad of paper in front of him. Without looking up from his notes he tells her, “He’s right behind you. And I’m giving you a few emergency numbers. Memorize them. Just in case.”
I watch as Quinn stands and turns to face me. Her unique gray-green eyes widen and she freezes. I chase a dozen different emotions across her face before she shuts down.
“Nathan.” Her voice is hoarse and she clears her throat delicately. Everything about Quinn is deceptively delicate. “Agent Erickson,” she says with more force.
“Ms. Reed,” I nod, keeping my face blank. “It’s just Erickson now.” I only lasted two years with the FBI.
She tilts her head. “You remember. I thought you must have forgotten when I didn’t make your Christmas card list.”
Sassy. I fight my impulse to laugh.
“Could you give the Senator and I a minute please? I’ll be right out.”
I nod. “I’ll be right outside.”
I return to my position in the hallway.
I should not have taken this assignment.
What was I thinking?
Fuck, she looks good.
Her dark hair is longer now, the thick waves falling midway down her back. The black pants she wore showed off her hips and ass, curvier now than all those years ago. Curves that made my palms itch.
I never should have taken this assignment.
But how could I not? It was Quinn. She was in danger. Again. I promised her ten years ago I would never let anyone hurt her. And I meant it.
“And don’t give Erickson a hard time about doing his job!” I hear the Senator yell.
“No promises!” Quinn responds right before she bursts out of the office, her usual barely leashed energy only slightly dampened by this current situation. She hesitates briefly in front of me and then quickly pulls herself together before demanding. “So, how does this work? Twenty-four hour protection? When I actually know you’re protecting me and I’m supposed to attempt to live a normal life, I mean?”
Ten years ago I’d been undercover. And although I hadn’t let any harm come to her I had hurt her despite my promise. I know that. I’ve regretted that every day since. I made a lot of mistakes, both personally and professionally where she was concerned. Maybe that’s part of the reason I did accept this assignment instead of handing it out.
Maybe part of me wanted a chance to do things better this time around. For both of us.
“First, let’s go to your condo. I”ll check security and make any necessary adjustments. Then we can discuss guidelines and your schedule.”
Her deep inhale causes her breasts to briefly thrust against the cotton of her white tank top and I stop breathing willing my body not to respond. It’s over in a heartbeat but my reaction to her leaves me shaken.
I really, really, should not have taken this assignment.
“Alright then. Let’s go. Do we drive separately? Together?
“I’ll drive. One of the security detail assigned to the Senator will return your car later this afternoon.”
She nods and hands me her car keys. I lead her to my car, handing off her keys and address to one of my teammates with instructions along the way.
I open the passenger side door waiting for her to climb in.
“I’m perfectly capable of opening my own doors.”
I grunt, non-committal. I’ll explain our procedures back at her place. I’d prefer we save any potential arguments until we’re well away from the Senator. Because despite her ultimately conceding to the Senator’s plan I suspect she’ll have plenty to say about it to me.
It should be glorious.
I shut the door firmly and scan our surroundings.
And I guess I’ve just begun my new assignment.
See what happens when they get to Quinn’s apartment here.