Abbotts · Quinn and Nathan · Sloane and Josh

Quinn

Great. Nathan Erickson is in my apartment. Awesome.

I’m in my kitchen, sipping a cup of tea as the one man I never wanted to see again combs through my apartment making notes on the best way to ‘secure’ my space.

Part of me still believes this is an over reaction, but the Senator insisted and while I know he manipulated me, threatening to call my sister and interrupting her anniversary trip, I didn’t see him backing down.
And it’s not like I could explain why I didn’t want Nathan Erickson in charge of my safety. Not to the Senator.

I watch from the kitchen as Nathan moves through my space, analyzing windows, checking sight lines, potential security holes.

He straightens and finds me before saying. “You have a good security system.”

I shrug. “Old habits.” I haven’t always had the safest living situation.

“How is your sister?” he asks.

“She’s good.” I tell him about the trip she’s currently on. He knows her husband from the FBI and suddenly I’m uncomfortable with the personal direction the conversation has gone.

Trying to distance myself again I turn the conversation back to business. “So, what’s the verdict? Am I safe in my own home?”

“We’ll have to keep the drapes closed at all times. Living in the city allows too many lines of sight from surrounding buildings even on the fourth floor. I’m installing a camera at the main entrance so you can see as well as hear anyone who buzzes for entry. And I’m putting surveillance teams in some of the surrounding buildings.

“We’re also looking in to renting one of the open apartments on this floor and have a team placed there.”

I’m stunned. This is a much larger operation than I had expected. I’d been kind of assuming Nathan and his partner were going to be the extent of it.

I voice my concerns. “Is all this really necessary? That sounds like an incredibly large team for a third year law student with an overzealous stalker.”

“Quinn. We have a team of eight, prepared to provide 24 hour protection. The Senator insisted but I agree with his and Ethan’s assessment. You know you’re more than a typical law student. It’s possible whoever sent the threats and photos isn’t aware of your history but we have to assume they are until we know it for a fact.”

I sink into my couch, setting my mug of tea on the coffee table. “This is crazy.” I stare blindly at my feet, rubbing my hands over my jean clad knees.

Nathan crouches in front of me. “I know it seems overwhelming right now. I’ll do my best to make sure you can live as close to normal as possible. But you’re going to do it safely.”

I can feel the heat radiating off him, he’s so close.

He’s so close.

I bit my bottom lip, hating that some small part of me still craves his touch, his comfort.

The tension is abruptly shattered when the sound of someone trying to open my apartment door propels Nathan into action. He grabs my upper arm and roughly pulls me to my feet, shoving me behind him.

The door knob rattles again but does no good. I always lock my door when I get home, it’s habit.

“Get in your bedroom,” Nathan orders, pulling his gun as he moves to the door. He pulls his cell alerting someone on the other end about the potential danger. I hurry to do as I’m told, my heart pounding.

I close the door to my bedroom, leaning my ear against the wood trying to hear what’s happening.

I’m too far away to understand what’s being said but two distinct voices drift across the space. Suddenly realizing who was on the other side of the door I curse and bolt out of my hiding space.

Shit.


“Is she expecting you?”

“Stop it, Nathan,” I snap, mortified by this confrontation and the fact that I haven’t thought about my boyfriend in hours. I force the front door open wide, allowing Jeff to see me standing next to Nathan.

“Jeff. Hi!” I’m a little out of breath and give him a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek to try and cover the awkwardness.

“Hi. You forgot,” he guessed, his voice sounding slightly chiding.

“Guilty,” I admit. “What are you doing here?”

“We were going to try the new Indian place in Logan Square.”

Oh shit.

“You’re right. I’m sorry. It’s been a crazy day.” I move inside, staring pointedly at Nathan to do the same. Jeff follows me into the living room, Nathan standing between us and the door.

“Everything okay?”

“Not completely.”

“Have anything to do with the suit lurking in your hallway?”

“Sadly, yes.”

“Come here,” he opens his arms, offering me a reassuring hug and I step into his arms a warm sense of contentment washing over me. Jeff and I have been seeing each other for nearly a year. He’s cute and smart and sweet and reliable. He make me feel valued and comfortable. He’s a really good man.

And I’m an awful person letting past feelings distract me from those facts.

“Tell me?” He offers.

I give him a brief recap of my conversation with the Senator, explaining Nathan was essentially my bodyguard for the foreseeable future. I don’t explain he comes with a small army.

“How much danger do they think you’re in? Is there a reason to think this guy will become violent?” We’ve moved to the couch at this point. Nathan is still standing in my hallway, positioned with his back to the wall able to see both the front door and where Jeff and I are sitting. He’s not watching us though, instead staring straight ahead at my wall.

But apparently he’s listening because he speaks again for the first time at Daniel’s questions. “Senator Abbott feels it’s better to err on the side of caution.”

“Do you want to just stay in tonight? We can have something delivered.”

That’s sweet. And accommodating. I’m lucky to have him.

Great. So, now I have Jeff and Nathan both in my apartment.

Awesome.

See this from Nathan’s perspective here.

Abbotts · Quinn and Nathan · Sloane and Josh

Nathan

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.

Prepare myself.

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.