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Authors: J.A. Bailey

Under Their Protection

BOOK: Under Their Protection
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Under Their Protection

J.A.
Bailey

 

Copyright 2014 ©J.A. Bailey

All rights reserved. No part
of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written
permission except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles
and reviews.

This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales, organisations, or persons, living or
dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

“Slut.”

Ebony
narrowed her eyes at Blake. “You’re just jealous because I wasn’t flirting with
you.”

He
shrugged, stretching the confines of his tight black shirt. His dark eyes
twinkled with mirth. In his roadie gear, he could just be one of the guys who
worked backstage but to Ebony he was so much more.

Firstly,
he was her bodyguard. Secondly, he had to be the hottest man she’d ever set
eyes on. Blake had worked for her for over a year now and knew her inside out. He’d
seen her at her best and her worst. He’d followed her all over the world on her
tours and watched her climb to the dizzying heights of fame. Throughout it all,
Blake had stood stoically at her side and protected her from crazed fans and
paparazzi.

Unfortunately
he couldn’t rescue her from her writer’s block. Already late on producing her
next album, Ebony risked being dropped by her record company.

“Come
on, let’s get out of here. Or do you have more magazine interviewers you need
to flirt with?”

She
flicked a lock of red hair over her shoulder and pouted, deliberately trying to
bait him. “Flirting is part of the job, as you well know. If I didn’t know
better, I’d think you were jealous.”

Blake
rolled his eyes and folded those thick arms. Thick arms that she had imagined
wrapped around her many, many times. His expression remained stoic. Impenetrable.
If only she could summon some kind of reaction from him. Even disgust. Then at
least she’d know he wasn’t immune to her.  Christ, she was lusted after by thousands—millions
even. Men and women wanted her. Wanted to fuck her. She’d been voted onto so
many hottest women lists, she’d lost count. But she didn’t care. Not if Blake
didn’t.

“But
you know better.” He leaned in toward her and hooked an arm around her shoulder
in a naturally protective move.

Heat
threaded through her—her body instantly in overdrive at his proximity. In spite
of being backstage under the guise of a roadie instead of her bodyguard, he
still smelled amazing. Christ, how could he remain so cool? Ebony knew it was
his job to remain in control but didn’t the man ever let
anything
give?

“I
need to stop off at the dressing room. I left my bag there.”

“Sure.”
Blake kept his arm around her shoulders, fingers practically burning into her
bare arm as they pushed past the musicians and technicians crowding backstage.

She
peered up at the dark-haired bodyguard. True to his profession, he was bulky
and athletic. Muscles shaped his black T-shirt. Yes, admittedly, she’d studied
that form many times. But, in spite of spending so much time together, she’d
yet to see underneath those tight tops. If she was honest, she’d spent plenty
of time imagining what he’d look like topless.

Feeling
hot and flustered, Ebony blew out a breath and pushed open the door to the
dressing room. She paused. Her mouth dropped open. Her legs threatened to go
from beneath her.

“Shit,”
she whispered.

“Fuck.”
With lightening movements, Blake had whipped her around and led her out of the
backstage area.

Flashes
of cameras lit the dark evening and screams of fans surrounded her. With hardly
a moment to think, Ebony barely managed to hold onto her smile as she waved
distractedly at them. Images of the chaos of her dressing room flashed in her
mind. The words on the wall written in blood—surely not real blood?—rang in her
head as if someone had whispered them to her menacingly.
Whore. Slut. You
belong in hell. I’ll put you there.

A
word that had been teasing only a moment ago now jabbed at her, as if whoever
had done it was putting a knife to her heart. How had they got in there?
Security was really tight at the venue. A name like hers meant it had to be,
otherwise they’d be swamped with wild fans.

Blake
forcibly pushed aside several photographers and threw open the door of the
black car awaiting them. Ebony found herself shoved in. He followed her,
slamming the door shut and ordering the driver to move.

Cameras
still flashed through the windows and people slapped their palms against the glass,
trying to get her attention. Getting out of the road proved difficult with the
crowds surrounding them and for the first time ever, she longed to bury herself
away from the attention.

Blake
wrapped a strong arm around her and pulled her into him. She ended up with her
face burrowed against his chest. Against the strong heat of him, tremors took
hold. His other hand came onto her back and began rubbing up and down.
Obtusely, she realised it was the first time she’d ever been properly held by him.
Yes, he touched her a lot in his role as her bodyguard but never like this.
Never so intimately.

“Oh,
my bag…” she whispered shakily.

“Screw
your bag, Ebony. You’re not going back in there.”

“But—”

“I’ll
send someone to fetch it.” Drawing slightly back from her, he reached into his
pocket and pulled out his phone. “Send someone to the arena and if they haven’t
already, get the cops over there. Someone broke into the dressing room,” he
said to whoever had answered—one of her many assistants probably. “Her bag’s in
there. Yeah, I know.” She peered up to see him scowling. “You think? Godammit.
Okay, I’ll handle it.”

“What’s
going on, Blake?”

“There’s
been some letters,” he said tightly.

Ebony
yanked herself out of his hold and glared at him. “What do you mean?”

“You’ve
had a few recently. But we didn’t think anything of it. You know what it’s
like.”

“No,
Blake, I don’t know what it’s like. What do you mean?”

“You
get a lot of letters, sweetheart. People love you and it makes them crazy.” He
sighed and Ebony couldn’t help but wonder if she made him crazy too. Because
her sexy bodyguard surely drove her mad. “But this one echoed the…words on the
wall.”

“Oh
my God.” She put a hand to her mouth.

“I
think this is a real threat, Ebony, and we need to get you some more security.
I’m going to call in the best.”

“And
that is?”

“Walker
Vaughn.”

***

Walker
eyed the large cream mansion with its pillars and tall windows and shook his
head. Why famous people lived so extravagantly and then complained when people
invaded their lives, he didn’t know. Still from what Blake told him, Ebony
might be rich and famous but she was scared to death by all of this. Blake
wouldn’t work with a bitch of a woman and it was clear he cared for her
welfare.

How
much he cared for her remained to be seen though. It was unlike Blake to stick
by a woman’s side—even a client—for so long. But each time they’d met since he
took this job, Walker could tell his best friend was in a little too deep with
this woman. What was so special about Ebony Rose, he wondered. Yeah, he’d seen
her photographed enough. Yeah, she was a hot little number. I mean, damn, she’d
been in
Maxim
magazine in only a tiny bikini and that was enough to fuel
many of his fantasies but Blake…Blake never showed interest in women. Not since
his ex-wife had broken his heart.

Knowing
Blake, even if he loved the women, he still wouldn’t do anything about it.
Maybe Walker could come in and mess things up a bit. He couldn’t help wanting
to loosen Blake up. The guy deserved some happiness after that cheating bitch
hurt him so badly. And when she’d hurt him, she’d hurt Walker. They were like
brothers. They trained as bodyguards together and worked together as much as
life allowed them.

Blake
answered the large black door, a look of relief coming across his face. Oh
yeah, his friend clearly felt more than professional concern for his client.
Blake was never unsure of anything.

“Good
to see you, Walker.” Blake slapped him on the back and Walker took a moment to
look around.

In
spite of the grand outside, the place was decorated relatively simply with a
modern touch. Wooden floors, elegant sculptures and a few contemporary
paintings decorated the entrance hall. It looked carefully put together and
Walker doubted Ebony had been the one to do it.

A flash
of red hair and leather came running up to him and a hand thrust out. Walker’s
jaw dropped open. While photos of her had probably been photoshopped to
perfection, nothing prepared him for meeting Ebony in the flesh. And what
beautiful flesh it was…

Snapping
his jaw shut and forcing his body to stay calm, he allowed his gaze to trail
down her. A tight leather skirt surrounded long, pale legs. An even tighter
T-shirt with some faded lettering on it carefully followed the lines of a pair
of amazing breasts and a small waist. But it was her face that really drew his
attention. Drew his cock’s attention, he thought wryly.

Sparkling
blue eyes, cute as hell rosebud mouth, hair the colour of sin. While magazine
photos smoothed her to perfection, nothing could put across the pure vibrancy
of the woman. Something about her just screamed how amazing she’d be in bed.
The kind of face Marlowe spoke of. A face to launch a thousand ships.

Now
he understood why Blake cared so much.

“Hi,”
she said breathlessly, her husky voice curling around him. For the effect it
had on him, she may as well have curled a hand around his burgeoning erection.
“I’m Ebony. Thanks for coming.”

Walker
took that hand, the softness of it conjuring images of it on his skin. He
risked a glance at Blake and noted the tightening of his jaw. His friend could
read him well. If he wasn’t careful, Ebony wasn’t going to be the only one in
danger.

“Nice
to meet you, Ebony.” He grinned—his most charming smile. How far could he push
Blake? Walker just couldn’t help himself.

Ebony
and Walker stared at each other, her hand still in his, and a flicker of
interest sparked in her eyes. He saw her breasts rising against the black
cotton and part of him hoped he was responsible for that.

“I’ll
show you to your room,” Blake bit out suddenly and they broke apart. “Then I’ll
introduce you to the security staff and brief you.”

“Sure.”
He tried not to smirk at Blake’s warning expression. “Ebony, I’ll see you in a
bit. I’d like to talk with you about this threat if that’s okay?”

“Oh
yes, definitely.” She threw a peek at Blake and an adorable blush crept into
her cheeks. “I mean, of course. Whatever you need…to do…um…your job.”

Christ,
the woman was definitely feeling some kind of attraction toward him. But if he
wasn’t much mistaken, she had a thing for Blake. Walker was an expert at
reading people. The way they stood close and shared looks spoke of a intimate
bond. Did Blake even realise that though? Knowing his hard-headed friend,
probably not.

“Come
on then,” Blake bit out.

“See
you in a bit, sweets.” Walker winked at Ebony, loving the way her cheeks
coloured further.

Blake
was already storming up the stairs so Walker had to jog to catch up. He led him
to one of the end rooms and pushed open the cream door.

Walker
whistled as he followed Blake in. Modern glass lamps, a large leather bed and a
plush cream carpet set off the—what colour what that? Duck egg?—blue walls.

“Nice.
I can see why you’ve stuck around for so long.” He wandered over to the long
sash windows and gazed out over the rear gardens. Ebony now stood chatting with
a gardener. “View’s not bad either.” He turned to his glowering friend.
“Where’s Ebony sleeping?”

“Room
next to me.”

“Well,
that’s no good. I need to be closer.”

“I
don’t think so.” Blake folded his arms across his chest and Walker smirked.

While
Blake definitely outdid him height wise, Walker maintained his strength by
working in the field. He’d only just returned from an intense case in
Afghanistan. He was willing to bet the only action Blake had seen in a while
was the gym. And the gym was a sloppy substitute for being in the thick of it. Even
if Blake looked as strong as ever, Walker felt confident he could take him.

“If
she needs me, I should be close by.”

“Ebony
is not going to need you at night. Besides, she’ll have me in the room next
door.”

“Geez,
Blake, you’re being awfully territorial. What am I here for if not to help you protect
her?”

Walker
heard Blake’s heavy exhale. “We’re up against a psycho and I fear it’s not
going to end well. For one, I need your investigative skills and for two, I
want some more muscle around for when we’re out and about.”

“You
said you’d received letters and someone had broken into her dressing room.”

“Yeah,
at the damned Diamond Arena. You don’t get much tighter security. In spite of
trawling the CCTV we still can’t figure out how they got in.”

“Had
to be a member of staff then.”

“Yeah,
we’re doing checks on everyone who was in or out but that’s a huge venue and
there’s a lot of staff.”

“So
we’re waiting?”

“Pretty
much, but this is escalating quickly. It started with letters—the same old
shit—but that break in…there was words written in blood.
Blood
, Walker.
The cops analysed it and it’s male. That’s all we know.”

BOOK: Under Their Protection
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