“I can have them block her from seeing Cassie again if you would like. I have no idea what’s going on, but I don’t like it.”
I thumb my hand on the desk for a moment before saying, “no, let’s not take that step yet. I want to know if she continues to go. If the first time was out of sheer nosiness and she didn’t manage to satisfy her curiosity for some reason, she might have gone back. If it happens again, then something’s going on. Don’t mention it to Aidan yet. I don’t want him putting a stop to it or tipping Monique off that we know. Tell them that you want to be notified immediately if and when she visits again.”
“Consider it done,” he replies as he rises from his chair. “Lia looks good.” He gives a genuine smile for the first time since entering my office.
“She is amazing.” I decide not to tell him about the pregnancy scare until when and if it becomes an actual reality. Right now, it’s just a lot of speculation of what could happen. We are still weeks away from knowing whether our rounds of unprotected sex have consequences. He is almost at the door when I ask, “By the way, how did things work out with Rose this morning?” If not for watching him closely, I would have missed the tightening of his shoulders and the stiffening of his spine. It appears I’ve hit on a sore subject.
He spins back around, looking flushed. I study him in amazement. My normally cool chief counsel only seems to lose it when Rose is involved. Interesting. We all have an Achilles’ heel, and it would appear that she is his. “That woman is fucking insane! If not for Lia, I would have instructed the police to leave her there. I swear, she was completely unconcerned with her arrest. When I got there, she had two female deputies taking notes on how to make their own scented candles with common household items. I mean, in the last few weeks alone, she has taken a shovel to her ex-boyfriend’s car and then done a whole laundry list of evil shit to his apartment.”
I burst out laughing, unable to stop myself. The look of sheer incredulity on his face is priceless. “I believe she answers to Martha Harry,” I say, remembering her and Lia laughing over it on her recent visit to the apartment. It sounds accurate. I go on to explain the reasoning behind the name to Max who nods in complete agreement.
“That sounds about right. I’m telling you, Luc, she scares the ever-living hell out of me. The shit she does, and then afterwards, instead of regretting her actions, she’s on some kind of a high…a humping-my-leg one.”
By the look on his face, I don’t think he meant to verbalize that last part of his statement. He is shifting around uncomfortably now, looking like he’s ready to bolt. No doubt, Lia will have the full story soon. I’m not sure I even want to know. I decide to take pity on him and not question him about the humping part. “Er…so, I take it you got her off?” Oh, fucking hell, I inwardly groan at my poor choice of words. Max turns his face into the door and collapses against it. “I meant the charges, dammit!” I say laughingly. “I don’t want to know what you two did afterwards. I mean, crime doesn’t pay, right?” It’s evil, but I can’t resist adding, “But it sure as hell makes you horny.”
He wrenches the door open, not bothering to look back. “Fuck you, Quinn,” he throws over his shoulder. I lose it again when I hear Cindy scolding him for his language from the reception area. “Sorry, Cindy,” he grovels as he slinks off. God, that woman is amazing. She doesn’t take any shit off any of us, especially if it’s directed at me. I work hard to stay on her good side. I make a mental note to give her another pay raise; she deserves it for adding insult to Max’s injury.
Glancing at my watch, I see I have about fifteen minutes before my next meeting. Just enough time to finish some emails so I can head home immediately after the meeting. I need to talk to Lia before she hears about Jim Dawson from someone else. If not for Lee Jacks lurking on the horizon, I would believe that this is the final key to setting her free from her past.
“Honey, I’m telling you I had two orgasms before that fella finished patting me down. If I had known you had all of that going on here, I would have been visiting daily.”
I can’t help but giggle as Debra tells me in detail about her encounter with the security guys in the lobby of the apartment. I’ve noticed the few times I’ve left the building since my attack that the security here is tighter than ever, but I have never been frisked, as Debra is describing. “I can’t believe they did that to you. I mean, I let them know you were coming. Maybe Lucian can speak with them about it.”
“No! Don’t you dare say anything. I insisted they do it. I informed that cute boy with the tattoos that I was feeling a little dangerous today and needed to be fully checked for my own good. He didn’t want to, but I told him I wouldn’t go away until he did.”
“Oh, my God.” I fall against the cushions laughing. Only Debra—or maybe Rose—would do something like that. Was that why all my friends were insisting on visiting more than usual? Just to be felt up?
I hear the front door slam, and I can’t help the small jump of fear that goes through me. What I told Lucian was the truth; I am better, but I still look over my shoulder…a lot. I don’t know if that will ever go away. When you truly face how vulnerable you are every day, it does something to you. I thought I was stripped of my innocence long ago, but I don’t think that really happened until I was pulled into the storage room of a busy apartment building without anyone seeing it happen.
I relax when Lucian walks into sight, thumbing through the mail he must have collected on the way up. He looks surprised to see Debra sitting next to me on the couch but not annoyed. Even though he’s such a private person, he never seems to mind having my few friends visit me here at his home…or ours, as he likes to point out. He walks directly to my side, dropping a kiss on my upturned mouth. “Hey, baby,” he says before turning to Debra. I’m further surprised and just a little charmed when he drops a brief kiss onto my friend’s cheek. “It’s good to see you again, Debra. Is Martin with you?” My tough friend looks like she’s on the verge of swooning at Lucian’s friendly gesture.
“Oh…um…no, he couldn’t get away. The man works entirely too much, but that’s the way it goes when you own a retail business.”
“I’m sorry to hear that,” he says sincerely. “Maybe you and Lia can work out a day and time for us to have dinner together. I know she misses you.” Well, now it’s official: both Debra and I are putty in his oh-so-thoughtful hands. It makes me realize how much I’ve come to take his kindness for granted. He has arranged so much of his life to conform to mine almost from the start. Swallowing back tears, I acknowledge how lucky I am to have him. He has secrets and a past, which has shattered, but not broken, him. I have had so few people in my life that I could trust and depend on, and two of them are with me now. I don’t know where I would be now without Debra, and I don’t know how I survived for so long without the man looking down at me now with a soft smile that still manages to be full of possessive hunger. I love him so much my heart hurts when he’s near. A part of me knows he feels the same way, but I wonder if he’ll ever be able to tell me.