Page 17 of The Shy Bride

“Naturally,” Neo said at the same time.

And then like the whirlwind he was, Neo Stamos was gone, his security consultant along with him.


CHAPTER FOUR

CASS read the security report, her heart sinking further with each recommendation.

No way was all of this going to be done in one day, or even two. Despite most of the security upgrades being offered with options that made them as unobtrusive to her current lifestyle as possible, they were far too extensive for a single-day implementation. Looking at the report, she had visions of workmen coming and going, invading each and every room of her sanctuary, for a week at the least.

She appreciated Cole’s efforts to keep the changes in the background, she really did. Just as she was grateful he had brought the report personally, instead of sending a messenger as he told her he had done for Neo.

However, no amount of understanding on the part of the security expert could alter the fact that he was recommending several anxiety-producing modifications to her home. Not least of which was a state-of-the-art alarm system that governed every window and door in her house.

Should she accidentally set the alarm off, a hundred-plus decibel noise would assault her ears and those of her neighbors. Not only that, but the system would be hooked into his private security company for twenty-four-hour monitoring. Someone there would have access to duplicate keys to all her outdoor locks. Even though Cole called the system typical in its implementation for residential security, Cass felt like it was all too cloak-and-dagger for words.

Cole had also recommended replacing all of her doors and windows with more secure models. He wanted to install biometric locks as well. She knew biometric referred to locks opened with retinal or fingerprint scanners, which almost sounded intriguing, if a little redolent of science fiction. She might actually like that upgrade.

But by far, the worst elements to the proposal, and the ones given the least explanation, were those recommended for the outside of her home. Cole wanted to cut back the lilac bushes her mother had planted the year Cass’s parents had moved into the house. And that was only the beginning of the landscape changes he wanted to make outside.

There was nothing for it. If Neo’s privacy and safety were the reasons for the upgrades, Neo would simply have to have his lessons in the studio. Which is what she told him when she called him a few moments later.

“We have already discussed that option and I do not find it acceptable.”

“Then we’ll have the lessons at your penthouse.” Why hadn’t she thought of that before? “You’re planning to get a piano anyway. It would be beneficial to have your lessons on the instrument you use for practice.”

“What is the problem here?” he asked without a sign of impatience, which rather surprised her. “I have looked at the report and I thought Cole Geary did a fair job of minimizing the impact of the improved safety measures.”

She rolled her eyes, though of course he couldn’t see. “For someone like you maybe.”

“Someone like me would require an armed guard on the premises at all times.”

“Sucks to be you.” The words just slipped out, but she meant them. With every fiber of her being. She could not imagine spending her days under constant observation.

A surprised bark of laughter sounded. “I’ve got to admit that is the very first time in my adult life that particular phrase has been directed at me. What is even more astonishing is that I can tell you mean it.”

“The life of a high-profile businessman is not for me,” she said, amusement making the first tiny cracks in the wall of anxiety that had been building since she had agreed to have the security consultant come over yesterday.

“It’s a good thing you are just my friend, not my business partner.” He sounded like he was smiling, if not laughing outright.

“I’m sure Zephyr Nikos is grateful for that as well,” she said dryly.

“I don’t know. I can push too hard at times, but then so can he.”

It amazed her how humble the tycoon could sound after all that he had accomplished in his thirty-five years. She couldn’t afford to get sidetracked by admiration though. “I, on the other hand, may not be pushy, but I am also not a pushover.”

“I never thought you were. It takes determination to refuse the lucrative life of a concert performer.”

“My manager calls it bullheaded stubbornness.”

“Naturally, the more money you make, the more he does.”

“That’s one way to look at life.”

“Are you saying you don’t think he does?”

“Honestly? I don’t know. When my father died, I clung to Bob because he was someone familiar. I assumed he had my best interests at heart, and mostly, I think he does.”

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