In a darkened room twenty feet beneath his office building, Logan Stone stood before an elite panel of observers. Anticipation coursed through him. The time had come to unveil his masterpiece.

“For security reasons, I ask you to remain behind the crimson ropes,” Logan instructed.

Intrigue shone on the faces of the guests crowding the edges of the display room. Their breathless pause shot electricity through his veins.

“Allison, if you will.” Logan gestured to the woman who’d been the object of his fascination for almost two years. As a contractor for the military and other high-level government operations, Allison Dupree was the whole package, brains and beauty, with the connections he needed to obtain a coveted military contract. They’d worked in the same circles and run into each other at conventions for a while, so he knew she was the woman for the job—though, he was interested in more than her training and demonstration abilities.

So he’d made her an offer she couldn’t refuse. And she’d accepted. She’d learned the technical aspects of his system quickly, proving herself invaluable over the past six weeks. Preorders and projected sales had topped his goal, edging toward the billion-dollar mark. The prestige he strove for, obtaining a top-intel government contract, was finally in his sights.

“My pleasure, Mr. Stone.” Allison’s lips curved with her signature smile. An alluring combination of buttoned-up formality and subtle sexuality that made his mouth go dry. She took her place at the center of the room. She tossed her long blonde hair over her shoulders, awaiting his cue to start the show.

Dim light caressed her face. His pulse thrummed. His fingers twitched with the need to run his fingertips along the soft skin of her bare shoulder, press his lips against her neck—

Damn . Would this hyper-awareness of her ever fade?

Logan cleared his throat. “In real-time, my new security technology requires a fraction of a second to perform the functions you’re about to see. I’ve slowed the system’s response time to give you a clearer idea of this state-of-the-art integration can do.”

Sliding the remote control device from his suit pocket, he pressed the blue button. A flat-screen TV lowered from the ceiling.

“The latest Stone Security Elite Edition combines the most advanced security technologies available, in the most powerful singular protection device on the market. Let’s start with facial recognition.”

A green laser beam shot from the wall, fanning over Allison. All heads turned to the overhead TV as a high-def computer sketched her portrait in 3D like a topography map. But he couldn’t take his eyes off Allison. He tapped his finger against the remote, annoyed by a spike of jealousy that this computer had more intimate contact with her body than he did.

For now .

Reigning in his focus, he pressed another button and a second flat-screen lowered beside the first. “Next, we have thermal imaging.”

The security software read Allison’s body temperature. He wondered how the thermal imaging would register if he slid his hand down the arch of her back and whispered exactly what he wished they were doing right now.

The practice runs they’d performed earlier today had proven an excruciating test of his self-control. He still ached to explore her red-hot zones, the way he had during their one-night affair two months ago. Right before he’d made her the job offer. A sizzling night he was dying to repeat. Except she neatly avoided any discussion of the topic, no matter how subtly he mentioned it. She skirted his advances, ignored his hints, acting as if their night of phenomenal sex never happened. He couldn’t forget so easily. They were amazing together. He just needed her to admit it. And give in to him. He’d fantasized about dozens of ways he’d like to convince her.

He blew out a controlled breath and continued. “We’ve also incorporated retinal scans, fingerprint analysis, voice recognition software, and security password clearance.”

Allison modeled each component like a pro. Each demonstration was displayed on a different flat-screen.

He turned to find his audience rapt. “Now I want to show how the sequences work together to create the most advanced security programming to date.” Scanning the crowd, he chose the scientist from CERN to open a dialogue. “Dr. Carier, thank you for coming all the way from Switzerland for this demonstration. As a member of the top scientific communities in the world, I imagine you understand the value of impenetrable security.”

The scientist nodded. “We worry about the details of any project leaking out prematurely. There have been three occurrences recently with the security we have now.”

“That’s three too many. How would like a system guaranteeing zero thefts?”

Dr. Cartier’s gaze sharpened. “I’m listening, Mr. Stone.”

On a flat tabletop near Allison’s hip, the edges of a large vertical rectangle began to glow, the shape resembling an elongated computer screen. A 3D puzzle shimmered into existence.  Allison’s graceful hands touched the 3D images, moving them sequentially until they locked into place. The technology displayed the shapes so viewers on all sides could watch her movements.

The puzzle pieces clicked, and a mechanized female voice intoned, “Good morning. Please state your name.”

“Allison Dupree.”

The disembodied voice responded, “I am authorizing access to files on this terminal…” Ellipses flashed as the system processed Allison’s information on multiple levels. Guests watched in silence until the computer spoke to her again in surround sound. “Hello, Ms. Dupree. Would you like to retrieve your files, or do you wish to begin a new project?”

“Upload the most current file.”

The files loaded onto the see-through screen before the audience could blink. An icon flashed signaling completion. “Your files are ready for viewing.”

Whispers flew amongst the guests. A representative from the CIA spoke up. “What happens when someone other than Allison tries to access the files?”

Logan was ready with the answer. “Think of my security measures as an elaborate sign-in platform linked to your existing IT system.” He paced as he explained. “Instead of the typical ‘user name and password,’ you connect each piece of the puzzle in a certain order you specify. Now, even if someone else discovers the sequence to unlock your data, the Invisi-Screen scans and reads your unique bio-imprint as you move the objects. If I press the image after Allison…”

Tags: Vanessa Waltz Billionaire Bodyguard Suspense