“That’s my job,” he replied flatly.
“It’s more than that,” she said. “You pour yourself into every project you direct. You, above anyone, have the insight as to what level of security Mr. Olevette can achieve with the Elite System.”
Rick uncrossed his arms. “Well, the first thing we need to talk about is…”
She saw her chance to get out from under Rick’s microscope. A few paces away, she sighed in relief. Dodged that cranky bullet.
Guests were absorbed in investigating the rooms that sprouted off the main corridor. A collection of galleries displaying Stone Security’s awards, and pictures of Logan shaking hands with powerful people in high places. One room offered looping video feed to entertain guests with demos of other Stone Security systems. Another contained the hardwired circuitry laid bare for investigation, a rare insight into security system components. Another room was dedicated to the other side of his business, where Stone Security employed hundreds of bodyguards, most former military like Logan, contracted out to protect everyone from Hollywood starlets to Heads of State to International Ambassadors visiting the United States. Logan had put detail on each of his impressive guests as a courtesy. And to encourage attendance at his Elite System’s unveiling.
“Where did you sneak off to?” Logan’s voice drifted over her like liquid seduction.
Knowing Rick was nearby, she sidestepped Logan’s close proximity. “Since when do I need your permission to use the bathroom?”
“Since you keep finding excuses to avoid me.” His presence surrounded her as if she’d stepped into his embrace. Longing filled her, washing goose bumps over her flesh. She made the mistake of looking up. He captured her with those hot-cider eyes.
“Why should I avoid you?” The catch in her voice betrayed how he affected her.
“Good question. Let’s talk about it. Over a bottle of wine.”
A laugh bubbled from her chest. “We tried that once. We didn’t do much talking as I recall.”
An enticing grin curved his lips. “I didn’t hear you complaining.”
“It all happened so fast. I didn’t have time to think.”
He arched an eyebrow. “We were rolling around between the sheets for five hours and forty-three minutes before I had to catch my plane. That’s hardly fast , sweetheart.”
“You’re entitled to your opinion,” she countered with a teasing smile. “But thanks for keeping track.”
“Hey, you’re the one who fell asleep—twice. I had to find creative ways to wake you.”
She shivered with the memory of waking up to hot laps of his tongue between her thighs.
“Admit it. You couldn’t get enough.”
“Why mess with perfection and tempt fate twice?”
Copper lights sparked in his eyes. “Is that a challenge?”
She sent him a wary look. “I know better than to give you a challenge.”
“Too late.” He slid a fingertip along her jaw. “You just did.”
Wearing a smug grin, Logan turned and strolled toward his guests. He didn’t need a thermal scan to read Allison’s core body temp or a computer to gauge her rapid heart rate.
Attraction sizzled in his veins. He craved the hunt, the chase, the challenge. With Allison, he’d savor the moment of capture.
No one ignited him the way she did. He’d felt it the second he’d laid eyes on her across a crowded room at a security convention. He’d known it the moment he’d touched her. He wasn’t finished with her, not even close.
A hundred nights like the one they’d shared might take the edge off this hunger, but he doubted it. This mission was different, deeper than his previous conquests. That knowledge bothered him slightly, but there would be time later to investigate the persistent urge to throw her over his shoulder and carry her off to his bed—and keep her there.
“You two looked cozy.”
Logan turned at the waist to find Rick staring him down. “It’s about time you came out of your eighth-floor cave and joined my tour.”
“Don’t change the subject. You’re getting in over your head.”
Logan shoved his hands in his pockets. “No idea what you’re talking about.”
“Don’t play the idiot card with me, Stone. I know you better than anybody on this planet.”
“I know that look.”
“Not sure where you’re going with this,” Logan replied with irritation, knowing full well where Rick’s interrogation was leading.
Standing four inches shorter, Rick’s glare sharpened under the shelf of his brow. “ The look you give that woman every time she walks into the room.”
“ That woman is the reason we’ve tapped into the international market so fast. You could show her a little more respect.”
“I will when she gives me a reason. Haven’t found one yet.”
Defensiveness spiked Logan’s blood. “Since when do you shoot first and ask questions later?”
“Since you decided to mix business with pleasure.” Rick exhaled. “I don’t care where you dip your wick. But when it interferes with this company and your judgment, it affects me. So yeah, I have an issue.”
Logan warned, “Stay out of it.”
“Like hell I will.” A guest glanced at them. Rick lowered his voice. “I won’t stand by and watch you botch your career to pursue a woman. Again.”
A storm gathered inside Logan. “Don’t go there.”
“Someone’s got to remind you what’s at stake. Allison Dupree is a minefield, and you’re walking right into it. Need I mention Natalia?”
Icy tension seized Logan, chilling him to the bone. Any defense froze on his tongue, because Rick had been there. Had gone with him to accomplish the two-year undercover mission in Siberia. Had watched him fall head-over-combat-boots in lust with a woman who’d entranced him with her startling green eyes, seduced him with her made-for-sex body. She appealed to his protective instincts with her sob story about risking her life to feed his team information on Russian arms dealers.
He’d walked right into her trap—worst of all he’d pulled his team into the deadly crossfire. Natalia had turned out to be a Russian spy, and his team had barely made it out of there alive. The two-year operation had been compromised. So had U.S. intelligence. Logan’s decade-long military career had ended.