Allison landed in the booth across from Devon. She felt defeated.

Devon offered a sympathetic look. “I take it he hasn’t improved in the last hour.”

“Not even close.”

They ordered lunch. Allison handed her menu to the server and slumped in the padded booth. “I don’t know what to do.”

“Then don’t do anything.” Devon slid off her straw wrapper and sipped her diet soda. “Let it pass. No relationship is perfect all the time.”

“I can handle imperfection. I was married to Trevor, for God’s sake. A homeless bum would be an improvement over that.”

“Um, I wouldn’t mention that to Logan.”

Allison gave a half-hearted laugh. “I don’t mean to sound ungrateful for all he’s done. Because of him, I feel a sense of safety and security I never had before. But he’s going too far. I mean, he berated me for going outside, five feet from the house.”

“Well, you know there’s been a rise in killer snowflakes recently.”

Allison smiled faintly. “That’s my point. I’m all for caution. Especially with Trevor still out there—”

“They haven’t found him yet?” Devon looked as disturbed as Allison felt.

“No.” Her spirits sank further. “Nothing yet.”

“That’s not good.”

“But it’s no reason for Logan to treat me like a captive in my own life.”

Devon’s features softened. “You know he’s just worried. Logan’s not good at worrying. He sees a problem, he solves it. Sitting this one out is probably taking a nasty toll on him, as much as you.”

“But he won’t talk about it.”

“Of course not.” Devon stared as if Allison said she wanted to squeeze orange juice from an avocado.

“You’re probably right,” Allison groused. “Still, honest communication would help. At least if he admitted what his frustration is really about, he wouldn’t direct it toward me.”

Devon stabbed the ice in her soda with her straw. “Don’t hold your breath.”

“How can we build a strong, healthy relationship when he can’t even tell me what’s really bothering him?”

“Hmm. You might need Dr. Phil for that one.”

“So we stand a better chance of getting on a national TV talk show than resolving this on our own.”

“Not necessarily,” Devon stated carefully.

“I’m open to suggestions.”

“Like I said, ride it out.”

“That’s the best you can do?” Allison asked exasperated.

“Hey, I’m a software engineer. ‘If this, then that’ coding scenarios all day long. I do linear and logical. Matters of the heart aren’t my forte, but I’m a half-decent listener.”

“I know. Thank you. It’s not your problem. I’m sorry to dump this on you.”

“Just call me the Problem Dumpster.” She grinned. “Load me up.”

Allison already felt better having vented her frustration. Lunch arrived, and she dug into her turkey-bacon wrap with pesto mayo, and a side of loaded fries.

Across from her, Devon picked at her chef salad. They ate in companionable silence. She was so glad she’d met Devon. Their friendship was irreplaceable.

As she reached for the plastic ketchup bottle, she absently glanced out the window. She stopped mid-squeeze. A man in a dark suit stood beside a car with tinted windows. She’d never forget that face, lean, angular and solemn. His appearance matched that of the man who’d come to her rescue in the underground garage. The same man who’d stood guard outside her door at the hospital.

“Oh, my God.”

“What is it?” Devon looked up, on alert. “Is Trevor here?”

“No, not Trevor.” Flashes of memories pulled together and congealed. She’d seen him before the encounter with Trevor. He’d often passed her in the hallways of Stone Security. Rode the elevator with her on numerous occasions. Left work at the same time she did. She even recalled him standing at the edge of the lobby when she encountered the inundation of gardenias. And hadn’t she seen him sitting in an unmarked car parked on the street near Logan’s driveway?

How had she not made the connection until now?

She dropped her fork. The clatter drew the attention of diners around them. “Devon. I’ve been followed.”

Devon’s eyes widened. “Trevor sent someone after you?”

“Not Trevor. Logan .”

“Okay, you lost me.”

“I can’t believe it. Logan’s had me followed. This whole time…”

“I need a little more to go on.”

“I don’t.” Allison had all the proof she needed that Logan didn’t trust her.

Trevor had done the same thing, hiring PIs to track her down, watching her every move. Waiting for her to slip up, let her guard down, so he could gain control. No matter how many evasive moves she conjured to trip him up, Trevor always found her. A predator—lurking, watching, waiting for the moment to strike.

Panic consumed her with swift, brutal force. Her heart pounded. Needles prickled across every nerve ending. Dizzy, the walls closing in, she shoved her plate away. She lunged from the booth toward the door. She raced outside, gasping for air. She needed space, openness. She could run if necessary, to escape confinement. Anything to make these horrible sensations go away.

When she exited the restaurant, the man in the suit turned toward her alertly. She grabbed her stomach. Lurching to the brick side of the restaurant, she clutched the wall and threw up. Her legs shook. Sweat broke across her brow. She just wanted it to stop. Please, stop .

A soft hand rubbed her back. “It’s okay, Allison. You’ll be alright.”

Devon’s words mirrored those of the man in the parking lot, when he’d carried her away from her confrontation with Trevor. “No.” She shook her head, holding her stomach to keep from losing more of her lunch. “It’s not okay. Call Logan.”

Within minutes, Logan swung his SUV up to the side of the restaurant.

“I don’t know what happened.” Devon’s concerned words accompanied Allison’s unsteady climb into the passenger seat. “I swear, Logan. One minute things were fine. The next, she went into a full-blown panic attack.”

“I’ve got it, Devon. Thanks.”

Her friend shut the door and Logan pulled into traffic. The congested streets ratcheted up her anxiousness. She slapped her hand over her mouth to keep from retched in his car. She hit the button to lower the window. Sweet, beautiful, moving wind hit her face.


Tags: Vanessa Waltz Billionaire Bodyguard Suspense
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