“Have you told her that?”

“I think so.” Logan slapped his palms on the granite counter. “I don’t know. You think you’re doing things right until she tells you you’re not.”

“Welcome to the rodeo. Step right up, you’ve got yourself a permanent front row seat.”

“Can I get a refund?”

Rick chuckled. “Doesn’t work like that, man.”

“She talked about needing to compromise. Then she accused me of stifling her, keeping her caged. What the hell?”

“I’ll interpret. Compromise means meeting her halfway, each person gives one-hundred percent. Not one person giving fifty-percent and the other giving one-fifty. Without balance, the whole thing collapses.”

“Yeah, she mentioned something about balance,” Logan muttered. “And then I opened my big mouth and accused her of running like she always does.”

“Ouch.”

“Not my finest moment, but I was right.”

“That keeping you warm at night?”

“No. Asshole.”

“There’s more to life than being right.”

Logan shook his head. “I can’t figure out why she’s so mad at me for protecting her.”

“Women are funny that way. They want the big, strong, macho type. But they also want us to go against those instincts and give them their single-girl independence, too. A fine line to walk. Not for the faint of heart.”

“I guess I failed. She’s gone.” Logan drained his beer in three chugs.

Rick pulled a Swiss Army knife from his pocket, went to the fridge and cracked open two more bottles. “What can you do to change that?”

“No clue.”

“There’s got to be something. And it needs to be big enough to take her trigger finger off her usual coping mechanism. You need to convince her to stay instead of run.”

Logan accepted the beer Rick handed him. “There may be one thing, though I don’t know if I can do it.” He thought for a long moment. “What sent her over the edge was finding out about the detail following her.”

“Oh, man. You didn’t tell her up front?” When Logan shook his head, Rick went silent. Logan’s thoughts twisted into a thousand knots. Then Rick spoke quietly. “Put yourself in her place. She has this brutal run-in with her ex, who’s notorious for lying, manipulating and stalking her. Then you do the same type of thing by getting one of your guys to spy on her.”

“It’s not the same thing,” Logan denied fiercely.

“In her mind it is. She trusted you to take care of her. You went a step further. A step she wasn’t prepared to handle.”

“That step saved her life.”

“At what cost to your relationship?”

Logan cursed, raking a hand through his hair. “You know the authorities haven’t found Trevor yet.”

“You have more to prove to her than him.”

After a ferocious internal debate, he finally picked up his phone. “David, hey it’s Logan. Operation Allison is over.”

After he hung up, he stared at his phone. “I hope I don’t regret that.”

“If it proves you’re willing to meet her part-way, and it gets Allison back, I don’t see how you could.”

Logan had never experienced this level of anxiety knifing through him. But he’d made the choice, the step. For her. “Let’s hope you’re right.”

*

When Allison woke Saturday morning, she felt groggy and out of sorts. She hadn’t slept well Thursday night or last night, and it was taking a toll. Hoping a shower might lift her mood she put her feet into slippers, slid on a robe and meandered down the hall to Devon’s guest bath.

It was strange, getting used to this new awareness of her pelvis. She’d “popped” a little, as Devon termed it. There was a little bulge in her abdomen now. She was happy to see proof of the small being growing inside her. She and Devon had Googled Stages of Fetal Development . She’d spent awe-inspiring hours reading articles and gazing at pictures online of a baby’s growth from conception to birth. At ten weeks, her child was the size of a corn nut, Devon determined, yet had already developed all its internal organs, fingers, fingerprints and toes. And somewhere in there, a tiny heartbeat pulsed with life. Hope. Promise.

Wistful, she let the hot water pelt her skin as she showered. She missed the master bath spa at Logan’s. How he often followed her into the shower. She’d enjoyed watching soap suds skim down his hard body. She remembered how good it felt when he massaged her with exfoliating scrub, caressing from her neck to her toes.

Before the two weeks he’d confined her and lorded over her every move. Before she’d discovered the secret he’d kept from her. Before he told her to never come back.

With a heart-heavy sigh, she stepped from the shower and toweled dry then hauled on a black sweater and a pair of jeans. The jeans were a bit snug. But she wasn’t about to go to Logan’s and grab a change a clothes. It would be too hard to leave again, and insulting to his insistence she not return. Unlike him, she respected people’s needs and boundaries.

She should probably think about where to go next. The idea of returning to her former dingy apartment made her stomach turn. She didn’t want to live in those conditions with her baby’s health and safety her foremost concern. And she wanted to stay in Denver, despite the high cost of living and her aversion to staying in one place. Trevor was already here, and the authorities would catch him sooner or later.

She’d finally made friends, carved out a life for herself here. The first and only place she’d ever considered home .

“Hey, early bird.” Devon’s voice filled the hall. “What are you doing up? It’s Saturday.”

Allison paused at the top of the staircase. “Couldn’t sleep.”

“Again?”

She nodded. “I’m going down to make coffee.”

“You have the best ideas. I’ll be down in a bit.”

Some of Allison’s ideas were better than others. She was regretting packing her bags so impulsively. The last thing Logan had said before their blowout was Allison, we need to talk . Maybe she should’ve let him, before she walked away. But the realization of what he’d done behind her back, and her panic attack, had been too much to handle. She’d needed space. Or so she’d thought. Maybe what she needed to do was to stick around, and attempt to work it out.


Tags: Vanessa Waltz Billionaire Bodyguard Suspense
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