“Anything for you, Miss Leigh.” He blinked twice, flushed, and left her in the server room. Alone with Trey.
As far as bosses went, she liked Trey immensely. He gave her equal amounts of freedom and support, and that was rare. Unlike Logan Stone, who’d needed to know and control every detail before he approved her management decisions, Trey gave her his blessing and let her results speak for themselves. While he left no doubt that he was the ringmaster, the one in ultimate control, he gave her a wide circle to perform whatever technological acrobatics she believed best benefited the company.
But with one incredible kiss, he’d knocked her equilibrium off-balance. Not that she was complaining…she just had no idea where she stood on the line between personal and professional interaction. She didn’t know what to think. And this was not the time to have her thoughts scattered to the wind.
She held up a hand to stop him from speaking. About their kiss. About the server catastrophe. About how unsteady she felt even as she savored the remnants of his taste. About anything she had no solid answers to give. She needed to gather herself and deal with this very serious breach. “Later, Trey. Right now there are four back-up servers calling my name. They’re cranky about this whole thing and so am I.”
“Sure. Do what you have to do. We’ll set up a meeting for tomorrow. I want to know your thoughts on all of this.”
Them or the hacker? The hacker, she’d figure out—years of experience would see to it. But them? There couldn’t be a “them,” even if her body ached for more of his touch. She worked for him and his family, and besides, she had plans that didn’t involve a relationship or staying in Denver. She glanced at his lips. Oh, but she’d love another taste of his skillful mouth.
“I’ll keep you posted,” she said, then exited in a rush, lost as to how he’d unplugged the rational part of her brain along with three floors of servers.
The next day, Trey stood at the head of the oval table in their sixth floor conference room. Fortunately, the press conference had gone well. But things were far from back to normal.
“Our business is security,” he stated. “If we promise that to our customers physically, with bodyguards, we’d better provide that same level of protection to their confidential information as well as to our own assets. I vote we give Devon’s IT department the five hundred thousand she requested months ago. A small price to pay, considering the alternative.”
Cade nodded. Trey couldn’t read Adam or Liam’s expressions. His cousins hadn’t been there to suffer the nerve-racking stress.
“We can’t afford technical breaches damaging what we’ve worked so hard for. The cost is nothing compared to what we’ll lose if we don’t take enhanced security measures.”
“Agreed,” Cade said, still looking weary from yesterday’s near-meltdown.
Liam lifted a shoulder. “I guess.”
Adam gave Trey the stink-eye and crossed his arms. “No.”
Suppressing the urge to shake sense into his obstinate, cynical cousin, Trey forced himself to stay calm. They weren’t badass bounty hunters anymore who used their fists to solve disputes. “Why’s that?”
“We’ve been bleeding money left and right since we bought this thing last year. It’s stupid. We never dealt with overhead bullshit in the bounty hunter business.”
“And we haven’t sent anyone working for us to the hospital or the morgue, either,” Trey replied coolly. He refused to bury another family member or employee.
Adam’s biceps tightened beneath his leather jacket. “Our guys knew the risks—part of the deal in our line of work.”
Trey looked at him levelly. “Not anymore.”
“I noticed,” Adam grumbled. “Now we stuff ourselves into suits and sit on our asses all day.”
The only one in a suit was Trey. Cade wore tailored gray pinstripe pants and a matching vest over his button-down. Liam wore holey jeans a t-shirt that said Save a Horse, Ride a Cowboy. Adam had on his usual black jeans, black shirt and black leather coat despite the eighty-degree July weather. And none of them had been sitting on their asses for the past twenty-four hours. “I never enforced a dress code, though to look at you maybe I should. I’ve also never heard you whine about your limitless credit card or the balance in your bank account.”
“I don’t care about the money,” Adam snapped.
“Isn’t that why you’re voting no?”
Adam set his fists on the conference table. “If Devon couldn’t prevent this shit-storm in the first place, why should we give her half-a-mil?”
“Adam has a point.” Liam nodded, infuriating Trey. Didn’t his cousins understand that five hundred thousand was nothing compared to the billions they had on the line?
“Why aren’t you guys getting it?” Cade exploded. “This is now a publically traded company. We not only have customers and employees we’re responsible for, we also have shareholders with financial expectations tied to our success.”
Trey stepped in to support Cade’s defense, addressing his cousins. “Do you two have any idea how much we’re worth?”
Liam shrugged. Adam yawned.
“By the end of this year, the Wall Street Journal has estimated our net worth at a billion dollars.”
“Christ.” Liam’s eyes bulged. “How many zeroes is that?”
“More than we ever would’ve seen in three lifetimes as bounty hunters,” Cade retorted.
“It puts us in league with the big boys,” Trey stated. “We’re not a mom-and-pop shop in a strip mall. This is serious business, and we need to get serious about our security. We start by giving Devon’s IT proposal the green light.”
Adam tilted his head at a cocky angle. “I still say no.”
Trey weighed his options and came to a decision. “I’ll arm wrestle you. I win, Devon gets her money.”
“Deal,” Adam said with a gleam in his eye.
“Seriously? Honest to God.” Cade threw up his hands. “You have my vote, Trey. I’m out of here.” He shoved his chair back from the conference table and strode from the room.
Liam sat forward and grinned. “I’m staying.”
Like Cade, Trey was over the need to equate brute force with success. When he pulled his family out of Las Vegas and the reckless lifestyle of bounty hunting, he knew Adam would require the longest adjustment period.