“So it’s is personal.” Trey’s hackles rose and his jaw clenched. Some super nerd had invaded his company, turned his tech department into a war zone, and put Devon in a vulnerable position at the center of his raid. Trey needed to know one thing. “Is this guy dangerous?”
She shrugged. “Do I think he’ll come after me with an oozie? No, not likely. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of inflicting serious damage.” She paused then gave a decisive nod. “I know what I need to do.”
Waves of tension traveled over his tight muscles. “I’m listening.”
“I need to redirect his attention away from the company. I’m planning to set up an interaction with him on my own, at my house, to put his attention on me, not Soren Security.”
“I don’t like this,” Trey said darkly. He slashed his hand through the air. “No. Forget it.”
She stared at him as if “no” was a foul word. “Excuse me?”
“I won’t let you take unnecessary risks.”
Her eyes snapped with challenge. “Who are you to forbid me to do anything?”
“I’m your boss. The guy who signs your paychecks. The man responsible for your safety.”
“My safety? Since when?”
Since I started falling for you the day we met. “This is a work-related issue ,” he insisted. “If this guy wants to mess with me and my company, I’ll bring the fight to him. Right beside you.”
“Trey, I can handle this.”
“I’m sure you can. But you’re not doing it alone.”
She crossed her arms. “Okay, I’ll have one of my guys sit in on the exchange.”
“No. It’s my company. I want to be there.”
She blinked. “The whole time?”
“As long as it takes.”
Suspicion clouded her eyes as she peered at him. “This is way beneath your pay grade and job description.”
“As an owner of the company, my job description is whatever I make it. I’m overseeing your sting. Don’t fight me on this. You won’t win.” But he would. And while he had her alone, he’d find a way to convince her that the two of them had something between them. Something that deserved exploring.
“Fine. God, you’re stubborn.” The icy glare she sent him could freeze lava.
He didn’t care.
What she’d proposed could go from innocent to dangerous within a few lines of code. This hacker-stalker had crossed a serious line. If the guy went this far to get Devon’s attention, no telling what other ethical or moral lines he’d cross if he caught Devon alone and defenseless.
Trey operated a bodyguard business—he could sure as hell protect her himself. He’d failed to save his dad. He wouldn’t fail a second time to defend someone who needed him.
He glanced at his watch. “When should I be at your place?”
“Whoa, easy there tiger. This kind of thing takes time.”
“The sooner we drag him out of his geek hole and into the open, the better.”
She rubbed her temples. “I guess I could have my home system ready to trace him by tomorrow night.”
“Do you need tomorrow off? Consider it done.”
She set her hands on her hips. “I’m up to my eyeballs in support tickets that need to be addressed before the weekend. A Friday off isn’t happening anytime soon.”
“Let me know if you need my help.” Protective concern clenched in his gut. “I mean it. Anything.” He stroked her cheek with his thumb.
“I can handle myself,” she murmured, her gaze softening at his touch. When she leaned in, he couldn’t resist tracing the edge of her lower lip with his thumb. Her breath quickened. Her lips parted. He edged closer, needing to taste her, needing to—
She froze, blinked, and retreated. With regret, Trey let his hand fall to his side. “I’ll see you tomorrow night, then.”
“Sure.” She lifted a shoulder as if she didn’t care one way or another.
He wondered why she pretended their mutual attraction didn’t ping-pong in the air between them whenever they were in a room together. The way she couldn’t meet his eyes was a dead giveaway. For a woman so in control, she wore her emotions surprisingly close to the surface. At least around him. From the looks of it, maybe he had affected her. The notion gave him a shot of encouragement. Being in close quarters at her house all evening on a Friday night resembled a date. Maybe the closest he’d get to one without asking her and giving her the chance refuse him.
When it came to Devon, he wouldn’t be denied.
Devon cringed as sticky little hands clung to her skirt.
“Up! Up!” Sammy hollered with a popsicle-stained grin.
Devon scooped up her friend Allison’s baby boy, who patted her cheeks and blew her a kiss. She melted under his innocent charm. “If you’re trying to win me over, kiddo, you already succeeded. The day you were born.”
“Hang on, Devon. I’ll be right there,” Allison promised from across the kitchen, then continued her distracted phone call with a caterer.
Devon carried Sammy from the kitchen to the sprawling great room. She glanced at the toys scattered on the floor, wondering what to do with him. She’d been an only child and had few interactions with small children. She was terrified that if she accidentally dropped him, he’d break.
Bouncing Sammy against her hip, she went to the two-story windows that overlooked the Stone family’s beautifully manicured acreage. Their new in-ground pool was nearly complete, just in time for the hottest days of summer. She pointed at the birds winging from branch to branch in the Japanese maple tree. “Can you say Blue Jay?”
“Boo. Boo-da. Boo-day,” he mimicked.
“Not bad.” She tapped his nose and smiled. She couldn’t believe he’d turned a year old already. He was getting big, she realized, shifting his weight to her other hip. “Who said you could grow up so fast?”
He babbled and squirmed, so she took a seat on the large wrap-around couch at the center of the room. She perched him on her knee.
That lasted about three seconds.
Sammy squirmed and squealed. Devon gave up her attempt to hold him still. The second his toes touched the floor he was off and running like a miniature daredevil.
Allison ended her call and intercepted Sammy before he reached Devon’s purse in the foyer. “Sorry about that. Next weekend is Logan’s birthday, and I’ve been trying to work out the menu and delivery time with the caterer.”