“You could always bake a pie.” Devon grinned, recalling her friend’s Thanksgiving blunder that nearly ended in a call to the fire department. “Just make sure Sammy’s out of the house first.”

“Thanks.” Allison narrowed her eyes. “You’re all heart.”

“Just trying to help.”

“Yeah, right.” Allison cracked a smile. She plopped Sammy down on the floor, sat cross-legged beside him, and handed him plastic shapes to fit into a box with matching holes. “I haven’t seen you in ages, I’m glad you came by. You said you have news.”

“So did you.”

“You go first,” Allison insisted. “I need a few minutes to collect my scattered brain cells. Maybe then I can have a coherent adult conversation.”

When Sammy tossed several plastic shapes across the room and then crawled around to retrieve them, Devon snorted. “Never a dull moment.”

“Not a single one. Though I do miss them occasionally.” Allison gave her a verbal nudge. “So?”

“Well, the opportunity came out of the blue,” Devon admitted. “A recruiter called me several months ago, wondering if I’d be interested in a position at ActionNet. It’s a well-respected company that produces some of the most popular online PvP games in the industry.”

“Explain in non-tech speak, please.” Allison followed Sammy to another spot on the floor and helped him stack alphabet blocks.

“Player versus player, involving elaborate gaming scenarios. They have a position open for Director of Development. It’s a little out of my realm of experience, but they said they’ve been interested in my career and skill set for some time. They want me to join their company.”

“That’s exciting.” Allison sat forward. “What did you tell them?”

“I had an initial interview three weeks ago, and it went well.” Maybe well was an understatement. She’d nailed the interview, had great rapport with both owners, and the opportunity seemed too good to pass up. They’d all but offered her the position, and she believed they would make the offer concrete when she met with them again. “They called me to set up a second interview sometime in the next week or so, but I’ve been so crazy with the servers going down, I didn’t have a chance to check my schedule and set a firm date to meet with them.”

“Does Trey Soren know about this?”

Devon shook her head. “No, I didn’t mention anything to him, and I realize Soren Security needs me.” More than ever since the hacker struck. “Lately, though, I’ve had this itch to leave the corporate world. I’m thirty-three. I’ve busted my butt for ten years, living and breathing my work. Part of me is desperate to slow down, to reconsider where I see myself in the future.”

Allison cocked her head. “Your version of slowing down is multitasking ten things instead of twenty. You thrive when things are hectic.”

“I know,” Devon admitted. “But it would be nice to infuse more creativity into my work. To have a say in products that go directly to consumers who have the same interests as I do. Compare that to the work I do now, completely behind the scenes where nobody understands or realizes how I impact their world.”

“Makes sense. I can see the appeal.”

“I want to be part of something people actually enjoy. Sure, I love the challenge of this job, but it gets tedious after a while. I want a little more fun and a little less stress.”

Allison grinned. “You could try dating. That’ll give you more excitement.”

Devon crossed her arms. “Considering what happened last time, I think I’ll pass.”

“You deserve to find happiness in a good relationship,” Allison encouraged gently. “One recent bad experience can’t take you off the market forever.”

“Not forever. Just for now.”

“You’ve been saying that for over a year.”

Devon retreated behind defensiveness. “It’s amazing how going on an innocent date with a man who tells you everything you want to hear—then drugs you and ties you up in the back of a van—shatters your faith.”

“I’m so sorry, Devon.” Allison’s expression of guilt and pain struck Devon through the heart. Allison didn’t deserve any blame. She couldn’t have known her psychotic ex-husband would use Devon to get to her. Trevor had blindsided them both with his cruelty and obsession with Allison. “I guess I feel responsible for what happened. I’m also your friend, and I want so much for you to find what I’ve found with Logan.”

“Talking about me again?” Logan asked as he strolled from the hallway into the cavernous room. His light brown eyes glinted with amusement. Droplets from his damp hair dripped onto his white t-shirt. A towel draped around his hips.

Devon shook her head, amused rather than embarrassed, because Logan was like a big brother to her. “You left your modesty in the shower.”

He scratched his head. “Yeah, well, I seem to have misplaced my—”

Sammy howled with abandon as he took an uncoordinated swan-dive off the back of the couch onto the cushions. Caught up in conversation, she hadn’t even realized Sammy had disappeared. Then Sammy wiggled off the couch and ran pell-mell toward Logan with a suspicious garment attached to his head.

Allison gasped. “Logan, is that your underwear?”

Devon let out a burst of laughter.

Logan shrugged. “Well, that answers my question. I’ve found what I was looking for. Come here, little man.”

Allison covered her face with her hands. “This is so embarrassing. At least they’re just boxers.”

“Yeah, my Speedo was in the wash.” Logan winked at his wife. He scooped up his son and held him like a football. Sammy squealed with laughter. “You think that’s funny, huh, bud?” Logan plucked the underwear off his kid’s head. He said to Devon, “We’re hoping therapy will prevent him from riding the short bus later in life.”

Allison rolled her eyes. “Charming, Logan.”

“C’mon, buddy, we’ll let the ladies finish their conversation in peace.” Logan carted Sammy off down the hallway, blowing raspberries against his son’s bare belly. The boy’s joyous giggles echoed through the house. Such a happy child. So completely loved.

Devon’s heart gave a tiny flutter of longing. Dampness pricked her eyes, and she blinked it away.


Tags: Vanessa Waltz Billionaire Bodyguard Suspense
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