One Night With Her BodyguardBy: Noelle Adams
Claire Kenyon was getting a second cup of coffee when Michael barged into her apartment without knocking.
She’d finished her first cup in the process of dressing, so she wore nothing but a black bra and little red cotton panties.
She choked in surprise at the sight of Michael Lyle where he wasn’t supposed to be.
He was big—more than six inches taller than her with a broad-shouldered, athletic build—and he seemed to take up all the room in her small kitchen. He wore his normal outfit of dark trousers and a dress shirt.
“Hey! What the hell are you—”
Before she could finish the outraged exclamation, Michael had pushed her backward into the pantry.
His icy blue eyes were dead serious. “Don’t move. Stay here.”
Then he shut the pantry door in her face.
Michael had been the head of her father’s personal security team for almost six years. She hadn’t lived with her father since she was twenty-one, but she was over at his place a lot, so she’d known Michael for a long time. She’d seen him more often than usual for the last two months, ever since her father had received a threat aimed at her and had ordered his team to watch her around the clock.
Being an extreme introvert, Claire was often tongue-tied around people she didn’t know, but she hadn’t been shy around Michael for years. In fact, she’d been known to bark like an obedient dog when he told her to “stay” in that curt way.
She didn’t this morning. His expression—invariably stoic—was tenser than normal, and he had a gun in his hand.
Something was wrong.
Her pantry was a walk-in, but there wasn’t a lot of extra room. It was also pitch black, since the light switch was on the outside.
She didn’t particularly like to be trapped in small, dark places, but fortunately claustrophobia wasn’t one of her neuroses. She could handle the lack of light and space. What she couldn’t handle was knowing there was danger somewhere out there but having no idea what it was.
She was trembling ten minutes later when Michael finally opened the door.
She blinked several times as her eyes adjusted to the light. When she could see clearly, her gaze landed on Michael’s clean-shaven, square-jawed face and his ever-unrevealing expression.
His eyes scanned her closely as she squinted up at him.
She assumed he was just checking her condition, but she was uncomfortably aware that she was still just wearing her underwear.
He turned around without speaking and left the kitchen. In someone else, the abrupt departure might indicate rudeness, but Michael was just being himself.
He never spoke unless he had something to say. It was a quality she appreciated in him.
When he returned, she snatched for the fuzzy snowflake robe he’d brought her from the bathroom.
“Remember, I’m just part of the furniture,” he murmured, avoiding looking at her until she’d tied the robe closed.
That was his refrain—whenever she complained to him that a member of the security team was hovering or that she needed more space. They were part of the furniture, he always told her, and she should treat them as such.
She wanted to snarl every time she heard it.
“I don’t care if you saw me in my underwear,” she said. “Just tell me what’s going on.” Her voice was a little wobbly since she hadn’t yet caught her breath.
“Everything is fine. No emergency.” He poured coffee into the mug she’d left on the counter earlier, added the cream, and handed it to her.
She held it with both hands as she took a sip, the liquid warm and comforting as she swallowed. Then, “Well, what did you think was the matter that caused you to stick me in the pantry?”
He put a hand on her back and pushed her out of the kitchen and into the dining area, where he pulled out a chair for her at the table.
She sat because her knees were a little shaky. Not because he’d bossed her into it.
“Tell me what the hell is going on,” she demanded as he sat down across from her.
There had been a time when she’d hated Michael more than anyone else she knew. She’d believed he was cold, pushy, obnoxious, and utterly heartless.
Now she just thought he was pushy and sometimes obnoxious. She didn’t hate him anymore.