Home > The Protector(7)

The Protector(7)
Author: Jodi Ellen Malpas


I browse the few scattered canvases on my way, my nose turning up at the notorious businessman’s poor taste. They all look like a wish-wash of colors, splattered haphazardly. I’m sure my perception would be gasped at by art lovers, but I say what I see. And I see a mess.

As I raise my fist to knock on the solid mahogany door, I hear the curt demand, “Enter!” I pull my hand back and cast a look over my shoulder, seeing a camera mounted on the wall adjacent to his office door.

“Like Big fucking Brother,” I mutter, taking the handle and pushing my way in. I don’t know whether to be insulted or impressed to find him flanked by two apelike men.

“Afternoon,” I say pleasantly, flicking a trained eye to the huge beasts eyeing me warily.

Logan motions to a chair in front of his desk. “Take a seat, Sharp.”

Shutting the door softly, a calculated move to give his ape-men a false sense of security, I wander casually over, keeping my focus on Mr. Logan but capturing every detail of his office to memory.

Unfastening my suit jacket, I pull my trousers up a little at the knees and lower calmly into the chair. I don’t entertain the ape-boys with even a fleeting look. That would tell them I’m threatened by them. I’m not. All brawn and no brains. I bet neither could keep up a sprint for longer than five seconds.

“Pleasure,” I lie, relaxing back in my chair. The animosity that emanates from the two bruisers pierces my skin. They don’t like me. Good. I’m not here to be liked.

“Your reputation is impressive.” Logan picks up a file and flicks through, pretending to peruse what he expects me to believe is a pile of intel on me. I’m embarrassed on his behalf. There’s nothing in that file, but pointing it out to this idiot would be foolish. He’s paying me too well.

Play his game, Jake.

“I never fail.” There’s little point in being humble. My reputation really is impressive, and everyone worth their salt in security knows it. But that’s one of only a few limited details anyone knows about me. Everything else is classified.

He casts the useless file aside, standing from his chair. His photos do him no justice. He’s even uglier in the flesh. Camille Logan gets her looks from her mother, Logan’s second estranged wife, something I quickly discovered after a detailed search on her. Camille’s mother is a stunner, probably twenty years Logan’s junior. Wife number one, a modest ten years younger than him and mother to his son—Camille’s half-brother, TJ—was tossed aside for Camille’s mother. She fled the country for her native Russia after losing custody of TJ in a nasty court battle, leaving their son in the hands of his ruthless father.

I looked up TJ, too. Unlike Camille, he’s been unfortunate enough to inherit his father’s looks, rather than his beautiful Russian mother’s.

Now Trevor Logan, who is turning sixty later this month, is on wife number three, the woman he left Camille’s mother for. She’s even younger than Camille and TJ.

“You received the down payment?” Logan asks, strolling over to the window, his back to me.

“Yes,” I answer simply, avoiding thanking him for it. We need to establish an even working ground, and me expressing any gratitude doesn’t feature in that. “When do you want me to start?”

“Immediately.” He turns and motions an instruction to one of his men, who swiftly collects a file from Logan’s desk and brings it to me. “Everything you need to know about Camille is contained in that file.”

Ape Boy #1 holds it out, looming over me threateningly. Any normal man would stand to avoid being towered over. I’m no normal man. I reach for the file and rest my fingertips on the end, waiting for any sign that he’s going to release it. There’s no sign, no hint that he intends to hand it over willingly. He wants me to tug, just so I can feel his resistance. I lock eyes with him, but I don’t feed his ego. I keep my fingers poised where they are and wait. I’m not backing down, and it doesn’t look like he will either. We could be here a long time.

“Grant!” Logan barks, obviously detecting the animosity. “Give him the flaming file, for crying out loud!”

Grant relinquishes his hold in a flash, like a scared cat, letting me have the file. I don’t relish in my victory. That would put me at a level equal to these two idiots. I rest the file on my lap and have a brief flick through.

“My daughter is very precious to me,” Logan says.

I don’t look at him, not because I’m absorbing the information before me, but because Logan has taken it upon himself to include a wealth of family photographs of his daughter, ranging from when she was a baby to now, and none of which I’ve already seen on the Internet. She’s always been a stunner. My eyes freeze on a shot of her exiting a club. The date displays October 2015, and she looks totally wasted. The ex. This is a paparazzi shot. How much did Logan pay to keep it out of the press? Whatever, it was wasted money. There are plenty more like these on the Web, all showing his daughter looking wasted and all in the company of her drug addict ex-boyfriend. On a grimace, I snap the file shut and give Logan my attention.

“So why exactly are you hiring me?” I ask. I know why I’m here, but the information was sketchy. I need to know more.

“To protect my daughter.”

“What does she need protecting from, Mr. Logan? Has there been a threat?”

“Your services are a precautionary measure.”

Precautionary? I don’t believe him. I’m a very expensive precaution. “You’re going to have to give me a little more than that,” I say flatly, tossing the file back on his desk, ignoring his shocked look. I’m guessing not many people tell this man how things are going to be.

“I’ve hired you as private security. Your job is to protect my daughter.”

“From what, Mr. Logan?” I grate, rare frustration creeping up on me. The man’s a dick. “The more information I have, the better I’ll be at my job.”

He huffs and waves a hand in the air to one of the giants flanking his desk. “Show him.”

I watch as one of the men takes a white envelope from the desk and passes it over, this time with no signs of resistance. He’s a fast learner. I take it and slide out the unfolded paper, finding a picture of Camille with four letters typed beneath her face.

D.E.A.D.

 

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