Tangled Vows

By: Stella Hunter

“Call me Everett, please.” His voice was deep and gruff, even more so than in his many movies. An unexpected shiver crawled up her spine at the sound. Now that was a voice any woman would dream of hearing whisper in her ear. Bailey started to understand for the first time why he was considered the sexiest man on earth.

Everett stepped forward and extended his hand to her. She glanced down at it before slowly extending her hand into his. Instead of the impersonal handshake she expected, he squeezed gently and placed his other hand on top, fully enclosing her smaller hand in both of his.

“Ms. Lennox. It is a true pleasure to meet you. I wanted to personally thank you for saving my ass at the movie premiere.”

The unexpected curse word jerked her attention back to his face, where she caught that famous grin of his. His shoulder-length hair was shaggy and mussed instead of its usual smooth appearance.

“It’s not every day you see that kind of dedication to a job,” he continued.

Bailey freed her hand from his before answering. “There’s no need to thank me. I was just doing what I had to do.” She turned back to her boss, who was still standing stiffly behind his desk, his fingertips resting on the surface. “What’s the situation that was so urgent?” Today was supposed to have been her day off, and all she wanted to do after her long week and even longer morning was get some sleep. As much as she could get with her nightmares returning.

Flanagan ran his hand over his buzz cut and sat heavily in his chair. He gestured at Bailey. “Ah, have a seat, Bay.”

A feeling a dread settled in the pit of her stomach. Whatever he had to say, she had a feeling she wasn’t going to like it. Slowly, she lowered herself into one of the two chairs in front of Flanagan’s desk. She noticed Parker didn’t take the other seat. Instead, he walked back over to the window and leaned against it until all she could make out from the incoming morning light was his silhouette.

“Why do I have the feeling I’m not going to like whatever this is?”

Flanagan grimaced. “Probably because you have good instincts,” he replied. “Mr. Parker here—”

“Everett,” Parker corrected.

Nodding, he continued. “Everett here has requested our services for an upcoming trip.” Bailey didn’t say anything but glanced at the imposing figure against the window again. When the pause became uncomfortable, Flanagan cleared his throat and said, “Specifically, he has requested you.”

“Me? Why?” Her eyes flicked between the two men, waiting for an answer.

Flanagan too glanced at Parker, as if hoping he would answer that question for himself. “Ah, that’s the thing,” he finally said. Bailey registered him shifting in his seat, and she knew he didn’t want to answer. Which, in turn, told her she wasn’t going to like whatever arrangement this was. “He is making a trip to his hometown, but it’s to be kept quiet. That means minimal security. But the threats against him have increased since the release of his latest movie.”

Bailey interrupted. “That still doesn’t explain why it should be me.”

This time Everett answered her question. “Because you’re the best. That’s what everyone tells me. And I only hire the best.”

His words did nothing to account for his personal presence here or Flanagan’s discomfort. She shook her head. “What else aren’t you telling me?”

Everett finally walked to remaining chair and sat down facing her. He leaned forward and put his elbows on his knees. “I’ll be visiting my family, who are pretty low-key people. My manager tells me my usual bodyguard isn’t sufficient, especially when he would have to sleep at the only motel in town, three miles away.” The dread in Bailey’s stomach began to spread out into her limbs, making her feel weak. She didn’t like where this conversation was going. “He and I compromised…I need someone who will be with me at all times.” His sexy grin was back in place on his face, but Bailey could see his eyes were serious. She began to wonder if he used that grin as a mask. “The only way that will be possible is if my family—and everyone else involved—is convinced that you are my girlfriend.”

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