“All right, Columbo, I get where you’re going with this.” Adam shook his head at her reasoning.

She was probably right, but it didn’t negate the fact that he didn’t like bringing her out in the open. He put the truck into park and turned toward her. “You sure you want to do this?”

“If you didn’t want to help, then you didn’t have to come with me.”

He grunted in response. Even if he hadn’t been hired to protect her, nothing could have kept him from going with her.

She hooked her purse on her shoulder and slid from the vehicle. He gave the parking lot a quick once-over as they walked toward the building. No one had followed them but he hated how open everything was, how exposed Izzy was making herself. The guy kidnapping those women hadn’t killed anyone but it was possible Izzy had pissed him off and he didn’t want to simply take her. He might just want her dead. The attack on her in daylight hours had shaken him more than her apparently.

She looked at him with questioning eyes when they stood in front of the door. “Ready?”

He nodded as she knocked on the door and attempted to ignore what her scent did to him.

Shifting his feet, he tried to think of anything but her. And failed miserably. She had a citrusy, almost exotic smell, but after the morning they’d shared, he knew some of what he was experiencing was the smell of sex.

Izzy nudged him with her hip, breaking him out of his thoughts, and grinned. “Quit looking at me like that,” she whispered.

“Like what?”

“You know what.  Try and control yourself until we’re through here.”

He leaned down until he was an inch from her ear. “No promises.”

Her brown eyes darkened at his words. She opened that perfect mouth to say something when the door swung open.

He stifled a groan and turned toward their interruption. It was the brunette girl they’d helped the other night. And she recognized them.

“Oh my gosh, it’s you guys! Thank you so much for stopping by. Please come in.” Still in her pajamas, the girl they knew only as Andrea opened her door and stood back.

They followed her into her living room where clothes and purses were strewn everywhere. Even the treadmill had shirts hanging on it. She plopped down on a purple beanbag chair and motioned to the futon/couch. “I’m Andrea Barclay by the way.”

“Izzy,” she said as she sat. She placed her purse by the coffee table, which was covered with empty pizza boxes.

“I’m Adam.” He shifted on the uncomfortable seat and tried to ignore the nauseating whiff of stale food.

“I’ve been meaning to stop by and see you to say thanks, but I’ve been sort of staying in since what happened.”

Izzy crossed her legs and smiled. “I completely understand. Did your friend ever take you to the hospital?”

“Yes, and they found traces of GHB in my system. I spoke to the cops who took my statement, but I haven’t heard anything since.”

She shrugged and crossed her legs Indian-style.

Adam was quiet as Izzy quickly launched into what had happened to her earlier that day, including the phone call from yesterday. He was surprised by Izzy’s honesty, but maybe she had the right idea. By the time she was through, Andrea’s face had paled considerably.

“I can’t believe that. If anything happened to you because of your help, I’d never forgive myself.” Andrea sat up straighter and wrapped her arms around herself.

Izzy pulled the big sketch pad out of her purse.

“I was wondering if you could remember anything from that night. Like what he looked like.”

“The night is really fuzzy, especially after you helped me get home, but I’ve seen the guy before.”

“You have?”

She nodded. “Yeah. I didn’t realize it until last night. I had a nightmare and when I woke it hit me that I’ve seen him before at a few different bars when I’ve been out with my girlfriends. He’s really weird, always sitting by himself. And always staring at me. If he hadn’t stared so much, I might not have remembered him. I wish I’d remembered earlier. I know I need to tell the police, I’ve just been too freaked out to leave my place.”

“This might sound weird, but do you think you could describe him and let me draw him?”

“Uh, yeah… Are you working with the cops?”

Izzy shook her head. “No, but after what happened, I can’t just sit around and do nothing.”

Andrea smiled and stood. “You want to use our kitchen table? It’s got a flatter surface.”

“That was impressive Izzy,” Adam said as he started the ignition to his truck.

Her face turned a delectable shade of pink as she mumbled, “Thanks.”

For the last hour she’d questioned Andrea about the smallest details of the man’s features, and now she had a possible sketch of the guy the police were looking for. His only concern had been her safety, but she was out here trying to bring down some maniac all by herself.

Since he’d met her, she’d done nothing but surprise him. It was his own personal prejudices, but he’d assumed she’d be a spoiled princess defying her rich daddy by trying to “make it” on her own, then run back home when things got tough. But ever since he’d known her, she’d worked her ass off at the bar and had done nothing but give and give to everyone around her.

If his grandmother could see him now she’d probably roll over in her grave. She’d taught him not to judge people based on where they came from, but he’d done exactly that. What had he been thinking making that kind of deal with Ballantine? He was afraid if he told Izzy the truth now she’d kick him out of her life. He couldn’t afford that. And not because of that stupid deal. If he wasn’t around, anything could happen to her.

“I’d pay good money to know what’s going on in your head right about now. You look like you’re trying to figure out the meaning of life.”

Izzy’s silvery voice tugged him out of the clouds.

He ignored her statement. “Where to now?”

“The copy shop, then the police station.” She hugged the pad to her chest.

She was quiet so he didn’t bother trying to talk either. He had too much to think about. Like the fact that if he stayed on this path, he’d end up falling hard for the one woman he could never have. In his gut he knew he’d already crossed a line though. He wasn’t just falling for her. He had fallen for her.

“Shit.” The reality of his situation was starting to settle in and spread like acid through his system.

“What’s wrong?”

He hadn’t realized he’d spoken aloud. “Uh, I need to fill up with gas.”

She eyed him warily, but she didn’t comment as he steered into the parking lot.

As they walked through the automatic glass doors of the copier store, his cell phone rang.

When he saw his brother’s number, he immediately tensed. “You go ahead and make those copies. I’ll be right here.”

Her flips-flops made squeaking sounds as she walked across the linoleum floor. The store was basically empty, but he kept his eyes trained on her as she asked an assistant for help.

“Hey, Ben.”

“Hey, brother. How’s it hanging?”

Despite the constant tension flowing through him, he smiled hearing his brother’s voice. “Could be better.”

“Then I’m about to make your day. Hell, I’m about to make your year.”

“I don’t have time to play twenty questions.

What’s up?” He watched as Izzy walked to one of the big copiers.

“I just spoke to Rick Devlin. After he read over the portfolio for the project next month, he wants to lock us in for all their international security work for the next year.”

His words hit Adam with the force of a Tomahawk missile. “Rick Devlin, as in—”

“The CEO of The Devlin Group. Yep.”

“What kind of numbers are we talking here?”

“Ten mil.”

It was impossible, but he felt his heart stop.

The amount wasn’t entirely profit and The Devlin Group didn’t have ties to the government, but this was what they’d been working toward.

“Did you hear me?” Ben asked.

He cleared his throat. “Yeah. I don’t even know what to say. Good work.”

“How about you pack up your stuff and head home? We’ve got work to do.” The excitement in his brother’s voice almost convinced him to do just that. Almost.

“I can’t.” He couldn’t leave Izzy. Not now.

“If this is about Ballantine, forget it. I know landing the Forester job is your dream, but we don’t need him anymore. This job will open up so many doors for us. We’ll get those government contracts on our own.”

“It’s not that.”

“Then what? It’s not as if he’s going to blacklist us. He’s eccentric, but he’s not an asshole. I thought you’d be happy.”

He snorted. Happy couldn’t describe what he was experiencing. But that feeling was overshadowed with a sense of responsibility. One he hadn’t counted on. “I am. I can’t leave Izzy right now.”


“Are you still there?”

“I’m here. I just can’t believe you’re falling for another rich girl.” The bitterness in his brother’s voice was almost palpable. Adam wasn’t the only one who’d gotten hurt by Amanda all those years ago. Ben had been a few years younger and while he’d never admit it, he’d had a small crush on her.

She’d always been so sweet to Ben and their sister. When she’d admitted she thought they were nothing more than white trash completely beneath her, it had crushed his brother. But Ben didn’t know Izzy the way he did.

Adam gritted his teeth and bit back a sharp retort. His brother was only looking out for him.

“Izzy isn’t like Amanda. Not even close, so don’t go there. And this isn’t about her. I signed a contract with Ballantine and someone’s stalking her. Even if I hadn’t signed a contract, I can’t leave her unprotected right now.”