The man didn’t even crack a smile.

Just as they were walking out the door, the guy in the cowboy hat said, “Hold up.” He meandered over and handed Garrett a sheaf of paper. “Here are the rates we’re prepared to offer for this contract. So you know we’re serious.” Then he murmured something to Garrett.

Interesting. Liberty wondered if Devin McClain knew what his safety was worth.

After the cowboy hat guy trotted off, Garrett and Joe conferred in low tones. She wanted to eavesdrop, but something in their stiff postures worried her, so she hustled into Garrett’s office.

A few minutes later, Joe plopped next to her in the chair opposite Garrett’s desk.

Garrett refilled his cup of coffee before he took his seat. He unfolded the paper and raised both his eyebrows before passing it to Joe.

“That good, huh?” Liberty prompted.

“Holy f**king shit would be appropriate here.” Joe squinted at the paper. “This is one of the highest pay rates I’ve ever seen.”

Liberty snorted. “It’d have to be since Mr. McClain is a dickhead and no sane person would ever take on the assignment.”

“Liberty.”

Although she’d been chastised, she pushed her point. “Why are you even considering taking this job? It’s not like GSC needs the work.”

Garrett sighed. “It’s a personal favor. My sister, Tanna, went through a rough patch, and Devin was always there for her in ways I couldn’t be. So I owe him. And he’s more messed up about this latest incident than he’s letting on.” He summarized the past trouble in Devin’s world. She was shocked someone in Devin’s position just kept going about business as usual—as if none of the threats mattered or had affected him at all.

“Liberty?”

Her gaze snapped to Garrett’s. “Sorry. What did you say?”

“I asked if you’ve ever met Devin before.”

“No. Why?”

“You know the connection between your sister and mine is what brought you to my attention in the first place. Tanna and Harper are both married to men who grew up in the Muddy Gap/Rawlins area. That’s where Devin is originally from.”

“I’ve heard Harper and Bran talk about him, and I guess he goes back there sometimes, but I’ve never met him.”

“I’m hopin’ that’ll work in our favor,” Garrett drawled.

“I don’t follow.”

Garrett and Joe exchanged an oddly wary look.

“Should I shoot myself in the foot now?”

Joe laughed. “And everyone says you don’t have a sense of humor.”

She scowled at him and then said to Garrett, “Go on.”

“The best—hell, the only solution—is to send you out on tour with Devin McClain. And hear me out before you pull your gun on me. You’ve been begging us to send you on assignment. You are an excellent trainer, but this is a better training opportunity for you. Not only because of the money for us.”

Liberty fought the urge to laugh. It was always about the money. “With the big swinging dick that Devin McClain wields, there’s no way he’ll agree to having a woman as his personal security. No way in hell.”

“It’ll be his only choice if he wants to hire us.” Garrett fiddled with his pen. “The rest of the guys won’t agree to be away from their families for that long. Not only that. You’ve asked for a job like this for the past four months. Here’s your chance to jump to the next level and prove you’re qualified for fieldwork.”

“Slathering on compliments?”

Garrett smiled. “And you’re deflecting them. I don’t say it unless it’s true—you know that about me.”

“Yes, but I’m still on probation.” Garrett required a year of probation for all his new hires. While it sucked that the slightest infraction could get her shit-canned, it ensured the ones who hit the twelve-month mark were worthy of carrying out the sometimes dangerous work the job demanded.

“In four and a half months you’ll be within a week of permanent status. You take on this job, I’ll give you that last week.”

“Sorry, but no. I’ll pass.”

Joe and Garrett exchanged another look.

“What now?”

“This information doesn’t leave this room. The promoter has sweetened the pot. There’s a hundred-thousand-dollar bonus if the bodyguard lasts the entire tour. So if you agree to take this assignment, in addition to getting paid your regular rate, we’ll let you keep the bonus.”

She perked up at that prospect. “Seriously? Every penny?”

“Every penny, and I’ll kick in enough to cover the taxes on it.”

That money would provide a hefty down payment on a house. Roughly four months out of her life would make her dream of home ownership a reality, and she’d get experience in the field that would increase her base pay rate. Win-win.

“Deal.”

Joe slapped a twenty-dollar bill on the desk. “You suck.”

Garrett swept the money into his desk drawer. “I warned you not to bet against me, Joe.”

“What the hell kinda bet did you two make about me?” Liberty demanded.

“That you’d be more interested in the money than living in close quarters with one of People magazine’s hottest men in music.”

Liberty rolled her eyes. “Seriously, Joe? You haven’t learned anything about me in the past eight months? I oughta make you pony up twenty to me for the damn insult.”

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