Clutching her purse to her side, she hurried after Porter. “What are you doing here?” she whispered.
“Saving your pretty little butt. Ask your questions later. We need to get the hell out of here.” His shoes were silent against the tile while her heels clacked noisily. If she didn’t think it would slow her down she’d take them off and run in her bare feet. When they reached the open foyer, she spotted two guards unconscious and face down on the tile. Broken shards of what had once been a vase littered around one of the men.
Fear skittered along her exposed skin. “I don’t understand—”
“Your car. Now,” he barked as he jerked the front door open. He didn’t even glance behind him as he strode outside.
Not bothering to pull the front door shut behind her, she started to slide into the passenger side of her car while Porter dumped Benny in the back. Before she’d even shut her door, Porter kicked the car into drive and sped off.
“What…what are you doing here?” She hated that her voice shook but she couldn’t control it. She was grateful he’d shown up but she hated that he’d seen her and her brother in this kind of situation. Keeping her family life private was too important. And Porter had already made it clear what he thought of her brother. She didn’t like giving him more ammunition against Benny.
“Don’t you know what kind of man Orlando Salas is?” he ground out. It wasn’t so much a question as a statement of disgust.
As he sped down the stone driveway, she glanced behind them to see two men running out the front door, guns in hand. At least they didn’t open fire on them. Thankfully the iron gate was still open as Porter tore through the opening. “How’d you get past his security? And where’s your car? And why are you even here?”
“I’m going to pretend you didn’t ask that first question,” he muttered and chose to ignore her other two questions completely.
She bit back a retort and tried to take a few steadying breaths. Porter might drive her crazy with his bossy attitude, but Lizzy worked for Red Stone Security, which was owned by his father. And his brother Harrison was her boss. Not that she had any fear Harrison would fire her if she got into it with Porter, but still, she liked to pick her battles wisely. As the peacemaker of her family she was used to stopping fights, not starting them.
She glanced over her shoulder again and was relieved to see that no one was following them. Turning to Porter, she said, “Explain how you knew I was at Orlando Salas’s house.” She figured she probably should have asked nicely, not demanded an answer, but right now she felt as if her insides were actually shaking.
He shot her a sharp glance that put her on edge, but at the same time made something annoyingly feminine inside her flare to life. Without even trying the man exuded a raw sexuality that made her abdomen clench with need each time she saw him. Or thought about him. Lately that was too often.
“I put a GPS tracker in your car a couple weeks ago,” he said quietly.
It took a moment for his words to register. She shook her head, sure she’d misheard. “What?”
He shrugged and made another left turn. “It was the only way I knew to keep you safe.”
“Safe? What… Do you realize how crazy this sounds? You put a tracker in my car!” The tiny voice in the back of her head told her to shut up and be grateful he had considering what had just happened.
His sharp features never changed as he pulled up behind an SUV parked by the curb. He fished out a set of keys and handed them to her. “I want you to drive my vehicle and I’ll follow you back to your place.”
She sputtered and stared at his outstretched hand.
“Lizzy, please. I’ll answer all your questions once we get out of here.”
His use of her nickname took her off guard. He rarely called her Lizzy. The first time had been right before he’d pushed her up against a wall and kissed her until she was breathless and panting for more. They’d dated for roughly a month after that kiss and since their very brief relationship ended, she’d been nothing but ‘Elizabeth’ to him.
She mentally shook herself. Now wasn’t the time to argue with him. The part of her that wanted to get as far away from Orlando Salas’s house as possible knew that. She snatched the keys from his hand and hurried to his SUV. She might have a lot of questions for Porter, but more than anything she was simply grateful for his presence. If not for him, she’d probably be dead right now. Or worse. After what had just happened, energy hummed through her and she could actually feel her adrenaline high starting to crash. If he hadn’t shown up when he had…Lizzy shivered and a cold sweat blossomed across her forehead. She couldn’t think about that right now.
* * * * *
Raw, untamed energy hummed through Porter as he pulled away from the curb. He glanced once in the rearview mirror. It didn’t look like they were being followed and so far Elizabeth’s brother hadn’t stirred.
Porter hated the distrust he’d seen in her eyes when he’d told her about the tracking device—something he’d hated putting on her car—but he’d had no choice. Not long ago her mother had called worried about her youngest son and his penchant to involve Elizabeth in his troubles. Since he’d seen firsthand what a destructive influence Benny had on Elizabeth, he hadn’t hesitated to take things into his own hands. Putting a tracker in her car had been the only way he knew to discretely watch out for her.
If he could watch her all day he would. Though for a completely different reason than keeping her safe. The sexy woman had gotten under his skin in a bad way. Every night when he closed his eyes, he pictured her face. Her perfect smooth skin. Her perfect…everything. She was tall and slim and he often dreamed of running his hands through her mass of soft brown curls. And those espresso colored eyes were like dark pools just waiting to drown him. After their short relationship months ago, he’d forced himself to keep his distance. She’d made it perfectly clear that where her brother was concerned she had no common sense and that Porter would have no say in the decisions she made. Even decisions that could get her killed.
It didn’t mean he could forget what it had been like to taste her. Right before they’d started dating, for a brief moment in her office he’d seen that white hot desire in her gaze. It had wrapped around him like a cocoon and threatened to suffocate him with its intensity. And he’d been willing to lose himself in her. So he’d kissed her. And she hadn’t pushed him away. Until a month later when he’d tried to make her see reasoning that she couldn’t keep bailing her brother out of trouble.
In the end he knew it was a good thing. She worked for his father’s company and his brother was her boss. That kind of entanglement had disaster written all over it. And since it was clear he’d never be a priority in her life, it was better this way. There were too many things stacked against them and he wasn’t a masochist.
As they neared her neighborhood, her brother started to stir. “Shit…where am I? Don’t take me to the doctor. No hospitals…” he coughed out.
Porter glanced in the rearview mirror and glared. Dark eyes the same shade of brown as Elizabeth’s stared at him with fear. “You’re in the back of your sister’s car. What the hell were you thinking dragging her down to Orlando Salas’s house? What kind of moron are you?” Porter knew he should rein in his anger. This was her brother after all, but Orlando Salas was a dangerous predator. He preyed on women then spat them out like garbage. Now that Elizabeth was on that guy’s radar, Porter was tempted to pack her up and haul her back to his place regardless of whether she wanted to go or not.
Shame filled Benny’s eyes and he glanced away. “I didn’t mean to get her involved in my troubles. I just…I needed help. I thought…” His voice broke on the last word.
Porter pushed back a twinge of guilt. The man had been beaten to a pulp so maybe he shouldn’t be shouting at him. Still, there was no excuse in the world good enough for getting Elizabeth involved with Salas. “We’re almost to your sister’s place. What did you do to make Salas so angry?”
“I…uh, I owe him some money.”
Porter was good at reading people. Benny Martinez definitely owed Salas money, but there was more he was keeping to himself. There was a stark, raw fear evident in his eyes and he wasn’t trying to mask it. He apparently wore his heart on his sleeve, just like his sister.
Porter parked her car next to his SUV in the driveway and jumped out before Elizabeth had stopped the engine. He opened the back door and held an outstretched arm to Benny who was struggling to get out of his seat. “Come on.”
Elizabeth hooked her arm under his other shoulder and propped Benny up. “Porter, you can leave now. I can handle it from here.”
Porter snorted. That so wasn’t going to happen. “Why don’t you open the front door and I’ll get him inside?” He’d formed it as a question, but he wasn’t asking. After what had just happened, he wasn’t letting her out of his sight.
It looked like she might argue but she snatched the keys from his outstretched hand and hurried up the short walkway. Her one-story bungalow-style home was tucked away behind a giant magnolia tree and a cluster of palmetto trees. She lived in a safe neighborhood, but safe was a relative word. After the potential enemy she’d just made, she was going to need his protection. Porter was more than willing to provide it.
The moment she opened the blue and white door, he sidestepped her, practically carrying Benny with him. “We need to figure out what to do with your brother. He doesn’t want to go to a hospital but—”
“I think you should leave now.” Her voice shook slightly but he ignored what it did to him. She sounded afraid and if he had to guess, embarrassed. Though he couldn’t imagine why she’d be embarrassed. None of this was her fault. She’d been trying to help her brother. Even though he hated the way it obviously tore her up, he still admired her loyalty.