Grant cursed. “This gang’s been a thorn in my side for years. If we can bring them and Salas down it’ll be big for the department and the city. You gonna keep Lizzy at your place today?”
As if he’d let her go anywhere. “Of course. I have a meeting in a few hours but I’m going to work from home most of the day.”
“I’ll put out more feelers but I don’t have anything new yet. I promise to call when I have something. You don’t have to keep blowing up my phone,” his brother said semi-jokingly.
Porter cringed. He’d been doing just that all morning but he felt so damn helpless. “I know.”
“Let me know when she wakes up and we can set up a time for her to make an official report through me. I’ll come to your place, bring some pictures of the gang members we have on file on the off-chance she recognizes one of them.”
She hadn’t seen anyone last night but Porter knew there was a chance she might remember seeing one of the gang members before. “Thanks.” Once they disconnected he tossed the phone onto his kitchen counter and picked up his cup of coffee.
Right now he wished Benny was in front of him so he could wring his neck. It was obvious how much Elizabeth cared for her brother, and while her loyalty was commendable, it burned him up that Benny treated her like garbage. Benny called her for help or money and she went running to him regardless of how dangerous the situation. That wasn’t happening anymore as long as Porter was around. He’d do everything in his power to protect her, but he had the feeling she wasn’t going to make it easy for him.
Hell, if their past relationship was any indication she definitely wasn’t. When they’d been dating he’d made a few comments about the trouble her brother always seemed to get into and she’d shut him down fast. Right now he could deal with the fact that her brother was important to her, but if she wanted to run headfirst into danger he wasn’t letting her go alone.
* * * * *
The strong aroma of coffee rolled over Lizzy, forcing her eyes open. Inhaling deeply, she knew she couldn’t stay in bed any longer. She threw the satiny blue comforter off her and slid out of the guest bed she’d slept in. Porter’s condo in the high-rise building was definitely pricey, but the interior was a little sparse. It almost felt like a hotel. She’d been there a couple times and with the exception of the carpeted bedrooms, every other room had tile floors. Minimal decorations, a few family photos, a kitchen that looked as if it was never used and all the appliances looked brand new, as if he’d just taken them out of the box. After they’d arrived at his place last night he’d told her to get some sleep then had disappeared into his room. Unlike the times she’d been there before there had been no suggestion that they take things into his bedroom. It had felt weird to be here again under such different circumstances.
She’d hoped maybe they’d talk more about that kiss—or continue it—but Porter wasn’t exactly known for his communication skills. Maybe it was a good thing he hadn’t wanted to chat. Or do anything else. Because if he’d made a move on her, she’d have gone into his arms willingly and likely regretted it this morning when it was back to business as usual.
She dug her toes into the plush carpet before leaving her room to find him. The tiled hallway chilled her bare feet but the second she found Porter sitting at the center island of his kitchen sipping a cup of coffee and reading a newspaper, warmth flared deep inside her. It pushed out from her core, straight to all her nerve endings like an invisible flame lapping away at her insides.
He was already dressed in dark jeans, a polo shirt, and a sports coat. No suit for him today. She liked the change. Glancing down at her pink pajama pants and matching tank top, she bit her lip. Maybe she should have showered and changed first.
When he looked up at her, she froze, feeling like that clichéd deer in headlights. The absolutely primitive gaze he raked over her from head to feet had her nipples tightening under her top. She might as well be naked for how he made her feel so exposed, so aware of her body. Not wanting to draw attention to her physical reaction, she resisted the urge to cross her arms over her chest.
She cleared her throat and pointed at the coffee maker. “Got enough left for me?”
He nodded and his voice was slightly strangled as he said, “I’ve got milk in the fridge and that silver tin has sugar if you’d like.”
“Thanks.” Averting her gaze, she grabbed a mug
“Did you sleep all right?” he asked as she started to add a spoonful of sugar to her mug.
Not really. “Yes.” She slid into the seat next to his, hyperaware of his spicy scent. She’d been wired after what had happened but the most primal part of her had known she was safe sleeping under his roof so she should have been able to rest. She’d tried to order her body to listen but thoughts of what it had felt like to have his lips on hers, had kept her wide awake.
“I don’t have much in the way of food but I think I can scrounge up a bagel or toast.” His expression was apologetic.
“That’s okay.” She wasn’t a big breakfast person and as long as she got her coffee she was fine. She lightly tapped her finger against her mug as she tried to think of the right way to bring up last night. She’d always felt comfortable in her own skin except when she was around Porter. Even when they’d been dating she’d always felt on edge around him. As if there was some sort of electrical current between them that was almost tangible. “Listen, about last night…”
He shook his head. “Don’t worry about anything. I already talked to Harrison and he doesn’t have a problem with you not coming into work today, and Grant wants to talk to you personally so you can—”
“Wait, what? First of all, I’m not skipping work, but I do want to talk to Grant. And I wasn’t talking about that. I thought maybe…” She trailed off, hating the way her cheeks heated up. Yeah, talking about that kiss probably wasn’t the best idea. Obviously they were on two separate wavelengths. He was clearly more level headed than her. She was obsessing over it and he wanted to discuss what was actually important. She definitely needed to pull her head out of the clouds.
His pale eyes darkened as he scooted a fraction closer to her. “You shouldn’t be out today.”
“Why? Because some losers burned numbers into my lawn? I’m not going to live in fear. Besides, I work at one of the most secure buildings in Miami. I’d rather be there surrounded by people than cooped up here.”
He sat his mug down with a thud. “Damn it, Lizzy—”
“Don’t you ‘Lizzy’, me. You only use that name when you want something and it’s not going to work this time.” If he thought he could use her attraction to him against her, he was out of his mind.
She watched in fascination as a faint shade of red crept up his neck. “That’s not true.”
“Yes, it is. You always call me Elizabeth unless you’re trying to charm me.” Or when you’re kissing me. She decided to keep that thought to herself though.
“I’m not trying to charm you,” he muttered.
Her eyebrows rose. “Then what would you call it?”
“I’m trying to make you use common sense.”
She snorted very loudly, earning a surprised look from him, but she didn’t care. Pushing her chair back, she stood. “I’m not staying here and there’s nothing you can say to make me change my mind. I’ll go crazy so if you don’t mind, I’m going to shower.” Lizzy started to leave, but he grasped her upper arm.
Not hard, but he exerted enough pressure that she couldn’t move.
She glared at him. “Let me go.”
“You need to talk to Grant.”
“I will, but it doesn’t have to be here. I can meet him at the police station or he can come to my office or wherever.”
“You’ll be safer here,” he ground out.
She dug her heels in but didn’t say anything. He could argue until he was blue in the face. It wasn’t as if he could hold her hostage.
At her lack of response, he practically growled at her. “Why do you have to be so stubborn?”
“Why do you always think you know what’s best for me?” she shot back.
“You’re the most frustrating woman I know.” He let her arm drop and scrubbed a hand over his face. Without another word he moved past her and disappeared from the kitchen.
She stared at his retreating figure and frowned. Porter never let his guard down. Ever. But it seemed he was just as off-kilter in her presence as she was in his. The realization was strangely refreshing.
* * * * *
Lizzy glanced up as the handle to her office door jiggled. Before the door opened, she tensed. Porter had been so adamant that she not come into work this morning—an argument he’d most definitely lost—but she wouldn’t put it past him to come here and try to convince her again to go back to his place.
The tension in Lizzy’s shoulders relaxed when Carla Pickett, the receptionist for the eleventh floor, stepped halfway inside. “Hey, Lizzy, Mara’s here. I figured it would be okay if she came back, but I wasn’t sure if you were busy—”
She smiled and pressed the power button on her computer screen so it went dark. Her friend was a little early for their weekly lunch date but Lizzy had been working on security upgrades all morning and her brain was just about fried. “It’s totally fine.”
Mara was not only her boss’s soon-to-be wife, she was Lizzy’s best friend. Before she’d rounded the desk, Mara hurried into the room, an expression of pure panic on her face. “Harrison told me what happened. Are you all right? And why didn’t you call me?”
Lizzy hadn’t called her friend because she hadn’t wanted to worry Mara. Better to deflect with another question. “Is Harrison with you?” His presence at the office had been scarce over the past couple weeks. He was still coming in to check up with the various teams of guys he oversaw, but he wasn’t taking any direct security jobs due to his and Mara’s upcoming wedding.