“No, he’s working on… Don’t change the subject. What’s going on? And why did I hear it secondhand?” Mara shook her head as she pulled Lizzy into a tight hug.
“I honestly don’t know what’s going on. I think Benny might have gotten in a little over his head this time,” she murmured as she stepped out of the embrace. That was an understatement considering how much he owed Salas. One hundred thousand dollars. If she knew how to get in contact with her brother she would, but the cell phone he’d called her from last time had already been disconnected. She needed to get to her parent’s house to check out what he said he’d left for her in his note. First she’d need to convince Porter to take her there.
“A little? Porter told Harrison that a gang left their symbol burned into your front yard.” Mara raked a hand through her short blond pixie cut.
“Yes, but I don’t know why or even if it’s connected to my brother.” She didn’t actually have any doubts but she didn’t want to throw her brother under the bus.
“Well I certainly doubt they targeted you for any other reason,” Mara shot back, her expression grim.
Lizzy knew that much was true but held back a response. She didn’t want to talk about Benny’s shortcomings now. Her brother had protected her when she was younger in a way her parents hadn’t. If it hadn’t been for him…she shuddered, not wanting to think about the past. “I’m supposed to talk to Grant later today and look at some mug shots—not that I think I’ll recognize anyone—and I stayed at Porter’s last night so please don’t worry. Whatever is going on I’m sure we’ll figure it out.” If only she truly felt that way. Her insides quaked every time she thought about a gang knowing where she lived.
“Well at least lunch will be safe, and we’re not staying here. Harrison has given me a freaking security detail. I swear, our wedding is making him more paranoid than usual.”
Lizzy bit back a grin. Yeah, that definitely sounded like her boss. And right now she was thankful for his paranoia. She’d planned to eat downstairs in the cafeteria with Mara. When Porter dropped her off earlier this morning she’d promised she wouldn’t leave the building, but if her boss thought it was okay then she supposed it was.
Lizzy smoothed her hands down her charcoal pencil skirt as they headed for the door. “Something sort of happened last night.”
Her friend’s green eyes narrowed knowingly. “With you and Porter? Did you guys finally—”
“Mara!” Lizzy glanced around but no one was anywhere near the elevators. When she looked back at her friend, she was smiling like she’d just won the lottery. Lizzy had told her about her short, sort-of fling—just without the sex—with Porter because she’d had to tell someone. That didn’t mean she wanted the entire building to know. At the time she and Porter had made a deal to keep it quiet from everyone, namely his family, until they figured out if they even had a future. After they broke up she was very thankful she’d been insistent on secrecy.
She’d worked hard to earn a respected management position in the security department at Red Stone and she didn’t want people to think she’d gotten it by sleeping around. Sure, she still answered to Harrison, but as a senior systems security manager, she had a lot of people who answered to her and she didn’t want to lose their respect. Even though she’d been working at the company years before she’d even met Porter in person, it wouldn’t matter. People talked and judged. “You didn’t tell anyone about…us, right?”
Mara snorted loudly. “If you’re asking if I told Harrison, the answer is still no. Your secret is safe, but you did stay at Porter’s place last night so…” She trailed off, a silent question hanging in the air.
Lizzy sighed as they stepped into the open elevator. “We sort of kissed. But this morning he didn’t want to talk about it.” Which maybe wasn’t such a bad idea. She could probably forget if he didn’t stare at her with such raw heat in his eyes every time he glanced in her direction.
Her friend started to say something but Lizzy cut her off with a shake of her head. She couldn’t start talking or thinking about Porter if she wanted to get anything done today. They had no future and she didn’t need the distraction. Clearing her throat, Lizzy brushed away thoughts of him. “Sorry, I don’t know why I even brought it up. Let’s not talk about him anyway. Are you excited about tonight?” It was Mara’s engagement dinner.
Mara’s eyes lit up. “I am, mainly for the food though. Some famous caterer owed Harrison a favor so they agreed to handle the engagement party and the wedding reception. I don’t think he cares either way who we use.”
“Probably not. He’d be happy if you had a barbecue in your backyard.” She’d worked for Harrison long enough to know that about him. The only time she’d ever seen him agonize over anything was when he’d been picking out an engagement ring. He’d do anything to make Mara happy.
“Truthfully, I don’t care what we do either, but so far everything is going off without a hitch.”
After the elevator doors whooshed open on the bottom floor, Lizzy paused when she saw four guys in suits waiting by the revolving glass doors. Fear snaked up her spine. She placed a light hand on Mara’s arm and didn’t make a move to get out. “Do you know those guys?”
“Yeah, that’s the team Harrison ordered to watch out for us today.”
“Four extra guys?”
Mara shrugged as they exited the elevator. “Yep.”
Lizzy tried to squash her nerves as she followed her friend into the lobby. Maybe they should just eat in the cafeteria. One of the men looked familiar, but she didn’t recognize the other three. Harrison oversaw about forty men, and while she interacted with them on a semi-regular basis, they had a couple hundred guys working for the company, some of whom she’d never met. She wasn’t worried that they wouldn’t be competent, but the thought of actually needing a security detail for her own protection freaked her out.
She couldn’t imagine some low-life gang members targeting her in broad daylight in the middle of the financial district. She hadn’t done anything anyway. Orlando hadn’t seemed like he wanted to kill her. No, he’d had something else in mind for her. And why would he want her dead? She’d always thought he was a bit of a psychopath but killing her would be pointless. Still…seeing these men in front of her put her on edge.
“You sure you’re all right?” Mara’s quiet voice startled her out of her thoughts as they stepped outside.
Instead of voicing her worries, she pasted on a bright smile and nodded. “Of course, I’m just starving.”
Two of the men went through the revolving door before them and two flanked them from behind. These guys were no joke. All of her work was at a computer and she’d never actually seen any of the security teams in action before, but they seemed to know what they were doing.
There was a white SUV with tinted windows waiting directly outside for them. And if she knew her boss the vehicle was bullet proof. “This is our ride?” she asked Mara.
“Yep. It’s one of Harrison’s newest armored vehicles and—”
Her words were cut off when one of the men grabbed her arm and started hustling them faster. “Ladies, you need to get into the SUV, now.”
As they rushed toward the open door, Lizzy spotted a shiny blue two-door muscle car screech to a halt across the street from them. The door flew open and two men wearing blue bandanas across their face and carrying what looked like machine guns jumped out. Panic slammed into her chest. “Hey!” She pointed, but one of the security guys practically picked her up and shoved her through the open vehicle door.
Mara tumbled in behind her, pinning her on the floor, and a second later, like hail on a tin roof, there was an explosion of gunfire all around them. The staccato pings were deafening and seemed to go on forever. Thank God the SUV was armored.
Lizzy’s heart pounded loudly in her ears but nothing could drown out the outside noise. Mara huddled half on top of her and she was vaguely aware of the men shouting something. What though, she had no clue.
When the vehicle jerked to life, the sounds of shooting miraculously faded then stopped all together. Lizzy’s eyes flew open with a start—she hadn’t realized they’d been closed—to find Mara still on top of her. Her friend pushed up and sat on the middle of the bench seat as she helped Lizzy slide up next to her. Straightening, she stared at her friend, then glanced around.
The driver and man in the passenger seat were silent, but the man sitting next to them was quietly talking into his phone. She didn’t know who was on the other end, but she could guess as she listened to his half of the conversation.
“…already called the cops…the women are secure…two guys from what we could see…Tony got cover inside and stayed back to try and follow them…”
“Are you okay?” she whispered to Mara.
“I’m fine.” Mara nodded and Lizzy was surprised by how stoic she appeared. Not a hair was out of place and her sharp, Slavic features didn’t betray an ounce of emotion. She looked perfectly at ease. No wonder she and Harrison fit together so perfectly.
“That was insane! How can you be fine?” Lizzy felt as if her insides were actually shaking. A slight tremor rolled over her and she was helpless to stop it. She clasped her hands tightly in her lap to calm them but it did no good.
Mara’s eyebrows rose in concern and she immediately covered Lizzy’s hands in a reassuring grip. “I’m scared too, but we’re alive, okay? They’re taking us somewhere safe, I promise.”
Lizzy nodded and internally berated herself for the tears she felt rising up. If Mara was okay, she supposed she should suck it up too. But she obviously wasn’t wired like her friend. Men with guns trying to shoot them in the middle of the day? She quickly glanced out the window, but everything blurred before her. Keeping her face turned away, she tried to blink away the hot tears threatening to spill down her cheeks. She wasn’t going to ask, mainly because she didn’t trust her voice, but she really hoped that wherever they were going, Porter would be there too.