The woman behind the desk shook her head. “Thanks, Carrie.”
I felt like Alice after she fell down the rabbit hole.
“I’ve never hired a security firm before. I mean, I have security here at the office, but they sort of came with the office space. I’m not sure what we’re supposed to do first.”
The dark-haired woman closed the double doors, locking me away with this eccentric woman with the Mary-Jane-style, black patent leather shoes.
She waved at a chair set in front of the desk, indicating I should sit.
“I assume you’ll be following me around all day. What else do you do? Ricki wasn’t terribly sure.”
“You’re Mabel Watson.”
Amusement flooded her eyes. “Disappointed?”
“A little surprised.”
“Did you think I was the secretary?”
I tried not to meet her eyes as I took a seat, unbuttoning my jacket as I did.
“You have to admit, it was an easy assumption to make.”
“I suppose so.” She leaned back, tugging at the front of her oversized sweater. “It’s happened before.”
I could feel her checking me out again, as though it took three tries to get it right. It was a little unnerving. I looked at her, met her eyes when she finally pulled them up from the length of my body, and tried to start again.
“So, I’m Kirkland Parish from Gray Wolf Security. I’m the operative assigned to your case.”
“Operative. Like a spy or something?”
I shrugged. “It just seems like a better word than bodyguard.”
“You’ll be following me around?”
“I’ll be with you twenty-four seven.”
“Twenty-four seven? Ricki didn’t mention that.”
“Is that a problem?”
“I just assumed you’d follow me around during the day. It never occurred to me I’d have to take you home.”
“It’s been our experience that when people make threats like this, when they follow through—if they follow through—it’ll be more likely to happen on private property. Which means this guy would be more likely to come after you at home than here at the office. Too many potential witnesses.”
The color drained from her face, leaving her creamy skin even paler than it already was. It was actually kind of attractive, the way her dark brown hair looked against her pale skin. If she let her hair down and dressed a little more…normal, she might be a very attractive woman.
“I told Ricki that these threats probably don’t mean anything. But she insisted I call your firm. She didn’t want anything bad to happen to me this close to her wedding.”
“You and Ricki are really close?”
She picked at some fuzz that was stuck to the sleeve of her sweater. “We met a year or so ago at a conference. Turned out we had some things in common.”
I thought of Ricki, petite, beautiful Ricki. She was always dressed appropriately, even now that she’d sold her business and didn’t go into the office every day. She was quiet and soft spoken, even when she was angry. This woman appeared to be the exact opposite of Ricki.
“And you’re going to be in the wedding?”
“Maid of honor.”
I looked her over, wondering what kind of awful dress she’d be wearing. I could see it now: all the ladies would be in classy, mermaid-style dresses that clung to their shapely bodies, and this woman would show up in a bright orange ruffle nightmare like something out of one of those cheesy chic movies Joss sometimes made me watch with her.
There was a tap on the door and Ash walked in, strutting in his heavy boots as if he owned the place.
Mabel stood up and watched him, clearly impressed with his commanding demeanor. I watched the admiration come over her face. She didn’t even try to hide it. It was pretty clear the dark haired, overly muscular, GI Joe type was more her style than I was.
Thank God for small favors. This job was going to be a piece of cake after all.
My hand shook as I accepted Ash Grayson’s proffered hand. He was quite a commanding presence, even in the jeans and sports coat he wore. I could imagine what he would look like in Army fatigues, and the thought made me want to swoon on the spot. Too bad he wasn’t an actor. I could sell millions of videos with him in them.
Ash took a seat beside his operative—such an awkward word!—and looked me over without so much as a twinkle of amusement in his eyes. That was a leg up on his buddy who could hardly keep his distaste of my style of clothing out of his expression. He thought I didn’t see the sideways glances and the purse of his lips when he saw my shoes. I liked my shoes. It wasn’t often you could find genuine Mary Janes in my size.