Sweet Possession

By: Maya Banks

CHAPTER 1





“You’re out of your goddamn mind!”

Pop Malone scowled at his son, Connor. “Watch your mouth. I can still wipe the floor with your scrawny ass.”

Connor wiped his hand over his short hair and clamped down on the top in an effort to pull it out. Nathan Tucker had the right idea by shaving his head. It was something Connor was going to have to look into if he kept getting bombs dropped on him.

“Pop,” Connor said in exasperation. “We install security systems. Sophisticated, state-of-the-art computer monitoring equipment. We do consulting. We evaluate security for other people. We are not a goddamn bodyguard service.”

Pop huffed, crossed his arms over his chest and leaned back against his adopted daughter’s desk. Faith stared wide-eyed at her father and brother but didn’t say a word. She was too glued to the conversation.

“If you’d stop your yammering for two seconds, I’d explain why you’re perfect for this job.”

“Oh boy,” Connor muttered. “I can’t wait to hear this. I’d better sit down for it.”

He flopped into one of the chairs in front of Faith’s desk and waited for his father’s latest harebrained scheme. Not that his father wasn’t a smart man. He was one of the most intelligent and cunning men Connor knew. It was the cunning part that bothered the hell out of him right now. He wasn’t sure how, but he knew he was fucked. And it looked like he was about to find out.

“Phillip Armstrong is a longtime friend. We go way back. Served together in the marines. He’s a big-shot record executive now and he has a big-name artist on his label.”

“What’s the name?” Faith piped in.

“Lyric Jones.”

Faith frowned.

“What’s the frown for?” Connor demanded. “What do you know?”

“You’ve never heard of her?” Faith asked.

“Does she sing country music?”

Faith chuckled and shook her head.

“Then I rest my case. So why the frown?”

“She’s a bit of a . . .”

“She’s difficult,” Pop said with no preamble. “But you’ve dealt with difficult before. She won’t be a problem for you.”

“Why is she my problem at all?”

“Because most of her security detail was fired. What was left quit. She has two bodyguards that are as useless as tits on a boar hog.”

“And I’m supposed to fix this?”

“Phillip is scrambling to hire a replacement firm. One better than the last since they sucked ass. His words, not mine. She only has one more show and then she’s going to be sort of on vacation here in Houston.”

Faith lifted an eyebrow. “Why the hell would she willingly vacation in Houston? I mean, a girl with that kind of money ought to go to Paris. Or Italy. Maybe a beach house in the Caribbean.”

“I said sort of because she’s doing a show at the Houston Livestock and Rodeo but she’ll be here a total of two weeks. She also has some signing and fan meet-and-greet at one of the downtown music stores.”

“Oh, I get it,” Connor said as he pushed himself forward in his seat. “What they want is a babysitter. They want someone to sit on her so she’ll be good for two weeks.”

Pop had the grace to look abashed. “Well, yes and no.”

Connor made a rude noise. “Why the hell are you asking me? There are three other guys in this office all capable of doing this job.”

Faith made a show of blowing on her nails and whistled softly.

“Because everyone is either married or getting goddamned married and you’re the only single guy left. If I try to send one of the other guys to spend twenty-four/seven with a gorgeous pop star, I’ll have three pissed-off women on my ass. No, thanks. No offense, Connor, but you have nothing on the girls. I’ll take my chances with you.”

Faith smiled sweetly in her brother’s direction.

“Don’t think I won’t get you for this,” Connor muttered at Faith.

“Look, at least fly out to L.A., catch her last show, introduce yourself, see how it goes. What can it hurt? I think you’ll find it’s not as bad as you think. You’ll spend two weeks with her here keeping her out of trouble and keeping her safe.”

“Just how unsafe is she?”

“Oh, the usual celebrity shit, I’m sure. Everyone wants a piece of her. Without adequate security, it could get dangerous. Phillip is going to get a local firm to do the peripheral security but he wants someone he can trust next to her until he can go through and interview larger firms that will handle her security on the road. He’s worried, and Phillip doesn’t worry about much.”

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