Out of Control

By: Nina Croft

Chapter One

“Holy crap,” Dani muttered.

They’d come to an abrupt halt at the edge of the gardens where the lush green lawns gave way to terracotta tiles surrounding a vast swimming pool. The reason for their sudden stop lay facedown on a large pink inflatable bed that floated languidly in the center of the water.

“Hmm, maybe we’ll put off introducing you to the boss until…” Gary paused, obviously at a loss for words.

“Until he’s got some clothes on?” Dani suggested. “And maybe when he doesn’t appear quite so…” It was Dani’s turn to stall.

“Busy?”

“Not the word I was thinking of.”

The man certainly didn’t look busy. What he did look was naked. He was also not alone—a bottle of champagne dangled limply from one hand, an equally naked blonde was clutched in the other.

So that, Dani reflected grimly, was the man she was employed to protect for the foreseeable future. This was what she was reduced to—protecting a naked playboy. Hardly a meaningful existence.

She’d already heard of him; it was hard not to with his reputation. He was self-indulgent, lazy, caring for nothing but his own pleasure. Everything she didn’t like in a person.

Now, seeing him in the flesh, she wasn’t impressed. Or so she tried to tell herself. But if that was the case, why was she finding it impossible to drag her gaze away?

“You’re staring,” Gary murmured from beside her.

Amusement laced his voice, and she clamped her eyes shut to cut out the view. Perhaps he’d get a puncture and sink. But no, when she blinked he was still there. She heaved a huge sigh. “That is Zachary Hunter, isn’t it?” Maybe she’d get lucky for once and find out she was wrong.

But Gary nodded. She sighed again and wiped the sheen of sweat from her forehead, then glanced up at the sun high overhead. “I hope they’ve got plenty of sunblock on.”

“So, what do you think of your new boss?” Gary asked slyly.

“You really don’t want to know.”

While Dani refused to rise to the bait, she couldn’t help but admit—to herself at least—that from the limited parts she could see, Zachary Hunter was every bit as gorgeous as his reputation suggested. Better. His supposedly hedonistic lifestyle certainly wasn’t reflected in his physique; not an ounce of fat marred his long, lean frame. He lay with his head turned away so she couldn’t see his face, just the dark blond hair, overly long and reaching to his broad shoulders. His skin was golden, and he resembled nothing so much as a large cat basking in the sunlight.

She’d thought the couple was sleeping or unconscious, but as she stared, the woman’s fingers slowly glided down the long, flawless line of his golden back to come to rest on one equally golden buttock. No tan lines there.

Dani shook her head. “Let’s get the hell out of here.”

“Good idea. I think we can leave the introductions until tomorrow.”

They turned to go, but she had an uncomfortable feeling something wasn’t quite right. Having spent the last ten years in an almost exclusively male environment, she prided herself on her ability to be completely unaffected by some of the most physically fit specimens to ever grace the Earth. It was second nature to her. Which was why she couldn’t understand her almost undeniable urge to turn around for one last peek. She scowled and forced herself to stare straight ahead.

“So,” she asked, “why does someone like Zachary Hunter need our protection?”

“Try and sound as though you care, and I might tell you.”

“Come on, Gary, he’s some rich playboy asshole, who as far as I can see has never done anything worthwhile in his entire life. What’s there to care about?”

“Have you actually read his file?”

She shrugged. “Jess read it to me.”

“But I’m guessing you weren’t paying attention.” Gary frowned. “Zach’s not actually a playboy. He’s a writer—a good one, high-action thrillers. He’s made a ton of money from them, invested that, and made a whole lot more—you don’t get this sort of lifestyle from just writing.” He waved a hand at their surroundings. “He’s also a great guy to work for—ultra laid back.”

“Doesn’t care about anything, you mean?”

“Maybe, but then that hasn’t really got anything to do with us, has it?”

Dani exhaled. “Look, you chose to do this job. I didn’t. I’m just waiting for the all clear and then I’m heading back where I belong.”

“And if you don’t get the all clear?”

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