“I want to pay you. That way, I can set limits on what I will and will not allow.” Staring him down, she refused to back away from the fury that was filling his eyes. Nor was she going to be afraid of him, no matter how threatening he was glaring at her.
“Like what?” His jaw clenched tighter.
“I don’t have time to discuss them with you right now. I have an appointment this morning. We can talk tonight after my last client leaves. Where are you supposed to watch me when I’m in my office?”
“I was going to hang out in the lobby and go to your floor if I saw someone get off on your floor.”
“I have clients coming all day, so that’s not going to work. If something does happen, you’ll be too late. I have a better idea. Let’s go.” Making sure to turn without hurting her knee, she started to open her car door.
“Hold up! Let me hear this idea.”
“I’m going to ask Penni if you can stay in her office. That way, you’ll be able to prevent something from happening before anyone is hurt.”
“Meaning Penni and Grace?”
“Yes, I don’t want them hurt either. I love them.”
“If they know I’m watching you, they’ll figure out the flowers and notes are more serious than Jackal told them.”
“If I can take care of it so that they will be content to leave my safety in your hands, will that satisfy Ice and Jackal?”
“I suppose so… if you can manage it.”
“I will. Now, can I please go to work?”
“Go for it.”
He was laughing at her, and he thought she was too stupid to know.
Exasperated, she got into her car, cranking her radio up to recapture the carefree attitude she had before she spotted him.
Could someone really be stalking her? She hadn’t received any overtly threatening messages from the social media sites she regularly posted to. Why go to so much trouble to draw attention when it would be much easier to remain anonymous on the web?
As she parked in the parking garage, she thought of everyone who she had been in contact with who acted suspiciously or had a grudge against something she’d said or done.
Getting out, she took her crutches, wincing as she put them under her arms. She hadn’t lied to Kent. Her armpits were sore.
As he came to mind, it only took a second to rule him out from being the stalker. He seemed more amused at her constant refusal of his overtures than angry.
Stump parked beside her car, catching up with her before she could go five steps.
“From now on, park on the street. Someone could fucking kidnap you—”
Zoey stopped, giving him a stern glance. “This is one of the things we need to discuss. If I’m going to pay you as a bodyguard, I expect to be treated like any of your other bosses, and that means refraining from cursing in front of me.”
Stump ran a hand through his long hair. “I’m not your bodyguard, and I sure as fuck don’t work for you.”
“Then the deal’s off.” Raising a finger, she pointed toward the doorway farthest away. “The lobby is through there.”
“You’re pissing me off; you know that, right?”
Her hands tightened on her crutches. “I . Do. Not. Care. Either we do this my way, or we don’t do it at all. The choice is yours.”
Without waiting for his answer, she began walking to the elevator. Pressing the button, she felt Stump stop behind her. When the doors opened, she walked inside, using the crutches to block his entrance and poising a finger over the lit button for the fifth floor.
“Well…?” she asked sarcastically.
“Fine,” he ground out. “No cussing.”
Being careful with her knee, she backed up, letting him inside. He didn’t take his eyes off her as he pressed the button. The tension increased as they passed each floor. Zoey refused to look away, keeping a tranquil picture of a slow-moving pond in her mind to restore her calm.
When the doors opened, Stump stepped forward, blocking her departure. “Let’s get one thing straight; you’re not my boss. Ice is the only one I take orders from. If Penni or Grace give their husbands a hard time, baby, you can bet I’ll return the favor.”
Zoey swallowed hard, nodding sharply.
Removing his arm, he allowed her out of the elevator.
She was relieved to no longer be so close to him. The clean scent of his body was in contrast to the expensive cologne that Kent had being wearing when he stood so close to her. While Kent was immaculately groomed from head to toe, Stump’s hair looked as if he hadn’t bothered to comb it before tying it back. The other man was cleanly shaven, his features indicating trustworthiness, while Stump’s dark beard made it seem as if didn’t have an ethical bone in his sinewy body.The black Harley T-shirt he wore was so old that pieces of the design were missing, and his jeans so worn that the dark denim was bleached out.