Jon had to get her out of this house. It wasn’t safe here. "Come on," he said, coaxing her to stand. "You’ve got to pack a bag. You’re not staying here."
She drew back. "I’m not going to let them run me out of my home."
He admired her fire and determination, but he wasn’t going to be waylaid. "They obviously have a video feed somehow connected in here. Who knows how long they’ve been watching you. Are you really okay with that?"
Straightening her shoulders, she shook her head. "No, I’m not."
"Grab enough clothes for the rest of the week," he said as he propelled her toward her bedroom.
At the door, she paused and glanced back at him. "Where will I stay?"
"We’ll figure that out. Later," he said, giving her a meaningful look. He didn’t want to reveal too much in case the caller had audio as well as video into the small house.
Understanding crossed her pretty face and she hurried down the hall. A few minutes later, she returned to the living room dressed in well–worn jeans that hugged her curves and a maroon Boston College sweatshirt. She carried a pink-and–brown–striped duffel bag that was bursting at the zipper. Her blond hair had been brushed out and was now held back with a black headband.
Liking this casual side of her, so unlike her normal buttoned–down work demeanor, Jon smiled with approval as he took the duffel from her hands.
From the front entryway closet she grabbed a long black wool coat and then slipped her sock–clad feet into a pair of tan Uggs. "Ready?"
Jon opened the door. "After you."
They left her house and walked around the corner to where he’d parked his sedan. Once they were in, with the engine running and the heater cranked high, Jon said, "We need to call the FBI."
"No! They’ll kill her if we do."
Jon had figured she wouldn’t go for calling in the Feds. So he proposed another option. "Then we have to call Trent Associates."
She frowned. "The personal security company? We don’t need a bodyguard."
"The Trent team does more than just guard people," he said. "Tabby, we need some reinforcement here from people who are trained to handle situations like this."
She considered for a moment. "You’re right. But you have to make it clear, no cops."
"Understood." He drove them out of Newton and back toward downtown Boston.
When he pulled up to the parking garage for his high–rise condo, Tabby said, "I’m not staying here."
He pressed the automatic opener attached to his sun visor and drove inside. "Yes, you are. This place is totally secure."
She looked a bit panicked. "But I can’t stay with you."
"Why not? I have tons of room and, besides, Mrs. Marsh will love doting on you." He could just imagine how delighted his live–in housekeeper would be to have his assistant in residence since the two women worked so well together organizing his life.
He shifted a sidelong glance at his companion. Oh, yeah, Tabby already had a special place in Mrs. Marsh’s heart. Bringing her home was going to make his housekeeper’s year. He’d just have to be careful that he didn’t let his lovely assistant get too embedded into his heart as well.
Minimalist furnishings in soft earth shades and the replicated impressionist masterpieces adorning the walls of Jon’s condo brought the same calming serenity to Tabby they always did as she followed Jon inside.
A woman in her late sixties bustled out from the kitchen. She blinked at Tabby a moment before a smile burst on her lined face and shone in her kind green eyes. "Miss Grant!" Mrs. Marsh gave Tabby a bear hug. "So good to see you." She turned to Jon and gestured to the bag in his hand. "Guest room?"
"Yes," Jon said. "Tabby will be staying with us for a few days."
Mrs. Marsh clapped her hands in delight. "Wonderful. You take that bag on in and I’ll be there in a moment to ready the room."
"Please don’t go to any trouble," Tabby said, a bit overwhelmed by the welcoming response of Jon’s housekeeper.
"No trouble at all," Mrs. Marsh replied. "Are you hungry? Jon usually comes home from these functions starved because he tends to forget to eat with all his talking."
Tabby laughed. "Yes, he does do more talking than eating. And yes, I’m hungry."
Mrs. Marsh led the way to the kitchen where the center island counter was covered with all the fixings for sandwiches. "What would you like?"
"Oh, I can make my own," Tabby said quickly.
Mrs. Marsh sighed. "Self–sufficient, just like Jon. Well, I’ll leave you to it while I put fresh sheets on the guest bed." She bustled out, her ample hips swaying with each step.
Taking advantage of the moment alone, Tabby closed her eyes and bowed her head to pray. Lord, please watch over Beth. And let us get her back safely. Thank you for Jon and his willingness help. I would be so lost without him.
In so many ways. Spangler Sports Management had become the center her world revolved around. But at the core was Jon. Always Jon.
Admiration and affection filled her. She knew if she wasn’t careful the protective barrier she’d built around her heart would crack and she’d find herself longing for the impossible. Jon’s love. He was a playboy and her boss.
Two very good reasons to keep emotion and sentiment from entering their relationship.
A whisper of movement beside her let her know she was no longer alone. She quickly finished her prayer with a hasty amen and then lifted her gaze to find Jon staring at her, curiosity in his dark eyes.
"I’m sorry. You were praying. I didn’t mean to interrupt."
"No worries," she said and reached for a plate.
"Were you praying for your sister?"
"Yes." She bit her lip. "I hope she’ll be okay until we get her back on Monday."
"You don’t trust God will keep her safe?"
Guilt pricked at her. "Of course I do. It’s just… It’s hard not to worry."
One side of his mouth lifted in a crooked smile. "That I can understand."
"I was also thanking God for you and your generosity." The revealing words were out before she could censor them. She held her breath and waited for his reaction.
For a moment he looked taken aback and then pleased. "Okay. Wow."
Tears of gratitude gathered at the back of her eyelids. "I really am grateful, Jon."
He held her gaze, his dark eyes warm and penetrating. "You’re welcome."
The moment stretched as something elemental arced between them. A smoldering flare glowed in the depths of his eyes. An answering flame ignited within her. Her heart jolted and her pulsed pounded. Extremely conscious of his magnetic appeal, she forced herself to look away and fumbled with the sandwich fixings. Getting caught up in the moment wasn’t a good idea.
"I’m starved," he said and reached past her to take a plate, a sliced roll, and began building a sandwich. "I called James and he’s sending someone over tomorrow afternoon."
Keeping focused on her task, she forked a pickle from the jar and laid it on her plate. "You and James served in the army together, didn’t you?"
"Was he an MP like you?"
Jon paused. "How did you know I was an MP?"
"It’s my job to know everything about you, Jon," she replied as she finished making her sandwich.
He arched an eyebrow. "Everything?"
Her cheeks heated at his suggestive tone. "Well, everything that is pertinent."
"Hmmm. I wonder," he said and took a bite out of his sandwich creation.
Not sure what he meant and determined not to ask, she said, "Tomorrow morning I want to go to my church service. Will you come with?"
He choked on his sandwich. "Uh, sure."
She took a bite of her sandwich to hide a satisfied smile. She hated that it took her sister’s kidnapping to bring this opportunity about, but she wasn’t going to waste it. Jon had always declined her invitations to church. But he’d said he’d go with her tomorrow and that could only be a good thing.
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