“That’s my cue,” Kyle said. “First, invitations. I do require a signed acceptance to return to the program coordinator.” He handed Jason the card and a pen. “Put down the number in your party.” He pointed to a blank.
“I can take them all, right?” He asked Kyle.
“You’re only acknowledging yourself and Taylor. Security detail is considered part of the furniture. Sorry, guys. Rich, snooty people like to pretend you’re invisible.”
“But they all have them, right?”
“Of course. Officially, only Greg will accompany Jason and Taylor. I’ve arranged for you two and some of the others to be on the security detail provided by the contractor. I’m sorry, but you’re grunts. I couldn’t replace the leader on such short notice.”
“Bitsy isn’t the type to take that sort of thing quietly,” Honoria remarked. “However, I think you’ll find her good at her job and quite efficient. She’s also trustworthy and knows who you are and why you’re there. She won’t get in your way. If she tells you do so something, I suggest you listen. She’s very good at what she does.”
The agents nodded, accepting her advice.
“My turn,” Honoria said with an excited smile. She pulled out a plastic pouch full of papers and small objects that rattled. “Jason, you’re you, obviously. It’s Taylor and Greg I need to speak to. Taylor, you’re now Taylor Falk. It seemed best to keep your real first names. It’s hard to remember who you are otherwise. You’re the flavor of the month. You’re an aspiring model/ actress. You’ve done some regional work, but mostly small theatres no one’s heard about. Don’t be specific and you’ll be fine.”
“I did some acting in high school and college. I can use that.”
“You’re now Greg Baker. Former military man, pick a branch.”
“I was a Marine before becoming an agent.”
“Good, keep that. Were you overseas?”
“Yes. I did a couple tours.”
She nodded, jotting down a note to herself. “You now work for an agency that provides security to the rich and paranoid. Your job is to stick to Jason and remain invisible. Can you blend?”
“I can be downright transparent if I want to be.”
“Good. Taylor, you and Jason need to come up with a good story for how you met. Keep it simple and something easy to remember.”
“At a celebratory party after my release,” Jason said. “It wouldn’t be a stretch for me to take up with her right away.” He was embarrassed to admit to the women what a player he’d been. “I think it best if you cast me in the role of pursuer. I’m a persistent bastard and I get what I want. That includes getting in the knickers of the prettiest women in the room.”
Taylor was put off by that admission, but tried not to show it. Jason knew it was something they would have to discuss eventually. The sooner the better.
“And Greg is an employee, correct?”
“Yes,” Honoria replied.
“Sorry, my friend, I’m going to be a bastard to you. Please, don’t shoot me.”
“Haven’t done it yet, my friend.” He clapped Jason on the shoulder.
After further discussion with Kyle and Honoria, the team and Jason headed home. It was the trip over in reverse, although they took a different route home. Jason was glad to be back at his house. There was nowhere he felt safer than inside its walls.
“I don’t know about the rest of you lot,” Jason said as soon as the door was locked behind them. “But I need a shower then a meal.”
“Meet back down here in twenty?” Tim asked.
“I was thinking more like an hour,” Jason said. “Maybe hour and a half?”
Tim’s eyes flickered between Jason and Taylor. A slow smile spread. “Hour and a half sounds good. It’s only 5:30.”
“I don’t mind starting dinner earlier,” Alex said. “Anyone who wants to join me is welcome to. We can do something simple.”
“I’m up for that,” Greg said, carefully avoiding Taylor’s gaze.
“Let’s get the primary upstairs,” Tim said, suddenly all business. “Those who’d like can come back down sooner.”
Jason’s smile spread slowly across his face. “Reckon one of you should stay upstairs, yeah?”
“Taylor can do that,” Tim decided.
They got him to his room, checked it carefully, and left the two of them together. Taylor wasn’t quite sure what had happened, but suspected she’d been set up. That notion was confirmed when Jason came up behind her, nuzzling her neck with his arms around her waist.
“I’ve been wanting to kiss you all day,” he murmured in her ear. “And wanting you in my bed for the last two hours. It’s been absolute torture.”
“Got you beat, I’ve wanting you for three.”
“I lied, I wanted you again as soon as we finished this morning.”
“Shut up and kiss me.” She turned to him him, taking his face in her hands.
© Dellani Oakes
Content warning. Part 48 contains a hot love scene. If you’re offended by such things, please skip it and wait for Part 49 on Sunday, June 30.
To Purchase Dellani’s Books:
Under the Western Sky http://www.tirgearrpublishing.com/authors/Oakes_Dellani/under-the-western-sky.htm