Paul, Johnny, and Mike followed Brennan over the grounds to a well maintained stable building. "Abby?" Brennan called as they entered. No answer. He began looking around the building and into different stalls.
"Should we start a search?" Paul asked.
Security at the estate was pretty tight- much better than at Abby's townhouse. That's why Abby was staying with him until this situation was resolved. "She's probably still exercising her horse," Brennan rambled, "She loses all track of time when she's riding." They would check the corral next.
"Does Abby ride often?" Mike asked.
"Almost every day off- weather permitting," Brennan replied, "If you go out with her on the trails the horse you'll take is over here." He took them down to the next stall. "Aslan!" Brennan called. A massive black on black horse rushed to the front.
Aslan's sheer force and size caused Johnny to jump back. He threw up his hands, "That's all you, Mikey."
"What's the matter, big boy? Scared of a little pony?" Paul quipped.
"Little? Pfft. He is huge- I'm not getting on any animal that tall," Johnny replied, "Besides Mike's the animal whisperer." Mike rolled his eyes at his friend.
"Aslan is strong, but trained- very smart," Brennan rubbed Aslan's nose. The horse looked for an apple from his master's hand.
Unbeknownst to the group inside Abby and her two companions were heading towards the stable with Silver. Vance's phone beeped signaling he had a message. He got it out of his pocket and checked to make sure it wasn't the hospital. The id came up with the name Jess. Vance read the text with a smile then slipped it back into his pocket quickly. "Who was that?" Abby asked.
"No one important- just a friend from the hospital," Vance covered. Silver snorted at him. Vance made a face looking at the stable.
"What? It's a stable," Charlie gave him an incredulous look.
"Just cleaned this morning," Abby offered.
"I'll just wait here out of the horse smell," Vance held the door for the ladies. Abby led Silver in. Charlie followed. Good riddance.
They found the men inside. "Daddy?" Abby let go of Silver. Charlie caught the reins while Abby ran to hug her father.
"There you are, Princess," Brennan embraced her tightly. They pulled back. He held onto her for one more moment before letting go. Side by side Mike could see she was very much her father's girl in looks.
"Are these the security people you were talking to?" Abby asked.
"Yes, where are my manners?" Brennan answered. He turned to the three other men bringing Abby with him. "This is my daughter Abigail," Brennan introduced them, "You've met Mr. Briggs- This is Mr. Tuturro."
He stepped forward, "Call me Johnny." Abby met his gaze politely, but couldn't stop her eyes from drifting behind him to his colleague. He was hot. If these were the men that her father was looking to employ as her bodyguards the tall hunk was almost certainly hired.
"And Michael Warren," Brennan caught his daughter's interest in the former FBI agent. Johnny angled so he wasn't between them.
"Miss Sinclair," Mike smiled at the lovely brunette.
"It's Abby," she smiled back, "Can I call you Mike or Michael? Or would you prefer something else?"
He tipped his head, "Mike is just fine, thanks." Abby nodded her understanding. Paul and Brennan gave the three some space and just watched to see how they got along. Brennan wasn't going to hire them if they didn't get along with his daughter.
Charlie brought Silver up to Abby. Abby motioned to her friend, "This is my best friend- Charlie."
"Hello," Charlie waved.
"Miss," Mike greeted.
"We're going to have to watch this one, looks like trouble," Johnny said.
Charlie laughed, "You have no idea." She handed the reins to Abby. Charlie sized up the guy her friend was obviously checking out. "Not bad," Charlie thought to herself. Maybe she wouldn't have to lift a finger to get rid of Vance after all. Having this hunk around Abby untold hours could do wonders. Vance's ego wouldn't be able to handle it. Abby was clearly attracted to Mike too. Double score. And from Mike's body language the feeling was mutual. It was just a matter of time.
Charlie stepped over to Johnny. The two exchanged a knowing look. Leaving the thoughts unspoken. "What do you do, Charlie?" he asked.
"I'm a surgeon," she answered.
"Really? That's cool," Johnny grinned, "With all the scrapes that one and I get into it would be nice to have someone around who could patch us up."
"I would if you could afford me," Charlie teased with a twinkle in her brown eyes. Johnny had to take a double take. There was something very familiar, almost familial, about this woman.
"Who is this?" Mike stepped in closer to Abby.
"Silver," she beamed.
"Nice to meet you, Silver," he patted the horse's powerful neck gently. Abby looked up at Mike. They locked eyes. The only space between them now was the horse. Soon the two were in their own little world.
"Do you ride?" Abby asked.
"No," Mike answered, "It's on my bucket list though."
"We'll have to cross that off soon," she batted her eyes at him.
"I might need a few lessons," he pursed his lips.
"I'll show you the ropes," Abby replied saucily.
Mike licked his lips, "I'd like that."
On the outside Vance got tired of waiting. He entered the stable reluctantly. The first thing that came into view was some guy standing way too close to Abby. Dude was in her personal space. She didn't even seem to mind. They looked much too comfortable together for Vance's liking.
"Hey, Babe," Vance made his presence known. He strode over to Abby and kissed her cheek. Mike noticed Abby bristle. "Did you forget about me?" Vance asked.
"Oh, that's my fault," Brennan covered.
"These are the security people Dad's bringing in for me," Abby added.
"Right," Vance replied, "The bodyguards."
"That is if Abby says so," Brennan looked to the brunette in question.
"Yes, I think we'd get along just fine," Abby gave her approval.
Vance, not waiting for Abby to tell them who he was, leaned forward. "Vance, the boyfriend." He was introduced to Briggs and Johnny. Vance shook their hands in turn. Then he came to Mike. Vance straightened to his full height. Mike didn't flinch.
"Mike," the security expert reached out.
"Mike," Vance repeated as they shook hands. Mike felt the jealousy roll off the other man. It took all Mike had not to laugh. They wouldn't be going there. He couldn't afford to fall for a client. Though Mike would admit he was very tempted by Abby. She definitely gave him an ego boost by choosing to flirt with him. When they finished shaking hands Mike turned his attention back to Abby.
She spoke first, "Has Dad showed you the other horses?"
"Well, Aslan," Mike said.
"He's Dad's and probably the one you'd ride- Aslan is the strongest," Abby said.
"There are others?" Johnny asked.
"Marjorie over there makes three," Abby indicated a stall across the way where a pinto mare stood, "She's the boss of the place- keeps these boys in line."
"That she does, my dear," Brennan replied. Charlie grinned. Marjorie was her kind of girl.
"Silver is the fastest," Abby puffed up with pride.
Brennan looked to Paul. "Why don't we let them get acquainted? We can go get the final details ironed out."
"Great idea," Paul replied, "I'll see you guys before I leave." Johnny and Mike nodded. Paul and Brennan headed back to the main house.
"May I have a moment with my girlfriend?" Vance asked.
Feeling Mike and Charlie's gazes on her Abby shrugged, "We'll be back."
"Stay in sight," Mike requested. Abby nodded. Handing off Silver, she and Vance went further into the stable. Mike and the horse kept eyes on them.
"What the hell was that?" Vance demanded.
"What?" Abby frowned.
"You and muscle boy," he raised an eyebrow.
"Grow up," she crossed her arms over her chest.
"The two of you were getting pretty cozy," Vance needled.
Abby glared at him, "It's ok for you to make out with some nurse, but I can't flirt with anyone else?"
"I already apologized for kissing Jess," he said.
"Oh, that's her name," she chuckled unamused.
"Not the point," Vance shook his head, "I not totally comfortable with you being around a guy, who you'd flirt with, all day every day for who knows how long this is going to last."
"Jess works at the hospital with you," Abby threw back.
"She's not with me all the time," he countered.
"Mike's here to protect me- not to flirt," she asserted, "We were just having fun- cool your jets." Nothing was going to come of it away. Abby spun around and left him to think.
She returned to the group. "Are you all right?" Mike asked.
"I'm fine," Abby smiled.
"Do I need to deck him?" Charlie offered.
"I could take him down if you'd like," Johnny backed her up.
"Thanks, but no," Abby tugged on the end of her braid.
"Why don't we get Silver settled then show the guys around?" Charlie suggested.
"Sounds like a plan," Abby nodded. Between the four of them it didn't take long at all. Mike & Abby were the last out of Silver's stall. "I hope you like to run," Abby closed the gate. Vance decided to come out of sulking and join them.
"Run?" Johnny's brow furrowed.
"I take a run every morning," Abby explained.
"I used to," Mike replied, "It'll be great to get into it again."
"Wonderful," Vance muttered under his breath.
"So 6:30 sharp," Abby said.
"I'll be there early," Mike said. He and Johnny would be staying at the estate. One of them would go with her everywhere she needed to go until the threat got neutralized.
Paul and Brennan were almost to the mansion when the latter's cell phone rang. They stopped for him to answer. "Hello?"
"I see the baby bird came back to the nest," a robotic sounding voice said.
"Who are you?" Brennan demanded.
"Someone whose got eyes on you."
"What do you want?" Brennan asked.
"Taking Abigail back under wing does not ensure her safety," the voice ignored the question.
"Leave Abby out of this," Brennan instructed, "Just tell me what you want."
"We'll be in touch." The connection went dead. Brennan stared wide eyed at Paul.