The night brought on a whirlwind of activity. I watched from my window in resignation as an endless stream of strangers made their way in and out of my house. Large, black steel boxes of God knows what littered my lawn, and all the while X stood there on the porch like a sentry, barking orders and talking through an earpiece.
It all seemed to be a little much. All this extended effort for me and my safety. I rubbed the small lump on my head that was finally healing and felt a now-familiar sadness overwhelm me. It was hard to believe that one of my fans was hell-bent on causing me serious harm. But as I looked back down into my front yard, glimpsing all the activity, I knew that some people here took the threat very seriously.
X stood with his arms crossed over his wide chest, his face unreadable. He wore all black, and even from a distance I could sense the heat and energy coming off his frame. I had never seen a man so—capable and in charge. If there was anyone I should trust with my security, I knew intuitively he was the man. But that didn’t mean I had to like him. The man seemed to have the personality of a rock. An angry rock.
I mean, I don’t know what I’d hoped for when he arrived, but I figured we could at least be civil to each other. We’d be spending a lot of time in each other’s company, after all. It’s not like I expected friendship or anything. Ha—just the thought was a joke. I didn’t make friends easily. Besides my crew, I didn’t have friends. Besides my fans, I didn’t have family.
Growing up in the foster system wasn’t exactly conducive training on how to form lasting relationships. Joe and Big had been the exception when I met them at my last house, when I was seventeen. We bonded instantly, but that had more to do with their personalities than mine. Yup. I was pretty much hopeless at relationships of every kind.
Shaking away the negative thoughts, I looked back at X, only to find that he was looking directly at me. A chill ran up my spine at being caught, but I held his stare, not wanting him to grab the upper hand.
The man had been incredibly rude earlier when I tried to bring him some towels as a peace offering. I’d decided then that I wasn’t going to make any more effort.
I watched as he reached up and pressed a button on his earpiece. My phone started ringing a moment later.
At the sound, Bellatrix lifted her head from her position on my lap and barked. Scratching her tummy, I reached over to my nightstand to grab my phone. Huh? I stared at the screen for a moment in shock.
Oh, this was just going too far.
I stared in anger at the single letter—a letter that I hadn’t stored—flashing on the screen. Swiping my finger to answer the call, I pushed the curtains aside to glare down at him. “So now you’re breaking into my phone?”
“We had to exchange phone numbers, E.”
“Don’t call me that. And usually to exchange numbers two people have to be involved!”
“E, I was hired to protect you—”
“Stop calling me that! And does protecting me mean invading my privacy and personal space? Is that what they teach you over in the secret service?” I leaned into the glass, wanting him to see my face and how angry I was.
My mouth dropped open. Bellatrix felt the tension simmering in me and jumped off my lap. “This is unacceptable. I’m letting you take over my house. I’m letting you move in with me—”
“The least you could do is respect me as a person. You can’t just do things like that without asking.” I stood up and tried to singe him with my eyes through the glass.
He stood there, calm as a damned cucumber, meeting my gaze. “For the next four months, you and I will have no secrets.”
“No secrets? What does that even mean?”
“You heard me. I already told you. I refuse to deal with unreasonable pushback. This conversation is irrelevant.”
I stood up straight. “So you’re just going to run right over me?”
“If I have to. Now come down here; there are a few things I need to show you.”
He hung up on me and turned around, directing his attention elsewhere. I fumed at the window for a few moments before stalking toward the door. Oh, I was going down there all right. Grabbing a sweatshirt, I stormed downstairs, intent on finding the arrogant jackass to give him a piece of my mind. I really, really didn’t like him.