Sweet possession, p.5
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       Sweet Possession, p.5
 

         Part #5 of Sweet series by Maya Banks
Page 5

 

  Hell, she wouldn’t even drive through the godforsaken state. She was sure her road crew thought she was nuts because she made them detour around the state when they’d driven from New Orleans to Atlanta.

  She got out of her car and straightened her suede miniskirt. She had on a killer pair of heels. They were total fuck-me shoes and gave her a much-needed three inches in height. She liked looking good. It gave her confidence, especially in situations where she felt at a disadvantage. Not that she’d ever admit such a thing to anyone. Only a moron admitted weakness to her enemies.

  She slipped her shades down over her nose like a shield and entered the building.

  “Ms. Jones?”

  Lyric turned in the direction of the feminine voice to see a blond woman standing in the doorway to the front office.

  “I’m Lyric Jones,” she acknowledged.

  The woman smiled and walked forward, her hand stuck out. “Faith Montgomery. I’m Connor’s sister. They’re waiting for you in the conference room. I’ll show you back. ”

  Lyric shook her hand and felt distinctly uncomfortable. Faith struck her as one of those genuine, disgustingly nice people, and Lyric was never sure how to act around them. Nobody was genuine in her world.

  Silently she followed Faith down the hallway. Faith walked through the open door and the room went quiet. All eyes fell on Lyric when she came in behind Faith. Lyric surveyed the room with a frown, noticing quite a few faces she didn’t recognize.

  “Please have a seat,” Faith said. “Can I get you some coffee?”

  Lyric shook her head but managed a smile since Faith was being so . . . nice.

  “Lyric, glad you made it,” Phillip said as he stood.

  There was surprise in his voice. He’d expected her to be late. A quick glance at Connor told her nothing about what he thought or didn’t think. She wasn’t going to admit that she was disappointed. She’d wanted a reaction of some type. Even if it wasn’t a good one. This seeming indifference he showed toward her irritated her.

  The older man who’d been sitting next to Phillip also stood, and he made his way to where Lyric stood.

  “I’m Pop Malone, Connor’s father,” he said. “It’s nice to meet you, Ms. Jones. ”

  “It’s nice to meet you too, Mr. Malone,” she said smoothly as she extended her hand.

  “I want you to meet the rest of my staff,” Pop said as he turned in the direction of the seated men. “You’ve already met my daughter, Faith. That’s her husband, Gray Montgomery. Next to him is Nathan Tucker and sitting by Connor is Micah Hudson. ”

  “Are they going to be my security team?” she asked sweetly.

  “Their women would chew you up and spit you out,” Connor said dryly as he stood.

  She raised an eyebrow. “Then why are they all here?”

  “To see me suffer. ”

  Color rose in her cheeks. She couldn’t think of a single comeback for that one. She was used to being a veritable circus act. It shouldn’t surprise her that Connor’s coworkers had come to see the train wreck.

  She took a seat at the very end of the table so she’d be as far from the others as possible. To her surprise, Connor moved to the chair next to her.

  He was way too close and she fidgeted nervously in her seat. He glanced her way once and lifted a brow. Damn, but the man was sexy in a disdainful, you-annoy-me kind of way. She had to be a masochist. It was the only explanation for her bizarre attraction to him. Rejection wasn’t her thing. Neither was hooking up with someone who looked at her like he would dirt on his shoe.

  But the truth was, she’d thought a lot about that kiss. It had kept her up the previous night—that and the fact that she was alone, and she hated being alone.

  There was some serious chemistry between her and Connor

  Malone, and it was a pity, because they could barely stand the sight of each other. He was probably the only man on earth who’d turn her down flat anyway.

  “Would you care to offer your opinion, Ms. Jones?” Connor asked dryly.

  She blinked and realized that the entire table was looking at her, obviously waiting for her response. She faked a yawn, adopted a bored look and studied her nails.

  “Sorry, I didn’t get much sleep last night. ”

  Connor’s eyes narrowed and she gazed at him with wide eyes, a look she knew to be successful on most men. But then, Connor wasn’t most men. He didn’t look impressed even if the other men at the table looked a little gobsmacked.

  “If you’re through wasting our time,” Connor began.

  “I’m paying for your time, so it’s mine to do with what I want,” she drawled.

  Connor stood and looked down the table at the others. “Would you all excuse us? I believe Ms. Jones and I have things we need to discuss. Privately. ”

  “The hell—”

  The look he gave her stopped the protest before it could be fully launched. For the first time, she felt herself backing down. The man made her nervous, and that pissed her off. Didn’t just piss her off. It made her furious.

  When everyone had left, Connor turned and planted his palms on the table in front of her. “Let me get something straight. You didn’t hire me. You can’t fire me. You have nothing I want or need. I don’t give a shit if you like me. I don’t particularly like you. It’s my job to keep you safe, and I’m going to do just that. Which means you’re going to listen to everything I tell you. ”

  How utterly ridiculous that she flinched when he’d baldly said he didn’t like her. Like that should come as a surprise? Nobody liked her. People tolerated her. They used her. But they didn’t like her. Why should Connor Malone be any different? Why did she want him to be?

  “What your idiot of a record label executive hasn’t told you is that they’ve been monitoring threats over your last five shows. Some asshole is leaving you notes in places he shouldn’t have access to. ”

  Lyric curled her fingers into fists and stared up at Connor. “What are you talking about?”

  “Just what I said. They’ve found notes on your bus, in your dressing room, on your guitar case. Whoever’s doing it is getting way too close to you. ”

  She forced her hands to relax and then wiped her palms down the soft suede of her skirt. “Why didn’t they tell me?”

  “They didn’t trust you not to do something stupid. ”

  She blew out her breath in frustration. “Nice. ”

  He arched an eyebrow. “Do they have reason to believe any other way?”

  “Whether or not they thought they knew how I’d react, I had a right to know. ”

  Connor nodded. “On that point we agree, which is why I’m telling you now. Maybe now you’ll see that this isn’t some fucking game. This is your life, and it’s my job to make sure you stay alive. Now, are you going to help me or are you going to do everything you can to make my job harder?”

  Slowly she shook her head.

  “Which is it?”

  “I’ll . . . ” She swallowed and then turned her gaze up to meet his once more. “I’ll cooperate. I’ll try. ”

  He folded his arms over his chest and leaned against the edge of the table. “You’ll do more than try. ”

  She held her hands up in surrender. “Whatever. You’re the boss. ”

  He smiled and it made him look so arrogant she was tempted to haul him down and kiss him senseless again.

  “Glad you recognize that fact. We’ll get along just fine as long as you remember that little tidbit. ”

  Slowly she got to her feet. “Are we finished now?”

  He nodded.

  She reached into her bag for her keys and walked toward the door, unsure of what the hell had just happened. She was a little shell-shocked and off balance. She needed a little time to process the storm that was Connor Malone.

  Connor fell into step behind her but she paid him little attention. She walked into the reception area where the others were all standing a
round talking. She didn’t miss the way conversation stopped or the way they all stared at her as she went by.

  “Bye, Ms. Jones. It was nice meeting you,” Faith called.

  Lyric looked up and smiled, because really, not smiling at the really nice blond woman was like kicking a puppy. You just didn’t do it. And the truth was, there was something about Faith that just made a person a little warm on the inside.

  Clearly Lyric needed a drink to get over that little burst of poetry. She could get drunk and write a song about sunshine and dedicate it to Faith.

  She bit her lip to call back the laughter and offered a wave to everyone as she left the building.

  Ah, freedom. Not that she liked being alone, but somehow, right now it was preferable to being cooped up in a room full of people who made her feel vastly inferior. She was the famous superstar, and yet a group of good ole boys and Miss Sunshine made her feel not good enough.

  It wasn’t until she reached her car that she realized Connor had followed her out. She frowned as she unlocked her doors. He was taking his job a little too seriously for her liking.

  Determined to ignore him, she slid into the driver’s seat just as he opened the passenger door and got in beside her.

  She paused after she put the key in the ignition and looked questioningly at him. “What are you doing?”

  He looked at her like she was a moron for asking the obvious. “I believe we’ve been over this. You’re in danger. I’ve been hired to keep you safe. Therefore, for the next two weeks, where you go, I go. ”

  Her mouth gaped open. “Are you serious?”

  He gazed coolly at her. “Does it look like I’m joking?”

  “But I’m just going back to my hotel. ”

  “Hope you have a double, because I’m not sleeping on the floor. ”

  CHAPTER 5

  Lyric flexed her hands as she navigated the busy streets back to her downtown hotel. Connor rode in silence next to her, his gaze fixed out of his window as if he found her company tedious.

  She frowned. She did not want him in her hotel room. He wouldn’t fit! He was too big. Too overbearing. Maybe she could inquire about an adjoining room and he’d be satisfied with having access. Then if she forgot and locked the door, she could say oops and he wouldn’t be invading her space.

  She hadn’t reserved a suite. Too much empty space with no people to fill it up and make her feel less lonely and . . . panicked. She’d taken a ridiculously small room and then filled it with all the stuff she’d brought with her because it had made her feel like she wasn’t alone.

  No way she wanted Connor Malone intruding. The mere idea had her breaking out in a cold sweat. She embraced a crowd. But being one-on-one? Especially with someone like Connor?

  God.

  She drove up to the front entrance and the valet opened her door for her. She dropped the keys into his hand and strode around to the revolving doors that led into the lobby.

  Connor was waiting and walked in practically attached to her hip. The man was tall and muscled and he took over her space to the point that with every inhale, his scent was permanently imprinted on her.

  He frowned when she resisted him herding her to the elevator and headed to the front desk instead.

  “What are you doing?”

  “Seeing if they have another room for you,” Lyric muttered. She put on her widest smile when the desk clerk asked if her if he could help.

  Connor put his hand over hers and squeezed. A warning. “There’ll be no separate room. ”

  The clerk raised his eyebrows and glanced between Connor and Lyric with undisguised interest.

  Lyric tried to wrest her hand from his grip but he tightened his fingers over hers.

  “There isn’t room for you,” she hissed. “Not even on the floor! I have a single. It’s barely a shoe box. ”

  “Since you’re only spending tonight here, we can deal. ”

  “But my reservations are for two weeks!”

  Connor turned to the clerk and smiled. “She’s had a change in itinerary. We’ll be checking out in the morning. ”

  Before she could utter another word, Connor took her elbow and propelled her toward the elevator. She had to hoof it to keep up with his pace, and the heels she wore weren’t conducive to a footrace. It was hard to look sexy and elegant when she was worried about tripping over her own feet.

  “Damn it, Malone,” she huffed when the elevator doors closed. “I don’t care what you were hired to do. You aren’t staying in my room. ”

  “The name is Connor. Use it. And get over it. We’re going to be up close and personal for the next two weeks. My advice is to quit bitching and resign yourself to the inevitable. ”

  She closed her eyes and bumped her head against the back of the elevator. She knew she sounded petulant and unreasonable, but the idea of him being in her personal space was seriously freaking her out.

  Her breath huffed out in jerky little spurts until her vision blurred and she grew light-headed. She was dimly aware of Connor’s frown and a muttered curse, but then, that shouldn’t surprise her. It seemed it was all he did around her.

 
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