Fiance by Friday(6)

By: Catherine Bybee


Guns, explosions…burning bodies.

“I don’t.”

“I’ve heard that a lack of dreams is a sign of poor health.” She twirled a lock of hair and stared out the back door. The door that should be closed, locked, and alarmed.

“There’s nothing wrong with my health. How long are you keeping that door open?”

Gwen stopped playing with her hair and looked around the room. “Are you watching me?”

Neil swallowed…hard.

“Neil?”

“You need to lock the door and reset the alarm.”

Gwen turned to a kitchen chair and lifted her foot on top of it. The short nightgown rode higher on her thigh as she played at scratching her leg, which he knew wasn’t by accident. She knew he was watching her. Gwen had been flirting with him for a very long time.

“Lock the door, Gwen.”

“I like the breeze. It’s warmer here than in Malibu.”

“Turn on the air conditioner.” And put your leg down.

“You’re worried for nothing, Neil. No one is out to harm Karen or myself.”

“Lock the door.”

“I’m hanging up now, Neil. Try and get some sleep.”

He knew she wasn’t going to close the door, let alone lock it. “Gwen!”

“Sweet dreams.”

“Damn it, Gwen!”

She hung up, ignoring his request. There was only one person who refused to take his direction and it was Gwen Harrison…no, Lady Gwen Harrison.

Lady Gwen finished her tea in the breeze before locking the screen door the neighborhood cat could breach. And then, she turned off the kitchen light and left the room.

Leaving the back door wide open.

I didn’t want to sleep tonight anyway.





Chapter Two



Gwen moved the blinds a fraction of an inch and peered outside. Across the street, Neil reclined in the front seat of his dark sedan, his head bobbing every so often as he fought sleep.

A tiny bit of guilt laced her thoughts when she’d peeked through an hour earlier and realized that Neil had driven over sometime in the night to keep an eye on her. She’d kept the back door open to prod him, but she hadn’t thought he’d actually come over and do anything about it.

She’d been wrong.

The remorse she felt was cloaked by something else…exhilaration.

The man cared. Oh, he tried hard not to, but Gwen knew that somewhere in that hard shell of a man was a huge heart.

He kept his distance from her every chance he could. Physically anyway. He’d not once taken her up on her not so subtle hints about her attraction to him. He was as movable as a brick wall at times. Yet last night, all it took was one open door and he was there.

Hmmm, she’d have to think about that.

In the kitchen, the coffeemaker pinged to tell her it was finished brewing. Although she preferred tea, she made a pot of coffee, intending to apologize for her actions by giving Neil something for his trouble.

Not the something she truly wanted to give him, but something he’d actually accept.

Gwen poured a cup, considered cream and sugar, and then shook her head.

He’ll take it black. Anything else simply wouldn’t fit his personality. Strong, robust…

He’ll take it black.

Gwen tightened the belt on her soft, pink bathrobe and slid her feet into matching slippers. With a cup of coffee in hand, she stepped into the early morning dew.

The quiet Tarzana neighborhood had yet to wake and the street was void of any activity.

Peering into the tinted window of the car Gwen spotted a laptop computer and a tablet, both of which streamed video feeds of her home. Neil’s head listed to the side and his massive chest rose and fell in even breaths.

He does sleep.

Her earlier excitement shifted back to guilt.

She took a deep, fortifying breath and laid her knuckles to the window. She tapped lightly, hoping she wouldn’t jar Neil awake.

Her plan didn’t work.

Neil’s explosive response, complete with a gun coming from nowhere and pointed directly at her, resulted in her screaming and the coffee cup crashing to the ground.

Her heart lodged somewhere in her throat and her leg blistered in pain from hot coffee and shards of glass.

Recognition washed over Neil’s face. His gun disappeared and he pushed himself out of his car.

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