“Wilson, why didn’t you tell me how beautiful your sister was, or that she owned a restaurant, for Pete’s sakes?” Jedidiah held the phone up to his ear with one hand while he poured juice into a tall glass with the other, returned it to the fridge and nudged the door shut with a leg before walking out to the patio where he had a steak on the grill that sizzled and smoked, causing his mouth to water. He plopped into one of the cushioned chairs and grinned in laziness.
“I didn’t think it mattered what she did for a living, or what she looked like for that matter. She’s a job, Jedidiah, and that’s it.” There was a barely concealed warning in his words.
“That’s why I’m asking you why you didn’t tell me. You know I can’t resist a beautiful woman, especially one who has her head on straight.”
“She’s been hurt, and I don’t want it to happen again. Please don’t make me regret my choice in you.” Wilson’s tone had turned frigid much like his sister’s had at the mention of her beauty earlier that morning.
Jedidiah couldn’t help wondering what had happened, and who had been dumb enough to hurt her. “I will protect her, Wilson. You know I’m good at my job. Are you going to tell me why she needs protection?”
“Five years ago she was living in the city. One of the guys in her apartment building walked out on the roof one night and saw her, and heard her singing. He told police he thought she was an angel and couldn’t help getting a closer look. He was hyped up on drugs, and he attacked her, Jedidiah.”
“What did he do?”
“Man, don’t ask that question.”
“I’m sorry.” He rubbed a hand across his bristly face. “Okay, not trying to be rude or callous, but why does she need a bodyguard? You said it was imperative I get here before tomorrow.”
“His lawyer appealed the case and they’re letting him out because of some technicality, some mistake they made during prosecution. His release date is set for tomorrow and he said during sentencing if he got out he was coming back for round two.”
“Why would they let him out then?” Anger sprung up from Jedidiah’s gut at the injustice of the world.
Wilson’s voice turned husky. “I don’t know, and she doesn’t know about it yet.”
“What? You have to tell her.”
“I tried, but couldn’t. It’s bad enough I was deployed, I couldn’t dump that on her too.”
“I see why you needed me then.” He rubbed a hand across his evening stubble again ad sighed.
“I would’ve needed you whether she knew, or not. As I said, he said he would come back for round two if he got out.”
“Do you think he will?”
“I don’t know, but I don’t want to take any chances, and that’s why I called you.”
“Why did you choose me?”
“I trust you man. You stood beside me in ’08 when everybody else high-tailed it out of there.”
“I was doing my job, Wilson. I didn’t even know you.”
“That’s the point.”
“I won’t take your money, man. You have enough on your plate.”
“Yes you will. You have to get paid to do your job.”
Jedidiah didn’t bother telling him he didn’t need the money. He would just send the checks back. “She was scared to death of Hairy.” He laughed at the remembrance of her cowering against the glass door of the restaurant, until he remembered what Wilson had told him. No wonder she was freaked out. Resolve washed through him. “I will protect her with my life, and if that scumbag comes near her he’ll go right back to prison. Send me his info and some photos so I can prepare.”
“Go to my apartment and get in the second drawer in the kitchen. Everything you need to know is in the yellow envelope. I left a key for you under the wheel well of my car. It’s the black one right in front of the door.”
“I’ll go over as soon as Hairy and I devour the steak cooking on my grill.” He looked over at the beast in question, who had drool dripping from his powerful jaws.
“Okay, I have to go. I’ll check in tomorrow.”
“Okay, talk to you then.” Jedidiah sat the phone down on the table beside him and got up to take his steak from the grill, Hairy hot on his heels.
“You can wait your turn, Hairy. After me you come first.”
Hairy whined, seeming to know what his master was saying.
“That’s right.” Jedidiah cut the thick, juicy steak with a knife and threw a piece down to his faithful partner. Yep, he would guard the beautiful woman with his life, and Hairy would help him.
“Hairy, I don’t know how we’re going to guard her without her finding out, unless I pretend personal interest in her.” He looked down at the dog, and he turned his head as if waiting for him to go on. “Who am I kidding? I wouldn’t be pretending. She’s beautiful, sassy, and obviously strong. What more could a guy want in a woman?”
The dog whined and blinked his eyes.
“Yeah, that was my thought too.” He threw the dog another piece of meat, finished the last bite and took his plate into the kitchen. He needed to get to Wilson’s apartment before it got too late.
Jedidiah used the key Wilson left him and walked down the small hallway, and stopped to survey the first room. It was just like Wilson; clean, compact, and practical. There weren’t any geegaw type things; just a table, four chairs and a china cabinet that contained an inexpensive set of dishes. The living room boasted a cheap dark brown couch, love seat, and chair with equally cheap tables and lamps. He grinned. Wilson was a man after his own heart; no frills, no mess, just essentials.
He walked into the kitchen. The counters were bare. He opened the refrigerator and grinned again. Empty, too. He’d been smart enough not to leave anything to spoil.
“Okay, Jedidiah, get on with it.” He opened the second drawer and pulled out the envelope, opened it, and the first thing to fall out was a picture of the attacker. He shook his head. “He looks like a normal guy.” His hair was cut and styled and he smiled at whoever held the camera. He shoved it back in and pulled out some more papers that looked like trial transcripts. He slid them back in and pushed the silver wings of the clasp back out, slipped the envelope under his arm and left the apartment. I’ll look at them at home and let Hairy get a good look, too.