The Beast in Him
Page 19

 Shelly Laurenston

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He pushed her into a chair and sat across from her.
Heres your fou-fou drink. He placed it in front of her. And my manly regular coffee. He sipped it and made a satisfied ahhh sound that made her want to twist his nipples off.
What do you want? she asked yet again.
Lets start off easy. What do you do?
What do I do about what?
I see easy is still lost on you. I mean, what do you do, Jessie Ann? What pays for your precious overhead?
Systems security.
Which means what exactly?
She went to stand up and she saw him tense. Would he actually chase her down? Would she mind?
Stay, she commanded before walking over to the counter that held all the necessary condiments for coffee drinkers. She grabbed a handful of brown-sugar and saccharine packets, wood stirrers, a metal container holding cream, and napkins, but the napkins were really for her since she had a tendency to wear her liquids as much as drink them.
Sitting back down, she placed the creamer on the table. This is your company. See how its unprotected? All alone in the big bad world. And look, its saccharine coming to attack. Jess placed several of the blue packets down, aimed toward the creamer. Then she broke the sticks in half and gave them swords. See? Theyre armed and dangerous. She placed the brown-sugar packets between the creamer and the saccharine. But look! Its the sugars coming to protect us! Now, thoroughly enjoying herself, she gave the sugar packets swords too. Saccharine chargesshe moved the packets forwardbut the sugars battle them back with skill and the darkness within us all. Theyre not afraid to kill and destroy in the name of justiceand cold, hard cash.
Jess grinned, extremely pleased with her presentation. But when she looked up at Smitty, he sat there with his elbow on the table, his chin resting in the palm of his hand, and he was staring at her.
What? she demanded. Thats not clear?
Dang but she was cute. Cute as hell. Even when making absolutely no sense with her sugar packets and little sticks. No, its not clear.
Rolling her eyes, she sat back in her chair like a disgruntled child. We create security systems for companies to protect them from your run-of-the-mill hackers to hardcore identity thieves, she quickly rattled off. We do hard coding, create software, and can even train a companys IT people to help a company protect themselves. We have a lot of overseas clients, and the government has used us on occasion to train their people or to give advice. But we make them nervous, so they wont give us any clearance. I blame Danny. But thats another story. There?Happy now?
Why didnt you say all that in the first place?
I gave you swords and a battle. A hero and an enemy. A defenseless damsel in distress. I gave you the makings of a terrific tale to tell your children.
All right then.
Forget it. She glanced at her watch. Look, Ive really got to
Lord, Jessie. He reached across the table and grabbed her hand, pulling her arm out until he could look at her watch. Thats a lot of watch for a little gal. What do you need it for?
To tell time.
Ive seen admirals with the same watch. You planning on attacking those deadly saccharine packets by sea?
Her eyes narrowed the tiniest bit and Smitty wondered how long before she decked him.
Is there anything else you want? Thats a nicely loaded question. Or can I go now?
Sure, you can go.
Thank you, she said in an exasperated sigh. Then she pushed her chair back and stood.
As Jessie walked past him, he added, I understand youre afraid.
Not surprisingly, she froze in her tracks. Even when he had to coax her from trees, Jessie would get insulted if he even suggested she might be afraid. To her, hiding in trees and under bleachers was merely a preventive measure that any sensible person would do. Excuse me?
Youre afraid. I completely understand. He patted her hand like he would his grandmother. Its all right. You go on now.
She took two steps back until she stood right next to him. Afraid of what?
Of your feelings for me. Thats why youre fighting me so hard.
I do not have feelings for youother than hatred.
Now, Jessie Ann, weve always been honest with each other. Just admit you still want meafter all these years.
She threw up her hands. Im walking away from this conversation.
He figured. But he simply couldnt help himself. It was such fun torturing her.
Smitty jumped up and followed after her. As he reached the door shed already gone through, she was suddenly back, her small body slamming into his.
Whats wrong?
Uh... She looked back and then shoved him onto a small couch. Sitting down next to him, she grabbed his arm and yanked it over her shoulders. Now just sit there and look pretty.
A few moments later, three men walked through the door. Two were full-human, but the one whose eyes locked on Jessie...
Immediately, Smitty recognized the wild dog from Saturday night.