Protecting Lulu

By: J.M. Jeffries

For a second she thought she saw a glint of respect in Noah Callahan’s eyes. She didn’t know whether to be thrilled or angry. He must have thought she was a real wimp. “Which of my dirty little secrets do you need to know?”

“All of them,” Harrison said easily.

The only secret she could think of at the moment was her stash of white chocolate truffles in the bottom drawer of her nightstand. Lulu sighed. “I have a schedule that would choke an elephant. I’m not dating anyone seriously.” She hadn’t had time to make any enemies that she could think of. “When you say total access to me what exactly does that mean?”

“We are in your life until your stalker is behind bars, Ms. Bennington,” Noah replied.

She didn’t bother to correct him about what to call her, he’d probably just scowl at her. This man did not want to be her friend. He was all about business. The rest of them, she’d have their life stories by dinner time. Noah would take a sledgehammer to crack. She was sure she had one somewhere. If not, she find a Home Depot and buy one. She wondered if they had a Home Depot in Manhattan. “Does that mean you’re going to be living with me?” A little tingle of excitement went up her spine. The thought of sharing personal space with Noah Callahan thrilled her in a way it shouldn’t have.

“If we have to sleep on the stoop,” he said.

She composed herself and smiled. “I have several spare rooms with beds even. Since you might have to take a bullet for me the least I can do is make sure you’re all comfortable.”

Everyone laughed except Noah who simply studied her.

Aiden leaned over. “Somebody is wearing their cranky panties today.”

Lulu giggled. Aiden always knew the right thing to say to diffuse a situation. “You mean besides me.” Lulu stood up and went to the credenza. She and opened a door and grabbed a stack of yellow legal pads and pens, she handed them out. “If you have any meal preferences or allergies please let me know. I’ll have my butler go shopping.” She flashed them all a grin. “At least one person will be happy to see all of you.”

“Who would that be, Ms. Bennington?” Noah inquired politely.

“My housekeeper. She just loves to cook and feeding only me is boring, or so she tells me all the time.” She covered her mouth with her fingertips. “Oh, does that mean we have to put her in the suspect pool?”

“No,” Noah said, his scowl deepening, “she could have poisoned you at any time.”

“That’s good because she used to work for my aunt and I’ve known her since I was ten years old. She’s had plenty of time to ‘do me in’.”

Noah’s long lashed eyes narrowed. Apparently he didn’t appreciate her sense of humor either. Good, he was going to have to put up with her and she wasn’t going to make it easy for him.

For the first time today, she felt a bit more in control. Just the way she liked.

Lulu’s house was a three story brownstone is the nice part of the city. Actually, the house was two brownstones converted into one large one. The street was tree-lined and tucked behind the brownstones was a tiny, vest-pocket park.

The rich were different. Noah thought as he looked around the opulent bedroom, with carved wood furniture and plush carpeting. He hoisted his duffel bag onto a chair. The Bennington’s weren’t rich, they were wealthy. Ian, who was only rich, explained the difference. Ian had money, but the Benningtons could buy him a hundred times over. And rich people worked for wealthy people. Lulu Bennington definitely fell into the wealthy side of the equation.

The door opened and Dante walked in with a dazed expression on his face. “There’s a pool in the basement. A swimming pool, right next to a fully loaded gym we can use anytime we want. This is a sweet set up.” He sat on the bed and bounced a little bit like a kid.

Noah tilted his head. “Damn, kid, you sound like this is your first time off the farm.”

At twenty-eight Dante was the youngest member of the team. He’d grown up dirt poor in Texas as the oldest of eight. He fought and scraped his way into the West Point defying incredible odds to make something of himself.

“Irish, can we make this job last for the next ten years? We can fake it and make it look good.”

Dante was the team joker. He could find the humor in everything.

“Hell no. This place makes me nervous.” Noah glanced around at the bedroom. He lived a Spartan life and all this wealth made him want to run away.

Dante grinned merrily. “I think it’s Lulu who makes you nervous.”

True, but Noah wasn’t going to admit it. He’d die for every member of his team, but he was not going to give up his male dignity for anybody. “She’s just a woman, pretty much like every other one.”

“No, she’s not. Even on her worst day, we’d never be in her league.”

Lulu Bennington was class and he was lucky to be trash on a good day. “Is she going all rich bitch on you?”

Dante averted his eyes looking almost embarrassed. “She’s really nice you know, classy.”

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