Miami Bodyguard (Kendall Family Book 5)(8)

By: Jennifer Ann

Either the cast and crew don’t know what went down after the premiere, or they’re smart enough not to bring it up. The same goes for Theo. Hell, I could’ve slept with my ex that night and Theo wouldn’t have a clue. He probably spent the night facedown in a vat of coke.

It’s bad enough Charlie and Evelyn have been treating me like I’m made of glass. They’ve waited on me hand and foot since I came home from the hospital, hardly giving me a minute alone. I’m thrilled they’re leaving tomorrow so my life can resume with some kind of normalcy.

When the producer confirms that I won’t be needed for another hour at the earliest, I tighten the sash on my robe and head down the hallway for craft services. I didn’t have a chance to grab something earlier, and my stomach’s unsettled after the last benzo.

I laugh to myself, remembering when the doctor in the ER asked about my prescription, and warned me on the dangers of abusing benzos. It’s nothing I hadn’t heard before, and I promised him that I’d stick to the recommended dosage. He didn’t need to know I’ve moved on to Theo’s supply.

I’m picking at what’s left of the fruit arrangement when I hear my name called. My sister and her husband appear from around the corner with a giant man trailing behind. I assume it’s their bodyguard until Charlie moves out of the way and Asher’s dark eyes come into view.

The plate clutched in my hands almost goes crashing to the floor. With the sight of my twin brothers’ old friend, my heart races so quickly that I half expect it to burst from my chest.

Am I seeing things?

“One of the writers told us you’d be back here,” Evelyn tells me, stepping in for a hug. “Hope it’s okay we stopped by. I thought maybe I could get that tour you promised before we leave in the morning.”

I squeeze her back, swallowing down a chunk of pineapple in the process. I’m surprised when I don’t choke. “Yeah sure. I mean…of course!”

Once I release her, my eyes are drawn like magnets to where Asher stands, hands shoved in the pockets of his cargo shorts, heated gaze drinking me in as if seeing me for the first time. With the slow, sexy smile spreading across his face, I’m guessing he likes what he sees. And I do too.

God, he’s sexier and more muscular than I remembered. Chest hard beneath a Highly Suspect t-shirt, arms a canvas of bulging masculinity and colorful tattoos, thick lips showing off pearly-white teeth. His skin glows with a tan that’s not as dark as most Floridians, but enough to make me wonder if he’s spent a considerable amount of time on one of the lakes back home. Could he have changed that much since we last saw each other, or do I just appreciate him more after spending all this time with someone who’s totally into himself?

Heat spreads through my cheeks. The night of James and Sharlo’s wedding, when we both stayed over at my sister Sofia’s place, I walked in on Asher face down in bed, stark naked. He has the kind of perfectly sculpted ass that would have men’s underwear companies tripping over themselves for a chance to represent their brand.

If my brother-in-law hadn’t interrupted our late night conversation, I may have taken Asher up on his suggestion to have a quick fling. We didn’t have a whole lot of time alone that night, but I remember him being fiercely protective, and igniting intense bolts of pleasure just from being in his presence.

“Ash,” I half-whisper as butterflies take flight in my stomach. Holding an arm over my waist, I throw him a bright smile. “What the heck are you doing here?”

His lips quirk with a deeper smile that has my toes curling. “Wanted to see for myself what the hype was all about.” Chuckling in his deep, rolling voice, he closes the distance between us, wrapping me in his warm arms and delicious scent. “Good to see you, Ang. It’s been way too damn long.”

The sincerity behind his words brings tears to my eyes. Inside the warmth of his solid embrace, I’m surprised that I don’t melt to the floor.

Everything about this moment, being around loved ones, reminds me of how blessed I was growing up. I was surrounded by friends and family who actually gave a shit about me as a person, and weren’t merely interested what I could do to boost their career. They’re the type that would do anything for each other. I used to think “Minnesota nice” was a disease. Now I have a deep appreciation for that way of life.

I rapidly blink the moisture back into my eyes before he draws away.

“How long are you staying in Miami?” I ask, my fingers lingering on his thick bicep like they have a mind of their own. I’m so drawn to him that I couldn’t step away if I tried. “I have to work tomorrow, but I’d have time to show you around on Saturday.”