Dangerously Involved(10)

By: Sidney Bristol

“No idea.” He grimaced. Yvonne hadn’t been talkative or forthcoming about what filled the gaps in her schedule. He also hadn’t failed to notice how little she ate or how many times they rushed back to the suite.

She was sick, but holding it together.

“Vaughn is in the suite standing by if you need to switch off.”

“I’m good.”

Nolan wasn’t going to trust Yvonne to the other guys.

It wasn’t that his team wasn’t up to looking out for her. No, it was a baser instinct that irritated him. She’d been his, only for a night, but he still didn’t want to allow any other man near her. Yeah, it made zero sense, but he was going with it.

Theodore jogged down the stairs and slapped Grant on the shoulder.

“How’d we do?” Theodore grinned.

“Sounded good. Crowd ate it up,” Grant said without missing a beat.

Nolan stepped around them to the stairs. The rickety handrail wobbled under Yvonne’s grasp too much for his liking.

“Here.” He held his right hand out to her.

She paused, glancing from his palm to his face and back.

Was she really going to turn her nose up at him?

Her berry colored lips pressed tight together.

At least he’d tried.

Yvonne let go of the railing. The stair under her shifted. She snatched at his hand, holding on for dear life.

He grit his teeth as he realized she hadn’t been hesitating. She’d been trying to not fall.

The damn stair was a hazard.

Nolan let the bag hang from his elbow and placed his left hand on her back, steadying her as she descended the rest of the way to the floor. She held tight to him for a moment more, drawing in a deep, steadying breath.

“Someone’s going to break a leg on that thing,” he muttered.

She released his hand and straightened her jacket. “Thank you.”

He followed her gaze to where her brother was already surrounded by a cluster of men slapping his shoulder. Not a one glanced her way.

For a moment, he wasn’t standing here in Japan in a fancy hotel doing his job. He was sixteen watching his parents fawn over his younger brother for warming a seat on the bench while Nolan hit the winning home runs.

Yeah, he knew what it was like to be the forgotten sibling.

“You did a good job up there,” Nolan said.

“Good enough, I suppose.” She glanced at her purse he was still holding. “Oh, I can take that back. Sorry.”

“Not a problem.” He gave it back to her. “Plans for this evening?”

“No.” Yvonne finally looked away from her brother and ran a hand through her hair, pushing it over her shoulder.

He opened his mouth to suggest one or two of the evening activities, then thought better of it. Why was it Nolan’s automatic response to her was to make the situation better?

She’d carried half the weight of the presentation tonight and yet no one had acknowledged her part in it. If he did anything she’d bristle. He was in a no-win situation he didn’t like, and shouldn’t give two fucks about.

“I’m going to head up to the suite.” She reached into her purse and pulled out her phone.

“Alright.” Nolan waited for her to lead. He wanted his eyes on her at all time.

The conference was secure. Anyone who attempted a kidnapping here would have to get through several layers of protection. It wasn’t impossible, just highly improbable. As that last line of defense, Nolan took his job seriously.

After another moment Yvonne sighed and started off, sticking to the outer perimeter of the room until they reached an exit that let out onto a hall. Most people were still in the ballroom milling about so there weren’t lines for the elevators. A few people paused to speak to congratulate Yvonne, but they didn’t linger.

Nolan was beginning to see the bigger family picture.

Theodore was the chosen heir, the natural leader, the one who looked good in photographs.

Yvonne kept everything running smoothly. Nolan was willing to bet that without her guiding hand her older brother wouldn’t be quite as successful.

Douglas was the black sheep. He wasn’t involved in the family business. What he did wasn’t clear to Nolan. Douglas had already tried to slip away from Brenden and would no doubt be a pain in the ass for the rest of the conference. If the family had a weak link, it was that kid.