Miami Bodyguard (Kendall Family Book 5)(2)

By: Jennifer Ann

Part of me will always wonder what would’ve happened if I had stuck around and gone to college like all of my classmates. Maybe my two sisters and I could’ve formed a stronger bond. Seeing Evelyn now stirs a sense of nostalgia that almost knocks me off my already weary feet from donning these obnoxious shoes.

As I start for them, I barely hear Theo calling my name over the excited cries of fans and reporters alike. I throw my arms around Evelyn, holding onto her as tightly as her pregnant belly will allow. For the first time since she returned to her hotel this morning after the team of stylists arrived, I’m relatively at peace with a sense of calm washing over me.

“You look gorgeous,” Evelyn whispers, gently rubbing her warm fingers over my exposed back. “How’re you holding up?”

“It’s a lot to take in.” My voice cracks with a rush of tears that I refuse to let fall. Until this moment, I didn’t realize how emotional the experience has made me. “I’m a little shook up, to be honest. Some guy grabbed my ass right before we stepped onto the red carpet, and had to be tackled by security. It’s disgustingly hot, and this scene is a total madhouse. I’m not convinced I’m cut out for this sort of thing.”

“You are. Trust me on this. I know it’s a little overwhelming at first, but you’ll get used to the screaming and psychos wanting a piece of you…and your man.”

We back away at the same time, giggling and sniffling. She gingerly pats at the corner of my damp eyes with a knuckle, then links our fingers together and smiles warmly. My gaze trails down to the strapless satin gown in a shade lighter than the honey color of her eyes that so elegantly flows over her baby bump, then back up to her flawless makeup and the relaxed curl of her long brown locks covering her bare shoulders.

God, she reminds me so much of our mother that a painful ache spreads beneath my ribs. I haven’t been able to stop wondering what Mom and Dad would think of all this if they were still alive. I would’ve flown them down here and pampered the hell out of them. Dad most likely wouldn’t have been impressed, but I’d like to think the glitz and glamour would’ve excited Mom.

“You look beautiful too, Ev,” I tell her. “You’re glowing.”

Her eyes flicker up to the sky. “You’re exaggerating. You think you’re overheated? My feet are swollen to twice their normal size. I literally feel like a stuffed turkey. Probably look like one too.”

Charlie returns from signing an autograph to wrap her in his arms from behind, cradling the base of her belly in his hands. In tight gray jeans and a black sports jacket over a v-neck t-shirt, he’s one of few not wearing a tuxedo tonight, and he’s by far the most striking. The way he carries himself alone alludes the kind of charm only a rockstar could possess. Add the fact that he has the sexiest eyes and voice in existence along with a fit body you could bounce quarters off for days, and he’s even more ideal than Theo.

For a time I was jealous as shit that my baby sister snagged him. Once I got to know him a little better, I was delighted for them both. They’re perfect for each other. Today though, I’m back to being envious.

“No one talks about my wife that way,” he scolds before kissing the side of Evelyn’s head. “You’re the most gorgeous woman here tonight, Freckles. No offense to Ang.”

“You two are ridiculous,” I tease with a quiet giggle.

Theo steps into our sacred circle, offering his hand to Charlie. I huff under my breath, instantly annoyed. Why does he assume I want to introduce him to my family? I’ve been staying over at his place every now and then, but only because my apartment reminds me of John. The rules we set from the beginning included no moving in together. I assumed he understood that meant this thing between us is not family-worthy.

“Theo Carr. I’m a big fan of Thrashtag.”

The photographers go apeshit, shouting over each other to get the attention of the two men.

Something in Charlie’s expression shifts when he takes Theo’s hand. It’s definitely not flattery, but I can't pinpoint what exactly passes through his beautiful gaze. “Didn’t we already meet last year, when the band was doing a gig in Toronto?”

Theo reclaims his hand to rake it through his perfectly messed blond hair. “Don’t think so. I’d definitely remember meeting you. I was a fan way back before you broke out and did the solo thing.”

The muscles in Charlie’s jaw twitch. “Anyway, congratulations on the show. Haven’t had a chance to watch it yet, but I hear it’s a hit.”

I’m trying to process their odd exchange when one of the suited security guards approaches, gently brushing his fingers over the patch of skin directly over my ass crack. At first I think it’s an honest mistake until he does it again, this time a little more slowly and sensual like someone attempting to seduce a lover.

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