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Babysitting a Billionaire #3 - Taking Control

By:Nina Croft

Nina Croft - Babysitting a Billionaire #3 - Taking Control

Taking Control (Babysitting a Billionaire #3)
Nina Croft

romance/billionaire/erotica



Chapter One

Declan climbed out of his BMW sedan and handed the keys to the security guard. As he strolled toward the double glass doors of McCabe Industries, the now familiar sense of suffocation slowed his pace, and he had to fight the urge to turn around and run.

Christ, he was twenty-nine. Running away was hardly an option. Besides, where the hell would he run to? This was his life, and it was fucking perfect. He'd achieved everything he'd set out to. And yet each day it became harder to pretend he gave a shit.

He caught a reflection of himself in the glass doors. Dark suit, dark blue tie-like a million other businessmen-and the sense of suffocation tightened around him. As he forced it down, a loud crack rose above the rumble of traffic behind him, and the image shattered into a thousand pieces.

A second crack and some inner sense made him jerk to the side as something punched into him, whirling him around. He crashed to the concrete, his head hitting the curb, and everything went black.

When he came to, he was lying on his back, the smell of antiseptic thick in the air. He opened his eyes and stared at the white ceiling. He was pretty sure he was in a hospital bed, his brain was thumping, and his right arm was on fire. "Crap."

"Welcome back."

He rolled his head, blinked to clear his vision, and found his father standing beside him.

"What happened?" he asked.

"Someone shot you. And no prizes for guessing who or why."

His dad sounded pissed. Hardly surprising. Being shot was not a respectable pastime for a CEO.

Declan pushed himself up, flinching as pain raced from his shoulder to his wrist. He was still wearing his pants, but his chest was bare and a white bandage wrapped around his upper arm, blood already staining the cloth. "How bad is it? I have a meeting this afternoon."

"You've just been fucking shot. Forget about the fucking meeting." More than pissed. Worried. He hadn't seen his dad this worried since Declan had nearly gone off the rails and fallen in love ten years ago.

"It's an important meeting."

"No. You're the only thing that's important right now. Jesus, you could have died."

It was true. Declan waited for some reaction to that-fear, anger … but his mind remained numb. "Has news of the shooting gotten out? Has it affected the share price?"

"Will you stop thinking about the goddamn business? The goddamn business doesn't matter."

Declan raised an eyebrow. "You brought me up to think the business is the only thing that matters." 

"Well, maybe I was wrong."

His eyes narrowed on his father. "Have they given me drugs? Am I hallucinating?"

"Ha-ha." He shrugged. "But there's more to life … shit. Let's not go into this now. We'll talk later. When you're better."

Declan opened his mouth to say How about never? They didn't have those sorts of conversations, but the doctor came in at that moment and the next minutes were taken up with medical stuff.

His father had been acting strange since Declan had returned to the UK eleven months ago. This wasn't the first time he'd suggested that the business wasn't everything. Since when? His dad had even been trying his hand at matchmaking, pushing everything from corporate lawyers to exotic dancers under Declan's nose. It was surreal, and it was driving him crazy.

"How bad is it?" he asked the doctor as the bandage came off.

"Not bad, considering. The bullet went right through. I'm going to give you some stitches. Otherwise you have a bang on the head, and we'll keep you in overnight in case there's any concussion."

"I have a-"

"He'll stay," his dad interrupted. "If I have to tie him to the goddamned bed."

His father really was upset. Which was weird. Rory McCabe did not do upset. "I've arranged for Pete to stay here tonight," he said, a frown turning down the corners of his mouth. "He'll stand guard outside your room. Then tomorrow, we'll get you some bodyguards."

"You're joking, aren't you?"

"Do I look like I'm fucking joking?"

Declan glanced away from the doctor stitching the wound to where his father leaned against the wall arms folded across his chest. No, he didn't; he looked deadly serious. "I don't need a minder, dad."

"You're sitting in ER having a bullet wound stitched up. I say that pretty much means you do."

He did have a point, but somehow, Declan couldn't get worked up about it. "I knew the risks when I went to the police."

"And I warned you against it."

"Why? Were they old mates of yours?"

For a moment, his father's expression tightened, and then he grinned. "More likely old enemies. Let's just say that I know the type."

Yeah, his old dad would know the type. McCabe Industries was now totally legitimate, but it hadn't always been that way. His father's wealth had been built on illegal gambling, smuggling, and prostitution. That was all behind him now, but Declan was betting he still had a few dodgy contacts.

"And they will want to make an example of you," his dad continued. "I'm doing what I can, calling in some old debts, but until I clear this up, I want to make sure you're safe."

"And you intend to do that by getting me some goddamned babysitters?"

"I'll get in touch with some security firms, find out who's the best at this sort of thing, and hire you some protection."

Six months ago, Declan had come across evidence that one of his subsidiary companies was being used to launder money by a drug cartel. He'd gone to the police, and he'd been working with them since to uncover the assholes behind it. Now they'd succeeded, and those assholes were unhappy with Declan. They wanted revenge and to make an example of him, preferably before the case came to trial in three weeks' time.

And this morning, he'd been shot.

That didn't mean he had to have some crappy bodyguards shadowing his every movement. He glanced over to where his father still leaned against the wall. "I don't need a bodyguard. I'll be careful."




 

 

"You'll have them, or I'll tell your mother about this."

God forbid. He obviously meant business. Declan couldn't remember the last time his father and mother had even spoken. Maybe his sister's wedding five years ago? Even then, he suspected they'd managed to get through the proceedings without talking. Strangely, they had never divorced, but they also did their bests to never meet. As they lived on different sides of the Atlantic Ocean, it wasn't difficult. Declan knew all about the effectiveness of putting an ocean between you and someone you didn't want to encounter.

He gritted his teeth as the doctor made the final stitch, then released his breath. He wasn't a baby. And he didn't need babysitting. But maybe it wasn't worth arguing with his dad about the matter. He'd see these security people, pay their retainer, and then tell them to keep the hell away from him.

He had a business to run.

 …

Somewhere along the way, Jessica Bauer had lost the ability-and if she was honest, the inclination-to play nice. While it had started out as a cross between payback and a defense mechanism, now it was second nature. She was the first to admit it; she was a badass with attitude issues.

But that didn't mean she couldn't change; she was trying. Her biggest problem with that was she liked being a badass. It beat the crap out of being a pathetic wimp with a broken heart.

She drummed her fingers on the tabletop as she contemplated the man sitting across from her. Phil ticked all the right boxes. A few years older than her, handsome in a blond, bland sort of way, and dressed in a dark blue suit, he looked what he was: a successful city accountant. A nice man. In fact, just what she'd asked for.

And she was bored out of her mind.

She took a large slug of red wine, hoping to numb her senses. Just a little while longer and she could go. Cross Phil off the list. He was her third offering from the dating agency and going just about as well as the first two. She was out of practice that was all. She'd get better.

"Tell me about yourself, Jessica," Phil said when she remained silent. "What do you like to do in your spare time?"

She opened her mouth to answer that she liked shooting guns and beating people up, when she was saved by the muted buzz of her cell phone. Caller ID showed it was her boss, Jake. Reprieve. Sometimes she just loved him.

Or she would if he'd give her the promotion she deserved.

"I know it's your day off," Jake said, "but we've had an emergency request and-"

"I'm on my way." She slipped the phone back in her pocket and faced the man opposite her. "Sorry, Phil. But duty calls." 

"Oh." She'd thought his smile was a permanent fixture; now it faded. "You want to meet again?" he asked.

She reached across and patted his hand. "I'll give you a call." Or not.

"Hey, what's happening?" she asked as she strolled into Jake's office ten minutes later. He was lounging in his big chair, behind his big desk. Soon to be hers.

One of the toughest guys she had ever met, these days Jake had the look of a sleepy, sated tiger. But then he was a newlywed, married to Jess's best friend, Kim.

Recently, he'd decided he wanted to spend more time with his pregnant wife and was pulling back from some of the businesses, including stepping down as CEO of Knight Securities, one of the premier security firms in London. Jess had been his second in command for two years and worked for the company for the last five, ever since they'd both left the army. She was the obvious choice for the job, but Jake was balking at making the final decision.

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