Home > Finding Layla (McIntyre Security Bodyguard #15)

Finding Layla (McIntyre Security Bodyguard #15)
Author: April Wilson

 

Character List


Main Characters

Layla Alexander, 21-yr-old university student

Jason Miller, professional bodyguard; former Army medic and former paramedic; works for McIntyre Security, Inc.

Other Characters

Ian Alexander, 28, Layla’s brother

Tyler Jamison, 42, Ian Alexander’s boyfriend

Judge Martin Alexander, Layla’s father

Ruth Alexander, Layla’s mother

 

 

Chapter 1


Layla Alexander

I don’t know what’s real anymore and what’s not. The voice in my head is screaming hysterically, and my mind is fractured into so many pieces I can’t count them all. Everything around me is utter chaos. I hear the other girls screaming, crying, begging for the men to stop. But they don’t. And the screams continue.

As I lie chained to a metal cot, naked and bruised, all I can do is concentrate on trying to breathe through my nose. I feel sick, but there’s nothing left in my stomach to throw up. It’s for the best, because the one who likes to choke me shoved a ball gag in my mouth to shut me up. If I vomit, I’ll likely choke to death.

I know why they gagged me and hid me away in this windowless storage room. It’s because, even though I haven’t been raped like all those other girls—they said I’m worth a lot more untouched—I’m the one who screams the loudest.

The door opens, letting in a shaft of blinding light. I squeeze my eyes shut tight. It’s him. I can smell him, vile and sour. My stomach churns.

He climbs onto the cot and rubs himself against me. And then he wraps his fingers around my throat and squeezes until bursts of light start flashing behind my eyelids.

I can’t breathe.

Maybe this time is it. Maybe this time I won’t come to.

The last thing I register is a painful prick on my arm. The room begins to spin, and then I—

 

 

Chapter 2


Jason Miller

Eight o’clock Saturday night, right on time, I show up at Tank’s Pub downtown. A quick glance around the bar tells me I’m the first to arrive, so I grab a table with a good view of the large flatscreen that’s replaying last week’s baseball game.

A gorgeous blue-eyed blonde in a tight T-shirt stops by the table to take my drink order. “Hi. I’m Robyn.” She points to her name tag, which is positioned right over top a very large breast. Kinda hard to miss. “What can I get you?”

I automatically glance at the door to see if any of the others have shown up yet, but no. It’s just me at the moment. “Whatever you’ve got on draft is fine. Thanks.”

She smiles at me, tilting her head slightly as she wraps a strand of curly shoulder-length hair around an index finger. “Is there anything else I can get you?”

Her heated gaze roams down my arms. Since I’m wearing a short-sleeved T-shirt, there’s a lot of skin exposed. Some girls really go for tattoos, some don’t. This one clearly does.

“I like your ink,” she says. “You work out a lot, don’t you?”

“A bit. Thanks.”

“So, is there anything else I can get you?” She lets the question hang in the air. The inuendo in her voice is thick enough to cut with a knife.

I smile. “Just the beer, thanks.”

She purses her lips. “Let me know if you change your mind. I get off at midnight.”

Just as she’s walking away, her lush hips sashaying in skin-tight blue jeans, I feel a pair of strong hands clamp down on my shoulders.

“Jason!” says a familiar voice from behind me. “Don’t start the party without us.”

I glance back at Liam McIntyre, who pats my shoulders as he nods toward the retreating figure of the server. “Who’s your friend?”

Miguel and Philip are right behind him. Looks like the gang’s all here.

“She’s not my friend,” I say as the three of them take their seats.

“I’ll bet you wish she was,” Miguel says with a grin.

Philip laughs as he nudges Miguel with his elbow. “I’ll bet you do, too.”

“But not you,” Liam says to Philip. “Because you’re saving yourself for Haley.”

Now it’s everyone else’s turn to laugh. Poor Philip gets teased a lot because the daughter of one of our co-workers has a big crush on him. The truth is, he has an equally big crush on her. But she’s only seventeen and still in high school, while Phil is twenty-four. That makes her off-limits. And since Phil doesn’t want to make an enemy of Mack Donovan, her father, he’s biding his time until Haley turns eighteen.

“Come on, guys. Don’t tease him.” I pat Philip’s back. “I think it’s cute.”

“At least one of us has romantic prospects,” Miguel says.

Robyn, our server, drops my beer off at the table and takes the other guys’ orders.

“Three more beers, coming up,” she says before heading back to the bar.

These three guys have become my closest friends since I started working at McIntyre Security after leaving my job as a paramedic. Before that, I was an Army combat medic for a tour in Afghanistan. Between my time in the Army and my job as a Chicago paramedic, the PTSD got to be too much, and I decided to go into private security instead. The pay is better, and it’s less stressful. Win-win. Unfortunately, I still have the PTSD, along with a bad case of insomnia.

The four of us are in our twenties. Miguel Rodriguez and I are both twenty-eight, and we’re bodyguards for McIntyre Security. Liam McIntyre’s twenty-four. He’s the head martial arts instructor for the company. Liam specializes in some serious ass-kicking mojo. Philip Underwood, also twenty-four, works on Jake McIntyre’s surveillance team. The four of us all started working at McIntyre Security around the same time, and we all live in the same apartment building. It kinda made sense that we all became friends.

“I’m starving,” Philip says as he reaches for a well-worn laminated menu.

Liam laughs. “Dude, when are you not hungry?”

Philip’s a big guy—like seriously big. He’s always hungry because it takes a lot of calories to fuel that big body of his. He’s six-four and built like a tank. His arms and legs are massive. The rest of us are about the same size—six feet tall, lean muscles—but next to Philip we’re pipsqueaks.

“I’m serious,” Philip says as he skims the menu. “I did a twelve-hour surveillance shift today, with no breaks for food. I ran out of coffee and snacks by noon. It was brutal.”

Robyn returns to pass out the rest of the beers. “Can I get you guys something to eat?”

“Hell yes,” Philip says. “I’ll take a dozen hot wings, a double cheeseburger, and loaded fries. And how about some nachos? I’m starving.”

Miguel shakes his head. “Dude, you can really pack away the food.”

Philip leans back and slaps his solid abdomen. He’s big, but it’s all muscle, and not an ounce of fat. “What can I say? I have a big metabolism.”

I practically choke on my beer laughing at that understatement. “You think so?”

It’s a regular thing with us—my buddies and I meet on Saturday evenings to unwind after the work week. Usually everyone makes it, unless they’re on assignment. As for me, I just finished up a full-time assignment not long ago, and I’ve been floating ever since, filling in as a temporary bodyguard where needed.

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