Authors: J.S. Cooper
GUARDING HIS HEART
J. S. COOPER
Thank you for purchasing Guarding His Heart. To receive emails about new books, please join the JS Cooper
This book is a work of fiction. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is entirely coincidental. Names, characters, businesses, organizations, places, events, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.
Copyright © 2014
by J. S. Cooper
Table of Contents
This book is for all the readers that wanted a book about Leonardo Maxwell. I hope you enjoy his story!
“So you excited for tomorrow?” Zane grinned at me as he handed me a beer.
“Do I look like I’m excited?” I groaned. “There aren’t many people that go from bouncer/body guard to CEO in a matter of days.”
“Yeah well, there aren’t many people that leave their family business to go work outside a club.” He grinned at me. “I’m surprised your dad let you stay away for as long as he did.”
“Well now he wants me back.” I groaned and took a long chug of beer. “I wasn’t sure I could listen to another ‘I’m disappointed’ speech again.”
“We should go out and celebrate your last night of freedom.” Zane laughed. “Maybe Noah can come as well.”
“Oh no you don’t.” Lucky, Zane’s wife, walked into the room. “You’re not going out and leaving me with the kids. If you guys want to celebrate we can order in a pizza.” She grinned and sat next to me on the couch. “Please, I want to celebrate with Leo as well.”
“You want to laugh at me.” I grinned at her and she shook her head.
“No, but I’m glad you’re making a life for yourself. A life that doesn’t include acting as a bodyguard. Maybe now you can mature in other ways as well.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?” I raised an eyebrow at her, though I knew exactly what she was saying.
“I mean, maybe you’ll meet a girl.” She grinned.
“I did, but then she went and married my best friend.” I grinned back at her.
“Hey guys, I’m still here.” Zane’s voice was serious, but his eyes were laughing. “Do I have to ban you both from seeing each other?”
“Zane, you’re not banning me from anything.” Lucky rolled her eyes.
“You wanna bet?”
“Sure.” She licked her lips and folded her arms. “What do you want to bet?”
“Nothing.” He looked sheepish. “You’d just win.”
“You got that right.” She leaned back and laughed. “So actually, I’m starting to feel hungry. Shall I order two pizzas?”
“Shall we see if Noah, Robin and Skylar are coming over?” Zane asked. “We might need more food.”
“I think they went to Malibu for the weekend.” Lucky shook her head. “Noah wanted to show Skylar the beach.”
“I cannot believe that Noah is a dad.” I shook my head and sighed. “And you too, of course.” I looked at Zane. My best friend. My brother from another mother. The guy I’d thought would remain a bachelor for the rest of his days, just like me. But here he was, married with two kids. I still couldn’t believe it. I wasn’t sure what had happened. How had time passed me by like this? I could still remember us in college hooking up with sorority girls and getting drunk. Now, he hooked up with one woman and one woman alone. Though, I hadn’t been joking, his wife Lucky was a gem. If I had ever thought of settling down, which I didn’t, it would be with someone like Lucky. Zane had gotten really lucky meeting her when he was down in Miami. I’d been even more shocked when Zane’s brother, Noah, had gone and adopted a kid as well, that he was raising with his fiancée, Robin. I’d thought that out of everyone I knew, the Beaumont Brothers were the two guys that were guaranteed to remain single, just like me. But now, it was just me. I was the only single guy in the group and I had no problem with that. I never wanted to get married and I didn’t believe in love.
“It’s not so bad.” Zane shrugged and then looked at Lucky. “I mean, it’s pretty awesome. It’s always awesome. Never bad.”
“Not a good save, Zane.” Lucky shook her head. “You’re changing Ruby-Lane tonight.”
“Oh man.” He groaned and made a face at me. “Never have babies. They poop. They throw-up. They smell.”
“Don’t worry,” I laughed. “I have no plans on ever having a baby.” I pulled out my wallet and two condom packets. “I’m always prepared.”
“Leo.” Lucky laughed and blushed as she stared at the Magnums in my hand.
“Sorry, didn’t mean to offend.” I grinned and Zane laughed.
“So do you know what you’re going to be doing?” He changed the subject. “Your dad’s company is huge.”
“I have no idea. All I know is that an account manager left and they were interviewing to replace him when I decided to go back. They turned everyone else away and I got the job. Dad wants me to start at the middle before I make it to the top.”
“There’s nothing like nepotism.” Zane laughed and Lucky frowned.
“That’s so sad for everyone else that was applying for the job.” She said softly. “I feel bad for them.”
“I’m sure they’re fine.” I shrugged. “It’s not like they had the job and were fired so that I could take it. No one else had the job.”
“Yeah, but just imagine if you’d been applying for a job, but you never really had a chance.” Lucky continued and shrugged. “I mean it is what it is. You basically own the company, so it’s your job anyway, but it just seems sad.”
“Yeah, I guess.” I looked at Zane and he was grinning.
“You know Lucky has a bleeding heart.” He laughed and then groaned as one of the babies started crying. “Excuse me, daddy duty calls. Lucky go ahead and order some pizza and cheesy bread. I’ll be back soon.” Zane jumped up and left the room and I turned to look at Lucky. She had a serious look on her face and I could see the concern in her eyes.
“What’s up?” I asked her as she wasn’t speaking.
“I just want to make sure that you really want to work for your dad.” She searched my eyes. “And that it’s not just out of obligation.”
“It’s a bit of both.” I shrugged. “I mean, I’ve never wanted to work for him, but I’m getting older now. I can’t be a bouncer for the rest of my life.”
“Yeah.” She grabbed my hand and squeezed. “A change will be good for you. And I really do hope you meet someone.”
“I wouldn’t count on it.” I laughed. “I don’t plan on meeting anyone for anything other than a night or two.”
“Oh Leo.” She sighed and smiled at me. “What am I going to do with you?”
“Well, seeing as I can’t say sleep with me,” I grinned at her reddening face. “Your husband would kill me if I said or did that.”
“Leo.” She giggled and hit me on the shoulder. “That’s so inappropriate.”
“I’m joking.” I laughed. “Don’t let Zane know though, or he might just kill me.”
“Leo, I hope you meet someone soon and I hope you fall in love.” She gave me a big smile. “I want our babies to grow up together.”
“Please don’t tell me your friend Leeza is coming back to town.” I faked a shudder. “Please do not try and hook us up together.”
“Leo.” She shook her head and rolled her eyes. “You’re going to meet your match you know. One of these days, you’re going to meet a girl and she’s going to make you forget all your fears and jokes.”
“I wouldn’t count on it.” I shook my head as I stood. “Now excuse me, I need to use the restroom before the food gets here.” I strode out of the room quickly, hoping to stop the conversation about my love life. I loved Lucky, but I was fed up of everyone trying to tell me I needed to fall in love. I didn’t do love. I didn’t want love. And I sure didn’t want to hear about it anymore.
It felt odd to be wearing a suit to work. The tie felt claustrophobic around my neck and I wanted to rip it off. I sighed as I got out of my car and made my way into the building. I really, really didn’t want to be working in corporate America again. I’d worked for my dad for six months when I’d graduated from college and it had been the worst experience of my life. I’d felt overwhelmed by the numbers of people that had sucked up to me just because they knew my dad owned the company.
I had left the company with the reluctant support of my dad and overwhelming support from Zane. He’d known what it was to not want to follow in your father’s footsteps. In fact, Zane and I had practically been twins. We’d been best friends for ages. We’d always hung out together and we both liked picking up women. That was until he’d gone and moved to Miami and met Lucky.
I always thought that baby brain was a female thing. They get pregnant, they have the baby, and all of a sudden the baby takes over their life. I had no idea that men could get baby brain as well. Especially Zane. He’s been my best friend for years and the one thing we always had in common was the fact that we didn’t let women take over our lives. No relationship was ever that important. Then he went and found Lucky and everything changed. They got married and now he’s a dad. Sometimes, I don’t even recognize him anymore. It’s all good though. I like Lucky and sometimes I even think that Zane found his perfect match, but there is no way I ever want to go down that road. No way, Jose.
“Good Morning, Mr. Maxwell, your father will meet you in your office on the tenth floor.” The receptionist beamed at me as I walked past the main desk in the foyer of Maxwell Enterprises.
“Morning.” I nodded, without smiling. I was annoyed. I hadn’t been in the building for years, yet she still remembered me. I could see the glances I was receiving as I walked to the elevator. I could almost hear what they were all whispering, what they were likely all sending to each other via text message. “Did you hear? The prodigal son returns.”
I walked into the elevator and was about to press the button when a long leg entered the elevator with me. “Please keep the doors open.” She gasped out as she ran in and joined me.
“You’re safe.” I said dryly before hitting the button to close the door. “What floor are you going to?”
“Ten, please.” She looked up at me with wide, open brown eyes and a head of messy brown hair. “Thanks.”
“No worries.” I shrugged and looked away from her.
“What floor are you on? Are you new?” She asked me and I looked at her in surprise. Hadn’t she heard the news? The CEO’s son had returned to take his rightful place in the company?
“Don’t worry about it.” I shrugged. It was starting already. Girls were pretending they didn’t know who I was, so they could try and trap me.
“I wasn’t worrying about it.” Her voice sounded sarcastic and I looked up at her again and studied her face. She was prettier than I’d initially thought,
now that her hair was tied back. In fact, she was a lot prettier than I thought. I turned away from her again. I didn’t have time to worry about pretty faces.
“Good.” I gave her a small smile and tried to ignore the long expanse of leg she had on display. We stood there in silence for the new few seconds until the elevator started moving.
“You’re new?” The girl asked me again and gave me a small smile as I fiddled with my tie.
“Yeah, it’s my first day.” I made a face. “Corporate America here I am.”
“You didn’t want the job?” She looked at me quizzically, her brown eyes surveying my face with interest.
“Not really, but I gotta pay the bills.”
“Yeah, I know what you mean.” She sighed. “I wanted to quit, but my stupid roommate is so irresponsible that I know the moment I quit, she’ll get fired and then we won’t be able to pay the rent.”
“Uh yeah.” I nodded, feeling bad that she’d misunderstood me. “What do you do?”
“I’m an overqualified assistant to a big asshole.” She made a face.
“Don’t like your boss huh?”
“Nope, he’s a privileged jerk.” Her voice grew angry. “I would have quit already if I could.”
“Oh wow. Maybe tell HR about him?”
“He took my job and my raise, they’re not going to want to hear it.” She sighed. “Especially as he’s related to the CEO.”
“He’s related to the CEO?” I froze as I stared at her. Was she talking about me? I frowned as I stared at her. I’d never met this girl before in my life and I certainly hadn’t done anything for her to think I was an asshole. Could she be talking about someone else?
“Yeah, he’s the boss’s son.” She rolled her eyes. “I don’t even think he’s qualified for the position.”
“Oh, hmm.” I paused. “Have you worked for him for a long time then? You seem to really hate him.”
“I’ve not met him before.” She confessed. “But I’m sure he’s a spoilt rich kid like every other Beverly Hills Trust Fund baby.”
“He’s from Beverly Hills?” I asked softly. I’d grown up in Manhattan Beach so I was curious to hear what her answer was.
“I’m sure, aren’t they all?” She shrugged flinging her brown hair across her shoulders in a dismissive fashion.
“So you don’t really know much about him then?” I stared at her as the elevator stopped at the tenth floor.
“No.” She made a face. “I’ve not actually worked for him as yet, but I already know he’s going to be a jerk.”
“Yeah, from what you’ve told me, he seems like he’s going to be a monster.” I nodded in agreement. “And you’re going to be his assistant?”
“Yeah, I’m his right-hand man.” She grinned. “Though I think I’ll let him stew for the first few days. See how well he gets on without me telling him what to do.”
“Yeah, hopefully he doesn’t fire you then.”
“Oh, he won’t.” She grinned. “To his face, I’ll be nice. I’ll just be shady behind his back.”
“Well that sounds like a plan, maybe I can do that with my boss if he turns out to be a jerk.”
“Most of the senior people are cool.” She sighed. “Maxwell Corp, is actually a pretty cool place to work. What exactly will you be doing again?”