Armitage Security had been in business for over 40 years. Jake’s father,

Sheryl’s daily prompt

Armitage Security had been in business for over 40 years. Jake’s father, Jason Owens had started owned and operated the business before him building up a great clientele. He still dabbled, but he was happy these days tending the beautiful garden surrounding their home with Jake’s mother, Samantha and taking well earned vacations to far off destinations.

He’d always been fascinated by his father’s work, becoming involved at an early age and was only too happy to take over the reins. He’d modified it over the last five years and the clients were growing as a result.

Providing security for every possible venue from stage performances to auditoriums to personal requests (although those were his least favourite) as those requesting the service weren’t always the ones in need and the ones in need rarely appreciated the depth of involvement and preparation involved.

His current client, Rachel Oxford was just such a person. She seemed to delight in making his job difficult. His men had threatened to walk off the job so he had perforce called a meeting with her to settle the situation once and for all and he wasn’t about to pull any punches.

She was a beautiful woman, no question there. Glorious auburn hair, green eyes, short petite and curvey, and required their assistance. It was unusual for painters to require protection but her manager had shown him the letters they’d receiving threatening her, her business and her studios and he was unnerved. He’d hidden the fact that two of her studios had been firebombed and several paintings defaced.

As she sauntered toward him, he stood politely. “Ms Oxford, a pleasure.” He held out a hand which she completely ignored.

“I understand we need to talk.”

As he dropped his hand she said, “A bit of a germ-a-phobic. Nothing personal.”

“No problem.”

“I want to clear a few things up here. I have some of the best and most talented men on the planet working for me, assisting me in providing the best possible security for my clients. I’d like to know why you are giving them the gears for doing their job.”

“I haven’t been.”

“I beg to differ. My men aren’t pansy assed whiners. They don’t threaten to walk off a job for no reason. I’ve talked to them individually and they all have basically told me the same thing, this is the worst gig they’ve ever been assigned to.”

An eloquent sigh escaped her beautifully pursed lips. “I’ve made a few simple requests. I don’t want them in the room when I’m painting, they disturb my concentration. I’d rather they weren’t here at all, but my manager insists upon it. Secondly, I don’t want their presence so pronounced. Can’t they melt into the background, fade away like ghosts or something?”

“We would love to accommodate your every whim, but that isn’t reasonable given the circumstances. These threats are real and have been acted upon. Consequently, in order to protect you, we need to be on hand, not in the next room or down the hallway. The current state of affairs will continue until the perp(s) are caught. Unless of course, you’d prefer to take your chances! If so, say the word and we are out of here.”

She looked him dead in the eye, “Look, it’s not my intention to be difficult. I admit I’ve balked at a few of your men’s suggestions and I will try to relax. I’m not used to having people I don’t know invade or share my space.”

“I appreciate that but your health and well being are at stake here. Whoever is targeting you isn’t playing around. They’ve hit two of your studios and defaced dozens of paintings.”

She jumped from her seat, “What? Is this true? Why wasn’t I told about this!”

“Can’t tell you, but your manager hired me as a result.”

“Are my staff alright, was anyone hurt?” her agitation was real.

“Luckily, the incidents happened during the night. One young man has a burn on his hand because he tried to go back in and put the flames out. Fortunately the fire department got their in time and yanked him out of harms way.”

She plunked down in he chair again and said, “I see. I see. Now I understand the situation better, I’m more amenable to taking every precaution necessary. I wasn’t aware it was this serious. I thought Dereck was exaggerating his concern as he’s want to do.”

Looking up at the handsome determined dark haired blue eyed man she saw with new eyes, a man sworn to duty, here for her and her staff. “My only concern is for my staff. I don’t want them in harms way. Perhaps I should close my studios until this is over. They are only paintings and I can replicate them if necessary.”

“That call is yours. I’d appreciate your leaving one open to use as a blind. The others, close if you wish, I’ll leave a couple men in each location in case.”

“You want to lay a trap.”

“Yes, I do.”

“Then that’s what we’ll do. I’ll give everyone a paid vacation and your men can take their place. I’ll stay on here, providing the cheese for the trap.”

He smiled, “Delectable I have to say. I’ll work here, with you and hopefully together we’ll catch this joker.”

“It’s a deal.” She stood and held out a hand. “We’re in it to win it!” She smiled.

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