Sara waited at the local deli for AJ Garza, the man she thought of Adonis Junior because he was gorgeous and he refused to tell her what the AJ stood for, even after three years of friendship… Well, friendship didn’t really describe their relationship. They exchanged favors from time to time, and he flirted, and she teased, and they worked well together. She’d never call him to chat… Although AJ wasn’t actually conversant with anyone, so maybe they were friends. This time she was asking for something she never had before; she needed his help doing something illegal, and she was sure he’d require more than some technical help on a project in payment.
“Sara,” his voice slid across the crowded deli, barely above a whisper but with his inflection, his aura, every woman turned and hoped he was talking to her.
Sara smirked as AJ lifted his chin and winked at a woman who spilled the sugar packet all over her laptop instead of into her cup.
The man was dangerous, but Sara thought his older brother, Joaquin, was devastating. Today AJ arrived alone. He stalked over to her, pulling the chair out and settling himself in one smooth motion.
“AJ.” Sara licked her lips. “Um, I need an unusual favor.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “Yeah? For you?”
“For a friend.”
He nodded and leaned forward. “You still working at the NSA?”
“No, my contract was up a couple of weeks ago and I didn’t renew it.”
He leaned back in his seat and blinked. It was the only sign he was listening. “Why?”
Sara blew a breath out between her lips. “They moved me from my department to the other side,” she said in way of explanation.
AJ’s brows knit closer, AJ-speak for “please continue”. AJ’s style of communication was more like a functional mute. She often wondered if he took mime lessons as a child.
He blinked again. It was probably meant to be intimidating, and it worked.
“Fine, so they took me off defense and put me in offense and you know I don’t like that stuff so I left.”
“What did Thomas say?”
Sara leaned across the table and whispered, “He lost his privilege to have a say.”
AJ’s eyes snapped open, and then his face moved back to emotionless. He nodded. “What’s the favor?”
Sara pulled out a small envelope containing four pictures of her friend Abigail. “She needs a new… everything.” Sara leaned back and pushed her fingers through her hair, twisting it up into a messy bun while looking around the deli.
When she looked back down at the table the envelope had disappeared. AJ said quietly, “Tomorrow night, wear the black cocktail dress you got in the back of your closet. I’ll pick you up at seven.”
Sara ignored the fact that AJ had inventoried her clothes. AJ had that kind of memory and she assumed he guessed the dress was stuffed in the back of her closet. Still, he’d never asked her to dress a certain way before.
“What for?” she asked hesitantly.
He smirked. “I need a date.”
The hispanic Adonis Junior needed a date? Inconceivable.
“You don’t seem like the kind of guy…” She teased.
He sighed. “It’s a job.”
“I’m not that kind of girl.”
“It’s not that kind of date.” He pulled her drink toward him and sipped before looking back at her. “I gotta job, security, for this kid. A girl.” He winced and took another sip. That was a lot of emoting for AJ. “A teenaged girl.”
“They can be very scary,” she said sincerely.
“So you understand why I need your help.”
“I trust you with a teenaged girl and you can crush the balls of anyone who threatens her.”
Sara shrugged. It was true. She had ruptured a man’s testicles in the past, in self-defense. Still, one evening in exchange for identification papers seemed too good to be true.
“That’s all? I mean…”
He shook his head. “It’s a start. I’ll talk with Joaquin, we’ll work out your payment schedule. That is, if you are sure you want to go through with this?”
Sara nodded slowly. Abigail was her best friend and married an asshole who would keep beating her until she was dead. Abigail had left him, filed a restraining order, but the man kept coming. Abigail was done, wanting to escape. Sara knew the guys could give her a new identity and she trusted AJ and Joaquin. Mostly…