Jaimie nudged the big ginger tom off the kitchen worktop. She hadn't yet trained him not to walk all over the surfaces she kept so meticulously clean. In fact, she was beginning to resign herself to the fact that she was never going to train him. She was fast discovering that Big Boy was one of the few creatures in this world that she had absolutely no control over. It was her Aunt's fault for spoiling him rotten and for having an open plan kitchen and living room. She longed for a kitchen door so she could just shut him out, but he was used to roaming free and doing exactly as he pleased. He was now sitting on the lilac linoleum floor, fixing her with a resentful stare. He was a handsome creature, she couldn't deny that, and her Aunt had always been a sucker for handsome males. If he were Jaimie's she would have had him in line when he was a malleable kitten. But it was too late now.
Not that she wasn't grateful to her Aunt for letting her stay in her little house in Santa Monica, while she was off on some 'voyage of discovery' in the Mediterranean. Jaimie had laughed when her Aunt Lulu had waxed lyrical about ancient ruins and history. She would bet her last dollar that the so-called voyage of discovery involved more than a few lusty Greek Lotharios. They would think it was their lucky day when they saw Lulu coming, with her curly peroxide hair and dimples. She may be pushing sixty, but she hadn't lost her charms, or her 'appetites' as she liked to call them.
Jaimie shuddered and thanked the lord she didn't take after that side of the family. She was her father's daughter, that was for sure, stoic, practical and in control of pretty much everything, including any emotions that might mess with her tidy life. Or at least, what used to be her tidy life.
She refused to think about the recent chaos that had descended on her, and instead wiped the kitchen surface one more time, and then another time for good measure. It had taken her two weeks to get this house in the kind of order she could live with. She had cleaned this room from top to bottom and scaled down the dozens of throw cushions to just two, one in either corner of the sofa. She had had to pack away a lot of the nick knacks, just so she could breathe, and she still felt surrounded. It definitely wasn't to her taste, far too feminine and fussy, but at least she could go to bed now without hyperventilating with claustrophobia.
She fixed herself a protein shake to consolidate the two hours of jogging she had just done and drank it slowly, standing at the counter trying to outstare Big Boy.
Her cell phone rang and she reached for it - Dominic. What did he want now?
"Dom," she snapped impatiently, waiting for the inevitable charm offensive that always preceded one of his requests.
"Jaimie doll!" he said smoothly. "How's my favorite sis?"
"What do you want, Dom?" she snapped. "Just cut to the chase, I need to go shower and I haven't the time for small talk."
He laughed. "Wadda you mean you don't have time? You're a lady of leisure."
She gritted her teeth. Why did he always have to remind her of that fact?
"But you're not going to be for much longer!" he added with glee.
"What do you mean?" she asked cautiously.
"I've got a job for you."
Jaimie closed her eyes. She was bored out of her mind, that was for sure, but she didn't think she'd want to do any job that Dom had lined up for her. He probably wanted her to man his office and field calls from his pathetically needy clients. She'd rather spend her days staring at Big Boy than be cooped up in some Beverly Hills agency writing down ridiculous requests on post-it-notes. 'Chardonnay called. She's broken one of her nails.' No thank you very much.
"No thanks, Dom," she said emphatically. "I am absolutely fine with being a lady of leisure."
"No you're not," he said, calling her bluff. "You're going out of you're mind with boredom. You're getting antsy already, I just know it. How far did you run today?"
She went silent knowing any protest would just seem defensive. She knew her brother and his powers of persuasion. He wasn't a top celebrity agent for nothing.
"And don't try and go all silent on me," he continued. "I have a big problem that I think you can help solve."
Now he was appealing to her biggest weakness. God, he was good.
"I can't think of anyone else who could do this, Jaimie. And you're at a loose end. And wouldn't it feel great to be useful again?"
Little shit. She should hang up on him, but now she wanted to find out what the job was. He had her hooked already.
"I basically need a combination of body guard, psychiatrist, counselor and baby sitter. And it has to be someone totally organized and assertive. And they have to be discreet and someone who I can trust. Now can you think of anyone else who fits the bill?"
He had a point. It sounded like a job personally designed for her, but she wasn't on the job market. She felt a little shaky just thinking about going back into the real world. The walls of this house felt safe, outside was full of unknown dangers. She didn't think she was even up to pushing paper in an office quite yet, but she was damned if she was going to admit that to Dominic.
"You need to give me more than that, Dom," she said and she could feel him grinning down the phone. He knew he had her.
"I can't tell you much more than that over the phone," he said. "I'm in the Hollywood Hills. You need to come over here now and we'll talk."
She was silent for a moment. It wouldn't hurt to go and see what the drama was about. What else did she have to do? She could always turn him down once she was there.
"Ok," she said.
"Great! I'll text you the address," and then added as an after thought, "I know this is a bit of a stretch but it's probably a good idea if you make yourself look really really plain."
Jax lit another cigarette and stared at the ripples on the surface of the pool as he inhaled deeply. His head was still swimming with the remnants of last night's binge, and his sunglasses were only just lessening the blinding rays of the morning sun. He fucking hated California sometimes. In fact, he fucking hated it most of the time. The sun was too intense and unforgiving and it didn't help that he lived in this relentlessly white minimalist prison, with its unbroken view of the baked Hollywood hills peppered with tastefully designed mansions. It meant the sun had a direct route straight into his aching eyeballs.
An expensively dressed prison officer was somewhere inside, making frantic phone calls and stalking around in his beautifully cut summer weight suit. He fucking hated his agent too. Usually, he quite liked him, but at the moment he couldn't stand his guts, because he represented everything that was making Jax's life a living hell. Now Jax was avoiding him by sulking in a designer chaise lounge, smoking cigarette after cigarette and longing for another mind numbing drink.
Something smelled funky and he suddenly realized it was him, so he pulled his silk shirt off his sweaty back and threw it in the pool.
There were voices coming from inside. The hard marble floors and lack of soft furnishings meant the sound was impossible to ignore. It reverberated round the unyielding surfaces straight into his hung over brain making him wince. Fuck, he would have to go and see who the hell Dominic had got round here. No doubt another hyper organized asshole with a cell phone permanently welded to his ear.
He reluctantly peeled his long body from the chaise and lighting another cigarette, stalked towards the vast empty space that the real estate agent had smugly informed him brought the 'outside in'..