The Ambassador's Daughter
A Spoiled Debutante Meets Her Match!
Chane Kal’yle was a tall, lean man with graying hair and an uncommonly deep voice when he spoke, and when Rand entered the study, the man immediately offered his hand in welcome. It was an old custom, still done on Earth, where Rand was originally from, and as Chane Kal’yle was from the planet Deuntaie, Rand appreciated the gesture.
“Mr. Barany, please sit,” the ambassador said, gesturing to the chairs in front of his desk.
Rand did as he was bid, and when they were both seated, it was Ambassador Kal’yle who spoke.
“I must say, your resume is very impressive, Mr. Barany, for someone as young as you are,” he said, reading aloud as he scanned the holo-screen on his desk. “You completed your law degree along with a minor in civil administration in only two years, graduating with top honors. You graduated top of your class at the CP Academy, and then you were with civil protection for four years where you received many commendations for your performance. You were promoted to investigator after only three years. Then you worked with a private protection company for two years before going out on your own.” He turned his gaze on Rand. “You’ve protected quite a few prominent people, Mr. Barany, and all of them speak very highly of you.”
Rand inclined his head. “Thank you, Mr. Ambassador,” he said. He and Chane Kal’yle had already spoken earlier in the day, so he knew that he was being hired to protect the ambassador’s daughter. What he didn’t know was why he was being hired. “I’m flattered, Mr. Ambassador, and certainly interested in the job, but I also can’t help being a little curious as to why you would need me when you have your own security.”
Ambassador Kal’yle was silent for a moment before answering. “I’m going to be honest with you, Mr. Barany. My own security is not top of the line; they simply come with the position. But in recent months, the threats I’ve been receiving have become much more serious. I’m involved in several bills and agendas that have made me very unpopular with a few groups within our federated planets’ population. If it were just me, I would not be too concerned, but my daughter has been mentioned in some of the threats, and I am concerned that they will go after her to get to me. My daughter is very headstrong and my security team simply cannot keep up with her. She has gotten very good at eluding them to go where she pleases.” He frowned. “Just last night, she slipped away from her guard to go to some nightclub, and ended up getting arrested when protectors raided the place. That guard has since been dismissed, of course.” He leveled his gaze at Rand. “My daughter needs a bodyguard that she can’t bully and slip away from, Mr. Barany. Someone who will protect her from herself as well as others.”
It sounded more like the ambassador’s daughter needed a good spanking, Rand thought to himself, silently wondering if it had been wise to take on this job. It sounded like this girl was going to be a major pain in the ass. He had agreed to this job simply because protecting an ambassador’s family would be the crowning jewel on his resume, and would ensure that his current one-man company would grow in the future.
So, Rand nodded. “I’ll do whatever is necessary to make sure that she behaves herself, and to keep her safe.”
Chane Kal’yle nodded, apparently satisfied. “I suppose I should introduce you to my daughter, then.” Sitting back, he spoke to the house computer. “Mirlene, please ask Inarii to come to my study.”
“Of course, Ambassador,” the pleasant female voice answered.
A few minutes later, the door to the study opened and Inarii came into the room. Her father rose to his feet and Rand did the same, turning as he did so, only to find his resolve threatening to weaken at the sight of the ambassador’s beautiful daughter.
Though Inarii’s father was Deuntaien, her mother was of Earthen descent, and the combination was exotic looking. She was tall and slender like her father, but with just the right amount of womanly curves in all the right places. Courtesy of her Deuntaien heritage, her eyes were the clearest green he’d ever seen, and her full lips, as ridiculously clichéd as it sounded, looked like they’d been made for a man’s kisses. He had obviously seen many holos of her over the years, but none of them did justice to her actual beauty. She was truly stunning.
Rand felt himself suddenly grow hard as he thought about what else she could do with that mouth, and swore under his breath. He was here to protect the ambassador’s daughter. Keep her in line when necessary. Nothing more.
“Allow me to present my daughter, Inarii,” the ambassador said. “Inarii, this is Rand Barany. I’ve hired him to be your new bodyguard.”
“Bodyguard...?” Her voice trailed off, and Rand saw her frown. “But Father, we already have plenty of guards.”
Chane Kal’yle gave his daughter an indulgent smile. “Guards who have other responsibilities. Mr. Barany’s only job will be to protect you, something he specializes in.” He gave her a pointed look. “He goes wherever you go, Inarii,” he said, and Rand thought that the man actually seemed to enjoy saying that to her.
Inarii’s eyes widened and took on a look of something close to panic as they darted to Rand, before her gaze went back to the ambassador. “But Father...”
“Inarii, I’ve made up my mind on this. You will accept Mr. Barany as your personal bodyguard. If not, I will send you home to Deuntaie, where I’m sure you’ll be safe.”
Her mouth fell open, but no words came out.
“I’ll let you and Mr. Barany get acquainted, shall I?” her father said, coming around the desk and making his way to the door.
Inarii watched him leave the room, staring at the closed door for a moment. She was dressed in the Deuntaien style, the gown sleeveless and belted criss-cross style around her middle to show off her slim waist, and the silky material skimmed over the tops of her sandal-covered feet as she whirled around to face Rand Barany.
She didn’t think she’d ever seen a more handsome man. He was tall and broad shouldered with dark hair, strong, angular features, and a wide, generous mouth. He was, if truth were told, just the type of man she was attracted to, though a bit older than the type she normally went for. But she didn’t need another bodyguard, especially one that followed her everywhere she went, no matter how handsome he was. The sooner she made that clear to him, the better.
“My father is confused, Mr. Barany,” she said stiffly. “He exaggerates the threat against us. Your services would be a waste of time. As I said, we have quite a few guards in our employment, and I truly doubt that we need another. I’m sure that your services could be put to better use elsewhere.”
Rand gave her a bland smile. “Your father seems to have a completely different opinion,” he said. “But don’t worry, I’ll make this as easy on you as possible. You won’t even notice me.”
Inarii doubted that.
“Your father is only concerned about you,” he continued.
“My father is overprotective,” she countered. “If it were up to him, I would never leave the house.” Inarii tossed her long, auburn hair over her shoulder and lifted her chin. “However, if you insist on working for me, then there’s something you should know. I don’t tolerate insolence of any kind. Contrary to what my father thinks, I need my privacy, and I won’t have you following me around everywhere I go.”
Rand clenched his jaw at the imperious tone in her voice. “First of all, I don’t work for you, Ms. Kal’yle, I work for your father, and second of all, there’s something you should know about me. I don’t tolerate insolence, either. When I tell you to do something, it’s for your own safety, so you do it without question. I’m your bodyguard, which means that I’m at your side at all times, so there will be no sneaking off to go shopping at the market, or to go dancing at some nightclub, or to meet a lover for some secret rendezvous, or do whatever it is that you do when you sneak off. Unlike your other guards, I won’t put up with your antics.”
Inarii stared at Rand Barany, wondering where her father had found such an insufferable man, and just how much her father had told him about her? “How dare you...?”
Rand folded his arms across his chest. “Oh, I dare, Ms. Kal’yle. I’m not just your bodyguard, apparently I’m also your babysitter, so I fully expect you to behave yourself and do as I tell you. Do I make myself clear?”
Inarii felt herself blush at the words. “I’m not a child, Mr. Barany, to be ordered around!” she told him hotly.
“Then behave yourself and I won’t treat you like one. Then we’ll get along like two reasonable adults.” He glanced at his watch. “Now, if you’ll excuse me...”
Inarii stared at Rand Barany’s retreating back, her pulse racing, her breathing ragged, and a warmth that she didn’t want to put a name to spreading through her. If she didn’t know better, she’d think she was attracted to the man. Which was absolutely absurd, of course! Rand Barany was rude and arrogant. He probably never even went to a school of higher education, much less read a book. He was not at all the type of man she would be attracted to. She frowned at that – just minutes ago, she was telling herself that he was exactly the type of man she would be attracted to. But that was before she learned what an ass he was.
Inarii took a deep breath and let it out slowly, smoothing her gown with her hands, trying to calm herself. Getting poor Oland fired had taught her something, at least. All she had to do was make this Rand Barany look like an incompetent imbecile, and her father would have no choice but to fire him. She just had to make it seem like it was Rand’s fault, so that her father wouldn’t follow through on his threat to send her back to their home planet. A threat that she doubted he would follow through on anyway. At that point, she could either convince her father that she didn’t need a bodyguard, or she would keep going through them until there were none left that were willing to work for her father. One thing was for sure; this Rand Barany was not going to get the better of her.
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