Focus (Page 13)

Jared leaned back in his seat. “Not surprising.”

Levi looked over to where we sat and smiled at me. I smiled back. I had to admit there was something cool about being with someone in such a respected position.

I jumped as I heard a loud bang. “It’s just the doors closing and locking,” Jared explained.

“Locking?”

“No one’s allowed in or out until the proceedings are completely over.”

I shivered. The chilly temperature of the room was only accentuated by the fact that I was locked in a room with paranormal creatures. The thought scared me more than a little. I wrapped my arms tighter around myself.

Levi glanced at me and got up. “What’s he doing?” I said to myself as he walked directly over to me.

Stopping right in front of us, he took off his blazer and put it over my shoulders. “This should help.” He kissed me on the cheek before taking his seat. His father gave him an approving smile. I wondered if the chivalrous display was really about helping me, or if it was for appearances sake.

“Welcome all.” Robert stood and addressed the room. “The Autumn meeting is officially in session. We will follow the usual schedule tonight. Before I turn the floor over to my advisors, I want to emphasize the importance of discretion. Nothing discussed tonight may leave the room.” He continued to describe the rules and introduced his advisors. Listening to Robert, I could have been in a trance. He definitely had the gift of public speaking.

Each advisor took turns making presentations, but none really caught my attention until Jett Florence stood. I knew he was head of security, but I didn’t realize he was also an advisor. It seemed to be setup kind of like a president and his cabinet.

“The threat of the Blackwell’s has grown. We have reason to believe they’re planning to take out the Laurent line from within.”

A few gasps filled the room. “We will, of course, determine the reliability of this intelligence, but until then, I urge all of you to use caution. If you have any suspicions, you need to report them to my department immediately.

That brings me to my next point, the need to increase the security force. I want to take on an additional officer within the next year.”

Robert interrupted. “I assume Jared will be taking that position.”

I looked over at Jared, his face was emotionless.

Jett cleared his throat. “I am not sure he’s ready for the job.”

“How can you say that?” Levi lashed out. I had to admire his loyalty to his friend.

Jett’s expression didn’t waver, even when Levi directed his anger at him. “Bryant and I aren’t sure he’s prepared.”

“What?” I hadn’t realized I’d spoken out loud until I felt Hailey’s hand on my arm.

“Do you have something you’d like to say, Allison?” Robert asked.

I don’t know what came over me, but I remembered how rude Jared’s brother and dad had been earlier. Bryant was coming on to Levi’s mate, and Jared wasn’t ready?

“Yes, I have something to say.” I slipped my arms through the sleeves of Levi’s coat.

“What are you doing?” Hailey whispered.

Robert looked amused. “You have my permission to address the assembly.”

I swallowed and stood up. “How can you say that Jared isn’t ready?”

“Is there a reason you think my judgment is unsound?” Jett asked, his face a mask of stone.

The whole room had turned to look at me, but no one said a word.

“Jared saved my life. Doesn’t saving the life of your prince’s mate count for something?”

I didn’t realize it until after the words were out, but that was the first time I’d admitted I was Levi’s mate.

Robert chuckled. “Yes, it does. So I take it you support Jared’s installment as a security officer after his graduation?”

“Yes. It’s no secret Jared and I haven’t always seen eye to eye.” There were some laughs. “But I wouldn’t hesitate to trust him completely.”

Robert nodded. “Thank you for sharing your opinion. It will be taken into consideration.”

“Thank you.” I pulled Levi’s jacket tighter around myself and sat down. I risked a glance over at Levi, and he was grinning at me. Evidently, he approved.

“Who are you, and what did you do with my best friend?” Hailey whispered loudly.

I just shrugged.

Jared leaned over. “I have no idea where that came from, but thanks. I owe you.”

“I’ll remember that.”

Jared made so much more sense to me. His arrogance was at least somewhat explained by his jerk of a brother, and anyone whose dad could publicly degrade him like that deserved some understanding in my book. I wondered what Jett would think if he knew about the way Bryant had treated me.

I tried to pay attention to the rest of the proceedings, but I was still dealing with the post adrenaline rush from having spoken against a man like Jett Florence. I had a feeling I was one of the first.

The night wore on, and it had to have been at least three o’clock by the time Robert closed the meeting. The doors finally opened.

“Want to just stay upstairs and take the streetcar to class?” I asked Hailey.

“Oh yeah, you still have your room.” Hailey nodded enthusiastically. “That sounds great.”

I stood up with everyone else as Levi and his father left.

“Levi will probably be a bit, but we can wait for him upstairs,” Owen offered.

“Can you just tell him Hailey and I are staying in my room here? I’m too tired to go anywhere.”

“Sure, want us to go up with you?” Jared was looking at me differently. He was probably trying to figure out why in the world I defended him.

“I think we’ll make it.” I moved out of the way as people maneuvered around us to reach the exit.

“All right, sleep well.” Jared looked relieved that he didn’t have to worry about me. I’m sure he was exhausted too.

“We will.” Hailey linked arms with me again, and I let her lead us to the elevator. Her super vision came in handy.

Once back in my room, I gave Hailey some extra clothes, and changed into a t-shirt. I was glad I’d left a few things in my dresser. We barely said anything before we both collapsed.

I woke up groggily when I heard a noise coming from the main sitting area. I doubted Hailey had left the other bedroom in the suite, so I got up to check.

I wasn’t surprised when I saw Levi standing by the open balcony door. He was shirtless, and his wings were still extended. He must have just landed. He retracted his large, black wings.