Maybe This Time by Lauren Blakely



I’m the kind of guy who does his homework. Research is my friend, so doing recon for a job interview is second nature.

Preparation is the foundation of my job, and I love my job.

Sure, as a bodyguard, I need to react in a heartbeat. To make rapid-fire decisions in the blink of an eye so I can keep my clients safe.

But the key to lightning-fast reflexes is advance work.

Every now and then, advance work can be cool as hell.

Take today.

I buy a ticket for a concert.

It’s time to learn all I can.

After a punishing six-mile run on the beach at dawn, I return to my condo and bound up the steps, heading into my home. Once inside, I take a quick shower, start a pot of coffee, then dive into the most important part of the job.

Some people think the most critical part of being a bodyguard is size.

And sure, that’s vitally important.

But you either have that or you don’t.

Other people think the most important part is being in kick-ass shape.

Yeah, that’s a given. But I never met a day that wasn’t improved by a good run, hard exercise, and a long session at the gym.

That’s all part of my routine, part of my daily practice.

Once you have those two key attributes down pat, what makes the difference is your brain.

How you keep it sharp.

And whether you use it to research, assess, and devise a game plan.

I grab a cup of joe, flip open my laptop, and dive into learning all I possibly can about the man I’m hoping to protect. He’s easy to find information on.


He’s a world-famous rock star.

Stone Zenith has won five Grammys, sold more than twenty-nine million albums, and logged more than ten multiplatinum songs. Also, he’s scored countless dates with men and women, as evidenced by the pics of him at clubs, restaurants, and galas that have graced the tabloids over the years.

He’s an equal opportunity player as far as I can tell, and is 100 percent out in the open. Google serves up fine shots of him kissing a starlet on the red carpet, then dropping a smooch on the lips of a Jon Hamm look-alike who plays a hard-boiled detective on a TV show.

Back and forth, my eyes scan the images, trying to understand the man, his habits, his routines.

My research also turns up some stories about the last year when he took some time off from touring, traveled around the world, funded some orphanages, and donated tons of money to charities devoted to saving the ocean and the rainforests.

I file all those details away.

He likes to date freely, he likes to travel, he likes to give back.

He likes to have a good time too.

I devour all the articles I can find about him, making sure I know how the media perceives him, the image he puts out, the potential problems I might face.

Guarding a celebrity comes with plenty of challenges. Some stars are squirrelly, some don’t want to be protected, others like to make it a game and escape from their bodyguard. Still more are dickheads, hating life, flipping tables and flipping off cameramen.

Count me out on that kind of client. I have no interest in working for a douchebag.

But from what I can glean, Stone Zenith simply seems to be a guy who knows how to have fun. He goes to all sorts of events, shows up at all kinds of parties, and loves to have his picture taken with fans.

Some of the more salacious tabloids have detailed stories about his love life, with photos of him on dates every night of the week, out at restaurants and events. The one thing they all have in common is he’s grinning in so many of those pictures—a smile that sells millions of records. I even come across an article devoted to that damn lopsided grin.

With a smile that drips of sensuality and a swagger that exudes sex appeal, Stone was made for the stage and was born to be adored, to have panties and shirts and ties and proposals flung at him nightly from the crowds.

Have at it on my watch, proposers of the world. Here’s hoping I can make sure that when the panties and shirts and ties and proposals fling at him, the fans won’t tear off his shirt, grab his ass, or feel him up.

I can do that. I can guard him. Protect him. Make sure he’s safe.

And after a few more hours of research, I’m nearly ready.

The next night, I’m in the second row. Arriving early, I use the extra time to assess the concert hall, checking out where the security guards station themselves, how they act when it’s clear the star has arrived in the theater, then if they’re visible when he takes the stage. I learn what I can as a concertgoer, trying to determine everything going on like I’m doing advance prep, as I would if he were my client.