Hard Justice(7)

By: Lori Foster

He gave her a look as he settled back, now with a black umbrella. “You okay?”

She nodded fast. “Yes.”

Without looking convinced, he said, “Stay put. I’ll come around.”

After pocketing the keys, he opened the door, popped up the umbrella and circled the hood to her side of the car.

By necessity, she had to step out very near him to stay shielded under the umbrella. He didn’t bother trying to protect himself from the storm.

“Come under with me,” she insisted.

He hesitated.

“Please, Justice? I’ll feel terrible otherwise.”

Reluctantly, he moved up against her back, his arm around her as he tilted the umbrella to block the worst of the rain blowing toward them. “C’mon.”

With every step, their bodies touched. She could smell him again, a rich masculine musk, and better than that, she felt his incredible heat.

Why, even if the bar turned out to be a bust, this alone was a wonderful new experience.

He kept her sheltered from the storm until they’d stepped into the bar, then he turned her so her back was against a wall and he stood in front. While closing the umbrella, he visually scoured the room.

Teasing, Fallon asked, “Safe to proceed?”

“Don’t be a smart-ass.” His grin took the sting from the comment. “How about those seats at the bar?”

The men to the left of the empty stools looked like a rough motorcycle club, and the men to the right could have been a college fraternity group. She loved the differences. “Yes, please.”

“It’s crowded, so stay close.” He pulled her around in front of him and left one big, warm hand on her shoulder, guiding her as they maneuvered through the crowds. Soon as they reached the bar, he mean mugged the men on either side of them until they turned away.

“So what’s it to be?” He helped her onto the high round stool. “Still want a beer?”

She could smell the alcohol in the air. In the background, loud music played. Belatedly, Fallon realized that she probably should have eaten something before now, but earlier she’d been too nervous. “Yes, please.”

“You sure? ’Cuz you don’t look sure.”

Trying for more confidence, she said, “Beer.”

“All right, then.” He ordered one.

“You aren’t going to drink with me?”

“I’m on duty.”

“Working for me, yes? So I insist.” She leaned close to ensure he’d hear her, then whispered, “I’ll feel less awkward.”

His gaze went from her eyes to her mouth, then away. “Hey, if you insist, who am I to argue?” He asked for another beer.

The man to her right glanced at her again, then turned for a closer look. Fallon didn’t smile. She must have been too surprised by the attention.

The young man glanced at Justice next—then quailed. When she looked at Justice, she saw only an innocent expression, one brow raised. But she wasn’t buying it, especially since the man turned back to his friends, spoke low, and together they vacated their seats.

“Hey,” Fallon complained. “I was going to talk to him.”

Justice snorted. “It wasn’t talk he wanted.”

“How do you know?”

“The way he looked you over? Besides, he was already crocked. You don’t want to deal with that.”

From the other side of her, a guy said, “I ain’t crocked.”

Justice narrowed his eyes. Fallon quickly turned to see the biker grinning at her. She had the fast impression of frazzled brown hair in a long ponytail, a ridiculous handlebar mustache, broad shoulders under a black T-shirt and leather vest.

Fallon said, “Hello.”

“’Lo yourself, honey.” He ignored Justice and asked, “What’s up?”

Lifting her glass, Fallon said, “I’m having a beer.”

His grin widened. “I’m guessing this ain’t your usual place, is it?”

“Am I that transparent?”

“Little bit.” Swinging around to face her, he said, “So besides riling the big guy, what’s the plan?”

“Oh, I’m not trying to rile him.” But one glimpse at Justice showed he was more than a little fired up. “Justice,” she said. “Anything wrong?”

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