Hard Justice(8)

By: Lori Foster

“Not yet.” His eyes narrowed on the man. “And it’s going to stay that way, isn’t it?”

“What’s happenin’ here?” the biker asked. “You two a thing?”

“No,” Fallon denied. “We’re—”

“I’m watching out for her.” Justice, too, smiled, but it wasn’t a nice sight. More like a warning.

She sighed. “Justice is—”

“Look,” Justice said, standing and taking her arm. “A booth opened up.”

She barely had time to snatch up her beer before he led her away. Two other men got to the seats at the same time, but Justice stared them down until they detoured away without a fuss.

“Really,” Fallon said, a little irate. “Was that necessary? I’m here because I want to visit with people.”

“Not those people,” he said, and he downed his beer in one long impressive swallow.

Digging in, Fallon insisted, “Any people I choose,” and she, too, tipped up her beer.

Then almost gagged.

She swallowed the big gulp rather than spit it back into the glass, then stuck her tongue out. “Gak. That’s awful.”

Justice looked at her, then grinned. “Did that quench your thirst?”

Her face still scrunched, Fallon hunted through her purse for a mint. Unfortunately she didn’t have any.

Justice pushed the glass toward her. “Take another sip. It’ll help.”

“I’ll vomit.”

He chuckled. “Nah, you won’t. Trust me.”

She did want to learn, so she held her nose and sipped. It wasn’t quite as bad since she’d taken such a small taste.

Wearing a lopsided smile, Justice asked, “Better?”

She shook her head, continued to hold her nose, and drank again. This time, Justice put a finger at the bottom of the glass and held it there, encouraging her to keep drinking.

When she’d finished it, she burped, covered her mouth and blushed.

He laughed. “There you go.” He held up two fingers, and a minute later a very pretty waitress carried over two more beers.

Fallon eyed them with disgust, until it dawned on her that Justice had just given the woman money. “I need to pay for the drinks.”

“Don’t sweat it.”

She snickered. “You said the same thing to my mom.”

“Did I?” He settled back and watched her.

“No one, ever, has said anything like that to her. It cracked me up.”

His expression warmed. “You already feelin’ that beer?”

“No.” She did feel sleepy though. Holding her nose once more, she again drank, but this time she sat back so Justice couldn’t reach her drink. “At least it’s cold, huh?”

For such a big guy, he looked awfully gentle as he smiled at her. “So what’s the plan? Can you enjoy yourself without hitting on a thug?”

“Thug?” she asked. “Who?”

“Either one of those yahoos at the bar. That first kid was looking for trouble, and the other guy lives trouble.”

“So neither one was safe?”

Idly turning the beer, he surveyed her, then shook his head. “Looking like you do, not sure anyone in here is safe. At least, not to daddy’s standards.”

Making air quotes with her fingers, Fallon mimicked his voice and said, “Daddy’s standards.” She started laughing and couldn’t stop. “That’s so funny.”

“You think so?”

When she nodded, her vision swam, so she held her head. “Yes. Dad really is outrageous.”

“How come? I mean, what’s he so worried about?”

She clammed up, unwilling to give too much away. “We’ve only lived here a short while—” like a year “—and he’s unfamiliar with the area.”

Justice pushed her drink toward her again.

She dutifully sipped before looking around. “People are dancing. I want to dance.”

Wary, Justice straightened and surveyed the gyrating bodies on the floor. “I don’t know...”

But she’d already stood. She took one last drink of her nasty beer, then started for the floor.

Justice caught her hand.

Wow, another revelation. For such a big man he had a very gentle hold.

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