Hard Justice(9)

By: Lori Foster

He released her. “Stay where I can see you.”

With a sharp salute, she said, “Yes, sir.”

She loved to dance but rarely had the opportunity, and never in a place like this. Here, in the boisterous crowd, no one would pay any attention to her.

That is, no one except Justice, because he never took his gaze off her.


SHE’D DRUNK ONLY two and a half beers, but Justice had a feeling that was two beers too many for little Fallon Wade.

“Dance with me,” she’d asked early on.

“I don’t dance,” he’d lied the first time.

Half an hour later, she’d asked again. “Dance with me.”

“Not in my job description.” He’d felt like a prick after saying it, but hoped it’d keep her from asking.

It didn’t.

“No one else is dancing with me,” she complained.

A few guys had tried to sidle up to her.

Justice had stared hard enough to send them all packing. In MMA, he’d learned the value of a really confident, mean, nearly tactile stare. There were times he’d won a fight before it ever started, just with his stare-down.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said. “Just enjoy yourself.”

“I feel foolish.”

“You shouldn’t.” A woman like Fallon stood out from the others, but in a good way. “Trust me, lots of guys are looking.”

“Really?” She glanced around. “You’re just saying that to make me feel better.”

“Gospel truth.” He crossed his heart.

Laughing, she rejoined the dancers.

Admittedly, Fallon looked a little lonely. All around her, people brushed against once another but never came within two feet of her.

Several times, the urge to join her burned in his blood.

He couldn’t help thinking of her moving against him, the scent of her skin and how soft she’d feel. Twice he’d even gotten to his feet. But he held back.

The things he imagined with her were already taboo enough; he wouldn’t cross the line in deed, as well.

So instead he kept his vigil—and tortured himself with carnal fantasies inspired by the rhythmic roll of her hips and the sway of her torso.

Repeatedly, Fallon returned to the booth to sip on her beer. Halfway through the third, she pronounced her words too precisely, a deep flush stained her cheeks, and her dark eyes had that glassy look. Hoping to discourage her, Justice scooted the remainder of the drink to the other side of the table.

It was nearing midnight when some random dude, no doubt guided by liquid courage, caught her in his sights.

Justice read the intent in his gaze, but Fallon, still dancing, remained oblivious.

When the guy elbowed one of his buddies, then pointed her out, his friends started egging him on.

Justice couldn’t really blame the guy for trying.

The prim clothes and overprotective upbringing hadn’t stifled Fallon’s sensuality. Nope, that came out loud and clear in the way she moved.

The guy had almost reached her when Justice stepped into his path. “Don’t,” he growled into the idiot’s startled face, and the guy literally fled the bar.

Fallon wanted to dance, so by God, she’d get to dance—without getting hassled.

At one o’clock, the crowd finally thinned. Justice took her purse from the seat, grabbed the umbrella and walked out to the dance floor to tell her it was time to go.

She tried to tempt him into dancing.

It wasn’t easy, but he held firm. “We need to get going.”

She fashioned a very sexy pout. “Why?”

“It’s late, the storm let up and you’re drunk.”

She gave it some thought, then nodded. “I think you might be right.”

“So you know you’re plastered?”

“No, I meant that the rain has stopped.” She grinned at him. “I think I’ve learned to like beer.”

She still held her nose every time she drank, so no, she definitely didn’t like it. “If you say so.”

“Thank you for your patience.”

“It’s what I’m paid for.” He handed her purse to her, waited while she got the strap up and over her shoulder, which took her three tries, then led her out into the dark night.

Not a single star showed. So much humidity hung in the air that halos formed around each streetlamp. There were a lot less people outside now, and they were more subdued than the earlier crowd, talking low in small groups.

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