Submission and Surrender(2)

By: Cali MacKay

“Ooo, spunky. I like that.” Ryan got to his feet, and though she never thought of herself as short at five six, the guy was tall. And big. She could take care of herself, but he could easily pick her up off her feet and plant her. If she was a cop, she’d have a badge to scare him away with, but she wasn’t. She was a consulting investigator, which meant no badge, no gun, no handcuffs. “Don’t go… Someone so pretty shouldn’t be alone. And I really like you. Don’t you want to really like me too?”

Yep. Definitely drunk, which meant that there was no chance of successfully reasoning with him. With a jolt of adrenaline kicking into her system, she backed up a step—and right into a wall of muscle, her fear spiking as she wondered if he’d brought a friend.

The stranger stepped around her and put himself between her and the jerk harassing her. “She’s not alone. Not anymore. And she’s already told you she’s not interested. Now take your drink and get the fuck out of here.”

“I saw her first, so you can fuck off. Go find your own. This one’s mine.”

As big as Ryan was, the guy coming to her defense was just as big, if not bigger. And the way he moved—he might be muscular, but there was an ease in his movements that made her think he’d be quick and dangerous.

And he was. He dodged a blow, and before she could really see what was happening, her stranger had Ryan pinned to the bar with his arm twisted painfully around his back as he groaned in pain. “You need to leave, or I’m going to make sure you regret it. Are we clear?”

“Fuck…let go of me, man. I didn’t mean anything by it.” Ryan struggled to get free but it wasn’t happening.

Her handsome stranger yanked him upright, though he’d yet to let go of Ryan’s arm, twisting it so it was clearly painful. “Apologize to the lady for touching her.”

“I’m sorry. Fuck…let go of me, man. That fucking hurts.” He was set free with a shove that put plenty of distance between them, looking over his shoulder as he slunk back towards a dark corner on the other side of the bar.

“Thanks.” Though Hadley could have probably taken care of the guy herself—with a whole lot of effort and no guarantees—it was damn nice not to have to. Especially when the guy coming to her aid was smoking hot. He was everything that other guy had tried but failed to be.

“Are you okay?” His worried gaze took her in, as he put a gentle hand on her arm and steered her away from the bar. Except that this time, she wasn’t bothered by someone touching her. Not in the least.

“I am. Thanks for asking—and thanks for dealing with that asshole.” Her heart was now racing for an entirely different reason. There was something about the guy standing in front her that made her crappy mood disappear.

He was damn good-looking, in a way that combined rugged and refined. His dark brown hair looked casually mussed like he’d been running his hands through it, and he had just enough stubble on his strong jaw to make his bright blue eyes stand out. Though he looked as though he could wear anything from flannel to a suit and look damn good in any of it, he’d continued that rugged yet refined theme by pairing worn jeans that fit him perfectly and a pair of scuffed Docs, with a navy cashmere sweater that hugged every muscle and fit him perfectly.

“My name’s Hadley, by the way.” She nervously tucked her hair behind her ear, and tried to remember the last time she’d attempted to flirt. It’d been ages. But if ever there was a time to attempt it, this would be it, given that gorgeous guys like the one before her never wandered into her life.

“Gabe. It’s a pleasure.” He tilted his head towards the other end of the bar with a disarming smile. “Not that you want a repeat, but can I buy you a drink? Or would you rather get out of here?” He ran a gentle finger down her cheek and leaned in just a little, lowering his head to hers so the air between them crackled with sexual tension.

Before meeting Gabe, she’d been ready to go back to her room and dig into the case file she’d just picked up the police station. But now? She was thinking that after such a crappy day, she could easily do with a distraction as good-looking as Gabe, especially since it’d been years since she’d let a guy get close.

Managing a flirty smile—at least she hoped it was flirty—she leaned into him and went onto the tips of her toes so she could whisper in his ear. “I think I’d like to get out of here—if you’re up for it.”

“Oh, I’m definitely up for it, sweetheart.” He slipped his hand up the back of her neck and pulled her close, nuzzling her as he brushed her lips in a kiss that shot right through her and left her desperate for more.