By: Laurann Dohner

He's protecting me. Jessie relaxed instantly. The guy was huge and stood between her and anyone who wanted to do harm. Who says chivalry is dead?

“Back off,” her protector roared—a harsh, brutal sound. Jessie carefully studied his back and it sank in that he wore jeans with a black tank top. His muscular arms were well displayed and his fingers curled into fists, lifted at his sides to fight. Her gaze roamed higher to the back of his head and identified the auburn hair with blond streaks. It hit her then that Justice North was the male who’d saved her ass.

“She’s human,” another voice barked.

“That doesn’t give anyone the right to attack. She is a guest here.” Justice snarled the words in obvious anger. “We are friends with humans and don’t attack them. We especially,” he shouted now, “don’t attack females.”

“I’m sorry, Justice,” a new male voice panted. “We should have had more officers present.”

“I want every one of the new ones rounded up and taken into the cafeteria immediately.” Justice gave the order with harsh authority. “This is going to be settled immediately. This is the second attack on a human female since this morning and there won’t be a third.” Justice growled those words.

“Even the new females?” The out of breath male spoke.

“No. Just the males. The females seem to know better. I want to see every new male inside that cafeteria in ten minutes.”

“We’re on it,” another man stated firmly.

Jessie stood perfectly still and waited for the tension to ease. Justice still appeared ready to do battle since he didn’t budge from his position in front of her. She heard movement in the room, soft voices, a few growls and finally silence. Justice relaxed his stance. His arms lowered to his sides, his fists unfurled and he slowly turned.

Jessie stared up into Justice’s handsome face. Breathtaking fits him, she thought, as she realized she’d stopped breathing. She sucked air into her lungs and met a pair of furious cat eyes framed with long, black eyelashes. They were a huge contrast to his blond-streaked auburn hair. On television and in photos his hair appeared much lighter and the camera didn’t begin to capture his beautiful eyes. They were so exotic that they were probably the most beautiful sight she’d ever seen.

“Who are you?” he growled softly. “How did you get past security?”

Jessie frowned. He should have known who she was and why she was there. She took a deep breath. “I’m Jessie Dupree and I work for the task force assigned to the NSO. I’m their female ambassador to your retrieved Gift Females. Last night I was on the raid in Colorado and I came here with the females who were recovered.”

She paused and watched his intense eyes. It was amazing to see them transform.

The color changed as his anger dissipated. There was some blue in those dark depths.

For a moment she was so distracted, she forgot she’d been talking.

“Tiger gave me permission to be here. I rode in on the helicopter with your females and have been assigned a room on the third floor of the hotel. Tammy invited me to her wedding so here I am. Didn’t you see me during their ceremony?”

“No. I was distracted by a long voice message from the president. I had an earphone—was listening to it—and I had to text my reply to him.” He took a deep breath and held out his hand. It was a big one with long, strong fingers and those nifty calluses covered both his fingertips and his palm. “I’m Justice North. It is a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Dupree.”

She placed her smaller hand inside his. Heat from his hot skin jolted her. His large hand clasped hers but instead of shaking it, his fingers curled around her smaller ones, holding them. His gaze lowered to stare at their joined hands. Jessie couldn’t take her attention from his face though. He finally looked up when he released her.

“I apologize for the attack. They are new and have a lot to learn. I’m going to teach them some valuable lessons about manners in a few moments. We won’t tolerate that kind of behavior.”

She shrugged. “I understand why they hate my kind. They have their reasons. I appreciate you coming to the rescue. I can keep someone off me for a little while but when they gang up, it’s not usually a painless or healthy outcome for me.”

His gaze lowered from her face down her body. His eyes widened and his breathing changed slightly, increased to a faster pace. His nostrils flared and a soft sound came from deep within throat. Jessie grinned.

“Did you just purr?”

His gaze lifted. “I don’t purr.” He gripped his tank top at his waist, quickly tugged it up his impressive torso and over his head. He offered it to her. “Put this over your shirt.”