In Jack's Arms (Fighting Connollys)(10)

By: Roxie Rivera


The older man's ears turned red. "You could have said—"

"I don't have to say anything, Dan. It's my shop. I don't have to clear every single move I make with you." With an irritated huff, she spun away from the night manager and stalked back to her brother.

With his face puffed out and just as red as his ears, Dan muttered under his breath and stormed away to

the line of cash registers. Still surprised by that waspish tone Abby had used, Jack slipped the watch back into his pocket and made his way to the jewelry counter Mattie had just finished cleaning. Taking in Abby's tired eyes and tense posture, Jack decided that she needed dinner, a hot bath and a massage.

"Abby." He spoke firmly but softly. "Get your purse and head home. Mattie and I are going to grab dinner. We'll meet you there."

"Jack, I don't need—"

"You need to get some rest. You need a hot meal and some time to unwind." He cupped her beautiful face with one hand, loving the way her darker skin looked against his tanned fingers, and gently brushed

his thumb along the apple of her cheek. Her eyes widened fractionally, and she inhaled a surprised breath.

In all the years they had been friends, it was the first time he had ever touched her so intimately.

It wouldn't be the last.

"Let me take care of you tonight."

An expression that seemed suspiciously close to panic crossed her face. "I can take care of myself,

Jack."

"I never said you couldn't." He let his thumb trace that pouty lower lip of hers. He wanted nothing more than to dip his head and finally claim her mouth but this wasn't the time or place. Later, he would get that kiss he wanted so badly. It would be the sort of kiss that left her trembling and panting. "Abby?"

She swallowed hard. "All right. I'll get my stuff and meet you at the house." She glanced back at her brother who looked on curiously. With a slant to her mouth, she added, "I'm sure he's going to make you chase down that taco truck he loves so much but don't let him bamboozle you into believing that it's okay

for him to order that atomic hot sauce. He'll be up all night with heartburn."

Jack smiled. "I'll take that under advisement."

Abby dared to touch his chest. Her small hand felt so damned good rubbing that circle. He wanted to

feel her skin against his without the thin cotton barrier between them. "Thank you, Jack. I appreciate you stepping in with that loser."

"He won't bother you again."

"I hope not."

"I'll make sure of it." He had never wanted to draw her close and kiss her forehead more. Fighting the urge to claim her so publicly, he let his hand fall from her face. "Where's the knife?"

"Pete locked it away in the safe and called Santos while you were dragging that guy outside. He'll pick it up in the morning and review the security tapes. He has a feeling he knows who that jerk was."

Jack had always been impressed with the detective and trusted he would handle the problem. "Get your

stuff. I'll walk you out to your car."

She nodded, disappeared into the back and returned with her purse a short time later. He noticed the

way she gave Dan a wide berth. He suspected the friction there existed because the older man had expected

to take a more prominent role in the business after Mr. Kirkwood had passed. Jack wasn't sure why the man

would have thought such a thing. It had been clear to anyone who had known Abby's grandfather that he

had always planned for Abby to take his place, just as he had taken his father's in the family business.

With Mattie and Abby in front of him, Jack trailed them outside. He tried to keep his needy gaze from

lingering on that fine, taut ass of Abby's but those jeans she wore were too tempting. Every Wednesday

night during his self-defense class, she tormented him in workout pants that hugged her bottom so tightly.

More than once, he had been forced to move to the back of the class while the women practiced their

moves because Abby caused such a wild response in him.

He made sure Abby got into her car before sliding behind the wheel of his truck. Mattie was already

buckled in and tapping at his phone screen, no doubt using that app Bee had created to help him track

down the food truck. "Jack?"

"Yeah, bud?" He eased out of the parking space.

"Do you like Abby?"

His gut clenched. Shit. What if Mattie didn't approve? "Yeah, I like Abby."

Mattie was silent for a moment so long that Jack's stomach actually pitched with anxiety. "That's good."

Releasing a pent-up breath, he said, "I’m glad you think so. Now—where's this truck?"

Mattie showed him the map and the blinking icon. Jack quickly oriented himself and turned right at the