...on book 2 of the This & That Series?
Marisol's story, Apples & Oranges, was a blast to write...check it out in this excerpt now, and remember that her story is on sale now for just $1.99!
He tilted sideways, and burped. “That’s… stupid.”
I gestured towards the inn. “You’re looking a little green around the gills, buddy. Why don’t you let me make you some coffee inside? I’ve got a Colombian roast that will—”
“Shut up.” Greg’s hand came down on my forearm with a slap. It was with more force than I was expecting, and I gasped. As soon as I stopped talking, his demeanor softened. “Come on. Let’s walk down to Benny’s for a nightcap.”
Jerking my arm away, I clenched my teeth together. This guy was ticking me off now. “No, thank you. I have plans.”
“Oh, come on.” He drug a hand down his face, making his eyes even redder. “You don’t have plans. Give it up.”
I drew a deep breath, then released it slowly. “Go home and get some sleep.”
“Tease,” he spat down at me, his red face glowing in the dim light.
“Gotta go, Greg.” Forcing a tight smile, I sidestepped his arm and headed towards the kitchen door. I didn’t scare around men easily—you can’t remain single and independent into your thirties and not know how to watch out for yourself—but I was sort of rattled. We were back far enough from the street that there weren’t any other people within earshot, the dinner guests were long gone, and the last of my staff had left. It figured.
“Aw… come back.” He groaned.
“No, thank you,” I yelled over my shoulder. I was going to throttle the bartenders the small business bureau hired for the night. They apparently had no concept of when to stop serving someone.
“Hey, bitch!” Greg’s voice cut into the night, and his heavy footsteps thudded on the pavement. “I’m talking to you.”
Picking up my pace, I touched my pocket for my new iPhone. Lexie and Fletcher only lived a few blocks away from the inn, and Fletcher wouldn’t mind coming down here to scare away a persistent drunk. It was rare, but official: Drunk Greg was starting to freak me out.
And true to form, I’d left the damn thing in the kitchen. I was going to have my iPhone surgically connected to my hand first thing tomorrow.
Greg grabbed my shoulder, jerking me backwards. “I said I was talking to you,” he snarled into my ear.
“You need to get your hands off of me.” I twirled around and shoved him in the chest. When he stumbled backwards, I yelled, “Go home and sober up, before I call the cops.”
Greg’s expression morphed from confused, to belligerent, to ticked-off in the span of a half a second. “Call the cops? Call the…” he grabbed my upper arms. Hard. “Who do you think you are?”
“Let go!” I yelped when he gave me a shake.
“Hey! Get your hands off her!”
I heard the deep, gravelly voice before I saw Demo through the corner of my eye. He barreled towards us with his fists clenched at his side, ready to swing.
“Who the…” Greg looked from me, to Demo, then back again. “You sleeping with Antonopolous?”
“I’m not sleeping with anybody,” I growled, wriggling out of his grip. There were red marks just above my elbows that would probably be bruises by morning. Super.
Demo was nose to nose with Greg in an instant. “You like roughing up women?”
“Roughing up? What? What the hell are you talking about?” Greg skittered backward, but Demo followed. “We were just talking.”
“Talking?” Demo’s chest was pressed against Greg’s, and I was pretty sure his biceps were vibrating. “You expect me to believe that?”
Greg laughed, and it came out high pitched and hysterical. “Tell him, Mary. Tell him we were talking.”
“Her name is Marisol,” Demo growled.
I rolled my eyes. “Don’t dig your hole any deeper, Greg. We weren’t talking.”
A cab rolled into the parking lot, stopping right beside our little testosterone faceoff. A cabbie with a backwards Mariners cap emerged. “Hey. Everything all right out here? Somebody call a cab?”
I gave Greg’s shoulder a shove. It was a lot easier not to be scared when Demo was here, in all of his puffed up glory. “Yes, sir. Our friend here needs to go home.”
“Come ooon, Demo, you know mmme.” Greg’s voice cracked as he backed away from the hulk of muscle that was my mechanic. “We were jusht hhhaving some fun…”
“Grabbing a woman like that’s not fun.” Demo opened and closed his fists a few times. I thought I could see his heartbeat in the side of his neck. “Never let me catch you acting like that again, or I’ll put you in the ground. Understand?”
Gregs hands went out defensively. “Hey. Whoa. Whatever, man.”
Demo pulled a ten-dollar bill out of his pocket and handed it to the cabbie. “Get him home, and watch him walk in.”
“Yes, sir,” the driver said, sliding back into the driver’s seat.
Greg fiddled with the door handle a few times before getting it open. “No harm in trying. Boy’s got a right to get laid once in a while.”
I cursed under my breath. This guy was a piece of work.
“Sit down and shut up.” Demo gave him a shove, making Greg flop like a doll.
Greg’s head hit the door when he flopped into the seat. “Ow, dammit. Bros before ho’s, right, buddy?”
“Go home,” Demo ordered. The car door slammed, and Greg rested his forehead against the window, promptly falling asleep.
Demo and I watched in silence as the cab pulled away and left the lot. I couldn’t believe that just happened. In all my years of working and dating, I’d never felt afraid before. Maybe Candace was right when she’d suggested a self-defense class a few years ago. I’d scoffed at the idea then, but now I wish I’d considered it. It would’ve felt increíble to ram my knee so far into Greg’s balls that they popped out his ear canals.
It was then that I realized how hard my heart was thudding in my chest. I pressed my palm to my chest and gulped in a pull of the warm night air. I needed to get a grip. It was just a drunk moron. It didn’t mean anything. I wasn’t in any real danger. Right?
As soon as the cab’s taillights disappeared, Demo turned to me, and put a hand on my shoulder. “You all right?”
“Fine. I’m fine.” I stepped away from his touch, and fanned myself. Those pesky tears were poking at the backs of my eyes again, and I wasn’t about to let them fall in front of Demo-the-mechanic. “He was hammered. I could’ve taken care of myself.”
He shook his head. “Greg was out of line.”
I waved off Demo’s words. “You didn’t need to do anything. I can handle things.” But my voice shook.
“You’re welcome.” Demo said softly.
Dammit, he felt sorry for me.
“I…” My voice cracked, and I cleared my throat. “I didn’t need…”
Okay. Between me, myself, and I, that little situation was scary. The way Greg’s moods vacillated between sloppy, goofy drunk and ticked off. The way he’d grabbed me. Twice. What if Demo hadn’t come out of nowhere like that? Would I have been able to fend that creep off?
My eyes filled up and spilled over. “Okay. All right. I’m sorry.” I covered my face with my hands. “Thank you. I appreciate your help, Demo.”
He wrapped his arms around me, tentatively at first, but we melted together quickly enough. Pressing my face into the worn cotton of his shirt, I cried for a good two or three—maybe five—minutes. His scent, minty soap and the faintest hint of gasoline, danced through my nose,. My shoulders shook as I wept for the first time in more years than I could count, but for some peculiar reason, I didn’t care. It was that odd rush of honesty I seemed to feel every time Demo was around. There was no BS-ing this guy, and as much as I hated it… I loved it, too. It felt good to cry. Maybe I needed it. I don’t know.
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