Rules of Protection (Tangled in Texas)(5)

By: Alison Bliss

Gina wore a wicked grin. “If you were a virgin and slept with Sergio, then you’d probably have to sleep with someone else after him just to make it count.”

Dale and I laughed, but he still looked confused. “So how did Boy Wonder come into the mix?”

“You mean…uh, Jake?” Damn. I still wanted to call him the weasel. “He pretended to be my boyfriend to deflect Sergio.” I wasn’t going to go into specifics about the flirty encounter in the hallway. I needed something to tell them about later. It was all I had.

“He can be my boyfriend any time,” Gina said, fanning herself again.

“He doesn’t look like the type who’d use the ‘take-a-number’ dispenser next to your bed, Gina.” Dale grinned playfully and then motioned to me. “He’s probably available on a first-come, first-served basis, which means our little vixen here has already hired him. I hope it’s for a permanent position.”

“And what position would that be?” I asked.

Gina offered a mischievous grin. “Boyfriend, lover, missionary, sixty-nine…”

“Doggy-style,” Dale added, giggling as he gave Gina a high five.

“Oh, stop it. He didn’t ask me to go home with him. Besides, even if he had, I wouldn’t have gone.”

The two of them gave me a “yeah, right” look.

“Okay, I’d like to think I wouldn’t have,” I amended. “I’m not that kind of girl.”

Dale smiled. “Honey, when it comes to a man like that, we’re all that kind of girl.” Then he shrugged. “Besides, every girl needs to get laid on her birthday.”

“Is that some rule I don’t know about?”

By the time the waitress came over, all three of us were fanning ourselves thinking about Jake. She focused on me, since Gina and Dale both had drinks. “Can I get you anything?”

“Vodka, straight up.”

The waitress nodded and squeezed past us toward the bar.

“Getting worked up?” Gina asked.

“Of course not. Don’t be silly. I’m just thirsty because it’s hot in here.” I undid a button on my blouse, opened it up, and shook it loosely around my cleavage.

When I looked up, Jake stood about ten feet away, his gaze lacerating across my chest. If he would’ve stared any harder, he could’ve seared it open and performed open-heart surgery on me. That would’ve been helpful since my heart had stopped beating the moment I spotted him again.

I shifted nervously in my chair and crossed my legs to keep from fidgeting, unintentionally exposing quite a bit of upper thigh. But it worked to my advantage. The waitress returned with my drink, but before I could pull out my cash, a large hand slid a twenty-dollar bill across the table at her.

“Keep the change,” Jake said. He leaned over me, his eyes raking across my thighs with intensity. “Dance with me.”

“I…uh…” His proximity removed all of the air from my lungs.

“It’s not a request,” Jake said, pulling me from my chair by force.

I looked to my friends for help, but Gina laughed. “He’s better than a caveman.”

Dale smiled flirtatiously at Jake from across the table. “Jake, honey, how’s your gaydar?”

Jake gave a wolfish grin and winked at both of them. “Everything of mine is perfectly intact.”

Gina and Dale drooled on each other as Jake dragged me toward the dance floor. Some support group they were. They threw me to the big, bad wolf, hoping he’d eat me, just so they could hear about it later.

Jake pulled me out on the floor and spun me into his arms as a slow song played. Dale and Gina watched us from across the room.

“You were flirting with my friends.”

A smile played at the corner of his mouth. “Just giving them some food for thought.”

“And getting them to take your side?”

“That, too.”

“I thought you said I was trouble.”

He scanned the room, looking everywhere but at me. “Yep, and I was right.”

“I was minding my own business. You came over to me, remember? Why bother, if I’m so much trouble?”

“Because I need a favor.”

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