Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 57
She kisses Jensen on the cheek, and everyone coos. He actually blushes.
“Well, I was mostly just making sure I had Ramsey’s back,” Jensen says, taking a masculine swig of his drink, most likely in an effort to show the other guys that he’s no pussy. “I was in charge of the guy who was disrespecting him . But I don’t know why he had such a stick up his ass about the chick.”
“Oooh, does someone have a crush ?” Whitney asks.
She says it in a playful manner, but she’s peering at me quite cheerfully, almost hopefully.
I have to admit to myself that I do wish Monica had come to join us. She was probably too scared off by all the jokes made at her expense.
I guess I do have a bit of a “crush” on her, if crush means wanting to get into her pants. But the principle I was fighting for is bigger than any crush or lust I might feel towards just this one female fighter pilot.
“I don’t know when or why or how it’s become manly to make fun of women, or girly or crush-like to put a stop to that kind of behavior,” I say, quite seriously. “But I won’t stand for it in our unit, or with any accompanying unit or crew. We’re all a team and no one should be treated badly.”
“Yes sir,” the men say, some mumbling it out of obligation but others appearing quite earnest, and seeming to respect my words.
I know I’m not the only guy here who feels this way. I have a good team made of men who mostly agree with what I’m saying, even if it’s fun to make jokes about the female fighter pilot.
“Holy shit ,” says Jerry, who is slightly turned towards the door. “Speak of the devil…”
We all turn and look in that direction.
My heart leaps up almost as much as my cock does.
Fuck. Why am I so fucking stuck on this chick I just met?
“Who invited her ?” Brian says, practically spitting the words out.
Everyone shrugs, and I do the same, trying to appear nonchalant.
But Whitney catches my eye and smiles. I try to look innocent.
“You guys are always shouting about how we’re off to Louie’s, or whatever,” Jerry says. “I’m sure she heard and thought it was an open invite—”
He shuts his mouth— luckily— as Monica approaches us.
“Hey everyone!” she says, smiling a bit too widely, trying a bit too hard.
But it’s cute. She looks at me and I want to wink at her, but I refrain.
“Hi,” Riley thrusts a hand out to her. “I’m Riley Bradford. Jensen’s wife.”
“Nice to meet you,” Monica says, looking genuinely relieved as she gratefully shakes her hand.
“And I’m Whitney Reid, Harlow Bradford’s girlfriend.”
Whitney winks at me as she introduces herself to Monica, obviously pleased that my “crush” showed up.
Whitney and Monica shake hands as well, and Brian rolls his eyes. I know he wants to remark that now this is like a triple date. But he refrains because he knows I’ll punch him if he makes any more stupid comments.
Monica says, “Sorry I’m late. Got a bit lost. But I was intent on coming because I’m looking forward to getting to know you all a bit more before our training session tomorrow.”
She looks at me, for a brief minute, and I silently blink my approval. I appreciate her not blowing my cover.
Plus, I remind myself, she can’t openly admit she came to meet up with an inferior. Technically I’m just enlisted and she’s an officer.
A rather awkward silence follows, and then Monica looks around again and says, “Well, it looks like my choices are a stiff rum and coke, or a girly Cosmo.”
Everyone laughs. Even the guys.
“You obviously know what we prefer,” Whitney jokes, as she nods toward Riley.
“Oh, there are a lot of choices,” I tell her. “And some appetizer specials too. Come on, I’ll take you over to the bar so that Jessa can hook you up.”
“You guys come here a lot, then?” she asks, as we head over to the bartender.
“Jensen makes us,” I can hear Jerry joke, and then Jensen mumbling, “Come on, you guys like it here too.”
Soon it’s just Monica and me, by ourselves in a corner of the bar, and I feel uncharacteristically nervous. I wonder what the guys must think, so I sneak a peek over to our table, but they all seem to be talking amongst themselves, rather than paying any attention to us.
I guess it’s pretty normal that I would offer to show a lady around a bar that she’s unfamiliar, or buy her a drink. I’m just overblowing the situation in my mind, because I’m afraid that what Whitney refers to as my “crush” is blindingly obvious to the others as well.
I clear my throat, but Monica jumps in with a conversation starter.
“So, this place looks a little… seedy, but also pretty chill.”
She glances over to the pool table section, where some less-than-upstanding-looking stoner-type kids are shooting pool.
“Yeah, that’s Albuquerque in general for you.”
We laugh. Her chuckle is so damn cute.
“Have you ever been to our fine city before?” I ask.
“No, it’s my first time. So, thanks for showing me around. Otherwise I’d just be vegging out at my hotel, instead of having the opportunity to see this fine establishment.”
I smile and then Jessa nods at me from where she’s busy pouring drinks, and I touch Monica’s arm to get her attention.
“Any idea what you’d like to drink?”
“A Long Island,” she says, without hesitation.
“Very nice,” I tell her, impressed that she’s no lightweight ordering a glass of wine or a light beer.
She puts her hand on mine, as if it belongs there, and laughs.
“You don’t know me very well,” she says.
I squeeze her hand and then brush her arm as I move to take my wallet out of my pocket and pay for her drink, shocking myself with my brazenness. While it’s not unusual of me to move quickly and strike fast, I feel an intense draw to her and a sense of rush, knowing she’s only in town for three days and two of them are going to be hell on earth.
It doesn’t appear as though she wants to reject me. And being with her is dangerous for our careers, but since when has fear stopped me from doing anything?
Apparently she’s not afraid of much, either. And the attraction I feel for her seems to be mutual, so, now’s my chance.
It’s now or never, cowboy , I tell myself. Saddle up and get ready for the ride.
Chapter 4 - Monica
As Ramsey and I head back over to the table, I can’t believe I’m doing any of this. Meeting this SEAL— who was a stranger to me until today— for a drink, hanging out at a bar with a bunch of guys who clearly don’t want me here, letting him touch me in public.
And touching him back. In fact, I suppose I started things by putting my hand on his.
It’s so not like me. But I can’t seem to help myself. What started out as curiosity— or was that just an excuse? — has grown to become something closer to interest, with a lot of attraction thrown in for good measure.
Maybe I’m tired of being the good girl, doing everything right. Perhaps it’s time for a change.
I feel sure that things will still be awkward with everyone, and I wish that somehow Ramsey and I could be alone. But when we get back, the attitude at the table is more friendly and fun than it was when I first arrived. Apparently, the alcohol has kicked in, and everyone has loosened up a bit.
“Long Island, nice choice,” says one of the guys, nodding at my drink.
“That’s what I was thinking,” Ramsey says.
Every time I hear his voice, my spine tingles; my whole body tingles. I’m glad that he likes my drink choice, because I only ordered what my college friends and I used to get on special during girls’ nights out. I don’t drink often, but I need some liquid courage in this situation.
“So, is everyone here going on the next deployment?” I ask, tryi
“Everyone but Jensen and Mark here,” someone says. I don’t know any of their names yet, and none of them introduce themselves to me. “They’re private contractors.”
“I see. And I’m guessing by the looks of things that Jensen and Ramsey and…”
Crap. I forget his name.
“Harlow,” his girlfriend, Whitney, fills in for me, gracefully. She even anticipates my question. “And yes, they’re brothers.”
“Brothers in life, brothers in combat,” Jensen says. “I served with the SEALs until recently. I was there when Harlow nearly got blown up.”
“Excuse me?” I ask.
“Someone who hasn’t heard of the great and heroic Harlow!” Ramsey announces, and everyone laughs.
“Shut up, dude,” Harlow says, but it’s good-naturedly.
“Harlow was significantly injured when a rescue helicopter they were in was shot down in enemy territory,” Whitney explains. “He made a remarkable recovery and turnaround.”
I’m impressed, and trying to think of how to express it, when Jensen says, “Yeah, and all the while he was boning his physical therapist.”
Whitney blushes and shakes her head, tsk ing at him, and I guess, “So, that must have been you?”
“Sure was,” she says, grinning. “But he really didn’t need me anyway. He was fine all on his own.”
“Oh, don’t say that,” Harlow says, pulling Whitney into his lap on the bar stool. “I’d never be fine without you.”
“Oh my God ,” says one of the airmen, pretending to gag. “Get a room, you two.”
“We have a room and will be going there after this,” Harlow says, holding up his drink for a toast. But the other guys just roll their eyes at him.
As the evening progresses, the team shares more stories of the brothers’ antics over the years, as well as tales about their unit in general. I’m touched by their camaraderie and loyalty. And I’m glad we’re all actually getting along.
Midway through some stories, some guys show up— not in uniform but instead wearing leather motorcycle gear. Jensen introduces them as his MC friends, which Riley explains to me means “Motorcyle club. Don’t say gang or he’ll get offended.” They look a bit rough, but seem very nice, and I’m glad I’m no longer the only outsider to the group.
After a while, one of the MC members says, “C’mon Jensen, you know we came to collect you. Let’s head to Billy’s.”
“Not Billy’s,” Harlow groans.
I look at him inquisitively. Billy has to be a fellow SEAL.
“It’s another dive bar that Jensen and his motorcycle friends like to frequent,” Ramsey exclaims. “Billy’s Long Bar.”
“Divier than this ?” I ask, and everyone laughs.
“Believe it or not, yes,” Harlow says. “My girl doesn’t let me go.”
“Very funny,” Whitney says. “You’re free to do whatever you want. You’re just not free to have a happy girlfriend and do what you want, simultaneously.”
We all laugh.
Harlow obediently says, “You boys have fun. And you too, Riley. Hang on tight on that bike. My brother drives like a bat out of hell.”
“Very funny,” Riley says. “And I know your next joke, from hearing it one too many times: the best way to solve the problem of too many lawyers is to put as many as possible on the back of a motorcycle while your brother’s driving it.”
There are laughs all around.
“It was great to meet you,” Riley gives me a wave. “And seriously. I bet you think it’s strange that a lawyer hangs out with a bunch of motorcycle club members, which I understand. I never thought I’d be riding around on a motorcycle myself. The things we do for love, right?”
“Right,” I say, as if I would know.
The last thing I did for love was wait around on a guy who didn’t really want me. There was no motorcycle involved, nor much excitement at all, by the end.
Most of the other guys get up too, some saying they’re going to Billy’s and others saying that those guys are crazy for staying out late the night before training, and that they themselves are going to be good little responsible service members and go home and go to bed. Riley and I stand up and exchange a quick hug before they take off.
Soon, it’s just the four of us: Harlow, Whitney, Ramsey and me.
As if sensing something, Whitney elbows Harlow and says, “Honey, let’s go home. You have a very long day tomorrow, and I want to make sure to get in my snuggle time.”
“She calls it ‘snuggle time,’” Harlow says, with a wink. “Isn’t that cute? She doesn’t want everyone to know she’s a lady in the streets but a freak in the sheets.”
“Harlow!” Whitney protests, and slaps him on the butt, playfully.
They’re really cute together.
“I’ll just wait with the lady until she finishes her drink,” Ramsey says, and now it’s Whitney’s turn to wink at me.
I’m on my second Long Island, and it’s difficult for me to finish it.
“See you tomorrow,” Harlow says to me, or to Ramsey— or maybe to both of us.
Whitney hugs me and says it was nice to meet me, and then they’re gone.
“They’re a nice couple,” I say, mostly to have something to talk about, now that it’s just Ramsey and me.
I don’t want things to feel awkward. But as I feel Ramsey’s hand reach for mine under the table, I realize that won’t be a problem.
“So how do you like Albuquerque?” he asks.
“It’s… nice,” I say, still unsure of my feelings about the city. “Definitely different from what I’m used to. Somewhat of a culture shock.”
“Where are you based out of?”
“Eglin Air Force base— in Florida.”
“Oh yeah. Seems very different.”
“Much greener,” I say. “More beachy than deserty.”
“Sounds nice. I was born and raised here. I’ve only really been anywhere else because of the Navy.”
He squeezes my hand under the table. I finish my drink, mostly due to nervousness. I feel like something big is about to happen. Like a middle schooler being asked out on my first date.
“I do know one thing,” he says. “They sure have sexy ass women down there in Florida.”
I blush and he brings his face closer to mine, until our noses are touching.
“All I want to do is kiss you.”
And then he does. His kiss is soft, and gentle, but when I lean in to meet him, passion takes over and we’re making out like high schoolers.
“Ramsey. Wait. Hold on.”
I gently back away, even though I don’t want to. All I want to do is keep kissing him.
“This is dangerous. I mean… I’m having fun, sure. But we could get in big trouble. I’m an officer . We start training early tomorrow morning. And we’re in public .”
“I agree,” he says, quickly, surprising me.
Maybe I was building this whole thing up to be more than it really is. He just wanted to flirt and steal a quick kiss and be on his way. Silly me.
“Let’s make it private,” he finishes.
“You can’t drive. You’ve had strong drinks and I can tell you’re not used to them.”
“How so?” I ask, rather offended that he’s implying I can’t hold my liquor, even though he’s right.
I wasn’t even planning to drive but instead to call an Uber. I’m secretly glad he wants our night together to continue.
“Because you’re kissing an enlisted service member, in public.”
“Well, that’s true.”
We both laugh.
“You need a ride. Let me drive you home. To my place.”
“What if we get in trouble?” I can’t help but wonder.<
“It’s nothing,” he reassures me. “People do this. You know they do. Tomorrow we’ll act like we don’t even know each other. Everyone came here and had a drink and then went their separate ways. That’s all that anyone will know about tonight. Nothing else will have happened, as far as anyone else is concerned.”
“Okay,” I say, feeling crazy, but also excited.
He’s right. What’s one night of passion— of freedom?
Do I not deserve that? I haven’t been with anyone since Peter. And I will never have to see Ramsey again. There’s something exhilarating in that knowledge. The only way I like to get with guys is when I won’t have to see them again, but this isn’t just a regular hook up. Instead, it’s exciting.
The feeling is bringing me back to college now. Just like the last time I drank Long Islands.
“You’re right,” I tell him. “I need a ride.”
And some hot, random sex.
“And we can’t really go to your hotel,” Ramsey says. “I know there are a lot of out of town service members and officers staying there for the training, who could see us. And that wouldn’t be good. We’ll have to go to my house.”
“Let’s get out of here,” I say decisively.
My heart pounds as we walk towards the door, and Ramsey keeps a tight grip on my waist.
We’re really going to do this. I’m really going to do this. This is happening.
I’m going to love it, and then I’m going to forget about it. Or I’ll just keep it as one of those crazy things I look back on when I’m an old, lonely lady, with only my memories to keep me company.
This is going to be a great memory to have later, I just know it. A wild night of passionate sex with the handsome SEAL. And then I’ll move on, and so will he. We’ll go our separate ways, and that will be that.
Won’t it ?
Chapter 5 - Ramsey
As I drive Monica to my place, which is close to the base, the air feels light and fun. It’s been a long time since I’ve felt so carefree, so excited.
To make the mood even better, a David Bowie song starts up on my random MP3 player shuffle.
“Oh, I love this song,” I say, turning it up. “Heroes.”