Hammer's Fall (The Breakers’ Bad Boys, 1)(8)

By: Laurie Roma



“I don’t drink much, so when I come here Zoe usually makes me some kind of fruity frozen drink. I know they don’t really suit the bar and all, but—”

“Honey, you can order whatever you want,” he said reassuringly.

“Dude, ease off. Are you trying to squish her or what?”

Kalista turned her head to see Dante Fox walking toward them, carrying a basket of food in his hand. Dante was a handsome man in a rough and ready sort of way, with short black hair and pale blue eyes. He was the owner of the bar, having taken it over when his father decided to retire. Malcolm Fox could still be found hanging out at The Fox Hole, but it was more likely around one of the pool tables or sitting with his friends than actually working.

“Hey, Dante.” Hammer eased back a little, but moved one of his hands to her waist in a clearly possessive gesture that had Dante’s eyebrows lifting.

Dante surveyed the couple in front of him and let out a sigh. “Ah, it’s like that, huh? Never thought I’d see the Hammer fall.”

“Yep, it’s like that,” Jared replied in a firm voice.

Dante nodded, then turned those eerie ice-blue eyes on her. “Welcome to the family, sweets.”

Kalista jaw dropped open. She couldn’t believe what she’d just heard and was saved from saying anything when Zoe came back over with their drinks.

“Here, eat this,” Dante said, shoving the basket of hamburger and fries over to her.

Zoe looked down at the food, then frowned at Dante. “What is this?”

“It’s food. Take your break and eat it.”

“I’m not hungry right now, and we have a crowd of people who—”

“The other bartenders can handle it. I won’t have you withering away behind the bar. You know you want it, so just eat the damn thing.”

Kalista knew her friend had a weakness for fries that were almost burnt to a crisp, and by the contents in the basket, so did Dante. Still, it was fascinating to watch the two strong-willed individuals glare at each other.

“You know, calling a girl too skinny is just as bad as calling her fat.”

“Then eat a damn burger every once in a while and I won’t have to call you either.”

“Do you know how annoying you are?”

“You tell me every damn day. Now, eat.”

Zoe rolled her eyes at him, then picked up a fry and ate it. Satisfied, Dante turned back to Jared. “See you tomorrow at the gym?”

“You know it.”

They bumped fists, and then Dante left. Zoe huffed out a breath as she watched him walk away. “That man is so irritating.”

“Yeah, how terrible,” Kalista couldn’t help but tease. “He brought you food and told you to take a break. What a horrible boss.”

Zoe shot a glare at her, then broke into a laugh. “I guess you’re right. He just always gets under my skin. I’m gonna go enjoy this in the back. There is a table in the far corner that is getting ready to leave if you guys want some privacy.”

“Thanks, Zoe. Put these on my tab for me, will you?”

“You got it.”

He picked up both of their drinks and led the way to the table that was just leaving. A group of men were just about to sit down, but they quickly departed after one hard stare from Hammer. Once she sat, Kalista blinked in surprise when he pulled his chair closer to her so that their legs were touching. He placed their drinks down, then leaned in, effectively closing her off from the rest of the room.

“So, honey. Tell me a story.”

“I…” At a loss for words, Kalista gaped at him.

Hammer sighed. He could see the confusion in her green eyes and knew he was suddenly acting very strange when he had previously tried to keep his distance from her. Used to women throwing themselves at him, he had never been good at this kind of thing. But Kalista mattered. She was different and he had to figure out a way to ease her into being with him without fucking up. “I want to know why you believe that bullshit your ex said and why you think you need self-defense training.”

Fuck!

Talk about subtlety like a damn hammer to the head. Jesus, he had just barked out that command like he did when he was training someone, and by the startled glance on her face it was not going over well.

She fidgeted in her seat and reached down to swirl her drink with the straw. “It’s not a bad thing to want to learn a little self-defense, is it?”

He used a finger under her chin to gently lift her head so their eyes met. He could stare into those green depths forever. “It’s not. I’d be happy to teach you anything you want to know. I just hope that you want to do this for yourself and not because some fuc—umm…I mean some idiot told you to.”

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