Rules of Protection (Tangled in Texas) (Volume 1)(3)

By: Alison Bliss

I wasn’t sure what to say. My brain shifted gears but had trouble getting up to full speed. So I said the first thing that popped into my head. “Did you wash your hands?”

A patronizing grin contorted his face, but he ignored my question and asked one of his own. “Why do you taste like Pepto Bismol…and chocolate?”

My cheeks flushed with heat. “Long story, but it doesn’t matter. Why’d you do that?”

“Do what?”

“You kissed me. Why?”

“Long story, but it doesn’t matter.” He winked and then walked away.

His abrupt departure surprised me, but I was outraged he didn’t ask for my name or phone number. Hell, he didn’t even ask me to go home with him. As if he actually intended to save me from Sergio after all. And I never thanked him.

Back in the bathroom, I composed myself, fanning my face with a paper towel. I was hot, but it wasn’t the kind of heat staved off by air conditioning. Only time—or possibly an orgasm—would cure the fever under my skin.

After a few minutes, I strolled back into the main room more in control of the brain fog that had overwhelmed me. I spotted Gina and Dale walking in the opposite direction from me on the other side of the dance floor. I yelled to get their attention, but the music was too loud.

Weaving through the crowd, I waved frantically and yelled again. “Gina! Dale! Hey, over here!”

By the time I noticed the step up in the floor, it was already too late. I tripped and reached for the closest thing to me, which happened to be a man. Trying to catch myself, I had an intimate moment with the bulge in his pants on the way down.

The floor punched me in the face, but the pain was slight compared to the mortifying beating my pride had just taken. Two seconds after I hit the floor, I decided to stay there. I wasn’t sure if it was because I physically couldn’t get up, or mentally didn’t want to.

The man I’d felt up lifted me with ease, stood me upright, and held me until I steadied myself. Mortified, I refused to look up until I heard him ask, “Are you okay?”

No! It can’t be.

My eyes shot up, looked directly into his, and I stopped breathing. It was the hunky weasel with the steely gray eyes. If I had to embarrass myself in front of someone, why did it have to be him? Where in the hell is Sergio when you need him?

The hunk smiled as if he read my mind. “I always wanted a girl to fall head over heels for me.”

I stood motionless and tried to think of something to say that didn’t sound stupid. “Well, next time I’m near your crotch, I’ll be sure to bring my knee pads.” Nope. That wasn’t it. At least six guys turned their heads toward us and sucked in a breath.

A young Hispanic guy leaned over, flexing his eyebrows. “Damn, girl, where have you been all my life?”

“Out of it,” I sneered. “Now, leave me alone. I’m talking to the weasel.” Disappointed with our exchange, the guy turned away and shrugged to his buddies.

I turned my attention back to the man who lifted me from the floor and noticed he glared with one offended eyebrow raised. “The weasel?”

My cheeks flushed. “It’s what I dubbed you, since I didn’t know your name.”

“Why a weasel?” He paused. “Wait… You thought I was hitting on you back there?”

“Well, yeah.”

The confusion on his face changed to humor as he shook his head. “Nope.”

I guess I should’ve been relieved, but I wasn’t. Actually, I was insulted and…well, pissed off. “Why not?”

“Is that a trick question, where no matter what I say I’m going to be wrong?”

“Just answer the question.”

“Damn,” he said, grabbing my arm and jerking me away from the crowd. “Why are you yelling?”

“Because I’m mad at you.”

“You don’t even know me. Do you have a split personality disorder or something?”

I gritted my teeth and narrowed my eyes. “You’re a weasel and a jerk!”

My outburst made him laugh. A lot. When he finally got himself under control, he grinned. “Look, I get that you have this head-turning ability and like to stand out in a crowd, but I don’t.”

“You think I turn heads?”

“Sweetheart, a man would have to be blind or stupid not to look.” He smiled again. Damn, I wished he’d stop doing that. “Definitely a looker, but that makes you trouble. I don’t need the unwanted attention you crave.”

“I’d swear there’s an insult somewhere in there.”

“Darlin’, if I insult you, you’ll be the first to know. Now point out your friends. I’ll see to it you get to them safely.”

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