Home > Guarding Her (Red Stone Security #18)

Guarding Her (Red Stone Security #18)
Author: Katie Reus

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

Gia slid onto the barstool and grabbed Angel’s hand. “Red alert, girl.”

Angel blinked, her eyes slightly unfocused from the last couple glasses of champagne. “What?”

“Six o’clock!” Gia raised her voice slightly to be heard over the noise of the club. This wasn’t her normal scene, but it was Angel’s bachelorette party.

Angel’s head tilted slightly to the side. “It’s like eleven.”

Gia snickered slightly and weaved against the seat—realized she was a little tipsy too. Oops. “It’s actually one in the morning, but I mean Juan is here, at your six o’clock and moving in fast.”

And Juan, Gia’s older brother, had brought one of his best friends with him. Lawson Murphy. The man of Gia’s fantasies.

Not that it mattered—he barely looked at her twice. Had even ruffled her hair once in the last year. Talk about a blow to her ego. So Gia had locked down her crush tight. No one, not even her brother, knew about it, and she planned to keep it that way.

Angel let out a squeal, surprising Gia, and jumped off her seat, turning and basically throwing herself into Juan’s arms.

Gia turned back to her drink as Clarita—one of Angel’s sisters, younger by like a year—slid up next to her and threw an arm around her shoulders. “I remember those days,” she murmured, her voice barely audible over the music and laughter around them. “When I couldn’t wait to see my husband.”

Angel and Juan weren’t married yet. She so wasn’t surprised that Juan had shown up though—not after Gia had sent him a picture of Angel dancing on the bar earlier. He was such a caveman sometimes, but man, he loved Angel. Had been crushing on her since he was twelve.

“What are you talking about?” she demanded, probably too loudly. Holy hell, how much had she had to drink again? Gia looked down at her champagne glass, saw it was empty. Oh, crap. Way too much. “You’ve got, like, the perfect husband.” Gia had always thought Clarita and Carlos were “couple goals.” They were both thirty-two, so she’d never been in school with them, but they’d all grown up in the same neighborhood. And those two had been hot and heavy since they were fifteen.

Clarita made a grumbling sound and grabbed the shot glass placed in front of her, downed it in a second. She’d set it down on the bar top and started to wave their bartender over when Angel suddenly slid between them.

She threw her arms around Gia and Clarita, pulled their heads close to hers. “I’m going home to get laid!”

Gia winced at the decibel level and then mock covered her ears as she tugged back. “La, la, la! I don’t want to hear about you and my brother.” Yeah, they were both adults but whatever. Gross.

“Oh, right.” Angel cackled then, definitely more than tipsy, and it was no wonder. “Sorry!”

People had been buying them drinks all night. Instead of going down to Ocean Drive, Angel had wanted to stay closer to home so they’d hit up all the local bars near their neighborhood. With Angel’s bride-to-be sash and their bachelorette party sashes on, they’d gotten in free everywhere too. In concept, that was a good thing, but the reality—the mix of the random alcohols—probably not great.

Juan wrapped an arm around Angel’s middle then and pulled her into his arms. And even though Gia so didn’t want to think about what her brother and Angel were going to do later, she’d never seen him so happy before. Knowing that he’d finally gotten the woman of his dreams warmed her from the inside out. Because he deserved it more than anyone she knew. Hell, so did Angel. Several years ago, she’d married an asshole of a man who’d cheated on her and gotten his mistress pregnant, but thankfully she’d kicked him to the curb. Now she and Juan had a chance at happiness and they were living their best lives.

“Go, have fun.” Lawson slid up and put his arm casually around Gia’s shoulders as he spoke to Juan. She nearly jolted in reaction to his touch, but didn’t move at all. “I’ll make sure Gia gets home.”

Like she needed a chaperone? She frowned and turned toward him to tell him exactly what she thought about his statement when she realized… Oh. He was watching her with a different sort of intensity tonight. One she’d never seen before. And sweet mangoes, he smelled delicious, all masculine and earthy and she wanted to bury her face against his chest. But she hadn’t had that much to drink, thankfully. Playing off doing something like that would be hard to do.

Right about now she was regretting the blinking penis necklace she’d opted to wear. But maybe she would let him take her home. “Why did you guys show up?” she asked, taking the drink that Mila—another of Angel’s sisters—slid to her. She wrapped her lips around the straw, took a sort of perverse pleasure when Lawson’s eyes dilated and focused on her lips.

Ooh, this was interesting.

That was when it registered how close they were, her body nearly pressed up against his. And the man was tall and broad. Not quite as tall as Juan, but Lawson was at least six feet and his arm muscles should be illegal. Gia forced herself not to look at them, not to undress him with her eyes. Instead she met his gaze, staring into deep blue eyes, and tried not to fall even harder. Too late.

“What did you think would happen when you texted Juan that picture?” His tone was dry, but she noticed he now was looking anywhere but at her—though he hadn’t moved away from her. Nope, he was still right next to her, sort of caging her in against the bar without actually touching her. But those gorgeous blue eyes were looking right above her head, at some invisible spot.

Very, very interesting. Unless she was making all this up in her head and just projecting. Ugh.

“I thought it would be funny to mess with him.” That was what little sisters did after all. And if she was being honest, she knew it was time for the night to start wrapping up. It was now after one and time to go home. She wanted to be in bed—preferably Lawson with her.

Lawson snorted slightly and ordered a bottle of water from the bartender. “Well, you did a good job of messing up our night.”

“Messing up your boring-ass bachelor party?” Because she knew they hadn’t gone out to any clubs at all.

“The party was over a couple hours ago.”

She laughed lightly and booped him on the nose. “Like I said, boring.”

Lawson just looked down at her with a mix of surprise and something else she couldn’t quite read. Whatever it was, it had her insides turning to mush. “Did you just bop my nose?”

“No. I booped you.” Then she giggled, probably a little manically. She was definitely done drinking tonight.

His mouth curved up, turning his normally hard expression into something poets wrote about. Oh, sweet mangoes indeed. He was absolutely stunning. Just a hint of boyishness peeked through that hard exterior when he smiled like that.

Gia waved at Mila as she and Clarita started to leave with Mila’s fiancé—who was also super overprotective. She motioned that she was fine and getting a ride home with Lawson.

Zamira, another of Angel’s sisters, had left an hour ago, claiming a headache, and Gia was pretty sure she’d been telling the truth. Two of Angel’s other friends, including Ivy, waved at her as they pushed off from the bar and headed out. Well, the party was truly over.

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