A gun in a bar?
Not on his fucking watch!
Gray Tyler lunged from his seat ready to kill. That was when he realized he was dealing with a dumbass of epic proportions.
Asshat fumbled for a gun stuffed in the back of his oil-stained, drooping jeans. Afraid he would get it tangled in his tighty-whities, Gray thought he might be permanently blinded by the sight of gunman’s butt crack.
He ran across the crowded San Diego bar, hearing the crash of chairs that told him Dex and Griff, two of his SEAL team members, were at his back. Gray acted as blocker for his men as they plowed through the packed crowd toward the potential shooter.
Thank the good Lord, it was looking promising that the dumb oaf would plug himself in the ass before he pulled his pistol loose. But still, if Gray started trusting luck at his age, he wouldn’t make it to thirty-seven. Gray shouldered a billionaire-wannabe out of his way, ensuring the petite blonde who’d been beside him stayed upright.
Fuck me running.
Droopy Drawers swung the gun upwards.
“Let go of my woman,” the man slurred as he shot up into the ceiling. He stumbled as he continued. “Stella is mine. You stole her.” The dumbass lowered his gun to point at some weasel hiding behind a woman in a gold miniskirt and pink thigh-high boots.
Gray thanked God that Griff and Dex’s wives and the rest of the bachelorette party were busy whooping it up on the dance floor behind him, safely out of the line of fire.
Goddammit, would he have noticed this cretin sooner if his attention hadn’t been so focused on the curvy bridesmaid who danced as though she were music in motion?
People started screaming as soon as the shot was fired. Shouts of “Gun,” reverberated throughout the crowd. People were beginning to run and drop to the floor. Gray and his team needed to shut this shit down.
“Dex, left,” Gray commanded. He didn’t even need to see his man to know that he’d be on the left side of the shooter like white on rice.
With just those four words, his two subordinates understood that he planned to take out Droopy Drawers. Dex was going to be his back-up and Griff would ensure gold-miniskirt-girl stayed safe.
Since they were all special operations, the three of them had concealed weapons permits. But pulling more guns in this situation was a bad idea, especially since this guy was drunker than a skunk.
“Leroy, she’s mine now,” Weasel-face yelled. “She’s never coming back to you.” The little man somehow showed enough courage to step out in front of Stella and plant his hands on his skinny hips.
Just how much stupid could be packed into three people?
Gray saw the shooter’s forearm tense and flew those last seven yards across the wooden floor and slammed his wrist under the man’s hand, causing the second shot to zing upward into the ceiling. He twisted the gun out of DD’s hand, crashing his elbow into his neck. The shooter went down to the floor before he could say ‘Boo’.
“Get off me, you asshole,” a woman shrieked. Gray glanced up in time to see that Griff and Dex had the dishwater blonde and her weasel boytoy safely on the ground.
“Shit, man, you had him taken care of before I even knew what was going on,” a big bouncer said as Gray was using the toe of his boot to turn DD over so that half his ass wasn’t on display.
People started clapping, but it didn’t drown out Stella. Gray shook his head in disgust when she pushed her way past the bouncer and dropped down on top of Droopy-Drawers.
“Leroy. My poor baby, are you all right? Did they hurt you?”
“Stella,” he groaned.
She turned on Gray like a virago. “How dare you attack him like that. What were you thinking? He wouldn’t have shot me. He loves me.”
She peppered kisses on her old boyfriend’s face. Leroy groaned louder. Then he belched. Gray looked at Dex and they both took a step backward. Leroy let out a louder belch and moaned.
“You need an ambulance,” Stella crooned as she wrapped her arms around his neck. Dex’s eyes twinkled.
Gray backed up one more step, grabbing the bouncer’s arm as he did so.
“Stella, I’m gonna—”
Vomit spewed from Leroy’s mouth, into Stella’s hair and continued on towards the bar room floor. Stella shrieked as she jumped up and back, skidding on her gold-sequined ass, but the damage was already done.
“I owe you twice,” the bouncer grinned.
“How about you let us get back to our ladies over at the dance floor, and you deal with the deputies?” Gray suggested.
“Done.” The bouncer agreed and then held out his hand. Gray shook it, then he handed over the pistol.
“Drinks for your party are on the house tonight,” the younger man said.
“The whole bar will lose money,” Griff joined the conversation. “We’re babysitting a bachelorette party.”
The big bouncer easily looked over the sea of people and saw the dance floor where Griff’s wife and the other girls were. “Those ladies have been causing quite a stir tonight. Are they all taken, or are some of them single?”
Dex stiffened. “The strawberry blonde in green is definitely taken,” he said darkly.
Was that Dex Evans? Gray would have bet a whole hell of a lot of money that his man Dex didn’t have a jealous bone in his body.
Just goes to show, you don’t know everything.
“How about the rest of you? Any claims?” The bouncer swung his head around.
“Willowy brunette is my wife, but she’ll let you know fast enough,” Griff laughed. “Just respect the rings man, and you’ll be fine.”
The young man nodded.
Gray looked over the man in the black T-shirt – he was at least ten years his junior and was in as good as shape as any SEAL. It rubbed him the wrong way that he might end up talking to the dancer that Gray had been watching.
“Ah shit,” Griff groaned. “What now?”
Gray turned, his eyes narrowing.
“Kenna!” Dex tried to shout above the music, but the band was playing so loud, there was no chance that he could be heard. A tall, thin executive-type was standing over Dex’s wife, his attention squarely centered on the alluring dancer behind her. Kenna had positioned herself in front of suit-guy, obviously trying to protect the dark-haired beauty. Gray groaned as he saw Dex’s wife slap her hands on his chest. Thank God the idiot didn’t touch Kenna, because there would have been hell to pay.
This time Dex led the charge, but before he got there to protect his woman, the pocket-sized Venus had wormed her way between Kenna and the executive. The next thing Gray knew, the man was falling to the floor.
What the hell?
The eleven ladies who had been partying it up for the bachelorette party all let out a collective whoop of congratulations. Dex, Gray, and Griff arrived in time to see the guy up on his elbows, shaking his head.
By the time he got to the scene, he’d figured out what happened. He stopped dead in front of the beautiful woman he’d had his eyes on for most of the night. Gray held out his hand. “Give me the stun gun.”
Almond-shaped golden eyes looked up at him innocently. “What are you talking about?” she murmured. Gray had been expecting an accent to go along with her exotic beauty, but she sounded born and bred American.
“Honey, the guy on the floor is still vibrating, you used some kind of stunner on him, and I’m going to hand it over to the bouncer. He’s going to want to confiscate it for the rest of the time you’re here.”
“My name is Riya Patel,” she corrected him. “But for the first time ever, I like the nickname Honey,” her mouth twitched in a smile. Did he smell peaches or raspberries?
Damn, she made him feel like it was just the two of them, yet they were surrounded by at least a hundred people.
“Stun-gun,” he quietly commanded.
Riya grinned at him mischievously. “You’re not easily deterred, huh?” She held out the weapon instead of putting it back into her purse.
“Oh I think you might be able to dance around me,” Gray smiled slowly, happy he was finally making contact with the woman who had been driving him insane all night long.
He heard Dex cough loudly behind him. If he wasn’t mistaken, he was covering up a laugh.
“Lieutenant, here comes the bouncer,” Dex warned.
Gray took the weapon, putting it under his jacket, and turned to see a different bouncer headed their way. Griff was helping the shaky executive to his feet.
“What seems to be the problem?” the bouncer asked roughly.
Ten women started to talk at once, but Riya stayed silent. She just moved closer to Gray and that was alright by him. The bouncer turned to the pin-striped-suit guy.
“I saw you go down. What happened?” he demanded.
“Nothing,” the man answered shakily. “It was all a misunderstanding.” He slid his way past the crowd of women and disappeared. Riya swayed in front of Gray and tried to whisk the gun out of his hand. He slid it into the back of his jeans, and grabbed her wrist instead. She looked up at him and rolled her eyes.
“Ladies, we don’t need any problems here. You got me?” the bouncer glowered. Gray stifled a grin as he saw the younger bouncer from before come up behind the man giving the lecture.
“Harry, these guys just took down the shooter over near the Swing Bar,” he said as he put his big hand on his co-worker’s shoulder. “Phil said to set them all up with free drinks for the rest of the night. That includes their pretty lady friends.”
Harry looked disgruntled. “There was a problem over here, Tony. One of these ladies took down a man, and I think she used some kind of stun-gun to do it.” He pointed at Riya.
“Is the guy dead? Is he injured? Is he pressing charges? Where is he?” Tony smiled and winked at Riya as he shot out the questions. Gray put his hand around her tiny waist. Tony smiled even broader, as he watched Gray’s less than subtle claim.
“He left,” Harry admitted.
“Then we’re done.” Tony surveyed the women, and saw Griff with Miranda, Dex with Kenna and Gray’s hand on Riya’s waist. Tony then offered his arms to a blonde and to Susan, the bride-to-be. “Let me escort you ladies back to your table. Then I’ll get Trixie to set you up with a round of drinks.”
“So are you going to finally come and sit with us, instead of just watching from the back?” Riya asked as she peered up at Gray from beneath her bangs.
“I’m not sure Miranda and Kenna want their men honing in on their fun,” Gray said.
Riya’s eyes cut over to where Griff and Dex were settling in next to their wives, then looked pointedly back at Gray and grinned.
Dimples, she has dimples.
“Oh, I don’t know,” she teased.
He glanced back at the table. Yep, they were being welcomed, especially Griffin. Then Gray realized it probably wasn’t that often that the young parents had a night out. His eyes narrowed when he saw that Kenna was drinking a glass of water, instead of the margaritas that the rest of the ladies were favoring. He looked over at Dex and saw an even more proprietary gleam in his eye than when he had called off the bouncer.
Well hell. If he had to guess, Kenna was pregnant. It must be pretty recent news if Dex hadn’t told him. Good for them.
“Okay, your point is taken,” he admitted ruefully to Riya.
She grabbed his hand. Her grip was firm, despite the fact that his hand dwarfed hers.
“Come on.” She tugged. She didn’t pull him to the table. Instead, she tugged him toward the dance floor. Gray realized they were playing a sexy ballad.
“Are you sure?” he asked.
“You move like a jungle cat.” Her smiled sparkled. “I would love to see what you’re like on the dance floor.”
Jungle cat? Who says that kind of thing?
“You’re just making a play to get your gun back, aren’t you?” he questioned.
“You’ll just have to dance with me, and find out.”
Her golden eyes flashed up at him. They were framed with the longest black lashes he’d ever seen, and Gray would bet his next paycheck they weren’t false. The woman packed a punch in her low-ride jeans and T-shirt that didn’t quite meet the top. It left a tantalizing swath of warm, honey-colored skin showing. No wonder the guy in the suit had been so enthralled. Hell, half the men in the place had their eyes on her.
“So tell me Riya, how do you know the bride?”
“Susan and Miranda work at TAID. Miranda’s the project manager on the job I’m liaising with from UCSD. It’s all really boring, but Susan and Miranda have made it fun.”
Gray’s radar went up. TAID worked on a lot of military applications. Griff was tightlipped about Miranda’s job, but Gray had a good idea that she worked on some high-level shit, considering the fact she had been known to brief the Pentagon.
But Miranda had to be eight years older than Riya – this girl must be a grad student at the University of California San Diego. She tugged on his hand again, and he allowed her to pull him into the middle of the crowd of people. It wasn’t a hardship.
When Riya reached up to twine her arms around his neck, he had to bend. She was a tiny little thing, but she was lush in all the right places. Gray kept his hands high on her upper back, now that was a hardship.
“Really?” She gave him a wicked grin, then reached back and placed one of his hands down onto the small of her back, where shirt didn’t meet denim.
“What if I didn’t want my hand there?” Gray asked as he moved them around the dance floor.
“You did,” she said blithely.
He raised one blonde eyebrow.
“Didn’t you?” Riya bit her lip.
It was the first time she showed the slightest bit of hesitation. He could play it two ways. In the end, he chose honesty.
“You read me right, Honey,” he said. Then he bent down and whispered in her ear. “I’m just not sure I’m ready for this.”