Gasping, Lola rushed to his side as he dropped to his knees. "What happened?"

Mario clutched his side and groaned. "Somebody just tried to break into your car."


Chapter Three

Jack's blood thumped through his veins as he strode toward the open door of the bar. His fingers twitched. He felt naked without a weapon in his hand.

"Don't bother. He's long gone." Mario, crumpled on the floor, waved a bloodstained hand. "He ran off after we mixed it up, the cabron."

David hooked his arms beneath Mario's and dragged him to a chair. "What happened, boss?"

Mario winced as Lola dabbed the split above his eye with a damp cloth. "I was taking the trash out to the Dumpster in the alley and heard a noise out front. When I looked around the corner of the building, I saw some guy lurking around Lola's car. I confronted him and the dude fought back."

"Who looks worse, boss?" David sniggered.

Lola sent him a chilly stare. "David, make yourself useful and call 911."

Mario sputtered the one syllable that roared through Jack's head. "No!"

Lola's hand froze, and she frowned at Mario. "Why not?"

"I don't want any trouble, Lolita. I don't want any cops at the bar. It's bad for business. You can check, but the guy didn't damage your car."

"Yeah, but shouldn't..." Her voice trailed off when her gaze collided with Jack's.

He gave a slight shake of his head. The last thing he needed was a bunch of cops asking questions when he had a bag full of cash and Lola had his gun in her purse.

"Okay, okay, but are you hurt?"

"This?" Mario framed his face with his battered hands. "Bloody nose, cut over my eye and a few bruised knuckles. You're a doctor. Fix me up."

Rolling her eyes, she asked David to fetch a first-aid kit, and then set about patching up Mario. When she finished cleaning and bandaging his wounds she returned to the booth where Jack lounged, one hand on his duffel bag. Lola leveled a finger at the shot glass still brimming with tequila. "You drinking this?"

Jack rapped his knuckles on the table. "It's all yours."

Lola put the glass to her mouth and swallowed the shot. Then she placed a lime wedge between her plump lips and squeezed, her face contorting for a second at the tartness.

A slow burn traveled through Jack's core as if he'd tossed back the tequila himself. It was about the sexiest damned thing he'd seen since...well, since the last time she'd sucked that lime.

Pinching the glasses between her fingers, she said, "I'll give you a ride back to your hotel. Are you sure you're okay, Mario?"

"I'm fine." He tapped the bandage over his eye. "Thanks for the doctoring."

As Jack held the door open for Lola, she tripped on the step to the sidewalk and he grabbed her elbow. "Careful."

She shrugged him off and took a turn around her car. "Everything looks okay."

"Anything like that happen here before?" Folding his arms, Jack wedged a hip on the trunk of her Mercedes. She hadn't seemed to link the attempted break-in of her car to his presence. Could it just be a coincidence?

"Not to me personally, but I told you the neighborhood wasn't too safe."

She grabbed the handle of the driver's-side door, and Jack placed his hand over hers. "I'm driving."

A spark lit her hazel eyes, not quite green, not quite brown. "You don't even have a driver's license."

"Actually, I do have a driver's license, but more importantly, I haven't had a full beer and two shots of tequila."

"I can hold my booze." She giggled, belying her words.

He held out his hand. "Maybe, but you've had a rough day, and I've had a rough day, and I'm not up for a negotiation."

Stepping back, she took his measure, her gaze traveling the length of his body and settling on his face. She dropped the keys in his palm. "You win."

Her inventory of his body had heated his blood, had made him feel more alive than he'd felt since he'd climbed down from that mountain in Afghanistan. He hadn't forgotten the fire that could ignite between a man and a woman. Thank God.

He accompanied her to the other side of the car and opened the door for her. When he dropped in the driver's seat and locked the doors, he turned to her. "Give me my gun."

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