Boss clears his throat and says, “Mary, can you wipe down the tables for me?”

“Yes, sir.” She keeps her eyes on me, not moving for a few more seconds before pushing away and doing as Boss asked.

Boss looks at me and then leans down to whisper, “She’s sweet and killer behind the bar. She’s managed to learn most of the tricks in two days. She’s not familiar with the cocktails, but the beer is all we really want her to handle right now. The only downside is how attractive she is.” He watches my face, judging me and my motives. “Every red-blooded available man has tried to make a pass at her. I grumble something about her being my niece, which sends some of them running.”

“Keep these fuckers away from her,” I snarl, grinding my teeth so hard that I could swear I hear a crack. There’s no denying that she’s mine in my eyes even if I have to wait.

She comes back, and I slide my hand around her waist, pulling her so that her body is trapped between my legs as I sit on the stool. “Sweet Felony, I need to go and get some shit done, but I’ll be back in a few hours.”

“Okay.” She looks away, focusing her attention on my suit jacket. I tip her chin to look up at me, seeing indecision in her eyes.

“Are you okay?” I ask with my voice gentle.

“Yes.” She nods vigorously, and I don’t believe her.

“Am I pushing you too far?” I don’t want to overwhelm her with my crazy possessiveness.

“No, but you know we have to keep our distance.”

“I understand, but I can’t stop stealing just a touch.” It hits me hard that I’m the one who can’t act like an adult in this situation. I have no damn self-control, and it’s disappointing.

“See ya later, Beast.” She pushes away from me and moves behind the bar, wiping her hands off on the bar towel. I take one last look at her as she works, but she doesn’t lift her head up, so I get up to leave, and as usual, I peek through the reflection to take in her beauty one more time without her knowing.

I step out into the sunshine and feel a sense of emptiness. My phone rings and I see it’s Spencer. As soon as I’m in my SUV, I hook it up to my vehicle’s Bluetooth. “What’s going on, Charles?”

“I’m seeing how it’s going.”

“It’s fine. What else? I know you’re not calling just for that.”

“Serrano got the judge to release him on bail.”

“What?” I roar, braking too hard, causing eyes to land on mine. I pull off to the side, parking in front of the local grocery store.

“He’s getting out today. He’ll still have a monitor on him, so it’s not like he can get to her, but I wanted to give you a heads up.”

“Fucking shitty judges,” I grumble. Clearing my throat that suddenly feels like a frog is stuck in it, I say, “Fine. I’ll keep her protected.”

“I knew you would. Talk to you later.” He ends the call, and I slam my head against the backseat.

Boomer sends out a text reminding everyone that we’re having a get together at the clubhouse tonight. Riders and family only. I get a second text from Boomer. You know Mary’s welcome as well.

I want her to come, but at the same time, I don’t. There are way too many prospects that’ll be there that are her age or slightly older. I’ll end up killing one of them if they even flirt with her, but I have to go because I need to talk with the guys about Serrano.

* * *

I prepare for the party with my vest on, wanting to bring Mary with me, but there’ll be too many questions about her background and our relationship that I can’t answer.

When I come out of the bedroom, I see Mary reading. I don’t want to interrupt her, but I can’t go without saying goodbye. “Mary, I’m out. I’ll be back later. Don’t wait up for me and don’t try to leave. I’m going to lock down the house.” I haven’t told her about Serrano because she doesn’t need the extra paranoia. Instead, I turn and walk out without waiting for her to reply.

I feel like a total dick for leaving without her. As soon as I pull into the clubhouse, I’m beyond irritated at myself and at her. Why did she have to come in and fuck up my world by being everything I could ever want and someone I can’t have.

Sensing my mood, Wrench hands me a beer. I don’t even wait to polish off the bottle. I toss it in the recycling bin and then go grab another. It’s going to be a long and miserable night.

Tags: C.M. Steele Romance