“Hey, where are you going with her? We were having fun!” Harper’s words are slurred, and I can tell she’s just as drunk as Tessa.

“Yeah, stay awhile. We could all share.” Nick wraps his arms around Harper as his eyes roam over my Tessa, showing that all the offhanded comments he’s been making about her are bullshit. He wants her. I can’t blame him, but it doesn't mean I won’t stab him in the throat if he tries to have any part of her. And I do mean any.

If I have to choose between killing him in the middle of a club and getting Tessa out of here, I’m taking care of my girl first. I can kill him later. And as much as I don’t like Harper, I don’t want to leave her here with him. I know if something happened to her, it would rip up my girl’s soft heart.

I can see his words about getting at Tessa hit Harper harder than she expected, and I see her grabbing her purse and moving away from him.

“Do you need a ride?” She doesn’t meet my eyes as she stands up and nods her head. I’ve got Tessa wrapped up in my jacket, and I want to carry her from here, but even as long as my jacket is, her bare legs are showing. I can’t even think about how short that dress is and who saw her in it.

I hold her to me, still not speaking a word as I help her from the club and to my car at the curb. I open up the passenger door and let Harper climb in the back, putting Tessa in the front.

As I lean over her and buckle Tessa’s seatbelt, I feel her lips whisper against my ear.

“I’m sorry.”

“Not now,” is all I can say in response as I walk around my car and get in the driver seat. I see Nick come out of the club just as I pull away. Both of us know this isn’t finished.

“Take Plymouth up to Trent. We’re two blocks up,” Harper says from the back. Her voice is tired, and if I’m not mistaken, it sounds like she’s more than angry.

I look over at Tessa and see her leaning her head against the door, and her eyes are closed. She passed out within seconds, and I’m relieved I got to her just in time.

We ride in silence to their apartment, and when I pull up out front, I get out of the driver’s seat and let Harper out from behind me.

She gets out, but before she walks away, I stop her with my words.

“I’m taking Tessa with me tonight. I want her safe.” Harper looks at me for a second and then just shrugs, like she’s giving up on Tessa, too. “For what it’s worth, Nick’s a piece of shit, but he’s a smooth talker. He can get pretty much talk anyone to do what he wants. You didn’t do anything wrong. He’s an asshole.”

She doesn’t meet my eyes, just nods her head and looks away. She takes a step but stops. “Hang on here a second, I’ll be right back.”

I watch as Harper goes into the building, and I lean into the car to check on Tessa. I push back some of the hair that’s fallen over her face, and I see her face is indeed streaked with make-up and tears. I need to know what made her cry and fix the problem. I can’t stand the thought of her being hurt by anything.

Tessa turns into my hand and blinks her sleepy drunken eyes at me. Suddenly, she has the biggest goofiest grin on her face, and it’s as if she’s just noticed I’m here.

“Hey, hot lips,” she slurs. The nickname brings a smile to my face.

“Hot lips, huh?”

“Oh yeah. Yous got like the best lips. I’ve never had lips before you. But yous the best. I’m sure.”

I let out a little laugh as she hiccups. “Is that right?”

“Yup. Big thick ones. Makes me wanna nibble.” She closes her eyes and slowly opens them. “Best first kiss ever.”

Her words knock me in the chest. I was her first kiss? Jesus, why does that make my cock hard? If I’m her first kiss, then I’m going to be her first…


I look up to see Harper holding out a bag, and I reach out to take it from her. “What’s this?”

“It’s some of her stuff. Girl shit.” She rubs her arms like the cold is getting to her. “Just, you know, take care of her.”

“I will.” With that, I put Tessa’s bag in the back seat and get behind the wheel. I watch as Harper goes inside the building, and then I put the car in gear.

“She’s a real bitch,” Tessa slurs, and again I laugh. I get the feeling she’s never said that out loud before.

She’s utterly adorable when she drinks, though I’m still not inclined to let her get this far gone again. It’s easy to forget about the danger she put herself in when she’s being cute and trying to sing the song from The Little Mermaid.

“What’s a fire, and why does it…what’s the word…”

Her silly hiccups keep interrupting her singing, and I reach over, holding her hand the whole way to my place.

Pulling up to the warehouse, I hit the button on my visor and the garage door opens. When I park, I shut the garage door, locking us in. I grab her bag and go around to the passenger side, opening up the door to help her out. Tessa shivers at the chill in the garage and proceeds to sing a song from the movie Frozen. I try to bite my lip so I don’t laugh, and I reach down, scooping her up in my arms.

I carry her through the door and into the main warehouse. It opens up into a living space and kitchen, but I don’t stop there. I carry her down a long hall that leads to my bedroom, and I take her to my bed.

After I lay her down on my bed, I turn on the bedside lamp. She lets out a deep breath as she snuggles into the covers, trying to escape the soft glow. She makes no protest at the fact that I’ve just taken her home with me. She just snuggles into my bed like she’s been doing it forever.

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