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He towers over Izzy, which really isn’t that hard to do, but he towers over me, too, and that is hard. It’s difficult to tell from my perch on the bar stool, but I’m guessing he’s got at least six inches on my five-foot-eight. My fingers itch to run themselves through his messy brown hair. Like a movie reel, I can almost see it playing out, him between my thighs as I pull him closer to my center, holding on to his hair, and riding the wave. I have to clench my legs together at the thought of his thick lips licking and sucking against my core.

I quickly shake myself out of my lust-induced fog, hoping that no one noticed that I almost came on the spot just from looking at this stranger. I would’ve gotten away with it, but when I shift on my seat, and my throbbing clit rubs against my dress, his eyes snap my way, and I blurt the first thing that comes to my mind.

“Who in the hot hunk of sex are you?” I might have been mortified if it hadn’t been for the warm smile that instantly took his face from ruggedly handsome to drop dead, pussy quivering sexy.

He walks around Izzy, who is looking at me with a big drunken smile, and steps right into my space.

“Hunk of sex?” he repeats. His dark brown eyes alight with mischief, and if I’m not mistaken, the same amount of interest that mine are projecting.

“Ah, yeah. I assume that you know how hot you are, so you’re either fishing for compliments, or just trying to make me look ridiculous. Either way, you’re still hot.” I smile, hoping for a flirty come and get me look, but with the amount of alcohol that I’ve consumed tonight, I might just look like a blubbering fool.

He laughs, his eyes crinkling slightly at the corners. “I know what I look like, and if it works for you, then I’m all for it, Babe. I’m Beck.”

He sticks his hand out to shake mine, and the second I place mine in his, I feel like my whole arm is on fire. This isn’t just tingles or awareness. This is full-blown explosion of our bodies recognizing each other. Almost as if we were meant to collide in this place. My whole being becomes a livewire of electricity.

“D-Dee,” I sputter, feeling my cheeks flame when he smiles down at me. “I’m Dee.”

I shake my head, trying to clear the images of this man taking me hard against the bar. When I catch movement to my left, I turn my head and get one hell of a buzz killing shock. I can’t even move my eyes when I look on in disbelief. It’s a tragic, train wreck happening right before my eyes, and there isn’t anything I can do about it. My whole body goes stiff, and I might have even whimpered. Beck’s hand, still engulfing my much smaller one, tightens slightly, but enough to make me wake the hell up. Lord knows, my mind is foggy enough tonight, but when I meet the eyes of our newest arrival, I swear that my heart stops.

This is going to be bad. Really bad.

My common sense kicks in about two seconds too late. Izzy turns her beautiful, ‘living life to the fullest’ smile my way, and I know she can tell something is wrong. She looks confused for a second, and before I can call out a warning for the huge cluster fuck that is about to slam right into her, she turns, and all I can do is watch it play out like a damn horror movie from hell.

“What the hell?” I feel Beck say against my back. His hands grip my hips when I sway slightly.

No, no… There is no way this is happening. I would give anything to be able to stop this from happening, but I know there isn’t a thing I can do. This is happening, and all I can do is wait to pick up the pieces when she falls.

It happens so quickly. She turns with her smile still in place, with only a little confusion, and when she sees what I’ve seen I watch as her legs give out, and her body falls limply into Greg’s arms. And for the second time in as many days, all I feel is fear. That same fear that I’m starting to worry will never leave me.

I go to move off my stool to get to Izzy, but halt in my tracks when I hear his voice. “Are you fucking kidding me? Isabelle is your goddamn Iz?” The newcomer, who I instantly recognized as Izzy’s old high school sweetheart, growls out in a tone that makes every hair on my body stand on end.

“Oh God,” I squeak.

“Holy shit,” Beck rumbles against my back.

“Yeah, holy shit about covers it.”

Greg doesn’t even pause. He wraps Izzy protectively in his strong arms and starts working his way through the crowd towards the back hall. Beck breaks me from my stunned immobility when he grabs my hand and pulls me after them. I can feel the others behind us, but I can only focus on the huge man barreling after Greg and Izzy, and making sure that I get where I need to be.

What a mess. As my legs race to keep up with Beck’s much longer ones, the only thing on my mind is how Izzy’s going to bounce back from seeing the man she never stopped loving again, the man she’s thought was dead for over a decade.

****

We’ve been standing in the narrow hallway outside the owner’s office for a while now. Not too long, but enough that Axel, Izzy’s ex, is pacing like a caged animal. When his patience snaps, and he starts yelling through the door, I know I have to do something. Stepping in front of a feral beast probably isn’t very smart, but if he has to physically plow over me, at least I will offer some kind of speed bump.

At this point, I can safely say that my earlier thought that this would be a mess was a great understatement. I know there isn’t much that I can do if Axel wants to get past me, but right now, the only thing on my mind is keeping him away from Izzy so she doesn’t have another episode. I can’t let her sink back into that pit of depression that she was in for such a long time. There have been times when I really doubted my ability to keep her sane. Hell, I doubted my ability to keep me sane.

Right here, and right now, I have to put my best friend hat on and do whatever I need to do for Izzy. I spare Beck a brief glance before looking back up into the fire sparking, emerald green eyes of Axel Reid.

“Move the fuck out of my way, Woman. I will not tell you a-fuckin-gain.” The cold fury lacing his words causes me to flinch, but I stand my ground. “I will get back there. Do you fucking hear me, Isabelle? I will be talking to you!” He screams loudly over my head so that his voice can do what I won’t let him physically do... reach Izzy.

“You need to stop. I don’t mean shut up and sit down. I mean shut up and go the hell on. If Izzy ever wants to speak to you, which I seriously doubt she will after your immature little tantrum, then she will call. But this, this shit that you are so inclined to throw in her face is going to stop. Right. Fucking. Now.” I’m pretty proud of myself when I deliver all of that without my voice shaking with the fear still surrounding me.

When his eyes, already so full of anger and hate, turn towards me, I know it’s not going to be pretty. I can almost taste the madness coming off of him. Right before he can get a word in, Beck hooks me around the hip and pushes me behind him. “No.” One word, but one with so much meaning, only a fool wouldn’t recognize the warning. This man, who doesn’t even know me, just stuck up and picked sides against someone close enough to be his family.

That doesn’t happen to me.

Never, not once, has a man ever been anything but a narcissistic ass towards me. I stopped expecting anything more than some tit staring, and if I’m lucky, an orgasm years ago. But with that simple move, Beck might become the first man to make me question my decision about getting attached.

It doesn’t take long for things to get a little crazy. Even I’m not comfortable with all the testosterone waves pulsing off each of these men. All I want to do is grab Izzy and get back home to our safe little nest.

Beck stands his ground for a few minutes, nods his head, and takes a step back next to me, effectively making my wall of resistance against Axel one body longer. Not once does he remove his arm from my waist. I’m too busy trying to figure out my body’s reaction to this man, so I don’t notice when Axel’s anger hits a breaking point.

“FUCK!” he roars. Literally roars. Goosebumps break out across my body, and each hair stands on end. He is nothing short of terrifying. “Get out of my goddamn way, Woman!”

Axel’s last outburst must have been the straw that broke the camel’s back. Before Axel can even continue his tirade, a spitting mad Greg pulls open the door supporting my back. One look at his face, and I know that he’s reached his breaking point, too. Honestly, I figured he would bust out the door the second that Axel screamed for ‘Isabelle’. After I right myself from losing the door that I had been leaning against, Beck and I calmly move to the side to get out of his way. I’m trying to keep my shit together, but inside, I’m anything but calm.

A million questions are running through my mind. Who has Izzy? Is she okay? Does she need me? Did I do the right thing keeping Axel away from her? Where is she?

I zone out with my worry when they start their pissing contest. I know Greg has Izzy’s best interest at heart, but part of me wonders if we’re doing the right thing by keeping these two apart. Something in my gut is telling me that things aren’t what they seem.

I know I’m not the poster child for relationships, or hell, even a supporter of them, but there is something to be said about getting some closure. I just want her to be happy, however she gets there, and by whatever she needs to do to achieve it.

When I hear the door slam shut, I focus my eyes back on the tall man standing before me. Shoulders hunched, hand rubbing the back of his neck, and now with the fury dimming slightly, you can feel the waves of confusion pulsating off of him. I feel the arm around my hips tighten slightly, and I look up into Beck’s concerned, chocolate brown eyes.

“Are you okay?” he whispers in my ear.

“Not really, but it’s not me I’m worried about.”

“Let me see your phone.” I don’t even question him. I pull my phone out of my back pocket and hand it to him. His large hand enveloping my iPhone makes it look like a tiny Lego. His long fingers hold me in a trance as he unlocks my phone and moves them across the screen in a slow dance that has my skin prickling with awareness. I jump slightly when I hear another phone ringing. He hands me back my phone, and with a twisted smile, and a gleam in his eyes, pulls his out of his front pocket.

“Will you call me when you get home? Let me know you’re okay, and that everything else is okay?”

I just nod my head, my heart pounding so violently in my chest, and my mind screaming at me over and over to run. There are times in my life when I want so desperately to let my steel-enforced walls down. To let a man in. To believe that they won’t hurt me. But then, I remember all the pain in the past, and all the pain they have ever caused me, and those walls just get thicker and thicker.

“You think maybe you can give me the words?” His smile grows when I nod again.

“Uh… yeah. I’ll let you know.” Because really, what else can I say here? If anything else, maybe in a few weeks when things calm down with Iz he could be a welcomed distraction. A way to relax and remind myself to enjoy life a little more.

The spell is broken when Axel takes a few steps back, and then drops to the floor in front of the closed door. As if even knowing she is in there is keeping him rooted to this very hallway. The handsome, blond man that arrived with them just shakes his head a few times and leans back as if settling in for a long stay. Beck mimics his move and sighs deeply. Of course, these men know something bigger than us is happening here. They just silently wait to help whichever side needs it.

***

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