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Except this would be the first time with him for me, and it would be the second time with me for him, and something was just so wrong about that.

Plus, was I going to be satisfied with hooking up with Reece and nothing more? I . . . I wasn’t sure. And that was scary. Not because he might not want something more, but because he might, and I didn’t know if I could handle that.

I focused on getting drinks out to combat the ball of dread building in the pit of my stomach. There was a lot floating around in my head and if I didn’t clear it out, I’d be a mess by the time I got off.

When I neared Reece and Jax again, the latter stopped me. “I want you to hear this, too.”

Confused, I propped my elbows on the bar as I stood next to Jax. “Okay?”

Bright blues eyes fixed on mine. When Reece spoke, his voice was low enough for just us to hear. “I was just telling Jax about the call that came in this week over in Huntington Valley. I know you aren’t watching the news, so you probably haven’t heard about it.”

“Hey, I watch the news,” I defended myself, but as a bland look crossed his striking face, I sighed. “Okay, well I don’t always listen to it.”

Jax shook his head. “I hadn’t heard it either. Been busy and haven’t been paying attention to the news, but Reece told me that another girl was attacked.”

I pressed my hand against my chest. “Oh God. Is . . . is she okay?”

Reece pursed his lips. “As okay as I guess she could be. She was roughed up and then tied up. From what I heard, the ordeal went on for hours before the guy simply left the vic. Her boyfriend ended up finding her and calling it in. She didn’t get a good look at the guy, but they’re thinking it’s connected to the case in Prussia.”

“So you aren’t stepping foot outside this bar alone,” Jax stated. “Neither is Calla when she’s here.”

I shivered as I nodded. God, the idea that someone could be out there stalking girls was more than just creepy. It was horrifying.

“Hell, I think I’m going to take Calla to the shooting range. Get her permitted.”

Reece took a drink. “Doesn’t sound like a bad idea.” His gaze flipped to me. “I think you should consider that.”

“Me? With a gun?” I laughed at the absurdity of it. “I’d end up accidentally shooting myself or some poor, innocent sap. Me and guns do not mix.”

He reached over, capturing my hand. He tugged me forward, so that my hips were pressed against the bar. His eyes met mine again, and I totally forgot Jax was standing right there. “I want you safe,” he said, his thumb sweeping the inside of my palm and doing funny things to my belly. “And I want you to at least seriously consider protecting yourself. Okay?”

Reece held on until I nodded and then I ambled off to the other side of the bar in a daze. A little after midnight, some college-aged guy approached the bar. His smile a little too wide, his step a little too wobbly, he leaned against the bar next to Reece. Immediately, I knew the guy was so not getting another drink. I had no problem cutting off people who were stumbling.

“Hey, baby, you are looking so damn . . . cute,” the guy slurred, blinking slowly as he weaved unsteadily. “Yeah, your glasses. Hot. Like a dirty . . .”

I raised my brow as I waited.

“Yeah, dirty girl,” he finished with a laugh. “I bet you are, too.”

Working in a bar, I’ve heard some stupid pickups, which were usually met with polite disinterest, but that was gross. My mouth opened to deliver a well-placed verbal put-down when Reece swiveled on his chair and made eye contact with the guy. Cop Face was back. Except the stern, hard jaw and glinting blue eyes were not directed at me.

“Apologize,” he ordered.

Drunk Guy swayed left and then right as he straightened. “What?”

“Apologize to her,” Reece demanded again.

“Are you serious?” the guy replied, face ruddy.

Reece leaned back, raising his brows. “Do I look like I’m fucking joking? You don’t know her at all and you say something like that, you dickhead. Apologize.”

Absolutely stunned, I watched the guy turn to me and stutter out an “I’m sorry.”

“Now fuck off,” Reece added.

The dude fucked right off.

I turned my wide-eyed gaze to Reece. “I had that handled.”

“I know you did.” He picked up his glass of water again and smiled up at me, the picture of freaking innocence. “But I’m not the kind of guy to sit here while some dickhead is being disrespectful. And that was disrespectful.”

“Totally was impolite,” Nick commented as he walked behind me.

“It was,” I said over the sudden cranking of music. My eyes met Reece’s. Part of me wanted to tell him again that I had it handled, because I was woman, hear me roar and all that girl power, but he stood up for me . . . and that was important. It really was important for guys to do that when other guys were getting out of line.

“Thank you,” I said, smiling a little.

He sat the glass down and before I knew what he was doing, he placed both hands on the bar top and rose. Stretching over, right in front of everyone in the bar and God, he leaned in, and I thought for a second he’d kiss me, and then I’d melt into a pool of gooey nothingness. He was going right for it. Anticipation swelled sweetly. I was seconds from grabbing his cheeks as my gaze centered on his mouth. I was so ready to melt into that pool.

Reece didn’t kiss me. He tilted his head at the last moment, placing his lips near my ear. When he spoke, he sent a tight, hot shiver right down my spine. “Two more hours, babe, and you’ll be all mine.”

On the way to my place, Reece kept the conversation light and flowing. Sticking to a topic such as the stormy forecast for the weekend worked to calm me enough not to drive off the road and plow into a mailbox. Reece, on the other hand, was 100 percent relaxed.

Every time I peeked over at him, he was the picture of lazy arrogance. Knees bent and spaced wide, one arm rested on his leg, the other against the window. His profile was open, jaw relaxed as his head was tipped back against the headrest. There was a slight, almost knowing grin that settled on his lips.

My heart was doing jumping jacks by the time I pulled in front of the Victorian. As I turned the key, cutting off the engine, he reached over, folding his long fingers over mine. Surprised, I glanced over at him, my breath stuck in my throat.

His eyes were the color of midnight in the dark interior of my car. “I’m gonna ask you a question and you’re gonna be honest with me, okay?”