“Hallie, honey.” Natalie’s voice filtered in, penetrating her thoughts. Hallie turned and gave Natalie a wide smile. “What’d you think of Jack?”
“He’s seems nice, Nat, but I don’t really think–”
“Before you make up your mind, let’s have dinner. You and Jack. Me and your dad. It’ll be fun.”
Hallie’s eyes widened. That’s what Natalie called fun?
“He’s not really my type,” Hallie said.
“But you’ve barely spoken to him.” Natalie smiled, her eyes crinkling at the corners. “When I met your dad, dating him didn’t even cross my mind at first. But after I got to know him… well…” Natalie laughed and turned her hands up. “Here we are, getting married soon.”
“And that’s great,” Hallie said. “I’m happy for you, but—”
“Just give it a shot, honey. Maybe he could make you happy—”
“The hell, woman?” Ace growled, interrupting Natalie. “She said no. Drop it.”
Hallie turned wide eyes on Ace, Natalie did the same… and Olivia grinned like a Cheshire cat.
Ace had both arms—those damned arms again—crossed over his chest, an angry, hard gleam in his eyes. He looked ready to snap a person in half. That person being Natalie.
Natalie cleared her throat, looking flustered. “I don’t have any idea who you are, but this doesn’t concern you. You’re here to tend bar, not get in the business of customers.”
Hallie’s eyes widened further, and she’d not thought that possible. Uh Oh.
Ace smiled. But it was a lethal smile, one that did not bode well for Natalie.
He, once again, rested his arms on the bar and leaned onto it, that same hard glint in his eyes. He didn’t even look at Hallie. “Every damn customer in this bar is my business, and it’ll be the day that someone walks in and tells me what the fuck to do here.” Natalie’s gaze grew stormy. That didn’t stop Ace, though. “Now you can go back to your table, finish your drink, whatever you want to do… but you’re damn sure going to leave Hallie the fuck alone. You got me?”
Hallie glanced at Olivia, who sent her a wide-eyed look of disbelief. Yeah, Hallie thought, whoa.
“Ace, that’s not necessary—”
“Hallie,” he warned, his voice a low growl.
She didn’t know what to do. Part of her wanted to help Natalie out. The other part of her, though, loved having Ace come to her defense.
But she was a grown woman, and she could defend herself.
“Ace,” she whispered, waiting until his unforgiving gaze held hers. “It’s alright.”
“None of this is alright,” Natalie snapped, arms crossed. “In fact, I’d like to speak to your manager.”
“Yeah?” Ace said, lifting an arrogant brow. “Well, let me see if I can get Julian for you.”
Hallie shook her head and fought a smile, one that was entirely inappropriate given the volatile situation she was smack in the middle of. “Stop it.” She turned back to Natalie. “Ace owns the place. This is his bar.”
Natalie’s back went ramrod straight. “Well, then, I certainly won’t be frequenting it anymore.”
“What a shame,” Ace drawled sarcastically.
Seriously, protective Ace is my favorite Ace. Ya love to see it. Okay, the softer, walls-down Ace has a special place in my heart, too, but ya don’t see that as often, and I can’t tell a lie… Protective Ace is totally my fave. ❤️
Keep an eye out for more teasers from Tempting Hallie! Release date coming soon!