Book: Tough and Tender (Bad Boy Romance Box Set)

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Next: Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Seventeen


Turned out Steve was quite different from what Anna had imagined.

She’d figured he’d be the gentleman type but from the way he couldn’t seem to keep his hands off her, whispering the most unexpected stuff in her ear and making her laugh, she saw that he was going in for the kill.

Anna had to admit she was tempted.

He might be a year or two younger than she was, but she wasn’t going to hold that against him. She still hadn’t made up her mind if she should leave with him which was obviously what he’d been suggesting for the last five minutes. But she had to admit he was getting on her nerves with his deliberately roving hands. If he kept it up, she’d make sure he did drop her home, and then get sent off for his bad behavior.

She sighed. No way he was getting lucky with her tonight. Anna didn’t really enjoy getting mauled by a guy she’d barely just met.


Even over the music, the clear, deep voice wafted to her from just over her shoulder. Her head whipped round, her chest constricting with hope and not a little bit of fear thanks to the edge evident in that all too familiar voice.

She turned in the circle of Steve’s arm and came smack into facing the last person she’d expected to see right then.

“Hawk! You’re back!”

“Yeah,” he said slowly, his eyes fastened on Steve’s hand resting on her hip. “You miss me?” he added on a soft note, looking back up at her with a narrowed glint in his eye.

Anna squirmed beneath Hawk’s piercing gaze, not knowing what to say. She couldn’t stop staring at him dressed in his blue jeans and white tee topped with a close-fitting leather jacket. Damn he looked so fine in black leather. Just like that, she felt that long-missed pulsing between her thighs and bit her bottom lip, glancing quickly beside her at Steve. He was observing Hawk with a quizzical air.

“Uh...Steve, meet Hawk,” she said abruptly, for want of something to say. Both men shook hands and nodded at each other. Anna couldn’t help seeing a slight wince cross Steve’s face as Hawk’s hand closed firmly around his for a moment. The handshake broke and Steve smiled mildly. Both men were about the same height; above six feet but Hawk’s frame was far bulkier than the lithe Steve.

“Nice to meet you, ah...Hawk. Well, Anna, are we leaving now?” Steve asked, his hand running up and down her back warmly, his look proprietary as he looked down at her and then with a smirk at the stone-faced Hawk.

“I don’t think so,” Hawk said lightly before Anna could reply, his hand wrapping around Anna’s wrist. His fingers then slid upwards over her arm in a vice-like grip.

Anna drew in an angry breath, trying to snatch her arm away but his hold was too strong.

“How about a dance, babe?” he asked, barely taking his eyes away from the frowning Steve.

I don’t think so,” Anna snapped, throwing his words back at him. How dare he just show up out of nowhere and demand she dance with him? And why did he have to act like he flipping owned the place? Owned her?

“Steve and I were just about to leave,” she said with a prim, satisfied smile, which she turned on her companion. He smirked.

“That’s right – Hawk,” Steve said smugly, his hand on her waist pulling Anna away.

Anna gasped as Hawk pulled her hand the other way, giving her the sudden feeling of being in the middle of a tug-of-war. For heaven’s sake! They were both acting like first-graders.

“If you really think I’m going to stand back and let you simply leave here with him...” Hawk’s teeth were gritted, blazing eyes meeting Anna’s equally stormy gaze.

Why the hell can’t I stop wanting him, even now, she fumed, noting every little detail about him right then. How even beneath his jacket, his broad shoulders were plain to observe, as well as his expansive chest and formidable arms. He looked daunting but while she refused to cower, she wondered where Steve had the nerve to do what he did next.

“Hey, I don’t know who you think you are, mister; but maybe you need to back off,” Steve said coldly, his hand reaching to shove Hawk roughly away.

But then everything that happened next happened so fast. Before Steve’s hand could connect with Hawk’s chest, Hawk moved swiftly. In seconds he’d deflected Steve’s hand and with just a couple of maneuvers that boggled belief, he all but forced Steve to his knees with a swift wristlock.

Anna gasped in shock.

Steve’s face had crumpled in a grimace of pain as his mouth widened in a kind of comical soundless howl. It had all taken place in less than three seconds and yet they were already drawing attention from the other people close by.

“Hawk, what the hell are you doing? Let him go!” Anna cried.

“Not yet babe; I feel the need to teach pretty boy some manners,” Hawk said calmly, twisting harder on Steve’s wrist and making the guy swear loudly.

“Hawk! Hey, chill out, dude.” Anna turned as Marcus appeared by their side. He’d obviously been observing from afar and had now come closer to talk Hawk into letting the guy go.

“Anna,” Steve gritted with difficulty as he tried to stay on his feet even though he was bent beneath the punishing wristlock. “Will you tell your thuggish friend to let go of my fucking wrist before I slam him with a law suit –“

Steve didn’t finish because Hawk suddenly released his wrist and instead seized him by the throat.

“How about I just choke you until you turn so purple you’ll be forced to keep that rude mouth shut?” Hawk mused.

Anna wanted to scream as she saw Steve struggle ineffectually with the heavy arm attached to the hand that had his throat in a grab hold.

“Seriously man, cut it out,” Marcus said firmly, tugging on Hawk’s arm, “Fighting civilians brings a shitload of trouble that we don’t need, you know that.”

“Who said anything about fighting?” Hawk said conversationally. He was staring into Steve’s darkening face as the guy seemed to struggle for air. “I didn’t appreciate the way you had your hands all over Anna. I feel the need to teach you to keep your little paws to yourself. What do you think?”

“Oh my goodness what on earth is going on here?” Bertha cried, pushing in through the gathering crowd to find Hawk still holding tight to Steve’s throat while the man tried to tear at Hawk’s fingers.

“Obviously, Hawk’s about to kill this guy for acting all grabby with Anna,” Marcus said with a dry tone.

“This is so crazy!” Anna suddenly shouted at Hawk, all but stamping her feet. “I can’t believe you’d embarrass me like this!”

Her distress seemed to get to him as he suddenly let Steve go, watching the man bend over and start coughing and straining for air. Hawk lifted his hands up innocently. “Okay, I’ve let the delicate little flower go. Wouldn’t want to mess up his peacock feathers too much.”

“You’re such a jerk!” Anna half-sobbed, before brushing past him and stomping off from the scene just as the huge bouncers started to arrive. Hawk ignored them and swiftly turned to go straight after Anna, shouldering his way through the rowdy crowd.

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Next: Chapter Eighteen