Protecting What's His Page 6

The last thing he said to her yesterday about Gingers usually being redheads popped into her mind. Oh, he wouldn’t win this round. She’d make sure of it.

Smiling, Ginger put a little swagger in her step and approached him.

Derek struggled not to show a reaction to the feminine temptation walking—sauntering, really—in his direction. Before she’d caught sight of him, he’d watched, hypnotized, as she let her head tip up toward the sky and shook that hair back over her shoulders, sighing through those bee-stung lips.

He’d hardened painfully upon hearing the sound, capturing the sigh of contentment in his memory bank. She would sigh for him one day. But he’d only allow it after making her beg for—and then scream—her release.

Like a living thing, the swift and potent possessiveness she provoked in him stretched and vibrated in his belly. He’d wanted women before, but not like this. He wanted Ginger immediately. To do things to her he’d only ever fantasized about. If another man had happened to be present on the roof at that moment, Derek didn’t doubt he’d throw the unlucky bastard over the side before letting him get a glimpse of her lithe body.

Rein yourself in, Tyler. The last time he’d seen the woman, she’d cursed him to eternal damnation. If he wanted to get anywhere near her, he needed to first make sure she could stand the sight of him.

Derek didn’t normally come up to the roof. Nothing to accomplish up here. But the thought of her less than ten yards away, cooking dinner and humming to herself, had driven him out of his own apartment to escape the torturous mental pictures. Ginger licking sauce off her fingers. Ginger bending over to take something out of the oven. He couldn’t take it one second longer.

Now, she’d followed him onto the roof, and if her seductive walk and determined expression were any indication, his suffering had only just begun.

Stopping within reaching distance, Ginger tilted her head and extended the wineglass she was holding. “Peace offering, Lieutenant?”

Fuck. That accent made him want to put her over his knee just to hear the kinds of things she’d say as he spanked her exquisite ass.

Harder, darlin’.

Giving himself a mental shake, he eyed her outstretched hand. “Wine is a woman’s drink.”

“Humor me.”

He hesitated—he wouldn’t put it past her to poison him after their first encounter—but Derek finally took the glass and drank deeply, watching her over the glass rim, then handed it back.

“Well, now that we’ve ruled out wine, what exactly is your drink of choice, Derek?”

He liked her saying his name way too goddamn much. “Why do you want to know?”

She shrugged. “You can learn a lot about somebody by what they drink. Wine drinkers are usually sentimental and artistic. They like to tell stories. Light beer is for younger men and women on perpetual diets. Dark ales tend to attract the adventurous. Martinis are for women looking to feel sexy.” She sent him a feline smile. “So which one are you, Lieutenant?”

“Whiskey. Neat.”

Derek savored the pleasure of watching surprise spread across her face. “Really? Interesting.”

“What did you think it would be?”



“Mmm-hmm. Although, funny enough, some people do refer to whiskey as mother’s milk. So technically I was right.” She took a congratulatory sip of wine. “Whiskey drinkers are no-nonsense folks. They don’t take time to enjoy the process of getting drunk. It’s all about the end result for them.”

“I’d have to say that’s accurate.” He dragged his gaze up from her mouth. “Some things I like to take my time with, though.”

Her eyes widened a little, as if he’d caught her off guard with that comment. Derek decided he could really make a habit of shocking her. Rubbing her arms, she turned and walked away, stopping a short distance from him to look out at the city view. Derek recognized the perfect opportunity to excuse himself and go back to his apartment, but instead he found himself following Ginger across the roof.

“You have a lot of experience with alcohol,” he said from beside her.

Ginger confirmed with a distant nod. “Been bartending too long, I suppose.”

He could only imagine the way men fantasized about the possibility of taking her home with them as she poured and served their drinks. Especially considering the way Ginger tended to dress. Drunken ass**les probably stood five deep at the bar just to get a glimpse of her passing by.

Unconsciously, his fist clenched at his side.

“Do you work in town?” Even to his own ears, his voice sounded strained, and he watched her eyes narrow trying to interpret his tone.

“As a matter of fact, I just got hired this afternoon at Sensation up on West Kinzie.”

Derek didn’t recognize the name, but she sounded less than thrilled over her new employment. Judging by the location, the clientele would likely be young people looking to get laid. Everything about this situation annoyed him. “Where did you work before?”

“Oh, you wouldn’t know it,” she said quickly, making his built-in avoidance detector chirp. She obviously didn’t want him knowing where she’d come from.

“With that accent, you’re obviously not from Chicago.”

Ginger took a sip of her wine without replying, although he supposed it hadn’t exactly been a question, more of a statement. Based on their interactions so far, Derek didn’t foresee her appeasing his curiosity any time soon. And yeah, he was curious as hell. But he needed to remember they weren’t sitting in an interrogation room. However, if they were, now would be the time to play “good cop” if he wanted to get anywhere with Ginger.

“Listen, I’m sorry about the other day. You caught me on a bad morning.”

Ginger cocked her hip and turned to face him fully, the wind plastering her tissue-thin dress against her curves. Light pink silk molded to her br**sts like a second skin. He could even make out a distinct outline of the lacy bra she wore underneath and absently wondered how easily the material would rip in his hands.

“You mean, you don’t make a habit of antagonizing your neighbors? If you tell me you’re actually a member of the welcoming committee, I won’t believe you.”

He chuckled. “No, I don’t normally antagonize my neighbors. In fact, I barely speak to them at all.”

“Oh, so we just got lucky, then.”

“You have a funny way of accepting an apology.” He watched Ginger sip her wine. “I was on my way to a funeral. Colleague of mine. So, yeah. Bad morning.”

All traces of humor drained from her expression, the base of her wineglass clinking down on the concrete wall surrounding the roof. “I’m so sorry.”

Derek shrugged, surprised by the sincerity on her face. “Don’t be. I just wanted to explain.” Wanting to move past the seriousness of the moment, he added, “What about you? I seem to remember someone calling me a dickhead and telling me exactly where to go.”

Flipping her hair back over her shoulder, she smiled up at him. His breath got trapped in his lungs. Damn, this girl knew exactly what she was doing.

“Now, Lieutenant. It’s not very gentlemanly to remind a lady of her past transgressions.”

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