Fighting For You:A Danvers Novel(4)By: Sydney Landon
After seeing Ella go off with that smiling idiot, he wasn’t in the mood for sex or work. That left the gym or jogging. Thanks to a serious lack of judgment and a night of subpar sex with a gym rat named Tiffany, even that sanctuary had taken a nosedive. He should have remembered the rule of never shitting where you sleep. So, until he found another gym, it looked like a run was his only option. Three shots of Jack Daniel’s might have made this difficult for some people, but it barely took the edge off for him. One of the first things he had learned in the military was how to focus under any condition and he could drink the whole damn bottle and still be able to pass any test put before him.
Declan quickly changed out of his dress clothes and into a low riding pair of jogging shorts and a tank top. Black tattoos in swirling script adorned his bare biceps: one read “Semper Fi” and the other, “Brotherhood.” Both were common tattoos among his unit and he had been proud to wear the ink. Even after leaving the military, the code that the tattoos represented was still a big part of his life. The men he had served with were brothers and he would do anything for them.
As he pulled the door closed behind him, he already knew the direction that his feet were going to take him. Ella lived just a few miles away and he figured he could kill time if he had to, just to make sure she made it home okay. He knew what men were capable of and he would make sure that none of that touched Ella. He might not be able to have her, but he could make sure no one else hurt her.
Ella felt like her smile was frozen in place. She didn’t consider herself the most interesting person in the world, but surely she had more going for her than her date this evening. Hugh Mitchell was her first date from the dating service that Beth had recommended. He was a well-mannered tax accountant and unfortunately, he had made her eyes glaze over within thirty minutes. She now knew more about tax shelters and audits than she ever wanted to learn. At this point, if someone even mentioned her taxes again, she would probably choke them. She had barely gotten a word in for ages. Every time she tried to change the subject, within a few sentences, it came right back to his job.
Beth had advised her to have her date meet her at the office and then walk around the corner to one of the local restaurants so that if the date didn’t go well, she would have her own car and could leave whenever she needed to. Ella would be eternally thankful for that advice. They had made it through dinner and she started trying to break away as soon as the check arrived. Of course, she offered to pay her share and was surprised when Hugh readily agreed. She didn’t mind paying for her meal, but it was just unexpected. Maybe Suzy was right, it was a whole different world out there than she had imagined.
Hugh insisted on walking her back to her car and then came the really awkward moment of the date. He looked at her as if expecting something. Surely, he didn’t think she was going to just kiss him, did he? As she turned away and started to open her car door while thanking him, he tugged her around and lowered his lips toward hers. She just managed to turn her head in time so that his lips landed against her cheek. She thanked him once again before jumping into her car. As he stood outside looking at her in surprise, Ella thought, why do I keep thanking him? I paid for my own meal!
With a groan, she wondered how she was ever going to handle this dating scene. Staying home every night might be boring, but it was certainly easier than this awkward world of dating. All she wanted to do now was rush home and try to remove all thoughts of tax preparation from her head. Surely, the next date would be better. She knew she had to keep moving forward no matter how miserable it might be. Declan had to see that she wasn’t a child. If other men treated her like a woman, it stood to reason that he would too.