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At least I was only going to have to endure a telling-off from Alice in front of the packed bar. I’d already been embarrassed enough by what Vinny had said, especially since the hot guy who’d stepped in hadn’t missed a single word. Including the fact that I was a virgin.

Not that what he thought about me mattered, anyway. He’d been wearing a cut from another club, the Silver Saints. I didn’t remember ever hearing about them before, which meant Patriot—his club name along with his position as Captain had been sewn onto his vest—wasn’t from around here. Razor mouthed off about the rival clubs a lot, so I’d heard way more than I’d ever wanted to know about the other MCs in the area.

I’d probably never see this tall, muscular man with buzzed, light blond hair, clear blue eyes, and tattoos on most of his visible skin again after he paid his tab and walked out of Hell’s Kitchen, which bothered me a whole lot more than it should. I already had enough to deal with after the bombshell Alice had dropped on me before my shift. The last thing I needed was more trouble.

As soon as my sister was close enough, she lit into me. “What in the hell were you thinking, talking back to Beast like that in front of so many people? You know better than to disrespect a club member in public.”

“I didn’t say anything to Vinny”—I refused to call the guy by his road name because the thought of how he got it creeped me out—“except that I was working. I swear, Alice.”

“Are you calling him a liar?” she hissed, her green eyes narrowing. “Because that’s not what Beast told my old man when he called and said we needed to get our asses over here. What I heard was that you put up a big enough fuss over Beast showing his interest in you that some asshole from another club butted in.”

“I’m not saying that Vinny lied to you.” Only because things would go very badly for me if I did. “I don’t know how the story got mixed up. I barely had the chance to say five words to Vinny before that guy stepped in, and I have no idea why he thought it was necessary. I didn’t ask for his help, and I’m sorry you had to come here to talk to me about all of it.”

“If you really meant that apology, you’d do what I told you earlier today.” Razor came up behind her as she swung her arm around in a big circle, glaring at me over her head. “If you don’t want to take Beast up on his offer, pick one of the other guys. Give him your cherry and accept his property patch. Then we wouldn’t have trouble like this because assholes from other clubs would know exactly who you belonged to.”

I’d been so focused on my argument with Alice—and worried about what Razor was going to do about the incident—that I hadn’t noticed what was happening around us. Not until the guy from earlier tugged on my arm while one of his club brothers who he’d been sitting with grabbed Razor’s shoulder.

“What are you doing?” I hissed as he dragged me away from Alice, who’d whirled around to look at Razor when he’d let out an angry roar as fists started to fly. I wasn’t sure how it had happened, but the Devil’s Jesters were surrounded by men from the Silver Saints, and it looked as though they were outmatched. Nobody stopped us as he led me out of Hell’s Kitchen, keeping an arm wrapped around my shoulders so I was protected from the battle that had broken out around us.

When we were standing on the sidewalk in front of the bar, he finally answered my question. “I’m saving you from a bad situation, Cherry.”

“Cherry?” I yanked my arm from his hold and took a step back, crossing my arms over my chest. “So you heard that jerk call me a virgin and decided that would be the perfect nickname for me? Let me guess, you’re going to try to convince me you’re the perfect guy to pop my cherry since you just rescued me. Right?”

Patriot shook his head as he reached out to tug on a lock of my hair. “You earned the nickname way before that asshole gave you a hard time. Although, now I’m thinking maybe Flame would’ve been a better choice because you have the temper to go along with your red hair.”

“Oh.” His gaze dropped to my lips, and the color in my cheeks wasn’t just because I was embarrassed about jumping to the wrong conclusion. The heat in his eyes had a lot to do with it, too. “I, uh, guess sometimes I do, but it’s been a long time since I’ve let it fly like that.”

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