Heroic Measures (Blackbridge Security #6) - Marie James Page 0,1

my situation right now. Going inside the gun range to help Quinten puts me right in the middle of more than a dozen eyes, and it would be just my luck that one of those pairs will belong to the gorgeous blonde that disappeared inside just moments ago.

My phone chimes with a text, and I know it’s from Wren before I even look down at the screen.

I grind my teeth, reading… Get out of the damn truck, Jude.

But I obey. Deacon, my boss, insisted I come as some form of punishment, and I’m not one to shirk my duties, regardless of the stress it puts on my system, and I don’t plan to dodge that duty now.

Just as the pretty woman did before walking inside, I lift my chin, straighten my back, and pull the front door open. I give Adam a genuine smile and wave as I head toward the classroom to the side of the store.

Guys I can handle. Being around men doesn’t cause the same stress that women do. At least not anymore. Years ago, even being in public would make my heart race. Now it only happens when I get a feeling that someone is going to challenge me or get confrontational. I could blame my past, the way I was raised to bow down to a man who was supposed to protect me, demanding respect he didn’t earn, but I’ve moved past the issues I had with my father. He’s been in the grave for years now, and that excuse no longer seems plausible.

“Sorry I’m late,” I mutter the second I step into the room.

I keep my eyes to the front of the classroom, on my best friend instead of letting them wander in search of the woman I saw outside. I clench my fists once, then twice before forcing my palms open to the cool air in the room.

Chatter tickles my back as I walk, but the words are spoken in such soft tones that I’m unable to pick up the actual conversation. They’re talking about me. That much I know, and I’d much rather know what they’re saying than to let my mind draw those conclusions itself.

“Everyone this is my co-instructor Jude—”

“Hey Jude!” a woman in the center of the room sings, and I do my best to keep my eyes from rolling.

People find it funny to match my name to the old Beatles song, but I’ve heard it so many times it grew old before I even made it to my teen years.

“—Jude Morris,” Quinten continues as if he hadn’t been interrupted, giving me a small smile.

He knows how much it irritates me, and I know he’s going to give me hell for it later.

Like the weirdo that I am, I give the room full of women a small wave, my hand barely making it past the height of my hip. I feel my face flush with embarrassment, doing my best to keep from digging the toe of my shoe into the linoleum under my feet.

Quinten claps his hand on my back, bringing me back into the moment. He teases me a lot back at the office. All the guys do, but he’d never do anything purposely to fluster me in public. It doesn’t mean I won’t catch shit for my flaming cheeks later in private, or in front of the guys at the office.

“They’re loading magazines,” Quinten says, forcing me to lift my eyes to scan the room.

I catch the woman from the parking lot in my periphery, and I know which side of the room to avoid.

I give my friend a quick nod as I approach two women at the front of the classroom.

“Thank you,” one woman says weakly as I correct her grip on the magazine in an effort to save her from pain in her fingers.

“Use one bullet to push down the other ones,” I instruct softly, suddenly remembering that all of these women are here because something in their past flagged them as someone who needed the skills to protect themselves more than the average person.

These women have been hurt, abused, stalked, and probably much worse, and the thought that the woman I plan to ignore to the best of my ability has been victimized at the hands of some piece of shit makes me want to spit fire. It makes me want to stand straighter and pound my chest like a silverback gorilla protecting his troop of females.

Then I remember how unable I was in the