Update! If you pre-ordered or purchased ACE through Amazon and received the unfinished, unedited version please contact me and I will take care of it. Apparently the full manuscript didn't download on time. I re-downloaded it today but it will take a couple of days to go through. This only affects Amazon purchases. I'm sorry for any inconveniences.
A road side bombing left Ace disfigured and dead inside. He faces the world with silent bitterness and a damaged ego. Then a quiet beauty comes into his life cracking the shell around his wounded heart and healing his soul.
I was coming out of the back stock room when I literally ran into Ace as he was heading toward the bathroom. His powerful hands grasped my upper arms to push me back, but not before we had a full frontal collision. The man was solid as a rock, everywhere. I gasped from the impact, and instant, hot awareness slammed through me. I gasped again upon looking up and seeing his condition. My eyes widened as they roamed over his bruised and bloodied face.
"What-What happened to you?" I asked with concern. I knew the Sentinels were tough, dangerous men and capable of taking care of themselves, but it looked as if Ace had taken a good beating.
He released me and held up a big hand, barely looking me in the eye. "I'm good." He made a move to go around me.
"You're not good." I reached for his arm. "Ace, you're hurt."
"Don't make it more than what it is, Emerson." He pulled away and went into the men's room.
I stared after him and the door that he’d closed in my face. Why was he so stubborn? He'd obviously been in a fight. And he obviously didn't want my help. Well, that was just too damned bad. I dashed to where I knew we kept the first aid kit, grabbed it off the shelf, and went back to the restroom. I hesitated only briefly before pushing my way into the bathroom and finding him at the sink.
He was in the process of wiping his face with a paper towel. "Get out," he grumbled.
"No." I took a deep breath and stubbornly stepped closer. "Those cuts need more than water, they need to be cleaned." I forced my way between his hard body and the hard counter. "Now let me see." I brushed his hands away from his face.
"Emerson," he growled in warning, glaring down at me with steel in his eyes, his jaw taut.
I met his eyes squarely, not the least bit intimidated. "Suck it up, biker man," I ordered, not backing down. "I know you're a big, old, hard-ass, Ace, but even big boys occasionally need a tender touch." I opened up the first aid kit and pulled out the clean gauze and antiseptic. When I turned back to Ace I halted, suddenly realizing how close we were.
I hardened my reserve, which meant ignoring the unexpected tingling in my nipples, to do what I needed to do. Besides, I'd decided to move on, right? As far as I knew, the feelings that I experienced when I was around Ace were totally one-sided. I poured antiseptic onto the gauze and reached up to clean the particularly nasty-looking cut on his cheek.
"So, what happened?" I dabbed as gently as I could, wincing when I saw how deep the cut was. "You should probably get stitches." He just growled in response, standing there like an obstinate five-year-old who was being subjected to a fate worse than death. I felt a smile spread across my lips. "Poor baby."
He growled some more. Once I was satisfied that the cut was as clean as I could get it, I poured the antiseptic directly into the wound. He sucked in his breath. My eyes shot up to his. "Sorry," I mumbled, reaching for the butterfly bandage, relieved that we had some. "If this doesn't work—"
"I know, stitches."
"Or we could try super glue," I smiled up at him. I glanced at his mouth, but the damage to it wasn’t what captivated me. Ace had a nice mouth; his lips were smooth and looked appetizing. Before I knew it, I was licking mine as if I were about to dive in to a tasty treat. Ace had never kissed me, and suddenly I wanted that more than anything. "Let's see what I can do to fix your kisser." I took his jaw in my hand and tilted his face slightly, examining it to find it swollen and with a split at the corner. "I think you'll still be able to use it."
"I don't kiss."