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Third and final installment of the "Timeless" trilogy which includes "Not to Be" and "Once and For All"
As her feet went over the threshold of the bar, she felt as if she was stepping into a different dimension. Oh, she wasn't given to the hocus pocus of alternate dimensions and time shifts, but she couldn't shake the feeling that the universe was indeed experiencing some sort of rift at that exact moment.
Perhaps it was because she was determined to take her destiny into her own hands. Perhaps it was due to the fact that she was righteously indignant and no longer willing to be a pawn in some form of cosmic game of chess, having her life controlled by forces other than her own will.
Or perhaps it was because she was done with bullshit. Or, even more specifically his bullshit.
No matter how she looked at it, it all came out to be the same. She was woman….hear her roar…and all that jazz.
And God help the first man that chose to stand in her way again.
Her eyes narrowed in on her quarry, his hunched figure prominent in the far corner of the shadowy bar. Her steps sure as she skirted around a table, she ignored the sudden burst of laughter coming from the table behind her, her mission clear and focused.
But suddenly, her path was blocked with what could only be described as a horribly gone wrong tribute to the Michelob ad campaign and the Marlboro man combined. The smell of stale cigarettes and hops burst around her as the man standing in front of her grinned widely, his slurred words asking, "Hey, lookie here. It's a gift from Santy Claus all wrapped up for me! Where you been all my life, beautiful?"
Rolling her eyes at the obviously intoxicated man intent on impeding her progress, his stale breath gusting around her, JJ took a step to the side as she said, archly, "Avoiding men just like you. Excuse me, please."
Another burst of laughter surrounded her then, a few guffaws thrown in for good measure from the drunk's buddies. "Crash and burn, Jeff," cat-called out another slurred voice.
JJ attempted to ignore the huffing sounds from the man who was obviously named Jeff, but she suddenly found herself halted by the surprising strong fingers surrounding her wrist.
"Not so fast, blondie," the idiot named Jeff slurred as he tried to pull her closer. "We gotta get to know each other better. Wanna beer?"
"Not a chance in hell, mister," JJ retorted as she turned sharply, her knee proactively raised to inflict harm in the man's most vulnerable area. But before she could place her well-aimed missile, the man suddenly screeched, his finger spasming and dropping from her arm like he was scalded.
"The lady said no," David Rossi ordered as he tightened his death grip on the offender's neck. "It's a word you obviously need to become better acquainted with. Starting now."
JJ had not seen Dave move from his corner, and yet, somehow, he had managed to appear as if out of nowhere. Meeting Dave's dark eyes over the shoulder of the would-be Romeo, JJ crossed her arms over her chest. "Rescuing the damsel in distress, Rossi? Seems a little late to be the hero now, doesn't it?"
Pushing the man toward his friends, Dave frowned hard at JJ as he stepped in front of her, shielding her from the drunken jackasses now laughing at their friend's misfortune. "What the hell are you doing here, Jennifer?" he asked harshly, reaching for her arm and dragging her toward the door of the pub. "Do you realize what the hell kind of place this is?" he bit out through barely moving lips, his thoughts of what could have happened to her if he hadn't been there tightening his gut in knots.
"Don't bitch to me about the location, Rossi. You chose the destination," JJ retorted, trying to jerk her wrist from his grasp. "Let me go," she ordered, her voice low and dangerous as they reached the paved sidewalk in front of the pub.
Dropping her arm, Dave's jaw clenched. "Do you have any idea what could have happened to you in there?" he hissed, suddenly furious with the young blonde woman for risking her safety. Damn it, didn't she realize what she was doing to him? She'd already stolen his heart and now she appeared intent on robbing him of his sanity as well.
"Don't you dare! Don't you dare lecture me," JJ retorted, her eyes flashing as she narrowed them on the man that had singlehandedly wrecked her life. "If you weren't such a coward," she sneered, "I wouldn't have made this exciting little field trip into DC's most seedy dive bar," she growled, sweeping a hand behind her to indicate the neon lit bar. "Wanna blame somebody? Look in the fucking mirror!"
Jaw clenching at her accusation, Dave forced himself to stand there, her eyes skewering him to the pavement. "You came here to find me," he stated needlessly. Shrugging, he lifted his chin, refusing to cower under the intensity of her gaze. "You found me. Why?"
"Are you serious?" JJ breathed, shaking her head as her face darkened. "You're actually going to go with ignorance? Are you really that much of a dickless wonder?" she spat harshly.
"Okay, Jennifer, that's twice you've insulted me. Because you've got a point, I'm not going to reply. I hurt you and I know it," Dave replied, keeping his voice deceptively calm. "But that's all you get," he warned her steadily.
"Or what?" JJ snarled, her hands balling into fists as she faced him there on the street. "You'll disappear again? You'll hide? You've already been there and done that, Rossi. Why don't you try actually behaving like you have a set of balls this time and face me," she taunted him, her temper overwhelming her good sense as she took a step closer to him. "And for the fucking record," she hissed, nose to nose with him, "you didn't hurt me, asshole. You savaged me."