The party was on the thirty-seventh floor, hosted by one Jonathan
Wilder, who worked in advertising sales and seemed to know
the world. The apartment was packed and loud, and he could
see Tessa’s eyes light up like a slot machine when she
Trouble, and he spotted it right off the bat. Gabe knew Tessa.
He knew that tilt in her chin, that kick in her walk. When
she got like that at the bar, a drink would end up right over
some asshole’s head.
Those sort of safe and familiar thoughts pulled him back into
a place where his Johnson didn’t hurt quite so much,
and where that skirt didn’t look quite so…easy.
Okay, he’d play bouncer tonight. He knew that role.
He’d watch her back – not her ass, only her back,
and keep her out of trouble.
However, tonight trouble was her middle name. She launched
into a tequila shot contest with Stevie Tagglioli, and Gabe
waited, thinking she was going to splash some tequila all over
Stevie, but she didn’t. She kept drinking, and touching,
and drinking, and there was more touching. Eventually Gabe
insinuated himself between the two, accidentally elbowing Stevie
in the gut.
“Hey, Steve? Meet my new roommate, Tessa Hart.”
“We’re not involved,” said Tessa, downing
Gabe laughed. “She’s such a tease. Come on, babe.
Let’s move along while you can still walk.”
Little Stevie was enthralled, spending more time staring at
the thin silk of her shirt, rather than her face. Prick.
Tessa’s fingers bit into Gabe’s arm. “Leave
me alone,” she hissed.
“You’re in a mood, and I don’t know why,
and you don’t have to tell me why because you want your
space, but if you do something that you’ll regret with
somebody in this building that you’re going to see every
day, then you’re going to experience history’s
She pulled him aside, her eyes lit with some weird fire, ready
to combust. “I’m merely trying to have some fun.
Isn’t that what you said? It’ll be fun? I think
that’s an exact quote. Well maybe I want to have some
She was mad at him?
Gabe swore and let go of her arm like it burned. He couldn’t
reason with her, he wasn’t going to try. “Fine.
Your life. Your mistake.”
And so it went on. Gabe watched from the sidelines, glaring
when the females approached him. Tessa was the only one that
drew his eyes. She drank shots, she flirted with every single
male in the room, not one man left unflirted with, except for
Gabe, of course, because she was shooting him death-stares
every few minutes. He stood, waiting for the crash, but that
would be a long time coming because truly, there were few people
that could drink Gabe under the table, but Tessa was one. She
had the tolerance of a t-rex. In fact, when faced with the
mighty beast, she’d probably drink Godzilla under the
So he watched her, silently seething, seeing a completely
new side to this woman. She’d pulled her hair back, exposing
those killer cheekbones, and a long, slender neck, and she’d
put on red lipstick. Hooker red lipstick, which of course,
looked like sex. Goddamn.
He didn’t want to notice the full, red glistening lips,
didn’t want to notice how long her legs were in heels,
didn’t want to notice how her nipples stood at attention
under the flimsy silk, but she’d been right earlier.
It was hell. His mood got more foul, his cock grew more pained,
and when she started dancing on the coffee table, Gabe was
pretty much at the end of his rope.
“We’re going, now,” he said, watching her
hips sway, like a hypnotizing cobra, twisting, begging him
“Go home, Gabe,” she said, arms raising up over
her head. A goddess reaching for the heavens, which only ticked
him off even more, because dammit, he did not think poetry.
“Without you? No. This isn’t like you, Tess.”
That stopped the sway of her hips. Thank you, God.
“How do you know? Do you know the real me?”
“Yes,” he answered, lifting her down. His hands
lingered for a moment too long, but she didn’t notice.
“Maybe I’ve changed.”
“Not over the period of four hours.” He grabbed
her hand and pulled. She pulled back.
“I want to stay with Stevie.”
And that was it. Gabe didn’t care anymore. Stevie was
the world’s biggest jerk and loser and once he got his
fangs into Tessa, he wouldn’t let go. Gabe picked up
Tessa and threw her over his shoulder. She’d be furious,
but she’d thank him in the morning.
The nasty jab between the shoulder blades indicated otherwise,
but Gabe didn’t even blink. He was willing to earn a
purple heart for this one.
“Sorry. We had a bad fight. Go on, ignore us. Get some
more of that spinach dip. It’s really good,” Gabe
said encouragingly, shouldering his way through the crowd with
Tessa beating on his back.
She didn’t seem to remember that Gabe was used to dealing
with drunk and disorderlies, but then Gabe didn’t usually
cup their ass in such a familiar manner, either.
“Put me down, Gabe O’Sullivan.”
“When I get you home, Miss Hart, and not before.”
He almost let her down in the elevator, but she tried to run,
so he hefted her back on his shoulder. God, the woman needed
to gain weight.
“Gabe, I really hate you for this.”
“In the morning, if you still hate me -- which is a
big if -- I’ll apologize. You’ll probably be thanking
me, and I’ll let you grovel in gratitude for awhile,
but right now, you’ve had too much to drink—”
“I’m not drunk.”
“Then it’s even worse, Tess. Are you going to
tell me what happened?”
The doors opened, and she slid down his body, slow and seductive,
before heading down the hall. She probably didn’t mean
it to be that way, but his cock jumped just the same. Tessa
shot him a look, not an invitation, but coy and aware.
So maybe it was time to stop playing games. Gabe trapped her
outside his door, her lean body tight against his. He could
feel every inch of her. The fluttering pulse, the tight nipples,
the soft hips. She drew in a breath, soft and shaky, and the
air burned. His hands itched to go lower, to explore and discover
this new and marvelously arousing Tessa. But Gabe was still
hanging on to the last edges of his control. His body wasn’t
happy, but his body would get over it.
“Inside. Now,” he said, unlocking his apartment.
This time she didn’t argue, and went inside, but he knew
from the tight set of her shoulders that she wasn’t happy,
Once in the apartment, he shut the door with a bang, and ran
a frustrated hand through his hair.
“It’s late,” he said, because he needed
to be alone. Needed to have her out of his sight. He needed
to reclaim the image of Tessa from before. Hopefully, it was
still there, embedded somewhere deep in his brain.
“I’m not a kid,” she answered, pushing her
hair back from her face, and God help him, gawky and angular
had turned exotic.
“Then stop acting like one,” he snapped, not leaving
her alone like he had planned.
“You’re not my father,” she pointed out,
hands on hips – lean hips that he could still feel against
“I’m your friend, your boss, and currently your
roommate,” he answered, mainly to remind himself of those
She walked toward the dining room table, away from the sensible
safety of her bedroom. His gaze locked on her hips, tracking
the sway with lethal intent. Stupidly he followed after her.
“Some friend, Gabe. I bet you wouldn’t do this
if Cain was hitting on some woman.”
“No, Cain outweighs me by fifty pounds.” Humor,
another excellent way to diffuse tense situations. He could
feel the sweat on his brow, the rapid pulse vibrating under
his skin. He stood frozen, needing her to break into a grin,
or whap him on the arm.
But the room fell eerily quiet, and he waited, watching the
rise and fall of her breasts, not moving, just waiting.
Eventually she moved, her breath coming out in a rush and
she came towards him, jamming a finger into his chest, which
was completely the wrong thing to do. Completely. She shouldn’t
touch him. Not now.
“Do you want to know what’s bothering me? I haven’t
had sex in four years. Tonight, I wanted to have sex.”
Four years? His already pained heart stopped completely, before
kicking in again. He shouldn’t have been happy about
this bit of information, but his cock was.
Oh, it was thrilled.
“You want to have sex? Good. I want to have sex, too.
We’ll have sex. Together.” It wasn’t the
most sterling moment in his life, but as the words came out,
he didn’t regret them. He wanted Tessa, he wanted to
touch her, taste her, sink deep into her.
And Miss Frisky-Pants with the need to hit on every man in
his building, looked him dead in the eye and said, “No.” The
word was carefully enunciated, clearly spoken, with no room
for misunderstanding, but Gabe was four years past no. He moved
closer, skin brushing against skin. He could smell her perfume
mixed with her desire, and it burned inside him.
“What’s wrong, Tessa? I’m not good enough?”
She put a hand to his chest to push him back, but the touch
was soft and so tempting. “Don’t do this.”
“Don’t get all stupid on me now, Gabe.”
He pressed into her and her body pressed back.
“Don’t come any closer,” she warned.
He didn’t listen. He backed her completely into the
table. There was always a moment in a poker game when the bluff
becomes a need, when rational logic exits the brain, and all
that’s left is the game itself.
Her mouth was inches away. Full and waiting….
“If you kiss me, I’m going to scream,” she
He took her mouth with a hunger that he had never known before.
Her mouth was so soft, so perfect. And oh, the taste of her.
There was the bite of lime, the mint of toothpaste, and her.
His tongue thrust into her mouth, and he felt her fingers sink
into his arms, his shoulders.
“I’m sorry, Tessa,” he said, and it was the
last rational thing out of his mouth.
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