My breath hitched as she lifted her face toward me.
And I did it.
I lost my mind, forgetting all about my rules of play, and just went for broke, softly kissing her like I’d known her for years instead of four minutes and thirty-six seconds. Her candy-cane tongue met mine with enough aggression to momentarily surprise me as her fingers ran down my buzzed hair, making my skull and the rest of my body sizzle with awareness.
Groaning, I lifted her into the air as she deepened the kiss. What the hell? How did I get this damn lucky? We pulled apart for air, and her cheeks were still so freaking red I had to laugh.
“You’re adorable,” I admitted. “Hot. But adorable. How is that possible?”
“Well, if I was Sara, I’d say it’s because I’m awesome in bed.”
“Yeah, but since I’m just me, it’s probably because I’m too innocent to know how awesome I really am.”
“Innocent is okay,” I said, feeling protective of the cute girl in my arms who responded so readily to my touch.
She frowned and then slid out of my embrace, her feet touching the ground just as the lights flickered and turned down.
“I don’t want to be innocent anymore,” she whispered in my ear.
I quickly glanced around the darkened room as the sound of techno pumped through the cheap speakers, crackling every few seconds.
“Well”—I grabbed her hips and leaned down, my lips caressing the outline of her ear—I think you’ve found the right guy.”
I grabbed her hand and led her toward the stairs. On the outside,
I was calm; on the inside, I was high-fiving myself while my dick was doing cartwheels.
My grip tightened on her hand as I dragged her up the stairs, my feet floating as she ran behind me. The sound of her laughter, the look of her flushed cheeks, was too much to handle.
We made it to the bedroom in ten seconds.
The door was closed. I opened it, slammed it shut again, and pressed her against it. My lips found her neck as she twisted the door-knob, sending us into the room in a fit of frenzied hands.
“What the hell?” Ian’s voice shouted behind me.
Gabrielle and I pulled apart.
“Oh shit,” I said around a breathless laugh. “Sorry, man, didn’t know you were in this room.”
“Gabs!” Ian shouted. “What the HELL are you doing?” Ian was half naked with two nearly naked girls, and he looked more pissed than
I’d ever seen him in my entire time knowing him. He never got angry.
I took a cautious step back and held up my hands. “Ian? What’s wrong, man?”
“Gabs!” Ian shouted again. “Do you know who that is?”
He was pointing at me like I was a criminal.
“Ian, stay out of it!” She raised her voice, placing her hands on her hips. “Just . . . go!”
“Go?” he repeated, then louder: “GO?” He stomped over to her.
“Why are you at this party? I told you to stay home, to do homework.
You promised after Mark—”
“Mark?” I repeated, my mind fuzzily coming to terms with the fact that this was Gabi, the Gabi I grew up with, the very same one who’d called Ian last week in tears over her ex-boyfriend cheating on her. “Oh shit!” I took a step back. Was she even eighteen?
She rolled her eyes. “I’m eighteen.”
“Doesn’t matter.” Ian looked like he was ready to puke. “You can’t be here, Gabs. I’m your best friend.” He shared a look with me, a look that said more than I needed to know. This was Gabs, the girl who was at every one of Ian’s birthday parties when he was little, who never missed one of his football games. The same Gabs I used to throw rocks at before moving across town.
The Gabi I had sworn up and down to Ian I’d never touch, not even for a million dollars. Then again, we were eleven when I made that promise.
She wasn’t just off-limits.
She was untouchable. The one object between Ian and me that could destroy our friendship, create a chasm so deep and wide that I’d never be able to come back from it.
“It’s cool.” I quickly held up my hands. “Nothing happened.”
“Nothing happened?” Gabi whipped her head around and glared.
I knew I had two choices: play the gentleman, let her know that I wasn’t a horrible guy, that I was just trying to be protective of the girl who was basically my best friend’s only family; or lie and make her think I was a horrible person. A girl like her—hell, most girls—wanted the gentleman, wanted to believe all men were good and just needed a chance. She was giving me those eyes, the eyes you give the mean dog at the shelter just as you reach out your hand to pet him.
I could nuzzle.
Or bite like hell.
And a girl like Gabi needed the bite . . . if I was to keep the waters peaceful between Ian and me. I sighed. I needed my best friend, sometimes more than I think he needed me. Hell, I needed him like he needed Gabi, damn it.
I had no choice.
“Shit.” I burst out laughing. “I’ll just go downstairs and find another one. It’s not like there aren’t a million others just like her.” I winked, then grabbed her by the ass and pulled her against me and said gruffly,
“It was real, but I have other tits calling my name.”
I nearly puked as I made my way out of the room and down the stairs, not even looking at the people around me as I left the party and the only girl who had ever tempted me . . . to want more.