God, he loved this car. It had been his reward to himself after stepping up as CEO of GNT. He wasn’t one for the usual trappings of wealth—he lived in the house he’d grown up in and rarely traveled unless it was for work. But he had a weakness for sleek, expensive, classy cars and sleek, expensive, classy women, and he frequently indulged himself. He collected sports cars and dated women that Chase loved to call brainy, beautiful, boring babes. Which was somewhat unfair. Sure his ex-girlfriends all tended to be a bit on the . . . dry side, but they weren’t that bad, just a bit serious. Okay, so the last one—a pathologist—had talked about blood a lot. So much so that Bobbi had taken to calling her Vampira behind her back. The name had stuck and all his friends had started doing the same—Gabe had broken it off after nearly slipping up and calling her Vampira while they were on a date. He hadn’t known until that moment that he had started thinking of her by that unfortunate nickname as well.
“You’re so selfish with your toys, Gabe,” Bobbi accused with a pout, and he shrugged as he turned on the car, grinning in satisfaction at the low, throaty purr coming from the engine.
“Manny’s for lunch?” he asked, pulling away from the sidewalk as he spoke.
“Only place I’m dressed for,” she pointed out, and his eyes involuntarily dropped to her bare thighs again. He cleared his throat before refocusing his attention on the road. An uncomfortable silence followed and Gabe hunted for a way to fill it.
“So how do you plan to save that old heap of Jason’s?” he blurted out.
“She’s not an old heap,” Bobbi protested. “She’s just a bit faded and I’m going to restore her to her former glory. She’ll look amazing afterward and she’ll handle like a dream.”
“How’s business?” he asked, hating how he seemed to be reaching for conversational topics with her—usually conversation flowed naturally between them, but suddenly he couldn’t think of a single thing to say that didn’t feature the words screw you senseless somewhere in the mix. She didn’t seem to notice his discomfort, leaning forward to investigate the speedometer instead.
“Passable.” She shrugged, tapping at the glass pane. “Is this thing broken or are you really going that slowly? In a frikkin Lamborghini?”
“In case it’s escaped your notice, we’re on a busy main road,” he pointed out. She said something less than complimentary beneath her breath. For some reason her disdain grated and he was stricken by the unfathomable urge to gun the engine and disregard the rules of the road. He had never felt this uncharacteristic need to impress her before.
“I’ll take you out on an open, quiet road sometime and let her loose,” he offered, and her pretty eyes lit up as they met his for a few brief seconds before he had to focus on the road again.
“Seriously? Will you let me drive?”
“I’m a good driver.”
“You’re a reckless driver.” He could feel the waves of fury emanating from her after his words but she said nothing in response. She said nothing at all even when he parked in front of Manny’s a couple of minutes later, and that’s when he realized that she was actually giving him The Silent Treatment. He hid a grin. She could never keep it up for longer than five minutes—so it didn’t bother him at all that she chose to seethe in silence. She was a reckless driver. She loved speed way too much, and while she handled cars competently enough, being in a car with her in the driver’s seat was enough to give anyone gray hairs.
They walked into Manny’s together, and Gabe curbed the ridiculous impulse to rush forward and get the door for her.
“Hey, Bobbi,” a chorus of male voices called as she walked in.
“Come over here and settle a bet will you?” It sounded like Jason, but Gabe couldn’t be sure, there were too many bodies between them and the voice.
Gabe watched with a frown as she wove her way through the tables that were scattered haphazardly around the pub’s floor to make her way to the bar where a random group of their friends were gathered. The men were all laughing and talking loudly and the tall, bulky frames soon enveloped Bobbi’s slight figure as she disappeared from his line of sight completely. Irritated, he stepped forward, determined to reclaim his lunch date. He could hear her quiet voice above the deeper voices of the men, and they all paused for a beat before an eruption of whoops and groans went up in response to whatever she’d said or done. Money exchanged hands and curious now, Gabe stepped into the throng. Bobbi was grinning impishly.
“Gabe,” Jason eventually noticed him and slapped him on the back enthusiastically. “Good to see you, man! I just wanted Bobbi to do that thing with the dart. My old university buddies are visiting and wouldn’t believe it until they saw it.”
“What thing?” he asked, hoping it wasn’t the same “thing” he had warned Bobbi against doing years before.
“You know,” Jason prompted with a laugh. “When she balances the sharp end of a dart on the bridge of her nose?”
Damn it! The crazy woman could put an eye out with that stunt. He found her defiant eyes through the crowd of still laughing men and she angled her stubborn jaw upward, obviously daring him to say something about it. He bit back the words of censure, not wanting to be too predictable and knowing that while she was braced for them they would have little to no impact on her.
“You ready for lunch yet?” he asked pointedly and saw the flicker of surprise on her face before she nodded. He made a sweeping gesture with his arm as he sarcastically ushered her toward one of the empty tables in the middle of the room. She kept her head down as she passed him and when he turned to nod his farewell to Jason he noticed that all of the other man’s friends had their stares firmly fixed on Bobbi’s derriere and naked thighs. He barely refrained from shoving the guy closest to him, the one who was actually tilting his damned head for a better view and instead took immense satisfaction in placing his own bulk between Bobbi’s departing figure and the leering gazes of the gathered men.