“Sorry,” he whispered. “My arm fell asleep.”

“Oh.” She felt inexplicably shy now as she tried to sit up. He reluctantly released her and allowed her to disentangle herself from his arms and legs. She kept her eyes averted as she got up and began hunting for her clothes.


“You okay?” he asked, his voice rough. He also got up and ran a hand through his hair, dishevelling it thoroughly in the process. He looked way too appealing and Bobbi found that she couldn’t look at him for too long without wanting to run back into his arms again.

“Fine . . .” She found her shorts but couldn’t find her panties or her top. Wanting only to get herself covered as quickly as possible, she tugged on the shorts and grimaced at the uncomfortable sensation of rough denim against her overly sensitive flesh. She found his shirt instead of her top and, deciding that it would do, dragged it on and buttoned it up only high enough to cover her breasts, leaving a deep V of exposed flesh from neck to cleavage. She didn’t know how sexy she looked with her messy hair and the masculine shirt that was so long on her it completely hid the shorts from view.

“Are you hungry?” he asked stiltedly, and she shook her head. God this felt so uncomfortable suddenly. How did one behave after something like that? What did one say to your secret lover slash best friend after you’d had amazing sex for the first time? Bobbi was at a complete loss.

“No. I have an early start tomorrow morning,” she said, searching for her shoes and finding them beneath his discarded trousers. She slipped on the trainers without socks and blasted him with a bright, insincere smile. “I have to go.”

“You don’t have to leave yet,” he protested. “Have a snack . . . or something.”

“I’m not hungry and I’m rather tired.”

“Do you regret what happened?” he asked, a surprising amount of uncertainty in his voice. She sighed and made direct eye contact for the first time since getting dressed.

“No. I don’t,” she said truthfully. “I just don’t know what happens next. Do you?”

“Not really,” he confessed. “But we could find out together.” She smiled at him before closing the distance between them until she stood directly in front of him. She cupped his jaw with her hands and tugged his head down, going up on her toes to meet him halfway. The kiss she gave him was sweet and filled with aching promise, but she moved away before he could deepen it. His eyes remained shut for a heartbeat longer before he sighed and looked at her regretfully.

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“That felt like a good-bye kiss.”

“Hmm, a good-night kiss,” she confirmed. “I have to go.”

“You don’t,” he denied. “You could stay the night.”

“Gabe, that’s not how we keep this thing between us secret,” she said with an incredulous laugh. “The first person who spots me making my way home in the morning would know exactly what we’d been doing all night.”

His eyes were filled with mute frustration, and she watched the muscles in his tight jaw bunch as he bit back whatever he’d been about to say in response to her words.

“I’ll see you soon,” she assured before turning away and heading for the door. She just needed to keep it together long enough to get out of this house. She refused to allow him to see how much he had hurt her, and if she stayed much longer he would surely notice her eyes shining with the tears that she absolutely refused to shed. She wasn’t a crier. Crying never solved anything. He let her leave without any further resistance, and Bobbi fled. Only when she was halfway across her own yard did she succumb to an extreme bout of trembling as the shock finally crept in.

Gabe felt like punching something. This felt so . . . wrong. It shouldn’t have been so difficult to let her leave. But he’d had the best sex of his life tonight and he wasn’t done with her yet. Not by a long shot.

And yet . . . afterward, the distance between them had left him feeling sick to his stomach. He wanted to have sex with her again, but he could do without the extra dose of scorching guilt that came after he came, so to speak. He felt like he was cheating on someone and he didn’t understand why.

He hadn’t been thinking clearly when he had suggested that she stay the night, but from the moment the words had emerged he’d wanted it desperately. He had wanted to make love with her again, fall asleep next to her, and wake up with her in his arms. It had been all he could think of and when she had—quite justifiably—shot him down, the blow had been pretty damned devastating.

Sleeping with her would complicate things. It was better to keep the sex impersonal but even as he nodded in response to the thought, he felt that hollow sensation in the pit of his stomach again.

But this was still new to them—they’d get used to the arrangement, more comfortable with it. They just needed time to adjust that was all. The words provided scant comfort but they were all he had.

Work the next day wasn’t quite the distraction Gabe had hoped it would be. He glared at his computer screen without really seeing the information on display.

“Mr. Braddock.” His executive assistant’s face popped up on the screen, providing a welcome diversion. “I have Mr. Richmond on the line for you.”

Gabe scowled; just what he needed. How the hell was he supposed to look the man in the eye after all the raunchy things he had done with his daughter the previous night?

“Put him through. Voice only.” He lifted the telephone’s handset to his ear.

“Mike, good morning.” He tried to keep his tone light but sounded stilted to his own ears.

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