Up yet? When she didn’t immediately respond, he threw the bed covers off and padded—naked—to the closet to drag out his jogging shorts and T-shirt. When his phone buzzed, he all but dove for it but it was buried somewhere beneath the covers and he swore irritably while he hunted for it. When he found it he was rewarded with a single word.



Well . . . hell.

I’m going for a run. Wanna join me? This time he didn’t have to wait too long for the response.

Sure. Meet me at the gate in ten mins.

He grinned, feeling ridiculously happy that she’d agreed and dragged on his running shoes before doing a few perfunctory stretches, keeping an eye on the clock. He didn’t want to be late.

He left the house within seven minutes and was at the gate a minute after that. Bobbi wasn’t there yet. He did a few more stretches, enjoying the fresh air and early morning birdsong. It was a perfect summer morning and still cool enough for a leisurely jog around the neighborhood. Bobbi didn’t enjoy jogging as much as he did and joined him on his morning runs only occasionally. He heard a voice and looked up through the bars of the two-meter high gate. She was waving and shouting out a greeting to one of the security guards on the Richmond property. She made her way toward Gabe with that usual insouciant amble of hers and he looked his fill, appreciating the sensuous roll of her hips. He drank in the skintight running shorts and racerback sports bra that she usually wore for jogging and couldn’t quite fathom how he had managed to run with her before without wanting to lick every expanse of silky flesh on display. She was toned and tanned all over and while she didn’t have the most generous curves, the shape she did have was tight, sexy, and undeniably feminine.

“Morning.” She grinned when she reached him.


“It’s been a while since we’ve gone jogging together,” she noted, executing a graceful overhead stretch that emphasised the flatness of her belly and pert roundness of her breasts. She then turned and placed her hands on the gate to do a calf stretch and Gabe bit back a groan at the sight of her firm butt in those indecent shorts. God they clung to her like a second skin and just barely covered the lower curve of her behind.

“I haven’t been jogging in a while.” He was so completely distracted by her sexy, sinuous stretches that he could barely concentrate on what he was saying. “Busy.”

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“Well, I’m going to kick some serious butt today, Braddock.” They were back in friend mode, he realized. It was as if last night hadn’t happened at all. She was her usual teasing and playful self and it created a disconnect in Gabe who couldn’t transition from lover to friend as easily as she apparently could. This was the same woman he had held and kissed and touched and pleasured just hours before and it was crazy not to be able to acknowledge that fact with a caress or a kiss or even an endearment.

But these were his rules and if she could play by them, then so should he.

“Don’t count on it, Richmond,” he countered, trying to inject some humor into his voice. “I have a couple of secret weapons.”

“Oh? And what would they be?” She slanted her head curiously and looked damned adorable in the process.

“Longer legs and . . . stamina,” he responded before taking off at a sprint and laughing when she shouted a protest.

He got a good head start before slowing down and allowing her to catch up with him. He shortened his stride so that she could keep pace with him and they settled into an easy jog. After less than a kilometer she glared up at him.

“I hate running,” she groused. “Why do you make me do this?”

“Stop complaining, I didn’t make you do anything. I just invited you along. You didn’t have to come.”

“Then why do you keep letting me do this to myself?” She puffed and he grinned again.

“You’re being pathetic, Richmond, stop whining so much and focus on your breathing.” She was a good runner but hated the exertion. She needed coaxing and teasing to keep going. He’d been half coaching, half haranguing her during their jogs for years. It usually worked and she always finished the entire seventeen-kilometer course around the neighborhood in under an hour.

They ended up back at his place about fifty minutes later and did a few cool-down exercises in silence.

“I’m picking Chase up in an hour or so,” he told her, after taking a sip of water. The day was going to be a scorcher with the morning temperature already in the mid to upper twenties. He handed her his water bottle and she drank thirstily.

“Did he say anything about his reasons for coming home?” she asked, running a hand through her damp hair. A few tendrils stuck to her forehead and he had to stop himself from reaching out and brushing them back.

“Nothing yet . . . but something’s definitely wrong.” He frowned as he recalled his brother’s uncharacteristically subdued voice on the phone that morning.

“At least he’ll be at home, so you’ll have plenty of time to figure out what the problem is,” she said, and he nodded.

“Right. I’ve got to get showered, call Stephanie to tell her not to expect me this morning, and hit the road,” he said, wiping the dripping sweat from his brow with the back of his hand.

“Me too, we’re short-staffed. Pieter has measles and there’s a lot to do.” She turned away but his voice halted her progress.

“Bobbi?” He waited until she had turned back to face him before hooking a hand around the nape of her neck and dragging her over until she was plastered against his sweaty body. He dropped a hard kiss on her delicate mouth before she could utter a word of protest and before she could even think to push him away, he had already released her. She swayed and he put a hand on one of her shoulders to steady her.

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