Bobbi got through the morning somehow, but it was hard when she couldn’t think of anything other than Gabe and the things they had done to each other the night before. Then there was that morning’s kiss, which had been hard and fast and filled with so much promise that all she could think about was going back for more. It was seriously distracting.

Her cell phone rang just before lunch and her heart leapt in excitement as she reached for it, wondering if it was Gabe. She doubted it since he probably wanted to spend time with Chase but she was hopeful. She rolled her eyes when she read the name on screen.


“Billy, hi,” she greeted. He was five years her senior, the closest brother to her in age and the one who had given her the most grief growing up. They were pretty close though and often hung out together. Edward and Clyde were closer to each other in age—they had been fifteen and seventeen when their mother had died and had handled the sudden loss a lot better than their younger siblings had.

The younger Richmond siblings, feeling abandoned by the adults and near-adults in their family at such a confusing time in their lives, had instead adopted the Braddock family as their own and had spent many long hours playing with the twins. Lucy Templeton-Braddock had taken them under her wing and had provided the stable maternal influence that they had lost. She had often referred to them as her “lost little lambs” and had treated them like they were her own.

“Hey, Bobbi, I have a huge favor to ask you.” Her brother started his conversation without preamble and her eyes widened in surprise. He hardly ever asked her for favors.

“Jase told me that you met Kyle Foster the other day?” That wasn’t at all what she had been expecting and she couldn’t do more than make a soft sound of confirmation. “I was hoping you could introduce me?”

“What? No. Ask Jason, Kyle is his buddy.” Why were people constantly asking her about Kyle Foster? It was bizarre. “I don’t even know him.”

“According to Jason, the guy has the hots for you,” Billy pointed out and Bobbi went bright red, grateful that her brother couldn’t see her face.

“Why do you want to meet him anyway?”

“He’s one of the best landscape architects around and in high demand. I’ve wanted to work with him for years.” Billy was an architect. A really great architect.

“You’re a professional, Billy, your reputation speaks for itself. You don’t need me to make your contacts for you, just call him up and tell him you want to work with him. I’m sure he’ll jump at the opportunity.”

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“I’ve already tried that. I need him for a project in April, but he’s booked through to November. I figured if I could chat with him in a less formal setting, dinner maybe, and tell him about the project he’ll be interested enough to work on it with me.”

“Dinner?” she asked in disbelief.

“Yeah, like a double date kind of thing; you bring Foster, I bring one of my female friends and . . .”

“Should I sleep with him to sweeten the deal?” she asked sarcastically.

“Bobbi!” Her brother sounded so scandalized that for a moment she gave in to the impulse to grin. “Of course not, that’s not what . . .”

“Billy, my answer is no. Do the professional thing and have your secretary call his secretary or whatever. Just leave me out of it.”

“Dad tells me you’re bringing him to the Valentine’s Day thing.” Her jaw dropped.

“Oh my God! What?” Her voice was so shrill Sean and Craig looked up from the shop floor to peer at her through the glass of her office door. “I met the guy once, why the hell is everybody asking me about him?”

“Well, you hardly ever go out with guys, I’m pretty sure Dad was starting to think you batted for the other team,” he said, and Bobbi sighed and dropped her head back on the headrest of her chair, staring at the ceiling in frustration. She absently noted a daddy longlegs sitting idly in its web in one of the corners and her eyes automatically tracked across to the other corners to ensure that they were spider-free. “Dad seems to think you’re totally in love with the guy.”

Her father had completely gotten the wrong end of the stick on that one, Bobbi thought with a sigh. Right emotion, wrong guy.

“Well, I’m not,” she denied. “Now leave me alone, I’m busy.”

“Aww come on, Bobbi,” he reproved. “Throw me a bone, won’t you? You used to be a better sister than this.”

“And you and Dad need to stop talking about me behind my back,” she added. She disconnected the call while he was in mid-plea and glared at the screen irritably.

“Be seen with one guy in public,” she grumbled. “And they’re planning your wedding and naming your first-born child.” Their peaceful berg was too small and the Richmond and Braddock families were too well known for any juicy bit of news to slip by unnoticed. She knew that it was one of the main reasons Gabe wanted to keep their affair, if that’s what it could be called, secret. They would never be able to get away with just sleeping together, the pressure on him to do the “respectable” thing with the daughter of such a prominent family would be immense. And Gabe being Gabe wouldn’t allow himself to be forced into anything and that could have some pretty major repercussions for him—personally and professionally—if her father decided to take offense.

But even while she understood his reasoning, it just really hurt to be nothing more to him than an itch that needed scratching. She ran her hands over her face and groaned.

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