She couldn’t concentrate on the movie and was lost in her thoughts when a soft snore in her ear startled her out of her reverie. She twisted her neck to look up at Chase and came to the gradual realization that his arm was heavy across her shoulders and his body was becoming uncomfortably heavy. She tossed a glance over at Gabe, who was staring at the television screen grimly—he seemed as lost in his thoughts as she had been.

“Gabe,” she whispered. He didn’t seem to hear her and she escalated her voice to an urgent hiss. “Gabe!”


He was startled into jerking his head around to where she and Chase were sitting on the sofa. The questioning look on his face was immediately replaced by amusement when he saw her predicament.

“He’s getting heavy,” she grunted, and Gabe chuckled before coming over to prod his brother.

“Chase, you’re crushing Bobbi.” There was no response, and he shook Chase more firmly. Chase sat bolt upright and one hand wrapped around Gabe’s throat while the other arm drew back to deliver a punch. Bobbi screamed and the sound seemed to snap Chase out of whatever daze he was in, because his grip immediately loosened. His arms fell to his sides and his hands clenched into tight fists.

“Shit,” he swore shakily, his entire body trembling. “I’m sorry. I was . . . I was having a dream.”

“Some dream.” Gabe kept his voice light, even though Bobbi could see the concern in his eyes. “No harm done. You’re knackered though. You should get some sleep.”

Chase ran a trembling hand through his hair and nodded. He cast an apologetic glance at Bobbi.

“Sorry about that, sweetie,” he said. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

“It’s all good,” she said with a wobbly smile. “You just get a decent night’s sleep. We can catch up tomorrow.” She got up and hugged him again, her concern for him making her grip tighter than usual. He returned the desperate hug with equal fervor before reluctantly releasing her. He spared a brief shamefaced glance for Gabe before saying a hurried good night and leaving the room. There was an odd and uncomfortable silence after Chase’s departure and Bobbi darted a quick look at Gabe. There was a troubled expression on his face as he looked at the door through which Chase had exited the room.

“He’s too thin,” Bobbi said, and Gabe turned his moody regard on her.

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“I know,” he agreed.

“I can see why you’re worried about him. He looks terrible,” she observed, and Gabe sighed deeply, thrusting his hands into his trouser pockets and hunching his shoulders. He didn’t bother replying.

“I should go,” she said after another prolonged silence and watched Gabe’s jaw tighten in response. She looked around for her trainers but could find only one. Frustrated, she went down on her knees to have a look beneath the sofa. Of course it wasn’t within easy reach and she fumbled around for it—swearing softly beneath her breath when it kept evading her grasp. When—after a long while—she managed to snag a shoelace and drag it out, her cheeks were flushed with both embarrassment and exertion and she tugged her shoes on self-consciously, acutely aware of the fact that Gabe had been staring at her the entire time.

“Anyway . . .” She tucked back a strand of her hair and focused her eyes on the wall above his left shoulder. “I’ll see you. Good night.”

“Don’t go.” The words sounded torn from him and his voice was filled with enough urgency to bring her eyes up to meet his. The entreaty she saw there stole her breath.

“I thought you didn’t want me here,” she said, and hated how needy she sounded. He held out an unsteady hand to her. She hesitated before stepping toward him. He entwined his fingers with hers and gently tugged her closer until he had her loosely clasped in his arms.

“I want you here.” His voice was soft and his eyes gleamed with sincerity as they burned into hers. He cupped her face in his hands and just looked at her for the longest time, his gaze running from her hair, down to eyebrows, nose, mouth—it lingered there—and then back up to her eyes. “You’re so damned beautiful, Bobbi mine. I’m happy you’re here and I’m sorry if I made you feel unwelcome.”

Stunned by the intimate endearment—had he really just called her his?—it took Bobbi a moment to gather her thoughts enough to answer. “You didn’t want Chase to know about us, I get it.”

“That’s not it.”

“You wanted to spend time with him. I didn’t mean to intrude.”

“Nope.” His thumbs were starting a slow, seductive sweep from her jaw, up to the corners of her mouth and back again.

“Then, I don’t understand . . .”

“I wanted to spend time with you.” He totally dumfounded her with those words and she reached up to his wrists, meaning to stop the distracting stroke of his thumbs so that she could concentrate on his words, but not really succeeding. Instead her hands explored the bones in his wrists and then swept up his strong, veiny forearms and further up to his hard biceps.

“You had a funny way of showing it,” she murmured, and his face was so close to hers that her lips brushed against his as she said the words.

“I hated seeing Chase’s hands all over you,” he confessed. “Absolutely hated it.” She drew her head back so that she could look into his eyes.

“What are you talking about? Chase and I hugged.”

“You didn’t hug, you cuddled and caressed and damned near crept into each other’s skins.” He looked and sounded completely pissed off and Bobbi felt her eyebrows lift into her hairline.

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