“Gabe, it’s Chase, he’s like a brother to me,” she said.

“I was like a brother to you,” he pointed out grimly. “And there’s not a hell of a lot of difference physically between Chase and me.”

“You’re jealous,” she breathed, unable to believe it.

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“I’m not,” he denied. “I just don’t like sharing. Especially not with my brother.”

“Hmm, but I don’t want Chase, I want you,” she whispered, stroking her hands over his triceps and down to his waist, where they found the bottom edge of his shirt and crept under it to the warm, muscular flesh beneath. She felt the taut muscles in his abdomen jump against her questing fingers.

“Why?” His question astonished her and her hands stopped their exploration.

“Why what?” she asked warily.

“Why do you want me? Why not Chase, who happens to look exactly like me?” Bobbi hesitated, terrified of revealing too much. Gabe knowing that she wanted him physically was one thing but him discovering that she was in love with him was something entirely different. It would complicate an already stressful situation and add even more strain on their already overburdened friendship.

“Because Chase isn’t you,” she said after a thoughtful pause. She could see that her answer didn’t satisfy him and went up on to her toes to kiss him, hoping that it would provide a distraction from his searching questions. It worked, Gabe moaned into her mouth and returned the kiss with a sweet intensity that blew her mind. He had never kissed her like this before. It was almost . . . worshipful and quite loving.

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CHAPTER NINE

Bobbi’s entire body was humming when she floated her way home across the lawn in the early hours of the morning. Gabe had spent hours making gentle, almost reverential, love to her and that—combined with his display of jealousy earlier—had left her feeling cherished. And hopeful.

She quashed that feeling; it would lead to expectations, which would lead to disappointment and eventually heartbreak. She kept leaving her heart wide open and it would be her downfall. When this thing ended, she would be left alone with her broken heart and unable to talk to anybody because nobody would know about it. It was a difficult position to be in. But nevertheless—while her body still buzzed with the aftereffects of Gabe’s expert ministrations—it was easy to fool herself into believing that what they had was real.

She snuck into the house, knowing that the entire security staff knew about her nightly visitations to the Braddock house, but she trusted them to be discreet. Unless her actions put her or her family into direct physical danger, they wouldn’t utter a word. In fact she didn’t see a single one of them on her return walk home but counted on the fact that they knew exactly where she was. They were being tactful, and she thought it was kind of sweet.

She fell into bed with Gabe’s scent still all over her, his taste in her mouth. She could still feel the hot, hard thrust of him inside her body and the scrape of his stubble in her neck and on her breasts. She fell asleep with a smile on her lips.

Gabe was whistling cheerfully when he drifted down to breakfast that morning. He felt amazing, well rested and in a brilliant mood. He had been utterly sated by the time he had reluctantly let Bobbi leave his bed last night. He wished she had stayed longer though, he may have been unable to perform after their four bouts last night, but he’d still wanted to have her curl up next to him and fall asleep. He’d wanted to open his eyes and see her face in the morning light, but she had gently extricated herself and planted one last kiss on his mouth before creeping out of the room with her shoes clutched to her chest.

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Gabe grinned when he saw the housekeeper, Letty, who smiled in return.

“Mr. Chase requested a buffet breakfast on the patio,” she informed him.

“Thanks, Letty.” She nodded and went back to doing whatever it was she did to keep his home running smoothly. He appreciated the work she did and paid her handsomely but wasn’t one of those people who got too chatty with the household staff. Chase probably knew her entire life story, including how many children and grandchildren she had and their names. That’s just the way he was—warm and approachable for the most part, which was why Chase’s sudden unapproachability and unwillingness to talk was so disturbing. He was the complete opposite of Gabe—who tended to keep people at a distance until he got to know them. Only his inner circle ever saw Gabe joke and laugh and play.

When Gabe got to the sunny patio, Chase was staring pensively at the gleaming swimming pool.

“Morning.” Chase’s head jerked in surprise. He looked up, his expression so tormented for a moment that Gabe’s breath caught. The look lasted for only an instant before he shook himself and smiled.

“Morning.”

“You get a decent night’s sleep?” Gabe asked, as he sat down opposite his brother after helping himself to scrambled eggs, bacon, and toast.

“Hmm . . . you know how it is after you’ve been on a long-haul flight. I was up at some ungodly hour again, feeling refreshed but frustrated.” Gabe suspected that it was more than that disturbing Chase’s sleep but before he could ask about it, Chase blindsided him with a question of his own.

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“Speaking of which, Bobbi left pretty late, didn’t she? Did you guys watch another movie after I went up to bed?” Chase was buttering a slice of toast and didn’t see Gabe’s expression freeze for a panicked instant. He glanced up before Gabe could reply and whatever he saw on Gabe’s face made his eyes widen in shock.

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