“Good girl,” he praised, still in that quiet whisper. He refilled the glass from the carafe on the pedestal and this time handed her a couple of aspirin to go with it.

“I drank too much champagne, didn’t I?” she asked as she remembered, and he nodded, his face expressionless. She downed the aspirin and handed the glass back to him. He placed it on the pedestal with that precise economy of movement that she always found so inordinately fascinating about him. How could such a large man keep his every movement so neat and controlled?


“I’m sorry. You should go back to the party. I think I’m okay now.”

“The party’s mostly over,” he said. “There are a few stragglers still lingering, but it’s only a matter of time before Sandro loses his patience with them.” She smiled weakly at that and sank back against the headboard, shutting her eyes for a second.

A sinking feeling of dread was starting to form in the pit of her stomach. Something wasn’t right. She had done something at the party and the exact details remained infuriatingly elusive and couldn’t seem to take any coherent shape in her mind.

“Try to get some sleep,” he instructed.

“I just woke up.”

“That wasn’t sleep,” he corrected. “You had passed out.”

“Charming.” She snorted.


“I’m sorry I spoiled your evening,” she whispered.

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“You didn’t.”

“I did. I . . .” And that’s when she remembered. Her eyes flew open to meet his enigmatic stare and her hand fluttered helplessly to her lips. His eyes seemed to darken as they watched her fingers trace the outline of her mouth, but it could merely have been a trick of the light. His face still held very little expression.

“Oh my God.” How much had she revealed? Had she said anything? She tried to remember everything that had preceded the kiss, but it was all frustratingly hazy. “I’m sorry. I was . . . drunk.” She had forced herself on him. The very idea of how she must have behaved was horrifying.

“I know. Forget about it.” There was something off about the cadence of his voice and it worried her. Had she irreparably ruined their friendship? Would they ever get past this? Had she told him she loved him? She had all but violated him and had even fooled herself into believing that he had returned her kiss.

She buried her face in her hands, absolutely mortified—after years of self-restraint and hiding the nature of her feelings from him for the good of their friendship—she had probably destroyed that same friendship on some drunken whim.

“I’m so sorry.”

“Stop apologizing, Bobbi, there was no harm done.”

No harm done? She peeked at him from between a gap in her fingers—not quite sure how she felt about that. Relieved? Or even more humiliated because her kiss had had so little impact on him?

There was still no expression on his face. Gabe had never been one to wear his emotions on his sleeve. He was the most self-restrained man she knew, but she could usually read him better than this—one couldn’t be a friend to someone for nearly twenty years without learning his moods, but he was a complete mystery to her at this moment and it confused her.

She needed to get away from him for a few minutes, needed to gather her thoughts and compose herself. She pushed the bed covers down to her hips and swung her legs over the edge of the bed. She sat there for a couple of seconds, swallowing down the nausea when her movements caused the room to swirl sickeningly around her.

“What are you doing?” he asked, and in her disorientated state it almost sounded like there was a slight edge of panic in his voice.

“Bathroom.” She kept her response succinct, not really feeling capable of saying anything more than that. He used his feet to push the chair farther away from the bed, giving her room to maneuver.

“Thanks.” She glanced down at him and caught a flash of something dark in his eyes. She paused—not certain of that look—but then his face went back to that maddeningly neutral expression. She sighed quietly and wobbled to the en suite, shutting the door firmly.

Gabe groaned softly and ran his hands roughly over his face and into his hair—he sat there for a brief moment, hands clenched in his hair before inhaling deeply in an attempt to calm himself. He had been doing pretty well, had had the situation under control. She was his friend, they had grown up together—there was absolutely nothing but friendship and deep affection between them. That was the way it had always been, the way it would always be.

So why the hell did the sight of her in that tiny white tank top and those skimpy blue boy shorts send his blood pressure sky-rocketing? He’d seen her in similar clothing before, seen her in less really—but he’d never fully appreciated the pert perfection of her small breasts and had certainly never wanted to cup the firm, ripe curve of her butt before.

And even worse, the inescapable realization that she was wearing absolutely nothing beneath all that innocent cotton had him fighting a losing battle to keep his inevitable hard-on at bay.

One kiss . . . one damned kiss and he was behaving like a teenager with his first crush. He needed to regain his perspective here. He needed to put these unsettling and erotic thoughts aside.

With that in mind, he pushed out of the chair and walked over to the bathroom door, listening for a few seconds to ensure she wasn’t sick again. He knocked quietly.


“I’m fine,” she called back. “I just need . . .” The rest of her words were said too quietly for him to catch.

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