“It’s just a grass burn,” she explained. “I tripped over my own feet.”

“Good game tonight,” he said. “Although having both Chase and Kinsley on my team wasn’t exactly ideal.” Chase wasn’t great at football. Cricket was more his sport.


“Did you like my goal?” She smirked, and he glowered at the brightly lit field.

“I would have liked it a hell of a lot better if you were on my team.”

“Stop being such a sore loser,” she chastised. Gabe’s team had lost 3–0 and he was clearly still moody about it—despite the therapeutic fire-heals-all-wounds postgame session at the grill.

“Meat’s done,” Chase called from the grill, and Bobbi moved to get her food, but Gabe’s hand tightened on her leg.

“I’ll get it. I don’t want you straining that leg too much.”

She gaped at him.

“Gabe, it’s a grass burn,” she pointed out.

“It’ll still sting,” he said. He kissed her quickly before lithely jumping off the stands and heading toward the grill.

“You guys are really sweet together,” Bron pointed out after the others had drifted down for food as well. Most of the children were asleep on picnic loungers and covered with blankets just next to the bleachers, but Bronwyn had her sleeping two-and-a-half-year-old daughter, Kayla, tucked against her chest, which meant Bryce had gone for their food. “It’s interesting because you were such good friends that I expected a bit of awkwardness, but it’s like you’ve been a couple forever and he clearly adores you.”

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“What makes you say that?” Bobbi asked curiously.

“The guy was watching you like a hawk throughout the entire game, every time it looked like you would fall we could see him tensing up, ready to fly to your side.”

“He didn’t see this happen,” Bobbi pointed to her knee, and Bronwyn laughed.

“Oh, he saw it all right, and if not for Chase grabbing the back of his collar and yanking him nearly off his feet, he’d have come dashing over to rescue you. Whatever Chase said managed to calm Gabe down enough to stop him from carrying you off the field.”

“God, that would have been embarrassing,” Bobbi groaned. “I warned him not to overreact to every tiny scrape, but he wouldn’t give me his word.”

She watched him climb back up the bleachers, carefully carrying two loaded plates. He stuck one on her knees before sitting down beside her again.

“Thank you,” she said.

“Happy to do it.” And he really seemed to be happy. Bobbi studied him for a long moment, reflecting on how eager he was to please her, and thought about her own reluctance to do the one thing guaranteed to please him. It left her feeling petty and selfish.

After everybody had left that night and Chase had made his way back to the house, Gabe took her hand and led her to the gate.

“I could stay,” she whispered, after a long and deeply satisfying kiss.

“Hmmm,” he murmured, his hands busily drifting up under her loose shirt, stroking up and down the skin of her back. When they moved around to cup her breasts through the thick cotton of her sports bra, she moaned and pushed herself more fully into his hands.

“Do you want me to stay?” she asked, more urgently, her arms winding around his neck. He didn’t answer, sucking and licking at the sensitive skin on her collarbone instead. Bobbi sighed and planted urgent kisses all over his strong jaw, the tip of her tongue tasting the salt on his skin with every caress.

“Gabe,” she said softly, rapidly losing her ability to think beyond the next drugging kiss. “Gabe, I’m staying.”

He lifted his head and looked down at her with hot eyes.

“Are you sure?” he asked, his voice rough. “Because if you stay it’s through the night. There’s no negotiating on that. Are you ready for everyone to be aware of the fact that we’re sleeping together?”

“Chase knows,” she pointed out.

“But you’ve never had to face him over the breakfast table the next day,” Gabe said. “If you stay, there’ll be no sneaking out in the middle of the night like we’ve done something to be ashamed of, and no rushing off in the morning either. Are we clear on that?”

“As crystal,” she said, and he smiled.

“Then let’s go to bed.” He held out his hand and she took it without any hesitation, happy to follow him home.

Gabe gathered her into his arms the moment they set foot in his room and his lips immediately descended over hers. His rapacious mouth swallowed up a small sigh of pleasure, and after that she was just lost. His strong hands moved, one down to the small of her back and the other to the back of her head, where his fingers wove themselves into her short, silky hair. Her mouth opened helplessly beneath his and his hungry, searching tongue eagerly responded to the invitation. The kiss was better than anything else that had ever come before it, and it consumed her completely.

She was burning from the inside out and reveling in it. She pushed herself closer and closer, wanting to crawl into his skin, wanting to fuse herself to him and become a part of him. Bobbi could not remember ever surrendering so completely to anyone before. Not even that first time they had made love. This time felt different, it felt more significant, more loving. In that moment Gabriel Braddock was her reason for living and the sum total of her existence.

Bobbi protested when Gabe dragged his lips from hers and tried to pull him back down toward her. He laughed and said something beneath his breath before bringing his hands to the hem of her T-shirt and dragging it up over her head. He tossed it aside and focused on her sports bra. He pushed the straps down the slender slopes of her shoulders, his eyes intently focused on the golden flesh his large hands were revealing. Bobbi sucked in a shocked breath when she felt nothing but air on her breasts, and she groaned painfully at the first tentative touch of his finger on the sensitive peak of one mound. Her nipple surged to swollen life and he smiled in satisfaction before lowering his mouth to the aching bud and suckling it deeply into his hot, velvety mouth.