“What’s so funny?” he asked, and that just set them off again. In the end Gabe gave up on getting a straight answer from them and just sat down and watched them with a bemused smile. By the time their laughing fit had faded into nothing but intermittent chuckles, they had both overcome their initial embarrassment and had rediscovered their camaraderie.

“So, I’m guessing the answer to that question was yes?” Chase smirked, and Bobbi tossed a grape at him, unable to prevent the slight flush that crept back into her face.


“Shut up before I decide to share details,” she threatened, and he winced.

“You wouldn’t?” He looked horrified, and she smiled smugly.

“Don’t test me.”

Gabe rolled his eyes at the banter and sighed.

“I don’t think I want to know,” he admitted, and Bobbi turned a beatific smile on him before blowing him a kiss.

The rest of breakfast passed pleasantly and before she knew it, Bobbi was waving good-bye to Chase and Gabe was walking her home.

When they reached the gate, she told him she could manage the rest of the way herself, but he insisted on walking her to the door, and she cringed at the thought of her father being at home and seeing her in the state she was in. She wasn’t only obviously wearing Gabe’s clothes; she had whisker burns on her face and neck and a couple of bruises on her arms that the shirt didn’t cover. To his credit, Gabe had been horrified when he’d seen the bruises all over her body that morning.

He held her hand all the way home and when she let herself into the house, it was so quiet she immediately knew that her father wasn’t around. She heaved a small sigh and gifted Gabe with a gorgeous smile of relief.

“He’s going to find out eventually, Bobbi,” he said.

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“I know that, but at least it’s not today.” She hugged Gabe happily. “I mean we just told him that we were dating and then two nights later we’re sleeping together? Better to get him used the whole dating thing first.”

Gabe kissed her cheek before reluctantly letting her go.

“I’m going to miss you today. Stay safe okay?”

“Theresa, Alice, and Bron all have security details. I’ll be perfectly fine while I’m with them,” she reassured brightly, and while he didn’t look completely happy, he looked somewhat mollified.

“Don’t speed,” he warned as he turned to leave.


“I mean it,” he stressed, obviously not convinced.

“So did I.” He sighed and gave up, leaving with a frustrated wave.

Bobbi watched him go, keeping that bright smile plastered to her face until he had turned toward the back of the house as he headed for the gate. The smile fell from her lips to be replaced by devastation the moment he was out of sight.

She had told him that she loved him so many times last night and he hadn’t come close to responding. It was terrifying to feel so much for someone and have them feel nowhere near to the same emotion in return. At least he couldn’t bring himself to lie to her, which was somewhat comforting, she supposed.

She shook her head and went upstairs to get changed for her outing with the Mommy Club ladies. If nothing else, they always cheered her up.


As the Valentine’s Day Ball grew closer, Bobbi became more and more of a nervous wreck. She had a dress all picked out for the occasion, one of the many she had bought the week before when she had gone shopping with her friends. She had been astonished to find that after she had been dragged from one boutique to the next that she had a clear fashion point of view that was uniquely hers. The dresses she had chosen made her feel like Bobbi. In a dress.

They weren’t conventional or conservative or anything remotely similar to what any of Gabe’s former lady friends had worn, and Bobbi was anxious about what he would say. As a couple, they were growing closer by the day, and they spent as much time together as possible. Bobbi had slept at his place every night, and while her father obviously knew about it, he never mentioned it to Gabe or to Bobbi.

Bobbi told Gabe that she loved him often and while he accepted the words and even seemed happy to hear them, he never reciprocated. And every time it felt like a barb through Bobbi’s heart. Still, she was unable to stop and often said it while carried away in the moment.

In the meantime the flowers had started coming again, one a day, every day when she was at work. At least there weren’t heaps of bouquets anymore, which Quinton, the sarcastic delivery guy, was grateful for and Craig and Sean were grumpy about.

The cards, which were now in envelopes since he knew she would read them, contained information on what the flower meant along with a really bad “poem,” which always brightened up her day.

On Monday she received a single aster—which apparently meant contentment.

Tuesday (after a particularly raunchy night) it was a snapdragon—desire.

Wednesday’s white iris had meant that she inspired him.

On Thursday a pretty gardenia had told her that she brought him joy (that had made her choke up a little).

And Friday’s flower was hand delivered by the man himself, who had decided to take her to lunch. She was sitting flat on her butt next to the left front tire of a car and working on replacing a broken CV axle joint when he walked in.

“Hey, sweetheart,” he greeted as he crouched down next to her. He brought his hand out from behind his back. “I brought you a hibiscus. It commends your delicate beauty.” She laughed helplessly at that one, knowing she looked far from delicately beautiful at the moment.

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