Gray’s obnoxious grin is wide and pleased. “‘Crash and burn, huh, Mav?’”


I glare, itching to punch that stupid smile off his face. “I never should have introduced you to the glory that is Top Gun. You don’t deserve it.”

When he laughs, I roll my eyes. “How long have you been waiting to use that line on me?”

“About four and a half years, give or take.” He slings a meaty arm around my shoulder and attempts to pull my head down for a noogie. I duck away and slap the side of his head lightly. Though it takes restraint not to bap him harder. I’m not in the mood. Not that Gray cares. He’s still grinning.

“What’s the matter? Red didn’t respond to the ‘Battle’ cry?”

“Fuck off, Gray.” There isn’t much heat to my request. My mind is still on Anna, and my body is itching to follow. Shit, I’m so screwed. Something pathetically close to a sigh lifts my chest as I stare in the direction she took—fucking fled—to get away from me. Like I was a disease she needed to stay clear of.

Which is unfortunate. Because it’s still there, that insistent clamor in my head that says: Her, her, her!

Not so great when she seems to have a cry in regards to me that goes: Run, run, run!

I don’t understand it. I wasn’t lying to her, and I don’t think I’m deluded, when I said that we’ve been virtually eye-fucking each other for the past month. Fortunately, I didn’t call it “eye-fucking;” she’d probably have my nuts in a clench if I had. Not that I’m entirely opposed to her touching my nuts…

“Shit.” I pinch the bridge of my nose. Then pinch it harder when I realize that Gray is still there watching.

“Dude,” he says, “let it go. This is getting embarrassing.”

“Why?” I snap. “Because I have to work for it? For once?”

The masochist in me kind of likes it. I sure as hell love it when she’s all snappy and taking me to task. If I could get her to do it while I suck on her neck, feeling the vibrations of her voice as she talks, or maybe have those creamy legs wrapped around my back while she’s doing it, and I’d push into her heat, making her groan just a little between arguments.

I take a deep breath. And another. I’m so screwed if Gray sees me with a hard on. Thank God for jeans. And the fact that Gray is still babbling too much to look down.

“Sex shouldn’t be work,” he insists. “It should be easy. Girls come to us, give us a good time, and we send them on their way with a nice thank you and maybe a pat on the ass if they’re extra special.”

“I pity your bed partners.”

“They have a good time,” Gray says. “A great time.”

“Sure. You let them do all the work while you lay back like a lazy shit. Sounds awesome for them.”

He gives me a sour look. “Well, you sound like a girl.”

“If I was one, I wouldn’t be f**king you.”

“You could do a lot worse—” His face goes red. “Damn. Would you stop that shit? I hate when you make me twist my words.”

I can’t help grinning. Anna seemed to like it when I twisted her words, until she fled that is. And there’s that pathetic sigh again, making me sound like a sap. Damn, but I want to talk to her.

Maybe she thinks I want what Gray’s offering. A simple hook up. Maybe I ought to tell her I want more. I want her. The whole prickly-mouthed, sweetly curved, irresistible package.

Telling her that wouldn’t be stalking, would it? Shit, I don’t even know. Gray’s right in one regard, I obviously suck at pursuing. But if there’s one thing I understand, it’s practice. I excel at perfecting my technique through practice.

Anna still hasn’t come back down the stairs. Which means I’m going up.

“If my efforts bother you so much,” I say to Gray without taking my eyes off the shadowed hallway that leads to the second floor, “I’d look away now.” I give him a light slap on the chest and head off.

Chapter 5

THE HOUSE IS bigger than it looks from the outside. Upstairs is a warren of long, dark hallways, stretching out in two L-shaped wings. Several rooms are occupied, the sounds coming from within them leaving little doubt as to why. The hall is empty—people probably going back downstairs as soon as they realized that they aren’t going to get to make use of the rooms themselves.

I walk along, discreetly listening to doors to find one that’s silent. I need the bathroom and am not willing to walk in on anyone before I find it.

Thankfully a small bath near the end of the hall is unoccupied. Once inside, I take a deep breath and let it out slowly. It’s blessedly quiet here, the blaring bass of the music a muted thud. My skin is flush, and my heart is still beating too hard. It’s like I’ve run a mile in a minute. Worse, part of me wants to go back downstairs where he is.

Cursing, I run cold water over my hands and splash some on the back of my neck. In the reflection of the mirror, my cheeks are pink and my eyes are shining. I look excited.

“Hell.”

I pat myself dry and, taking another calming breath, leave the bathroom. And practically run into someone. My shoulder hits the cool wall behind me as I step back to get away. Baylor stands there, his expression bemused as if he hadn’t expected me to pop out at him. Then he moves closer, taking my air, and my thoughts scatter. His eyes, intense and determined, are all I see.

And all I can think of is that we are alone together. Utterly. Finally. I can’t look at him then. Not directly. He is the sun, burning bright.

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