He doesn’t answer, so I glance over at him.

He’s frozen still.

“Gabe?”

His eyes flicker back to life. “My parents are gone.” He picks his wine up and drains the glass.

“Gone?”

“Dead.”

He picks the bottle up and refills his glass to the top.

“God. I’m sorry, Gabe. I didn’t know.”

“It’s fine.” He starts drinking again. His glass is half-empty. Then, it’s gone.

I pick my own wine up and drink it. I feel terrible. I’ve made him uncomfortable, bringing up his parents. And we were having such a nice time.

He pours more wine into his glass, but the bottle empties, only partially filling it.

He starts to move.

“Where are you going?” I ask.

“To get another bottle.”

“I’ll go.” I move Gucci’s head off my leg, and I’m on my feet, heading for the kitchen.

I get another bottle of the same wine and open it up before taking it back through with me. I pour some more into his glass and then refill my own. I put the bottle on the table before sitting back down.

The tension in the air is awful. It’s like a rain cloud on a perfectly nice evening.

“Gabe, I’m sorry. I—”

“Forget it. You didn’t know.”

I tuck my hair behind my ear. Then, I take a bite of my food. We eat in silence, the sound of the TV giving background noise, but the quiet between us is killing me.

“So…I was thinking—”

“Did it hurt?”

And he’s back.

I almost laugh with relief. “Jackass.”

“Wench.”

I look over at him, and the corners of his lips are curled up.

“Anyway,” I continue on, “I feel like I’m not really earning the money that you’re paying me for taking care of you. All I do is feed you and help you out of the bath.”

“And having you do that is worth every penny.”

“Perv. And, now that I’m your employee, you do realize, with comments like that, I can sue you for sexual harassment.” I lick some sauce off my finger. I don’t miss the way his eyes follow the movement or the way they flare.

And I can’t deny that I like having that effect on him.

“I was talking about you feeding me, Speedy. Not getting me out of the bath. But good to know where your mind is.” He smirks.

My cheeks flame. I quickly pick up my wine and take a big drink to cover it.

“So, I was just wondering if there’s anything else I can do around here to help.”

“Like what?”

“I don’t know. I could clean.”

“I have cleaners who come in twice a week.”

“What about laundry?”

“They do that as well.”

“Oh.”

“You could help me run lines if you want? Donna, my PA, usually does it with me, but she’s on vacation at the moment.”

“That sounds awesome.” I light up at the thought. “I don’t know how good I’ll be. I mean, I did drama in high school and was in some plays, and I was okay, but I haven’t done anything since then—”

“Speedy.” He holds up a hand, cutting me off. “As long as you can read, you’re good.”

“I can read,” I tell him. “So, when will we start?”

“How’s tomorrow sound?”

“Perfect. What’s the movie about?”

“It’s an espionage thriller.”

“Wow. Sounds really good.”

“You got that from espionage thriller? Fuck, I must be a better actor than I thought.”

“You’re such a dick.” I laugh, shaking my head.

He cups his hand around his ear. “I have a huge dick? Why, thank you, Speedy. I didn’t know you knew. Have you been sneaking peeks when getting me out of the bath?”

“No. Because I can keep control of my eyes, unlike you,” I say indignantly, pointing in the direction of the girls.

His eyes meet mine. “So, what you’re saying is, if you couldn’t keep control of your eyes, you’d sneak a look at my cock?”

“No!”

“Because you don’t have to sneak a look. Just say the word, and I’ll show you my monster cock anytime.”

“You have a monster cock? That sounds terrifying!” I snort. It must be the wine, loosening me up a bit. I always get giddy from vino.

“Monstrous in size but absolutely fucking glorious to look at.” He winks. “And a total beast in bed.”

I burst out laughing. “You crack me up!”

Yep, I must be tipsy. Not that I’ve had that much to drink. God, I’m such a cheap date.

“Right back at ya, babe.” He chuckles.

Babe.

He called me babe.

I really need to stop with the wine.

We finish dinner, and Gabe polishes off the second bottle of wine.

I’m just stacking the plates on the tray when Gabe starts to get up.

“You okay?” I ask him, as he seems to be struggling a bit.

“Yeah. I’ve just gone a bit stiff.”

I go over to him and offer him my hand. He takes it, and I try to ignore the fireworks that go off in my stomach.

He puts his other hand on the sofa and pushes up as I pull.

He comes upright, but because he’s on one leg—and also probably because of the amount of alcohol he’s consumed and the fact that I’m not feeling the steadiest after the wine—he tips forward, onto me, grabbing hold of my waist. And I grab his biceps, using every ounce of strength to stop us both from going down.

“Shit, sorry,” he says.

“It’s fine.” I smile up at him.

Then, I’m acutely aware of how close we actually are. My breasts are just brushing his chest.

And we’re still touching.

My hands on his arms.

His hands on my waist.

I feel his fingers flex against me.

I suddenly feel hotter. My breaths start to come in shorter.

I see his eyes darken.

Then, they drop to my mouth.

I lick my lips.

He’s going to kiss me. Holy shit, he’s going to kiss me…

Oh.

No, he’s not.

He lets me go and is grabbing his crutches, tucking them under his arms.

“Thanks for the save,” he says. Then, he’s moving, hobbling out of the living room.

Okay then. Guess I read that moment wrong.

For the best really.

I sigh.

Gucci comes up alongside me and rubs her head against my leg.

I reach down and pick up the tray with the plates. “Come on, baby girl, let’s go do the dishes.”

Gabe

I lied to Speedy before.

I told her that my parents were dead.

They’re not.

It’s a lie I’ve told with ease hundreds of times before. But, for some reason, it’s bugging me that I lied to her.

And it shouldn’t.

I mean, it’s not exactly like I can tell her the truth. About anything from my past.

So then, why am I lying in bed an hour later, wide awake? And, trust me, I’m not the type of guy who lies in bed, analyzing shit. I’m the type of guy who falls asleep as soon as his head hits the fucking pillow.

And it doesn’t help, knowing that she’s down the hall, all sexy as shit, quite possibly naked—okay, that’s wishful thinking on my part. But she’s here, staying under my roof, and it isn’t making things any easier on the sleeping front.

I sigh and throw my arm over my eyes.

And, now, all I can see in my mind is her. How she was looking at me earlier.

I wanted to kiss her so fucking bad in that moment. She was right there in my arms, and it would’ve been so easy to take her.

Now, I’m a strong man. I’ve resisted women before and not lost a minute’s sleep over it. But, fuck, it took every ounce of strength to resist her.

And, worse, I know she wanted me to kiss her.

That’s not me being arrogant. I just know women. And I know when they want me.

Speedy wanted me to kiss her, no doubt.

I could feel it in the way her body responded to me. The way her pupils dilated when her eyes hit mine. How her nipples hardened, brushing against my chest. The short gasps of her breath. The way her tongue swept her lower lip.

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