“Okay, you’ve got me. So you can stop looking so smug.”
“Don’t worry, little brother. Your secret’s safe with us. She’s definitely the total package—smart, successful, attractive. I can see why you’re interested. But I don’t need to tell you that you should be very careful.”
“No, you don’t need to tell me.”
“Obviously someone does. If you were sloppy enough that I found out about your tryst, know that others who are watching might catch something, too. The last thing your campaign needs is this to hit the news, and the last thing our family needs is a scandal.”
Niko eyed his brother for a moment, then released a deep breath. “Point well taken, Ike. I’ll be careful.”
“I appreciate careful but I’d much prefer patient. Can you wait until after the election to pursue this relationship?”
“It won’t be easy but…I can try.”
Ike smiled. “That good, huh?”
“Even better,” Niko replied, before heading to the door and out of the room.
* * *
Monique tossed and turned, unable to sleep. Even though she’d erased it, Niko’s naughty text message continued to play inside her head. It had been weeks since they’d been together and her body was having withdrawals. Back in her college days, her cousins used a phrase when a woman was head over heels for a man. They called her “whipped.” Monique could never understand what that meant. Until now. Frustrated, she tossed back the covers and hopped out of bed. At the unexpected sound of her cell phone ringing, she jumped again.
“Niko! You scared me.”
“How’d I do that from across town?”
“By calling at this ungodly hour. Do you know what time it is?”
“Time for me to come over and—”
“Don’t you dare,” she rasped between clenched teeth as she snatched on a robe and proceeded to the kitchen.
“I’m not.” Niko’s chuckle was low and sexy, causing Monique’s resolve to falter. “But I want to.”
“Me, too. But it’s not going to happen.” Monique reached for a glass and filled it with water before heading back upstairs.
“You’re right. We’ve already been busted.”
She froze, barely finding her voice enough to utter, “Who?”
“Relax, sweetheart. Fortunately for us, it was family.” He told her what Ike had earlier shared. “He suggested that we take a break until after the election, but that’s not going to happen.”
“I think it’s a wise idea.”
“Wise, perhaps, but not likely.”
“Did you read the text I sent?”
“Then you know why.” His raspy voice caressed her like a breeze, causing her nipples to harden and her walls to contract.
“I can’t believe you did that. Of course, it’s been deleted. Emails and text messages are like smoking guns.”
“How was what I said controversial? Animal lovers would be pleased to learn how much I adore…kitties.”
“Ha! You’re incorrigible.”
“You haven’t seen anything yet.”
Monique got into bed and snuggled under the cover, wishing that it were Niko instead of her pillow she was hugging right now.
“You were in your element tonight.”
“I really enjoyed this evening. The courtroom provides an aspect of it, but I hadn’t engaged in a straight-out debate since college.”
“You haven’t lost your touch. Had the constituents waving their support with flags I’d purchased!”
Monique laughed. “I assumed the city passed those out. You’ll notice I didn’t beat you up too badly. Most of my arsenal was saved for Dick. That guy’s a piece of work.”
“I admit I wanted to punch him earlier.”
“Because he was living up to his name. I guess it’s to be expected. He’s a product of his environment and era, born with a silver spoon, grew up in affluence. What is now patently offensive is probably how he was taught. I wouldn’t pay him too much attention.”
“As long as his numbers remain low.”