“Where are you heading next?” Nikki asked.
“Dallas,” Shade answered.
“Can I come with?”
“Not this time, kitten.”
Nikki’s bottom lip jutted forward, but Shade squeezed her shoulder, and she smiled again. Though Melanie had told the guys that Nikki wouldn’t want Shade to share all the dirty details of their night together, Melanie was sure she’d be getting an earful of naughtiness on their drive back to Wichita.
The waitress delivered Melanie’s cranberry juice and Gabe’s cup of coffee before insisting on an autograph from Shade. He obliged her and then ordered for Nikki without asking her what she wanted. Melanie watched her friend for signs of distress, but she looked as pleased as an honor roll student receiving a shiny gold star.
Gabe squeezed Melanie’s knee. “She’s a big girl,” he whispered into her ear. “She can take care of herself.”
Was her concern for her friend that obvious? Rather than deny that she was obsessing over Nikki’s personal life, Melanie took a sip of cranberry juice. Gabe slid his hand up the inside of her thigh. When he brushed her mound with the side of his hand, she sucked juice down her windpipe.
Her hacking resulted in vigorous whacks on the back until she finally stopped coughing and her rescuers—Gabe and Adam—were satisfied that she’d live.
“I’m fine,” she assured them, fearing they’d fracture her ribs if they kept at it.
This time when Gabe’s hand disappeared beneath the table she maintained her composure. At least outwardly.
Her breakfast arrived and though she was hungry enough to gnaw off her own arm, it meant that Gabe pulled his hand out from under the table to use his utensils. She instantly missed the feel of his fingers against her. Every touch delighted and unsettled her. She was going to have a difficult time saying goodbye to him.
Wanting to have him to herself for as long as possible, she made short work of her exquisite meal. The filet mignon practically melted on her tongue. Her eggs were covered with a hint of buttery sauce that delighted her taste buds with an explosion of flavor. Nikki stole her cup of fruit and began to eat it with her fingers. With rapt attention, the rest of the band watched Nikki suck and lick strawberry juice from her fingers. Shade cupped her breast and rubbed his thumb over the tip.
“You’re getting me worked up again, kitten.”
“Good,” she said in a slow purr.
Melanie checked to make sure Gabe wasn’t gawking at Nikki—he wasn’t—and focused on her plate. Nikki had unintentionally gained the interest of Melanie’s dates in the past. At least, Melanie was pretty sure it had been unintentional. She didn’t want Gabe to be sucked in by Nikki’s blatant sexuality as well.
“Is your kitten up for a gang bang?” Adam asked.
Before Melanie could punch him in the mouth, Nikki shifted forward, giving Gabe, Melanie, and Adam a straight-line view down her shirt. She’d lost her bra at some point since Jack had given them that backstage pass.
“I’m getting all the banging I can handle from Shade,” she said. “Though I would be okay with Mel joining us. I’m craving taco.”
Melanie’s eyes widened, and she shook her head. “No thanks,” she squeaked. Was Nikki really into girls or was she playing at it for the sake of these rock stars and their perpetual hard-ons?
Nikki laughed and sat up straight on Shade’s lap. “I tried, baby,” she said to him. “She’s too much of a goody-goody.”
“What about that waitress?” he asked.
Melanie expected Nikki to refuse, at the very least. And if not that, to tell Shade what he could do with his suggestion. She sure as hell didn’t expect Nikki to climb off Shade’s lap and whisper, “I’ll go ask her.”
He slapped her on the ass as she trotted off toward the kitchen.
“Don’t use her like that,” Melanie sputtered as soon as Nikki was out of earshot. “She’s going to get hurt again.”
“She just wants to have a good time,” Shade said.
“She wants someone to love her. Desperately. And I know that someone isn’t you.”
“How do you know that?”
“You just want her to fulfill your twisted fantasies.”
He smirked at her. “Sweetheart, all my twisted fantasies have already been fulfilled.”
Sweetheart? “Don’t patronize me,” Melanie growled.
“He pisses me off too,” Adam grumbled. “Thinks he’s hot shit.”
“Nikki knows we’re just having a good time,” Shade said. “You’re the one who can’t separate sex and love. Stop projecting that onto your friend.” He turned his head toward Gabe. “Tough luck, dude. She’s hot and all, but I’m glad she landed on your dick and not mine.”
Melanie’s jaw dropped. She didn’t even know what to say to that. Gabe’s body tensed. A muscle in jaw tightened as he clenched his teeth together. For a second Melanie thought he was going to punch Shade in his smug face.
“So am I,” he said. He tossed his silverware onto his plate with a loud clatter, chugged his glass of water in three long gulps, and then stood. He extended a hand toward Melanie. “I need to be alone with you right now.”
Stunned, she stared up at him. The intensity in his expression made her heart melt and her panties ignite. If she hadn’t been confusing sex and love before, she sure as hell was now.
She placed her hand in his and rose to her feet, never taking her eyes off his.
He led her to the elevator and used his card to send them toward the top floor again.
“Something wrong?” she asked him.
“No. I just want to show you something.”
“What kind of something?”
“The surprise I mentioned last night.”
She racked her brain for memories of what he was talking about, but came up lacking. “I don’t remember. What surprise?”
“I have a little hobby,” he said. “It’s sort of perverse.”
Her muscles tensed. “Good perverse or bad perverse?”
“You’ll have to tell me.”
“Gabe . . . ”
“Don’t look so freaked out. If you like me enough to put up with my band mates’ bullshit, this will be easy.”
She wasn’t so sure.
He took her hand and kissed her knuckles. “I think you’re going to find this to be a treat. Of course, it’s still a prototype.”