Yeah, who was he kidding.
Someone offered a new game; he turned them down. For some reason, he wasn’t in the mood—could have something to do with that earlier thought about cracking a few skulls with the cue stick. But Gabriella Ross was certainly enjoying the hell out of herself and her admirers, having shaken off Ian’s rejection as if it had never happened.
Then again, maybe it hadn’t, which was what this was all about.
The conversation around him turned back to the ball game, where the Rangers were in danger of losing their lead as the Blue Jays had managed to load the bases. Tension in the bar reached a peak as the 0-3 pitch was delivered.
Strike. A collective sigh of relief went up.
Ian felt a tap on his shoulder. He turned to see Gabby standing behind him, a cocky grin on her face. “Play me?”
Feeling all eyes on him, he shook his head. “Nah. I’m all played out.”
“I’ll make it interesting.”
“Oh yeah? How?”
She leaned close to his ear, mirroring the move he’d made on her earlier. Her whisper sent waves of chills up his spine. “If I win, you have to f**k me senseless.”
Cool rain pelted against Gabby’s skin as she and Ian left the noise of the bar behind them. Feeling Ian’s fingers slide between hers, she tilted her face up and let the rainwater wash over it just before he unexpectedly crushed his mouth to hers. She wound her arms around his neck, welcoming the plunder of his tongue and the quick flare of desire it brought.
He’d played. She’d won.
And God, he felt good against her. Hard and strong and, well, wetter by the minute. She could sympathize—so was she, and it had nothing to do with the rain.
His skin was hot beneath the cool slick of rainwater, and she explored it with greedy hands, needing the foreign feel of a complete stranger—or almost a stranger. His hands pressed against the small of her back, drawing her closer, and excitement tingled along her every nerve.
He was minding her tattoo, not touching her there. She smiled against his sweet lips, and he drew back to catch his breath.
“I didn’t expect you to play,” she said, their gently panting breaths mingling in the minute space between their lips.
“I didn’t expect you to win.”
“Maybe you let me.”
“I’m pretty sure I didn’t.”
“Maybe you…subconsciously let me.”
He chuckled, gazed at her a moment, then pushed her drenched hair back from her forehead with both hands. She cupped his strong jaw with her palms and studied his face.
Slightly aquiline nose, full mouth framed with five o’clock shadow. She’d been right about those eyes. They burned right down to her core. Her heart gave a little shudder as she thought again about how she didn’t know anything about him. A thin scar split his right eyebrow, and she wondered how he’d gotten it. Bar brawl, maybe? No way would this guy ever back down from a physical challenge. He stood nearly a full head taller than she, and Gabby didn’t consider herself short by any means. Built but not bulky, he exuded a raw power that could be attributed to the hard muscles she’d discovered beneath her wandering hands, but more likely to his take-no-shit attitude. Since he seemed like such a nice guy, she found the dichotomy fascinating.
It didn’t matter what she knew about him. He could give her what she needed, and Brian knew and trusted him. Several years ago, that wouldn’t have been a comfort whatsoever, considering the people Brian knew, but things were different now. And the mystique… Damn, it was such a turn-on.
“Come on,” he said, tugging her along not toward the parking lot, but the end of the sidewalk, where nothing sat but a lone motorcycle in the pouring rain.
“I take it we’re going to your place, because remember, I’m staying with my parents.”
“Right. I have to ask, though, do you want to take mine or yours?” He stopped at the bike and lifted a brow at her.
Gabby felt her own eyebrows creep into her hairline. “This is your ride?”
“At the moment. I wasn’t expecting rain.”
“Holy shit.” She laughed, wrapping her arms around herself as she imagined the wind cooling the chilly rain on her skin even further. It was so muggy, though, it would probably feel magnificent. Not to mention the power between her legs, where she was already achy and needy… “Well, I’m in a skirt. But I’m already drenched. Wonderful. Why the hell not?”
He made a damn fine sight as he got on and brought the Harley to roaring life, revving the engine as she came tentatively closer. Damn. His sitting on the bike only accentuated his long legs and the way his fantastic thighs strained the denim of his distressed jeans. She couldn’t wait to get those thighs between her own. And those big black boots… She hoped the feet/genitalia-size link held true in this case. He reached out to hold her arm steady while she climbed on behind him, and as she settled, a laugh bubbled out of her. She’d never been on a motorcycle. Never thought she would be.
“Can’t believe I’m doing this,” she said, and he glanced back to grin at her over his shoulder.
The muscles of his abdomen tensed when she slid her hands over them. He was hard there, but she had expected no less. She only wanted to see if he was as hard elsewhere.
The rain slacked off as he eased the bike out to the street. At this hour, there was little traffic. The motorcycle roared in her ears; the wind whipped at her cheeks as they zoomed up Main. She laid her head against Ian’s back and watched the damp downtown lights slip by, tightening her grip on him and feeling strangely peaceful for the first time in…well, a very long time.
Funny, that. Because she could remember Brian mentioning before that the bar down the street from the parlor was a popular after-work hangout for his employees, she’d taken a chance that Ian might be there tonight. She hadn’t expected much, but here she was now. Feeling calm and content on the back of a motorcycle, of all things, with him. Almost every inch of both her legs completely bare. Not that it mattered—in fact it was the sexiest she’d felt in a long time. It was nice, it was needed, and so she went with it.
But she wasn’t any less hot for him or any less curious about what he was packing. Letting her hand slip lower on his belly, she felt him tense again. Farther, farther…until her questing fingers left the fabric of his T-shirt and found the denim encasing his very impressive erection. Apparently having her pressed up against him was having much the same effect on him as his nearness was having on her.
Oh my. Thoroughly satisfied with what she’d found, she chuckled and nibbled his shoulder, letting the vibrations of the engine stoke the heat building between her legs. He shook his head, and the quick movement of his shoulders suggested he laughed in return.
The journey wasn’t a long one. He turned into the parking lot of the very apartment complex Brian and Candace lived in. “Good thing we didn’t bring my car,” she said as he braked to a stop in an empty parking space. “Brian would’ve recognized it.”
“Yeah,” was his only comment.
While she’d joked about how he didn’t need to worry about her little brother, she respected the fact that he did. Just not enough to let him use that as an excuse to get away from her tonight.
She got off the Harley first and watched appreciatively as he did the same. By now, his white T-shirt clung damply to his skin and defined all those dips and planes and bulges she couldn’t wait to explore. With her tongue.
Mark hadn’t been out of shape by any means, but with his schedule, he had little time for anything other than an occasional jog. He took care of himself and his body had been good, but not the object of wonder standing before her now.
“Like what you see?” Ian asked, and her gaze jerked to his face. Yeah, so she’d been standing here ogling him for a good twenty seconds.
“Do you?” she returned.
“Do you really need to ask?”
Grinning to herself, she followed him as he went to unlock his door, and a moment later, she stood in his pitch-dark living room, waiting for him to flip on a light.
The light never came. She couldn’t see her hand before her face—he must have some heavy-duty drapes to keep the security lights out—and dead silence surrounded her. What the hell was he doing?
“Does anyone pay the electric bill around here?” she asked.
“Of course,” he said, startling her with how near to her he stood. Then…warm breath fanned her cheek. A gentle hand found and stroked down her bare arm, raising gooseflesh from her still-damp skin. Lips skated along her jawline. Her breath escaped in a rush.
Kiss me, she thought but refused to turn her face toward his. He liked control. She knew, somehow, somewhere, in the depths of her soul—maybe from the way he wouldn’t let her see him right now. Or simply the way his presence loomed even in the absolute darkness.
She knew all about needing control. All her life, she’d tried to control everything around her. Dear God, she wanted to give it up for a while… Sometimes it was exhausting.
Against her wet clothes, her skin flamed. Her n**ples hardened, and it was all she could do to stay in her spot and not flatten herself against him. Assuage the ache building in all the places that cried out to be touched.
“So,” he said, and she shivered as his breath grazed her ear. “Why me?”
Did conversation really have to be a part of this? She slid her hands over his chest, up over his shoulders, delighting in the firmness of his body. How hard and raw he was. “Why not?” was the only thing that slipped from her lips.
“You had a bar full of guys who would’ve killed to be in my spot right now.”
You were nice to me sounded way too freaking lame, and that wasn’t it, at least not entirely. Plenty of men had been nice to her. She hadn’t wanted to f**k them all. “Maybe if any one of them had done my tattoo, and looked like you, and talked like you, and made me feel better…he’d be in your spot right now.”
“So I was in the right place at the right time?” he murmured, moving closer. His hard chest—oh God, yes!—pressed against her, and she rubbed against him, getting the friction her aching br**sts had been craving.
“Isn’t that how so many things in life work out? I saw you. I wanted you.”
“Do you always get what you want?”
She paused, the pain of a thousand memories swamping her. “You know I don’t.”
The breath and the touch she had been so enjoying against her skin stilled for a moment. “Sorry. Didn’t mean to dredge anything up there.”
Gabby wound her arms around his neck, pulling him close. Now that her eyes had adjusted, she could just make out his features. “Ian, stop talking and f**k me. All will be forgiven.”
And that was the only command, the only control, she wanted for the rest of the night. She wanted to give herself over. She didn’t want to think about anything except him and what he was doing to her.
His kiss pulled the breath from her lungs. His tongue quested for entrance, and she gave it. Just beneath the seductive flavor that was uniquely his, she tasted alcohol, and it intoxicated her as much as if she’d drunk it herself. But that was him, she knew, making her body feel light, making her feel as if she floated in the darkness.