“We have ten minutes left,” Beau says.
“You go ahead.”
“Dude.” Beau, panting and sweaty himself, props his hands on his hips and levels me with a somber look. “Be careful.”
“I haven’t done a fucking thing,” I reply, but the memory of that hot kiss in her loft is right there, front and center. Her sweet body pressed to mine, her hair tangled in my fingers, and those bright green eyes, full of lust and mistrust, pinned to mine as I backed away and ran like a bat out of hell.
“Okay.” Beau shrugs and shakes his head. “But if you decide to do the fucking thing, be honest with her.”
“What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“You have a habit of making women fall for you, and then you squish them like bugs,” Ben adds.
“I do not.”
“Yeah, you do. Dad never meant for you to—”
“This isn’t therapy,” I interrupt, and turn my back on both of them, headed to the shower. “I’m fine. Kate’s safe from me. I’ll make sure she gets to Dec’s gig safely, and then I’ll probably rarely see her after that.”
I turn at Ben’s voice.
“I do want that recipe. Your mom’s pecan pie is the best.”
I smirk, shake my head, and leave to the loud grunts of Beau getting his ass kicked.
Kate answers her door and I just about swallow my tongue at the sight of her. Her hair has been swept up onto her head, with soft wavy strands hanging around her face. She’s in a silk black tank top that flows from the tops of her breasts to her waist, and white Capri pants.
And the sexiest strappy black heels I’ve ever fucking seen.
She’s safe from me. No messing with her.
“Right the first time,” I reply, and offer her a smile. I seem to smile at this woman a lot.
“What are you doing here?”
“I told you I’d take you to Declan’s gig tonight.” I raise a brow as she bites her lip and winces. “Problem?”
“I kind of figured that offer was off the table. Especially after—”
“After what?” She glances down at my chest and her eyes dilate. Oh, she’s interested, all right. The chemistry is off the charts.
“After you kissed me.” Her eyes return to mine, and she tilts her chin up defiantly. She’s not going to back down and get shy, or play coy.
“I don’t play games, cher.” She frowns slightly at the nickname.
“What does that mean?”
“It means that I won’t kiss you and then ignore you.”
“No, cher. What does it mean?”
I grin and skim the tip of my finger down her nose. I can’t seem to keep my hands off this woman. So much for not playing games.
Jesus, get it together, Boudreaux.
“It’s a Creole term that means dear or darling. Are we going to stand in your doorway all night?”
She shakes her head and steps back, allowing me to pass. The place already smells like her, like honey.
“You really don’t have to take me. Declan texted me with the address. According to my Google Maps app, it’s not far.”
“You shouldn’t be walking around the Quarter after dark by yourself. You don’t know your way around, and anything could happen. Besides, his club is on Bourbon. You’re not walking down Bourbon looking like that.”
“Looking like what?” she demands, and props her hands on her hips, making her shirt lift just an inch, giving me a glimpse of creamy white skin.
“Like a walking wet dream,” I mutter and shove my hand through my hair.
“I live here. How can I never walk around after dark?” She raises a brow and is doing her best to look unaffected by me, but her cheeks have reddened and she keeps licking those plump lips of hers in agitation.
Those lips that taste like heaven and move effortlessly beneath my own.
I narrow my eyes and watch as she tosses her phone, cash, and other mysterious things that women carry with them into a small handbag and turns back to me.
“I’d feel better if I walked you.”
“Suit yourself.” She shrugs and glances around, as if she thinks she might be forgetting something. “How far is the walk?”
“About ten minutes.”
I almost tell her that those heels are going to be a pain in the ass on the cobblestones and uneven sidewalks, but then decide against it. If the thought of keeping her held against me to make sure she’s safe makes me an asshole, so be it.
I am an asshole.
Kate follows me down her stairs to the sidewalk below, and we set off toward Bourbon Street and Declan’s gig.
“Are you sure you’re up for this? You’ve had a long day.” I catch her elbow as she cautiously makes her way around a wide hole in the sidewalk, then settle my hand on the small of her back. It just seems to fit there.
“I haven’t heard Dec play in years,” she replies with a smile. “I miss it. He’s so talented. He could be doing so much more with his music than he is.”
“New Orleans is his home,” I reply softly, but with complete agreement. “He was in Memphis last month working on an album.”
“I know. I was in town on a job, so we met for dinner, but I didn’t get to hear him play.”
“So, how close are you really?” I do my best to ignore the stab of fucking jealously that spears my gut.
“Very close.” She nods and reaches for my arm as we cross a cobblestoned street, when she almost loses her balance on those sexy shoes. “He and Savannah and I were roommates. Declan is one of my dearest friends.”
I want to ask, but hold my tongue. She was right this afternoon; it’s none of my fucking business if she and Declan have a physical relationship.
Ah, fuck it.
“Have you two ever—”
“I believe we already had this conversation,” she says with a laugh.
“I don’t think it’s funny.”
“The thought of me having sex with Declan is hilarious,” she replies and smiles up at me, her gorgeous green eyes glowing under the streetlights. “He’s like a brother to me, Eli.”
I nod and lead her to the left, down Bourbon Street, the hubbub of the French Quarter. At night, at least.
“Holy moly,” she breathes, and takes in all the lights, the loud music, and the people leaning on the railings above the street. “It’s like Vegas on steroids.”