Which wasn’t exactly what she needed.

Or wanted.

No matter how hard she focused on how she was going to decorate the cute apartment she hoped she got approved for or stressed over the decision to apply for a caseworker job with the county or enroll in grad school, her mind wandered back to Gabe.

She sort of wanted to punch herself. Hard.

The best thing she could do was proceed as if nothing had happened. That wouldn’t be the easiest thing to do, but the smartest. Obviously he was physically attracted to her. She obviously had the hots for him, but the difference was that she knew it wouldn’t just be something physical for her.

It would become more.

And she couldn’t risk that.

It was close to noon when she was vacuuming one of the unused bedrooms on the second floor of the wing Lucian and Julia occupied. Because the plush carpet was virtually spotless, she’d toed off her flats and left them in the hallway. She was humming along to the whirl of the vacuum when it suddenly turned off.

Frowning, she fiddled with the on/off switch and then turned at the waist, scanning the room. The cord was unplugged.

“Odd,” she murmured, walking over to the thing. The cord was long, so it wasn’t like she’d pulled it out of the wall.

Freaking weird, demon-possessed house.

She plugged it back in and the vacuum roared to life. Sighing, she turned and let out a startled squeak.

Gabe stood in the doorway, arms crossed as he leaned against the doorframe. “Having difficulties with the vacuum?”

“Did you unplug it?” she asked as she hurried over to the vacuum, turning it off.

“No. Why would I do that?”

She narrowed her eyes at him. “I don’t know, but it unplugged itself.”

“Ghosts.”

“I didn’t think you believed in ghosts.”

He lifted a shoulder. “I’ve never seen anything, but I’ve heard enough weird shit in this house that I do have to wonder.”

She wasn’t sure if he was messing with her or not, but she was fully aware of the fact that they were the only ones on the second floor, in a room with a bed.

Nikki cleared her throat as she folded her hand over the handle of the vacuum. “Well, I need to get back to work, so . . .”

Gabe frowned. “Is that how this is going to be?”

“I don’t understand.” And she really didn’t. “I have to vacuum this room. You know, one of the five on this floor that hasn’t ever been used. It’s very important that I finish this.”

He grinned. “And why is that?”

“I’m guessing if I don’t, the dust bunnies under the bed will multiply and take over the house, causing Devlin to go into shock. We can’t have that happening.”

Gabe laughed. “The dust bunnies can wait.”

“They really can’t. You know how dust bunnies are. Always getting together, multiplying, and making little dust bunny babies. Plus, it’s my job.”

“I’ve been looking for you,” he said, ignoring what she said.

“Well, you found me, but as you can see, I’m pretty busy—” She took a little step back as he pushed away from the frame and entered the room, stopping to close the door behind him. “What are you doing?”

He locked the door, and her heart launched itself into her throat like a rocket. Gabe was silent as he stalked toward her, and that’s what he did. He stalked, like a big cat that had caught sight of its prey.

“Gabe—”

“Have you been hiding from me all day?”

“What? No. I’ve been working—”

“Uh-huh.” He crossed the space between them. “I remember when you were younger, you used to hide in these rooms whenever Lawrence was here.”

“Well, he didn’t like all the noise I made—”

“You never made that much noise.” Stopping directly in front of her, he grasped her by the hips. “Anyway, I’m glad I found you in here.”

Her pulse was pounding out of control as she lifted her head. “Why?”

“Because there’s something I spent all last night thinking about.”

She was half afraid to ask. “What would that be?”

His hands on her waist tightened and then he lifted her up. She didn’t get a chance to protest. One second she was standing and the next, her back was hitting the center of the bed, and he was above her, his arms and knees caging her in.

Oh. My. God.

“You were thinking about throwing me on the bed?” she asked.

He chuckled again, the sound curling her toes. “No, that’s not what I’ve been thinking about, but it was fun.”

“For you, maybe.”

“You liked it.”

Okay, she kind of did, but she wasn’t admitting that. Ever. “What are you doing?”

“Following through on what I’ve been thinking about all night. I told you that.” Grinning, he shifted his weight onto his knees and straightened. “Keep up with me.”

“Keep up with you? You come in here, throw me on a bed, and I’m supposed to know what you’re up to?” She started to sit up. “Gabe—”

“Do you want to know what I’ve been thinking about?” he asked.

“Not really,” she replied.

“Oh, yeah, you’re going to want to know.” His hands found their way to her waist, causing her to suck in a sharp breath. “But I think I’m just going to show you.”

“I don’t think—Gabe!” she gasped as he curled his fingers around the band of her black leggings. “What are you doing?”

“You’ll see.” He tugged, and she gripped his wrists. “And I have this suspicion that you’re really, really going to enjoy it.”

Her chest rose and fell with fast breaths. She had no idea how she’d gone from vacuuming to this. It was spiraling so fast that she wondered if she even had an ounce of control from the moment he’d walked into the room.

Or if she wanted to control it.

Her grip loosened.

Gabe’s grin spread as those thick lashes lowered. “How has your day been?”

His question caught her off guard. “Um, good? A normal Monday.”

He tugged again, managing to get the leggings an inch down her hips. “Have you heard back on the apartment?”

“Not yet,” she said, finding this to be the most bizarre positioning to have a conversation in.

“I have a few pieces in storage that would be perfect for your apartment,” he said, dragging his thumb over her hip bone. “I got a coffee table, a dresser, and an end table. You can have them.”

So surprised by the offer, she could only stare at him at first. “That’s not right. Your stuff costs as much as one semester at UA—”

“I don’t care. I want you to have them.” His thumb moved on her other hip, slipping over her lower belly. “They were pieces I never sold and I made them ages ago.”

“Gabe—”

His gaze pierced hers. “They’re mine to give away, and I choose you.”

I choose you.

Oh Lord, those words sent a bolt straight to her heart. He didn’t mean them the way her heart took them, but still.

“Just think of them as a housewarming gift,” he said, as if he wasn’t talking about a gift that cost tens of thousands of dollars. “And now you’re supposed to ask me about my day.”

Her nose wrinkled. “How was your day?”

Gabe laughed. “You could at least sound like you care.”

“I do.” She rolled her eyes.

“I woke up early and couldn’t fall back to sleep. I was thinking about Saturday night, about how amazing my dick felt against your ass.”

Oh my.

Her stomach dipped as a sharp tingle zipped through her veins in response.

“And I was thinking about how good you felt around my fingers when you started to come,” he continued, his words scorching her skin. “Made me hard as a fucking rock, you know that?”

“No,” she whispered as her blood caught fire.

He bit down on his lip as his gaze drifted down, over her breasts and lower. “I had to do something about that. Wasn’t as good as Saturday night, but it worked. For a time.”

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