“Nothing.”

His eyes searched hers. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.” She forced a smile. “But I do need to get back to work.”

His arm tightened around her as he untangled his hand from her hair. She was so going to need to find a brush stat. “What if I want to keep you?”

She liked the sound of that too much. “I don’t think that will go unnoticed come dinnertime.”

“True.” He sighed. Dipping his head, he pressed a kiss to her cheek, and her chest squeezed. “Can’t have Dev going unfed.”

“It would be an epic tragedy.” She slipped out of his grasp and made her way out of the bathroom.

He caught up with her as she tried to smooth her hair with her hands. “You still look like you got fucked.”

Nikki’s cheeks caught fire. “Wow. Thanks.”

Gabe chuckled as he faced her. “But I like the look.”

“I’m sure you do,” she replied dryly as she worked her fingers through a knot. “You need to go.”

“Don’t forget we’re having dinner tomorrow night.”

She shoved him with one hand. “I haven’t forgotten.”

He barely budged. “I think maybe we should do dinner tonight, except skip dinner and go straight for the—”

“Get,” she said, shooing him out.

He turned, grinning at her as he walked backward, laughing as he bumped into the wall. She giggled as she whirled around, shaking her head.

Gabe was . . . God, she didn’t even know what to say.

Walking back to the bathroom, she worked at her hair until she didn’t look like she’d just had sex.

Especially since she didn’t have sex sex.

Once satisfied, she shut the bathroom door and walked out into the bedroom, closing that door behind her. She was halfway down the hall, when she heard the slow creak of a door opening behind her.

Nikki’s heart jumped as she turned around. No one was in the hall, but the door next to the one she and Gabe had been in was open halfway.

“Shit,” she whispered.

Part of her didn’t want to check it out, but she forced herself to do so. Tiny goosebumps rose all over her arms as she peered inside the bedroom. No one was there.

The room was like an icebox, though.

The goosebumps spread as the prickly sensation exploded all along the back of her neck. The same feeling she had before. The feeling that screamed that someone or something was watching her—was right behind her.

Holding her breath, she slowly turned around.

No one was in the hall.

But the door leading out to the porch was open, the gauzy curtains billowing as the breeze caught them.

And that door had been closed seconds ago.

Chapter 24

It was getting late when Nikki decided to call it quits and head home. Gabe was still at work, his hands covered with a fine layer of dust while he dragged the sander over the plank of wood.

She was lingering by the little room he’d made for her, still unsure of how to say goodbye. Should she just wave? Walk over and hug him? She couldn’t believe she was even stressing that much about it, but things were very up in the air between them. Yes, he’d given her amazing orgasms and had his hands and mouth in just about every intimate place she could think of, but he wasn’t her boyfriend.

Nikki wasn’t at all sure what he was to her, so she stood there, worrying her lip and wondering what was the appropriate way to say goodbye. Like an idiot.

Straightening, Gabe looked over his shoulder at her. The corners of his lips curved up. “You leaving?”

“Yeah.”

“You going to come over and say goodbye?”

“Yeah.” She figured she couldn’t stand by the door anymore, so she shuffled over to him, feeling her cheeks flush. She opened her mouth to say something, but he’d put the sander down and turned to her.

Before she could say anything, he swept an arm around her and lifted her up onto the tips of her toes. He’d brought her to him, pressing the length of her body against his. He dipped his head, and her heart did a back handspring in her chest. Was he going to kiss her?

His mouth skated over her cheek and then she felt his lips against the space below her ear. She shivered, and then a faint smile tugged at her lips when he lifted his mouth and kissed her forehead. “See you tomorrow.”

Trying to not be disappointed that he hadn’t kissed her, she smiled up at him as he let go. “See you tomorrow, Gabe.” She backed up and gave him a little wave before she turned and headed for the door. She’d reached it when he called out for her. She faced him.

He had that damn grin on his face, the one that twisted her insides up in all kinds of delicious ways. “Do me a favor?”

“Sure.”

“Wear a pretty dress for me tomorrow night?”

That got a laugh from her. “I can do that.”

“You better, because I’ll make it worth the effort.” He picked up the sander. “’Night, Nic.”

“Goodnight,” she murmured, feeling a little flushed as she stepped out into the night. It wasn’t a kiss, his goodbye, but it was . . . it was Gabe.

Pulling her keys out, she headed toward the diner, where she was parked. She spotted her car under the street lamp and was about to step off the curb when she heard her name.

“Nikki?”

Frowning at the vaguely familiar voice, she turned and her mouth about hit the sidewalk. “Are you fucking serious?”

Ross Gerald Haid was walking across the sidewalk toward her. His steps slowed as he lifted his hands. “I’m not here to cause you any trouble.”

“Really? You’re not? I don’t believe that for a second.”

“You have every reason to be suspicious, but I swear I just wanted to talk to you real quick.” He shoved his hands into the pockets of his jeans. “I tried to get your number from Rosie so I could apologize, but she’s pissed—”

“Damn straight she is. You used her to get to me so you could do your stupid story on the de Vincents. Yeah, she’s pissed and so am I.” Nikki’s grip tightened on the keys to stop herself from throwing them in his face. “And how did you even know I was here—wait, you’re a reporter.” Suddenly she thought about the feeling outside of the bar and Cure—the first night she’d worked at the de Vincents and swore a car had been following her. Holy shit, was it him? “Have you been watching me?”

“I’m a reporter. Not a stalker.”

She didn’t believe him for one second. “Sounds about the same to me.”

His jaw hardened. “I just wanted to apologize, Nikki. I did enjoy the dinner. Would’ve loved to have another one with you—”

“You are insane.” Anger burned through her. “Gabe is right in there, and if he comes out here—”

“He won’t be happy. I know.” Ross kept his hands in his pockets. “But I’m risking that to apologize. I owe that to you.”

“There is only one thing you owe me,” she snapped. “It’s for me never to see your face again.”

“I can do that,” he said, keeping his voice low as a couple walked past them. “But I feel like I owe you more than that.”

“An apology? You can take it and shove it up—”

“A warning,” he cut her off. “You seem like a nice woman and Rosie loves you. So, I feel like I need to say this to you. You’ve known the de Vincents a long time, so you think you know them, but you don’t, Nikki. You don’t know them at all.”

A fierce need to protect them swept through her. “And you do?”

“I know enough to know that good people get hurt around them, and you seem like a good person,” he said, his gaze finding hers in the dim street light. “And I’d hate to see you get hurt.”

Gabe watched the candlelight flicker across Nic’s face as she lifted the glass of wine to those lush lips. God, when he walked into the restaurant and saw her standing there, he almost picked her up and carried her out of Firestones like a fucking caveman.

He’d never in his life had such a visceral reaction like that. Nic looked beautiful. Hair pulled up in a simple twist showed off those high, wide cheekbones of hers and her amazing, expressive eyes. He hadn’t realized until that moment how elegant the curve of her neck was. And that dress? Fuck. It was like a second layer of skin in royal blue. Off the shoulder and dipping low enough to reveal just the hint of what swelled underneath that dress.

***

***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com

***