The unease grew as Nikki stepped to the side, so she wasn’t standing between the TV and one of the chairs. “Gabe is here.”

“Is he?”

She wasn’t sure, but she sure as hell hoped someone was here. She nodded.

“Cool. I’ll have to pay him a visit.” He looked around the room and then his pale-blue-eyed gaze settled on her. “But I’m glad that I’ve found you, especially now.”

She swallowed hard as she glanced at the doorway. Parker was making her nervous, causing instinct to roar to life in her.

“I wanted to visit with you,” he said, reaching back and closing the door behind him. “Uninterrupted.”

Chapter 30

Nikki’s heart thundered in her chest as she dropped the cord to the vacuum. It thudded on the carpet quietly.

“My sister really does not like you.” Parker undid the button on the left cuff of his shirt. “I mean, she really doesn’t like you.”

“I . . . I kind of guessed that already,” she replied.

“Did you? But I don’t think you understand what happens when my sister doesn’t like someone.” Parker rolled up the sleeve to his elbow. “She was telling me that you misunderstood a certain situation recently.”

The only situation recently was the one where she was naked in Gabe’s bedroom, but she sure as hell didn’t misunderstand anything that she saw.

“And she’s worried that you’re going to say something to her fiancé.” He undid the button on his other sleeve. He rolled that up, too. “But I told her that you wouldn’t dare do something like that, but she said you already spoke to Gabe.”

Her heart lurched into her throat. “She was in his bedroom—”

“Waiting to speak to him about her engagement to his brother.” Parker let his arms hang loose as he smiled. “To discuss a party to celebrate it. She wanted to get Gabe’s opinion on the type of champagne to order.”

Nikki’s mouth dropped, and she couldn’t not respond. “And she needed to do this after she took a shower in his bathroom? Are you guys serious right now? Is this some kind of joke?”

“She spilled a drink on her shirt and took a shower. Gabe wasn’t up there.” Parker moved around the coffee table. “But you were.”

“Do you think Gabe isn’t going to say anything?” she demanded, sort of dumbfounded. “After this?”

“He’s not going to say a word,” he replied confidently.

She gaped at him. He was as insane as his sister.

“Why were you in Gabe’s private quarters, Nikki?” he asked.

“I work here. That’s why—”

“Now, come on, Nikki, you weren’t in his bedroom because of work.” His lips pursed. “Well, unless you were planning to do some work on your back. You know, I’m sort of offended.”

She gasped. “You’re offended?”

“You treat me like you can’t stand me. Every time I come near you, you look at me like I’m seconds away from pouncing on you,” he said, watching her move around to the other side of the coffee table. He laughed. “You’re doing it right now.”

“Because you’re kind of freaking me out, Parker.”

“What have I ever done to you to make you scared of me?” he asked.

Her brows shot up. “Besides right now, when you came into this house knowing you’re not supposed to be here? How about that time in the pool house?”

His jaw hardened. “Nothing happened that day in the pool house.”

“Because Lucian walked in.” Balls of ice formed in her belly. “You wouldn’t leave, even though I was standing there in the towel, and you tried to pull it off me—”

“And you had no problem flashing your tits and ass for Gabe every time he came around, so sue me for thinking you had no problem with me seeing them.”

Nikki sucked in a sharp breath. “I wasn’t showing those parts of my body to anyone when I was seventeen, but even if I was, that’s my choice. Just like it’s my choice when it comes to who I will share them with now.”

“Aw, don’t you sound like the cute little feminist.” He snorted. “The fact remains, I didn’t do shit to you. I’ve never done anything to you other than invite you to my penthouse.”

“Yeah, thanks for that, but I’d rather pluck every hair on my body with a rusty pair of tweezers before I’d even remotely entertain that offer,” she snapped.

A hard look crept into his eyes. “You’re a little bitch who needs to be put in her place.”

Nikki neared the edge of the coffee table. “And what is my place?”

“Not sure yet,” he replied.

“You need to leave,” she said, keeping her voice level. “You need to leave now.”

Parker laughed. “Not sure Devlin will be thrilled with how unwelcome you’re making his future brother-in-law feel.”

Torn between being a little scared and being so thunderstruck by the fact that Parker and Sabrina thought there was still an engagement after Monday, she almost couldn’t formulate a coherent sentence.

“Fine,” she decided, walking toward the door. “You don’t leave, I’ll go to the police and report you as trespassing.” Reaching the door, she opened it and stepped out into the hallway, aware that Parker was following her. She turned, not wanting him to be at her back. “I’m giving you ten seconds to—”

“You’d call the cops on me?” He laughed. “That’s harsh.”

“You’ve got five seconds.” She reached into her back pocket for her phone. “And I will—”

Parker grabbed her arm, his grip tight. “Calling the cops will seriously be a bad idea for you, Nikki.”

“Let go of me,” she ordered, twisting her arm.

His fingers bit into tissue and bone, causing her to gasp in pain. “Remember what I said about your parents? I can make sure they don’t have a job—”

“I’m really beginning to think your threat means shit when the likelihood of Devlin marrying Sabrina is literally nil.” She held his gaze even as her heart threw itself against her ribs. “Now let go of my arm.”

His eyes flashed with anger as he yanked her forward, against his chest. “If Devlin ends my sister’s engagement because you ran your mouth to him or to Gabe, you’re going to wish you kept quiet.”

Every part of her body that touched his crawled. She jerked back. “Let go of me right now.”

“Or what?” Parker’s voice dropped as he yanked her against him again.

“Or I’m going to rip off the hand you’re touching her with.”

Relief shot through Nikki so fast she thought she might faint as Parker’s eyes widened at the sound of Gabe’s voice. He let go of her arm, and she stumbled back as Parker turned to the side. Nikki saw Gabe then, stalking down the center of the hallway.

His striking features were all hard lines. Seeing him surfaced mixed emotions in her, but she was happy that someone was here.

“Gabe.” Parker’s well-practiced smile fell into place. “I was looking—”

Nikki squeaked as Gabe cut off whatever Parker was about to lie about with a very large hand around Parker’s neck. He slammed the thinner man against the wall.

“Give me one good reason why I don’t choke the life out of you right now,” Gabe asked, his voice way too calm. “I doubt you can come up with one, but I’m feeling generous.”

Having never seen Gabe like this, Nikki backed into the opposite wall. She suddenly remembered what Sabrina had said about the man who attacked Emma. She’d forgotten that in the mess that had followed.

Parker gagged as Gabe’s grip tightened on his throat. “Still waiting for one good reason. Just one.”

Nikki saw it in him then. He might be the brother everyone claimed was the most levelheaded, but she saw right then what brewed beneath the surface. She wished that it scared her or that it made her look at him differently.

It didn’t.

Parker dug at Gabe’s hand, his face turning red.

***

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