Pulse / Page 26

Page 26

Still dizzy, she swallowed and took a deep breath. “Gavin.”

“I just made your body boil, sweets,” he pointed out with a raised brow and a smirk. “Would it be safe to say I’ll achieve the same results once I have your naked body pinned beneath mine tonight?”

Knowing the man staring at her was nothing short of enthralling, exhilarating, powerful, and all-consuming, Emily found herself simply nodding. His words wiped her clear of her own. He grinned that sexy grin that’d caught her off guard from day one and made his way into the kitchen.

He opened a box of pasta and tossed the noodles into the pot of water. Steam drifted up, wreathing around him. He flipped on another burner, drizzled a touch of olive oil into a pan, and layered a few pieces of chicken breast coated with flour into it. After washing his hands, he grabbed two plates from the cabinet. Sitting back, Emily took in the way he maneuvered around the space with ease. He had this shit down. A real life Emeril, but one who was completely hot and undoubtedly worked out. Considering he sat behind a desk all day, there was no other way his body stayed magnificently in shape. Her eyes traced the faded jeans hanging perfectly over his trim waist. She watched soberly as his muscles flexed with every movement underneath a black T-shirt. He was so casual, yet so powerful. She wondered if he knew it.

Since her extent of cooking knowledge went no further than ramen noodles or a box of mac and cheese, Emily knew she had some catching up to do in the cooking department. Considering Gavin had a private chef prepare most of his meals, she found it amusing he even knew what he was doing. However, this wouldn’t be the first time something Gavin did or said shocked her. A warm feeling of comfort spilled through her. Dillon had never cooked for them. They’d always gone out to dinner. Not that she didn’t enjoy being spoiled to some extent, but she loved the small things Gavin did. Somehow, as she watched Gavin pull out a bottle of white wine from the refrigerator and pour them both a glass, she knew he was going to fill her life with countless small things that would equate to more than anything any other man would ever give her. For a brief second, she smiled. Then the reality of what the evening would consist of attacked her nerves again. She cringed, regretting that she’d lied to him. Swallowing, she took a deep breath and rose to her feet.

She moved into the kitchen and came up behind Gavin at the stove. She circled her arms around his waist, stood on her tiptoes, and perched her chin on his shoulder. “I didn’t know you cooked. You keep getting sexier and sexier.”

At that, he chuckled. “Wait. I thought I was shmexy?” He forked a piece of pasta out of the pot and reached back to feed it to Emily.

She took it into her mouth. “Shmexy?” she asked, chewing and clearly confused. “Is that your take on the word?”

Turning, Gavin lifted a brow, amusement in his eyes. “No, doll. It’s yours after you’ve had too much to drink.” He placed a kiss on the crown of her head. “And I think it’s very shmexy.”

She stared up at him and smiled. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’m just gonna go with it.”

“Smart woman,” he said, the corner of his mouth crooked upward. “Go take a seat, shmexy. Everything should be ready in a minute.”

“Shmexy.” Emily laughed. “Well, what can I help you with, Mr. Shmexy?”

“Bring this to the table.” Gavin plucked a basket of garlic bread from the counter.

“That’s it?” she asked. Walking away, she set it on the table. “There’s nothing else I can do for you?”

Grinning, Gavin leaned against the counter and crossed his arms. “How can you make such a simple, innocent question sound so sexual?”

Wearing a grin of her own, Emily placed her hands on her hips. “Maybe it’s a gift?”

Gavin bit his lip and moved toward her. Standing inches from her body, he whispered in her ear, “Can I unwrap it, then?”

Emily drew in a shuddering breath at the feel of his soft voice so close to her. “We have to eat first.”

“See? You just did it again, Miss Cooper.” He lifted his hand to her neck. Massaging his fingers into her hair, his eyes glassed over with a want Emily couldn’t mistake. “You know I love eating… dessert.”

Heat curled through Emily, settling in her stomach. God, he made himself nearly irresistible. Blowing out the breath she was holding, she shook her head. “You, sir, need to learn how to control yourself.” Trying to exercise her own self-control, but more concerned about the dramatic turn the conversation was about to take, Emily backed away and settled into her chair.

With slight shock in his eyes, Gavin watched her for a second and then turned back to the stove. “You deplete me of any control I’ve ever had.” He strained the pasta and poured some tomato sauce on it. “But you know this already.”

Truth. There it was smashed right in her face. Emily knew he couldn’t control himself around her, and although she felt the very same way on so many levels, in that moment, she couldn’t stomach that he wanted her. She couldn’t stomach herself. Her question hit the air before she could think about it. “Why, Gavin?” She looked up from the table. “Why would you choose me? You can have any woman you want. Why me?”

Turning, Gavin drew his brows together. “Why wouldn’t I want you, Emily?”

She lifted her shoulder in a casual shrug. “Because there’s absolutely nothing to me. I’m weak in so many ways, and you… you’re strong.” Emily paused, shifting in her seat. “Nothing about me fits what you need or deserve.”

Gavin stood perfectly still, his stare unwavering. “Why are you saying all of this?”

“I can list more reasons why you shouldn’t want me.” Another shrug as she stared at him.

“I don’t want you to list any more bullshit reasons why you think I shouldn’t want you.” He moved to her, completely unknowing where all of this was coming from. Reaching for her hand, he gently pulled her up from the chair. His eyes danced over her face. “Do you want me to list the reasons why I need you, Emily? Because that’s what you are to me. You’re a need. Not a want.” Tears welling in her eyes, and lips trembling, Emily shook her head and started to speak, but Gavin cut her off. He cupped her cheeks, drawing her face closer to his. “I’m not sure you’ll ever understand, but I told you I need you more than I need my next breath. Since the day we met, from the second I laid eyes on you, there’s never been anyone else worth taking up a fucking inch of space in my mind.” He stroked his thumbs along her lips, laying his own against her forehead. “God created me to love you. Let me heal the cracks in your heart. I know this broken woman didn’t exist before Dillon. I refuse to believe that.”

Love over lies. Trust over mistrust. Heart breaking and swelling, Emily pulled in a deep breath. “I lied to you,” she croaked, wiping tears from her eyes.

Gavin swallowed down a sudden feeling of unease, slowly dropping his hands from her face. “Wait… what? What did you lie to me about?”

His gaze burned into Emily, making her step back. Mind in turmoil and unable to breathe, nausea hit her with pounding force. Cupping her hand over her mouth, Emily bolted toward the bathroom, nearly tripping over moving boxes scattered throughout the penthouse.

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