Never gonna happen, he warned himself harshly. Reality was a bitch, and he’d better not lose sight of it.
She needed to concentrate on her work. That’s what always got her through, after all. It was the one constant in her life, sometimes all she truly had in this world.
And it was enough.
Most of the time, it was enough.
You’ve been pushing that same piece of scallop around your plate for ten minutes, sweetie. Don’t you like it?”
“No, it’s great. The food is always amazing here.”
“So, it’s just the company that sucks?”
She glanced up at him and shook her head. “Not at all. You’re my best friend, you know that.”
“Uh-huh,” he said, smiling. “But I don’t compare to your wet dream.”
Gabrielle’s face warmed as one of the patrons at a neighboring table looked their way. “You’re a shit sometimes, you know that?” she whispered to Jamie. “I shouldn’t have told you about it.”
“Oh, honey. Don’t be embarrassed. If I had a nickel for every time I woke up torqued and screaming some hot guy’s name… ”
“I wasn’t screaming his name.” No, she was gasping and moaning it, both in bed and in the shower a short while later, when she still couldn’t get Lucan Thorne out of her system. “It was like he was there, Jamie. Right there, in my bed—so real I could touch him.”
Jamie sighed. “Some girls have all the luck. Next time you see your dream lover, be a dear and send him my way when you ’re through.
His breath had been the night breeze, sifting through the open window of her bedroom loft. His hair was the obsidian darkness that filled the skylights over her bed, his silver eyes the pale glow of the moon. His hands were the silken bonds of her bedsheets.
Thorne was halfway out the door when he abruptly paused on the threshold. He turned toward her, too close in the cramped space of the foyer. His large body crowded her, but Gabrielle didn ’t mind. She didn’t so much as breathe.
“Is something wrong?”
His fine nostrils flared almost imperceptibly. “What kind of perfume are you wearing?”
The question flustered her. It was so unexpected, so personal. She felt heat rise to her cheeks, though why she should be embarrassed she had no idea. “I don’t wear perfume. I can’t. I’m allergic.”
His mouth curved into a harsh smile. He leaned toward her, slowly bending his head down until it was hovering at her neck. Gabrielle heard the soft rasp of his breath —felt it caress her skin in coolness then in warmth—as he drew her scent into his lungs and released it through his lips. Heat seared her throat, and she could have sworn she felt the swift pressure of his mouth brushing over her pulse, which lurched into an erratic beat as the dark head lingered so intimately close to her. She heard a low growl rumble near her ear, something very near a curse.
Thorne came away at once, and did not meet her startled gaze. He didn’t offer any excuse or apology for his strange behavior, either.
“You smell like jasmine,” was all he said.
Not even my friends believed me when I told them what I saw that night.”
“Your friends,” he said with careful deliberation. “Do you mean someone other than the man you were with at the station—your lover?”
“My lover?” She laughed at that. “Jamie is not my lover.”
Thorne looked up from the cell phone’s image display to meet her gaze. “He spent the past two nights with you alone, here in this apartment.”
How did he know that?
Does that mean you’re volunteering to take my dish duty tonight?" he asked.
My shoulders drooped. “Fine.”
“I’ll help you,” Micah put his arm around me.
I smiled, “Is that a date?”
“It’s a date.”
“I’ll be sure to wear my prettiest apron.
Alex took out a small notebook and pen from his cargo pocket. “Do you want uniforms?”
I gave him a sideways glance. “Uniforms, why?”
He tapped the pencil against his lips as we walked, “Conformity, unity—”
“Absurdity,” I mumbled.
“Accountability, productivity,” he continued. He had me beat. “Besides, imagine having an army ten times the size we do now. Now imagine the battle we had on Heard and McDonald Islands. How would we distinguish our troops from theirs?”
“Easy. We’d be the ones winning.” I straightened my back and crossed my arms.
He barely glanced at me, “You’re never serious when you know I’m right.”
I turned to Alex. “What will happen, exactly?”
“If it is strong enough – a worldwide blackout. Electrical systems will be fried.”
“That son of a bitch is going to plunge us back into the dark ages,” Micah said, eyes wide.
“Yes,” I agreed. “The best way to protect the planet.”