I bend down and kiss her, those perfect lips of hers parting just for me. I take advantage, sweeping my tongue into her mouth, deepening the kiss for a long, hot minute before I finally break away. “Always eager for you, Luce.”
Her eyes glow with pleasure. “You know just what to say, don’t you? I swear my nickname for you is perfect.”
I frown. “You have a nickname for me?” I’ve never heard her call me anything but Gabe or Gabriel before.
She nods, looking extremely pleased with herself. “I do. From the moment you started watching me, I thought of you as Mr. GQ.”
“Oh, really?” I start to chuckle, then suck in a harsh breath when her hands land on my chest and she slowly starts to unbutton my shirt.
“Yes, really. It’s perfect. The first time I saw your entire family, I thought you all looked like you stepped out of a magazine. All of you are abnormally attractive, with your perfect faces and hair and clothes. And you were the most perfect of them all. You do realize that, right? How freaking gorgeous you are?”
Yeah, yeah Shep has given me endless shit about my pretty face, as he calls it. Asshole. I’ve used this so-called pretty face to my advantage more times than I can count. But knowing that Lucy thinks I’m good looking fills me with pride. I can’t help it.
“I’m far from perfect,” I tell her as I step closer to her, wrapping my arms around her waist and pulling her into me. Her fingers fumble over the buttons on my shirt and she gives up trying to unbutton it, offering her mouth for me to kiss. “And besides, you’re the gorgeous one.”
“I beg to differ,” she whispers against my lips just before I kiss them. “You look like a male model.”
Instead of kissing her some more I start to chuckle. “Funny you mention that. My best friend always tells me I’m too damn good looking.”
“Really? Is he a jealous hideous troll?”
I laugh harder. “No, not even close. The guy gets all the women he meets. Well, he used to.”
Lucy lifts a brow. “Why can’t he now?”
“Because he met a girl who rocks his world.” I press my lips to her cheek, let them drift down, kissing along her jaw. She tilts her head back, offering me better access. “He changed his manwhore ways and hasn’t looked back since.”
“So he fell in love.” Her voice is soft, a little shaky.
“It can happen, even to guys like Shep,” I tell her, my mouth close to her ear.
She stiffens, her hands gripping the fabric of my shirt. “His name is Shep?” She sounds like she wants to laugh.
I lift my head to study her. She looks genuinely curious—and a little baffled by my friend’s ridiculous name. “Yeah. Family name, his mother’s maiden name is Shepard. He’s a great guy. Lots of fun.” Talking about him makes me realize I miss Shep. I miss Tristan too. Hell, I miss Jade and I don’t even know her that well but she has a sassy mouth and keeps Shep on his toes. He needs that.
I also miss all the guys who work at the gambling house. The very last place I want to go is Texas. I’d rather stay here with Lucy until school starts and then move back. I’m only a couple hours south of Santa Augustina, where I go to school. I could drive my ass up there, no problem.
But duty calls. And family duty—and the family business—always comes first.
“You have a lot of friends then?” Lucy’s question pulls me out of my thoughts.
“Enough.” I touch her hair, thread my fingers through the thick, silky strands. She has beautiful hair. I love touching it. “How about you?”
She slowly shakes her head. “I prefer to keep to myself most of the time.”
I frown. I don’t like thinking of her as friendless. I hope that’s not the case. “Shy?”
Shrugging, she tilts her head to the side. “I guess. I don’t know. I’m always so busy you know? With school and wo—school. Lots of homework and stuff.”
Sounded like she was going to say work. Does she work? There’s no shame in that. Hell, I’d admire her for having a solid work ethic. I don’t have one beyond the gambling house and that was born out of pure greed.
Oh, and boredom. The main reason we started the gambling house was because we wanted something to do beyond going to class and playing the occasional game of soccer. There’s only so much partying and fucking girls that we can stand. Shep and Tristan grow bored easily. So do I. The difference is both of them will never really have to work a day in their lives and their fathers won’t force them to either.
Mine on the other hand, is forcing me to take over the family business, something I have zero interest in. Dad is in charge of the business, Mom’s in charge of finding me a wife. Those are their ultimate life goals. Me taking over the family company and marrying well, providing two point five children to my parents so they have a couple of kids to dote on and boom. It’s done.
It fucking sucks.
What sucks worse? How little I know about Lucy. She goes to school—but where? Where exactly does she live? And does she really have a job? So many questions, so many fine details I’d like to learn about her but she’s private. Even a little shut off. She wanted to keep this as light as possible and I’m respecting her wishes.
Despite how difficult it is for me to keep this light. I want more.
“Hey.” Lucy’s soft voice brings me out of my thoughts and I look down at her, offering her a smile. “You okay? You seemed a little lost in thought.”
I need to focus on what’s important tonight. The fact that my time with this girl is limited makes me anxious. Like I need to hold onto every single second we have together and make them perfect.
“I’m good.” I kiss her, reaching up to cup the side of her face, tracing her cheekbone with my finger. A soft sigh escapes her and her eyes flutter closed. I know she loves it when I touch her like that. She seems to love it when I touch her period. “How are you?”
Her eyes open and she smiles but it’s shaky at best. “I’m okay. Like I said, a little bit nervous.”
“Why?” I hold her face with both hands and lean in to kiss her, my lips lingering, as are hers. I don’t want her nervous, but I think I might know what’s making her feel that way.
And that sends a jolt of hope through my veins. I want her so fucking bad. I want to know every part of her. Meaning, I want to be her first.
But does she deem me worthy? This is after all, just a summer fling. She’s reminded me of that numerous times. Why would she give a guy she’ll never see again her virginity? It doesn’t make any sense.
Though I want that honor. Damn it, I want it. The way I feel about Lucy…I’ve never experienced this before with another girl. Ever. It’s always been about fun and quick satisfaction. I rarely dated a girl for a long period of time. Hell, two dates in a row is a long period of time for me. I just don’t do it. Why waste my time?
Not like I have the choice anyway. If people think arranged marriages don’t exist in this country, they haven’t met my parents. My future wife and our future marriage isn’t just a union of two people, it will be a business merger.
And that sucks balls, man. Talk about heartless. Sydney’s set up for the same thing and I hate that. She deserves someone who’ll love her.