“It kept us from being bored these last three years,” he says easily. “Do you play?”
“Like poker?” When he nods I shake my head. “I had a blackjack app on the first smart phone I ever owned though.”
Gabe laughs, the sound making me smile. I love it when he laughs. “I can teach you how to play poker. It’s pretty easy.”
“Are you trying to entice me to come over to your house?” I tease.
“If I wanted to entice you, I wouldn’t mention teaching you how to play poker.” His voice lowers and I swear my face is going to catch fire it’s so hot. “I know exactly what you like, Lucy. Or did you think I already forgot?”
Oh. God. My legs are wobbly and I’m thankful I’m sitting down. I didn’t expect him to play dirty straight out the gate. “Um…”
Professor Bailey chooses that precise moment to enter the classroom and I’m so thankful I slump back in my seat, breathing out a sigh of relief. Thank goodness I don’t have to carry on with that uncomfortable conversation.
I mean, I don’t mind talking about sex with Gabe, but I can’t do it in a huge classroom surrounded by tons of people.
“You should come over tonight,” Gabe whispers out of the side of his mouth as the professor starts to drone on about the basics of marketing.
“To your house?”
He nods, not bothering to look my way. “I can invite Shep and Jade over if you want to meet them officially. I’m sure Jade will love you. I think she’s tired of being the lone female when we all hang out together.”
Would she really love me? Wasn’t she trying to set Gabe up with her best friend only a few days ago? Guess I ruined that. Jade might view me as the enemy.
“Um, I’d like that, if you think they won’t mind.” It’s nice that he wants to bring me around his friends. How much did he tell them about me? Do they think I’m some rich, spoiled bitch? God, I hope not. Keeping up with the lies is no fun. I seriously need to tell him the truth and soon. “They seemed nice.”
“Of course, they won’t mind. And they’re great. I know you’ll all get along,” Gabe reassures me a little too loudly, and Professor Bailey pauses in his lecture, his gaze zeroing in on the two of us sitting in the top row.
“Am I disturbing your conversation?” he calls from his post way down below.
“No sir,” Gabe says, flashing that trademark grin.
I swear I just heard every single female in the room sigh at first sight of it.
And when he turns that devastating grin on me, I completely understand how they feel.
The moment I arrive at his house, he gives me a tour, starting with the large front porch and the couch that sits on it, just below the window that faces the street.
“It used to be my mother’s,” he explains with a sly smile. “If she knew it sat outside year round she’d flip the hell out.”
I think he likes tormenting his parents, even if it’s secretly.
His house is huge, and the giant living area looks like a mini casino. Card tables are scattered everywhere, and there’s even a roulette table. “This looks like Las Vegas, the modified version,” I tell him as I look around in awe. Not that I’d ever been to Vegas, but I’d seen enough in the movies and on TV to get the idea.
“I know it’s nothing fancy but it works. Most of the people who come in here don’t care about how it looks. They just want to win big money.” He pauses, turning around to face me. “So. Do you like it?” he asks anxiously, sounding…nervous.
And I’ve rarely heard Gabe sound nervous. Nothing ever seems to faze him.
With the exception of…me. Oh, and his family seemed to put him on edge. Sydney had mentioned to me more than once that they always put undo pressure on her big brother.
“I do like it.” I meet his gaze. “Even if you are running an illegal business full of gambling schemes out of your house, who am I to judge?”
He pretends to take offense, resting his hand on his chest and everything. “Hey, I’ll have you know we run a legit business here. There are no schemes allowed.”
I roll my eyes. “Right. Except for the fact that what you’re doing is illegal in the state of California.”
Gabe drops his hand. “I could probably get away with it better in Nevada,” he mutters, shaking his head.
“You probably could,” I agree. “Plus, think of all the possibilities. You could run a whore house upstairs.”
His face brightens. “That’s a damn good idea, Luce. Maybe you should go into business with us. Become a fourth partner.”
Is he for real? “Are you saying you’d hand over the prostitution part to me?”
“Absolutely. I bet you’d make a fantastic madam.” He nods. “Running the girls, vetting the customers, asking what sort of services they want…”
Oh. Shit. I think he might be serious. My cheeks are warm just thinking about talking to potential customers and asking them what they prefer sexually. Talk about embarrassing. “Um…”
“Kidding, Luce.” He socks me lightly in the shoulder. “I had you going for a minute though, huh?”
Rubbing the spot where he hit me—it really didn’t hurt—I can’t help but feel like a complete dork. “No way. I was kidding too,” I say weakly.
“Uh huh.” The knowing look in his gaze tells me he doesn’t believe a word I say. Which he shouldn’t. “You thirsty? Hungry? I thought we’d order a pizza once Shep and Jade get here but I have snacks if you want something now.”
I bet he has snacks. Ones that are totally bad for me yet full of delicious calories. I’ve given up on the hardcore dieting thing because it never works for me, but I do try and watch what I eat. “I’ll just have something to drink,” I say as I follow him into the kitchen.
He flicks on the light and I glance around, noting the stainless steel appliances and white marble countertops. The kitchen is nice. The entire house is nice—older but it looks like it’s been renovated inside. I wonder how much it cost. I’m sure he bought it, or his parents did. He owns everything yet I rent and scrape and save and pinch every penny I have.
Wonder what that’s like, to have everything I could ever want, right at my fingertips. I’m supposed to know how that is considering my bogus backstory. But I would really, really love to come clean with him.
Not tonight though. I just…I can’t bring myself to tell him yet.
I’m not ready for him hating me because of the lies.
“What kind of pizza do you like?” He opens the refrigerator double doors and peers inside. “Do you realize that we spent weeks together over the summer and never once ordered a pizza together?”
There were plenty other wonderful, amazing things we could do together, that’s why. “What the hell is wrong with us?” I ask mockingly.
He grins as he peeks around the fridge door. “I wonder that myself. Okay, I have water, OJ, Coke, 7-Up, a variety of beer and a bottle of Grey Goose vodka in the freezer. What do you want?”
“Umm, I’ll have water.” He sends me a look and I sigh. This is just like when he took me to the burger place and forced that Vanilla Coke on me. I still remember how good it tasted. “Fine, a Coke.”