“You feel good back in my arms, Ali,” he whispers into my hair.
I squeeze him, rub my face against the solid wall of his chest. “I can’t believe you’re here.”
He reaches for my face, his fingers slipping beneath my chin and he tips my head back. “I couldn’t stand being without you,” he says, his glowing gaze wandering all over my face, like he’s trying to take me in all at once. “I finally couldn’t take it anymore and went to the airport yesterday.”
I frown. “Yesterday?”
Tristan nods, smoothing back my hair from my forehead. “I had to wait on standby. That took forever. Once I finally got a seat, the flight was delayed because of weather. There was a blizzard.”
“That sounds dangerous,” I murmur.
“And frustrating. By the time I finally made it to San Francisco, I was so fucking relieved. Only to discover because of the delay, they gave away my seat on my connecting flight. So I had to wait on standby again.”
“Oh, Tristan.” I can’t believe he did all that for me. Suffered through traveling woes just to be with me on Christmas.
I remember saying when this first started between us that I wanted him to show me how he felt. His words were meaningless. He was always full of words. I wanted to see actions.
What he suffered through to get to me says so much. More than his words could ever tell me.
“Oh great, now I gotta deal with you two again?” Conrad appears in front of us, his hair a mess, his expression sleepy. He looks at Tristan. “What are you doing here? Are you Santa Claus or what?”
“Ho motherfucking ho,” Tristan jokes as he claps Conrad on the shoulder. “Thanks for taking care of Alexandria for me.”
Conrad’s eyes widen. “Yeah. Uh, sure man. No problem.” He looks at me. “Merry Christmas to you both.”
“Merry Christmas,” I tell him as I pull out of Tristan’s hold and take his hand, dragging him back to my bedroom with me. The moment the door’s closed I’m pressed against it, Tristan’s hands on my waist, his mouth on mine. He kisses me long and deep, his tongue searching, his hands gripping me tight.
I wrap myself around him and he lifts me up, his hands on my butt, his erection rubbing the aching spot between my legs. When he finally breaks the kiss to run his lips down my neck I’m breathless, overcome with the need to get him naked and in my bed.
“You greeted me at the front door in just your underwear,” he murmurs against my skin.
Oh. Crap. “I have a T-shirt on,” I point out weakly.
“Yeah, but no pants. Wearing sexy black lacy panties too.” He lifts his head to smile at me. “You gave Conrad quite the show.”
“Oh my God,” I whisper, hanging my head. “I’m an idiot.”
“But you’re my idiot.” He touches my cheek and I tip my head back, smiling up at him. “You look adorable in those sexy black lacy panties.”
I rub myself against his hard cock, driving both him and myself out of our minds. He has way too much clothing on. “I think I’d look even better out of them.”
“You think so?”
“I know so.” I nod. “I think you should take them off me and see.”
He raises a brow. “I’d love to do that.”
“Mmm, hmm.” He squeezes my butt, pulling me in as close as I can get to him. “Love to do just about anything to you as long as you’re naked.”
“Only if you’re naked too,” I point out.
“I can make that happen,” he says solemnly.
I’m a jittery, anxious mess, nervous as fuckity-fuck. To the point that everyone notices—and I mean everyone, and they’re all giving me endless shit for it too.
“What the heck’s wrong with you? You’re acting like a freak.” Kelli asks.
“You have restless leg syndrome or what?” That’s from Shep.
“If you don’t stop pacing you’re going to wear a path in the carpet.” That original line is from Conrad.
“Whatever you’re planning on doing, you’ll be fine.” Steven, that too-astute motherfucker reassures me.
There were other comments but I’ll refrain from sharing them. I haven’t seen Jade or Lucy today, and I’m sure they would have commentary as well so it’s best that they’re off doing those Valentine’s Day things girls are so wont to do on this shitty, hateful holiday.
I know this is the holiday of love and all that bullshit but I’ve never been a big believer. Always thought this day was created to make people feel either guilty or unlovable. I’ve felt both plenty of times, but not any longer.
Now that Alexandria is in my life, I know without a doubt I’m loved.
“Where is she?” I ask Kelli, my hand in my front pocket, jangling my keys again and again. She sends me a look, like she wants to kick my ass before she checks her phone.
“She’s still at work,” she says, her gaze lifting to meet mine. “She’s off at five. You already know this.”
I do, but I’m anxious. It’s four-forty-two right now. “Can’t she get off early?”
“Why don’t you ask her if she can get off early?” Kelli retorts.
“Hell no. That’ll look too obvious if it comes from me.”
She rolls her eyes but otherwise says nothing. Just cuddles close on the couch with Steven while Conrad and Shep—yes freaking Shep—play Mario Kart.
“Why are you even here?” I ask Shep when the races ends and Conrad kicks his ass. Again. “Shouldn’t you be off romancing Jade?”
Shep throws down his control in frustration. “I need to go in a few minutes. Jade wanted me out of the house for the afternoon. I think she’s baking stuff.”
“Nice.” Jade shows her love for Shep by making him cupcakes and cookies. He’s lucky he doesn’t have a gut because Jade clearly loves him a lot.
“I think she’s making a chocolate cake. Her specialty.” He pats his flat stomach. “And my favorite.”
“What are you getting her?”
“I already gave her flowers.”
“That’s it?” I’m incredulous. Their first V-day together and he only gets her flowers?
“And some jewelry.” He shrugs. “I got her a white gold necklace with a diamond pendant.”
I nod my approval. Jade will love it. She loves anything Shep does for her. Their relationship is solid. They’ve been together almost a year and I can see it lasting a lot longer.
I see Alexandria and I lasting a long time too.
The gambling business, on the other hand, is winding down. We’re all too busy with school, too distracted by our women to even want to keep the thing open. As of March first, the doors are closing for good.
And not a one of us is filled with regret over that decision.
“Oh, she’s leaving!” Kelli screeches, making me whirl around to find her watching me. She’s bouncing up and down on the couch, Steven shifting away from her. “She’ll be home in ten. I let her borrow my bug to drive to work.”
Ah, shit. Time for me to spring into action. “Thanks Kel. I appreciate the updates.”