“I’m about to.” He sat in her chair and rolled himself right between her spread thighs, working her with his finger the entire time. “Except I want dessert first.”
Dessert? Couldn’t he just be into chocolate or ice cream like most people?
“This is so inappropriate,” she murmured, but she made no attempt at stopping him.
He paused, his head level with the juncture above her thighs. “Oh, this is totally appropriate.”
Before she could question his reasoning, he dipped his head. The very next second, his greedy mouth was on her, his fingers spreading her so his tongue slipped in deep. The first lick nearly had her crying out as she clutched the edges of the desk.
Everything was quickly spiraling out of control. She was at work for f**k’s sake, in her office for her public relations job, and there was a man’s face between her thighs and his tongue—
“Oh,” she gasped as he sucked on the sensitive nub. “Chandler.”
He growled against her, and her body coiled impossibly tight. Who was she kidding? Things weren’t spiraling out of control. She was completely under his control. The realization was as frightening as it was thrilling and it nearly toppled her right over the edge.
Passion consumed her. It was too much, and in the same sense, not enough. She threw her head back as he delved deep with his tongue. Violent jolts of sheer pleasure coursed through her and she bit her lip, to the point that she tasted blood, to keep from crying out. Release shattered her as she surrendered to the pleasure, to his power and control.
When the tremors subsided, Alana was a weak heap on her desk. A huge part of her didn’t even care that they had done that in her office. Right now, she didn’t care about anything.
Unexpected late-morning orgasms were better than Valium.
Chandler rose, carefully tugging down her skirt. He lifted her off the desk, placing her on her feet. He held her to his chest, as if he knew there was a good chance her legs wouldn’t hold her.
Pressing his lips to the corner of her mouth, he smiled devilishly. “That was the best damn dessert I’ve ever had.”
Chandler knew the only reason Alana went along with him and let him pick the restaurant without arguing was because she was still rocking some major post-orgasmic bliss. Which was good, because he wanted to eat somewhere he knew the exact placement of all the exits, the staff, and the easiest route to get in and out of. One could never be too safe, especially with the sudden appearance of Brent King.
And he could admit the smug grin he wore had everything to do with him being the reason she was in the relatively easygoing mood. But as they waited for their food to arrive and after Alana had spoken about one of her clients, he wondered about the flowers and what Murray had said Saturday night. Was there an ex? Was there someone else?
His hand clenched into a fist atop the table at the thought of anyone else being with her. He so did not like the idea of that. Not at all. But then that left it potentially being someone like Brent, and that… yeah, that was worse.
Alana gave him the perfect opportunity when she asked about the status of the suspects she’d provided him. Telling her about William and Ms. Ward, he watched her intently. Disappointment pulled at the corners of her lips. He couldn’t blame her for that. The quicker they figured out who was behind this, the better. This whole situation was out of her hands and he knew it was driving her control-loving ass crazy.
“We won’t be able to talk to the actress until next week and we’re still trying to track down her friends, but obviously one of them has just bumped his ass to the top of my list,” he finished, pausing when their plates arrived. He let her get in a few bites of her salad before he jumped on the more important question. “So you don’t know who the roses were from?”
She shook her head as she met his gaze. “No. I really thought they were from you. I mean, I have no idea who else could’ve sent them or had any reason to. So, yeah, that was sort of awkward.”
Unease festered in his gut. Who would send that amount of flowers and not take credit? He believed her when she said she didn’t know, but…
“Did you catch what flower shop they came from?” he asked.
“No.” She sighed, stabbing a piece of grilled chicken with a vengeance. “He was in and out super fast, and I was busy staring at them…” Her eyes lit up. “But the front desk should have the info. Whenever someone is delivering something, they make him or her sign in.”
“We need to get that info when we go back.”
Her brows pinched and her tiny nose wrinkled. “Why? You don’t think it has anything to do with the creep?” She seemed to come to the realization on her own, because her face paled and she placed her fork to the side. “Oh my God, you think it was him? That he sent me the flowers? That’s so…so f**king creepy.”
His lips twitched at the curse, but the smile quickly slipped away when he realized the topic had stolen her appetite. Part of him hated that he’d brought it up then, but it was too late to change that now and he did have a job to do.
Sexy fun times aside, Alana was a job, and he was forgetting that.
Sitting back, he rubbed at the scar along his shoulder. An odd feeling poured into his chest, making him want to crawl into the booth beside her and cradle her close, like he had wanted to at dinner last night. The feeling had a name. Tenderness?
She folded her napkin into a neat triangle. “Why would this person vandalize my car and my apartment, then send me roses? That doesn’t make any sense.”
“It doesn’t.” He took a sip of his water, watching her over the rim. “Not if it were a client.”
Alana frowned. “It has to be a client.”
“Does it?” Even with Brent being here, something about that didn’t sit right with him.
Her lips, the very ones he’d been kissing not too long ago, parted, but the waitress stopped by with their check. Irritation pricked at his skin as he took care of the bill before Alana could. Her frown grew into a scowl.
“What’s happening here is personal,” he said, sitting back against the booth. “At least, that’s what my experience is telling me.”
Flipping the long length of her ponytail over her shoulder, she shook her head. “I think your experience isn’t helping you here.”
He shot her a dark look. “That’s doubtful.”
“Well, you’re wrong.” She reached for her purse and started to slide out of the booth. “I would know if it were someone personal, wouldn’t I?”
“Maybe,” he said, following her. The line of her shoulders was tense. Instinct grumbled at him. “But the roses? The ripping up of all your personal items? It sounds like an ex-boyfriend and not a ticked-off client.”
Alana all but punched the door open and stepped out into the strong early afternoon sun. The streets were crowded and she was walking fast, but he caught up with her easily.
“In a hurry to get back to work?” he said, placing a hand on her lower back.
She glanced at him, her expression unreadable. “Yes.”
He kept his hand on her, an intimate gesture that served two purposes. He’d be able to react if someone rushed her, and it also pacified his need to touch her, but it wasn’t enough. He draped his arm over her shoulders, keeping her close to his side. “I need you to be honest with me, Alana. If it’s something personal, it changes everything.”
She held her purse close and squinted up at him, the movement forcing them to stop along the curb, near the busy intersection leading toward her office. “How so?” she demanded, her eyes flashing in those narrow slits. “A psycho is a psycho.”
“Not really.” He scanned the streets and then looked down at her, capturing her gaze. She was the first to look away, focusing her stare over his shoulder. The sudden feeling that there was something she wasn’t telling him was hard to ignore. “Alana, when it’s someone personal, it can be a hell of a lot more dangerous, you feel me?”
“Yeah, I feel you.” She tucked a tiny strand that had escaped her ponytail behind her ear. “I’m not sure what you want me to say.” A car horn blew, silencing her for a moment. “There isn’t a man in my life. There hasn’t been one for a while, especially not one who was this upset, and…” Giving a little shake of her head, she blew out a breath. “No. That’s insane.”
He drew her closer, farther into his body. “What? What are you—?”
Alana’s mouth dropped open and whatever she said was lost in a rising, sudden tide of screams and hoarse shouts. He started to turn, to shield Alana as a gunshot rang out, surprisingly loud among the chaos. But small hands landed on his back, pushing him—pushing him aside. He stumbled off the curb. For a brief second, he was absolutely dumbfounded until a soft cry sent shards of ice down his spine.
Police officers swarmed out of nowhere, rushing through the stopped traffic, coming from behind them and in front of them, their dark blue uniforms almost black in the sunlight. They tackled a man to the ground as Chandler finally got his hands on Alana, circling an arm around her waist. Turning to her felt like he was moving in quicksand. He couldn’t believe it. He refused to believe that she had pushed him out of the way.
“Alana, what in the hell…?” He trailed off, his body turning to stone.
She stared up at him, her eyes wide and full of shock. In horrified silence, he watched the blood rapidly drain from her face and the light dull from her dark eyes. No—no, no. In a near panic, his gaze rushed over her, and his heart dropped clear out of his chest. A red stain appeared on her left shoulder, rapidly spreading along the breast of her tan suit jacket.
“Ouch,” she whispered, lashes fluttering closed. Her body went limp in his arms.
“Alana!” he shouted, cradling her to his chest as he brought her down to the sidewalk. No f**king way, this is not happening! “Come on, baby, open your eyes.”
A group was gathering around them, but he barely paid them any attention. Placing his hand on her shoulder, he winced as his fingers were immediately covered in her blood.
“Alana, open your goddamn eyes!”
But like usual, she didn’t listen to him. She didn’t open her eyes.
There had only been three times in Chandler Gamble’s life that he could say he’d tasted true fear. Once when Maddie was ten years old and had thrown herself off the top of one of those playground deathtraps to gain Chase’s undivided attention. He’d really thought that the girl was going to break her neck as she came winging down to earth. Chase had broken her fall.
The second time had been when he’d come home from school one afternoon in December and found the typically quiet house too quiet. Something inside him had driven him upstairs, to his mother’s bedroom. He’d found her cold and lifeless in her bed, still in her silk pajamas, a bottle of nearly empty prescription pills on the nightstand. Until he’d realized that there was nothing he could do to help her, that she was dead, he’d been scared out of his mind trying to make her breathe.
And as he held Alana’s still body in his arms, he had felt the cold bite of fear for the third time in his life.
“This is an entirely f**ked-up situation,” Murray said from the doorway.
He didn’t look up or even think about pulling his gaze away from the still, pale form on the bed. He hadn’t looked away since the nurse came out and asked if he was family. He’d told him that he was Alana’s boyfriend. Knowing the damn spitfire, she’d be pissed over that, but he wasn’t going to risk being shut out of the room.
And hell would freeze over before he let her wake up alone or with strangers.
Murray cleared his throat. “You doing okay? The nurse outside said it was basically a flesh wound. That she’d be okay.”
That was the good news. The bullet had made a clean entry and exit. The scar would be minimal and she’d wake up soon and would be able to go home—home with him.
“She…” He cleared the strange lump from his throat. “She pushed me out of the way, Murray. What in the hell? It’s my job to keep her safe, and she pushes me out of the way and takes a bullet.”
Murray ambled over to the bed, staring down at the sleeping woman. A look of respect carved into his harsh features. “A bullet that would’ve surely smacked you in the back and done some damage.”
“Yeah,” he muttered, smoothing a hand down his jaw. He was still stunned, absolutely awed. “She pushed me out of the way.”
“I know.” Murray flashed a quick grin. “Guess there was a role reversal you were unaware of, huh?”
“No shit.” He coughed out a dry laugh as he reached across the off-white blanket and carefully picked up her hand. He threaded his fingers through hers and squeezed gently. “I don’t know if I should be thankful or pissed.”
“Probably a little of both,” he replied, staring at their joined hands. Chandler knew how it looked, but he didn’t care. Not even when Murray made the next statement. “You’ve got feelings for her.”
It wasn’t a question, more like an observation, and Chandler wasn’t one to bullshit. “Yeah, I do.”
Saying that out loud wasn’t an earth-shattering event. Neither was the fact that he hadn’t known her for years. Perhaps he’d realized this would happen when she walked back into his life last week, and it had only been strengthened when she trembled in bliss in his arms. Now that she had risked her life for his, foolishly so, there was no denying the warmth building in his chest, encasing his heart. He wasn’t sure what it meant, but he did know she meant something to him.