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Authors: Sabrina Lacey

Stand Close 1 (6 page)

BOOK: Stand Close 1
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Rue

W
e walk
through the hallway as the lights of the club flash in time with my heart’s steady beat. Ba Boom. Ba Boom. Ba Boom. I interlace my fingers through his and he gives my hand a firm squeeze. Where are we going? I don’t even care. All I can think of is him. Holding my hand. Coming to my rescue.

Alec Gabriel cares about my safety. He knows who I am.

He walks up to the bouncer at the front of the club. “Desiree punched Rue. She’s trapped in the bathroom.”

Dark Shades doesn’t lift an eyebrow or miss a beat. “I’ll take care of it.” He raises his dark hand and makes a signal like a catcher to the pitcher at the bottom of the Ninth. As we walk away from the club, I glance behind to see two guys heading in to handle the problem, the word SECURITY in bold white letters across the backs of their black shirts. Security. That’s exactly what they offer.

Alec and I walk in silence past the valet who does a double take as he recognizes Alec. I feel like I’m in a dream, so when the guy smiles at me, I don’t smile back. I just keep following the leader. My leader.

We turn a corner. As soon as we’re out of sight of the club, Alec backs me up against a graffiti’d wall and lets go of my hand to touch my face and turn my chin from side to side, checking if I’m bruised. His body is five inches from mine. His face is close enough that if I leaned forward just a little bit, we’d be kissing. The deep timber of his voice ricochets through my body. “Does it hurt? Are you okay?” As I look at his lips, they part. We don’t speak for a few heated seconds.

Oh, did you ask me something?

“I’m okay. It doesn’t hurt anymore.” I sound like I’m saying
Take me to bed,
but I can’t help it. He’s formed a human shield around me and the sense of protection is a tonic I’ve never known. “You’re so warm, Alec.”

He smiles just for me, his eyes locked on mine. “You’re a couple steps above that.” His hand goes up on the wall above my shoulder and he looks at my lips. I back into the wall as though it’s pliable. It isn’t. He looks down at my cleavage and holds there. His hand comes up. With shortened breaths, I look down at his fingers and watch.

“Oh my God. Yes…” I whisper.

His eyes meet mine, a flicker of something heavy behind them. “What?”

With shortened breaths, aching for him everywhere, I can’t believe I hear myself saying, “Please touch me.” My breasts rise in anticipation, breath caught in my chest. Frozen, tingling all over, I watch his thick fingertip drift ever so slowly across my soft curves of naked flesh, dipping just a little into my cleavage. I look up and meet his smoldering eyes. He reaches under my dress and tucks his finger into the soft, flimsy fabric of my panties, stroking me softly. He brushes his lips against mine as his finger slips inside my folds just enough where he can touch the most sensitive spot on my whole body.

“You’re gushing.”

“Mmmhmm,” I moan, parting my lips as he stares at them, hypnotized by my need for more. I’ve never felt this much hunger before. He’s about to kiss me. I can feel it.

“ALEC!” Sean yells. I gasp and look over, dipping out of Alec’s reach, and pulling down my dress. Alec takes a longer time to react. He’s in no hurry. Sean is not his master. He’s his own master and he wants to make that very clear.

But I’m not nearly so confident.

“Oh God. I’m sorry,” I mumble and squirm away from the invisible, sensual grip this beast of a man has me in. Sean has closed the distance to us now, his face a mask of foreshadowing and irritation. “He saved me,” I mumble, realizing how odd that sounds.

“Saved you?” Sean frowns deeply from me to his friend like he’s the one doing the saving, not Alec. “Is that what he was doing?” The sarcasm drips from every word.

“Desiree cornered her in the bathroom and punched her. I saw them going in together and knew there would be trouble,” Alec explains, his manner unhurried, unapologetic.

Sean isn’t impressed.

“Come on, Rue.” Sean holds out his arm to invite me to walk beside him.

I glance to Alec, wishing badly I could stay with him, that he might object and whisk me away to somewhere very, very private. There’s an ache in my chest that feels like it might burst if I can’t touch him. But the look in his eyes tells me silently to go with my brother. I lower my chin, eyelashes falling to the ground as I walk into Sean’s outstretched arm. I steal a furtive glance at Alec as the three of us walk back toward the club, but he’s not looking at me. His body is relaxed, but his eyes are rigid as he strolls with his hands tense in his pockets. I glance down and see he’s hiding an erection. Suddenly my heart flips over and I turn to face the world with a smile of wonder on my face.

Sean stops at the valet and gives him the ticket. Behind me, I feel Alec’s departure before I even see it, like a cord is attached to us and it’s being pulled taut. My head swings around to watch him walking back toward the entrance, the crowd behind the ropes watching him, too.

“Isn’t he coming with us?” I ask, my eyes locked on his back. Jack walks out of the club’s entrance just in time to fist-bump his best friend, wordlessly saying they’ll catch each other later. As Jack meets my eyes with a devilish glitter, Sean warns me, “Forget him, Rue. He’s not the one for you.”

I look up at my new brother and say nothing, because inside I know my response is a loud and resounding
Oh yes he is.

Chapter Seventeen
Alec


W
e got her
. I wasn’t at the door when they let her in but now the guys know who she is,” Gabe explains in a low monotone.

I clasp his shoulder on my way in. “Don’t blame yourself. Desiree always finds a way.”

“Bitches, man.” He adjusts himself on the stool and reaches out for the I.D. of the next person in line.

The music, lights, smells, and sounds of the club all feel very differently from when I arrived earlier. I knew there was a sister before I got his text. Jack filled me in. I knew about the money. I knew about his hatred for the whole situation and I was right there with him. It’s a fucked up turn of events to find out what they found out, and to have all that cash going away to someone they don’t know, but who they have to now call
family..
.it’s fucked up. “You can disown her,” I’d offered when he dropped by my place after the trip downtown to their lawyer’s. “You can act like she doesn’t exist and let her go about her life, with her spending the money you never knew was stashed away for her anyway. What about that?”

He took the beer I offered him and plopped down on my couch. “We had to meet her. We had to see for ourselves who she was. Now Sean’s taken a liking to her.”

Picking my guitar up, I sat back on the ottoman and hit a few chords on a new song. “Of course you had to meet her. I would’ve been curious, too.” I flipped the page of the notebook and wrote down the chord change to f-sharp.

He took a swig and looked into the memory. “She’s a piece of work. Acted like she didn’t care about the money. Can you believe it?”

I raised my eyebrows, trying to picture what she must be like. Shaking my head, I strummed a bit. “No. I really can’t. So, he likes her? Why?”

Jack’s eyes narrowed. “He believes her act. She said she didn’t want the money, didn’t want to take our inheritance from us, blah blah blah. He fell for it and then treated her like she was already part of the family, taking her side over mine. I shit you not. He did that. She’s not family! Family is earned through years of work, arguments, bad holidays...”

I interrupted, “Spoken like a guy who needs to see a shrink.”

He laughed. “Right? Okay, well, my family isn’t going to win the
Leave It To Beaver
award, but it’s mine. And this girl isn’t a part of it just like that.” He snapped his fingers and a loud crack echoed through the room. “Good acoustics.”

“Yeah, that’s why I write here. It’s got a natural reverb.” I set the guitar on the floor next to me and got up to get another beer. “When do I get to meet her?”

“You’re going to hate her,” Jack smirked.

“You think so?” I opened up the fridge, one of four in my three-story house in the hills. The rows of beer are separated by ten different brands all neatly stacked by my maid, just how I like it. I opted for Dos Equis and popped the cap off as I returned to him. “What’s she like?”

“Bland. Goody-two-shoes. Not your type at all.” He reached up his half-drunk beer to clink it against mine.

Giving it a tap, I sat back down, taking a swig after I chuckled, “I’m not interested in dating your secret half-sister, fucker. What kind of friend do you think I am?”

His eyes lit up and he leaned forward with an idea. “You want to make my fucking life?”

My eyebrows rose and I looked at him warily. “I don’t like that look in your eyes.”

He laughed and stuck his tongue on his bottom lip, shaking his head under the pure genius of his plan. I could see it formulating and I was beginning to get the drift of it before he even voiced the words. “Oh man, this is too perfect.”

Picking up my guitar, I plucked a little. “Lay it on me.”

“You’re going to break her heart. That’s what you’re going to do.”

I blinked and paused, my fingers suspending above the strings. Looking at him from under my eyebrows, I asked, “You really want me to do that?”

“I really want you to do that,” he leaned back with a satisfied smile. “She’s a liar, Alec, You’re going to find that out. You’re going to expose her, because I can’t. I’m her brother, and the way to make her melt is out of my power.”

I grimaced at the thought. “Yeah, that’s gross, man.”

He nodded. “But you! You’re free to make her beg. And so that’s what you’re going to do.”

I chuckled and agreed to the plan. It might be amusing, I figured. And I was feeling bored lately. And honestly? I wanted to find out who she was. What better way to know if what he thought about her, was true? Was she acting like a good girl, or was she really one? And if she was, I’d let her loose. It’d be easy. Just turn off the switch and drop her like she didn’t exist. She’d get over me soon enough. They all did. Except Desiree, but that bitch is crazy. Biggest mistake of my life.

And now here I am tonight, walking in a sea of women who at the snap of my fingers would drop their panties for me, and all I can think about is his secret half-sister. I’m glad they left. I’m glad Sean found us. I’m glad Jack didn’t. He might have seen it in my eyes that I was toast.

What the fuck just happened to me?

When I saw her sitting in the booth with Jack’s arm around her and she met my eyes, a part of me locked into place. I felt it viscerally hit my gut. I had to pull my eyes away from her and look out at the nonsense that surrounded us so I could get ahold of myself. Her face was a mess of smudged mascara and flushed cheeks and frankly, she looked like she’d just been fucked. Instantly, I suspected Jack of having done that, and jealousy made me want to punch his smug face. As I stared at a cluster of girls on the dance floor, I had to talk myself off jumping from the high-rise building I was on. I went through the possibilities and realized I was being crazy. Sean was there. He wouldn’t have let Jack do what I was thinking. It was impossible. Then why couldn’t I stop seeing green? It was brutal, and like nothing I’d ever felt.

And just now? When I had her alone and she was looking up at me asking me to touch her?

I wanted to take her against that wall in front of the whole world.

I wanted to punch Sean for stopping me.

I wanted to feast on her, and run from her, at the same time.

“What?”

I look up, with Joey staring at me from across the bar, his hands on the counter. “Hey Joey.”

“You just said something about feasting…”

I cut him off before he can finish. “Working out a new lyric. Get me a beer, would ya?”

“Ah.” He nods, like it makes sense, my lie. “You got it.”

I can’t believe I said that out loud.

Fuck. I’m in trouble.

He returns and hands me an iPhone and a bottle of Stella Artois. “Hey, Sean left this on the bar. This in the wrong hands…”

“Yeah, right? Okay. Thanks.” I tuck it into my pocket and turn to face the club, my elbows on the bar as I lean into it, fingers around the bottle comfortably. Suddenly, I get an idea and pull his phone back out, sliding it open. “No password? Sean. Sean. Sean.” I flick through the contacts list until I find her. Phone number. Address. My cock pulls, getting hard again and I swig my beer, warning myself not to do what I’m thinking of doing.

Fuck it.

I slam the beer on the bar, toss a twenty with it, nod goodbye to Joey and take off.

Chapter Eighteen
Rue


T
hanks for walking me up
. I guess they must have gone home.”

Even so, Sean glances behind a bush and makes a funny face to make light of reporters stalking us. Us. Wow. I’m an ‘
us’
now…

“You’re all good.”

I laugh and glance behind him to the car waiting on the street with my less kind brother in it. “Not with him gunning for me, I’m not.”

A cloud passes over Sean’s blue eyes and he says, quietly. “He needs some time. Let me work on it.”

“Why are you being so nice to me? You have every reason to hate me.” I search him for an answer, truly astonished. He’s got the kind of trustworthy quality that can’t be denied.

“It’s not your fault you were born, Rue. We all come with a cross to bear, but this whole thing, you didn’t know. It’s not like you made my dad…
our
dad…write that will, or keep that secret, or…”

“Have an affair with my mom,” I finish for him. His lips tighten and we stand in my doorway, silent for a moment. “Yeah, I guess you’re right. But still. I appreciate it very much. Thank you.”

His long eyelashes fall to the ground as he thinks of how to take the gratitude. Looking at him now, sweet and without his brother next to him, he looks almost feminine. Before I have time to look any closer, he raises his head and abruptly knocks on the door. “Well, if you need anything. Just call. We’re going out again, but we’ll be in Hollywood, so it’s not that far.”

“You’re going back out now?” Mashing my mouth together, I consider asking to come with them. But they dropped me off for a reason. “Oh wow. Yeah, I’m pretty tired.”

“I figured,” he says, politely.

Are they trying to get rid of me? Suddenly, I’m feeling very, very left out. “Yeah, long day.”

“Yeah. We’ll catch up with you later.” He smiles slightly and turns to go.

“Sean?”

He turns around, a couple steps down the cement path. “Yeah?”

Biting down my feelings, I mutter, “Nothing. Goodnight.”

He gives a short low wave then flips around, stuffing his hands in his pockets. “G’night.”

Inside, I stand with my forehead pressed against my front door, wondering if I was too much trouble for them, what with the crying and the Alec thing. I guess they wanted to be rid of me so they could go have fun. Shit, why couldn’t I have been easier to get along with? Did I ruin things already?

“Please don’t let me have lost them already. I just found them!” I say into the silence of my messy living room. Sighing, I head for the bedroom, beating myself up for all the stupid things I did today and tonight. Did I thank him for the makeover? For dinner? For any of it? I thanked him for being so cool, but when was I cool?

A knock surprises me and I run back in to answer it, unlocking and swinging the door open wide. “I’m so sorry I was…Oh!”

Alec glances to the street quickly and cuts his eyes back to me. “Can I come in?” He brushes past me before getting an answer.

“Of course!” I close the door after sneaking a very quick peek to see if my brothers are still out there. The car is gone. My heart is slamming in my chest as I lock the door and turn to look at Alec Gabriel. We stare at each other, and I can feel my breathing change. The way he’s staring at me is so fucking hot, it takes me a second to realize what’s going on. “They don’t know you’re here, do they?”

A thick lock of hair falls over his forehead as he shakes his head. He pushes it impatiently back, but it falls again as he strides to me quickly with a look in his eyes that makes my body scream. He pins me against the door, bringing my arms above my head before I even know what is happening. We’re inches apart again and I can feel the heat of his body. His breath has the faintest tinge of beer and his eyes are filled with pain. He brings his mouth just short of touching my lips. My breath is coming in short bursts and I tilt my head instinctively. We’re breathing each other’s air and his lips brush mine ever so slightly, sending a shiver down my rising breasts as I crush them into him. With force he releases me and propels himself across the room, holding his hand to his forehead, his back bent and his eyes on the ground. “I can’t. I can’t,” he mutters under his breath.

Staring at him, stunned, I push myself off the door and run at him. He rises in surprise and his arms open. I fall into them, taking his face into my hands and kissing him hard as his arms encircle me. We kiss like we’ve never in our lives kissed anyone before now. It’s so fiercely beautiful that my heart aches as our mouths explore each other. We’re grabbing at our bodies, pulling each other tighter, mashing as close as we can get and it’s never close enough.

“Rue?!” Sean says through the door, knocking loudly.

Panicked, I push off Alec and he stares at the door, panting. I try to sound normal. “Yeah?”

“Open the door.”

BOOK: Stand Close 1
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