Thanks for following along with my blog tour for the last two weeks! If you’ve missed any of the posts, you can check them out here. And thank you for helping surpass 3,000 followers on Twitter. I promised you all a sneak peek at IGNITED (Sense Thieves #3) if I met my goal, so here is a little preview of a scene with Gabe and Remy for all those people who begged to see more Gabe. (If you joined my Twitter party, you may have already had a sneak peek at this scene.) Without further ado…
I took myself down two flights of stairs, happy to let my mental walls relax once I was away from the others. Keeping my defenses constantly up took energy I didn’t have. At the bottom of the stairs, I hesitated, unsure which way to go. With a shrug, I went toward the direction that faced the street. I passed through the family room Lottie had mentioned and ended up in the wine vault. Dozens of bottles were slotted into the wall in front of me and lined the wooden counters on both sides.
“This place is like the Met,” I muttered. I’d once gotten lost in the huge New York museum, and I felt the same way now.
“It’s easy once you know your way around.”
I whipped around to find Gabe standing in the doorway blocking my exit. He didn’t seem inclined to move aside, either, crossing his ankles and bracing a lean hip against the doorjamb. He watched me, his mouth quirked with another of those odd smiles he’d worn on the plane and at the airport. He reminded me of a cat who had found a mouse to toy with.
“Oh, I think you’re more the cat than the mouse,” he said in a silky voice. “Like a cat, you’re crafty and hard to pin down.”
I narrowed my eyes. “Very funny. Does that make you the mouse?”
“Catch me and find out,” he challenged, his green eyes darkening.
I sucked in a breath as unwanted awareness scorched through me. Embarrassment burned my cheeks. He couldn’t have meant that how it sounded. Because it sounded like the kind of thing a guy told a girl he liked.
“In case you’re confused, Remington, that was me flirting with you. And I more than like you.”
My systems went on red alert, shrieking warnings to my brain. My hands went damp with nerves, and my heart raced like I’d chased a Red Bull with a gallon of espresso.
“Uh, Gabe. I don’t think…” I stumbled to a stop as realization hit. Gabe was flirting with me. If Gabe was flirting with me, then he knew…
His full lips curled into a satisfied smile, making them look more sensuous than usual. “That you and Asher broke up? Hell, yes.”
And damn it if he didn’t look happy about it.
“How?” I said, reduced to a one-word response.
“Lucy. She let it slip on the plane. And before you get angry at her, she had no clue that I didn’t know.” Gabe straightened, taller and bigger than I’d remembered. More everything than I’d remembered. I took a quick step back and he matched it with one forward. “What I find really interesting, Remington, is that you didn’t tell me in all the times we’ve talked.”
It was ridiculous to feel stalked, right? I knew Gabe. He was my friend. And yet I glanced both ways, looking for a way to escape. “Don’t read into it. Asher’s reasons for breaking up with me are tied to what’s happening to him. I thought it wasn’t my place to tell you about that.”
“No,” Gabe answered emphatically, taking another sure step when I stumbled back. “That’s not it.”
Affronted, I came to an abrupt halt. “Excuse me? Are you calling me a liar?”
“About this?” He stopped, too, and tilted his head to one side like he was considering it. Then he said, “Yes.” I gathered myself up to yell at him, but he stalled me by pressing a finger to my lips. “Before you argue, let me add that I don’t think you’re doing it intentionally.”
“What are you talking about?” I mumbled against his skin.
He dropped his arm. “I think maybe you know that you and I could have something, and it scares the hell out of you. You didn’t tell me about Asher ending things because you’re afraid to give us a chance.”
I glared at him. “Nice theory, but I’ve told you that we’re just friends. It’s been two weeks since Asher and I broke up, and my feelings haven’t suddenly changed because we’re not together.”
I thought maybe I’d gone too far, that maybe I’d hurt his feelings, but Gabe raised one brow and leaned forward to say, “I agree. You’ve had feelings for me since San Francisco.”
Denial rose up fast and furious, and I shook my head. He was insane. He’d gone completely mental. I opened my mouth to tell him, and that’s when he took two giant steps forward, invading my space with all his muscles. I tripped away until my back hit the wall. I had nowhere to go, and Gabe was practically plastered to my front. I threw a panicked gaze his way and slid to one side to duck past him. He planted a hand on the wall by my shoulder, ending that plan. He did the same on the other side, before the thought occurred to me to change direction.
I was caught between his body and the wall. I stared up at him, helplessly confused. “Gabe…”
“Have I ever told you what it was like when my parents died?” I shook my head, thrown by the non sequitur. The last thing I’d expected him to talk about was his parents. “Asher was eighteen and Lottie sixteen. We had suddenly become immortal in a battle that we didn’t intend to fight. Our parents and older brother were dead. And I’d suddenly become responsible for keeping my family together.”
“I’m sorry,” I whispered, trying to concentrate on his words. It became more difficult when our breaths synchronized and our bodies brushed with each inhalation.
“We got by. Everything I’ve done since that day has been about keeping my family safe. All of my choices have been about them. Where we lived. How we lived. What was best for them, even when it meant giving up what I wanted. Because I was the oldest. And I was okay with that.”
I got that. Hadn’t my life changed when Lucy had become my responsibility? Gabe’s breath brushed my face, and I trembled. Duh, it’s cold in here, I told myself.
“And then you came along. Tradition and history say the Healer bonds to the oldest brother, but then you’re not like other Healers.” He shook his head ruefully. “No, you fall for my brother and bond to him. I wanted you for myself, but I stepped aside. Because I love Asher. And I hated watching you together, but I tried to be okay with that, too.”
He took an extra deep breath, touching me from chest to waist in an action I suspected was deliberate. I held my breath for all of two seconds and then gasped for air. Because I’m dying from lack of oxygen. Obviously.
“Why are you telling me this?” I asked, jumping when his hands landed on my shoulders.
“When you chose Asher in September, I left to give you both space. But now my brother has made his choice. I love him, but he had his chance, and I’m not leaving again.”
Gabe’s fingers traced my shoulders and stroked upward to cup my neck. His thumbs tipped my chin up. The heat in his eyes weakened my knees, and I would have fallen if my hands weren’t braced against the wall behind me.
“I’m rushing you, and I’m confusing the hell out of you. This isn’t the right time. I know that. But I heard your thoughts on that roof, Remington. You’re planning on leaving when we find your dad. I can’t let you go without giving us a try. This time I’m going after what I want.”
He bent his knees and leaned in to press his lips to my neck. His mouth kissed a damp path to my ear, and I shuddered at the steam, hotter than fire, curling under my skin. His words tickled my hair when he whispered, “This is me giving you fair warning that I’m going to chase you with everything I have, and when you decide to let me catch you, you’ll never doubt how much I love you. Even when I become a weak human and you can kick my ass six ways to Sunday.”
What did you think?