Sucker Bet

Read the Excerpt

Gwenna smiled at him, and Nate felt something he sure in the hell shouldn’t. It was a kick of lust, right where it counted. Which scared the crap out of him. The mind was weak at the moment, yet the body still was totally functioning, which made this a bad thing. A stupid idea. This was him with his head up his ass if he went up that elevator with her. He went. Which meant he was a total idiot. But he was on the edge, and he knew it. Everything he felt, everything he’d lost, the hurt, the fear, the bitterness, swirled around inside him and threatened to take him down. He was going to crack, soon, the pressure pulling inside his skull, the lack of sleep, that last phone call to his parents, the indignity of yet another mindless murder on tonight of all nights, pushing and tugging at him. It was Gwenna Carrick or a bottle of Jack, and she was a hell of lot more attractive than him drunk. “What floor?” he asked as they stepped into an elevator with a thirty-something couple who were leaning dangerously close to each other. “Sixteen.” Gwenna glanced over at the pair dressed in cocktail party clothes. Nate watched her eyes widen a little at the fact that the couple was now making out vigorously. With lots of hand, tongue, and leg movement. Well, that was special. Shifting a little to block her view, aware that the guy’s hand had just gone up the woman’s skirt, Nate tried to think of something inane and conversational to say. “So…” He had nothing. Especially since Gwenna had moved a little to see around him. Instead of being appalled at the public fondling, she looked curious. Intrigued. She wet her lips. His own immediate and painful reaction to that was an instant boner. No hesitation, no slow inflate, just up, hard, and ready to go. Which was more disgusting than the happy gropers behind him. He couldn’t understand how he could get an erection on the same night he’d been to a crime scene and watched his sister die. It was like confirmation of everything he’d ever been told by his grandmother- his animalistic male body was totally disconnected from his emotions. On the other hand, maybe it was just a coping mechanism of some kind. Distract him from the rough stuff with a simple physical response. That sounded right on with what a therapist would tell him. But he was starting to think maybe he should have stuck to the Jack Daniels idea, because the last thing he or Gwenna Carrick needed was a one-night stand. The elevator dinged right as the woman let out an encouraging moan in the small space, and her back slammed against the wall from a particularly aggressive lunge at her breasts by her guy. “This is our floor,” Gwenna said. Thank God. They stepped off as Gwenna murmured, “Well, those two are in for a fun night.” “Doesn’t feel very fair, does it?” he said, glancing into the empty spa as she used a key card to open the locked door. “They’re going up without a care in the world to bang each other’s brains out, and here we are. Day from hell for both of us.” She glanced back at him, blue eyes filled with compassion. “I think it’s safe to say yours has been worse from mine.” Damn, she really was beautiful. Just pale and soft, all pink lips and shiny hair. What would she do if he just reached over and kissed her? If he just grabbed on, held tight, and buried himself and all his thoughts inside her? She’d probably kill him or file a rape report. God, he was wrecked. He needed to go home. “Maybe I should just go, Gwenna. I’m fucking walking the edge here… I don’t think I’m very good company.” “Don’t go.” Moving in closer to him, her hair brushed along his jaw, her petite hands touching his chest. “I want you to stay.” Then she tilted her head up to look at him, her fair skin stark in the muted glow from the overnight lights. “Why?” he asked, standing stiffly, aware of how soft she felt, how delicate and feminine, and how much bigger he was than her. The scent of her was delicious- fruity and womanly, with a hint of coffee- and Nate wanted to run his fingers through her pale, silken hair and just let it go, let it all go. “Because I don’t want to be alone,” she said simply. “And neither do you.” Then she lifted her mouth and kissed him.