“I bought a ring.” Kevin reached into his pants pocket, somehow making Stella feel even worse. A ring! All that trouble he went through only to take it back.
“It’s a whole carat, too,” he said. He flicked the burgundy box open.
Stella stared down at it without truly seeing it, feeling lower than low. “Oh, Kevin.” She felt absolutely horrible. First she’d made Gabriel’s life hell, and now, it was Kevin’s turn. She lifted her lashes to him, desperately searching for the right words.
“I’m sorry to interrupt, but I believe this is my cue.”
Stella jerked her head back as that husky voice poured over her like honey. A looming figure stepped out of the shadows of a tree and into her line of vision. Oh, my God, Gabriel, in broad daylight, looked bigger than a live Paul Bunyan. If Stella had thought he would die like some kind of vampire under the sun, she needed to think twice.
Gabriel looked just as at home under the light as in the darkness in which he hid, every inch of his long, sinewy body exuding maleness and strength. As Kevin rose and turned around to scowl at him, Gabriel’s presence made him look pale in comparison. Gabriel was tall, broad-shouldered, and in command even of the space around him, while Kevin looked slim and unimportant.
“Umm. Do you mind?” Kevin asked, looking both confused and irritated by the interruption.
Gabriel eyed Kevin in derision, measuring his height and breadth. “Yes, I do mind,” he finally said. “The lady’s spoken for.” Then those piercing black eyes clashed with hers. “Hello, Stella.”
Stella had gone mute, and hoped to God Gabriel couldn’t hear her thoughts, for all she could think of was being ravaged, pilfered…robbed completely of her innocence again, by none other than the town villain.
If he ripped her clothes off and took her, right there on the bench, she wouldn’t have summoned up a protest. She stifled a shudder, her nipples brushing against her shirt, aching for his mouth, her sex pulsing so hard she had to press her legs shut to still it.
Kevin was too outraged and offended to even notice her turmoil. He was staring at Gabriel with a scowl, hands balled at his sides. “Spoken for?” Kevin said. “By whom?”
Gabriel smiled, a smile for her alone, one that made her heart trip. “By me.”
Stella blinked, nearly choking on a breath, as Gabriel let his gaze wander deliberately over her body. I want you too. Right there on the bench, spreading your legs for me.
Realizing he was indeed reading her thoughts, Stella blushed crimson. How embarrassing! She was grateful for Kevin’s interruption.
“And just who in the world are you?” Kevin looked disgusted by Gabriel’s soiled clothes, and though Gabriel was taller, Kevin somehow made it appear as if he were looking down his nose at him. “I haven’t seen you before in my life!”
Gabriel spared Kevin as much attention as one would to a fly, instead cocked an eyebrow at her and crossed his arms over his chest. “Care to exp
lain to him, Stella?”
Now what exactly was it that she should explain? she wondered. That, even now, as she stared at him, in broad daylight, she felt like fainting from sheer, mindless lust? That she’d taken his body and offered her own in trade, for all eternity?
“Are you going to explain me to him, or should I?” Gabriel prodded, his eyes glimmering darkly. His words oozed sex almost as much as every one of his pores did, and she blushed down to the roots of her hairs when her mind began to wander again.
She remembered. Exactly. How his kisses felt. His hands felt. The way he fucked her: hard and bad and deliciously.
She rose slowly, her feet unsteady. “Gabriel, what are you even doing—”
“Stella, who is this creep?” Kevin asked.
“Yes, Stella, who am I?” Gabriel repeated. “More importantly, what am I to you?” Gabriel seemed as eager to know the answer as Kevin, his jaw harsh with determination. What on earth did Gabriel expect her to say? She’d barely been able to admit to her lust in the darkness; now he wanted her to do so in public? He really was a villain!
“He’s nobody you know, Kevin,” she said.
“Oh, I’ll bet he knows me,” Gabriel told her. “I’ll bet he knows a whole lot about me.”
Stella stared at Gabriel, her brow marred in a scowl. “What are you doing?”
His voice dropped, the tone a silky whisper as his eyes fell to her mouth. “I want to know what it is I am to you. I want to hear it from your lips.”
She glared at him. As if he didn’t know!
You’re the man I offered my body to.
Gabriel was silent for a moment, as if that wasn’t exactly what he’d wanted to hear. “Is that all?”