“I want you to spend some time with Veronica tonight during the festivities.” Hunter continued straightening his tie in the bathroom mirror; obviously ignoring the glare Gazelle sent his way. “This isn’t a request,” he continued when Gazelle opened her mouth to object. His hands smoothed down his brown dress shirt.
She pushed up from the bed, her hands clenching at her side, frustration flaring inside of her. The thought of spending any more time with Veronica unsettled her, but what bothered her more was the fact that it felt like Hunter was dismissing her.
Some stupid part of her hoped they’d spend the night together. The second night of Hunter’s parties was typically formal and romantic. It was less about the sex, more about growing closer to whomever you connected with the previous evening. He’d even laid out a red sequin dress that clung to her figured when she’d put it on, the slit riding high on her thigh. The way his eyes lingering on her warmed places that just cooled down, but his sending her off to hang out with Veronica had her shimmering with a different kind of heat.
“And where will you be?” She watched as he slicked his hand through his hair.
Hunter glanced at her through the mirror, his face neutral. “Doing my duties as host.” She waited for further explanation, but he stepped into his closet without another word.
Gazelle fumed as she stood there, her anger out of proportion, but she let it build. If he couldn’t stand to spend some time with her, why should she deign to stick around? For the first time in twenty-four hours, she considered walking out and putting some distance between them.
When he reentered the room, she folded her arms across her chest. “And what if I don’t want to stay with Veronica? I didn’t come here to spend time with her.” She did nothing to hide her resentment
He leveled her with a narrowed eyed look. She swallowed and took a step back when he advanced on her. She found herself trapped against the bed with no way out, his big body pinning her there. They were face to face, each warring for control until Gazelle dropped her eyes. She didn’t want to fight, but she didn’t know how to tell him exactly how she felt.
They remained where they were for long moments, silence reigning between them. Calloused fingers slid under he chin and tilted her head back up. Even though she could still feel his tension, his touch was gentle as were his clear blue eyes.
“I need you to trust me, Elle. I need you to remember I won’t do anything to hurt you, that I’m in control.” He brushed his lips across hers, soft and gentle. “Trust me,” he whispered as he kissed her again.
What remained of her anger melted away under the pressure of his lips. She trusted him to do what was right for her, and she’d trust him to take care of her tonight. Gazelle was willing to demonstrate her trust by staying with Veronica.
“I trust you, Hunter.” She hesitated for a moment and then let the words slip out. “I love you, too.”
A wealth of emotions flickered in his eyes, and Gazelle held her breath. Something in her shifting as she watching the slow intake of his breath.
“Gazelle.” She shivered at the husky way he spoke her name. He took another breath, his eyes locked on hers. “I need to tell you something.”
The air seized in her lungs as she waited. She needed to hear those words from him, needed to feel a release of those emotions.
A smile tipped his lips and her heart started to race. “I —“
The sharp knock halted whatever he meant to say. His face scrunched in irritation and pushed away from her. Watching him walk away, his back straight as he went to the door caused something to deflate inside of her.
Foolish tears flooded her eyes. Just like her mother, she’d managed to give too much of herself away.
The sound of Luke’s voice drew her from her sorrow. She needed to get out of this room. Pushing away from where she’d perched on the bed, Gazelle dashed across the room and out of the door before either man could stop her. Hunter’s call didn’t even reach her ears as she strode away. Sometimes running away is the best thing a person could do.
Luke turned to him, one eyebrow raised in question. “I don’t know much, but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t good.”
“Shut up.” Hunter turned back into the room. He had to quell the urge to muss his hair, frustration zinged through him. Instead he shrugged on his suit jacket and tried to find some calm. “You’re early.”
“No, I’m right on time, just like you asked.” Hunter could feel Luke’s knowing look, but intentionally ignored it as he checked his appearance in the mirror one last time. “Gazelle looked absolutely delicious this evening. I’ll have to make sure I ask her for a dance later.”
The anger he’d just began to tamp down flare hot. In a flash, Hunter pinned Luke to the wall with an arm to his throat. Luke stared him down, his face passive, his body totally relaxed even under the pressure of Hunter’s arm.
Stepping back, ashamed of himself, he paced away. Hunter felt out of control. He couldn’t think straight, couldn’t handle the image of Gazelle in anyone else’s arms; not even his best friend’s. To Luke’s credit, he didn’t retaliate no matter how deserved it was.
“I’m sorry man,” Hunter uttered after stopping his frantic pacing. Swallowing hard, he finally met his friend’s eyes. “I’m just on edge, I didn’t mean to take it out on you.”
Luke crossed his arms over his chest and shrugged. “You love her, man. I get it. That’s why I’m asking if you really want my help tonight. It won’t bother me a bit if you told me to stay the hell away from her.”
Hunter really searched his face. While something sad flickered in the man’s dark eyes, there was nothing hidden in his gaze. Hunter sighed, “No, I understand what I’m getting into.”
A short nod let Hunter know he understood. “Did you tell her you loved her yet?”
Something painful burst in his chest as he thought about that moment just before Luke knocked. Gazelle’s open face, so full of love, was seared into his brain. When he’d failed to say what she needed to hear, she’d shut down right before his eyes. He’d been a jackass by letting anything distract him long enough to let her get away.
He grit his jaw. “I will.”
“And what has you so pouty this evening?” Veronica’s soft purr drew Gazelle from her musings. The music pulsed slow and low, setting a relaxing tone that allowed her to drift off in thought. Hunter dominated each one so she was glad for the distraction.
Straightening on the plush white sofa, Gazelle tried to plaster on a bright smile. “I’m great. Just enjoying the music.” Her smile felt too brittle so she lifted her drink to her lips.
“Bullshit.” The drink was taken from her hands. “You’ve been distracted and less than accommodating all evening. Don’t think I didn’t notice how you followed Hunter around the room. If you’re upset, you should talk to me about it.”
The redhead’s hair was pinned up in an intricate style that seemed to defy gravity, and her green strapless dress barely covered her breasts and the split hem showed more of her thigh than it hid. Her pale white skin seemed to shimmer in the low light. Some jealous part of Gazelle, the part that wasn’t attracted to Veronica, hated her for how sensual she looked.
Gazelle let her eyes sweep over the other woman. “If you’re aiming for friendship, it may be better to shot for a tone that’s less demanding.”
Glossy lips lifted in a wicked smile, green eyes sparkling with undisguised mirth. “Apologies. Old habits.” Veronica brushed those lips across Gazelle’s cheek.
Instead of leaning away, she stayed close. Her smell, so intoxicating, swirled around Gazelle as her breath fanned over her ear and shoulder. It was difficult to suppress a shiver at that contact. “Back off,” Gazelle murmured.
Veronica laughed softly. Her voice was husky when she whispered back. “But you’re so fun to play with.” Gazelle felt a hand skate up her thigh, dragging the hem of her dress to her waist. “I know you want me, I felt when you licked my pussy so well.”
Gazelle tried to focus on the couples dancing instead of the feeling of fingernails grazing the crouch of her panties. Wetness dampened the thin material, doing nothing to hide her arousal. She turned her head so their faces were close, close enough that Gazelle could taste Veronica’s sweet breath as she inhaled.
“I love Hunter.” Saying it again, saying to someone else other than him made it sound so much more real. She couldn’t help smiling. Even with things unsettled between them, Gazelle felt excitement at admitting her feelings.
Something hot flickered in Veronica’s eyes. “Then maybe I can have you both.” She pressed against the wet gusset. “I’d command you both at the same time. Make him take you while you licked me again. Would you like that?”
More heat unfurled inside of Gazelle at that thought, but she wouldn’t give the other woman an inch. “You’d have to ask Hunter since he’s my master.”
“I’ll definitely have to do that.” Veronica took her mouth in a hard kiss, pushing her back against the sofa. There was no gentleness in this kiss, only promises of future possession. Gazelle let herself be swept away by the smaller woman’s dominance.
When Veronica pulled away, her lips were swollen and her eyes heavy lidded. Her tongue peeked out and Gazelle watched as it trekked across her mouth. “I think I need to replenish my lipstick.”
The way her eyes glittered as she rose made Gazelle nervous, but pretended not to notice or understand what was unspoken between them. “I’ll just refill my drink.”
Gazelle waited until Veronica disappeared into the crowd before leaning back in the chair. She wished desperately for Hunter at that moment, but was reminded that he’d sent her to be chaperoned instead of spending time with her himself. Sighing, Gazelle decided to follow through on her desire to get a drink. She needed something else to focus on.