Pushing up from the couch, Gazelle walked through the crowd. It had thickened already, the carefully dressed participants wrapped up in their selected partner. She imagined that many of the playrooms would be full tonight as well. Would Hunter seek her out, or leave her to her own devices? Maybe spending time apart would be smart so they both could have a clear picture of what they wanted from the relationship.
It was already obvious to her what she wanted might be different from what he wanted.
Halfway to the bar, the crowd did it’s low murmuring that let her know that Hunter had entered the room. It was almost an electric; she could practically feel him even though he wasn’t close to her. Her skin tingled and she found herself looking toward the entrance of the room, looking for him.
The crowd parted just enough as he walked to the raised platform, and like that first night she saw him, their eyes locked. Her breath locked in her chest as the electric feeling grew stronger. Gazelle found she was trapped in his gaze. From the heat in his, she felt his desire and need for her, and it fired her own higher. He winked at her and she dropped her gaze, the spell broken. The crowd closed around him again.
Her heart raced like a wild horse in her chest and for that one moment she’d felt like prey. Shaking off that weird feeling, Gazelle turned head to the bar and ran into a hard chest. She knew without looking that it was Luke she’d run into. The worse feeling of Deja vu ever shivered through her.
“Whoa there,” he said as he pulled her close to his body. “We have to stop meeting like this.”
Unable to help herself, she tossed a look over her shoulder. She could feel Hunter’s eyes on her even if she couldn’t see him. “You always happen to be standing there when I’m trying to run away. You’re pesky like that.”
His shoulder shook as he laughed, his dark eyes crackling with arousal. “But I have a feeling you like pesky.” Luke pulled her closer so their bodies fit together.
Gazelle couldn’t help smiling up at him even though her neck tingled with awareness. She resisted the urge to look over her shoulder again. “I do like pesky; it’s definitely an attractive feature in a man.”
The whiteness of his teeth against his darker skin made her think of a wolf and another shiver of awareness worked through her. “Is that the only feature you like?”
Luke had the audacity to wiggle his eyebrows, his hips thrusting suggestively into her, pressing the thick bulge of his cock into her stomach. Gazelle surprised herself by laughing. Her head fell back and the happy sound floated away with the music. Arousal pulsed low in her stomach, but she felt more relaxed than anything.
After some of her mirth died away she met his eyes, unable to stop smiling. He smiled at her, his arms tight around her waist. “You wound me with your laughter. I think I deserve a kiss to boost my confidence again.”
That attraction flared just a little, but she held her smile. While her heart didn’t react to Luke, her body couldn’t help itself. She couldn’t help responding to the playful heat in his eyes with some coy looks of her own. “If it’ll make you feel better about yourself, I’ll give you one pity kiss.”
He swooped down, closing the distance between their lips before she finished her sentence. While his words were friendly, his kiss wasn’t. That newly released woman inside of her opened to his kiss, her lips parting. Her hands gripped the muscles of his arms as he leaned her forward.
It was a prickly awareness of eyes on her that made her draw away. A shove at Luke’s chest pushed him back from her, and Gazelle looked over her shoulder to find Hunter standing feet from her, staring at them embracing. His eyes were dark with anger and something else deadly… Hungry.
“I definitely feel better,” Luke muttered in a smug tone before he released her.
Gazelle couldn’t take her eyes off Hunter, everything else faded to the background. His glance challenged her, dared her, and told her he would conquer her. She felt a spark of rebellion bubble up at the look in his eyes. Straightening her shoulders, she lifted her chin and told him with her body language. If he couldn’t take the time to truly stake his claim, than he didn’t have the right to get upset if she looked elsewhere.
Rounding on Luke, she pulled him down for another hard kiss that surprised the taller man. Pulling back, she let her gaze smolder into his, knowing Hunter looked on and not giving a damn.
“I’m heading out for a walk and would love a little company, would you care to join me?” She asked him over the break in the music.
“He’s busy.” Hunter’s voice spoke over whatever Luke meant to say. He was close behind now, his front nearly touching her back, sandwiching her between two hard bodies.
“I’d be more than willing to do whatever you needed. All you have to do is ask.” His voice, so close to her ear and incredibly seductive, was laced with steel.
Positioned, as she was, with his body behind her and Luke’s in front of her, Gazelle’s arousal rocketed higher. But lingering feelings of hurt made her unwilling. He couldn’t just command her and expect her to obey without some kind of tie to bind them. So, despite the heavy ache that pulsed between her thighs, she managed to extract herself from between them.
“I think I’ll just take a walk by myself, the atmosphere is too overbearing for my tastes.” She made sure to hold Hunter’s gaze while directing her words at Luke.
His eyes widened then narrowed. She felt a wicked excitement go through her at defying him. He growled under his breath as she made an about face and started out of the room. Gazelle’s triumph lasted until she weaved out of the crowd and spilled out into the quieter foyer. Then the only feeling that remained was sadness. A tiny sob escaped as she realized he wouldn’t come after her.
Gazelle walked slowly down the hallway toward Rhett, who stood just out of sight holding the door open for her. Each step she took closer to that exit felt like she died a little. This would be the end of something that meant everything to her, and still she kept going.
“Don’t walk out that door.” Hunter’s words stopped her short.
“Why shouldn’t I?” She spoke toward the open door, into the darkness that yawned outside. “You’ve never stopped me from leaving before.”
Her voice wavered as she gave voice to the thought plaguing her. He’d let her go, he’d never once come after her.
“Elle.” Her name came as a sigh. “Let me explain…”
This time, when she laughed all mirth was gone. “What’s there to explain? I run away, and you let me. Maybe me leaving is the best thing for both of us.”
She took another step toward the door, toward the end. Maybe it was better to go.
“What if I catch you this time?” He was quiet. Gazelle’s heart lurched at the determination she heard. “What if you instead of letting you get away, I chased you?”
Hunter’s footsteps echoed on the floor as he neared her. She felt him behind her, the warmth of his body heated her chilled, but she couldn’t turn around.
“You’re going to run again, really run.” She felt his fingers brush her shoulder and she drew in a breath. “And I’m going to chase you down and catch you. This time, when I catch you, you’ll know without a doubt that you’re mine.”
Her stomach tightened. “What if you don’t catch me?”
The silence, unbearable and impressive, hovered for a long moment before he spoke again. “Then I don’t deserve you.”
What was unspoken lingered. Gazelle focused on the butler who stood like a silent sentry at the doorway. He never once looked gave any indication that he paid attention to their conversation in the slightest, but she knew he too waited for her to decide.
“I want you to deserve me,” she whispered. And she did.
Another pause less charged than the one before descended for a moment.
“Then run.” It was a low growl.
A rush of adrenaline surged through her and something primitive light her insides. Without questioning that need, Gazelle let it spike in her blood and took off into the darkness.