“Don’t even think about it.” Antony Kyle had a warm, charming smile on his face, but his eyes were ice cold.
Antony wasn’t normally the icy type. He could be calculating, he could be clinical, he could be an insane genius when he wanted to be, but…
Sebastian Ridgeway forced a laugh. “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”
“Dude, you’re staring way too hard at my sister.”
But Sebastian merely lifted a brow. “It’s her birthday. She was blowing out her candles. Everyone was staring at her.” And, maybe, just maybe…
She was his new favorite thing to look at in the whole world.
“Uh, uh.” Antony side-stepped because—hell, Sebastian had just darted his gaze toward Alyssa again. “Don’t. That’s my one rule, buddy. If we’re doing this partnership together, if we are going to be in this—and we are talking about life-changing events here—then you follow that rule. You take it to heart. You make it your life mantra if you must.”
Sebastian’s stare flickered to the plastic cup in Antony’s hand. “I think you’ve had way too much to drink. I’m not interested in your little sister. Hell, I just met her a couple of days ago.”
Because this was his first time to be invited into the inner circle that was the Kyle world. A world with a big, bustling family. A world of laughter and hugs and a million other things that Sebastian had never known.
Freaking birthday parties. Alyssa had just turned twenty-one. Everyone was celebrating. She was smiling, her plump lips stretching into a wide grin, and her dark eyes gleamed as she turned her head and—
Antony snapped his fingers in front of Sebastian’s face. “Hi, there.”
What in the hell is wrong with me? “Sorry,” Sebastian muttered. “I thought I heard her say my name.”
“Nope. You didn’t. She did not say your name. And here’s the deal. You want this shit to work between us? You want us to blow up the industry and take over the world?”
Yes, yes, he did. He had plans. Goals. He’d been working toward this future—a real, solid future—for years. He wasn’t like Antony. He didn’t have the stable home. The doting mom. The proud dad. Hell, he had no one. No home. He hadn’t even known what a friend was, not until he’d stumbled into Antony—quite literally—a few years before. At first, they’d just been acquaintances who happened to share the same talent with computers. Or, more specifically, the same talent for hacking computers. But as time had slid by, they’d grown closer. Antony wasn’t the trusting sort, and he didn’t usually let people in. Only fair, Sebastian operated the same way.
“If you want all that,” Antony continued in his low voice, “then you just follow my one, simple rule.”
Sebastian swallowed. He knew exactly where this was going.
“You keep your hands off my sister.”
“Not good enough for her, huh?” The words shot out. What was wrong with him? Sebastian put down the plastic cup he’d been holding. What in the hell had Antony’s mom put in the punch?
But was it any surprise that Antony thought that way about him? Sebastian knew what he was. He knew the things he’d done, and suddenly getting a new veneer of polish and sophistication because of his business plans with Antony didn’t wipe away the past—
“Dumbass, don’t say that shit to me. You’re good enough for anything.”
But not her?
“You’re too dangerous for Alyssa.” Antony stepped closer to him. “Alyssa doesn’t know what we really do. She can’t ever know. She is not made for the world you live in.”
He couldn’t see Alyssa any longer.
“And it’s not like you’re going to fall in love with her. You’d break her heart, and then I’d have to try and kick your ass.” A despondent sigh. “Which I wouldn’t be able to do. You’d just kick my ass. There would be a huge fight. There would be drama, and…let’s simply eliminate all that before it happens, shall we?”
I would so kick your ass. Antony was right on that score.
“You’re my best friend,” Antony told him. “So keep your hands off my sister and don’t screw this shit up.”
Sebastian laughed. “I wasn’t planning to put them on her. You have nothing to worry about.”
Antony didn’t laugh. He didn’t even smile.
So much for breaking the tension. “What, man? Do you want it written in blood or something?”
“Fine…I swear…” Where had Alyssa gone? He couldn’t very well crane his head to look for her, at least, not at that exact moment. “I swear,” Sebastian continued grimly, voice roughening, “that I will never, ever put my hands on your sister—” On her perfect body.
Antony’s shoulders relaxed.
“Well, unless…” Sebastian added—
Alyssa appeared at Antony’s side. Oh, damn. She just kind of popped up right there. And her cheeks were stained red. Her eyes gleamed with what sure as hell looked like embarrassed pain.
Sebastian felt as if someone had just punched him in the stomach.
Fuck, fuck, fuck. How much had she overheard?
Her slightly angled chin notched into the air. “I don’t remember asking you to put your hands on me.”
He looked down. The floor appeared solid, so no chance of it swallowing him any time soon.
“Is that what you thought?” Alyssa’s musical voice cracked. “That I met you and started harboring some big crush on you? That I was waiting for you to notice me?”
No, I was the one with the crush. He was the one also who’d put pain in her eyes. On her damn birthday. Talk about being an asshole. “Happy birthday,” Sebastian mumbled.
Her eyes—a warm, amazing brown filled with flecks of gold—narrowed on him.
“I, um, didn’t bring a gift.” He was so screwing this up worse. “I didn’t know it was your birthday, and I—”
“I don’t have a crush on you, Sebastian.” The red in her cheeks deepened. “And I don’t need you to notice me.”
But I do notice you, Alyssa.
She stepped closer and her amazing scent—some kind of flowery, sweet smell that he couldn’t quite identify because he knew shit about flowers—wrapped around him. Sebastian found himself inching toward her, too.
Because she only stood at about five-foot-four, he towered over her. Her thick, dark hair tumbled over her shoulders as she glared up at him.
His hands fisted because he really wanted to touch her.
Don’t do it.
“I get that you must be used to receiving lots of attention.” Her index finger jabbed into his chest. “Let me guess…you flutter those green eyes…”
“And you smile, flashing those dimples…”
She’d noticed his dimples?
“And you get women to do whatever you want because you use that rough, low voice of yours…” Another jab of her index finger—right over his heart.
“Definitely not anything,” he murmured.
Her head tilted. “I’m not falling for you.”
Antony sidled closer to her. “Uh, Alyssa…” He cleared his throat. Loudly.
Alyssa didn’t look at him.
She kept her angry—and, dammit, still hurt—stare on Sebastian as she snapped, “So don’t worry. You can rest easy. I won’t be around begging for your attention. To be clear, I don’t beg for anyone.”
No, of course, she didn’t. He could all too easily imagine the men begging for her.
Her hand jerked back. “Now, if you don’t mind, it’s my birthday. I have people waiting for me.”
She had the whole world waiting. She turned on her heel and walked away from him like the freaking queen that she was. His gaze slid over her body.
Sweet hell, that ass of hers—
“Jeez, that didn’t go so well.” Antony slapped a hand on Sebastian’s shoulder. “Should have warned you. My sister has a temper.”
Suspicion churned through him. “Did you know she was close enough to hear us?”
Sebastian’s head turned. His eyes locked on his now squirming business partner.
Antony winced. “I think Alyssa might have been getting a little crush on you. I mean, hell, man, you know women tend to fall for that whole badass thing you have going on.” He snatched his hand back and waved vaguely at Sebastian. “Hmm. Maybe we should use it in our promotions. Bet the press would like it, too,” he mused.
“Focus.” Sebastian waved a hand angrily. “Let me get this straight. You wanted to stop her crush. You wanted me to be the villain of the piece. Figured if she saw me as the asshole, she’d lose interest?”
“No…” Antony pushed up his glasses. They hadn’t been falling. “I was merely hoping for some boundaries.”
“Boundaries, huh?” He unclenched his hands. “You didn’t let me finish my promise.”
Antony frowned at him. “I didn’t?”
“No. You didn’t.” His gaze slid across the room. Alyssa was standing with two men. Tall, handsome, polished jackasses. “I swear, that I will never, ever put my hands on your sister…”
Alyssa’s head turned. Her eyes met his.
“Unless she asks for them,” Sebastian finished softly. “Unless she asks for me. In that case…” I will touch her wherever and whenever she wants.
Antony laughed. “Oh, that shit is never gonna happen.”
Alyssa held Sebastian’s stare.
“You never know,” Sebastian replied.
Cover blown. Protect my sister. Do anything necessary.
Sebastian frowned at the text he’d just received from his business partner, Antony Kyle. For a moment, his heart seemed to stop beating.
“Uh, Mr. Ridgeway?” A throat cleared, not so discreetly.
Sebastian’s hold on the phone tightened.
“Sir, they are waiting.”
Sebastian glanced up and straight at an auditorium full of people. He’d been on his way to the podium, and normally, he would never have checked his phone when he was presenting, but that special little ding—that ding had notified him that the message was of some serious code-red emergency status. It was an alert he’d set up to receive only when the shit ever so seriously hit the fan.
Reporters were staring at him. Head honchos in the video gaming field were waiting with bated breath. Social media influencers had their phones up and were recording.
And he really, really needed to get the hell out of there.
Protect my sister.
Protect Alyssa Kyle. He pushed the phone back into the pocket of his jeans. Even though he was the headlining speaker, Sebastian wore battered jeans and a loose t-shirt. Some folks in the crowd were wearing expensive, designer suits. They were trying to impress with their money and their clout.
He didn’t give a damn about impressing anyone.
Well, maybe one person.
“Mr. Ridgeway?” His assistant sidled closer.
“Find Alyssa,” he ordered in a low voice. “I want to know exactly where she is, and I want that information in the next minute.”
“Minute?” A shocked squeak from Doug Manci. His eyes bulged. “But—”
Sebastian grabbed the podium. He moved his head toward the microphone. “Thanks for coming out today. Our new gaming software is going to blow your mind.”
Cover is blown.
He flashed a smile to the crowd, deliberately using his dimples because they made him seem charming. He was the face of the company. The one who appeared in all the ads. The one people saw when they thought of Shark Gaming and Design.
Protect my sister.
“Protecting our company and our customers has always been my top priority. We want to give them the best experience possible.” They had cut out huge chunks of the market in the billion-dollar gaming industry. We’re here to take a bite out of the industry. He and Antony had kicked ass and taken names, and they weren’t even close to being done.
The words of the text played through Sebastian’s mind. Do anything necessary.
The packed crowd waited eagerly. Keeping his voice nice and warm, he said, “But don’t just take my word for it. I want you to experience the latest Shark game for yourself. Everyone in this room will be treated to an early look at our latest project.”
There was a surprised murmur. Yeah, because this hadn’t been on the agenda. Screw that. His agenda had changed.
“I won’t stand up here and bore you by running through all the talk of specs and details. That’s a waste of everyone’s time. Instead, my team will provide you all with exclusive access to our newest game. Trust me on this, you’ll find that it’s the experience of a lifetime.” The VR would blow their minds.
Sebastian turned away from the crowd even as reporters shouted questions at him.
His assistant stood on the sidelines, sweating.
Sebastian headed straight for Doug. “Where is she?”
Sweat dotted Doug’s forehead. “She’s…she’s on a date.”
“They are scheduled to take in a play at the Langley Theater. You can find her in the company box—”
“Take care of them.” He jerked his thumb back toward the shouting crowd.
“Don’t worry. The rest of the team will help you out.” They were waiting in the wings. Sure, he’d just thrown them all a serious curve ball, but they’d handle it. He trained his team very, very well. “I have more pressing business.”
Doug hopped closer. “What could possibly be more pressing than this?” Once again, his voice was a squeak. His red bow tie had twisted. A habit Doug had. He always wore bow ties, and when he was nervous, he twisted them. “This is a huge deal! A BFD!” Doug yanked at his bow tie. “What is more pressing? Uh, sir?”
Saving Alyssa. Saving her was definitely a big fucking deal. “It seems I have a date to interrupt.” The bastard with her had better not get in Sebastian’s way. He was so not in the mood to play.
Doug gaped at him. “You’re not serious?”
He was. He was also in a hurry. Sebastian waved to his other team members. They surged up from the background as he marched out. His steps were fast as he headed through the building. He knew his car and driver would be waiting at the front of the building.
When he burst out of the building, the limo was at the curb. The driver jumped to attention. “You’re…done early?”
“Get me to the Langley Theater.”
The guy rushed to open the door for Sebastian.
“I’ve got it.” Sebastian yanked open the door himself. “If you can get me there in ten minutes, there’ll be a big bonus waiting for you.”
Moments later, the limo screeched away from the curb. Sebastian pulled out his phone. Stared at the text one more time.
Oh, shit. This was bad. Very, very bad. He fired a quick text back to Antony. Are you safe?
He waited for a response. Waited…
But during the ten minutes it took to cut across Asheville, North Carolina, no response came.
Dammit. But at least he’d deliberately used some of Antony’s own words from the text in the announcement to the press. Even if Antony had needed to ditch his phone and go dark, Sebastian’s announcement would be broadcast everywhere. Antony would see it and pick up on the deliberate language. He’d know that Sebastian had received his message.
He would also know…
Don’t worry about Alyssa. I’ve got her.
The date had been a serious mistake. Oh, so bad. Dinner at the restaurant had been a long, painful affair. Turned out, Isaac Swain was way more interested in Alyssa’s brother than he was in her. Because during the whole long, boring dinner? The dinner that never seemed to end? The guy had been spouting question after question about Antony.
It was downright insulting.
Alyssa’s shoulders hunched as they sat in the company’s theater box. At least the show would start soon. Then Isaac could stop talking her ear off about—
“Your brother is a genius.”
“Um.” She forced a smile. Like she hadn’t heard that line about a time or twenty from people who were awed by what her brother had accomplished. She was awed, too. Alyssa thought her brother was awesome, but she didn’t want to talk about him on her date.
“I mean, the way he developed the company from the ground up. Turned into a major player in the industry…”
She tuned him out. Why, oh, why had she thought going on a date with one of the Shark Gaming and Design employees was a good idea? Sure, okay, yes, Isaac was attractive. A transfer from California, he had the whole blond-hair, beach-boy thing going on. Bright blue eyes. Perfectly straight and white teeth. And his body screamed, I like to work out! So, yes, okay, fine, maybe she’d agreed to go out with him because he was attractive. Sue her. She’d met him in her brother’s office last week when she’d dropped by and—
“He did it all single-handedly, and that is something that most people can’t—”
She stiffened, and her attention flew back to Isaac. “That’s not correct.”
He blinked. His brows—perfectly shaped—Did he pluck them? Wax them?—lifted. “I think I know what I’m talking about.”
Now she straightened in the chair. Her voice flattened as Alyssa responded, “I think I know my brother’s business.”
“Yes, well, you don’t actually work there, though.” He waved one hand vaguely toward her. “You play with your jewelry design.”
Oh, the hell, no. He’d just said she played? Her back teeth clenched. “My brother didn’t create his company alone,” Alyssa gritted out. “He has a partner, one you know very well about.”
Isaac laughed. She didn’t like his laugh. It was high pitched and nasally, and it totally ruined the whole beach boy look. “Please.” Isaac shook his head. “You’re talking about Sebastian.”
“I’m obviously talking about Sebastian Ridgeway. As an employee of the company, you should know who you work for.”
He blinked. “The so-called ‘bad boy of tech’ didn’t build the company. He’s just the flash. Everyone knows your brother is the real talent.”
She could feel her cheeks burning. “Sebastian hates that nickname. If he hears you calling him that, he’ll fire you on the spot.”
Isaac licked his lips. “Well, good thing he’s not here, huh?”
She almost wished he was.
Wait. Do I think that being with Sebastian is better than being with Isaac?
“Where is your brother now, Alyssa? I bet he’s off researching a new design. I wish I could see how he comes up with his ideas. I would love to know—”
“You should date him.”
Whoops. Had she said that last part out loud?
Isaac’s perplexed expression told her that, yep, she had.
“Excuse me?” He laughed again.
“You know, Isaac, I think I’m getting a headache.” Alyssa glanced around, looking for an escape. She needed one desperately because the idea of spending more time trapped with Isaac was enough to make her shudder. She causally slid the small strap of her purse onto her shoulder. The better to make a fast getaway.
“Did I tell you that I moved from California just because I wanted to work for Shark Gaming and Design? I wanted to be just like—”
“Antony?” she finished.
He nodded eagerly and his hand reached for hers. He had a very sweaty hand. “Exactly. I wanted—”
Please, someone save me.
But, of course, no one was there. They were alone in the company’s theater box. She’d foolishly offered up the box when he’d asked what she’d like to do on their date. Oh, if only she could go back in time and—
The curtains behind Isaac’s head flew open.
“I wanted to be like Antony, not like Sebastian. Because come on, who wants to be like that selfish prick?” Isaac laughed his nasally laugh again. “Guy is some kind of Bruce Wayne wanna-be. Trolling around town in his limo. Freaking playboy. What do you think? Does he have a bat cave hidden somewhere?”
Sebastian was there. He’d just shoved open the curtains. She blinked, wanting to make sure she wasn’t imagining things, but no…still there.
Sebastian had obviously caught Isaac’s comments because one eyebrow lifted up. And he smiled.
It was a killer smile. The kind of smile that a great white shark probably would give to his prey right before his teeth opened up, and he took a big, juicy bite.
“The selfish prick is right behind you,” Alyssa whispered.
Isaac seemed to choke. His hold tightened on her hand.
“I’m going to need you to let go of me,” Alyssa told him.
He didn’t. His fingers did move to curl around her wrist.
But his head swung around toward Sebastian and he sputtered, “I-I—”
Sebastian crossed his arms over his chest. “I know you.”
“You work for me.”
Isaac still had his fingers wrapped around her wrist. Was she gonna have to pry them off? Sighing, Alyssa stood up.
Isaac rose, too, but didn’t let go of her. “I…do,” he agreed. “That is, I work for you and Antony. I’m in research and development—”
Sebastian stalked forward. “Alyssa, we’re leaving.”
Any other day—literally, any other day—she would have told Sebastian to go screw himself. She never took orders from him. Not from him, not from any man. But today—this poor, unfortunate day—she almost jumped for joy. “Right. I’m ready.” She almost added…Why the hell are you late? But she managed to hold that part back because he’d have zero clue what she meant.
Sebastian blinked at her. Then frowned in suspicion. Probably because she never, ever agreed with him on anything. Fighting with him was one of her favorite hobbies, and everyone needed a really good hobby. Driving Sebastian crazy was her hobby.
She stepped toward him. Realized that Isaac was still touching her. Enough. She jerked her wrist free of his fingers.
Sebastian’s gaze fell to her wrist. “Did he fucking bruise you?”
She looked down. There were faint red marks on her wrist.
“You sonofabitch!” Sebastian grabbed for Isaac.
Alyssa stepped between the two men. “No.”
Sebastian’s glittering green gaze could have scorched anyone else.
She met his stare without flinching. “He didn’t bruise me. He just wouldn’t let go, so I yanked my hand free. That’s all.”
“Right. That’s all. That’s too fucking much. He shouldn’t have been touching you.” A muscle flexed along Sebastian’s jaw. “Why the hell are you dating this idiot?”
“Hey, now! Hey!” Isaac stepped around her. Moved closer to Sebastian and puffed up his chest. “Listen, Mr. Ridgeway—”
“Oh, now I’m Mr. Ridgeway?” Sebastian reached for Alyssa’s hand. His fingers trailed carefully over her wrist, as if he wanted to soothe the skin. “Because a moment ago, I’m sure I was a selfish prick. Or maybe I was Batman.”
“I think it was a selfish prick and Bruce Wayne,” Alyssa clarified.
Sebastian flashed her a smile.
Isaac’s mouth opened. Closed. Opened again.
He didn’t quite manage speech, though.
Alyssa bit her lower lip as her gaze darted over Sebastian. Tall, sexy Sebastian. The devil in the flesh. “I thought…wait, weren’t you supposed to be doing your big presentation tonight?”
“Something else came up.”
Something else…? She cast a glance at Isaac. He’d closed his mouth again. She wanted to push Sebastian and find out what was happening, but she also didn’t exactly want to have this conversation with Isaac watching. Time to leave. “Good night, Isaac.”
Sebastian turned away. His fingers were still caressing her wrist, and, as always when he touched her, a surge of warmth spread over her skin. She started to follow him—
“It’s like that, huh?” Isaac demanded. “I heard the rumors, but I ignored them.”
She dug in her heels. Turned her head around and locked her eyes on Isaac. “Excuse me?” Ice dripped from her voice.
“I was warned that I shouldn’t go out with you.”
Whoa. Whoa. Isaac had been told not to go out with her? Why the hell didn’t someone tell me not to go out with him?
“I was told that your…interest…was somewhere else.” Isaac’s eyes darted to Sebastian.
And this is not happening. “You were misinformed.”
“Was I?” Isaac puffed out his chest. He seemed to do that a lot. It didn’t make him look strong. It made him resemble a rooster. “You were just defending him to me!”
Yes, she had been defending Sebastian. “So what?”
“Now you’re running away with him! Stories have circulated around the office about—”
“Okay, I don’t have time for this shit.” Sebastian had turned back around, too. “Let’s cut to the chase. You think I’m screwing Alyssa? That what you’re talking about?”
Isaac’s mouth opened. Closed. Opened.
Did he know that he looked like a fish when he did that?
A big shark is gonna eat that little fish.
And the big shark gave his killer grin before he said, “You’re right. I am screwing her. Guilty as charged.”
No, no, no, no, no, no, no.
But Sebastian wasn’t done. “I’m overcome with jealousy at the thought of her being with such a dumbass like you, so I stormed in here tonight. I’m going to carry her out, and I will never, ever let her out of my sight again. I’ll spend the next eight to ten hours making wild, passionate love to her, and I’ll make sure Alyssa screams my name until she’s hoarse.”
Oh, dear Lord.
Sebastian’s voice had been loud. So loud that the people in the next box had turned to gape at him.
Alyssa shook her head. “That’s not—”
Sebastian stepped closer to Isaac. “And if you ever fucking leave a mark on her again, I will end you. Are we clear?”
There were lots of whispers around them. She was pretty sure someone was even filming with a phone. Because, of course, Sebastian had been recognized.
Everyone else was all fancy for the theater. Isaac was in a suit and tie. She was in her favorite slinky black dress and her red heels because she did love a splash of color, while Sebastian—he looked all rough and dangerous and sexy, dammit—in his jeans and t-shirt.
“I-I didn’t mean to hurt Alyssa. That was never my intention.” Isaac wilted immediately. No more puffed-up rooster chest. “My apologies.”
“Good job,” Sebastian praised. “You get to keep living.”
“Stop it,” she snapped at Sebastian. What was his deal? He was even more out of control than usual. And that was saying a lot. So much for actually being relieved to see him. She tugged her hand free of his hold.
He immediately let her go.
“I am going home. Alone, gentlemen.” She sniffed. As if they were gentlemen. Not likely. “I’d love to say it’s been a fun night, but it hasn’t. Isaac, I don’t think we’re meant to be.”
His brow furrowed.
“And Sebastian…” Her gaze dipped back to him.
He smiled at her. Flashed his sexy dimples.
She ignored the way her stomach dropped. She’d learned—long ago—to ignore her reaction to him. “I’ll just skip out on the screaming orgasm tonight, but thanks so much for the offer. Instead, I think I’ll go binge watch something.” With that, she skirted around him, left the box, and headed for the stairs.
She did not need this level of drama in her life. Alyssa kept her spine straight and her chin up as she exited with what she thought was pretty good composure. Sure, her cheeks were no doubt flushed bright red, and her breathing was way too fast—
I’ll spend the next eight to ten hours making wild, passionate love to her, and I’ll make sure Alyssa screams my name until she’s hoarse.
She swallowed. Her knees did a jiggle.
Great. Now she was going to have Sebastian’s words replaying in her head all night long.
Sexy as hell.
Sebastian watched as Alyssa walked away with the grace that he’d always admired. The dress slid over his favorite ass ever, and then his gaze darted down the long expanse of her legs to—
Dammit. She’d worn her red heels? For this bozo?
“Am I fired?” Isaac’s voice cracked.
“I don’t have time for you right now.” Alyssa was pissed. He’d have to smooth that over, fast. He bounded after her.
“Are you mad because I called you a selfish prick?”
Sebastian spared a glance over his shoulder. “I am a selfish prick, but, no, dumbass, you don’t get to say those things about your boss.”
“I’m mad because you will not fucking touch Alyssa again, understand? Don’t come within ten feet of her.”
“Oh.” A nod. “So you are screwing her—”
“No, I’m not,” he snarled. It’s just a super, super frequent fantasy.
“But you said—”
Alyssa was gone. Shit. “I don’t have time for you now.” He rushed after her. As soon as he shot out of the theater box, Sebastian looked to the left, toward the stairwell.
He saw the top of her dark head as she hurried down the stairs. “Alyssa!”
She didn’t stop. He was pretty sure she sped up.
If she fell on those stairs…hurrying in her heels…
He wasn’t going to chase her down the stairs. That would make her hurry all the more. So he raced into the open elevator and stabbed the button for the first floor. The doors slid closed, and for a moment, he stared at his own reflection.
Guilty as charged. But he did have one or two soft spots in the world…
Okay, maybe one…
The doors opened. He saw his soft spot. He surged out and stepped right into her path. Alyssa staggered to a sudden stop, and her hands flew out to curl around his shoulders. A quick, startled cry escaped her lips.
“I got you.” His fingers closed around her hips.
She huffed out a breath. “Why do you have me?”
“Because you were wobbling on those way too high heels.” The sexy heels that she’d wasted on that jerkoff.
Her eyes narrowed.
If looks could kill.
His hold tightened on her. “I was worried you might fall.”
“Yours or mine? Because I hate to tell you your business—”
Damn but her eyes were gorgeous. When she was angry, the flecks of gold in her eyes went molten. He wondered if they did the same thing when she was turned on.
“You are always telling me my business! You are always up in my business! Just like you are tonight!”
Her lips were red and slick and that full lower lip of hers made him want to take a bite. Nope. Focus. “This might shock you, princess, but you’re holding pretty tightly to me. I think I can even feel your nails biting into my shirt.”
Horror flashed on her face right before she snatched her hands away from him.
He let her go, too. “You’re not going to fall? Because I can steady you.”
She stepped around him. Double timed it to the exit. Her heels went all click, click, click. The doorman hurriedly opened the door for her.
Sebastian followed right behind her. “Alyssa, we need to talk.” He nodded to the doorman. The warm air hit Sebastian as soon as he stepped outside. “Look, this is very important and—”
She was already at the corner and attempting to hail a cab.
He sighed, admired the view of her for a moment, but said, “You don’t need a cab.”
“I do. Isaac picked me up. Since I don’t plan to get in his vehicle again, I need a ride home.” Her hand kept waving.
“I have my limo waiting.” Just steps away. “I can take you home.”
A cab slowly headed toward her.
Her suspicious stare darted to Sebastian. “Why did you interrupt my date? Wait, how did you even know where I was?”
He didn’t like all the darkness around them. Most folks were in the theater, and the street was too deserted for his piece of mind. “Your brother wanted me to—”
“Ugh. Why does everyone want to talk about my brother?” Alyssa shook her head. Took three fast steps away—
And bullets tore through the metal sign behind her, ripped right through it, leaving small holes before they pounded into the bricks that lined the theater’s outer wall.
If she hadn’t taken those three steps—those bullets would have hit her.
For a moment, Alyssa gaped. Then she screamed.
Sebastian scooped her into his arms and ran for the limo. He dove in, with Alyssa cradled in his arms. “Drive!” Sebastian yelled. “Get us the hell out of here, now!”
His body was thrown over Alyssa’s and his heart was racing because, holy shit, someone had just taken shots at her! Someone had actually tried to kill Alyssa.
The limo lurched forward. He knew the glass in the windows was bullet-proof because, well, that had been his order. Why not pay for the upgrade? An upgrade that was freaking very useful at that moment.
As his heart thundered in his chest, Sebastian became aware of a few things.
One… Alyssa hadn’t made a sound. Not since her terrified scream.
Two… They were sprawled together in the back of the limo. Well, not so much sprawled as…he had her pinned to the seat. His body was on top of hers, he’d grabbed her wrists and anchored them over her head, and his legs were lodged between her spread thighs. Her dress had ridden up. Way, way up.
Three… Adrenaline coursed through his body but, because of their, um, delicate position, so did lust. He was having a rather unmistakable reaction, and he knew that Alyssa had to feel it. Feel him.
His head lifted. “Are you okay?”
Her long lashes slowly rose. Her breath came in quick hitches.
“Alyssa? Ba—” Nope. He cut himself off right before he called her baby. That would have been a fatal mistake. “Were you hit?” He didn’t think so, but—
“Someone shot at me.”
Yes. Actually, someone had shot at her three times. “Were you hit?”
“No.” Her voice was low. Breathy.
Her mouth was a few inches from his. It would be so easy to lower his head. To take her lips. To finally taste what he’d wanted for so long.
And, his head did begin to lower. She didn’t say anything. The limo was racing down the road and Alyssa was pressed tightly to him, and her mouth—
“What are you doing?” Alyssa’s hushed question seemed torn from her.
But it brought him back to reality. Stopped him when his mouth was less than an inch from hers. What was he doing? Sebastian cleared his throat. “Saving your life. Obviously.”