The VIP Doubles Down
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“That would make it hard to get clean.”
“Oh, I like you much better dirty,” he said.
She stood on her toes to kiss him lightly. “I’ll let you have the shower so you can get clean and go home to your famous friend.”
Once again he rained silent curses down on Hugh.
Allie toweled off and pulled on workout clothes while the water ran in the bathroom. As the stretchy fabric brushed her in intimate places, she felt a slight tenderness as well as little sparks of sensation. Since Troy had left, she hadn’t been touched by a man. She’d almost forgotten how it felt to glow with deep-down physical satisfaction.
She picked up Pie. “I’m going to regret this in the long run, but right now, I feel so good.”
The sound of the shower stopped, and after a few moments, Gavin walked out with one of her towels wrapped around his hips so she could see the long, powerful muscles of his thighs flex as he moved. He scrubbed at his wet hair with another towel, making the rectus abdominis muscles slide under his skin.
When he pulled the towel from his head, his dark hair was a mass of damp, rumpled waves. A few drops of water dotted his chest, and Allie wanted to lap them off. He looked magnificent.
Allie hugged Pie too tightly, and the little cat mewed in protest. “Sorry, Miss Cat,” she said, releasing Pie onto the bed.
Gavin watched with a faint smile as the cat sat down in the middle of his shirt, which Allie had retrieved from the floor and smoothed out on the quilt. “You have good taste, kitty,” he said. “That’s my favorite Armani.”
When Allie reached for the cat, he waved her away and picked up his underwear and pants, pulling them on with fluid movements so that now she could admire the muscles in his back.
Allie cleared her throat. “What time should I come tomorrow?”
“Tomorrow?” His fingers stilled on his belt buckle. “You’re coming tonight.”
“I told you—”
“That I needed to catch up with my friend. We can do that before dinner, at which your presence is required.”
Allie folded her arms across her chest. “And how do you plan to introduce me?”
“As Allie Nichols. How else?” He arched an eyebrow at her before he returned to dressing.
“You know what I mean.”
He lifted the cat off his shirt before he turned to her. “I do not have to explain myself or you to anyone else.”
“Maybe you don’t, but I have to.”
“Not to Hugh, and he’s the only guest tonight other than you.” He finished buttoning his shirt and took her by the elbows to pull her against him. “Come to dinner.” He kissed her, his lips warm and firm and persuasive.
Somehow she resisted, knowing she needed some time and space to absorb Gavin’s sudden and intimate presence in her life.
She angled her head back to break the kiss. “It’s better if I don’t.”
“Better for whom?” He surprised her by doing nothing more than blowing out a long exhale and letting her go. He sat on the bed to put on his socks and loafers. The cat butted her head under his elbow, and he gave her a quick pat. “I’ll be back after Hugh goes to bed.”
“You won’t come to my place, so I’ll come to yours.”
“I wanted some time to think.”
He gave her a smile with a sharp edge. “Exactly what I don’t want you to do.” He stood and ran his hands up and down her arms before interlacing his fingers with hers. “You believe people care about what you and I are doing. I assure you they don’t.”
“Those pesky principles again.” He brushed his lips against her forehead and then her lips. “I just want you to know that while I dine with Hugh, I’ll be making plans for what I want to do to your lovely body.”
Gavin strode into the den to find Hugh seated on the sectional couch reading a script. He stifled the desire to tell his old friend to go find a hotel to stay in. Gavin knew his scrupulous little Allie would think up all kinds of reasons she shouldn’t be with him, and he wouldn’t be there to banish them before they took root. The thought of never touching her again sent a shudder of near panic through him.
The actor tossed the papers aside and rose to shake Gavin’s hand with a strong grip. “It’s good of you to take me in without any notice.”
“I hardly think you’d be at a loss for housing if I tossed you out on the street,” Gavin said.
“Your temperament hasn’t improved, I see.” Hugh stepped back to give Gavin a hard survey with those famous turquoise blue eyes. “You don’t look like hell.”
Gavin laughed. “A resounding compliment.”
Hugh sat and crossed one denim-clad leg over the other with the same elegance that he brought to the Julian Best role. “A lot of people are worried about you.”
Gavin sprawled in a chair opposite him, leaning forward to grab a bottle of beer from the tray on the coffee table. “Friends or enemies?”
“Both, but why should you care what your enemies think?”
“Irene came to visit a few days ago.” Gavin took a long pull from the bottle.
A look of distaste crossed Hugh’s saturnine features.
“How do you manage the love scenes when you feel that way about her?” Gavin asked.
“Superb acting.” Hugh lifted his beer in a mock toast to himself. “What did she want?”
“I think Greg sent her to try and drag another Julian Best novel out of me.”
“Even Greg wouldn’t be that stupid. He heard what happened at the funeral.”
“It’s not stupidity . . . it’s greed.” Gavin took a swig of beer. “What’s the gossip mill got to say?”
“That you’re burned out on Julian. There are rumors about hiring a ghostwriter to produce a new script.”
Gavin stood and paced over to the window, staring out at the winter-bare branches of the trees in his garden. “They can’t. I own Julian—lock, stock, and barrel. Jane made sure of that.”