Authors: Jess Dee
Tags: #Fiction, #Contemporary, #Romance, #Erotica
A Question of Trust
Gabe Carter and his best friend Connor’s passion for threesomes brought Tina Jenkins into Gabe’s bed—and into his heart. As a matter of honor, he gave up the woman he loved. Time passes, times change and old promises fall away, but Gabe is still in love with Tina. Now he’s going after his heart’s desire.
Tina has her own opinion about Gabe’s sense of honor. His departure tore apart the most special of bonds and destroyed her relationship with Connor, leaving her brokenhearted. It took her a long time to pick up the pieces, a struggle she doesn’t wish to repeat. When Gabe shows up at her favorite coffee shop, she knows just where to tell him to stick his apology.
Gabe isn’t so easily put off—and Tina can’t help but respond to his seduction. Picking up where they left off is tempting, but Gabe wants her all to himself. And Tina wants the whole package, which includes Connor.
At the risk of crushing his hopes for the future, Gabe sets out to prove he’s more than enough man for her…
Warning: If piping hot sex, ménage scenes, adult toys, anal play, short blonde heroines and stacked, muscular heroes are not your cup of tea, then don’t read this book. You won’t enjoy it.
They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520
Macon GA 31201
A Question of Love
Copyright © 2009 by Jess Dee
Edited by Jennifer Miller
Cover by Scott Carpenter
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
electronic publication: November 2009
A Question of Love
With thanks to:
Everyone who read and critiqued this book to make it better – My indispensable Ozcritters and my fellow Samhellions, Viv Arend and Sami Lee.
Jennifer Miller, my brilliant editor.
And as always… My boys!
“Regular long black?”
Gabe Carter turned to the counter to accept his take-away coffee. As he did so, movement across the coffee shop caught his eye. A man stood, leaned over and brushed his mouth against that of a woman still sitting at the table. Their lips met, held, held some more and then some more.
She pulled away. The man waved and walked out of the coffee shop. The woman slumped back in her seat.
Gabe stared, stunned all the way down to his toes. His heart beat uneasily against his ribs. Goddamn. It couldn’t be.
’Course it could. Made sense too. The coffee shop on the corner. The same one where she and he and Connor Regan, his closest mate, had always hung out, every Sunday morning like clockwork. Wasn’t that the reason he’d come here? Not for the coffee but for the memories? For the hope, the slight hope that maybe, just maybe, she would be here?
She hadn’t been home, and the voice message on her mobile phone had informed him the number had been disconnected. Visiting the café had been a last desperate attempt to find her. Frustration needled his gut. Why had it taken him so long to come to his senses? Why the fuck hadn’t he acted four years ago, when he’d realized just how deep his feelings ran for Tina Jenkins? He wouldn’t have needed to track her down now.
Gabe shook his head to clear it. That didn’t matter anymore. She was here. With a man, no less.
Was it the same man?
She hadn’t changed, although her blonde hair was short now, cut in pixie-like wisps to frame her delicate face. She wrinkled her nose as she stared at her cup. Her almond-shaped eyes narrowed, and her mouth drooped in a despondent pout. A sexy despondent pout.
Arrows of apprehension struck his spine. Now what? He’d come searching for her, and he’d found her. Kissing someone. Did he do what instinct dictated? Stride towards her, kicking chairs out of his path, and haul her up in his arms? Carry her out of this place like a barbarian intent on claiming his woman? Prove that no other man was good enough for her?
Or did he acknowledge his crushing disappointment and her obvious status—still taken—and get the hell out of here?
Gabe took a sip of his coffee, hot, bitter and black, just the way he liked it, and made a decision. He was drinking Tina’s favorite drink in Tina’s favorite coffee bar. He’d come here to find her, and here she was. The very least he owed her, he owed himself, was a hello. What did he stand to lose?
Nothing. He’d already lost it all four years ago when he voluntarily walked away. Voluntarily left Sydney—and Tina— without looking back.
Gabe made his way through the small maze of tables, never once taking his gaze off her. Tina added a heaped teaspoon of sugar to her mug. Then another. She stirred her drink and shifted in her seat. She lifted the mug to her lips, took a sip, puckered her mouth in distaste and put the drink back down, pushing it far away.
The short hair suited her. It highlighted her high cheekbones and full mouth and made her lips look more kissable than ever. From five-odd meters away, above the strong aroma of fresh roasted coffee beans, he fancied he could smell her perfume. Sweet and intoxicating, like flowers from an exotic, tropical island. God, he’d always loved the way her scent had curled through his nose and hit him straight in the gut.
Her sigh reached his ears at the same time he reached her table. The downward slouch of her shoulders tugged at his heart. “You feeling sad, T?”
Tina’s head shot up. Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped open, displaying glimpses of white teeth and a very pink, very tasty-looking tongue. Gabe almost groaned out loud at the thought of all the places that tongue had been. He almost groaned louder thinking of the man who’d just left and all the ways he must have enjoyed that tongue.
She gaped at him for several seconds, an array of emotions washing over her face. Then she sat up straight, narrowed her eyes and nodded coolly. “Well, well, well, if it isn’t the disappearing man.”
The ice in her voice slashed through his skin, and the cynicism in her words burned like salt on the fresh wound. He had no choice but to absorb the pain and do his best to ignore it. He’d come this far. There was no point in turning back now. “This seat taken?” He held the back of the recently vacated wooden chair.
Tina glanced at the door her male friend had walked through, hesitated, then shrugged. “Not anymore.”
Gabe couldn’t help himself. He checked out her left hand and nearly sagged in relief to find it unadorned by any rings. “Mind if I sit?”
“It’s a free world.”
What had he expected? That she’d take one look at him and melt in a puddle at his feet? Throw her arms around him and beg him to take her home?
Sure he’d hoped, but he hadn’t expected.
“You’re looking good, T,” he said as he sat down. “Sad, but good.” Okay, so right at this moment she looked more pissed off than sad. Didn’t mean he hadn’t seen the misery in her face as she’d watched the man—her man—walk away.
“What are you doing here, Gabe?”
Ah, she still had that feisty directness he’d found so arousing. “Grabbing a coffee. You?”
“Having a bubble bath,” she bit out. “What does it look like I’m doing?”
She’d always had a sarcastic nature. It was one of the many things he liked about her. Her quick-witted, acidic comebacks were a reflection of her sharp mind. A low hum of desire vibrated deep in Gabe’s stomach. He should have expected it. There’d never been a time with Tina when the hum had been absent.
He couldn’t resist dropping his tone a notch. “I’ve seen you in a bubble bath. Doesn’t look anything like what you’re doing here.”
She froze, the memory clear in her eyes. A long minute passed. Maybe two.
The bath hovered in his mind. Images of Tina, younger but no more innocent, submerged in its hot, soapy depths teased him, sending the blood in his veins rushing south.
Thousands of tiny white bubbles hid her arms and her legs. The only visible parts of her luscious flesh were the peaks of her breasts—the rosy, tight nipples that burst through the soap.
“So tell me, T, what’s got you so sad?”
She bristled. “I’m fine, Gabe. Nothing has got me…sad.”
He sat on the edge of the bath. Connor lounged against the wall of the shower. Tina’s eyes were closed, her lips parted.
“You’ve got that look on your face. The one that tells me something is very wrong. Want to talk about it?”
“With you?” She gave a surprised snort. “Mr. I-won’t-talk-unless-I-have-a-gun-pointed-at-my-head Carter? What do you want me to do, Gabe? Spill my heart while you sit there in your usual catatonic state?”
It took Gabe a couple of seconds to respond. Her words sliced through him, one by one, each syllable a dagger in his fast failing confidence. “Sometimes it’s good just to have someone listen. Someone who doesn’t talk or pass judgment.” It was her sentiment, not his, that he repeated now. She’d told him so one day when he’d held her and let her weep in his arms. Funny, he couldn’t remember the reason she’d been crying, but he recalled her telling him she found his silence comforting.
She looked contrite. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Gabe shrugged, pretending a nonchalance he did not feel. “You’re upset. I’m here. Easy enough to take it out on me.”
Tina stared across the table at her drink.
“Whatever you do, fellas, don’t leave now.”
Gabe had no intention of going anywhere.
Neither, it appeared, did Connor. “There a reason you want us here, T?” Connor asked.
She looked at them both and grinned. “There sure is, boys. I want to watch you as you watch me touch myself. I want to see your faces when I come.”
“Was there something you wanted, Gabe?”
Not much. Just to tell her he loved her and he had since the first time he’d laid eyes on her. “To say hello. It’s been a while.”
She nodded, but refused to meet his gaze. “Hello.”
Christ, she looked miserable. And angry. And beautiful. “You cut your hair.” Maybe if he spoke about the mundane things, she’d relax a little.
She lifted her eyebrows. “Over a year ago.”
“It looks good. Suits you.”
Beneath all those luxurious bubbles, hidden from view, Tina had her hand buried in her pussy. The knowledge was all it took to get Gabe hard again.
Water rippled around her breasts. A soft hiss escaped her mouth.
Connor stood a little straighter.
“How’s your sister?” he asked. Ugh. Her sister. The last time he’d seen her she’d told him off something good.
“She’s okay.” Her gaze lifted to his chest.
Better than staring at her drink, he decided. “She still with that guy? Michael?” The two of them had warned Gabe to stay the hell away from Tina.
“You could say. They’re married.”
“They are? Congratulations.” They’d been protecting Tina. It was unfair to hold it against them forever.
She smiled at his chest. A poor excuse for a smile, but a smile nevertheless. “I’m an aunt now.”
“Niece or nephew?”
“Nephew. Jay is nine months.”
“And spoiled rotten by you, I assume?”
She nodded. “You assume right.”
“It feels good, fellas,” Tina moaned. “Real good.” She cupped a breast with her hand.
“What are you doing under there, T?” Connor asked, his voice a tone lower than usual.
She smiled at Connor. “I’m touching myself. Playing with my…clit. Mmmmm.” Her eyes drifted shut. “Pretending my hand is yours, C.” She licked her lips, sighed again, circled her nipple with her thumb. “And you, Gabe… You’re stroking my breast. Licking it with your tongue. Ooooh…hot!”
At least they were talking now. He let his gaze wander until he caught sight of the sketch pad beside her chair. “You still at the firm?” he asked her.
“Still working for the old man?”
Tina frowned, looked him in the eye, nodded again and dropped her gaze.
Christ, what was she still doing there? Why hadn’t she given up her secretarial job and done what she’d always wanted to do? Sketch full time. “How’s your drawing coming along?”
She scowled at him. “Sketching,” she corrected, like he knew she would. It had always driven her mad when he used the wrong term. “And it’s coming along okay.”
“Had your first exhibition yet?” Her lifelong dream had been to display her work in a public gallery.
He stared at her, shocked. “Why not?”
She shrugged. “Not good enough, I suppose.”
He almost growled at her preposterous comment. “That’s bullshit.” She was a genius with a pencil. A true master of her art. Gabe had several of her framed sketches hanging on the walls in his office. His physical therapy patients never failed to comment on their brilliance. He also had one he kept in a drawer beside his bed. That one was not for public scrutiny. “You’re exceptional and you know it.”
Steam billowed around her. Her cheeks were stained a deep red. One nipple poked out beneath her fingers, hard and tight.
“I’ve moved my hand lower. Between my legs now. So…wet. Not like the water though.” She swallowed. The bubbles rippled around her. “Mmmmm…”
Gabe’s body temperature shot up ten degrees, at least.
She looked him in the eye. “What is this, Gabe? You trying to play catch up in five minutes?”
No. He’d have liked to play catch up for the rest of their lives. Not so easy considering the guy who’d had his tongue stuck halfway down her throat five minutes ago. “It’s been a while, T. I’m happy to see you. Is it a crime to find out how you’ve been?”
“You know what, G?” There was nothing affectionate about her use of his old nickname. “I’m not interested. I don’t want to discuss how I’ve been with you. I don’t care how long we haven’t seen each other for. In fact, I don’t feel like chatting with you at all.”
“God, fellas, that feels so damn good.” Her breath came in sharp, short gulps. She hooked a foot over the edge of the bath. Water dripped to the floor.
She turned her head and looked at Connor. “My finger…imagining it’s you…your cock…” She moaned.
Connor swore under his breath.
Gabe rubbed the back of his neck, trying to ease the cold prickles of her stinging words. “Ouch.”
“Aw, did I offend you?” The sarcasm was back. “Sorry, sweetheart. I feel terrible. Really terrible.” She grabbed her bag and hung it on her shoulder. “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go.” Tina stood up. “It’s been swell, G. Maybe we can do it again sometime. In, oh, I don’t know, a year or four?”
And she left. Slung her bag over her shoulder, clutched her sketch pad at her side and walked right out the coffee shop without a backward glance, leaving him staring at her departing backside.
“Only…one thing…missing…” Her nut-brown eyes were wild when they met Gabe’s, lust-filled and hazy.
Blood roared in his ears.
“You,” she panted. “Missing you. Want…to…taste you.”
She pulled her hand away from her breast and brought it to her chin. Her lips parted, and she sucked her index finger deep into her wet mouth.
Gabe forgot to breathe as Tina’s back arched. Her breasts thrust through the bubbles, and water sloshed over the side of the bath.
In his entire life he knew he would never forget the sight of the woman he loved bringing herself to climax in front of her two lovers. The image was burned in his brain for eternity.