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Tempting the Player, Page 2

J. Lynn

“I have it covered,” a deep and smooth voice intruded. A large hand landed on the bar beside her. “Put it on my tab.”

  The bartender turned to help someone else before Bridget could politely refuse. Accepting drinks from strangers was a no-go for her. Candy was a different story.

  She turned halfway, her gaze following those long fingers to where a dark sweater’s sleeve was rolled up to the elbow. The material clung to a thick, well-muscled upper arm, which connected to broad shoulders she found vaguely familiar. Whoever the guy was, he was exceptionally tall. Nearing six feet herself, she had to tip her head back to meet his eyes, and that made her all kinds of giddy.

  Though the moment she saw his face, all giddiness vanished, replaced by about a thousand different emotions she couldn’t even begin to separate. She knew him. Not just because everyone in the city knew who he was, but she really knew him.

  One didn’t forget a face like his or the qualities he shared with his brothers. Wide, expressive lips that looked firm and unyielding. Dominant. The curve of his jaw was strong and his cheekbones broad. His nose was slightly crooked from taking a ball in the face three years ago. Somehow the imperfection only made him sexier. Thick, coal black lashes framed eyes the color of the deepest ocean water. His dark brown hair was cropped short on the sides and longer on the top, styled in a messy spike that made him look like he’d just rolled out of bed.

  Chad mother-freaking Gamble. All-star pitcher for the Nationals, middle Gamble brother, and older brother to one Chase Gamble, who just happened to be the boyfriend of her boss/coworker Madison Daniels.

  Holy crapola.

  She’d heard a lot about him from Madison. Part of her felt like she even knew him. Her friend had grown up with the Gamble brothers and been in love with one of them her whole life, but Bridget had never seen Chad out and about, at least not up close like this. They didn’t run in the same circles, obviously. And he was here, at a club rumored to be all about sex, and he’d bought her a drink?

  Was he confused? Drunk? Took too many balls to the face? And dear sweet Mary mother of baby Jesus, that was a fine-looking face.

  Based on what Maddie had said about him and what the gossips reported in the papers, Chase was a well-known womanizer. Bridget had seen in the rags the women he was out and about with. All tall and insanely gorgeous models, and definitely not women who were entertaining thoughts of pie and paranormal books.

  But he was looking at her like he knew what he was doing. Color her surprised and intrigued. “Thank you,” she finally managed after staring at him for God knew how long like a total goober.

  Chad’s easy grin created a flutter deep in her belly. “My pleasure. I haven’t noticed you before. My name is—”

  “I know who you are.” Bridget flushed hotly. Now she sounded like an über stalker. She considered telling him how she knew, but on a whim decided to just see where this went. There was a good chance once he knew of their six degrees of separation—aka “I might run into you again someday”—relationship, he might just offer her a wave goodbye. This player was not known for his longevity anywhere except on the field. “I mean, I know of you. Chad Gamble.”

  The grin went up a notch. “Well, you have me at a disadvantage. I don’t know you.”

  Still flushing, she turned and picked up her drink, needing a healthy dose of liquid courage. “Bridget Rodgers.”

  “Bridget,” he repeated, and good Lord in heaven, the way he said her name was like he tasted it. “I like the name.”

  She had no idea what to say, which was shocking. Normally the social butterfly, she was thrown for a loop. Why was he, surely a god among men, talking to her? Taking a sip, she cursed her sudden inept ability at conversation.

  Chad eased in between her and an unoccupied stool behind him. Their bodies were so close that she caught the scent of spice and soap. “Is rum and Coke your favorite drink?” he asked.

  Letting out a nervous breath, she nodded. “I’m a fan of it, but vodka is also a go-to drink.”

  “Ah, a woman after my own heart.” His gaze dipped to her lips and her body warmed as tension formed deep inside her. “Well, when you finish with your rum and Coke, we’ll have to share a shot of vodka.”

  She tucked her hair behind her ear, fighting what was probably a big, goofy smile. Though she doubted this conversation was going anywhere, she was big enough to admit she liked the attention. “That sounds like a plan.”

  “Good.” His gaze moved back up to her eyes, meeting hers and holding for a moment. He leaned in, lowering his head. “Guess what?” he said in a conspiratorial whisper.


  “The seat behind you just opened.” He winked, and damn if he didn’t look good doing it. “And there’s one open behind me. I think it’s telling us something.”

  Laughing softly, she couldn’t fight the smile then. “And what is that?”

  “You and I should sit and chat.”

  Her heart was thumping in her chest in a crazy and fun sort of way, reminding her of what it had been like when she was younger and the boy she’d been crushing on talked to her at a party. But this was different. Chad was different. There was a wealth of heat in his eyes when he looked at her.

  Bridget glanced over to the table where Shell was still with the guy Bridget couldn’t remember was called Bill or Will. “Well then, we must listen to the cosmos.”

  She sat and Chad followed suit, scooting the barstool over under the guise of being able to hear her better, but she knew differently. This wasn’t her first time at the rodeo when it came to meeting men at bars, but Chad was ridiculously smooth. None of what he’d said sounded cheesy. His voice dripped with cool confidence and something else she couldn’t put her finger on.

  Sitting so close, his knee pressed into her thigh. “So, what do you do, Bridget?”

  She started to say where she worked but decided against it. The fact that she knew Maddie and Chase would definitely change things. “I work downtown as an executive assistant. I know. I know. That’s a glorified term for a secretary, but I love what I do.”

  Chad placed an arm on the counter, toying with the neck of his beer bottle. “Hey, as long as it’s something you enjoy, doesn’t matter what it is.”

  “Do you still enjoy playing baseball?” At the weird look that crossed his face, she added, “I mean, you always hear professional players either love or hate the game after a while.”

  “Ah, I get what you mean. I still love the game. Politics of it, not so much, but I wouldn’t change what I do. I get to play and get paid for it.”

  “Politics?” she asked, curious.

  “The behind-the-scenes stuff,” he explained, taking a swig of his beer. “Agents. Managers. Contracts. All that stuff doesn’t really interest me.”

  Bridget nodded, wondering what he thought about the heated debate going on in the sports column lately about whether or not he’d take the New York contract. She really didn’t follow baseball, only ended up reading the section during a particularly boring lunch one day. Typically, she made a beeline for the gossip page, which always had a hefty amount of info on Chad, now that she thought about it.

  As she finished her drink, he peppered her with questions about her background, seeming genuinely interested in what she said. When she asked him about his schooling, she pretended she didn’t know what high school and college he went to, but she knew. They were the same as Madison’s.

  “So, you come here often?” she asked when there was a lull in conversation. Her gaze dipped to his mouth. She was having a hard time not looking there and imagining what his lips would feel like against hers, how he tasted.

  “Once a month, sometimes more or less.” he explained. “My friend Tony probably comes more.”

  Now she knew why the dark-haired guy looked familiar. Another baseball player. “Does the entire team come here a lot?”

  Chad laughed deeply. “No, most of the guys aren’t into this kind of thing.”

  “Oh? But
you are?” Yeah, she assumed some of the guys were probably married.

  “Most definitely.” He leaned over, placing his arm on the back of her stool. “So you’re not originally from the DC area?”

  “Nope, I hail from Pennsylvania.”

  “Pennsylvania lost a treasure.”

  “Ha. Ha,” she said, but she was secretly flattered. Of course, she’d take that fact to the grave. “And you were doing so well before that line.”

  Chad chuckled. “In this case, I meant what I said, but I agree. That line was bad.” His face took on the shape of someone exaggerating being deep in thought, his finger tapping his chin. “Hmm. What’s a better line? How about…”

  “No, no,” she said. “Let’s forget about better lines. What’s your worst line? That sounds like way more fun.”

  “My worst line?” His eyes twinkled. “You’re assuming I have a worst line, aren’t you?”

  Bridget gestured at the bar around her with one hand while leaning closer, settling her chin on her other hand, her arm resting on the bar in what she hoped was a seductive pose. She was a little out of practice. “Given you’ve admitted you hang out here a lot, why yes, I do believe you have many worse lines in you, playa playa.” And then she winked. She actually winked. She sincerely hoped he wasn’t going to call her out for her worst flirting moves ever because she was pretty sure she’d just emptied the vault in one shebang.

  Chad laughed deep and throaty, the sound thrumming down her spine. “Well, I wouldn’t want to waste my worst lines on someone as sexy as you.”

  Bridget couldn’t help it—she snorted with laughter. “Well played, sir. Well. Played.” And now she was grinning like an idiot, but at least his grin made a matching set. Man, she’d forgotten how fun it was to just get out and flirt with a smart, sexy guy.

  He gave a mock bow. “I try.”

  Two shots of vodka arrived mysteriously. Chad laughed when she had to do the shot in two gulps.

  “Cheater,” he teased, eyes dancing.

  Waving a hand in her face, she laughed. “I don’t know how you do it. That stuff is strong.”

  “Years of practice.”

  “It’s good to see that you excel at something other than baseball.”

  His gaze settled on her lips. “I excel at many things.”

  Chad motioned to the bartender for a glass of water and then slid it to her. She gave him a grateful smile and took a sip.

  Like one of the women in the romance books she read, she was snared in his gaze. “You know, one more line and you win a set of steak knives.”

  He leaned in and it felt like there was no room. Her heart sped up as his smile turned half secretive, half playful. “Many, many things.”

  Bridget flushed, blaming the alcohol. “I think you should know, I’m impervious to bar bullshit.” She wasn’t, of course, as her racing heart clearly proved, but damn if she didn’t care.

  He reached out, brushing his knuckles along her warm cheek. She shivered. “I like the way you blush.”

  Bridget felt even more crimson sweep across her cheeks as she reached for her water. “Hey, I thought we agreed no more bad pickup lines.” Peeking at him, she found him watching her intently. Actually, she was pretty sure he hadn’t taken his eyes off her longer than a few seconds.

  “Well, that’s no fun.” But his eyes were still crinkled with laughter. His gaze flicked to the bartender. “Another drink?”

  When she nodded, she ordered something with less punch to it. They resumed talking and before Bridget knew it, she had completely lost sight of Shell as the crowd in the club thickened around the bar, obscuring the view of the tables. Chad had moved closer, his entire leg now pressed against hers. The contact made her skin tingle beneath her dress.

  Glancing away, her gaze found a couple dancing nearby—if you called what they were doing dancing. It was basically sex standing up with clothes on. The woman’s short denim skirt was pushed high and her leg curled along the narrow slant of the man’s hips. Her partner’s hand was under the frayed hem as their hips grinded together. She swallowed and turned back to her drink.

  “I can’t believe I’m giving you my A-game here and you’re calling foul ball. I’m wounded,” he said, placing a hand over his heart in mock pain.

  The teasing tone brought a grin to her lips. “I can tell you have self-esteem issues.”

  Chad laughed, the sound deep and rumbling before slowly waning off. He leaned in, his expression growing serious for the first time that night. “Can I be honest with you, Bridget?”

  She arched a brow. “Do I want you to be?”

  His palm traced her wildly beating pulse, his long fingers wrapping around the nape of her neck. “I saw you before you saw me. I came to this side of the bar just to talk to you.”

  All coherent thought fled her. Was Chad serious? And how much had he been drinking before they met up? It wasn’t that she had a low self-esteem. Bridget knew she was pretty, but she also knew her body went out of fashion several decades ago and this club was packed with supermodel type chicks. The kind she saw him pictured with time and time again.

  But it was her he was talking to, touching.

  Their lips were so close that their breath mingled. The steady hum of raucous conversation and music around them faded. Maybe it was the alcohol or the fact that it was Chad Gamble. Like any woman with ovaries, she had her fair share of fantasies surrounding the playboy, but everything felt surreal. She was hyperaware of what was happening and at the same time detached from logic.

  “And just to be clear, that was not a line.” Chad’s head tilted to the side. “I want to kiss you.”

  Chapter Three

  “Now?” Bridget’s muscles tensed and then immediately relaxed under his skilled ministrations.


  Bridget’s head was tipping back, her body relaxing into his touch, pressing toward it, yielding to it. Chad was spinning a seductive web around her, blurring reality. Her throat was dry and his fingers…his fingers were guiding her head back farther and an ache had started in the pit of her stomach. “I…”

  “Just a kiss.” His breath danced over her cheek, and her eyes drifted shut. Bridget’s hands opened and closed uselessly in her lap.

  Kissing Chad in a packed bar shouldn’t turn her on as much as it did. PDA wasn’t something she regularly indulged in and usually made fun of when she saw it in public, especially when it was Madison and Chase because they were all over each other constantly, but this…this was different and before she knew what she was doing, she said yes.

  Bridget didn’t feel his lips on hers like she expected.

  The tip of his nose brushed over the curve of her jaw, causing her breath to catch, and then his head dipped lower. With Bridget’s head tipped back, her throat was exposed to him. Her hands clenched and then his hot mouth was against where her pulse pounded.

  Bridget’s entire body jerked as if he were doing something far more wicked than what was usually considered a sweet gesture. The kiss was quick, but as he started to lift his head, he nipped at her neck and then she felt his tongue sweep across her skin, soothing the sting. A moan escaped her parted lips.

  “See? It was just a kiss,” he said, his voice deep and husky.

  Her lashes fluttered open, and Chad was staring down at her, his eyes hooded. “That…”

  His smug smile spread as he brushed his lips over hers, feather light, making her gasp. “That was? Good?”

  “Very nice,” she murmured.

  He chuckled, and his lips brushed hers once more. “Well, I have to do better than nice.”

  Her heart doubled its beat.

  His hair brushed along the underside of her chin, soft as silk, and her fingers itched to touch them, but she didn’t dare move. Chad’s fingers had slipped through the mass of hair, and his hand was now cradling the back of her head.

  There was a moment, so full of anticipation and the unknown, that Bridget’s heart stuttered, and then his mout
h was against her pulse again and her body tensed tight. His lips were warm and smooth, and she got lost in the feel of them. His tongue circled the area he’d kissed, and then he moved on, trailing tiny kisses down her neck. He nipped at the skin gently, and she jerked. He repeated the tiny scrape of teeth as he went to the hollow between her neck and shoulder, chuckling against her skin when she gasped again.

  “Was that very nice?” he asked.

  Breathing rapidly, she squeezed her hands into fists. “It was good.”

  His mouth moved against that tender spot. “You’re killing me, Bridget. We have to do better than good or nice.”

  Chad’s mouth was pushing aside the wide scoop collar, exposing more skin for his oddly tender and wholly sensual explorations. He pressed a kiss to the ridge of her collarbone, and then his free hand was suddenly on her knee, his fingers slipping up under the hem of her dress, curving along her thigh, and she thought about the couple on the dance floor, of what the man’s hand was surely doing under the scrape of denim, and then she stopped thinking. She’d slipped into a world where everything was about feeling and wanting, and she uncrossed her legs.

  A near animalistic sound tore from Chad’s throat, and if it had been quieter in the club, people would’ve stopped to stare. Bridget’s silent invitation must’ve had a powerful impact on him, because the grip on her lower thigh tightened, and when he kissed the space under her chin, she was scalded.

  He lifted his head, and the look in his eyes did more than sear her. It caught her on fire. His hand found hers, lightly wrapping around her fingers. “I want you. I’m not going to even fuck around. I need you. Now.”

  And she needed him. Her entire body had turned to liquid heat, her very veins pumping molten lava to every part of her. Never before had she had such a quick response to a man.

  She wet her lips with a quick swipe of her tongue, and the blue hue of his eyes churned. Her stomach was twisting into knots and dipping, plummeting.

  Chad stood, his grip not leaving her hand but not tightening. He was giving her a chance to say no. He waited.

  “Yes,” Bridget said.