Prince albert, p.48
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       Prince Albert, p.48

         Part #4 of A Step Brother Romance series by Sabrina Paige

  in the window but not actually looking. "I don't want to end up like them."

  Gaige stares into the window, but he takes my hand in his. "I'm not my father's only child," he says. "According to Anja, he's a total philanderer – woman after woman, you know? I always swore I'd never end up like him."

  "Well, unless you've got a bunch of little Gaiges running around, I don't think you're in danger of that," I say, my voice light, trying to force a casualness I definitely don't feel. Why is it that I do that?

  Why do I feel so vulnerable when I'm with him?

  Gaige tugs at my hand and pulls me close to him, runs his hand through my hair. "There are no mini-Gaiges running around," he says. "I don't want to end up like him. Honestly."

  "Then don't," I say, my voice casual. He looks at me intently for a second, and it's too much. I turn and clear my throat. "You don't have to, you know. It's not like, written in your DNA or something."

  He's walking beside me and I have no idea where we're going. "You've seen our parents," he says. "You still believe in happy ever after? They're not happy."

  "I think you make your own happiness," I say, sounding surer of it than I feel. "God, since when did you get so freaking philosophical?"

  Gaige laughs. "It's the beer and the weather and shit," he says. "Warm summer night, the city, I don't know. I'm a little buzzed, but I'm a total buzzkill, yeah?"

  I punch him on the arm, and he gropes my ass over my dress, but I squeal and jump away. "I just didn't know you were so damn sappy," I say. "One minute you're telling me to drop my panties and the next you're talking about fairy tales and shit."

  Gaige takes me by the hand and pulls me down the nearest side street, deserted and dimly lit except for one entrance to a hotel that I recognize as a love hotel. I giggle. "Are you going to take me to a love hotel?"

  He pushes me up against the wall of one of the buildings, his hand running up my thigh. "Sappy, huh? Is that what I am now?" he asks. "No idea what a love hotel is, but I've got half a mind to put my cock into that smart mouth of yours right out here."

  "It's – " I'm about to tell him it's a sex hotel, but he stops me by covering my mouth with his. My body responds immediately to his touch, and I moan as he runs his hands up my hips and underneath my skirt.

  A Japanese couple enters the street, a few yards away, and a woman giggles when she sees us. I push Gaige back, smoothing my skirt. "Shit, let's get out of here."

  As we walk back in the direction of the hotel, Gaige grabs my hand and I don't push it away or let it go. It feels nice. It feels comfortable. When we pass a sign outside the entrance to one of the hotels that advertises a bar on one of the upper floors with live jazz and a view of the city, Gaige pulls at my arm. "Let's go inside."

  "Don't you want to go back to the hotel?"

  He slides his hand over my lower back, and navigates me inside. His touch, at once comforting and possessive, sends a shiver up my spine. Behind me, he speaks low into my ear. "Not yet," he says.

  Inside the bar, we stand next to a floor-to-ceiling window overlooking the lights of the city. I turn to him. "You're not trying to avoid sleeping with me, are you?"

  Gaige chokes on his drink. "You're kidding, right?"

  "We're just – I mean," I stammer, feeling stupid for even saying anything. "Because if you wanted to stop this, it's okay."

  Gaige's hand is on my waist. "Do you want to stop this?"

  "No," I say. But my voice catches in my throat. I should want to stop this; that would be the smart choice. I'm a person who makes smart choices. I don't make reckless ones. And Gaige is reckless. I find myself throwing caution to the wind when I'm with him, doing things I wouldn't normally do.

  He pulls me against him, his arm snaking around to the small of my back, and I can feel his hardness pressing against my leg. "Does that answer your question?"

  Heat rushes between my legs at the sensation. "Yes," I say, choking on the word.

  "Good," he says. "Because I want your panties."

  "Excuse me?"

  "You heard me," he says, his voice low in my ear. "You apparently think that just because I'm interested in talking to you and listening to what the hell you have to say, that it means I don't want to put my cock in that sweet pussy of yours just as soon as I get you alone. So I want you to be ready for me, in case I want to bend you over and fuck you on the way back to the hotel."

  I laugh nervously, but lean closer to him. The heat from his body radiates through my dress and it makes me want more. "I'll go to the restroom and take them off for you."

  "Take them off right here," Gaige says, his hand sliding up to the middle of my back. He pins me firmly against him. Then he looks to the side, and takes a sip of his drink as if we're casually discussing the weather and not my removing my panties in the middle of a very crowded, very public, very classy place.

  "There are a million people around," I say. "I refuse."

  He spins me around, but instead of his hand on the small of my back, guiding me gently, he threads his fingers through the hair at the nape of my neck. He steers me through the crowd, leading me by my hair, and talking to me the entire time. "You're going to slip your hands up under your skirt and take your panties off right here in this bar, and then you're going to hand them to me. Because I asked you to."

  Gaige stops at the bar as we pass it, taking my glass from my hand and setting both glasses down before leading me to a dimly-lit corner. There, he stands in front of me, his body only partially shielding me from view, leaning with his forearm on the wall over my head.

  My eyes never leave his as I sneak my hand up one side of my skirt, yanking down the edge of my thong, and then do the same with the other side, shimmying as my panties slide down my thighs and drop to the floor around my ankles.

  He's making you reckless, I think. The rational part of me nags at my thoughts. He's making you reckless and reckless is not good.

  Gaige sinks to the floor at my feet, picking up the panties in his hand and slipping them into his pocket. "Good girl," he says. He traces a finger down my neckline and between my cleavage. "Now, tell me we're close to the hotel, because if we're not, I'm going to have to fuck you right here in the middle of this bar."

  "Close." I choke out the word. I don't mean the hotel. I'm so close.

  He leans in, his lips inches from mine, and smiles. "I can see that, darlin'," he says. "You pretend you don't like it, and you can protest all you want, but taking off your panties in the middle of this bar made you wet."

  "No," I say.

  "No," he says, studying my face. "That's not all of it, is it? You like when I tell you what to do."

  I realize, with growing horror, that he's right. "No way," I protest.

  Gaige grins. He realizes that he's right, and that I know it. "It's okay, darlin'," he says, then he drops his voice. "I like it."

  I laugh. "Of course you do," I say. "And it's not accurate."

  "No?" he asks. He trails his finger over my collarbone and to the top of my shoulder. Gaige has a way of making the most innocuous gesture completely sexual. "Then I won't tell you that in the next thirty seconds, I'm going to spin your ass around, walk you out of this bar through all the people you just took your panties off in front of, and take you back to the hotel. When we walk into the hotel room, you're going to drop to your knees before the door shuts."

  He pauses, and I hold my breath, waiting for him to continue. My head tells me it's ridiculous for me to stand here and listen to him tell me what he wants me to do, yet the throbbing between my legs is insistent. It distracts me from the rational thoughts in my head. "Yes," I say, more of a murmur than an actual coherent word.

  Gaige has his hand on the small of my back, and he leads me out of the bar and down to the elevator. The young Japanese couple in the elevator nods at us, then studies their phones as Gaige runs his hand up my back and whispers softly in my ear. "Are you wet yet, darlin'?"

  The girl in the elevator glances at me, then
back at her phone and my face flushes red. When we're out of the elevator, I smack Gaige hard on the arm. "She heard you," I say.

  Gaige shrugs. "You didn't answer me," he says, as we walk on the sidewalk. "Are you wet?"

  Of course I am. He knows I am. Apparently, he knows better than I do what turns me on. But I don't say any of that. I just say, "Yes."

  "How far are we from the hotel?"

  "A few minutes, I think."

  "Good," he says. "Because I'm going to spend the rest of the walk back telling you exactly what I want to do to you."



  I can't fucking see straight. I'm wound so tight after spending the last fifteen minutes telling Delaney what I want to do to her. I hope she's as wrapped around the axle as I am. There's something about her that makes me crazy.

  We're still a block away from the hotel when I realize Delaney is limping. "What's wrong?"

  She kicks up one of her feet and sighs. "The perils of wearing heels in Japan," she says. "I don't know how the girls here do it, walking everywhere in stilettos. They must be masochists."

  "Fuck walking," I say, and I pick her up before she can protest, but she does anyway.

  "What are you doing?" she squeals.

  "How far away from the hotel are we?" I ask.

  "I don't know, a block, I think," she says. "Put me down before someone sees."

  "Afraid not." I keep carrying her, ignoring the looks I get from strangers on the sidewalk. A couple of expats laugh as we pass them, and I explain, "She's totally drunk."

  Delaney hits me on the shoulder. "I am not! Don't say that."

  "You could be," I say. "If anyone sees us, that's the excuse I'm going with."

  "Do not," she orders.

  "I don't see where you're really in a position to argue about anything with me here," I point out. "Anyway, I've never carried a girl through the streets of Tokyo before, so you should stop your griping and enjoy the ride." I pause for a beat. "The same rule applies to the sex later on tonight."

  "Very funny," she says, and she slaps me again when we walk through the lobby of the hotel. "Put me down."

  "I don't think so," I say. When we pass the concierge, I explain, "She hurt her foot."

  Delaney huffs, but she doesn't fling herself out of my arms, either. When we're in the elevator and alone, she turns her head and kisses me. We're still kissing when the door opens and I back out into the hallway with her in my arms, spinning her around.

  And then I see her.

  Chelsea stares at me, her eyes wide. And then a look – the smuggest, most self-satisfied goddamn look in the world – crosses her face. She says something to Akira Ito, who reddens deeply.

  Delaney follows my gaze behind her, and her face turns ashen. She slides down quickly, standing and smoothing her dress. "Chelsea. Akira-san," she says.

  "I'm incredibly sorry to disturb your evening, Delaney." Chelsea's voice drips with sarcasm.

  "Gaige was just helping me. My feet were –" She speaks in Japanese to Akira, something I don't understand, then bows deeply. Akira gives her a barely perceptible nod of his head, and walks past us into the elevator.

  When the elevator doors close, the three of us stand there, paused like we're frozen. Then Delaney finally speaks. "How could you?"

  Chelsea raises her eyebrows. "How could I?" she asks. "You're screwing your own brother and you want to know how could I? I was just scouting a new job; I had no idea the two of you would set things up so nicely for me. Perfect timing, I have to say. Your father will be pleased."

  My blood is fucking boiling, but Delaney is the one who looks like she's going to explode. She walks up to Chelsea and slaps her so hard across the face that the sound echoes in the hallway. Chelsea puts her hand to her cheek. "You stupid, spoiled bitch. You're going to fucking regret that," she says. Then she directs her attention to me. "And you – you white trash, entitled, lazy shit. I knew there was something wrong with you when you turned me down in Vegas. It turns out you're only into girls who are related to you."

  "Fuck you, Chelsea," I say. I don't hit women, but if there were ever a time I'd consider it, it would be now. I reach for Delaney's arm, but she shakes me off.

  Chelsea storms past us, around the corner, and I can hear her hotel door slam.

  "Delaney, I –" I start, but she won't look at me. I can see tears on the side of her cheek, and I swear to God my heart is going to fucking rip in two at the sight of her crying.

  "I told you not to carry me up here," she says, her voice angry. "Everything is ruined."

  "Your father is not going to listen to that stupid bitch," I say. "I'll talk to him too."

  She shakes her head, walking to her room, and I follow her. "Don't you get it?" she asks.

  "Get what?" I ask. "That Chelsea is a power-hungry whore who's trying to get back at you because you're smarter than her and better at this than she is? That she's pissed because I wouldn't screw her, and that she just fucked up your father's deal? I get that, Delaney. Now let me inside so we can talk about this."

  "You don't understand what just happened," Delaney says, shaking her head. "Chelsea told Akira we couldn't make dinner. She gave him some bullshit excuse to get us out of the way so she could sweet-talk him into hiring her or something, and then he sees us like that? It's horrific."

  "It's not ideal," I agree. But horrific?

  "Not ideal?" she says. "It's the worst possible thing. We embarrassed Akira-san. We humiliated him. He can't possibly do this deal now. It's completely ruined. The company is not going to sponsor you. We killed everything."

  "We can explain," I say. "Let me come inside your room. Let's talk about it rationally."

  "There's no explaining," she says. "There's no apologizing our way out of it. He can't accept our apology. It won't allow him to save face – it's too embarrassing. It's over."

  "Your father will understand," I say. "You're his daughter."

  Delaney laughs, the sound bitter. "And you're going to talk to my father?" she asks. "What are you going to say exactly? Hey, Beau, I know she's my sister and all, and your daughter, but I've been lusting after her since you and mom got married. And oh, by the way, I've been fucking her brains out. Let me know how that goes."

  Fear clenches at my heart. "We should talk about it." I don't know what else to say.

  "There's nothing to talk about, Gaige," she says. "Goodnight."

  Anger and adrenaline are coursing through my veins, and it takes everything I have not to push the fucking door open and storm into her room and force her to listen to me. Goddamn it, she has to see reason.

  But instead I let her close the door, and I walk away. The door shuts with such a fucking sense of finality that I'm rendered almost speechless, and I stand there in the hallway, my blood pumping as I think about how the world just fucking shifted on its axis in a matter of seconds.

  Delaney doesn't answer when I knock on her door in the morning, and I return to my room with a sense of unease I can't shake. Delaney looked just so…crushed last night.

  Her last words to me echo in my head, rattling around in my brain on a loop, repeated over and over.

  Goodnight, Gaige.

  It sounded a hell of a lot more like goodbye.



  The knock on the door in the morning startles me. When I answer, my hair plastered to the side of my face, no one's there. I barely slept last night, gutted over what happened. I wonder if Chelsea is on her way back to Texas already, the bearer of such fantastic fucking news that my father will probably have a coronary.

  I need to call my father. I don't know how to explain any of it. I really can't face him.

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