RUSH… When Gabe Hamilton saw Mia Crestwell walk into the ballroom for his hotel’s grand opening, he knew he was going to hell for what he had planned. After all, Mia is his best friend’s little sister. Except she’s not so little anymore. And Gabe has waited a long time to act on his desires.
FEVER… Jace, Ash, and Gabe: three of the wealthiest, most powerful men in the country. They’re accustomed to getting anything they want. Anything at all. For Jace, it’s a woman whose allure takes him completely by surprise…
BURN…When it comes to sex, Ash McIntyre has always explored his wilder side—extreme and uncompromising. He demands control. And he prefers women who want it like that. Then he meets Josie. He never imagined the one woman to tell him no would be the only woman who’d ever drive him to the edge of desire.
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Gabe Hamilton was going to burn in hell and he didn’t give a damn. From the moment Mia Crestwell walked into the ballroom of the Bentley Hotel where HCM Global Resorts and Hotels was holding their grand opening, he hadn’t taken his gaze from her.
She was forbidden fruit. His best friend’s little sister. Only she wasn’t so little anymore, and he had definitely taken notice. She’d become some kind of twisted preoccupation with him. He’d fought it but found himself unable to resist her powerful lure.
He wasn’t fighting it any longer.
The fact that she was here, tonight, and Jace was nowhere around, only confirmed to Gabe that the time was right and it was time to make his move.
He sipped at the glass of wine he held and listened politely to the group he was conversing with. Or rather that he was mingling with since he rarely engaged in anything more than polite pleasantries as he made his rounds through the crowd.
He hadn’t known she was going to be here. Jace hadn’t said a word. Had Jace even known? Gabe thought it was likely he hadn’t because not five minutes earlier, Jace and Ash had slipped away, a tall, leggy brunette between them as they headed to one of the luxurious suites on the top floor.
Jace wouldn’t have bailed—even for a woman—if he’d known Mia would be here. But it was just as well Jace wasn’t here. It made things a lot easier.
Gabe watched as Mia’s gaze swept the room, her brow furrowed in concentration as if she searched for someone. A server stopped and offered her wine, and she took one of the elegant, long-stemmed glasses but she didn’t put it to her mouth.
She was outfitted in a killer dress that hugged her in all the right places complete with fuck-me shoes and an upswept hair- style that practically pleaded for a man’s hand to tug it down. Dark tendrils floated softly down her neck, drawing attention to the slender column that begged a man’s lips. He was damn tempted to stride across the room and wrap his coat around her so that no one else would see what he considered his. Jesus, and if that didn’t make this even more insane. She wasn’t his anything. But that too was going to change.
The off-the-shoulder cocktail dress drew attention to her breasts, and he damn sure didn’t want anyone else looking. And men were looking. Already she’d drawn the attention of others. They stared—like he did—their gazes predatory.
She wore a delicate chain with a diamond solitaire around her neck, and diamond studs adorned both ears. Both had been a gift from him a year earlier. For Christmas. It gave him satisfaction to see her wearing the things he’d bought for her tonight. For him, it was one more step in the inevitable direction of her being his.
She didn’t know it yet, but he’d waited long enough. He’d endured enough time of feeling like the worst sort of criminal for lusting after his best friend’s baby sister. When she’d turned twenty, it had marked a huge difference in the way he viewed her, but he’d been thirty-four and he knew she was still far too young for what he expected from her. And so he’d waited.
She was an obsession, and it made him uncomfortable to admit, but she was a drug in his veins he had no desire to cure himself of. Now that she was twenty-four, the age difference didn’t seem so insurmountable. Or so he told himself. Jace would still go ballistic—after all, Mia would always be his baby sister— but Gabe was willing to take the risk to finally taste forbidden fruit.
Oh yes, he had plans for Mia. He had but to put them into action.
Mia took a cautious sip of her wine—a glass she’d only taken so she didn’t feel quite so out of place in a sea of beautiful, rich people—and she looked anxiously around for Jace. He said he’d be here, and she’d decided to surprise him by popping in for the grand opening of HCM’s newest hotel.
Located in Union Square, it was modern and lush, obviously catering to an upscale clientele. But then Jace—and his two best friends—lived and breathed in that world. They’d worked damn hard to get there, but they’d achieved success beyond most people’s imagination, and they’d done it by the time they reached their thirties.
At thirty-eight, they were touted as some of the most successful hoteliers in the world. But they were still just her brother and his best friends. Well, except Gabe, but perhaps it was time to get over her embarrassing teenage fantasies where he was concerned. At sixteen, it was understandable. At twenty-four, it just made her desperate and deluded.
Ash and Gabe had been born into wealth. She and Jace had not, and she still wasn’t entirely comfortable in the circles her brother moved in. But she was inordinately proud of Jace for making such a success of himself, especially since he’d been saddled with a younger sibling after the unexpected deaths of their parents.
Gabe was close to his parents, or at least he had been when they’d been married. In a shocking move, his father had divorced Gabe’s mother right after their thirty-ninth anniversary. Ash . . . his was an interesting situation at best. That was the most diplomatic word for it. He didn’t get along with his family—any of them. He’d gone his own way young, spurning the family business—and money—and perhaps his success was all the more infuriating to his family because he’d done it without them.
Mia knew that Ash never spent any time with them. He spent most of his time with Jace and Gabe, but in particular Jace. Jace had made it clear to Mia that Ash’s family was, in his words, assholes, and she’d left it at that, not that she’d ever have occasion to meet them. They pretended that HCM didn’t exist.
She wanted to turn and flee when two men approached her, smiling like they were about to score for the night. But she hadn’t found Jace yet, and she wasn’t going to leave so quickly when she’d spent a ridiculous amount of time getting ready. Just in case she happened to see Gabe, which was pathetic enough, but there it was.
She smiled and braced herself, determined not to embarrass her brother by acting like a twit on his big night.
And then, to her complete surprise, Gabe appeared, wading through the crowd, a scowl marring his face. He stepped in front of the two approaching men and took her arm, effectively herding her away before the men got to her.
“Hello to you too, Gabe,” she said shakily.
There was something about the man that just made her stupid. She couldn’t talk, couldn’t think, couldn’t form a single coherent thought. He probably thought it a miracle that she actually completed her degree and graduated with honors. Even if he and Jace thought it was a perfectly useless degree. Jace had wanted her to pursue a business degree. He wanted to bring her into the “family” business. But she wasn’t sure yet what she wanted to do. Which was another source of exasperation to Jace.
That made her feel guilty. Because she had the luxury of taking time to make decisions. Jace had always provided generously for her. An apartment, whatever she needed, even though after graduating she’d made the effort not to rely on him for support.
The people she’d graduated with had already moved into jobs. They were making a career. She was still working in a pastry shop part-time and dragging her feet as to what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.
And that hesitation likely had a lot to do with her deluded fantasies regarding the man hauling her away by the arm. She had to get over this fixation with him and move on. She couldn’t spend her whole life with the ridiculous notion that he was going to one day notice her and decide he had to have her.
She greedily drank in the sight of him, like an addict getting their next high—like she’d gone far too long without that fix. He was a man whose presence filled any room he occupied. He wore his black hair cut short, styled with minimal product. Just enough to give it an expensive, sophisticated look.
He had the look of the sinful bad boy all the women went wild for. He had a total “give a fuck” attitude, and what Gabe wanted, Gabe always got. His confidence and arrogance were two things that drew her to him—had always drawn her to him. She was helpless to fight her attraction to him. God knew she’d tried for years, but her obsession showed no signs of waning.
“Mia,” he said in a low voice. “I didn’t realize you were coming. Jace didn’t say anything.”
“He doesn’t know,” she said with a smile. “I decided to surprise him. Where is he, by the way?”
Brief discomfort entered Gabe’s eyes. “He was called away. I’m not sure if he’ll be back.”
Her smile slipped. “Oh.” She glanced down self-consciously. “I guess I wasted a perfectly good dress on the occasion.”
His gaze slid lazily over her making her feel as though he stripped her with no effort. “It’s a nice dress.”
“I should probably go then. Not much point in my being here if Jace isn’t.”
“You can stay with me,” he said bluntly.
Her eyes widened. Gabe had never really gone out of his way to spend any time with her. In fact, it seemed he tried to avoid her. It was enough to give her a complex. Oh, he was nice to her. He sent her gifts on special occasions. Checked in on her to make sure she had what she needed—not that Jace would have ever neglected to do the same. But he’d certainly never made it a point to spend more than a few moments in her presence.
“Would you like to dance?” he asked.
She stared at him in bewilderment, wondering where the real Gabe Hamilton was hiding. Gabe didn’t dance. Oh, he could dance, it was just that he rarely did.
The dance floor was filled with other couples, some older, some Gabe’s age. She didn’t see a single person her own age, but then most of the attendees were of that uberwealthy, ultrabeautiful class that most twenty-four-year-olds hadn’t yet entered.
“Uh sure,” she said. Why not? She was here. She’d spent two hours getting ready. Why let a perfectly good dress and awesome shoes go to waste?
He put his hand to her back, and it was like being branded. She barely suppressed a shiver as he guided her toward the area reserved for dancing. Dancing with him was a bad idea in so many ways. How was she supposed to get over her infatuation if she kept putting herself in close proximity to him? But there was no way she was passing up an opportunity to be in his arms. Even if it was only for a few minutes. A few glorious, amazing minutes.
The sultry tones of a saxophone mixed with the tinkle of a piano and the low throb of a bass. The music invaded her veins as she slid into Gabe’s arms. It was heady and intoxicating, and it made her feel as though she were in the middle of a really vivid dream.
His hand slid over her back, coming to rest on the portion bared by the low-cut dress. The material skimmed just above her buttocks, a seductive tease she’d had to talk herself into wearing. Now she was really glad she had.
“It’s a good damn thing Jace isn’t here,” Gabe said.
She cocked her head and stared up at him in question. “Why do you say that?”
“Because he’d have a heart attack if he saw you in this dress. Not that there’s enough of it to call it a dress.”
She smiled, her dimple deepening in her cheek. “Since Jace isn’t here, he can’t very well say anything, now can he?”
“No, but I damn sure can,” he said bluntly.
Her smile turned down into a frown. “I don’t need two big brothers, Gabe. I assure you one’s enough.”
His gaze narrowed and his lips thinned. “I have no desire to be your goddamn big brother.”
She gave him a look of hurt. If spending any time with her was such a chore, then why had he approached her? Why hadn’t he done what he’d been doing all this time and just ignore her?
She stepped back, the warm buzz of being so close to him, of having his arms around her, his hands on her body, slowly dissipating. She shouldn’t have come. It had been stupid and lame. All she had to do was call Jace. Let him know her plans and he could have told her he wouldn’t be here. Then she wouldn’t be standing in the middle of the dance floor embarrassed by Gabe’s rejection.
His eyes narrowed as he took in her reaction and then he sighed, abruptly turned and nearly dragged her from the dance floor in the direction of the terrace. The doors were open, allowing the chilly night air inside, and he stepped out, pulling her protectively into the crook of his arm.
And so she was back in his arms. Enveloped in his heat. She could smell him, and damn he smelled so good.
He didn’t stop until he was well away from the door and into the shadows cast by the overhang. The lights of the city twinkled and dazzled the sky, and distant sounds of traffic disrupted the quiet.
For a long moment he simply stared at her, and she wondered what it was she’d done that offended him so much.
His scent taunted her. A touch of spice without being over- powering. The cologne he wore was a good match. It complemented his natural scent while giving that tantalizing hint of male, rugged, wood, outdoors and . . . sophistication.
“What the hell,” he muttered. It was a sound of resignation, as if he were giving in to some unknown force.
Before she could respond, he hauled her forward so that she landed against his hard chest. Her mouth flew open in surprise, and a small sigh escaped. Her lips were close to his. Tantalizingly close. She could feel his breath, see the muscle twitch at his temple. His jaw was tight and bulging as if he was holding himself back. And then he seemed to lose the battle.
His mouth crashed down over hers, hard, heated, demanding. And oh God, but she loved it. His tongue pushed inward, hot and sensual, gliding over hers as he licked playfully at the roof of her mouth and swirled around her tongue in a delicate dance. He didn’t simply kiss her. He devoured her. He possessed her with just a kiss. In that span of time, she was owned completely by Gabe Hamilton. Any other man she’d ever kissed faded into obscurity.
She sighed allowing herself to completely melt into his embrace. She became boneless, seeking more. More. More of him. His heat, his touch, that sinful mouth. It was everything she could have possibly dreamed and more. Her fantasies, her imagination . . . they had nothing on the real thing.
His teeth grazed over her lips and nipped at the fullness. It had just enough sting to tell her who was in charge. And then he gentled his movements, following it up with a sensual lap of his tongue, and then soft kisses over the bow of her mouth.
“God help me but I’ve wanted to do that for the longest time,” he said in a raspy voice.
She was stunned. Her legs wobbled and shook, and she prayed she wouldn’t go down, a victim of the heels she’d worn. Nothing could have prepared her for what had just happened. Gabe Hamilton had kissed her. Not just kissed her, but he’d dragged her onto the terrace and ravaged her.
Her lips still tingled from his sensual assault. She was wrecked. Utterly wrecked. It was like having a total buzz, the highest of highs. She hadn’t had that much to drink so she knew damn well she wasn’t reacting to the alcohol. It was him. Pure and simple. He was lethal to her senses.
“Stop looking at me like that or it’s going to get you into some serious trouble,” he growled.
If it were the delicious kind she suspected, she wouldn’t mind getting into trouble with him at all.
“How am I looking at you?” she asked huskily.
“Like you want me to peel that flimsy excuse for a dress from your body and fuck you right here on the terrace.”
She swallowed. Hard. It was probably better not to say anything at all. She wasn’t at all sure what had just happened here. Her senses were reeling, and she couldn’t quite come to terms with the fact that Gabe Hamilton had just kissed her and then talked about fucking her on the terrace of his hotel.
He moved in close again, until his heat swallowed and consumed her. Her pulse beat erratically at her neck, and her breathing was ragged and tight.
“Come see me tomorrow, Mia. At my office. Ten sharp.” “W-why?” she stammered out.?His expression was hard, and his eyes glittered with a fierce light she couldn’t interpret.
“Because I said so.”
Her eyes widened, and then he reached out to take her hand, pulling her back toward the entrance to the ballroom. He never paused, and kept walking until they reached the lobby. She struggled to keep up with his determined stride as her heels tapped across the polished marble floor.
Her mind was a flurry of upheaval. “Gabe, where are we going?”
He walked outside and motioned to his doorman, who rushed over the moment he saw Gabe standing there. A few seconds later, a sleek, black car pulled to the front and Gabe ushered her inside.
He stood, bent over so that he could see inside the back of the car as his hand grasped the door.
“You’re going home and getting out of that fucking dress,” he said. “Then tomorrow you’re going to come into my office at ten.” He started to close the door but then leaned over to stare at her once more. “And Mia? You better damn well be there.”
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