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FRIENDS TO LOVERS
by Christi Barth

Genre: E-book, Contemporary Romance

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"The relationship upgrade.”

“Oh, that.”

“We are giving it a go, aren’t we? Or have I scared you away? Buggered the second chance you gave me? Because there’s more to this date.” Gib rushed on, before she could turn him down again. Understanding him didn’t mean she necessarily wanted to be with him. Or that she forgave his thoughtless behavior of earlier this week. “Thought we’d go for pizza at Giordano’s after this. Your favorite. And I’ve got three pints of Ben & Jerry’s in my freezer with your name on them. Also your favorites.”

“Tempting. But I don’t feel like ice cream.”

Gib’s mind raced. He could call Sam to see if the bakery had any leftover brownies, or maybe a slice of cake. Or swing by the Cavendish and get the pastry chef to hand over one of his signature pecan bourbon crème brûlées. “What are you in the mood for, then?”

“Something hot.” Daphne threw one leg to the opposite side, straddling his lap. She drew the blanket around her shoulders. Slowly, she lowered her body until her center rested on the part of him already pulsing with need.

“Wait.” God, it killed him to say that. Not sure he’d ever said it before to a woman grinding her crotch into his. “I don’t want a pity kiss. That’s not why I told you my story.”

“I know. You told me to share your vulnerability. Like Samson cutting his hair, or when Arwen gives Aragorn her necklace in Lord of the Rings.

Both she and Ivy had pestered him for months after every one of those movies. “Damn it, I told you three Halloweens ago. I’m not putting on elf ears and a blond wig just for your amusement.”

“Silly, that’s Legolas, not Aragorn.” Daphne laced her hands behind his neck. “And we agreed earlier that role-playing is down the road a bit. You shared your life with me, Gib. There’s nothing more personal. And now I want to share a different kind of intimacy with you.”

“I don’t need a fucking reward.”

Daphne shook her head. “Not out of pity.” Her eyes closed, and she sighed. “I’ve always admired and respected you as a man. Now that’s changed. My admiration’s tripled. My respect for the struggles you’ve overcome, the road you’ve walked along and the man you’ve become—well, that’s off the charts. I thought I wanted you before.” Her eyes opened, gaze forthright and hotter than a blue laser. “Now, I know I do. I need you. I need to show you how deep my feelings run.”

Well. This night was taking a sharp turn for the better. “Have to admit, I’m a little curious.”

Daphne didn’t require any more encouragement. Her mouth took his in an absolute frenzy of touching and licking. Gib locked his hands at her waist. Didn’t want to take the chance she’d change her mind and slip out of his arms. Not when she was bursting with passion. When he was finally tasting what he’d craved for the six endless days since they last kissed.

She rode him, using the swaying of the carriage to rub against him. Gib couldn’t think about how his cock already strained to explode. It took most of his concentration to ignore her heat teasing back and forth in between his thighs. So he ripped his mouth away to use his teeth on her neck. No marks. Hickeys were amateur hour. Gib knew exactly how much pressure to use and not leave behind evidence. Exactly how much to make her sigh, arch her back, thrusting those magnificent breasts right up at him.

“That’s…you’re…not half-bad,” she panted.

“This is just the prelims. Where I learn you. Learn to pleasure you. I’m quite thorough.”

He raked his teeth along her taut muscle, nipping and sucking. Daphne thrust her fingers into his hair. Moaned. Gib growled in response, both in promise and possession. Moved down to trace a path along her collarbone. Lingered on the spot her pulse battered against his lips. Ran his hands up her sides until they bracketed her breasts.

Finally licked an arc across the top of one. The softness was like ice cream melting against his tongue. Gib used his thumb to caress the other stiff peak. Daphne writhed against him in a way that almost made him explode right through the heavy denim of his fly. If she kept doing that, his last shard of control would splinter away. Gib thrust his hands down the back of her jeans. Holding tight, he flipped her onto her back. He put one leg on the floor and braced a knee between her legs.

A glance at the windows showed them to be completely fogged over. Good. One big shrug had his coat on the floor. One quick shove wedged the sweater up beneath her arms. It also revealed a powder-blue bra with tiny white polka dots. A tiny bow nestled in the center of its deep plunge. The contrast of the sweetness with the overflowing sensuality of her breasts kicked his heart up to the same rate as during his weekly wind sprints workout.

“Getting an eyeful?” Daphne asked. “Not entirely fair. When do I get equal time to stare at you?”

“After I get a mouthful.” Just to keep her off balance, and despite how much he craved the feel of her nipple against his tongue, Gib put his mouth on her stomach. Traced a damp circle around her belly button. Reveled in the flex of her abs against him. He loved the way she moved with him, offered herself up to him. Considerable practice—which he would not mention to Daphne—made him able to undo her jeans with one hand. The other he fanned lightly across her left breast. Peeling back one side past her hip, Gib ran his finger against the edge of a blue ruffle.