Half Past Normal

Chapter Two Addition/Changes

I moaned as I leaned into Gavin, every nerve ending bursting into fire as he gathered me close and kissed the heck out of me. His lips pressed mine open and his tongue slipped in, imbuing me with the flavor of coffee and mint and something I was sure was only him. The noise around us faded, and my eyes closed as I gripped Gavin’s jacket. Something in my belly fluttered out of control, while even lower my core clenched with awakening desire.

Holy daydream come true…

My knees buckled, pressing me even closer to him, but Gavin’s iron grip held me up and kept me from falling. I’d dreamed of him, yes, even had waking fantasies, but I hadn’t thought he even knew my name.

 

“Um, guys, you want to take that inside?” I heard Stuart suggest beside me.

 

Yanking back, I stared up at Gavin—my brother’s agent.

 

Oh my God. This was my brother’s agent, Gavin McBride. And I’d been practically climbing him in the street. Crap.

 

Crap, crap, double crap.

 

Straightening slightly, he smiled down at me. God, he was at least a ten perfect inches taller than me, and all dark hair and intense gray eyes. And unless he’d lost the muscle he’d maintained during his hockey days, he had an impressive eight-pack hiding beneath his suit. As solid as his body had felt against mine, I was sure he still worked out—hard.

 

He leaned forward, his warm breath tickling my ear and sending a shiver through me. “Just act like you’re in love and thrilled to see me. Keep staring at me like that, and they’ll believe it for sure.”

 

Right… An act. Mortification burned through me. The kiss had been nothing more than an act, and now, I needed to roll with it. As humiliated as I was, I’d really rather kick him in the shins. But that would be childish—and that was the problem. Gavin was a full ten years older than me, a mouth-watering thirty-two with just the slightest bit of gray starting to thread into his hair. And if I wasn’t so close, I wouldn’t even notice those strands. For some reason, it made me want him even more.

 

Blake, you’re ridiculous.

 

I couldn’t want him. I couldn’t let him know I wanted him.

 

“Whatever,” I muttered back.

 

His fingers laced through mine as he pulled me toward the door to my building, acting for all the world as if he were oblivious to the cameras pointing at us. Suddenly, he pulled me into his side, his arm wrapping around my shoulders. Unable to stop myself, I buried my face in his side and let him guide me. I hated this. All the attention. All the people pressing into me and into my business. This was my worst nightmare. I’d spent my entire life trying to stay out of the gossip pages, and with one misstep…it was over.

 

And then with Gavin here, pretending to be…whatever the hell he was pretending to be. That was just worse. How humiliating to have the longtime man of my fantasies see me like this, to have him pretend to be the thing I wanted most in my life. With the two situations paired…I was in hell.

 

I yanked away from him as soon as we were out of camera range. “What are you doing here?”

 

“Taking care of you.”

 

“You’re…what? Did Brayden send you?”

 

He shook his head slowly, a slight smile curling his lips.

 

“Sir, I left your bags in front of her door.”

 

“Thanks, Stu. I’ll take it from here.”

 

I looked between the two men. “You know him?” I demanded of my friend.

 

“He works for me,” Gavin said.

 

“He works for you?” I echoed. “Doing what?”

 

“Keeping you safe.”

 

My mouth worked, but nothing came out as I stared at Gavin. My stomach ached as if I’d been kicked. In the silence surrounding my shock, the blood rushed past my ears deafening me more. “Stuart’s my bodyguard?” I whispered, feeling as if everything I’d known was false. “Why?”

 

“And I’m out,” the man in question said. “See you Monday, Blake.”

 

I barely noticed him leaving, though everything got momentarily louder as the door opened and closed, and the throng outside yelled questions again. My gaze remained locked with Gavin’s.

 

“Because,” he explained. “I needed you to be safe.” Taking my limp hand, he guided toward my door, which was pretty easy for him to locate since his things were in front of it.

 

“Why is your stuff here?”

 

“Same reason.”

 

“You can’t stay with me.”

 

 “I can.”

 

I shook my head. “No.”

 

“I plan to stick with you like glue until school’s finished. I’ll make sure you stay out of trouble.”

 

My head shook while I tried to process what he told me. “Stay out of trouble?” I echoed.

 

“Give some guidance.”

 

My eyes narrowed, temper darkening my vision. “You can’t follow me everywhere and tell me what to do. You’re not my dad.”

 

“And thank God for that.”

 

“What?”

 

“I might want to take you over my knee, but trust me, it’ll be anything but parental.”

 

What? This time I didn’t say it aloud, even though I was more confused than ever. I just shook my head, denying his words.  

 

He cupped my cheek, his thumb brushing over the heated skin. Even annoyed, I fought the urge to lean into him.

 

“What better place for your boyfriend to stay than in your apartment?” he asked.

 

“Well, if I had one—which I don’t—he probably wouldn’t stay here. I have a roommate.”

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