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By:Kim Linwood

Yeah, right. I idly play with my curls, but let go at Cassie's sharp whisper, "Stop fiddling."

He’s tattooed, and not with little half-filled ones like Paul’s. It wasn’t so obvious from across the room, but as he comes nearer I see how they twine around his bulging biceps like inky snakes The club lights flash over him, pulling him out of the half-darkness and make the abstract designs stand out clearly. They writhe on his skin, rippling along with his muscles and crawling into his shirt. My mouth goes dry as I wonder how much of him is covered.

His deep hazel eyes roam up and down my body, and he doesn't even try to hide it. I wish I'd picked a slightly more modest dress. This one had looked good when I was fifteen, but while I'm not any taller now, my curves have filled out since then, and the difference is enough to firmly move it from cute with a hint of sexy to totally painted on.

“Don’t think I didn’t see you girls looking.” His deep voice carries through the loud music, as arrogant as his smirk. He looks older than us, but not by a lot. Maybe twenty-three or twenty-four.

“Hi!” Cassie’s pitches her voice higher than normal and pushes her ample chest out. I don’t think it even occurs to her that she’s doing it. It’s just how she is, especially around guys she likes. “I’m Cassandra, and my shy friend here’s Angie.”

Yep. Shy friend. Heat rushes to my face as he studies me intently.

Still smirking, he seems to be having way too much fun. “Yeah? I’m Gavin.” He speaks to both of us, but his eyes are locked on me. Why, I’ve no idea, with Cassie showing so much cleavage that you could rappel down between her breasts. How am I supposed to compete with that?

She looks distracted for a second, then reaches into that same cleavage and pulls out a small, pink phone. The back panel reads “SLUT” in jagged, purple letters, making me roll my eyes. Gavin arches an eyebrow. She glances up briefly and smiles before scrolling through her messages. She’s totally faking it. “On vibrate,” she explains, as if she’s not being obvious.

Gavin and I exchange a brief glance while we wait, and then she’s done. “I gotta go. I’m sorry, guys, but something’s come up.” She winks at me, and my gut clenches. She’s leaving me here with him. Just like that? What do I do?

“Listen, Gavin, why don’t you take care of Angie. Make sure she has company.” It’s so obviously a ruse that she doesn’t even bother hiding her wide grin. “See that she gets home safe.”

This is crazy. “I don’t think—”

“Sure,” he cuts in. “Just go do whatever it is you need to do that’s not here. I’ll take good care of her.” His hand lands right at the small of my back and pulls me closer. It’s warm, his long fingers spanning from one side of me to the other.

I look up at him, pleading with my eyes. “Listen, this is a bad idea. I’m not...” What aren’t I, exactly?

“Not that kind of girl? Not up for a good time? Not going to stay up past bedtime?” He steps around to my front and puts his finger under my chin so I can’t look away. “Or not going to leave me here all alone?”

I retreat without even thinking about it, until the hard wall is against my back. He stalks after me, fencing me in with his arms. Damn it, Cassie. This is too much. She threw me to the freaking wolves.

Gavin smiles, white teeth flashing. Not a wolf, a shark. “Let me guess, little girl. You’re off to college soon, and...” he draws it out before he continues. “And your best friend thinks you should go take a walk on the wild side before you get there. And now she’s left you with me.”

I swallow past the lump in my throat. He’s eerily close to the mark. “You do this a lot?”

“Babe, I can show you things you’ve never even known to dream about.” He leans in, so close I can smell him. He’s all testosterone, all masculinity. “I’m good.” He trails a finger along my jaw. “I’m the best.” He’s also arrogant as hell.

Trying to look around his massive body, I search for Cassie, but while I’m sure she’s watching gleefully someplace nearby, I don’t see her. How did I let her talk me into this? God, this is crazy.

“Eyes on me, babe. I want to get lost in those gorgeous brown pools.” The sheer intensity of him scares me. I can’t tell how much of his interest is real, and how much is just love of the chase. “I want to see them beneath me as I slide into you.”

My sex clenches in spite of my misgivings. Okay, so I want him. He’s full of himself, but there’s no denying he’s hot. This was the plan, right? Now I just have to follow through with it.