Authors: Evelyn Glass
“His work is amazing.” She couldn’t get the picture out of her head. Gabby walked along Nick as he told her about the local shops and even introduced her to a few people he knew. Whereas most of clients who took her out never bothered to make her meet any of their friends, in fact, they did their best to keep her separate from that life, Nick didn’t seem to mind that he met others with her.
He truly didn’t care about her past or even what she did now.
Maybe she’d finally found a man who could accept her for who she was and didn’t much care about anything else.
If yes, she would be foolish to let him go.
But then, she wasn’t sure what his intentions were regarding her. Did he bring her out because he felt sorry for her? Or because he was genuinely interested in her as a woman? Or did he merely think of her as a friend?
It was confusing to ponder over so many things at the same time. But the most important out of all of them was whether she was falling fast for a man who was still quite a mystery.
It was one of the best days of his life.
As the sunlight began to wane, Nick took her to his favorite restaurant. Being with Gabby was intoxicating. She was an interesting mix of contrasts; wild and timid, caring and reticent, smart and naïve. As he held the door open for her, Nick sucked in a deep breath of air as she walked by. His head spun as the heady fragrance that always enveloped her hit his nostrils. The scent of her ignited his passion.
Ever since he met her, he was unable to concentrate on other things. Her effect on him was devastating. All he could think about was her. All he saw was the sight of her luscious, curry, sexy body, and all he could smell was her delicious scent. He was truly besotted – and that bothered him. Not because who or what she was, but because he wasn’t sure if he was ready to fall so fast and so deep.
He’d loved once and that ended with a death.
If he lost someone else that he cared about, he didn’t know if he would be able to survive.
When they were seated, the waiter handed over the menus. “What would you like to eat?” He ordered a while later and the waiter whisked the menus away. Nick sat and stared her. She was so innocent, so beautiful, and so calm. Her large, blue eyes beckoned him. “What do you think of this town?”
“It’s a nice place. Not so big that you could get lost in it, but not so small that you know everybody. From what little I have seen, it’s a nice place to grow old.”
“That’s probably the best compliment this town has ever received. I grew up here.”
“Oh!” She blinked her gleaming eyes. “Didn’t you ever feel the desire to move away, to experience a new life?”
He was quite content to sit and stare at her.
Get a grip, man! She is just a girl!
But she wasn’t just a girl, and he knew it damn well. Gabby was more fascinating than any other woman he ever met. “I did. When I was eighteen, I went away to college in San Francisco. Loved the city! That’s where I learnt to ride a bike. There was a biker’s club there. They were innocent, friendly people. All they did was meet every Sunday and ride around town. I was with them for three years, but then I quit and moved to New York. That’s where I made the big bucks.”
“But in the end you came home?”
“Home is where the heart is. And I grew up in these alleys and streets. This is my place.”
“I’ve never felt at home anywhere,” she admitted ruefully. “When I was young, Joseph moved us around a lot. Me and the other girls who were with him, we never stayed in one place for long.”
He knew about her story. The club demanded to know the history of the person whom they gave sanctuary to, and Gabby was no exception. But her tale was so heart-wrenching that he felt rage on her behalf. How could someone kidnap a child and then force her into slavery? Nick couldn’t help the emotions that welled through his heart. He covered her hand in his. “You should file a case against that bastard for child abuse. He shouldn’t get away it.”
Gabby stared down at their linked hands. “You’re right, maybe. Yes. But I am just so happy to get away from him that the mere thought of facing him again gives me the chill. I would be happy if I never saw him again.”
“If you ever decide to nail that bastard, don’t forget to ask my help. We can trap him. There are a few lawyers who are indebted to me. I made millions for them back when I was working on the stock market. They wouldn’t hesitate to put him behind bars.”
She shook her head. “And I would have to sit in court day in and day out and listen to everything that I have left behind… No, I don’t think I can do it.”
He could understand her reasons. But still the fact that the bastard was out free and doing the same to other girls pricked at Nick’s conscious. He couldn’t allow him to target young girls. Something needed to be done – but Gabby had to be ready for it. Without her, he wouldn’t be able to do anything. He needed her to feel confident enough to pursue this further.
But for now, Nick decided to table this conversation.
This was their first date, and he didn’t anything to mar it.
The waiter brought their appetizers. As he watched her eat, Nick was struck by her simplicity and candor. She was truly a delight as opposed to the women he usually hung out with. “So what is your favorite color?”
Her spoon halted in mid-air. “You want to know my favorite color?”
“Sure. It’s as good a topic as any.”
She cocked her head. “Green.”
“Because it’s the color of grass and it just seems so fresh and natural.”
“Mine is purple,” he said. “And there is no damn reason for it.”
She laughed. The sound of her musical laughter took his breath away. He had never seen her express her joy so openly before. In the club, she was always a bit reticent, a little closed off, as if she wanted to protect a part of her and keep it safe.
But right now, in this moment, he felt as if he could see the real Gabby. This is what she would’ve been if she wasn’t sucked into the ugly world from which there was hardly any escape. She was very brave to take the steps that got her out of the clutches of her pimp. Most women didn’t even attempt to break out, and sure, most of whom that took the leap ended up dead.
But Gabby was safe, and she was here.
And he was determined to protect her.
“Is something wrong?”
“No!” He smiled. “What movies do you like?”
“The usual...fairytales, romances, comedies. And I am sure you dig action flicks.”
“Blood, gore, high speed chases,” he said. “You’re right. But I can sit through a few comedies if push comes to shove. But fairytales...” He shook his head. “That’s just not my cup of tea.”
“It’s hard to believe in fairytales when you know that reality is far different.” Her voice was soft. He could barely hear her. “As we both well know.”
He reached forward to take her hand in his. The brief contact was enough to send a lance of desire straight through his heart. Damn it! He was gone for good. He wanted her, and although it was physical, it was also emotional. Lust coiled in his gut every time he glanced at her, but there was something else that stirred whenever he gazed into her innocent eyes. It was fuzzy warmth that simmered under his skin. “I am sorry that you had to go through so much shit in life. But it’s time to put it back and start all over again.”
She gazed down at their entwined fingers. Surely, she could feel the fizz and burn of the desire that leapt and coursed his veins? Her eyes were wary as she lifted her lids to meet his gaze. “What are you doing, Nick? Why are you making this effort? If you want, we could just tumble into bed and it will be all over.”
He smiled, squeezed her hand, and let go. The confusion in her voice was all too evident. In time, he would tell her all that he felt, but this wasn’t that moment. “I could, yes. But what if I don’t want it to be all over? What if I want more than just a tumble in bed?”
“I don’t have anything else to offer.”
He allowed the waiter to whisk his empty bowl away. She was scared, sure. As was he. It wouldn’t hurt to take it slow, but if he went any slower, he would probably die from regret and frustration. “If you dig deep down in your heart, Gabby, you will find that you have so much more to offer a man than quick, lusty sex.”
Smiling, he said nothing. Did she have so little confidence in herself? He would love to peel back the layers of her personality and show her all that she got. She wasn’t just a pretty face and a sexy body; she was so much more than that. And he wanted to prove that to her. The waiter brought their main course. While he’d ordered grilled chicken, she got pasta. They shared a little with each other and ate.
It was a long time since he brought a woman to a restaurant. Much to his surprise, he had a much better time than expected. Gabby might not have traveled or gone to a formal school, but she was knowledgeable because she read a lot and watched documentaries on TV whenever she got the chance.
“What kind of books do you like to read?”
“Biographies,” she said. “And old history books.”
He was surprised. Most women read romance novels or mysteries and thrillers, but she had different tastes. “Why?”
“They teach a lot, and I like to learn. Couldn’t go to school, so I guess that was one way to make up for the lack of formal education. Libraries were my favorite places. Every time we shifted to a new town, I would find out the location of the library and somehow get there. Joseph didn’t like it. Even got a berating for it a few times, but I persisted. Finally, he allowed me to go seeing that I wasn’t going to stop anyway.”
In such a short time, she explained so much. He didn’t think she realized that she’d revealed so many details of her life.
Her pimp beat her?
If he ever got his hands around that man’s neck, Nick would squeeze until his tongue bulged out. How could he treat her in such an inhumane manner?
Nick believed that he had seen every dirty angle that this world had to offer, but what she went through was new to him. Once they finished dinner, he paid the bill. As they strolled out, Nick couldn’t believe how quickly time flew. They walked back to his motorcycle. She was so bubbly and chirpy that Nick felt the need to take it slow. He didn’t want to take her back to the same place where she would be reminded of her life. His heart longed to take her to a place where she would be safe from what she faced every day. But he had to be sure why he felt this way.
Was this love?
The mere thought of that sent fear skidding over his skin. Shit! He was scared to fall so fast for someone he barely knew. But it was happening at such rapid speed that he couldn’t make sense of it.
It was dark outside. Night descended while they sat in the restaurant. The lights of the ships could be seen twinkling even from this distance. As Gabby paused at the edge of the harbor to take a closer look, Nick tried to figure out why he was liked her so much. She was easy-going and yet so complicated, beautiful and so unabashedly unaware of her own sex appeal, a curious mixture of wise woman and a joyful child who took delight in little things.
She was a dichotomy.
She was a puzzle.
And he wanted to solve her.
On one hand, he didn’t want this night to end. And on the other hand, he wanted to take her back to the clubhouse and make wild love to her. She probably wasn’t averse to the idea. Their sexual chemistry was way off the charts. Each time he touched her, something happened in the pit of his stomach.
But was this the right time?
He wanted her to be confident and to feel secure with him.
Nick decided that he wouldn’t make the first move even if it killed him. Unless she wanted so, he wouldn’t touch her. Because once he did so, he wouldn’t be able to stop.
So the ball was in her court.
But the real question was; did she know that?