Tempting the Player ONLY
$3.99*

a Gamble Brothers novel by J. Lynn

He’s a player on and off the field…

Chad Gamble, all-star pitcher for the Nationals, is one of the best players on—and off—the field. And right now, the notorious bad boy wants Bridget Rodgers. But with her lush curves and snappy comebacks, the feisty redhead is the kind of woman a man wants to settle down with…and that’s the last thing Chad needs.

When the paparazzi catch them in a compromising position, Chad’s manager issues an ultimatum: clean up his act or kiss his multi-million dollar contract goodbye. To save his career, his meddling publicist says he’ll have to convince everyone Bridget isn’t just his flavor of the week, but his girlfriend.

Being blackmailed into a fake relationship with Chad Gamble isn’t easy, especially when the sizzling physical attraction between them is undeniable. With a month to go on their arranged pretense, it’s going to take every ounce of willpower they have not to fall into bed together…or in love.

 

Information:

Title: Tempting the Player (Gamble Brothers)
Author: J. Lynn
Genre: Category – Contemporary
Length: 304 pages
ISBN: 978-1-62266-899-1
Release Date: October 2012
Imprint: Brazen
 
* Digital ebook price. Pricing cannot be guaranteed.
 

 
 
 

Praise for Tempting the Player:

“The chemistry sizzles off the page! TEMPTING THE PLAYER
will make you laugh out loud and stay up long into the night.”

- New York Times Bestselling author Katee Robert

 

Excerpt:

© 2012 J. Lynn

Chapter One

As Bridget Rodgers stared at the old meat-packing warehouse, she kept seeing flashes of the movie Hostel in her head. According to her friend, the invite-only, highly gossiped about Leather and Lace club was the place to be. But from the cemented-over windows and graffiti-sprayed exterior walls, in what were probably gang symbols, plus the dim flickering light from the nearby lamppost, Bridget figured most patrons of this club ended up on missing persons posters or on the evening news.

“I can’t believe I let you talk me into this, Shell. We’re probably going to become some perverted rich man’s victim by midnight.” Bridget straightened the thick leather belt around the waist of her dress. The belt was purple, of course, and her sweater dress a deep red. Her signature look was a bit gaudy, but at least it would help the police identify her body later.

Shell passed her a droll look. “You don’t even want to know what I had to do to get an invite to this club.” She waved the business card–sized paper in front of Bridget’s face. “We’re going to have fun doing something different. Boo on the local watering holes.”

For all the hoopla surrounding Leather and Lace, one would think it would be in a better location than Foggy Bottom. With the creepy, unsightly look to it and the fog rolling in every night, it seemed doubtful the place catered to the rich and powerful in DC.

The club had become sort of an urban legend, and the name probably had something to do with it. Leather and Lace. Seriously? Who thought that was a good idea? Supposedly, it was a sex club. A means of hooking up people with “mutual interests,” like Match.com for the sexually wild or something, but Bridget didn’t really believe it. And if it was, oh well. In reality, all clubs and bars catered to sex in one way or another. It was why half the single people went out on the weekend.

It was why she used to go out on the weekend.

“Come on, get the sourpuss look off your face,” Shell said. “You need something fun and new. You need to de-stress.”

“Getting drunk—”

“And hopefully getting laid,” Shell added with a wicked grin.

Bridget’s laugh sent puffs of small white clouds into the air. “That’s so not going to fix my problems.”

“True, but they will definitely take your mind off them.”

She did need some good old-fashioned stress relief, though. As much as she loved her job and really wanted to go cry in the corner at the thought of finding something else, it wasn’t covering her bills—namely the student loans—that were taking a huge chunk out of her monthly income. She’d come to loathe when her phone rang, and it was an eight hundred number.

Sallie Mae was a freaking vulture.

She sighed as she glanced back at the building. That was a gang sign. “So how did you score an invite to this place?”

“It’s really not that exciting,” Shell said, frowning at the card she held.

“All right,” Bridget said, squaring her shoulders as she turned to her friend. The shorter girl was shivering in her skintight black mini and Bridget smiled. Sometimes having extra padding had its benefits. Early October air was chilly, but her knees weren’t knocking. “If this place is lame or if anyone tries to pry out my eyeball, we’re leaving pronto.”

Shell nodded solemnly. “Deal.”

Their heels echoed off the cracked pavement as they hurried toward what appeared to be the front entrance. Once they got within seeing distance of the tiny square window in the door, it swung open, revealing a pro wrestler–sized man in a black T-shirt.

“Card,” he barked.

Shell stepped forward, holding the card out. The bouncer took it, scanned it over quickly, and then asked for IDs, which he scanned and handed back. When he held the door wider, it appeared they’d passed the popularity and age test.

Then again, both of them were pushing twenty-seven and could no longer be confused with underage drinkers anymore. Sigh. Growing old sucked sometimes.

The entrance to the club was a narrow hallway with track lighting. The walls were black. The ceiling was black. The door up ahead was black. Bridget’s soul was dying a little at the lack of color and splash.

When they arrived at the second door, it too opened, showing another big dude in…a black T-shirt. Bridget was starting to detect a theme here. Shell gave a little squeal as she slid past the second bouncer, giving him a long look, which was returned threefold.

Bridget’s first glance around the main floor of the club was impressive. Whoever had designed this place had done well. Nothing inside gave an indication that this used to be a warehouse.

Lighting was dim, but not the shady kind of lighting that everyone looked good in at three a.m. A girl sometimes just couldn’t catch a break. Several large tables surrounded a raised dance floor that would be treacherous as hell getting up and down from while drunk, but it was packed with bodies. Large, long couches lined walls painted in blood red. A spiral staircase led to the second floor but there, bouncers were blocking the top landing.

From what Bridget could see, there looked to be private alcoves up there. She bet there were a whole lot of shenanigans going on in those shadowy cubbyholes.

Behind the staircase was a sprawling bar run by eight bartenders. Never in her life had she seen so many bartenders actually working at once. Four men. Four women. All of them dressed in black, mixing drinks and chatting with the patrons.

The place was busy but not overly packed like most of the clubs in the city. And instead of stale cigarette smoke, beer, and body odor, there was a clove-like scent in the air.

This place was definitely not bad.

Shell spun toward her, clutching her black clutch in her hand. “Tonight is going to be a night you never forget. Mark my words.”

Bridget smiled.

Another shot made its way from Chad Gamble’s hand to his mouth. The bite of alcohol watered his eyes, but like any family with a real good alcoholic circling around, it would take an entire keg of this shit to get him drunk.

And by the looks of those at the club tonight, getting drunk instead of laid was looking more and more like the outcome. Not one female had caught his attention. Sure, plenty of beautiful women had approached him and his friend Tony.

But Chad wasn’t interested.

And Tony was more caught up in giving Chad shit than anything else. “Man, you’ve got to calm this crap down. You keep ending up in the papers, the Club’s gonna come down on you like a ton of bricks.”

Chad groaned as he leaned forward, motioning at Bartender Jim. He wasn’t sure if that was his real name or not, but hell, he’d been calling the man that for about two years now and never been corrected.

“Another?” Bartender Jim asked.

Chad glanced at Tony and sighed. “Make it two shots.”

The bartender chuckled as he reached down, grabbing a bottle of Grey Goose. “I have to side with Tony on this. Signing a contract with the Yankees makes you a traitor to half the world.”

Chad rolled his eyes. “Or it makes me smart and incredibly career oriented?”

“It makes your agent a greedy bastard,” Tony replied, thrumming his fingers off the top of the bar. “You and I both know the Nationals are paying you enough.”

Bartender Jim snorted.

The Nationals were paying him more than enough—enough that by the time retirement age came around, he’d be more than set. Hell, he had more money now than he even knew what to do with, but at thirty, he had another six years left in his pitching arm, maybe more. Right now he was still in his prime. He had it all—God-given skill with a wicked fastball and precise aim; experience with the game; and, as his agent put it, a face that actually drew women to baseball games.

But the money and the contract offers rolling in weren’t the problem with the Nationals.

Chad was—or his “hard partying lifestyle” or whatever the gossip column had called it. According to the Post, Chad had a different woman every night and while that sounded damn fun, it was far from the truth. Unfortunately, he had enough relationships that whatever was written about him was believed by the masses. His reputation was as well known as his pitching arm.

But when fans were more concerned with whom he was screwing instead of how the team was playing, it was bad news.

The Nationals wanted to keep him on, which was what Chad wanted, too. He loved this town—the team and coaches. His life was here—his brothers and the Daniels family, who had been like parents to him. Leaving the city meant saying good-bye to them, but the team demanded that he “settle down.”

Settle the fuck down, like he was some kind of wild college kid. Settle down? Sure, he’d settle what he’d been told was a rather fine ass in this barstool.

Chad took the shot, slamming the glass back down. “I’m not going anywhere, Tony. You know that.”

“Good to hear.” Tony paused. “But what if the Nationals don’t re-sign you?”

“They’ll re-sign me.”

Tony shook his head. “You better hope they don’t get wind of what went down in that hotel room on Wednesday night.”

Chad laughed. “Man, you were with me Wednesday night and you know damn well nothing went down in that hotel room.”

His friend snickered. “And who’s going to believe that if those three ladies say differently? And yeah, I know calling them ‘ladies’ is stretching it, but with your reputation, the Club will believe anything. You just need to keep a low profile.”

“A low profile?” Chad snorted. “Maybe you didn’t understand me. They don’t want me to keep a low profile. They want me to settle down.”

“Hell,” Tony muttered. “Well, it’s not like they’re asking you to get married.”

Chad shot him a look. “Actually, I’m pretty sure they want me to find ‘a nice girl’ and ‘stay out of clubs’ and—”

“Clubs like this one?” Tony chuckled.

“Exactly,” he said. “I need to revamp my whole image, whatever the hell my image is.”

Tony shrugged. “You’re a player, Chad. Stop being a player.”

Chad opened his mouth. Well, he really couldn’t argue against that statement. Settling down was not in the Gamble brothers’ vocab. His brother Chase didn’t count anymore. Traitor. Chad loved his soon-to-be sister-in-law Maddie and she was great for Chase, but Chad and their other brother, Chandler, were not going to find themselves shackled to any female anytime soon.

“If you say ‘don’t hate the player, hate the game,’ I’m going to knock you out of your seat,” Tony warned.

He laughed. “You need to screw or something. Get some of that angst out of your ass. Even if I decide to go with another team, I’m not breaking up with you.”

Tony flipped him off as his dark eyes scanned the floor behind them. His friend leaned back suddenly, lips pursing. “Ah, I’ve never seen these two before. Interesting…”

Chad twisted at the waist, searching down to find what had caught Tony’s interest. Must be something pretty damn good because his friend was as bored with the night’s offerings as he was.

His eyes scanned over a tall, slender blonde with a leather choker, dancing with a shorter woman. They were staring directly at Chad and Tony, but they were regulars. He checked out a few more women but wasn’t seeing anything new. He started to turn back around when he caught sight of hair the color of dark wine.

Damn. He always had a thing for redheads.

Chad turned around fully.

The woman was standing next to a blonde who was placing a drink on one of the high tables, but his eyes went back to the redhead. She was tall—her head would probably come up to his shoulders, and he was a good six and a half feet standing straight. Her skin was like unblemished porcelain, fair and easily flushed. He couldn’t tell what color her eyes were from here, but he was betting they were green or hazel. Her lips were pouty, shaped like a bow; the kind of mouth that begged to be claimed and then would haunt men’s dreams long afterward.

Chad’s gaze dipped and, oh hells yes, his dick, which hadn’t been active all night, stirred to life. The red dress ended just below the elbows and above the knees, but he saw enough to know he liked—a lot. The material stretched across her full breasts. Chad wanted to take off the belt around her waist and use it for other things. She was rocking the kind of body pin-up models of the fifties showed off—a true woman’s body. One that demanded hands and tongues trace the curves of, if they dared, and, oh yeah, he dared.

“Hot damn,” Chad murmured.

Tony chuckled deeply. “The redhead, huh? Saw her first. Bet she could handle just about anything thrown her way.”

Chad cut his friend a dark look. “The redhead is mine.”

“Oh, simmer down, boy.” Tony raised his hands in mock surrender. “I like the blonde, too.”

He held Tony’s gaze long enough for his friend to get that he wasn’t fucking around before he turned his attention back to the redhead. She was sitting at the table now, fiddling with the straw in her drink. One of the regulars stopped by her table—Joe something or another—making a beeline for the fresh meat. Joe worked for the government, doing fuck knows what. Chad never had a problem with the guy before, but it took everything in his self-control not to get up and physically remove him.

Joe said something and the blonde laughed. The redhead flushed, and now Chad was hard as freaking granite. Man, he wanted to know if that flush traveled down and how far it went. No—he needed to know. His life depended on it.

“Fuck,” he said, glancing at Tony. “Have I told you how much I think Joe is an asshole?”

Tony chuckled. “No, but I can guess why you think so.”

Nodding absently, his eyes narrowed on the redhead. Whoever she was, she wasn’t going home with Joe tonight. She was going home with him.

 

 

Chapter Two

The people who frequented Leather and Lace were… friendly. Already, two different men and a woman had stopped by their table, chatting casually and openly flirting. If Bridget were into girls, the flaxen-haired beauty who’d been eyeing Shell would’ve definitely done it for her, but the two men barely sparked any interest, which was weird, because they were good-looking and charming. One of them had showered her with a lot of attention, but she was feeling oh so very meh about it.

There was a good chance her vagina was broken or something.

Sighing, she finished off her drink while Shell practiced her seduction technique on some dark-haired guy named Bill or Will. The heady thrum of music easing out of the speakers made it difficult to hear what they were saying to each other, but the odds Bridget would be calling a cab later tonight were high.

Or worse, even using the Metro, which she was convinced was one of Dante’s circles of hell.

When she got home, she’d dive into that Reese’s pie she discovered in the local market earlier and that book she’d totally stolen off of Maddie’s desk when she’d left work. Bridget had no idea what it was about, but the cover was green—she loved the color green—and the dude on the cover was hot. Oh, and she needed to feed Pepsi, the alley cat she’d found in a Pepsi box when he was a kitten.

Wait.

It was a Friday night, she was at a club, and a good-looking man was currently giving her the I-want-to-take-you-home-and-I-hope-I-last-longer-than-five-minutes look…and she was thinking about pie, a young adult book, and feeding her cat.

She was so turning into the cat lady at twenty-seven. Sweet.

“I’m heading to the bar,” Bridget announced, thinking she could at least be drunk and not care how her evening turned out. “Either of you two want a refill?”

Bridget waited for a response, but after a few seconds, she rolled her eyes and stood. Picking up her mauve clutch, she slipped around the table and headed toward the bar. It had gotten fuller since they’d arrived. Squeezing in next to a woman with short, spiky black hair, she leaned against the bar.

Surprisingly, a bartender seemed to appear out of thin air. “What can I get you, sweetie?”

Sweetie? How…sweet. “Rum and Coke.”

“Coming right up.”

Bridget smiled her thanks as she glanced down the bar. Several people were paired off, a few were alone or chatting with those standing by the bar. She caught sight of a guy with dark hair and eyes and thought she’d seen him before.

A tall glass was placed in front of her and she opened her clutch, reaching for some cash.

“I have it covered,” a deep and smooth voice intruded. A large hand landed on the bar beside her. “Put it on my tab.”

The bartender turned to help someone else before Bridget could politely refuse. Accepting drinks from strangers was a no-go for her. Candy was a different story.

She turned halfway, her gaze following those long fingers to where a dark sweater’s sleeve was rolled up to the elbow. The material clung to a thick, well-muscled upper arm, which connected to broad shoulders she found vaguely familiar. Whoever the guy was, he was exceptionally tall. Nearing six feet herself, she had to tip her head back to meet his eyes, and that made her all kinds of giddy.

Though the moment she saw his face, all giddiness vanished, replaced by about a thousand different emotions she couldn’t even begin to separate. She knew him. Not just because everyone in the city knew who he was, but she really knew him.

One didn’t forget a face like his or the qualities he shared with his brothers. Wide, expressive lips that looked firm and unyielding. Dominant. The curve of his jaw was strong and his cheekbones broad. His nose was slightly crooked from taking a ball in the face three years ago. Somehow the imperfection only made him sexier. Thick, coal black lashes framed eyes the color of the deepest ocean water. His dark brown hair was cropped short on the sides and longer on the top, styled in a messy spike that made him look like he’d just rolled out of bed.

Chad mother-freaking Gamble. All-star pitcher for the Nationals, middle Gamble brother, and older brother to one Chase Gamble, who just happened to be the boyfriend of her boss/coworker Madison Daniels.

Holy crapola.

She’d heard a lot about him from Madison. Part of her felt like she even knew him. Her friend had grown up with the Gamble brothers and been in love with one of them her whole life, but Bridget had never seen Chad out and about, at least not up close like this. They didn’t run in the same circles, obviously. And he was here, at a club rumored to be all about sex, and he’d bought her a drink?

Was he confused? Drunk? Took too many balls to the face? And dear sweet Mary mother of baby Jesus, that was a fine-looking face.

Based on what Maddie had said about him and what the gossips reported in the papers, Chase was a well-known womanizer. Bridget had seen in the rags the women he was out and about with. All tall and insanely gorgeous models, and definitely not women who were entertaining thoughts of pie and paranormal books.

But he was looking at her like he knew what he was doing. Color her surprised and intrigued. “Thank you,” she finally managed after staring at him for God knew how long like a total goober.

Chad’s easy grin created a flutter deep in her belly. “My pleasure. I haven’t noticed you before. My name is—”

“I know who you are.” Bridget flushed hotly. Now she sounded like an über stalker. She considered telling him how she knew, but on a whim decided to just see where this went. There was a good chance once he knew of their six degrees of separation—aka “I might run into you again someday”—relationship, he might just offer her a wave goodbye. This player was not known for his longevity anywhere except on the field. “I mean, I know of you. Chad Gamble.”

The grin went up a notch. “Well, you have me at a disadvantage. I don’t know you.”

Still flushing, she turned and picked up her drink, needing a healthy dose of liquid courage. “Bridget Rodgers.”

“Bridget,” he repeated, and good Lord in heaven, the way he said her name was like he tasted it. “I like the name.”

She had no idea what to say, which was shocking. Normally the social butterfly, she was thrown for a loop. Why was he, surely a god among men, talking to her? Taking a sip, she cursed her sudden inept ability at conversation.

Chad eased in between her and an unoccupied stool behind him. Their bodies were so close that she caught the scent of spice and soap. “Is rum and Coke your favorite drink?” he asked.

Letting out a nervous breath, she nodded. “I’m a fan of it, but vodka is also a go-to drink.”

“Ah, a woman after my own heart.” His gaze dipped to her lips and her body warmed as tension formed deep inside her. “Well, when you finish with your rum and Coke, we’ll have to share a shot of vodka.”

She tucked her hair behind her ear, fighting what was probably a big, goofy smile. Though she doubted this conversation was going anywhere, she was big enough to admit she liked the attention. “That sounds like a plan.”

“Good.” His gaze moved back up to her eyes, meeting hers and holding for a moment. He leaned in, lowering his head. “Guess what?” he said in a conspiratorial whisper.

“What?”

“The seat behind you just opened.” He winked, and damn if he didn’t look good doing it. “And there’s one open behind me. I think it’s telling us something.”

Laughing softly, she couldn’t fight the smile then. “And what is that?”

“You and I should sit and chat.”

Her heart was thumping in her chest in a crazy and fun sort of way, reminding her of what it had been like when she was younger and the boy she’d been crushing on talked to her at a party. But this was different. Chad was different. There was a wealth of heat in his eyes when he looked at her.

Bridget glanced over to the table where Shell was still with the guy Bridget couldn’t remember was called Bill or Will. “Well then, we must listen to the cosmos.”

She sat and Chad followed suit, scooting the barstool over under the guise of being able to hear her better, but she knew differently. This wasn’t her first time at the rodeo when it came to meeting men at bars, but Chad was ridiculously smooth. None of what he’d said sounded cheesy. His voice dripped with cool confidence and something else she couldn’t put her finger on.

Sitting so close, his knee pressed into her thigh. “So, what do you do, Bridget?”

She started to say where she worked but decided against it. The fact that she knew Maddie and Chase would definitely change things. “I work downtown as an executive assistant. I know. I know. That’s a glorified term for a secretary, but I love what I do.”

Chad placed an arm on the counter, toying with the neck of his beer bottle. “Hey, as long as it’s something you enjoy, doesn’t matter what it is.”

“Do you still enjoy playing baseball?” At the weird look that crossed his face, she added, “I mean, you always hear professional players either love or hate the game after a while.”

“Ah, I get what you mean. I still love the game. Politics of it, not so much, but I wouldn’t change what I do. I get to play and get paid for it.”

“Politics?” she asked, curious.

“The behind-the-scenes stuff,” he explained, taking a swig of his beer. “Agents. Managers. Contracts. All that stuff doesn’t really interest me.”

Bridget nodded, wondering what he thought about the heated debate going on in the sports column lately about whether or not he’d take the New York contract. She really didn’t follow baseball, only ended up reading the section during a particularly boring lunch one day. Typically, she made a beeline for the gossip page, which always had a hefty amount of info on Chad, now that she thought about it.

As she finished her drink, he peppered her with questions about her background, seeming genuinely interested in what she said. When she asked him about his schooling, she pretended she didn’t know what high school and college he went to, but she knew. They were the same as Madison’s.

“So, you come here often?” she asked when there was a lull in conversation. Her gaze dipped to his mouth. She was having a hard time not looking there and imagining what his lips would feel like against hers, how he tasted.

“Once a month, sometimes more or less.” he explained. “My friend Tony probably comes more.”

Now she knew why the dark-haired guy looked familiar. Another baseball player. “Does the entire team come here a lot?”

Chad laughed deeply. “No, most of the guys aren’t into this kind of thing.”

“Oh? But you are?” Yeah, she assumed some of the guys were probably married.

“Most definitely.” He leaned over, placing his arm on the back of her stool. “So you’re not originally from the DC area?”

“Nope, I hail from Pennsylvania.”

“Pennsylvania lost a treasure.”

“Ha. Ha,” she said, but she was secretly flattered. Of course, she’d take that fact to the grave. “And you were doing so well before that line.”

Chad chuckled. “In this case, I meant what I said, but I agree. That line was bad.” His face took on the shape of someone exaggerating being deep in thought, his finger tapping his chin. “Hmm. What’s a better line? How about…”

“No, no,” she said. “Let’s forget about better lines. What’s your worst line? That sounds like way more fun.”

“My worst line?” His eyes twinkled. “You’re assuming I have a worst line, aren’t you?”

Bridget gestured at the bar around her with one hand while leaning closer, settling her chin on her other hand, her arm resting on the bar in what she hoped was a seductive pose. She was a little out of practice. “Given you’ve admitted you hang out here a lot, why yes, I do believe you have many worse lines in you, playa playa.” And then she winked. She actually winked. She sincerely hoped he wasn’t going to call her out for her worst flirting moves ever because she was pretty sure she’d just emptied the vault in one shebang.

Chad laughed deep and throaty, the sound thrumming down her spine. “Well, I wouldn’t want to waste my worst lines on someone as sexy as you.”

Bridget couldn’t help it—she snorted with laughter. “Well played, sir. Well. Played.” And now she was grinning like an idiot, but at least his grin made a matching set. Man, she’d forgotten how fun it was to just get out and flirt with a smart, sexy guy.

He gave a mock bow. “I try.”

Two shots of vodka arrived mysteriously. Chad laughed when she had to do the shot in two gulps.

“Cheater,” he teased, eyes dancing.

Waving a hand in her face, she laughed. “I don’t know how you do it. That stuff is strong.”

“Years of practice.”

“It’s good to see that you excel at something other than baseball.”

His gaze settled on her lips. “I excel at many things.”

Chad motioned to the bartender for a glass of water and then slid it to her. She gave him a grateful smile and took a sip.

Like one of the women in the romance books she read, she was snared in his gaze. “You know, one more line and you win a set of steak knives.”

He leaned in and it felt like there was no room. Her heart sped up as his smile turned half secretive, half playful. “Many, many things.”

Bridget flushed, blaming the alcohol. “I think you should know, I’m impervious to bar bullshit.” She wasn’t, of course, as her racing heart clearly proved, but damn if she didn’t care.

He reached out, brushing his knuckles along her warm cheek. She shivered. “I like the way you blush.”

Bridget felt even more crimson sweep across her cheeks as she reached for her water. “Hey, I thought we agreed no more bad pickup lines.” Peeking at him, she found him watching her intently. Actually, she was pretty sure he hadn’t taken his eyes off her longer than a few seconds.

“Well, that’s no fun.” But his eyes were still crinkled with laughter. His gaze flicked to the bartender. “Another drink?”

When she nodded, she ordered something with less punch to it. They resumed talking and before Bridget knew it, she had completely lost sight of Shell as the crowd in the club thickened around the bar, obscuring the view of the tables. Chad had moved closer, his entire leg now pressed against hers. The contact made her skin tingle beneath her dress.

Glancing away, her gaze found a couple dancing nearby—if you called what they were doing dancing. It was basically sex standing up with clothes on. The woman’s short denim skirt was pushed high and her leg curled along the narrow slant of the man’s hips. Her partner’s hand was under the frayed hem as their hips grinded together. She swallowed and turned back to her drink.

“I can’t believe I’m giving you my A-game here and you’re calling foul ball. I’m wounded,” he said, placing a hand over his heart in mock pain.

The teasing tone brought a grin to her lips. “I can tell you have self-esteem issues.”

Chad laughed, the sound deep and rumbling before slowly waning off. He leaned in, his expression growing serious for the first time that night. “Can I be honest with you, Bridget?”

She arched a brow. “Do I want you to be?”

His palm traced her wildly beating pulse, his long fingers wrapping around the nape of her neck. “I saw you before you saw me. I came to this side of the bar just to talk to you.”

All coherent thought fled her. Was Chad serious? And how much had he been drinking before they met up? It wasn’t that she had a low self-esteem. Bridget knew she was pretty, but she also knew her body went out of fashion several decades ago and this club was packed with supermodel type chicks. The kind she saw him pictured with time and time again.

But it was her he was talking to, touching.

Their lips were so close that their breath mingled. The steady hum of raucous conversation and music around them faded. Maybe it was the alcohol or the fact that it was Chad Gamble. Like any woman with ovaries, she had her fair share of fantasies surrounding the playboy, but everything felt surreal. She was hyperaware of what was happening and at the same time detached from logic.

“And just to be clear, that was not a line.” Chad’s head tilted to the side. “I want to kiss you.”