A Gentleman in the Street

By: Alisha Rai


No response.

At a loss for entertainment, she prowled the room until she came to the bookshelf, which was crammed tight with mystery and horror novels. None of Jacob’s books lined the shelves. Made sense. He was far too perfect and humble to have them displayed all over the place. She bet they were properly tucked away in his home office.

Idly, she pulled a novel off the shelf and perused the back of it. The water in the other room shut off. “I didn’t realize you knew how to chop wood,” she said, pitching her voice so he could hear her through the thin walls. “You know, I bet if there’s a zombie apocalypse, you would do really well with that ax and all. I bet you have a whole host of survival skills up your sleeve.” She pushed the book back in and ran her finger along the dust-free shelf, until she came to a framed photo. A younger but still solemn Jacob in the center, his arms around two smiling teens and a pigtailed little girl.

Jacob had been twenty-two when their parents had united for their brief marriage. He was older in this photo, maybe twenty-four? Yes, that was about how old he had been when his father had died and he’d taken custody of his siblings. She remembered, because she’d been regaled with the news of Jacob’s sense of responsibility when she called her mother to tell her she was posing for Playboy.

Akira cleared her throat and put the frame back, adjusting it so it sat at the same angle as when she’d found it. “I doubt I’d do so well. In a zombie apocalypse, I mean. No weapons and no survival skills. Though I imagine I would be excellent at looting.” She paused. “I can’t guarantee I would only loot necessities, especially when every store would be open and mine for the taking. But proper footwear is important. I could be a ninja with the right pair of shoes.” Too bad he wasn’t in the room, so she could shift and draw his attention to her legs in the navy heels she was wearing. She didn’t consider her legs her finest feature, but she made the best of what she’d been given.

As if he would be swayed by something as simple as a pair of nice gams. Moron.

Suck it up, buttercup.

“I assume I can come running to you for help when—” Her words cut off when he reentered the room pulling a white T-shirt over his head in that sexy way sexy men sexily pulled T-shirts on. He wore the same jeans, but he had washed up even if he hadn’t showered; his hair was damp at the ends.

He glided to the kitchen, surprisingly quiet for such a large man. “What do you want, Akira?”

The way Jacob said her name…well, it almost made her forget she hated it with the passion of a thousand suns.

“What makes you think I want something?” she hedged. “Can’t I come see my favorite brother?”

His shoulders tightened, and he reached for the coffee maker, his motions economical. Like a sexy robot. “Call me your brother one more time,” he said quietly, “and I will carry you to your car and put you inside it.”

No, that wasn’t a seductive threat at all. Not when it was delivered in that measured, deliberate way.

She really wasn’t imagining he’d sound the same when he was threatening to spank her.

Nope.

Her fingers itched to rip those casual clothes off him and see how long he remained in control when she was trailing her lips down his belly. She curled her fingers into her palm. “Relax, Jacob.”

He grunted. “How did you find me here?”

An easier question. “I went to your house. Kati pointed me in the right direction.”

His brow furrowed. He measured grounds into the coffee maker. Hesitated. Measured out more. “You talked to Kati?”

“Yeah.” He was overprotective of all his siblings, but he had raised Kati since she was five. He was particularly overbearing when it came to his little girl.

Not that the scowling, surly seventeen-year-old who had answered his door a few hours ago needed much protection, Akira thought. That girl would make it just fine on her own. “Relax. I only exchanged a few sentences with her. There was hardly any time to corrupt her with foul language or my vast sexual experience.”

He closed the coffee tin harder than it warranted. “She’s supposed to be at a friend’s house this weekend. It’s why I’m here. I wouldn’t leave her alone.”

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