Stolen By A Sinner: Chapter 27

Lara

After I was sick and the intense conversations with Gabriel, things seemed to have calmed down.

It’s been a week since he gave me his permission to like him, but I haven’t seen much of him.

Every day Nisa teaches me how to make something, and in the afternoons, I either sit and knit with Alya Hanim or we walk through the garden.

I no longer rush to clean the house as fast as possible but take my time with each room.

Standing in Gabriel’s room, I dust all the surfaces. When I’m done, I pick up his laundry basket to take it downstairs. His woodsy aftershave wafts up from the basket. I take hold of the shirt at the top, and bringing it to my face, I take a deep breath.

He smells so good.

As if my imagination conjured him from thin air, he appears in the doorway, catching me red-handed sniffing his shirt.

Dear God, now you look like a stalker.

I shove the shirt back in the basket and walk to the door. Gabriel doesn’t move out of the way, and my eyes dart to his face as I squeeze by him.

His fingers wrap around my arm, stopping me from making a quick escape.

“Wait here.” He lets go of me and walks to his closet, pulling a dress shirt off a hanger. I watch as he squirts some of his aftershave onto the fabric, then he brings the shirt to me. There’s a hot as hell smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. “At least this one is clean.”

“Ah…” I take the shirt, bunching the fabric to my chest. “Thank you.”

He leans his shoulder against the doorjamb and watches me as I walk down the hallway.

I’m not sure what to make of the interaction, but I feel it was a good thing. Right?

Stopping by my room, I place the shirt on my bed, then drop the basket in the laundry room so I can do the washing first thing tomorrow morning.

I keep seeing Gabriel’s smile while I help Nisa prepare everything for dinner. As we carry the trays to the dining room, the thought hits – does Gabriel like me?

I’m stumped.

He hasn’t said anything like that. He’s always talking about my emotions.

Frowning, I unload the dishes onto the table.

“Why are you frowning?” Nisa asks.

I quickly shake my head. “No reason.” We set the trays aside as Alya Hanim and Emre Bey come to take their seats.

“Come sit across from me, Lara,” Alya Hanim says.

Not questioning her, I pull the chair out. It’s only when Gabriel walks into the dining room and sits at the head of the table, that I realize I’m now seated next to him.

I give him a tentative smile, and wait for everyone to help themselves to food before I load some onto my plate.

“I found a new pattern we can knit,” Alya Hanim says. “Baby socks. They’re so adorable.”

Gabriel almost chokes on the bite he just took, and I quickly push his glass of water closer.

Once he’s taken a sip and clears his throat, I turn my attention to his grandmother, who has a wide smile on her face. “I can’t wait to try knitting them.”

She gives me a curious look. “Have you ever thought about getting married?”

Huh?

Babaanne,” Gabriel mutters, warning laced in the word.

Nisa sets her utensils down. “What’s going on that I don’t know about?”

Emre lets out a chuckle.

This is weird.

“Ah…no,” I answer Alya Hanim’s question. My eyes dart around the table to try and figure out what’s going on.

Nisa gives me a questioning look, and I shrug to show I have no idea.

For the rest of the meal, Alya Hanim talks about the changes she wants to make to the garden, and I forget about the fleeting weird tension.

After I help Nisa clean the kitchen, I finally get to retire to my room. I take a quick shower, and once I’ve dried off, I stand and stare at Gabriel’s shirt.

He gave it to me so I can do with it what I want.

I pull the fabric on and button it, then smile at my reflection in the mirror. I look silly, almost drowning in the shirt, but I’m surrounded by his scent, so I don’t care.

I roll up the sleeves as I walk back into the bedroom, and throwing the covers open, I crawl into bed. I let out a happy sigh because today was another good day.

With Gabriel’s woodsy aftershave hanging all around me, my thoughts turn to him. I switch off the bedside lamp, and once darkness falls in the room, I allow my feelings for him to surface.

It’s becoming a habit to think of him until I fall asleep, one I like very much.

I think back to the swimming pool and how good he looked without a shirt. I remember the feel of his muscled skin and the strength in his body as he kept me afloat.

And that V running down from his hips.

When there’s a knock at my door, I’m ripped out of my thoughts. I sit up and switch the light on. “Yes?”

I’m surprised when Gabriel comes in and shuts the door behind him. When his eyes land on the shirt I’m wearing, a smile tugs at the corner of his mouth.

“I wondered whether you’d sleep in my shirt.” He walks closer and sits down on the side of the bed. “I like it.”

I pat a hand over the fabric, glad he’s not upset that I chose to sleep in it.

For a moment, Gabriel stares at me, then he says, “I apologize for my grandmother. She saw us at the pool, and now her imagination is running away with her.”

“She didn’t do anything wrong.”

He turns his body toward me and gestures for me to come closer. Obeying, I move out from under the covers and kneel a couple of inches away from him.

“Closer,” he murmurs. I move until my knees press against the side of his thigh, then he smiles. “That’s better.” His eyes drift over my face. “I’ve been busy the past week, so I couldn’t check in on you. How are you feeling?”

“About?”

“Everything.”

I shrug, just happy that I can have a conversation with him. “I’m fine.”

Gabriel tilts his head, his eyes sharpening on me. “Have you thought more about how you feel about me?”

I nod, then lower my eyes as I admit, “I still like you.”

“How much?”

How do I explain that to him?

I take a deep breath as I try to gather my thoughts. “I think about you all the time.” Like ALL the time.

A pleased smile forms on his face. “What kind of thoughts?”

My cheeks flush, and I glance down at my hands. Gabriel takes hold of one and brushes his thumb over the back of mine. “You can tell me anything.”

I lift my head, meeting his gaze. “I think about what happened by the pool. You really look good without a shirt on.”

A chuckle rumbles from his chest. “Glad to know you like what you see.”

“Very much.”

Our eyes lock again, then he asks, “Have you been kissed, Lara?”

I shake my head, nerves starting to spin in my stomach.

“Do you want me to kiss you?”

Without a doubt. “Yes.”

He nods but doesn’t make a move. Instead, he gets up and pulls me off the bed. When I’m standing in front of him, he lets go of my hand.

“Close your eyes.”

I obey him and don’t have time to wonder what he’s doing because his hands frame my face right before I feel his breath on my lips.

My heart explodes in my chest, my stomach fluttering like crazy.

Gabriel brushes his lips over mine, once, twice, then he lifts his head. Stunned by how intense a three-second kiss felt, I watch as his eyes drift over my face.

Then he chuckles, “Breathe, Lara. I can’t have you pass out before kissing you thoroughly.”

I fill my lungs with air, the anticipation making me feel overwhelmed.

His thumb brushes over my cheek, the expression in his eyes both predatory and tender. Again, he closes the distance between us, and this time when his mouth meets mine, he doesn’t just brush his lips over mine. His tongue licks at the seam of my mouth, then he demands, “Let me in.”

I part my lips, and the moment his tongue strokes hard against mine, it feels like I’m leaving my body and floating on clouds.

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