“Alright, Gabe, you’re up. What’ll it be’ truth or dare?”
Melanie steepled her fingers over her mouth looking contemplative. “Interesting … What do we all wanna know about Gabriel?”
“I’m not that interesting of a person,” Gabe said in response.
“We’ll be the judge of that, thank you very much! Guys! I need ideas!”
Tabby leaned over and whispered in Melanie’s ear. Melanie shook her head.
“No. Not juicy enough.”
Melanie sat thinking for a few moments and was just about to ask Gabriel a question when her phone buzzed. She quickly scanned the text she’d just received and a mischievous grin spread across her face. She looked across the room at Brea and said, “That’s why you’re my best friend.”
Brea shook her head and pointed to Renee. “It actually wasn’t my idea.”
Melanie shrugged and said, “Well, I guess I found a new best friend.”
Brea scoffed while Renee smiled and clapped. Melanie threw her hand and said, “You’ll get over it,” before turning back to Gabriel.
“So Gabe, Melanie started.
“Yes . . . ” he said hesitantly.
“What’s the naughtiest thing you’ve ever done or thought about doing with Chachi?”
Caught off guard, Gabriel’s faced scrunched up in confusion. He shook his head and asked, “What?”
“Gabe,” Chachi started, “You don’t have to–”
“Shut up, Chach! Answer the question, Gabe.” Melanie smiled.
Arms crossed across her chest looking thoroughly pissed, “Yeah, answer the question, Gabe,” Leah said.
Gabriel shook his head, “Nothing. I mean, I gave her a kiss on the forehead once, but I’d highly call that naughty or scandalous.”
“Seriously? You’ve never thought about kissing her or seeing her naked?” Melanie pushed.
“Technically, that’s three questions, but no. Chachi’s my best friend. Why does there have to be more to our story?”
“I guess there doesn’t have to be, but it would have made for one hell of story if there was.”
“Whatever,” Gabriel said. “I’m officially out of this game.” He got up and walked into the kitchen.
“Boo! You’re no fun!” Melanie called after him.
Leah got up to follow, but Chachi beat her to it.
“Let me talk to him first, Leah. I’m sorry for my friends’ lack of indiscretion.” Chachi shot a death glare at Melanie. Leah sat back down as Chachi turned toward the kitchen.
When she walked in, Gabriel had just finished downing a shot of Jim Beam and was in the process of pouring another.
“Whoa,” Chachi said. “Did they shake up you up that badly?”
Gabriel downed his second shot. “No.”
“Then what was that for?”
“Besides the fact that Leah’s gonna tear me a new one when we leave here for even hesitating to answer that question? I was hoping the shot would help assuage my somewhat guilty conscious.”
Chachi lifted an eyebrow. “About what?”
Gabriel looked into Chachi’s eyes hoping to say what his mouth couldn’t.
“About the lie I told in there,” he whispered.
“Which one?” Chachi asked as she took a step closer to him even though she was pretty sure she already knew the answer to her question.
His eyes continued to search hers. He shook his head slightly. Chachi averted her eyes.
“If it makes you feel any better, I’ve thought about us . . . about that . . . I mean, how could I not? You’re funny and sweet and I can talk to you about anything, and God! You’re gorgeous.”
“But you’re not dating anyone, Chach.”
Looking back up at Gabriel, Chachi started, “But I know that you are; that’s gotta be just as bad.” She dropped her eyes again, “I keep thinking that if you kissed me, you’d realize . . .”
Gabriel took a step closer; he placed his finger under Chachi’s chin and gently lifted her face. He ducked his head to look into her eyes. Their faces were inches apart.
She searched his eyes, his face, for any indication that what she was about to say could result in anything other than what she had wanted for so long. His full attention was on her, and there was something about the way he was looking at her that gave her the courage to say what she was thinking. She dropped her eyes to his lips.
“I guess you’ll just have to kiss me to fi–”
Before she could finish her statement, his mouth was covering hers. One hand was in her hair, the other wrapped around her waist pulling her as close as he possible could. Chachi could feel his tongue slip into her mouth; she met his movements with her own, grabbing fists of his shirt. An indiscernible sound escaped from his throat before he pulled back, both arms wrapping around her, his breath labored; he rested his forehead against hers. He leaned in to give her another lingering kiss before he said, “Dear Lord.”