Instantly Reed’s hackles went up, but for an entirely different reason than they had with Alcott. Tahl had a way of pissing Reed off just by existing. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Reed lied.
Tahl was the only man Reed had ever met that was better looking than Reed. Midnight black hair that shimmered blue under the right lights accentuated his deep blue eyes perfectly. High cheekbones, strong chin, and firm lips that just begged to be kissed all added to the man’s allure.
But his good looks didn’t stop there. His body was a chiseled masterpiece that spoke of years of dedication and training in the gym. Add to all of that, the man’s cocky attitude of knowing just how fucking gorgeous he was and ability to mesmerize anyone with just a look, and Tahl could have any man he wanted.
Including Reed. Except Tahl hadn’t been interested. The man hadn’t even flirted with Reed. It was as if Reed didn’t exist, well, unless Tahl was giving him a lecture on dating casino staff. There were no smiles from those firm lips, just a disapproving frown that never seemed to waiver.
“Really?” That frown was there, along with one eyebrow raised, telling Reed Tahl not only didn’t believe his lie, but was disappointed, as usual, that Reed had bothered to tell it. “Because I believe it is you Alcott came here to see, and since he created a scene that involved Jesse, Ethan, Flynn, and”—Crow hesitated as he glanced over at Kale—“Danton. I would think you would have discouraged him from coming here again.”
Kale’s smile instantly turned icy as he was reminded about the Christmas fiasco that led to all the men mentioned being banned from the New Year’s Eve party. It had been a disaster of epic proportions. One that had nearly gotten Reed fired, the casino closed down, and three innocent bystanders sent to the hospital for being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
After Aidan, the property’s manager had banned Alcott for sixty days. Reed had hoped the man would have given up chasing him. Evidently he was wrong. “It’s not like I invited him here,” he told Tahl belligerently.
“Apparently he didn’t get the memo,” Tahl said dryly. “Have you thought about telling him you don’t want to see him again?”
Reed wanted nothing more than to smash his fist into that smug face. “Look, you pompous jerk, I have told him, over and over again. It’s not my fault if he ignores me.”
A muscle along Tahl’s jaw jumped, but otherwise, he didn’t react to Reed’s insults. His so-called friends, on the other hand, couldn’t get out of there fast enough.
“I think I hear Stone calling me,” Kale said. “I better get moving.”
“Yeah,” Crow followed. “I’m pretty sure he was calling for me, too.”
Reed stared after them, shocked they would just abandon him when they knew he couldn’t stand Tahl. Then again, if the roles were reversed, he was pretty sure he would have gotten out of there as fast as he could, too.
“Looks like your friends are smarter than you, Reed.” There was something in Tahl’s tone that had Reed’s teeth clenching in irritation.
He couldn’t pinpoint it exactly, but the way Tahl talked to him was like a schoolmarm talking to a five-year-old who’d been naughty. He was sick and tired of being treated as if he didn’t know how to behave. No, that wasn’t it. Everyone treated him that way. It was only Tahl he resented doing it.
What he hated was Tahl believing he had the right to tell him what to do. Who the fuck was this guy anyway? “Look, we are not friends, nor do I want to be your friend, so stop thinking you can order me around.”
The moment the words were out, Reed knew them for the mistake they were. Tahl grew still, too still. Those deep blue eyes blazed with fire that trapped Reed in place. Tahl was like a snake about to strike. Just as the thought left Reed’s head, Tahl moved, crowding Reed to the wall not more than ten feet from them.
He had been a Marine for eight fucking years, training with some of the toughest son of bitches he’d ever known, yet Reed had no idea how Tahl had moved that fast, or managed to pin him to the wall so he couldn’t move.
He owed Stone an apology for not taking hand-to-hand combat more seriously. Maybe if he’d paid more attention in class, he wouldn’t be in this predicament.
“Your home is breathtaking.” There was a reverence in Reed’s voice Tahl appreciated hearing. It was exactly what he’d always hoped when he brought Reed home.
Except Reed wasn’t there for the right reasons. Any happiness he felt at Reed’s praise was crushed beneath the hopelessness of the situation. Tahl wasn’t an idiot. As much as he would try to resist Reed’s charms, he feared he wouldn’t be able to hold out when the temptation to give in was so great.
He walked to the kitchen and pulled out two bottles of water. He turned around and nearly plowed into Reed, who was standing so close he could feel the heat from his body. Those brown eyes were hypnotizing as they drew Tahl in closer.
Barely an inch separated their lips when the sound of the ice dropping from the automatic ice machine brought reality once more crashing down. He had to get away from Reed before Tahl ended up doing the one thing that would ensure there would be no future with this man.
He shoved the water bottle into Reed’s hands and stepped around him to the hallway that led to a small spare bedroom in the back of the house. “Your room is back here.”
The room looked out over the backyard and the forest beyond. During the day, it was quite picturesque, but then again, Tahl had planned for every room to take advantage of the breathtaking views.
He opened another door. “There is a bathroom here and if you need a change of clothes, I have some sweats and T-shirts in the dresser.” He pointed to the handcrafted dresser on the far wall.
Reed stepped right up to Tahl, those brown eyes practically begging. “I won’t need them,” Reed said with a grin. “I sleep completely naked.”
It took every bit of Tahl’s control to not groan as the visual of Reed spread out on the bed with all that skin on display for him flashed through Tahl’s mind. He just knew sleep would never come. Not when he was going to be thinking all night long about Reed down here, nude.
He wanted to be mad at Reed for doing this to him. It wasn’t fair. Then again, what happened to Reed, Crow, and Kayden hadn’t been fair either. Tahl just needed to find a way to be strong for both of them.
“Okay, then.” Tahl bolted around Reed, not stopping until he was at the door. “I’ll see you in the morning.”
Tahl didn’t wait for a response. He just took off, practically running, turning off lights as he dashed up the stairs to the sanctuary of his own room. It wasn’t until he’d shut the door, leaning heavily against the wood, that he stopped.
It wasn’t often Tahl could remember having so little control over his libido that he’d had to run from someone. Actually, he never had to do that. Guilt at leaving Reed, who clearly needed someone after everything he’d gone through, ate at Tahl.
Only the knowledge that he’d never be able to resist Reed’s advances if he went back down there kept him right where he was. It might make him a coward, but Tahl was willing to admit to the label if it meant one day having a chance at a future with Reed.
Sighing in disgust at himself for being so weak, Tahl pushed from the door and went to take a shower. Stripping as he walked through his bedroom, Tahl let the clothes lie where they fell. He’d pick them up later. Right now, he needed to get his mind off what Reed would look like naked and a cold shower was his only recourse.
The cold tile floor seeped into his body, giving him a modicum of relief, but his body was too hard and aching for it to do much. Doing his best to ignore the needs of his body, Tahl stepped under the icy spray. For five long minutes, he endured the cold before his cock finally relented and softened once again.
By the time he stepped out of the shower, he felt almost normal. But images of Reed continued to plague him. Reed sure knew how to torture him.
After running a towel over his body, Tahl walked back into his bedroom and froze. He’d forgotten to lock the door.
His heart sped up. His breathing all but stopped as he stared at the most erotic sight he’d ever seen. There spread out on his bed, just as he’d imagined, except better, was Reed completely naked, grinning as if he knew exactly what he was doing to Tahl.
Then again, considering Tahl was also naked and his cock went rock hard, jutting proudly from his body, the moment he laid eyes on the feast before him, Reed could see exactly what he was doing to Tahl.
How was he supposed to say no to this?
Before he even knew what he was doing, Tahl had taken several steps in Reed’s direction. It wasn’t until he saw the look of triumph in Reed’s eyes that he came to his senses and stopped just feet from the bed.
Even then he had to give himself a mental slap before he could speak. “What do you think you’re doing?”
That grin only grew as Reed wrapped his hand around his dick and gave it several slow strokes. Tahl’s gaze was fixed on that hand, wishing he were the one touching Reed instead. “I would think it was pretty obvious.”