And right on cue, smoother than Dean Martin on silk sheets, Ortega returned, “Young men are often shy in the presence of such a beautiful woman.”
“Then I’ll dance with you all night.” Gina smirked at Gabriel, who pretended to ignore the whole exchange.
He slid in behind the wheel of the Ferrari. Inserted the key into the ignition. The car purred to life beneath his hands as Ortega wriggled agilely into the backseat. Gina settled her skirts around herself.
“Belt up, Gina,” Gabriel ordered.
She sighed, long-suffering, and obeyed.
“No one drives G. Ever,” she informed Ortega.
“Never?” he murmured in a mocking tone that made Gabriel want to shove his teeth down his throat.
“Never. Gabriel always has to be in control.”
Gabriel opened his mouth, but before he could speak, the Lamborghini at the head of the line of cars took off, tires smoking. The Audi tore out after it. The other cars peeled out, rubber squealing on pavement.
“Christ Almighty,” he muttered.
“Catch them, G!” shrieked Gina. “We should be in front!”
She wasn’t wrong about that because the way her asshole friends were jockeying for position there was going to be a wreck before they even got out of the tall gates of the estate.
“Hold on,” Gabriel said under his breath and gunned the engine, shooting out after the line of weaving cars. He caught up to the last car within seconds, swerving widely to avoid the driver of the Mercedes who was all over the driveway, pulling briefly onto the lawn and safely passing the waving, screaming carload of idiots.
Downshifting, he passed two more cars and then sped ahead of the Audi which showed signs of starting to fishtail. Gabriel punched the gas and they flew on.
From the backseat he heard Ortega’s soft laugh.
“Now pass that bitch Amaryllis,” Gina ordered as they drew up behind the Lamborghini.
The tall, black iron gates of the estate appeared in their headlights a few yards ahead.
Gabriel floored it, rocketing ahead of the Lamborghini.
Amaryllis accelerated, but Gabriel kept his foot to the pedal and they flew on, zipping out through the main gates safely ahead of the rest of the wagon train.
Gina was squealing her pleasure.
As they hit the main highway Gabriel slowed to a respectable sixty, the Ferrari hugging the road’s curves effortlessly.
“Where did you learn to drive like that, Contadino?” Ortega asked from the backseat. There was a different note in his voice.
“Speed Racer,” Gabriel said lightly, and his companions laughed.
Gina Botelli was well known at Ruby Blue—but then she had been going there since she was an underage—but very rich—mob brat. That was the kind of club Ruby Blue was. The management was not above turning a blind eye to the sufficiently connected minor or the occasional line of coke done beneath the watered-silk wallpaper in its lounge. If you were rich enough—and well dressed enough—a multitude of sins could be overlooked.
It wasn’t the first time Gabriel had accompanied Gina to the club, and the beefy bouncer hadn’t batted an eye when Gabriel briefly flashed his shoulder holster and gun. In fact, the bruiser had actually smiled like he was looking forward to something happening to liven up his evening.
Ortega, on the other hand, received a brief but thorough pat down before Gina burst out laughing and informed the bouncer that he was part of her retinue. Unamused, the mob boss stared at Gabriel who stared blandly back. But the truth was Gabriel was shaken by the lurch of lust he’d experienced watching the bouncer’s meaty hands trailing over Ortega’s lean torso and hips.
Ruby Blue had three distinct areas: the main bar where buff and beautiful bartenders served signature cocktails, the dance floor where nationally known DJs offered an eclectic mix of music on the state-of-the-art sound system, and the VIP lounge with its pale blue leather couches where the famous and infamous could relax and unwind with their friends and enemies in style.
Forty-five hundred square feet of comfort and catering.
“G, come dance with me!” Gina and her pampered, pretty posse were no sooner inside the club than she was tugging at Gabriel’s arm with both hands, a sexy pout on her lips and a demanding glint in her eye as she tried to drag him out onto the dance floor.
“Come on, Gina. I’m on duty. Let’s get your table.” He tried to shepherd her and the entire group through the crowded club, keeping Gina in the middle of the pack and using her friends as an unwitting human shield around her.
“You need a drink, G. You need a lot of drinks.” Leaning in close, Gina breathed alcohol fumes and bubblegum scent in Gabriel’s face. He pegged her alcohol level at .3 and rising. If he got lucky, she’d pass out on the drive home. If he was unlucky, she’d throw up.
She swayed widely, and Gabriel reached for her. Gina reached back, winding her arm around his neck, bumping and rubbing against him in a seductive parody of dance that ignored the tempo of the music pounding out from the sound system.
“Let’s dance, G,” she whispered hotly into his ear. “I know you want to.”
She let her full weight collapse against him, and Gabriel staggered back. Hands on his hips steadied him. Big hands.
Male hands. Shit. He recovered his balance, putting Gina back on her feet. As he stepped away, one large palm slid appreciatively over his ass, cupping him intimately for a moment.
Well, he didn’t think the hand belonged to any of Gina’s pals, so that left one possible suspect, and Gabriel was not about to turn around and give that asshole the pleasure of a reaction.
Shoving his charge none-too-gently along the glass-slick zebra wood floors of the club, Gabriel put as much space as possible between himself and Ortega.
Which turned out not to be much, because getting Gina through the crush of people was like trying to maneuver a wheelbarrow.
Ortega’s breath was warm on the back of his neck as the other man said in a conversational tone that still managed to carry over the music, “It’s easy to see she thinks of you as a brother.”
Throwing a wintery look over his shoulder, Gabriel pushed Gina toward the stairs leading up to the VIP lounges, but she spotted a friend in the heaving throng of dancers, and twisted away, joining the party on the dance floor.