What the hell is this?” Dom leaned closer to the computer, scowling.
Tennyson glanced at the screen. And silently groaned. Fuck a duck, where was a mudslide, earthquake, or the Rapture when you needed them?
“Tennyson,” he growled, and she shifted her attention from the smiling profile picture of Adam Rutheridge, the guy she’d been communicating with online for the past several days, to Dom.
“What?” she asked, opting to go with innocence. Not that she had to explain her decision to give online dating a try. This whole thing fell under the heading of “Not Dom’s Business.” Heaving a heavy, much aggrieved sigh, she shook her head. “You act like millions of people don’t frequent dating sites every day.”
“You’re not millions of people,” he pointed out. “And what do you need this,” he waved a hand at the screen, “for?”
“Well, unlike you, I don’t have the opposite sex throwing themselves at me in droves,” she pointed out.
“That’s bullshit,” he countered. “You’re beautiful. Any man would want to date you.”
Except him. To him she was beautiful like the little sister who would be pretty even with braces, pigtails, and bad acne. The platitude was nice but empty. “Right,” she scoffed. “I don’t know why you’re so upset. It’s not like this is a new thing.”
“These sites are filled with nuts and perverts who like to make lampshades out of women’s skin.”
She blinked, her lips falling open. “Um, wow. You might want to cut back on Homicide Hunter.”
“This isn’t a joke.” He jabbed a finger at Adam’s cute blue bowtie dotted with miniature gold poodles. “His user ID is HappilyEverAdam for fuck’s sake,” he snarled.
She lifted a shoulder in a half shrug. “I thought it was clever and sweet.” When his growl rolled through the room like a foreboding clap of thunder, she held her hands out, palms up. “Give me some credit. It’s not like I’m going to meet him at midnight in an abandoned warehouse. I know the rules. Public place which I’m driving to and from. He can’t exactly skin me alive in a crowded restaurant, can he?” she drawled.
But her sarcasm bounced against him like a medicine ball…filled with lead.
“Tell me you don’t actually plan on meeting this guy,” he said, his voice even, calm. Ominous.
“Not that it’s any of your business, but yes.”
“Forget it. Not happening,” he ordered in the same tone he used to snap out plays on the football field. Hard. Quick. With a full expectation of being obeyed.
Oh hell no. A matching fury surged within her, hot, swift, and with thorns.
“As much as you like to believe you’re my brother, you’re not. I don’t need to ask your permission to date or consult you on how to go about it. When you start letting me veto or approve your hit-it-and-quit-its, then we can talk. But until then? Back. Off,” she snapped.
Those storm-filled eyes narrowed on her, his full lips flattening into a grim line. Silence, thick and alive with tension, thrummed between them. Intensity seemed to emanate from his powerful body, and he studied her with that same penetrating, concentrated focus. The weight of it touched her face with a pressure that was almost tactile. As if his gaze had transformed into a hand that gripped her face between large, calloused fingers, holding her in a firm, implacable grasp.
His scrutiny dropped to her breasts, and the air in her throat sizzled and evaporated. The black, V-neck top she wore seemed too skimpy and too stifling at once. She couldn’t force a word past her suddenly too-tight esophagus as he frowned and returned his gaze to her face.
Too afraid of herself, of her body’s reaction to him, to remain seated on the couch, she launched to her feet. The heels of her ankle boots clicked against the hardwood floors as she crossed the room toward the desk.