Falling for a Santini
Book 7 in the Santinis Series
A crush that turned into love.
Being the only girl in a family with five Santini brothers was never easy on Elena Santini. She always tried to be faster and smarter to make sure they always took her seriously. They were always trying to tell her what to do, and worse, who she could date. That’s why falling for her oldest brother’s best friend wasn’t smart especially when he treats her like a sister. That is, until she gets him alone in her apartment one night.
One night in Heaven.
NCIS agent Jethro Thomas, known to everyone as JT, has always played it smart. When his admiration turned to attraction a few years ago, he started avoiding Elena. A guy wasn’t supposed to have those kinds of thoughts about his best friend’s little sister. After returning from an undercover assignment, and about to go on another one, he can’t seem to resist the temptation. One night with her and he knows he’s lost, but he has a job to do.
A changed man.
JT returns from the assignment with a few more scars, both physical and emotional–but he survived for one reason. He’s ready to start a new life with Elena, but a dark cloud hangs over the new love. When small incidents evolve into near death accidents, JT realizes someone from his past is ready to destroy his happiness, even harm Elena to make him pay.
Falling for a Santini
Book 7 in the Santinis Series
Falling for a Santini
Jethro Francis Thomas deserved a freaking medal for suffering during battle and not taking his just rewards. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to take care of a drunken woman, but this one was more than a handful. Elena Santini had the reflexes of a jaguar, even as drunk as she was. There was no doubt in his mind that she was a world class Marine trained to handle adverse conditions. Usually, that made him admire her. Tonight, it was very difficult to remember she was his best friend’s sister.
“Hey, we’re at my apartment!”
He looked at her to see if she was messing with him. She frowned in the direction of her apartment building then looked at him. Damn, he couldn’t really tell. It was always hard to tell with her. From the time she was a kid, Elena had to think on her feet. With five brothers, JT knew she always felt she had to keep up. At times, though, she appeared to exceed them. It was always as if Elena seemed to come out on top.
“You asked me to bring you here.”
She looked at him for a long second. He lost his train of thought. It had been happening more and more these last few years. Since the year she turned twenty-one. It was her birthday and, with a little too much wine in her system, she had leaned over and gave him a big, sloppy kiss.
It had shattered his world.
They were surrounded by her family and friends, which included his best friend. He could still remember the feel of her mouth against his. She had let him go and gone on her way as if she’d kissed one of her brothers. He’d been standing there painfully aroused and feeling like scum.
“I asked you to take me home.”
Okay, maybe she was really drunk. “Yes. So I did.”
She pursed her lips and looked around. When she turned back to him, her eyebrows were lowered in confusion.
“This isn’t your apartment.”
Yep, she was drunk. He decided not to debate the point. Elena could argue with a fence post when she was sober. She was worse with a drink or two in her. All the Santinis were. They all had over the top personalities that were enhanced by alcohol.
“I’ll come around.”
He slipped out of his truck and rounded the hood. JT decided to take his time to cool his hormones. Elena didn’t know what she was doing to him. It was enough that that memory kept rearing its ugly head now that she was stationed at Miramar.
Dealing with a tipsy Elena was asking him a bit much. He’d wanted to touch her since the moment he saw her in the bar and grill.
I’ll take her up to her apartment. Then, go home.
But he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to take her home and strip her out of those low riding jeans, taste every bit of her flesh, and lose himself in her.
He didn’t need to be contemplating sex with Elena. He had other things to worry about. Going back undercover was just part of his job at NCIS, and getting tangled up with a woman was definitely not the thing to do. Especially Elena.
He drew in another deep breath of fresh air before opening the passenger side door. Getting hot over his best friend’s little sister was definitely not on his agenda. Anthony would kick JT’s ass if he had any idea of the fantasies he’d had about Elena.
That thought was enough to clear his mind and settle his hormones. Almost.
Knowing it would be best to get her into her apartment and be on his way, he opened the door. She must have been leaning against the door, because she tumbled out of his pickup and into his arms.
“Whoops,” she said, her voice filled with laughter.
And for an instant, he could think of nothing but all those wonderful curves pressed up against him. All those worries about Anthony and his job faded away. The very sexy woman in his arms took over his every thought.
She settled her head against his shoulder. Her breath danced over his neck. A shiver of need rushed over him. It took all of his control to set her away from him.
“Your keys,” he growled.
She blinked at him. “What?”
“I need your keys.” He bit out every word. It was that or scream in frustration.
“Are you the Key Master?” she asked, smiling at him.
“What the hell are you talking about?”
“You know, Ghostbusters. Key Master.”
It was his turn to blink. She was talking about a movie, and he was trying to figure out if she was wearing a bra with a front clasp or not. He was scum. Worse. He was lower than scum.
“I think I need to get you inside.”
She shook her head and just gave him a smile.
Knowing Elena, it was just better to ignore her and get her inside. From the time he had met her years ago, she had always been smart-mouthed. It had just gotten worse as she had gotten older.
She shrugged and turned around, grabbing her purse. She pulled out a key ring that had more trinkets hanging off it than keys. He shook his head and grabbed it. He guided Elena to her apartment door. It wasn’t that simple, of course. She tripped over her own feet, twice. By the time they made it the door, he was convinced she was doing it all on purpose. He set her away from him again. He struggled to slip the key into the doorknob, but it wasn’t easy. Elena had slipped her hands around his waist and pressed that amazing body against his back.
JT couldn’t fight his reaction. It was impossible. Even knowing that she was off limits, his body didn’t give a damn. His blood went from cool to hot in the span of a second.
Her hands dipped down below his belt. He dropped the keys. They clanked on the cement.
“Uh-oh,” she said, then she snorted. “I thought you were supposed to be good with your hands.
He turned around and found her so close he had to back up a step. Unfortunately, his head smacked the door he was just trying to unlock. He looked down at her and felt heat pulse through his blood.
Do not lust after your best friend’s little sister.
She leaned against him. He could feel her breath against his neck again.
And definitely don’t kiss her. No matter how much you want to.
“Jethro, Jethro.” She giggled again.
He hadn’t heard her giggle this much since the first day he met her. When she had been a girl. Jesus. He had actually known her before she could wear a bra.
“Does anyone say anything about you being an NCIS agent with the first name of Jethro?”
It wasn’t easy having a name of the head agent of the popular TV series. In fact, it made it harder to get respect many times. “All the time.”
He took her by the arms and set her away from him. Turning, he grabbed the keys, and unlocked the door finally. Opening the door, he stepped aside and let her walk by him. She did, and immediately tripped over the threshold. He caught her before she could fall face first on the foyer.
He righted her again, but she stepped closer and leaned against him. The clean, wild scent of her surrounded him…tempted him.
Holy Mother of God.
She was slithering against him again. She wrapped her arms around his neck. Before he could react, she planted a wet, sloppy kiss on his mouth. He responded to it before he could think. She slipped her tongue between his lips, and he was lost for a few moments. He could think of nothing else than the taste of her mouth, the texture of her lips.
Finally, he remembered who she was, who he was, and how wrong it all was. He pulled away but she tried to follow him, her lips pursed, her eyes closed.
“Yes,” she said, her eyes still closed.
Her mouth turned down in a frown, and her eyes fluttered open. God, she was gorgeous. She always had been pretty, but now that she had matured and added a little meat on her bones, she was stunning. The fact that he knew the inside was even more beautiful made her damned difficult to resist.
“No. You are Anthony’s sister.”
She furrowed her brow. “So?”
He sighed. “Guys don’t mess with their best friend’s little sisters.”
“I’m not little.”
“But you are Anthony’s younger sister. I can’t step over that line.”
She studied him for a second or two. Then, he realized her eyes were clear. She wasn’t as tipsy as she had him believe earlier. She was always good at playing a role to get what she wanted.
“So, you can’t step over the line, but you kiss like you want to.”
Dammit, the woman was always straightforward. It was something he loved about her, most of the time. When she had that perception zeroed in on him, though, he didn’t like it one bit.
“I didn’t think. I just reacted.”
It sounded lame because it was lame. Something passed over her expression that looked like disappointment.
She sighed. “Okay. See ya around.”
She turned away from him and he felt…deflated. It was the only thing that could describe the feeling that now morphed his better judgment. He knew he should go, but something nagged at him.
She looked him, her face expressionless.
“What do you want me to say? Stay safe and call us when you get back?”
“It might be a few months.” She nodded in response, then he realized what she said. “Us?”
“Yes. Dante. I’m including him.”
She said nothing else and it irritated him. Seriously? The woman who had kissed him like she needed the kiss more than she needed her next breath was just sending him off with a ‘see ya’?
“What’s the matter, Jethro? Expected me to beg?” she asked, sarcasm dripping from every word.
“No.” Not really. “I just expected…”
“Listen, I’m a grown up. You don’t have the courage to face your attraction head on, I can deal with that. Doesn’t mean I’m going to sit around hoping some day you will get over it. I might want you, but it doesn’t mean I’m going to wait for you to grow a set of balls.”
His pride took the direct hit. He didn’t like it one bit. He was the one ready to make the sacrifice. “Hey!”
She shrugged. “Now, I just want to go to sleep.”
He knew she was screwing with him. Growing up with five brothers had given Elena a good idea on how to handle men. She’d had most of her brothers dancing to her tune for years.
“You want me to leave?”
It was his turn to blink. “Just like that?”
She crossed her arms and nodded. “Just like that.”
She made a sound that was halfway between a growl and a shout.
“Good lord, just go, JT. You made your position clear. I’m a big girl. You would have kissed any woman back who had locked lips with you. Now, could you leave so I can go disinfect my mouth, because you are apparently a whore with your mouth?”
He hesitated, then turned to walk to the door. He stepped up to the threshold, but…he couldn’t do anything. No matter what he told himself, he couldn’t force himself to take that last step away from her.
Even though he knew he shouldn’t do it, he turned and looked at her one last time. She wasn’t crying, wasn’t smiling. Just nothing. And that told him one thing.
She was lying.
Instead of walking out the door, he slammed it shut and turned to stride in her direction. Her eyes widened as she dropped her hands down to her sides. He slipped his arm around her waist and yanked her against him. She gasped.
“This time, I’ll do the kissing,” he said.
Before he could have second thoughts, he slammed his mouth down on hers and damned them both.