Falling for a Santini

By: Melissa Schroeder

CHAPTER ONE



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 administer care to 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. JT knew that Elena had a hard time keeping up with her five brothers. At times, though, she appeared to exceed them. It was always as if Elena seemed to come out on top due to something in her nature. Many people called it being pushy. JT knew it was just part of being a Santini.

“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. He fought the need to reach out and touch her long golden brown curls. They were so silky soft he could just imagine the feel of them against his bare flesh.

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 to her apartment. Then, go home.

But he didn’t want to do that. He wanted to take her inside of her apartment and strip her out of those low riding jeans, taste every bit of her flesh, and lose himself in her.

Dammit.

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 her 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 every ounce of his control to set her away from him.

“Your keys,” he growled.

She blinked at him. “What?”

“I need your key.” He bit out every word. It was that or scream in frustration.

“Are you the Key Master?” she asked, smiling at him. “That would make me the Gatekeeper.”

He shook his head and tried to figure out if she was the only one who was drunk. He’d had a few beers, but he didn’t even have a buzz anymore. So, it had to be her.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

“You know, Ghostbusters. Key Master and the Gatekeeper.”