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Page 6


“What are you doing out in your truck?” I asked, leaning forward in my seat. This conversation had taken a turn from the devastating to the intriguing in two minutes flat. “You are not planning on driving across the country in that beater, are you? Because you might think that piecer has another hundred thousand miles in it, but you’ll be stranded before you cross the California state line.”

He huffed. Jude took serious offense when anyone tried to take a crack at the second love of his life: his rust bucket of a truck that was so worn with age you couldn’t tell what its original make and model had been. Jude may have wanted a fancy new truck someday, but this one would always hold a special place in his heart.

“No, as much as I’d love to break every speed and traffic law in existence to give you a firsthand introduction to rocky road, you’re just going to have to wait until next Thursday for that.”

I needed another sip of water. “You know what they say? The key to happiness is having something to look forward to,” I said, taking another long drink for good measure.

“I’ll show you something to look forward to.” Jude had mastered the art of inflection; these words were no exception.

Screw the drinking—I was going to have to douse myself with water if he kept up that kind of talk. “Even more to look forward to.”

“I’m going to hang up, Luce, and call you right back,” he said. “Okay?”


The line went dead and, before I could wonder what he was up to now, my phone was ringing again. Instead of Jude’s picture that normally popped up whenever he called, the phone displayed me in real time, requesting a Face Time call.

The pieces of the what-was-he-up-to puzzle were starting to come together.

Accepting the Face Time request, I stared at myself on the screen a few more seconds before I disappeared and someone I enjoyed staring at much more appeared. I adjusted the phone so he had only a neck-up view.

His infamous smirk fell into place immediately. “Hey, Luce.”

“Hey, Jude,” I replied, cocking a brow. Seeing him made my heart as happy as it made it ache. I wanted to be able to reach through that phone and touch him and have his hands on me. It seemed like an eternity since we’d been together. The day the cell phone manufacturers figured out a way to program a teleportation or virtual reality option into these so-called smart phones would be the day I’d call them “smart.”

“Nice jersey,” I said, appraising him. His skin had darkened in the Southern California sun, and his hair that he normally kept short had grown a bit longer and a shade lighter. His gray eyes were metallic tonight, somewhere between silver and pewter. A sheen of sweat dotted his face, dirt streaked his neck, and his shoulder pads made him appear even more superhuman in size than he normally did.

“Nice face,” he said, his smirk growing more pronounced.

“I know how much you love it,” I replied, “so I wanted to give you a close-up.”

“Baby, that face is so damn beautiful a man could die happy looking into it, but you can’t do this to me when I know what’s on display below it.” The skin between his brows lined as his eyes narrowed. Jude’s tortured face was almost as sexy as that smirk of his.

“You mean this display?” I said, tilting the phone so it ran down my body. Slowly. I watched Jude’s face shift from tortured, to expectant, to excited, ending at ravenous.

He stayed quiet, nothing but the heaviness of his breath exchanging with mine.

“Damn,” he breathed when I made the round trip, ending back at my face.

I smiled shyly at him. I don’t know what it was—Jude had seen me nak*d more than I’d seen myself, but something about sharing it over the phone, when there was no way for him to touch me, made the experience about ten times more intimate.

“You’re a lucky bastard,” I quoted back his favorite saying.

“Don’t I know it,” he said, licking his lips. “Do you have something you can use to prop your phone up with?” he asked, adjusting his and doing the same, I guessed.


“Luce,” he said, exasperated.

“Fine,” I relented, grabbing the sparkling wine bottle and sliding it across the table. Propping my phone against it, I adjusted it so he had a view of everything. “I improvised and utilized the wine we were supposed to be celebrating with tonight as my hands-free device. Happy now?”

“Happy always,” he said, shifting on the seat of his truck. “Because you’re going to need your hands free for what we’re about to do.”

I choked on the sip of water I was taking. Another puzzle piece slid into place.

“What the hell are you talking about, Ryder?” I said after clearing my throat. “And what the hell are you doing shifting all the hell around?” His head disappeared from the screen as he lifted himself. His hands slid down his sides, pulling on the seam of his football spandex.

“Taking my pants off,” he said matter-of-factly. No shame—not even a hint.

His torso lowered right before I caught the X-rated version of this video. “Why?” I said, my voice cracking.

His lips parted, revealing a smile that made my thighs clench. “Because I’m about to give French vanilla a run for its damn money.”

Shit. He was crazy. Loco crazy.

“I like French vanilla,” I replied, my voice so shaky you would have thought I was a virgin on prom night.

“If you like French vanilla, Luce, I can guarantee you’re going to love this.”

Double shit.

“I’m going to love what?” I cursed myself. Why did I ask myself questions to which I already knew the answer?

“Touching yourself for me,” he replied, his voice so deep it was dark.

Triple shit all the way to infinity.

“I’m not doing that,” I said firmly. Skanky girls had phone sex. I certainly didn’t. I’d do anything for Jude, with perhaps this one exception.

“Yes, you are,” he said, his confidence the total opposite of what I was feeling. “Just pretend it’s my hand on you.”

“I wouldn’t have to pretend if you were here like you were supposed to be,” I said, peaking both brows.

“You’re all kinds of moody tonight, Luce,” he said. “An orgasm will take care of that.” He interrupted me before I could argue back. “You know it will. Come on, baby. For me?”

And then he gave me the look—the look. The one where his eyes went all soft and light. In the battle that was man versus woman, this look should not be allowed.

I caved every damn time. This time included.

“Fine,” I sighed. “For you.”

His smile exploded for one moment, right before it dropped with desire. “Who’s a lucky bastard?” he said rhetorically, pointing a finger at himself. “That’s right. This guy.”

I laughed, relaxing now that I’d accepted what detour this night was taking. In fact, I wasn’t only relaxing, I was getting excited.

I needed another drink of water, but I’d emptied my glass pre–phone sex talk. Biting my lip, I felt my face heat. How did one go about this? I didn’t have a manual. If I had a glass of wine in me I would have felt more uninhibited. Gauging the widening of Jude’s pupils, I guessed there wasn’t time for that.

“So . . .” I began, “when do we get started?”

I would have made the worst paid phone sex professional ever. My parents would have been proud.

A corner of Jude’s mouth lifted. “I already am, Luce.”

Damn, knowing Jude was touching himself right now made my body spiral out of control in a familiar way. It wouldn’t take much “touching” to get me the rest of the way there.

“I suppose that dumb smile on your face should have given that away,” I said, sliding my hand into place.

“There’s my girl,” he said, his voice husky.

My eyes closed at first, as my body rushed from my touch.

“What in the hell are we doing?” I said, my own voice raspy.

“Doing the best we can with what we’ve been given tonight, Luce,” was his immediate answer.

“And giving French vanilla a run for its money,” I added, gliding my other hand up my stomach before giving the tie a suggestive tug.

“Shit,” Jude breathed, the muscles in his shoulders picking up speed.

Dropping my head back, I started kneading my breast, rolling the nipple between my fingers.

“Holy shit.” Jude’s eyes couldn’t have gotten any wider. “We are putting French vanilla in its goddamned place, baby.”

If it wasn’t for his confidence, combined with the way I’d already started on this train, I would have been trying to talk myself out of this whole thing. But I was too far gone to hit the brakes.

“What are you imagining right now?” I asked, staring into his eyes, pretending it was his hands working over me.

“With the view I’ve got right now?” he said, winking. “Who needs to imagine? This right here, a beautiful woman touching herself the way you are, is the American dream, Luce.”

His words sent another pulse of pleasure to my body. “Let’s just say you were here tonight . . .” I began. “And you’d just walked into the apartment. What would you have done?”

“Are you wanting me to talk dirty to you, Luce?” he asked with a smirk. “Because all you ever have to do is say the word and I will happily say filthy, filthy things to you.”

“The word,” I teased.

“If I wasn’t about to come, I’d be lecturing you about your backward progress in the comedy department.”

“Wait for me,” I said, sinking my teeth into my lower lip. That always drove him crazy.

“Always, Luce,” he said. “Always.

“Okay, so I just walked through the door,” he began, his shoulders slowing. “And there you are, nak*d except for that fine-ass tie around your neck, touching yourself and looking at me with those screw-me eyes.”

One of Jude’s many gifts of his lady-killer DNA was his voice. It was deep enough to make a woman’s insides vibrate, but still clear enough to cut right through her. However, whenever we were intimate, that voice of his went as deep as it would go, vibrating in all the right places.

“I’d be across that room in two seconds flat, and have you up against the nearest wall two seconds after that,” he said, the muscles of his neck popping to the surface. He was forcing himself to hold off.

He wouldn’t have to for much longer.

“I’d slide that tie from your neck, hold your wrists behind your back, and cinch them together so tightly I could do whatever I wanted to do to you, however I wanted to do it.”

“Oh, God.” I sighed, kicking my leg up on the table to give myself better access.

“Then, in the time it would take you to wrap your legs around me, I’d have my zipper down and my mouth on yours. And then, baby,” he said, his own head rocking back, “I wouldn’t give it to you until you came and got it.”


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