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“Like the two-pump chump you are not,” I interrupted, feeling my cl**ax building, “but like the sexual goddess I am, I’d whisper a few dirty words in your ear at the same time I tighten around you, and you’d come so hard you’d put me over the edge.”

“Oh, God,” he moaned, his face lining. “I can’t wait, Luce. I’m going to come hard,” he said, his eyes staying on me. “And I’m going to imagine it’s you I’m six inches deep in when I do.”

That was all I needed. The final push before I followed him.

My body tightened as much as it could before it let go, and then I was shaking from the intensity of my orgasm ripping through me. “Jude.” I sighed again and again as he did the same with my name, paired with a couple other four-letter words.

As the last ripples of pleasure were going through my body, I rested my leg back down on the floor. My lower half was trembling and my breath was ragged at best.

“I might have been wrong, Luce,” Jude said after both of us started breathing normally again.

Adjusting myself in the chair, I gave him a postorgasm smile. “Wrong about what?”

“Your dancing being the damn most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen.”

My smile went a notch higher. “Oh, yeah?”

“Oh. Yeah,” he emphasized. “Because what I just had the pleasure of watching for the past five minutes was on a whole other playing field.”

I laughed. The expression on his face was that serious. “And I want to say kudos to you for improvising and managing to turn a sucky night into something . . . not so sucky.”

He leaned forward. “Kudos to you, Luce,” he said with a wink.

I flushed more than I already was. I was a physical wreck. The good kind of wreck. My inner thighs were still shaking, my left nipple was sore from the pain I’d unleashed on it, and my neck felt sore from all the rocking and tossing around.

“So,” I said, “same time tomorrow night?” I was partially kidding, but mostly serious.

Jude’s eyebrow lifted. “Who says we need to wait until tomorrow night for a repeat?” he said, leaning back against the truck’s seat again. “I’ve got all night, Luce.”

Grabbing the phone, I started for the bedroom. I was going to get comfortable for this round. “Me too.”


I’d slept in. I knew this because I awoke with that panicky feeling, consulting my phone for the time. Instead of showing me that, though, the picture on my phone was of Jude’s room. The Face Time count was still going, in the six-digit realm.

Crashing my head back down on my pillow, I exhaled. For the first time since last September, it seemed, it was acceptable for me to sleep in. I didn’t have an early class to be at, or a rehearsal to squeeze in before breakfast. Other than my summer class, my schedule was open to fill as I chose.

Turning on my side, I stared at his room. He must have left his phone behind so I could wake up to this. It was a small gesture that felt kind of grand.

The team had put him in a hotel during preseason training until he found something more permanent, which I guess some players complained about due to the lack of space. From the looks of it, Jude’s hotel room was almost as big as our apartment. Plus, it was about five times as nice and a tenth as old.

Following round two last night, Jude suggested we keep the Face Time on so we could fall asleep together. Well, it was more of a demand, but it was one I was eager to go along with. By the time he’d driven back to his room, I’d almost fallen asleep, tired from the day of running around, the double feature of orgasms, and arguing with him about how expensive his phone bill would be if we did this whole Face Time thing all night, every night, like he wanted.

He said he didn’t give a damn about the bill, or the money; he cared about watching me fall asleep every night. Yeah, I melted and caved right then.

Curling around my pillow, I stared at his empty bed. His sheets were twisted, the blankets kicked down to the foot of the bed, and the pillows were stacked into a leaning tower. Jude had never been a good sleeper, never sleeping longer than a couple hours at a time before something jerked him awake. He’d always played it off as being a borderline insomniac, but I knew why he’d burst awake, swallowing a scream, his body covered in a sheen of sweat. Jude had nightmares. The same kind I did—his just came from a different point of view. He was on one side of the gun and the man that had killed my brother, and I was on the other.

The weekends we shared in the same bed, he said he slept better, but knowing how many times he jerked awake in the middle of the night when I was next to him, I hated to think of what his nights were like when I wasn’t beside him.

Jude had an early practice this morning. And a late practice. Just like every day. In fact, if he wasn’t on the field, he was in one of three places: at the hotel restaurant shoveling food into his mouth, sitting in the oversize chair talking on the phone with me, or trying and failing to sleep in the bed I was staring at. His life was busy, his hours filled with places to be and people to interact with.

My days felt the opposite.

With Jude gone, I had dance, independent study, and a few friends who were, most of the time, too busy with their own lives to carve out time to hang with me. It had been months since I’d seen Holly, Jude’s oldest friend; something about a full-time job, living across the country, and having an almost four-year-old to keep up with had a way of keeping a girl busy. When Indie, my old dorm roommate, wasn’t beating off stockbrokers and ER docs in one of the clubs she frequented in the city, she was down in Miami dancing until sunset, beating away the Latin men she had a secret soft spot for. Thomas, my dance partner, bartended nights in the city and had been having girl troubles with the dancer he’d been dating for a year. What he called girl troubles, the rest of the world called cheating. Thomas liked to believe the best in everyone, God love him, and that was an honorable quality to have—when you weren’t dating a girl who believed sleeping with a slew of other guys behind her boyfriend’s back was acceptable.

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