“I feel like my number-one fan should get something better than an airport football,” he said, following after me as I headed back to the baggage carousel.
“Oh, believe me,” I called back, “your number-one fan will be demanding you give her something better later tonight.”
He chuckled, that low-timbered one of his. “I live to serve.”
Pushing the thoughts aside that were making my whole body tingle, I walked toward the little boy who was still gawking at Jude. The kid wasn’t even blinking.
I knelt beside him, holding the ball out for him. “You look like a fan of Jude Ryder’s,” I said, grinning as the boy’s eyes widened another notch when he saw the signature.
“His biggest fan,” the boy said, his voice high and excited.
“You and me both, kiddo,” I said, motioning at the ball when he stayed frozen.
When he finally grabbed the ball, his face lit up like only a child’s could. It was amazing how a signature of the guy I loved could make a person’s day. It was heavy stuff, and something I wasn’t sure I was ready to process yet. Jude had been a big deal back at Syracuse, of course, but now playing for the NFL would mean a whole new level of fame.
I winked at the boy before standing up.
“Thank you,” he called out as I headed back to where Jude stood a way back with my bags.
I waved at the boy as he rushed off to his parents and stuck the ball in their faces.
“I know you don’t want it going public, but you’re quite possibly the sweetest person out there,” Jude said, his voice and eyes soft.
I grimaced with exaggeration over sweet.
“I think you just made that little guy’s year,” he said, wrangling my duffel over one arm and grabbing my hand with his other. “A beautiful stranger picking him out in a crowd. That’s one he’s going to be telling his buddies ten years from now.”
“That boy had eyes for nothing but you and that football,” I teased as we headed for the parking garage.
“I would have come over and said hi, but the little guy looked close to hyperventilating as it was.”
“Yeah, I think it’s a good thing you stayed back.” I laughed. “I’m certain his heart couldn’t have taken it if you’d said something to him.”
Fishing keys from his pocket, Jude came to an abrupt stop in front of a lifted black truck. “And I’m certain my heart can’t take it if I don’t kiss you,” he said, resting a hand on my hip. “Right here. Right now.” He stepped closer, until I could feel his body against mine. “And, Luce? I want you to kiss me until I’m weak in the knees.”
That melting sensation I got whenever he looked at me the way he was now started to spread from my stomach. Lacing my fingers behind his neck, I popped up onto my tiptoes. “I live to serve,” I whispered, quoting him from earlier, before pressing my lips to his.
This wasn’t a soft kiss. It wasn’t a sweet or shy kiss either. This was the kind of kiss you gave when you knew death was moments away. This was the kind of kiss you could feel in every part of you, and the kind of kiss that was dangerously close to making me combust right here in the airport parking garage. Fully clothed and all.
My hands moved from his neck to the bottom hem of his shirt. Skimming my fingers inside, I played with the skin trailing along his jeans. Our tongues tangled as my thumbs skimmed lower. Moaning into my mouth, Jude dug his hands into my backside, pushing himself up against me.
Okay, yeah. If he kept pressing and moving against me like that I was about two hot seconds away from ripping both of our clothes off.
As he picked me up, I wrapped my legs around him. Pressing my back up against the truck, he bowed my neck over the hood to give him better access. His mouth moved from mine to my neck, kissing and sucking the sensitive skin until I couldn’t breathe.
Somewhere in the back of my sex-crazed mind, I realized the truck’s owner probably wouldn’t be down with Jude and me going at it, having clothed sex on the hood, but I was long past words . . . and caring.
So when the snaps and clicks of cameras started to grow louder, I paid them no attention. All I felt was Jude’s mouth and body moving over me. It was obvious that was all he cared about, too, because it wasn’t until the people and cameras were a few cars away that either of us took notice.
“Jude! Jude!” they were shouting. “Lucy! Lucy!” More shouting and snapping, so much it shot us both out of our makeout haze.
Jude’s muscles tensed over me, and, when his face lifted over mine, I saw a familiar expression I hadn’t seen in a long time. Dr. Jekyll, meet Mr. Hyde.
“Jude,” I begged. “Chill out,” I coaxed as he set me down.
The photographers continued to yell things at us. Some comments were too vulgar to repeat. Their cameras never stopped snapping.
Angling himself in front of me, Jude stiffened further.
Shit. This would not turn out well for all the parties involved if I couldn’t talk King Kong down from the Empire State Building.
“Jude,” I said, grabbing his arm and trying to turn him around. He didn’t budge. “It’s fine. They’re just pictures.”
God, the muscles in his arm felt like they were going to burst through his shirt.
“They’re pictures of you and me, Luce,” he replied, seething as the cameras continued to go off. “Pictures of you and me doing something I don’t want everyone else to see.”