Page 58

Once I was inside the Mazda, I fought every instinct to NASCAR my way back to the apartment. I forced myself to follow the speed limit, and I even made myself pull over at the mall to make a quick purchase.

My watching LJ evenings and weekends was working out better than any of us could have imagined. He listened to me as much as a minicaveman could, he helped me with chores around the apartment, and I could even take him out in public without having to worry about leaving behind a trail of chaos.

However, the store I was heading to now wasn’t one I wanted to take a little boy into. It didn’t take me long to pick out what I thought Jude would like best, since he wasn’t hard to please when it came to lingerie. I paid for it, and was back to the Mazda in less than ten minutes.

Once I was in my parking spot, I checked the mirror. Applying a coat of lipstick and adding a touch of bronzer, I was good as good could be right now. I’d worn my new cobalt skirt and a sleeveless wrap blouse, paired with a patent-leather pair of red heels that were sure to drive Jude a little wild. These were his favorite shoes of mine, although he preferred it when I wore them with nothing.

I was hoping that was exactly what he had planned for tonight. Logistics-wise, we were going to have to get creative, but you know what they say: Necessity is the mother of invention.

I jogged up the stairs as fast as I dared in these four-inchers, and continued the trek down the hall. As had become the norm, I could hear laughter as I approached the apartment, but for the first time in weeks, my Jude’s was thrown into the mix. My heart hurt hearing him without the filter of a phone. His voice, his laugh, was meant to be experienced filter-free.

I threw the door open and burst inside. The room went silent following my dramatic entrance. I didn’t notice anyone else; I couldn’t have even told you who was there and where they were standing. All I saw was him.

And all he saw was me.

I barely had time to drop my bags before he made it across the room. His arms wound around me and he pulled me hard against him.

I was home.

“Luce,” he breathed, weaving his fingers into my hair.

I wrapped my arms around his neck and dropped my face into the curve of his neck. I inhaled his scent. I inhaled him. “I missed you, too.”

“I missed you more.”

“Oh, yeah?”

His mouth dropped to my ear. “Yeah.”

“Prove it,” I said, pressing my lips into his neck.

Leaning back, he cupped my face in his hand, holding it steady while his mouth lowered over mine. He kissed me gently, almost tenderly. It was sweet and soft, and the kind of kiss that could have melted me into a pile of mush if he hadn’t been holding me so strongly.

His lips moved mine apart before his tongue entered my mouth. When it touched mine, gliding and exploring with the excitement of a first touch and the familiarity of a last touch, a slow moan escaped out of me. My hands left his neck, roaming the rest of his body like they couldn’t get to the next place fast enough. His hands followed my lead, up, down, around and around. Gliding, squeezing, digging. It was enough to make my head spin.

When my teeth grazed the tip of his tongue, the breath caught in his lungs, before he shoved me back up against the wall. His body pressed against the front of me was as hard as the wall against my back. He was hard in all the right places. All the places that made heat surge into the center of my body.

“Okay, this is family dinner and movie night.” Holly’s voice entered the world Jude and I created whenever we were together. “Not swingers night at the seedy theater that has a back entrance.”

I groaned in protest when Jude’s mouth left mine, but his hands didn’t. They stayed on the curve of my h*ps in such a way that I could still feel that desire between my legs growing.

“How was that for proving it?” he said, his chest rising and falling hard.

“I’ll let you know later tonight,” I said. “After everyone is tucked in my bedroom and you tuck me in.” I arched a brow in suggestion.

His Adam’s apple bobbed. “Do you think it would be rude if we told everyone it was time to get lost?”

I laughed and grabbed his hand in mine. “Maybe just a little.” Towing him behind me, I made the rounds.

Holly was standing behind LJ with her hands covering his eyes. “Are you two done?” she said with a wink.

“No promises,” Jude answered.

“Yes,” I said, elbowing him. “For now, at least.”

“Flippin’ rabbits,” she muttered with an eye roll before uncovering LJ’s eyes.

LJ had on a Chargers jersey that was a couple sizes too big, and his tongue was blue from licking the lollipop in his hand that was as big as his face. If he was hoping this little guy would be tucked in and asleep before midnight, Uncle Jude shouldn’t have loaded him up with a thousand grams of sugar a couple of hours before bedtime.

“Why are Aunt Luce and Uncle Jude flippin’ rabbits?”

My eyes bulged as Jude tried to muffle his laugher behind me. It wasn’t working out so well.

Holly froze on her way into the kitchen. “Because they like to be . . . petted.” Holly shook her head. Seeing her like this, tongue-tied, was a rarer occurrence than a solar eclipse. “Because they like to . . . hu—”

“Because they’re cute and fluffy,” Thomas interrupted.

LJ’s eyebrows came together for one second before he got to work on his lollipop. “Oh, okay.” Running over to his toy box, he started rummaging through it. Crisis averted.

Tip: You can use left and right keyboard keys to browse between pages.