He’s standing next to me half-naked whispering to me about kissing. I feel myself go weak in the knees.
“Don’t you leave tomorrow?”
“Yeah, but we’ll be home Thursday. So how about next Saturday? Do you think you could find a sitter?” He shrugs uncomfortably. “Or you could bring Stryker.”
I appreciate the fact that he’s trying to include my son. But I know how hard it is for him. Maybe easing him into things would be better. “I think I could arrange a sitter.”
“Brady, we’re ready for you,” Griffin’s assistant calls out.
“Fifty-five days, Ry. Don’t think I’m not counting.”
I laugh as he walks across the room. He doesn’t need to know I’m counting, too.
Brady drops to the floor and does a few dozen push-ups and then someone hands him some barbells, helping him maintain the grip with his left hand as he pumps a few rounds. I know it kills him to need help with his grip, but he doesn’t let his disappointment show. And, whoa – what his muscles look like when he’s done.
Now I realize what he’s been doing all week. He kissed me senseless on Sunday and left me wanting more. Then he tantalizes me all week with his fleeting glances and deliberate touches during his appointments. And he brings me here, knowing I’ll see him all buffed up and looking like freaking Tarzan. He wants me to want him. He wants me to squirm during our time apart. He wants me to daydream about how I’m seeing him now.
Griffin positions Murphy on a weight bench and he has Brady standing over her helping her with a free weight. They do various poses, moving an arm this way or a leg that way until Griffin is happy with the photo. Then he has Murphy sit up on the bench and Brady sit behind her as Murphy looks back at him like she’s in love with him.
Griffin snaps a bunch of shots and then puts down his camera. “Brady, show me some emotion. You see how Murphy is looking at you? You two are the hottest couple at the gym. You are who everyone wants to be. Let’s bring the fantasy out for the camera. Look at her like you want her. Like you can’t live without her. Like you want to rip off her clothes and devour her.”
Brady raises his eyebrows at Griffin. “Dude, she’s my best friend’s girl.”
“It’s called acting, bro,” Griffin says. “Caden knows it as well as everyone here in this room. Sex sells. She’s sexy. You’re sexy. The two of you together are off the charts. Dig deep and do what you need to do to make it happen.”
Brady’s eyes find mine. He stares at me long and hard. The rest of the world melts away as I read what he’s telling me with only his heated gaze. We share one incredible moment. An indescribable connection. And suddenly, I can’t wait for it to be next Saturday.
“Exactly!” Griffin shouts. “Just like that.”
Brady pulls his eyes away from me and looks at Murphy the same way he was just looking at me. Griffin was right, they are hot. I watch them make love to each other with their stares. It’s almost hard not to get jealous as I watch the two of them.
Twenty minutes later, when they’re done, Murphy pulls me off to the side. “Holy shit, girl. Whatever you are doing to that man, keep doing it.”
“I’m not doing anything, Murphy.”
“Are you kidding? The way he looked at you. The way you looked at him. I felt like I was watching a fully-dressed porn show. You rose the temperature in the room by ten degrees.” She laughs.
“But he was looking at you the same way,” I say.
She shakes her head. “No, he wasn’t. He may have been looking at me, Rylee, but all he was seeing was you.”
I look over her shoulder at him. He lifts his chin at me on his way out. “I have something for you,” he says. “But I’m going to hit the shower first.”
I check my watch. “I have a client in ten. Unless you rescheduled that one, too.”
He gives me an innocent smile. “I’ll be quick.”
I retreat to my office and sit in my chair, wondering, not for the first time this week, if it can really work between us. There are so many reasons why it can’t. Why it shouldn’t. He leaves tomorrow. He leaves for the start of the season. To the first of many cities and to the first of many girls.
There is a knock on my door and I look up to see a wet-haired Brady, dressed in jeans and a t-shirt.
“Hi,” is all I can say.
“Hi, yourself.” He walks in and sits in the chair in front of my desk. He holds out a key to me.
“It’s a key to my new place.”
“A what?” I stand up so forcefully, my chair falls over. “If you think—”
“Will you shut up for two seconds, Ry, and let me finish?”
I put my hands on my hips and stare at him.
“The movers are coming tomorrow. It’s the only day I could schedule them. I’m not comfortable giving them a key. I know it’s a lot to ask, but do you think you could, I don’t know, supervise them for me? The building manager at my old place is going to handle things on that end, but I don’t know anyone well enough in the new building. It would mean a lot to me. I have some pretty nice things, Rylee. Things I’d like to make sure are treated with respect.”
I close my eyes and breathe a sigh of relief. Then I hold my hand out. “Sure. I can do that. Do they know where everything goes?”
“They can put things wherever you think they should go.”
“Me? I can’t make those decisions.”
“Whatever you tell them will be fine with me, and if I don’t like something, I’ll just move it. It’s not a big deal.”
“Okay, if you’re sure.”
“I’m sure,” he says, getting up to leave. Before he goes out the door he turns around. “I’m going to miss you, Ry. I just wanted you to know that. I’ve gotten used to seeing your face every day.”
“I suppose I’ll miss you too,” I say. Then I look down at the key in my hand. “But just so you know, you’ll be getting this back as soon as you return from Arizona.”
He smiles big. “So, you know where I’m going, do you?”
I shrug. “I’m a Hawks fan, of course I do.”
He laughs as he walks away.
I sink back down into my chair and look at the key, turning it over and over in my hand.
“Mommy will be back in a little bit, baby. Chloe is going to play games with you. Be good, okay?”
Stryker runs over and hugs my legs. “Bye, Mommy.” He looks skeptically at Chloe until she sits in the middle of the floor and dumps out a box of toy cars. As soon as she starts making car noises, he runs over and joins her.
I smile hoping I’ve found my new night sitter. I met Chloe and her mom in the laundry room earlier this week. Chloe is sixteen and she and her single mom live in 3D just down the hall. Today is a good day to try her out since I’ll be in the building and can pop down and check on them from time to time.
I ride up to sixteen, looking at the key Brady gave me. Today is the first day of the season. They’ve probably already arrived in Arizona and I can’t help but wonder if there wasn’t a girl waiting for him at the airport. He said they always find him. He has no way to call them to tell them he can’t see them. He has to do it face-to-face. He’ll have to do it twenty-six more times after today.
What if one of those twenty-seven doesn’t take no for an answer? What if they go to his hotel room and strip naked? Will he be able to turn them down? What if he decides I’m not enough for him, or rather, that Stryker and I are too much for him?
I shake off the notion. He has seven weeks to prove himself. There are a lot of cities and a lot of girls between now and then. There’s a lot of time for both of us to figure out what we do or don’t want.
I put the key in the door and turn it, feeling both like an intruder and like I’m coming home. After all, this is the apartment I wanted. The apartment of my dreams. And the man of my dreams is going to be living here.
I walk through his place picturing Brady in each room. He told me nothing about how he wants it. There are three bedrooms. One is obviously the master, but the other two could be anything. Does he have an office? A guest room? I don’t even know what furniture to expect, so how can I make decisions on what goes where?
There are a few boxes in each room. I wonder if the contents of the boxes would give me a clue as to what belongs in each room. If I look, however, I’ll be invading the privacy of the most private person I’ve ever known. I decide not to open them. He said he’d either live with how I arranged things, or he’d change it. It’ll be his own fault if I mess it up.
I run my hand across the granite countertop in the master bathroom. It’s smooth and sleek and much nicer than my marble one. I look into the large shower and think of him naked and wet, rivulets of water streaming off his broad shoulders. His shower is big enough for two. It has a bench on one end and my mind goes wild thinking of all the things that could happen there.
The doorbell rings and I leave my fantasy in the master bathroom as I let the movers in.
“Mrs. Taylor?” a large man with a clipboard asks.
I flush. “Uh, no. I’m Rylee. I’m just here to help organize his things.”
“Can you walk me through and label each room for me?”
I shake my head. “Not really. I mean, I can tell you which is the master, but as far as the other two rooms, I don’t even know what’s supposed to go in them.”
He gruffs in displeasure. “I was told there would be someone here who knows everything. We have three televisions to hang on the walls, one of them is seventy inches.”
My eyes go wide. “Oh, no. I can’t make those decisions. What if I’m wrong?”
He looks through his notes. “Ma’am, I’ve got strict instructions. Maybe you’d like to reschedule.”
“No, we can’t do that, you have all his furniture. He’d have no place to go. We have to do it today.”