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“Why don’t you find out for yourself?” I whispered, my breath already coming in short bursts.

His gaze stayed fixed on that point south of my navel as a slow smile crept into place. “Happily,” he said, his voice husky and deep.

Then, before the flash of heat had a chance to spread, Jude threw himself against me, lifting me onto the counter. His mouth crushed against mine, forcing his tongue inside and running it over every plane it could reach. Overwhelmed, my head fell back against the mirror, trying to keep pace with him.

Right in the middle of our kiss, Jude pulled back suddenly, appraising me where I sat sprawled over the counter, breathing like I’d run a two minute mile. Looking down at the space between my legs, his forehead lined, like he was tortured, right before a tilted smile ironed it out. Grabbing my waist, he shifted me down to the very edge of the counter. Resting his hand on the inside of one knee, he pushed it open. Repeating the same with the other, he stepped between my legs, looking down at me like he couldn’t handle the emotions he was feeling right now.

Gripping the hem of my dress with both hands, Jude rolled it up one revolution, his thumbs trailing along the sensitive skin of my inner thighs. My heart was racing and everything was quickening in that way.

And he hadn’t even touched me there yet.

His fingers rolled the dress higher, and then higher still. The entire journey up, Jude’s eyes stayed fixed on mine. Like he wanted to watch every reaction that played out on my face from the way he touched me.

One more roll and there was nothing left to slide higher. My body was aching for some release, pulsing like it had its own heartbeat.

Jude’s thumb skimmed up the rest of my inner thigh. When he pulled it away, I almost whimpered out loud. And then, when he lowered it back into the place that was throbbing the worst, I did cry out. Grabbing the edges of the counter, I forced myself to keep looking into those eyes of his that were darkening with their want.

“I’ll be damned,” he breathed, the words all throaty and rough.

I couldn’t acknowledge him with words‌—‌I was one thumb stroke past words.

Closing the space between us, he kissed the corner of my mouth. “I love you,” he whispered outside my ear, right before his thumb started moving in slow circles over me.

My head fell back, smashing into the mirror, but the dull pain felt good paired with the acute throb spreading its way through my body from Jude’s skilled thumb.

My breath came in shorter gasps as everything tightened into a ball. I was so close.

“I love you so damn much, Luce,” Jude said as his mouth explored my throat.

And that was all I needed. My fingers dug into his back as my body quaked against his.

As my muscles went limp, I let myself curl into him. I managed to sigh through my staggered breathing. I could feel his smile against my skin.

Holy shit. My body felt like it was still intact, but a few moments ago it felt like it was falling apart from the center. I couldn’t calm my breathing and my inner thighs were still trembling as Jude continued sucking on the soft patches of my shoulder.

Right as my head was falling back again, the bathroom door exploded open, slamming into Jude.

“I think we better find you another bathroom to freshen up in, Adriana.” Holly peered over Adriana’s shoulder, shooting me a smile of camaraderie. Adriana took in the scene, my legs wrapped around Jude where he held me captive on the counter, still exploring my skin with his mouth. New tears pricked to life in her reddened eyes. “This one’s… occupied,” Holly added, flashing me a wink before pulling on Adriana’s elbow.

But before she backed out of the room, her eyes met mine. My mouth curved up, my lips still parted from my clipped breathing. Keeping her gaze, I curled my fingers into Jude’s back, arching my neck higher to give Jude better access. I didn’t have to utter a single word for Adriana to get the message. It was crystal clear.

Jude was mine.

Only after the door closed again did Jude’s mouth slow. Giving one last nip over my shoulder blade, he lifted his head. His face was smug as he took me in, still rattled from what he’d done to me.

“I guess she figured out what ‘came up’ when I left her high and dry with a shot between her tits,” he said, bracing his hands over the counter outside my legs.

“I guess she did,” I replied, scooting off the edge of the counter since the backs of my legs were falling asleep. Bad idea. Because nothing that was supposed to work in my body was. Jude’s arms wound around me, keeping me steady.

“I guess I showed her,” I said, gripping Jude’s arms as the sensation drained back into my legs.

His eyebrows squeezed together. “Showed her what?”

“That she better keep her hands and sights off my man,” I replied, not sure I should be admitting this to him, but my mind was still foggy and punch drunk.

Looking down at me, his eyebrows pulled tighter for a moment before his whole face flattened. “That’s what this whole thing is about,” he said, running his eyes down my dress that was still rolled up to my waist. “Isn’t it? This whole night has been about Adriana. Not about me.”

Okay, yeah. I shouldn’t have said anything. Especially when the corners of his eyes lined from the words he’d said.

“No, this was for you,” I said, rolling my dress back down.

“Don’t lie to my, Luce,” he said, the muscles in his jaw going taut. “Everything‌—‌the dress, the coy little smiles and flirty eyes, the panties, the damn orgasm in the bathroom as Holly ‘accidently’ shows Adriana what’s going on‌—‌it was all just some calculated plan put into play by a jealous girlfriend.”

“No,” I said. “This whole thing in the bathroom was one big, spontaneous, pleasurable surprise,” I argued back. “At least up until right now. There’s nothing pleasurable about my boyfriend calling me a calculated, jealous girlfriend.” Even as I said the words, I knew they were true.

“So this wasn’t planned,” he said, waving his finger around the room, “but everything else was. And you sure as hell didn’t mind when Adriana got an eyeful of us all hot and heavy.”

Why was he being like this? Jude rarely raised his voice to me anymore. And the fact that the reason he’d broken tradition was because of Adriana made me as outraged as it did sad. “If that’s what it takes‌—‌seeing you doing me over any and every surface in the goddamn state‌—‌then yes! I sure as hell don’t mind!” Super, now I was shouting.

His forehead lined as he pressed as far away from me as the bathroom allowed. Going from the intimacy we’d just shared to him wanting to separate himself as far from me as space would allow made my body hurt. “So still, after everything, after all this time,” he paused, inhaling through his nose, “you still don’t trust me?”

He waited for my response, but I didn’t have an immediate one. His question had thrown me, not at all what I’d been expecting. Was that it? Did I not trust him? My first response was ‘no,’ but why else had I been acting like such a crazy girlfriend? If I trusted him, would it matter if every Adriana in the world threw herself at him?

I didn’t want to admit my answer to that question.

“Yeah,” he said, moving towards the door, “that’s what I thought.” Opening the door, he looked back at me. “Here, you can have these back now.” He tossed the underwear at me. “Well played. Glad I could be a pawn in your little game.”

“Jude,” I called after him.

“Leave me alone, Lucy!” he hollered back, disappearing down the hall.

He only called me Lucy when he was hurt or pissed. I guessed he was a lot of both. And the whole leaving him alone thing wasn’t happening.

Not when I knew a welcoming set of arms was sharking around the party waters, more than happy to do a little comforting.

CHAPTER SEVEN

The only time I wasted before going after him was the time it took to put my underwear back where they belonged. Winding down the hall, I did a preliminary search of the main floor. Lucky for me, Jude was a tower that stood out in a room most of the time, but so were a lot of his teammates, so weaving my way towards the stairs, I climbed the top few, leaping over a couple doing something very close to what Jude and I had just done behind a closed door. Gazing down at the packed room, I didn’t see him. The knowledge he wasn’t in plain sight made my stomach twist as my imagination ran away with me, wondering who might be comforting him and where they could be locked away.

Lunging up the stairs, I rushed down the hallway, not able to get to his room fast enough. I was behaving irrationally, I knew this, but I wasn’t able to stop it. The crazy had taken root and couldn’t be killed.

I didn’t knock before entering his room, not sure I wanted to see what I’d find inside. I sighed in relief when I found it dark and empty. Just as I was about to leave and search the next place, I noticed a figure crouched on the floor beside his bed.

His elbows were propped onto bent legs, his head hanging between them. He looked broken. What had I done?

I closed the door behind me and crossed the room.

“Jude?”

“Go away, Luce,” he said so softly it was almost a whisper.

He’d never said those words to me once, and I’d heard them twice in less than five minutes.

“No,” I said, coming around the side of the bed he was leaning against.

“Go away,” he repeated, winding his fingers over the back of his neck.

I pried off my shoes and scooted next to him on the floor. “No,” I repeated. “You’re pissed at me and I’m pissed at you. Let’s argue this out.”

“Yeah, I am pissed at you,” he said into the floor. “But I’ve got a good reason to be. Why in the hell are you pissed at me?”

I opened my mouth in answer.

“And your answer better not have Adriana in it.”

I did not like the way her name sounded coming out of him. “Damn right my answer has her name in it.”

Jude shook his head, still refusing to look at me. “So you’re pissed at me because of Adriana,” he said, not hiding his sarcasm. “A girl I haven’t so much as touched or looked at in one intimate way. Super. That’s makes a shit ton of sense, Luce.”

My temper was flaring, I could feel it igniting. “Don’t play dumb,” I said. “Like you’re not aware that she’d let you touch her any intimate way you damn well pleased.”

Jude huffed. “Yeah, well, just for your knowledge, there’s no shortage of women here who would let me do whatever the hell I wanted to them. There’s no shortage of Adrianas in the world, Luce.” He paused, taking a couple of breaths while I tried not to mentally calculate the number of women who’d bed Jude any night of the week. “But you know what makes me say no every time? You know what makes me impervious to every woman and whatever ploy she throws at me?” He didn’t wait for my response.

“You, Luce,” he said, his voice tired. “There may not be a shortage of Adrianas out there, but there’s only one you. And that’s the person I want to give myself to.”

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