Authors: Christie Butler
“Good, because we’re gonna do this again soon.” He fucked
her harder, faster, deeper. “Oh yeah, I’m all the way inside you, baby. You
feel it? Come for me, Chels. I can’t wait any longer.”
Just that easy, she exploded. Her body spasmed over and
over, her orgasm volatile this time. Behind her, she heard Jud grunting, his
thrusts slowing as he came, shooting his semen inside her.
She pulled her hand out from under her and spread her arms
wide, trying to catch her breath. Jud had stilled behind her but his cock
remained buried deep. She felt his lips on her neck, her shoulders.
“That was fucking incredible.” His voice was ragged. He
pulled out of her slowly and gave her ass a light tap. “Fucking incredible.”
As he crawled to the side of the bed, she found she was
thinking the same thing. It was fucking incredible.
incredible. Right then and there, she knew. She would do absolutely anything
for Judson Tate.
By the time Chelsea made it home, dusk had fallen and the
air was heavy. It would be snowing any minute now and they were due to get
walloped overnight. Luckily she was off tomorrow.
The day had been a bitch. First of all, she was tired—too
little sleep and too much sex after an evening of emotional turmoil. Then a day
on the slopes filled with obnoxious spring breakers. Damn, she was getting old.
Trudging up the steps, her weary legs ached for oxygen. A
hot bath would be heaven. Inside Jud’s condo, it was cozy warm with a mouthwatering
aroma emanating from the kitchen.
Maybe dinner and
She peeled off her coat and followed her nose to find Jud
opening a bottle of wine in the kitchen. “Something smells absolutely divine.”
Smiling, he handed her a glass. “Roast chicken. One of my
“Yum. My stomach’s rumbling already.”
He kissed her on the top of her head. “You look tired. Tough
“A little bit. How long until dinner’s ready?”
The look of concern on his face warmed her through. “It
should be ready soon, but it’ll keep. Need a nap?”
“Mm. I’m thinking a soak in the tub.”
“Go ahead. Enjoy.” He gave her another quick kiss before
wrapping an arm around her and walking her to the bedroom. “Take your time.
Relax.” He left her in peace and quiet, seeming to know just what she needed.
As she stripped off her clothes, she heard him turn on the
television, keeping the volume low. In the bathroom, while the tub filled, she
scrubbed her face and dabbed on a light mask.
Settling into the steaming hot water, she started to relax
almost immediately. Her limbs floated weightless, soothed by the softly
circulating waves from the jets.
could live right here in
Jud could wait on her, cook her meals, fuck her senseless. Until
he moved to New York, that is. Which was going to be any day now.
Good thoughts, Chelsea. Think good thoughts. Enjoy the
time you have with him.
Fifteen minutes later, she was in a healthier frame of
mind—calm, open-minded, content. Her crappy day was over and in the past, and
in the next room was the dream man who’d cooked dinner for her.
Once she’d toweled off, she moved to the bedroom and pulled
on a sweatshirt and some plaid flannel pajama pants. She found Jud stretched
out on the couch. He smiled when he saw her.
“Ready for dinner?”
She smiled back. “Starved.”
Chelsea sat back and allowed herself to be served. The food
was delicious and the conversation devoid of work talk. Bellies full, they
settled on the living room couch with a bottle of wine.
good. I can’t believe you actually made
He shrugged. “If you’re going to do something, do it right.”
“It was yummy. You have to give me your recipe.”
“Ah, can’t do that. My grandmother would kill me. Secret
family thing, ya know.” He grinned at her, much the way he’d been looking at
her all through dinner.
“What is up with you?” Chelsea wanted to think that he was
smiling like an idiot because he was happy just being with her. She knew that
he cared about her, and she’d come to believe that she was worthy of the
affection of such a sweet, gorgeous man. But tonight he seemed nearly giddy.
“I have some good news.”
“Yeah? Well, tell me.”
“You’re looking at a new editor for Decipher Press.”
Chelsea squealed and launched herself at him, wrapping her
arms around his neck and squeezing him tightly. “That’s great! I’m so happy for
you.” And she
happy for him. Jud had achieved his goal—his dream job
of being an editor at a New York publishing house. She swallowed at the lump in
Keep it together, Chels.
She clung to him, comforted by his
warmth and spicy scent.
“Thanks.” His voice was soft and low. His fingers stroked
gently through her hair as he returned her embrace.
Being in his arms was…right. It was home. Perfection. So
much so that when he tried to pull away, she held him off. She needed just one
more moment before she had to look him in the eye and try to hide her
heartache. One more moment before they started the ending of their
Laughter rumbled in his chest. “Wow. I guess you’re
happy for me.”
Despite her pain, she laughed along with him and finally put
some space between them. “So tell me about it.”
“Well, obviously it’s the smaller publishing house. They do
only fiction, so that’s cool, because it’s what I love. I met most of the other
editors and I think I’ll be a good fit. I know it’s not Random House, but it’s
a good start for me.”
“And you didn’t want such a big place, right?”
He shrugged. “Not at first. Maybe later, after I’ve
conquered the small press world.”
Chelsea had no doubt that he would do just that. She tried
to focus on his eyes as he went on, telling her more about the position and how
psyched he was. While he was all chatty animation, her smile started to feel
forced, frozen and unnatural on her face. Apparently that wasn’t lost on him.
He stroked his thumb across her lower lip. “I see this
beautiful smile, but your eyes… What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” That damn lump in her throat started growing.
He gave her a look. “C’mon, don’t do that. Tell me what
you’re thinking. Do you think I’m making a mistake?”
“No, no. Of course not.” She took a deep breath and tried to
keep her chest from tightening up.
She looked down as tears
threatened to fall. This was not good.
“Hey.” He cupped her chin and gently tugged, making her meet
his gaze. His look of concern pushed her over the edge. “What’s going on?”
The breath she expelled came out in a half sob. “I’m happy
for you, Jud. I really am. It’s just that… I’m gonna miss you.”
“I’m sorry. I know it’s selfish of me. I mean, this is your
dream, and you’re excited, and you should be, and here I am blubbering.” She
paused to suck in a breath. “You’re gonna be in New York and I’m gonna be here
and I’m gonna miss you. I love you, Jud. I’m in love with you, and I think I
have been from the moment I first met you. And I’m going to miss you.”
Tears streamed down her cheeks and she didn’t bother to wipe
them away. What was the point? She’d just opened her heart and now it was out
there. No way to take it back, and she wouldn’t have wanted to even if she
could. She had to tell him how she felt, and it was now or never.
Jud looked at her with a furrowed brow, then he dropped his
head and slowly shook it.
Is the man made of stone? Say something already!
Just when she was ready to run from the room with
embarrassment, he grabbed her hand.
“Come here.” He pulled her into his arms, tucking her head
under his chin. “It’ll be okay.”
She wanted to thump him in the gut but it
felt too good being wrapped in his arms. His heart beat strong and sure under
her cheek while he stroked her back gently. Several long moments later, her
tears had dried and her emotions were in check. What had she expected? Had she
thought that Judson Tate, the player, was going to declare his undying love for
No, this was just more of taking what she could get. Right
now, he held her close. Right now, she felt cherished by him. Right now, it
was…right. She’d have plenty of time later for regrets.
“Better?” He sounded sincere, caring. He gently released
her, even smiling at her. “Are you ready for dessert?”
But there he went, scurrying off to the
What is going on?
Whatkind of man listened to a woman
profess her love for him and then ran off for ice cream?
God, she was such an idiot. She should have just kept her
mouth shut. Now he was going to be spooked and the rest of their short time
together would be all weird and uncomfortable.
What was I thinking?
She was about to consider making a run for it when Jud
returned with a covered serving dish in hand. She smiled brightly as he sat next
to her and placed the dish on the coffee table in front of her.
Turning to face her, he grasped her hand. “Do you remember
the first time we met?”
Taken by surprise, she still had an answer for him. “Of
course. I’d been here a couple weeks and I was working up at the top with Josh.
You made some smart-ass comment to him and then he introduced us. You barely
gave me a second look. I’m surprised you remember it at all.”
He smiled. “Actually I did give you a second look. But
you’re wrong. That’s not the first time we met.”
Her jaw dropped. “Yes it is.”
“No. It isn’t. A few days before that, Roger had a party at
his place.” He pointed a finger at her. “You were there.”
Images started flitting through her mind but they were
unclear. “I don’t remember…”
“Yep. You came with Megan.” He stroked his chin. “I
distinctly recall that you and Josh got into a big disagreement over the menace
that is the snowboarder.”
“Hmm.” It was starting to come back to her. New in town, her
attentions had been focused on boy toy Josh. Yes, he was younger than her but
he was sooo cute. She’d gotten over her crush after that night at Roger’s.
Then it hit her. “Yes! You
He nodded knowingly.
“But you spent most of your time sitting in the corner
making out with some Barbie doll.” He rolled his eyes at her but she went on.
“You left early but I guess there was a quick intro in passing.” How had she
forgotten that? More important, how had he remembered?
“Uh-huh.” He grinned, apparently proud of himself. “Then I
saw you working with Josh that day and I thought I’d make a second run.”
“Oh. Because you couldn’t believe that a woman was so
unmoved by your presence at the party?”
“Pretty much. Plus I needed to get a better look at you. I
just got a quick glimpse at the party.”
“Poor baby. It’s hard to see anything when you have a woman
fastened to your face.” She got a wry smile from him. “So I take it you weren’t
impressed since you didn’t make a move then.”
“I wouldn’t say not impressed. It’s just that I could tell
you were different. You were so obviously not a casual fling type of woman.
Back then, that’s pretty much all I was interested in.”
“Huh.” Having absolutely no idea where he was going with all
this, she kept her mouth shut.
“Yeah, I was an idiot. But I liked hanging out with you.
You’re smart, interesting and you had more to talk about than zipper lines and
skiing powder. And then we were friends, but sometimes you still seemed kinda
aloof. I thought maybe you didn’t like me.”
“Nah, it was just all part of my secret plan to make me
irresistible to you.”
He laughed. “Well, it worked like a charm.”
“The truth is I was so taken with you that I had to censor
myself around you. Otherwise I probably would have jumped your bones first
thing.” Her palm tingled where he stroked it with his thumb. “So really, why’d
you decide to make your move?”
“At the risk of sounding like a stalker, I was watching you
one day and you didn’t know I was watching you. You were clowning around with
Josh and Rocket and you laughed—this big belly laugh. You were so open, so
accessible. I wanted you to be that way with me.” He shook his head. “Suddenly
you to be that way with me. I had to have you.”
Mesmerized by his words, Chelsea was lost in his blue eyes.
believe anything he
tells me right now.
Taking both of her hands, he went on, “This time we’ve spent
together has been so great, beyond great. And yes, I’m moving to New York, but
you don’t have to miss me.”
Brow furrowed, she studied him. Waited.
He smiled. “Chelsea, I want you to come with me.”
“Come with me. Move to New York with me.”
Her heart pounded. “Seriously? I don’t know…” Could she do
that? Just pack up and move across the country?
Jud inched closer to her and cupped her cheeks, ran his
thumb over her lower lip. “I love you, Chelsea Ryan.”
Tears sprang to her eyes as a bubble of delight rose inside
her, erupting in a small gasp of a laugh. She hadn’t thought she could be any
She was wrong.
Jud moved to kneel before her. “I want to spend my life with
you. Chelsea Ryan, will you marry me?”
Sobbing tears of joy, she nodded and leaned down for a kiss.
It was a sweet, gentle kiss—his lips warm and dry.
When he ended the kiss, he smiled. Reaching toward the
coffee table, he removed the cover on the serving dish. Beneath it was a ring
holder made of chocolate, and it sported the most beautiful diamond she’d ever
Her hand shook as he placed the ring on her finger. “Oh Jud,
it’s perfect.” The diamond was a radiant cut and there were flashes of pink and
blue as she rotated it under the light. “I love it. I love you.” She kissed him
again. This time it was more urgent.
He quickly took control of the kiss and moved up and over
her, lowering her to her back. His weight on her was exquisite as he kissed her
again and again, his tongue more insistent. His cock grew hard against her
thigh as he ground his pelvis on her.
Chelsea recognized his urgent need and hers grew to match
his. They fumbled with each other’s clothing, Jud pulling her sweatshirt up and
off as she untied her pajama bottoms. He yanked them down her hips and she
kicked them off as he unzipped his jeans.
He settled between her thighs and positioned his cock at her
“Wait a second,” she gasped.
Raising his head to look at her, he groaned. “What?”