Judy glanced at Doug's empty desk. Fuller had him on a case at a military school on the outskirts of town. Days ago, Doug called, promising the case would be wrapped by the end of the day. Their plans for the weekend would remain intact. Judy hung up, hopeful. Her hopes died a slow death when by the end of the week, Doug hadn't returned to the Chapel and his case was far from wrapped.
The way things were going between them, they gave 'taking things slowly' a whole new definition.
She pulled the tickets for the Cirque du Soleil from her drawer and contemplated ripping them in two.
"What's up?" Tom's butt claimed the edge of her desk. He plucked the tickets from her hands. "Whoa. Do you know how hard these are to get?"
"Yes, I do," she said. "Do you want 'em?"
His eyebrows shot up. "Are you kidding me? Why don't you want them?"
She shrugged. The blahs crashed over her. What was she thinking? Getting involved with a fellow officer? Kissing Doug Penhall was sweet and magical. They should have left it at that.
"Jude?" Tom tugged on the purple feather earring that dangled from her ear. "What's wrong? You've been a bump on a log for the past week."
Her brows drew together. "I didn't know you were the keeper of my mood."
"Actually, we're all keepers," he said, indicating the entire squad room. "It just so happens that I'm pulling a two week shift because of Penhall's case. When Ioki comes back from vacation, it will be his turn."
He twisted to look at his rear. When his eyes connected with hers, he grinned. "I thought I saw you checking it out. Suspicion confirmed."
Humor bubbled inside. She tried swallowing it down but her attempts proved futile. A series of chuckles erupted against her wishes, threatening the blahs.
"Whatever," she finally managed to choke out.
"Ah, I found it." His grin faded as he looked at her thoughtfully.
"Found what?" she asked.
Her breath caught. The intensity of his stare unnerved her. She blinked. When she met his eyes again, they were guarded yet friendly.
He stood and set the tickets on her desk. "You shouldn't let those go to waste."
"I offered them to you."
"I don't want 'em." He sauntered to his desk.
She snatched up the tickets and followed him. "You have to take them."
His sudden turn trapped her between him and the wall. His body heat erected barriers, closing them in together. "I will on one condition."
"That you'll go with me." He took the tickets and held them up. "Great seats. You paid for the tickets. You should enjoy them, too."
Mental news flash, Hoffs: she paid for a fun evening to share with Doug. Now, here's Hanson. What's wrong with this picture?
"Two friends hanging out," he said. "It's up to you."
"What about Amy?" she said in a quick burst. "You could take her. I wouldn't mind."
He turned away, pulled out his chair and sat. "Her sorority sisters are in town for the weekend. They're having some big reunion."
"You should go with her."
"I don't want to." He started shuffling through paperwork.
Judy stood still, watching him as he tackled the boring aspect of their job. Why was she acting this way? He was right. Why let the tickets go to waste?
"Okay. I'll meet you at the Pier--"
"I'll pick you up," he said without missing a beat. "Parking's a pain down there. No use in taking two cars."
"Okay. I'll be ready at six."
"I'll be there."
The French traveling circus was everything the advertisers promised. Amazing high-flying feats left the spectators breathless. The way the acrobats contorted their bodies into incredible shapes boggled Judy's mind. Afterward as she and Tom followed the crowd from the theater, she still felt in awe. When he slipped his arm around her waist, guiding and protecting her from the crush, she merely accepted it.
"That was some show," he said. "Some of that stuff I'd never believe unless I saw it for myself."
"Tell me about it."
The crowd drifted and separated. His hand fell from her waist, taking warmth with it. They headed in the direction of his parked Mustang. Then, Tom stopped.
"I'm not ready to go home, yet," he said. "Are you?"
She glanced at her watch. The midnight hour was closing in, but she wasn't the least bit tired. The next day was Saturday. She had no place to be and no one to go home to. Why not stay out for a little while longer?
"Not really. What do you wanna do?"
"What's the craziest thing you like to do that no one knows about?" he asked. A teasing smile played around the corners of his mouth.
Nervous laughter tittered from her. "I'm not about to tell you that."
"Yeah, you are. Come on," he coaxed. "It'll stay just between the two of us."
"You tell me yours."
He shook his head. "I asked you first."
She weighed her options. The man was stubborn as hell. And she had to admit that the curiosity was killing her. Where was he going with this?
She jabbed her finger into his chest. "Not a word to another living, breathing soul."
He held up two fingers. "Scout's honor."
Hell, yeah, he was a Boy Scout. She knew that the first moment she saw him.
"Karaoke. Your turn."
"Karaoke?" he repeated. "No joke? There's a place only a couple of blocks from here. I think it's that way." He pointed across the street.
"Wait a minute, Hanson!" She grabbed his arm. He closed his hand over hers, half-pulling and half-dragging her with him. "Hanson!"
"Yes, my name is Hanson," he said with a laugh. "Come on, Jude. This could be fun."
"More like embarrassing. I'm not getting up on stage in front of you."
"But you gotta." He walked briskly. She was nearly out of breath keeping up with him.
"If I do it, you'll have to, too."
An hour later, they left the Karaoke bar in a fit of giggles. Leaning on each other, they barely made it to the sidewalk. The blahs, long gone, wouldn't have stood a chance at this point. Judy Hoffs was having the time of her life.
"Streisand and Diamond?!" she sputtered as she fought to catch her breath. "'You Don't Bring Me Fl-Flowers.'" More laughter followed. "Never…ever…oh, my God. Tom, you're nuts!"
"It wasn't so bad," he said. "We licked it pretty good."
"If you say so, but now it's your turn, fella. What's your secret pleasure?"
Under the glow of the streetlights, she saw his eyebrows lift. "Pleasure, huh? Secret pleasure," he murmured in a low voice. "I can't say I've done it, yet."
The double entendre didn't go unnoticed. Humor deflated. The air sizzled and charged. The night brought awareness. Her throat suddenly felt dry. She swallowed hard. "You know what I mean. What do you do that no one else knows about?"
"I play the saxophone," he said. "I played with Jenko a few times, but no one else since…"
"I like the sax."
"Wanna hear me play?"
He stepped close. His head cocked to the side. "Tonight?"
Sealing her fate, she nodded. "Why not?"
She wasn't sure who made the first move. Was it the sensual sounds of the sax? Did its melody evoke erotic yearnings? Or was it the way Tom held the instrument? How his mouth clung to the mouthpiece and his ass swayed in time to the music he created? But in the end, did the answers matter?
"Umphf!" His grunts sent shock waves through her as his thrusts increased.
She squeezed her thighs around his hips. The heels of her feet bounced against his backside, tapping against him like a drum. Matching the pounding he was giving her.
"Jude," he growled at her ear.
His hand brushed her thighs and slid over her breast. Her nerves stood on end. He rained kisses over her neck, cheek and finally her mouth. His other hand cupped the back of her head, angling to deepen the kiss. Sensations burst inside her as their tongues collided. She never wanted to imagine how Tom Hanson would feel inside her. She feared the fantasy. But now, she was living it.
Fierce and raw, his hardness penetrated the very core of her. In a dizzying rush of power, he sent her over the edge. Her entire body trembled before exploding into a thousand sparks. Her pelvis arched against him. She squeezed, taking and accepting his release.
"Tom…" His name came out as a sigh in her exhaustion.
"Judy," he murmured her name over and over. With a low groan, he rolled onto his side. His hand slid to her hip, curving her body to his. He ran a hand over his face. "Wow."
She placed her hand on his chest. Too stunned to speak, she simply lay there. In the ensuing silence, worry overrode the sense of sated completion. Tom had a girlfriend. She and Doug were kinda dating. Her and Tom's lovemaking, powerful and passionate, curled her toes, but it wasn't right. They should have used discretion. She shouldn't have let it get this far.
Judy left the bed and began gathering her clothes.
"What are you doing?" He pulled himself upright. "You don't have to leave."
"Yes, I do." Panties, bra, top and jeans. She had everything. She scampered into the bathroom and closed the door.
After a quick shower, she returned to find the room illuminated by lamplight and Tom in boxers and a t-shirt. He stood near the foot of the bed. "Jude, this wasn't a mistake."
"I know." She slid her feet into sandals. "The timing is off."
"The timing isn't perfect," he hedged, "but don't run off like this. Stay and we can talk."
"There's nothing to talk about. Other than regrets, let's not. I can't tell you what to do about Amy, but please, don't tell Doug about this night."
He frowned. "Doug? What does he have to do with it?"
She shoved her hands into her pockets and looked down at the floor. "The tickets were for him and me. We were kinda seeing each other before his case came along."
"What?" Tom's mouth dropped open. "For how long?"
"Not long!" She met his wide-eyed stare. "It wasn't serious and it probably won't be now. I just don't want him to know. Can you do that for me? Please?"
Silence hung between them for a long while until he spoke again. "I can do it."
"Thanks." She moved to leave.
"Wait. I'll take you home. Let me put on my jeans and shoes."
"That's okay," she said. "I'll call a cab."
"No, you won't." With more force than necessary, he ripped his jeans from the floor and jumped into them. "I'm taking you home."
The phone rang just as she crawled into bed. "Hello."
"Judy, it's me. Tom."
"We won't talk about this again if you don't want to, but…"
"I had a great time tonight. Not just what happened in my bedroom," he explained, "but everything."
She smiled, remembering. "So did I."