Judy sat with her hands clenched together. The passing scenery barely registered. The music blaring from Doug's stereo sounded like a muffled roar. Occasionally, Doug spoke as he drove them to Tom's place, but she couldn't focus on the words. Her mind ran at a breakneck pace. Although she and Doug hadn't been an official couple the night she and Tom…the night Tom and she…
Damn. How did cheaters do it? How did they live with themselves? Face their subconscious and ignore what they'd done? At that point, she really didn't owe Doug anything. They'd never had an official date and only discussed the possibilities. But even so, he trusted her. Now, despite how wonderful she felt in Tom's arms, she didn't deserve Doug's trust and felt like the biggest fraud in the entire world.
"Jude." Doug lowered the volume on the radio. His gaze cut to her a few times as he guided the car through an intersection. "What's going on? Are you worried about the case?"
"Huh?" She blinked, willing herself to focus on him. Getting through dinner with Tom and Amy promised to be an exercise in torture. But she could get through it. "Worried about the case?"
"Yeah," he said, "because you don't have a real lead, yet. I was talking to Hanson about it. He said the kids are more suspicious than usual and he had to change tactics on getting in with them."
Oh, boy. She inhaled a quick breath. "Did he tell you what his tactics were?" As in, did he clue you in that he hit on me?
"I didn't ask." Doug shrugged. "I didn't want to say but I'm a little worried about this dinner thing."
"Because of Amy?"
"Nah, she and I get along okay. She's definitely not my type, but I can see why Tom digs her."
"Sure, she's his type."
"Type?" Judy fought the feeling of offense that roared inside her. Of course, she didn't want to be considered Tom Hanson's type. Yeah, right. "What do you mean by that?"
"I don't know." He steered with one hand and gestured wildly with the other. "He can be a little uptight."
"So, Amy's uptight?" She didn't want to admit she found the idea encouraging.
"She's not as much fun as you are." He smiled.
Judy's worries returned tenfold.
- - -
"Look, if you don't want to do this, say so now."
Tom bit back a groan as Amy paced the floor. She accurately picked up on his mood. God, how he wanted to flake. However, backing out would raise suspicions. Judy practically begged him to continue as usual. How she expected him to do that when the mere whiff of her perfume aroused him, he didn't know. Working the case and pretending to work her for the kids' benefits left him exhausted and aching. Several nights, Amy called to get together. He begged off, but he couldn't renege on the double date with Doug and Judy. Doug practically begged him to go…and he wouldn't miss the opportunity to spend extra time with Judy for anything.
"Tom!" Amy's voice snapped him to attention. "Are you listening to me?"
"Yes, I hear you."
She planted her hands on her hips. "And?"
"I promised Doug."
"Oh," she said, frowning, "so it's different when you promise Doug. After all, you only see him at work and talk to him all the time."
"Why are you making a big deal out of this? You agreed to go, too. If you don't want to, you don't have to."
"You'd love that, wouldn't you?"
He stiffened. She couldn't possibly know. He'd been careful. He never mentioned Judy to her except to say his partner on the case was pretty good. Otherwise, he kept his glowing appreciation of Officer Judith Marie Hoffs to himself. Merely mentioning her would set off alarm bells. He had the good sense enough to know that. But late at night when he was alone…he remembered her there in his bed and in his arms. He remembered and ached for it to happen again.
"I don't understand."
"Oh, that's rich, Tom." She threw her hands in the air. "I don't know why I bother. Something's different. I wish you'd be honest with yourself and with me."
"I'm doing the best I can, Amy."
She gave him a sad look. "Sometimes, it feels like your best isn't good enough."
"Yeah, so am I."