Chapter 9

Judy melted. Her arms closed around Tom. He felt so lean and strong. Flashes of being in his arms and having him inside her returned in rapid succession. His probing tongue set her aflame. She drew him deep into her mouth, enjoying the taste of him and the power of his passion.

His hand trailed a path of fire as it moved from her shoulder to cup her breast. The tip hardened on contact, an undeniable sign of how much she wanted him. As he rolled the nub between his thumb and finger, she released a low moan. Liquid heat pooled at the center of her thighs. Never before had she been so quickly inflamed. Shaken, she ended the kiss.

"Tomó"

The door suddenly opened and Owen stood in the doorway. "Hey!"

Judy shrugged out of Tom's hold. With her back to Owen, she adjusted her clothing. From the corner of her eye, she noticed that Tom wore a dazed expression. He nervously ran a hand through his hair and spoke to Owen. She listened to the teenager chuckle in male affirmation of a make out session well done.

This was getting out of hand. The assignment was simple. How did they let their personal crap come into play? Judy loved her job and was damned good at it. If the other cops found out about her and Tom, they would never let her live it down. One-night stands with fellow officers had a way of ruining a person's reputation.

"Jude," Tom said.

She turned and was surprised to find them alone again. "Where's Owen?"

"He left to give us the option of joining them in a game of poker or playing our own game of strip poker in here."

Her eyes widened in shock.

Tom had the decency to blush. "His words. Not mine."

"What did you tell him?"

He gave her a crooked smile. "As appealing as the second option is, I agreed to the first. Are you ready?"

"This is it." Finally, the break they needed. She jerked her head in a single nod. "Yeah. Let's play."

"We'd better make this look good." He extended his hand. "It'll probably be better if they think we're a couple."

She frowned. "After five minutes alone?"

"Try ten," he said. "I have a feeling if we don't come out glued to the hip, this thing will bust."

Dammit, he had a good point. She swallowed her misgivings and slid her palm against his. Electric pulses zipped through her on contact. One look into his eyes and reddened face told her he felt the same. The danger of this case grew with every second and it had nothing to do with the gambling. The more time Judy spent with Tom, the more she wanted. Why did this have to happen now? She was not prepared to be thrown through this loop.

"It's really not as bad as it seems," he said.

"You're fooling yourself if you really believe that."

They headed out of the room. She stopped them in the middle of the hallway. "Wait!" she whispered.

"What is it?"

"I need to talk to Fuller. Was he already in place when you arrived?"

He nodded. "I didn't see him, but that was the plan. Why? Do you want to call it off?"

"Some of those kids are in college. This could be bigger than we thought," she said. "We should get more info first."

"Yeah, I noticed." He was quiet a moment and then asked, "How do you want to play this?"

"Let's get into the game. Well, you can get into it. I didn't get any extra cash for this because I came straight from school. I can make up an excuse to call my dad."

"Hey, guys." Trish appeared at the end of the hallway. "What's taking you so long?"

"I'm trying to get her to go for a drive with me after the game," Tom said. "She's not easy to convince. She says her dad is expecting her home."

"You should have told him you were spending the night." Trish rolled her eyes. "See! I told you."

"I know," Judy agreed. "Do you mind if I use your phone? I'll call home and let him know what the new plan is."

"Sure, but hurry up. We're holding the game for you."

"We can start without her," Tom said. "I'm playing for both of us."

Trish grinned. "I like a big spender. Judy, this one is a keeper."

He sure is, Judy thought. "Can I use the phone in your dad's study? If my dad hears the music and the other kids, he'll go ballistic."

"No problem," Trish said. "Come on, Tom. The fun is just about to begin."

Judy watched Trish drag Tom away before she ducked back into the study. She quickly closed the door and grabbed the phone. Even on stakeouts, Fuller would have access to a mobile phone. She dialed his mobile unit and listened as the phone rang.

What would the captain think if he knew how complicated this case had become? In their reports, both she and Tom had omitted anything about Trish trying to play matchmaker. Judy hadn't wanted questions. She never asked Tom what his reasons were. She figured they were the same as hers.

Finally, the ringing stopped. "Fuller," he barked into the phone.

"Hi, Dad," she said, continuing the ruse, "this is Judy."

"What's wrong?"

Tension crackled across the phone wires. She exhaled a low breath as she spoke to calm them both. "Nothing's wrong. There's been a change in plans."

"What kind of change? Where's Tom?"

She cast a furtive glance at the closed door. No one should be interested in her call to her dad, but she didn't dare take that risk. She kept a close eye on the door and for any sign of eavesdroppers. Whispering, she said, "He's playing poker with them. We're still in the clear."

"So, what's the change?"

"This goes beyond high school. College kids are involved. It could go higher than that. We want to hold off on what's planned for tonight."

"Okay," he said after a moment of silence. "Be careful."

"We will be. I'll talk to you later."

She hung up and returned to the party. A few of the kids was dancing and huddled into groups. The others gathered around the poker game. Trish saw Judy and pulled her into the mix.

"What did he say?"

"Everything is cool."

Tom glanced at her. "How did it go?"

"Fine," Judy said. "We're good."

His responding smile created a warm glow deep inside. She returned the gesture and rested her hands on his shoulder. He leaned his head back against her. She closed her eyes, relishing the moment and instantly hating herself for doing so.

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