As Jude and Adriana blazed through the crowd, it began to part, opening up to where I leaned against the ramshackle sofa table, hand on hip, eyes and mouth ready to carry out their orders when he looked my way. Holly couldn’t have placed me in a better location.
Adriana’s eyes landed on me first, and her face screwed into a smirk as her hand curled deeper into Jude’s muscled forearm.
But I didn’t deviate from the plan—resisting the urge to smirk right back at her—and my willpower paid out in spades. Jude’s gaze didn’t only shift to me—it skidded to me. Stopping in his tracks, he held me in his eyes. He never even blinked. “Wow,” he mouthed, running his eyes down my body.
Inhaling through my nose, I pushed past the muscles clenching tighter in my stomach brought on by the way he was staring at me. Opening my eyes wider, I blinked them slowly, infusing as much innocence as I was capable into them. Then, biting my lower lip suggestively, I parted my mouth just how I imagined Holly would have wanted it.
Jude might have just wavered in place. Adriana’s scowl screwed deeper, resembling a rare form of outrage.
I owed Holly big time.
Weaving out of Adriana’s death grip, he cut through the rest of the room towards me. Adriana slammed her hands on her hips, looking one quake away from exploding. It was a beautiful sight.
Even more so was the one grinning at me as he shoved through the rest of the crowd, moving as fast as he could. Stepping in front of me, his eyes were swirling pools of silver.
“Damn, Luce,” he said, sounding out of breath, appraising me with his eyes again. Looking at me with the excitement and anticipation of unwrapping a present.
I didn’t have words for the man standing before me, worshipping me with all he was. Flattening my hands over his chest, I pressed against him. His mouth parted with a surprised inhalation. The heels made it so I didn’t have to press onto my tip-toes when I crushed my mouth into his. My mouth was unyielding against his, smoothing, sucking, and smashing his lips like all we had left in life was this moment.
After his surprise passed, his hands lowered into place over my hips, kneading into them with an urgency that tightened the muscles in my thighs. By this time in our public make-out session, the crowd had starting hooting, and when Jude’s hand rounded around to my backside, digging into the flesh back there, they started hollering.
My breathing was becoming irregular, what amount I was able to manage in this state of tongue tangledness low. Running my hands up his neck to cradle his face, I pulled it back. Looking up into those hungry eyes, feeling the warmth of his breath gusting over my face, I smiled.
“You better not be staring at what I think you are, Kurt,” Jude warned, reappearing with a couple of beers in hand and clearing up the K kicker’s name.
“I most certainly am not staring at what you think I was,” Kurt said, tilting his beer our way before fading into the crowd.
“He most certainly was,” Jude said, handing me one of the beers before resting his hand on my side. “Not that I can blame him.”
Clanking my bottle against Jude’s, I took a drink. “But you will beat him if he does it again,” I guessed.
“Hell, yeah I will,” he said, nuzzling my neck before he laid a path of kisses down it. The slippery glass bottle almost fell from my hands. “That goes for you too, Denoza,” Jude said, peering over at one of his teammates while his mouth continued to wet the skin above my collar bone. “And I’ll start by prodding out those wandering eyes.”
“Sorry, Ryder,” Denoza said, smiling sheepishly between the two of us. “What can I say? Your girl is meant to be stared at.”
“That’s right. She is,” Jude said, straightening up and putting himself in front of me. “By me.”
Denoza lifted his hands in surrender. “No harm, no foul, man,” he said before setting his sights on a single girl sprawled out on the stairs and beelining her way.
“Not in my book,” Jude muttered after him, before turning around. “You’re gonna get me killed, Luce,” he said, his face twisting when he took another look at me. “I’m one tough son of a bitch and I can fight off every one of these guys one loser at a time, but I think they could take me if they all came at me at once.”
“Should I go change?” I suggested, taking a step towards the stairs.
“Shit, no,” Jude said, grabbing my hand and pulling me back. “I just wish it was you and me so I could enjoy you all to myself.”
Lifting my arms, I wound them over his neck and started swaying in time to our own beat. Dancing to the beat of Jude and Lucy’s song.
“It is just you and me, baby,” I said, resting my head against his chest, closing my eyes when his arms fastened around me. The music wasn’t fitting, the crowd wasn’t fitting, but everything about the way Jude held me to him made up for our inability to fit into the world around us.
Not even a minute later, the music came to a screeching halt. Jude and I continued to sway in time to the silence.
“Okay, everyone,” a familiar voice spoke through a microphone. “It’s time to play a new game night game that’s sure to become a tradition.”
I thought we’d been playing a game all night.
Sighing, I lifted my head from Jude’s chest to see what the bitch had up her sleeve now.
“As everyone knows, the starters are all assigned a Spirit Sister at the beginning of the year.” I rolled my eyes at the rest of the cheerleaders grouped around Adriana, bouncing and clapping in excitement. “Our goal is to make their lives easier so they can focus on kicking ass every Saturday!”
A roar burst through the room.
“But a man’s got to have his fun too, right?” Adriana’s brows lifted in suggestion as the roar amped up.
“So tonight marks the beginning of a new Spirit Sister tradition.” Lifting the arm she’d hidden behind her back, she revealed a full bottle of top shelf vodka. Another explosion of cheering. Over a pretty girl holding a bottle of liquor.
It was oddly depressing.
“We don’t only do your laundry and make you brownies, we’ll get you drunk as a skunk!” Adriana waited for the crowd to quiet before continuing. I was already feeling sick to my stomach before her eyes landed on Jude. “Each Spirit Sister will serve a shot to her assigned player, starting with the quarterback first.”
Yep, that’s what I was waiting for. She was using the ruse of a game and the motivation of peer pressure to separate Jude from me. Holly’d been right with her manipulation meter readings on Adriana.
“That means you, Jude Ryder!” she shouted into the microphone, waving the bottle at him.
Jude groaned, peering over at me, but before he could say anything, a herd of his teammates moved up behind him and began shoving him towards the front of the room.
“Don’t worry, Jude’s date for the night, you’ll get him back,” Adriana said, staring right at me. I wanted to slap that smug smile off her face for referring to me as nothing more than “Jude’s date.” “That is, if he wants to come back after playing the game we’ve got planned for him.”
A couple of guys around me hung their heads back and made coyote calls. I was reminded, yet again, that men were evolved from apes.
Shoving Jude up next to Adriana, the herders stepped back into the crowd so everyone could see what was happening up in front. I didn’t like seeing Jude standing so close to Adriana, seeing how close in height they were. In her heels, only a couple inches separated them. They’d fit together perfectly. Why my mind went there, I don’t know, but the image of Jude bracing himself above Adriana while he kissed her, moving inside of her, made me clutch at my stomach.
“Here’s how this works,” Adriana said, looking over at Jude, who was rubbing the back of his neck, looking every shade of uncomfortable. “Shot glass,” she began, lifting a small glass. “Shot,” she continued, pouring the clear liquid to the brim. Then, handing the bottle off to one of her fellow cheerleaders, she raised his index finger to the crowd, who was looking around at each other like big deal.
Rolling down the top of her strapless dress, she tucked the shot glass between her huge tits. “Enjoy,” she instructed. “No hands allowed.”
Oh, hell no.
The guys had turned into rabid beasts, throwing their arms in the air and cheering.
Adriana took it in, managing a tiny curtsy without spilling a drop of liquid, right before her gaze shifted on me. “What are you waiting for, Jude?” she said, looking nowhere else but at me. “Drink up.”
“What the hell are you doing standing here, you stupid, stupid girl?” Holly hissed beside me, shoving me towards the front of the room. Reaching down my dress, she slapped the panties into my hand. “Go beat that bitch at her own game.”
It took one more solid shove from Holly, but then I went into action. Hurrying through the bodies chanting “Ry-der” and throwing fist pumps into the air, I balled the panties up into my hand, watching Jude, who was watching me. I had his attention, likely because he was worried about me getting eye molested by one of his teammates, but right now, I’d take his attention any way I could get it.
“Your shot’s getting warm,” Adriana said into the microphone, giving her bust a little shake. This time, a splash of liquid spilled out, running down her cl**vage.
Shoving the last hulk of a man standing between me and Jude, I brushed past Jude, curling my pinky over his, waiting for his hand to open. As soon as it did, I slipped the lacy thong into his hands, arched a brow at him, and kept walking.
Walking away from Jude, standing there beside with Adriana, all but being peer pressured by his entire team to upend a shot of alcohol from Tits R Us, brought me near to hyperventilation. But I couldn’t turn back because what was I going to say? What was I going to do? I had to trust that Holly, in all her man-eater wisdom, knew what she was doing.
The crowd started thinning out by the time I made it to the hall, and there wasn’t a sign of anyone when I walked into the bathroom at the end of the hall. Closing the door behind me, I braced my hands over the sink and focused on breathing.
Before I’d completed one full breath, the door whispered open. Looking up in the mirror, my smile pulled so tight it almost hurt when I saw Jude’s face, wound into a hungry expression, staring back at me.
“I think you lost something,” he said in a low voice, lifting his hand where my underwear dangled from his finger.
My smile stretched farther. Now it was hurting. “Looks like the right person found them.”
Stepping inside, Jude shut the door behind him. The bathroom was small, and small was a generous term for it. For the two of us to fit in here, my butt was rammed into the sink counter and Jude’s back was pressed up against the shower wall.
“So does this mean…?” he said, gazing down my body, ending at the center of it. I felt every muscle inside of me contract, right before it went soft under the weight of his stare.