Real

By: Katy Evans


A visitor



At the Chicago O’Hare International Airport, Pete and I are seated out by the baggage claim among the bustle of people as we wait for Melanie’s flight to arrive.

“Pete, there’s something I’ve been meaning to talk to you about,” I tell him as I keep scanning the flight arrival screens above. He looks like my bodyguard in that man-in-black suit, following me even when I stand to stretch my legs. I just know it’s because Remy told him not to take his eyes off me, and if Melanie were here, I also know she’d be anxious for us to go “pee” just to see what the poor man did—like that Jack-in-the-Box incident. But Pete is such a good guy, I wouldn’t dream of putting him in a tight spot with Remy. Except maybe … under duress.

Which means, possibly, now.

“So, Pete, do you remember the night Remy ditched the ring because I was following someone? Of course you remember.”

The obvious disgust in his expression makes me laugh.

And when we realize our small seating space is taken over by a group of college students, we end up standing at the side of the carousels.

“That girl was my sister, Pete. She’s my little sister, who I think has gotten herself involved with the wrong crowd, and I really think I need to step up and help her. No. I don’t think it. I know it,” I emphasize. “Oh, can I have one?”

Pete has just pulled out a Trident gum for himself, and offers me one. “Remington is already on top of that, so don’t even fret about it.”

“What?” He completely blanks out my thoughts with that statement. With a dazed expression, I stare down at the proffered gum, then fold one silver foil open and pop the gum into my mouth, the juice bursting on my first munch so completely that it makes me have to bite several times before speaking. “What do you mean he’s on top of that? The last thing I want is him involved with anything to do with that Scorpion figure.”

Pete grimaces as if the gum in his mouth tastes like bitter whole coffee beans. “Neither do I. But Rem’s already made contact to open talks about her being returned to you. I warn you, it’s not going to be easy. Apparently your sister doesn’t want out even when Remy offered a lot of money.”

My stomach shudders. Okay, truth time. I find it extremely generous and so bloody hot Remington is doing this for me, but I can’t allow it, especially now that I know the truth and certainly don’t want him stepping into any of his triggers. Which maybe Scorpion is, who knows? “Please, Pete, I want Remy to forget about it. I don’t want to get him in trouble.”

At one of the carousels, a little boy runs around, tripping with suitcases, while the flustered father tries to catch up the toddler. We both seem to watch in amusement.

“Don’t worry, Brooke. We’ll take care of Rem. And Riley’s the one talking to that insect’s goons now. There’s no way in hell I’m letting Rem interact with Scorpion on his own. Too many things between them. He was adamant about going himself but I reminded him if he got kicked out of the league, then he wouldn’t be able to hire you anymore, and he grumbled in protest but, in the end, calmed down and agreed to send Riley.”

My smile hurts on my face. I find it incredibly amusing that Pete used me to bend Remy’s iron will.

“Is there a reason they’re so friendly, our little lamb Scorpy and Remington?” I ask Pete.

“Scorpy,” he sarcastically answers, with an amused smile, “is the douche his competition hired to get Rem kicked out of pro. Rem loathes his fucking ass and can’t wait to mop the floor with it.”

“He’s the one? Oh, I hate that asshole ever since I had the misfortune of meeting him at the club!” I explode, then turn a glare at Pete. “Well, then, now you must agree with me it’s best if we left Remy out of this mess? I don’t want him to even be tempted to talk to Scorpion himself and I certainly don’t want him to pay for my sister. She’s a free woman! She should leave on her own. Pete, I’m sure if I could only talk to my sister, I’m bound to be able to reason with her.”

The little boy trips and falls on someone’s small black duffel. His laughter stops, and then his cries break through the bustling noises as Dad finally picks him up and carries him back to where Mother waits for their suitcases.

“Suppose I were to say I’d help you,” Pete says, his thoughtful brown eyes turning to me, “what would I need to do?”

“Nothing, really.” Shrugging, I go throw my gum to the nearest trash can and smile privately when Pete immediately tags along. “Except help me keep Remington from finding out that I went to see her?” Lifting one brow, I survey his reaction. I’ve never been sneaky, but I can’t let Remy into this, it goes against all my protective instincts toward him. “You understand this is something I have to do, don’t you, Pete? From what I saw, Nora needs a serious reality check, and I need to talk some reason into her.”

“I understand,” he agrees, with a slight nod, as we prop ourselves against a pillar. “I just don’t like what will happen when Rem finds out.”

“He won’t. Melanie will help me get a message to my sister in the next fight. I’ll fix a meeting with her at a nearby restaurant, and you’ll only have to cover me when I go.”

“Brooke, he’ll have my head if something goes wrong, and I’m a little bit too attached to it, you understand.”

“Nothing will go wrong. I’ve taken more self-defense classes than I know what to do with. The only guy I haven’t been able to knock down is Remy.”

Pete bursts out laughing. “You knocked that man flat off his feet, Brooke.”

“You’re funny, Pedro.” I’m delightedly grinning now, which makes my puppy-dog eye perhaps not very effective. “Come on. Help? Please?”

A thoughtful frown crosses his features, and he taps his chin twice as he goes deep in thought. “Only if Riley goes with you and your friend when you go to the meeting.”

“Thanks, fine. Yes! Thank you, Pete.” Yielding to the impulse, I give his hand a quick squeeze and realize I’ve grown attached to everyone in the team. I’m dreading the time my three-month stint ends. Do I want to stay or do I want to go?

I want to stay. There’s no question about it. But I at least have to escort Nora safely home, if I’m lucky to convince her, and then, afterward, decide what I’m going to do, depending on how things with Remington are doing. The thought of leaving unsettles me, even if it’s only temporary. “Do you have any brothers, Pedro?”

“Rem.”

My eyes widen and I can’t believe this little guy is going to surprise me again. “He’s your actual brother?”

“Not blood brother, hell, we don’t look anything alike! I’m like a book and Rem’s a bull! I don’t have blood brothers … my soul brother is Rem.”

I’m thinking how sweet Pete is to think of Rem as a soul brother, and if Rem is my soul mate, then Pete is my soul brother-in-law … So here I am thinking stupid things, when here comes my best friend in the world to thankfully save me from my thoughts.

There she is. Right out of a Legally Blonde movie. My sweet Melanie, hauling a flashy pink suitcase behind her and with her blond hair loose and a pair of sunglasses atop her head. She’s not a bimbo, but she sure likes dressing like one. As an eclectic interior designer, she brings the touch of eccentric to her person too. As far as she’s concerned, everything goes well together. And today she looks like a rainbow, lighting up my world.

“Mel!” Leaping forward, I wrap my arms around her and let her wrap me in her slim arms and her Balenciaga fragrance.

“You look like you just got a damn peeling on your skin, you’re absolutely glowing, you bitch,” she says, pushing me back for a narrow-eyed inspection. “And wearing a little dress rather than exercise gear, well, well, well now.” She appears thoroughly impressed, and then immediately her female instincts hone in on Pete, and her voice goes to the do-me-lover tone. “Well, hello there.”

“Hello again, Miss Melanie,” Pete says.

“Oh, Pete, call her Melanie, Melanie, call him Pedro. Come on, let’s get you in the car,” I tell them.

“I brought you a little present,” Melanie says once we’re in the back of the Escalade we rented, and she produces a huge packet of condoms—extra-large and ribbed for her pleasure—from her big travel purse. “In case you want to wait a little longer to pop those babies Remy wants?” she taunts, waving the abundant string in the air.

“I don’t need these, girl, you can go right ahead and put those back in your bag. I’ve got a capsule in my arm that puts out hormone, remember?”

“Oh! So you can actually feel everything during…”

“Everything,” I happily say, and my body clenches remembering every. Single. Inch. Of Remington Tate inside me.

“Brooke, you have a seriously horny look on your face. Tell me everything about you and that sex god!” Melanie demands.

My eyes widen, and then, laughter takes me over so hard, my head falls back and I clutch my stomach. “You did not just call me horny.”

Melanie grins wide and varies her tone. “Horny. Horrrny. Hornyyy. You can’t even say his name without looking hornaay. Hell, I can even feel your horniness in your texts. Especially that drunken one, you closet alcoholic.”

Belatedly I realize we’re so excited, we’re having a totally personal conversation in the back seat while Pete drives, and suddenly I can feel a hot red flush creeping up my cheeks. Grabbing Mel’s hand, I twitch my eyes in Pete’s direction so she knows we can’t keep saying “horny” with him around, for the love of god. Not that I don’t trust him, but he’s a guy. This is personal, damn it.

“Ahhh,” Mel says, and nods, then she squeals and hugs me again, and I just let her give me some love and give her some back, because I just missed my bubbly little Mel.

So she ends up talking to Pete about the weather in Chicago, which is windy but sunny and frightfully chilly in the evening, and then I take her to lunch.

After some whoppingly large salads and panini, I take her to the presidential suite with two rooms that Remington booked for him and me. Nobody uses the extra room, and while Melanie has a separate room, I decide to invite her over to this empty bedroom for a while so that we can lounge around and chat without anyone overhearing.

For hours, we’re both barefoot, each in a queen bed, catching up.

She tells me Kyle is dating someone and that Pandora went back to chain-smoking ever since the battery on her e-cigarette stopped charging and the FedEx shipment for a replacement got delayed due to bad weather. Obviously it wasn’t Pandora’s day that day. And then Melanie wants to know everything about me, so I tell her about him. The songs we share, the time I bashed Scorpion’s goonies with those bottles. I also tell her about Nora.

“She was always too innocent for her own good, but what do you suppose she was doing sending those fake postcards?” Mel asks in complete puzzlement.

“I don’t know, I just can’t get over the fact that she ran away from me when I tried to see her.”

We think about it some, both frowning hard in concentration, then she sighs. “Honestly, Nora was always an adorable little airhead. Maybe she just needs some redirecting?”

“Maybe so.”

“Now stop with the wandering and tell me about your drool-worthy new romance.”

Rolling onto my stomach, I swing my legs up behind me as a dreamy sigh works up my throat. Remy is working out and I think he planned to run today, and I miss not having a run with him. I miss stretching him, watching him. But it feels so good to talk, I’m fairly bursting with things to say that I’m having trouble vocalizing.

“It’s so crazy, Mel.” I’m whispering reverently even though there’s no one around to hear. But confessing this is so monumental for me, I can’t even say it any louder than this. “I've just never felt like this. Every time Remy touches me, Mel, I feel a thousand good things rush through me. Better than endorphins. I think its oxytocin, you know how powerful they say it is? The cuddle hormone? But I’d never felt it before.”

“You love him, stupid!”

I wince at that, then nod vigorously. “I just don't want to say it out loud,” I admit, my heart already doing hopeful turns and twists in my chest at the thought of being loved back by him.

“Because?”

“Because he might not feel the same!” The mere thought makes me heartbroken.

How do emotions work with Remington? Can you love and unlove someone with your different mood personalities?

It hurts to think about it.

The front door closes out in the living room, and footsteps sound on the carpet before he appears at the door. My heart accelerates at the sight of him. He wears a damp black t-shirt that reads “Chicago Bulls” in red letters, and today the sweatpants hanging low on his narrow hips are red. He looks so hot, so doable, and so manly and comfortable in his attire, my breasts seem to swell up inside my bra.

“Hey, Melanie,” he says when he spots her.

“Omigod.” Her eyes are round as pizzas as she straightens on the bed, obviously awed by those delicious dimples and finger-tempting messed-up black hair and heart-robbing blue eyes. Her hand flies up to her mouth. “Ohmyfuckinggod, Remington. I’m such a huge fan.”

He doesn’t answer back because his head has swiveled in my direction, and now he looks straight at me, and I can’t help the way the sight of him affects me. My entire body responds and I feel instantly tight inside, damp and achy.

“Hey.” He uses an entirely different tone on me, and when I respond, my voice is also different. Huskier.

“Hey.”

I’m unsettled to my core.

He does that to me.

He unsettles me in any way. In every way.

From his electric baby blues, to his muscled arms, to his dimples and the way he looks at me right now, studying me top to bottom, like he doesn’t know what part of my body to lick and bite first when he peels my white linen dress off me…

“You have dinner yet?” he asks me in that roughened voice.

I nod.

He nods in return. Then asks me, his voice still in that pitch that seems sensual and deep and just for me, “You coming to bed later?”

I nod.

And he nods in return, his eyes glimmering in excitement, then he lifts a lazy hand to Mel.

“Bye, Melanie.”

“Bye, Remington.”

He shuts the door behind him, and I still can’t breathe.

“Brooke, that guy is in love with you. Even I felt butterflies for you, and they were so big they were like bats in my tummy.”

The bats she mentions are in my stomach too, flying up to my chest, I swear nothing can calm these down. “It could be anything,” I counter ,while inside me, I can’t help but hope like crazy. “It could be lust. Obsession?”

“It’s love, you fool. Why else would he bring me here but to make you happy, you goose! Are you going to tell him?”

My stomach winds up at the mere thought. “I can’t yet.”

“You used to love to be the first, Miss Olympic Contender,” Melanie reminds me.

“This is different. I don't even know if he can say it back to me.”

I think back to what I’ve learned about his bipolar episodes, and all I can wonder is if in his different gene expressions, he could feel differently about me? If I told him I loved him, would he push me away, when all I want is to be closer to him?

“Brooke, he’s so fucking into you, of course he’ll say it back!” Mel’s excited green eyes twinkle.

Hope and dread war in my chest, and I still don’t think I have the courage to risk what we have.

“I’m not sure that he’s … equipped to love me like this. He's different, Mel.”

I wish I could tell Melanie the truth, but I will guard his secret for him if it kills me. I remember the “Iris” song so clearly now, and the words of wanting to be known. He wants me to know him. Not Melanie. And definitely not the world. So I don’t elaborate anymore.

“Brooke. He's Remington Tate, of course he’s different. Tell him, Brookey! Tell me, what have you got to lose?” she taunts.

My stomach clenches in nervousness. “Him. He could push me away. He could…lose interest and go after something else. I don’t know! All I know is he’s too important and I don’t want to ruin this.”

I never fully recovered the last time I broke something—it’s been the worst experience of my life—and it was only my knee. The thought of getting my heart broken makes me bury my face in my palms with a groan. At least if I keep my love a secret, he and I can still have this wonderful, odd, exciting relationship together where I love him in silence and pretend he’s loving me in silence too.

“I want to wait for him to tell me first,” I pleadingly tell her.

She seems immediately disgusted.

“Argh, little chicken.” She gets up and comes to mock slap me in one check, then the other, and then she smacks me for real with a kiss on my forehead. “All right, so while you go bang your Prince Charming and begin your happily ever after, I might go use my condoms. Or, I might go hound Riley and Pete and see if anyone can take me out somewhere. See you tomorrow? Details, details.”

I squish her tight before I shove her out the door and slap her butt as she leaves, and silky ribbons of excitement unfurl inside me as I pad barefoot into the master bedroom. The shower water runs and a bolt of excitement rushes through me at the thought of stealing into the shower with him.

My whole being fills with wanting when I close the bathroom door quietly behind me as Remy soaps his head inside the glass shower stall. Tingles of anticipation tickle the inside of my stomach as I strip down to my skin. I’ve never been so blatant with a man, but this is my man. My one and only man. And he’s sexy and nude and I missed him like crazy.

I open the glass shower door, and step inside with his beautiful slick skin and big hard muscles, pressing my naked breasts to his back as I wrap my arms around his waist. He groans and tugs my arms tighter around him, and the words I love you are there inside me. I've never loved anyone in my life and I never imagined it could be like this.

It is the most amazing, invigorating, frightening feeling I’ve ever had in my life. As addictive as endorphins and more. I lick up his spine and to his nape, sliding my hands downward to touch his erection. He’s already fully erect, and my every sense becomes attuned to him. The contact of our bodies, my front to his magnificent back, the feel of his throbbing length pulsing under my fingers.

I get a rush thinking it’s for me. Just me.

Through the pounding water, I hear his groan. “Hmm. Touch me, Brooke,” he murmurs, grabbing both my fists in a tight grip and guiding me over his cock.

A hot shudder courses through my body. I’m completely eroticized by his huge fists guiding mine over his slick, long hardness. Burning hot between my legs, I lick the drops of water from his back. Like a cat, I rub my aching breasts to his hard back muscles and twirl my tongue up his beautiful lean spine. “I get butterflies when you say my name.”

He flips around and takes my hair in his hand and yanks my head back so our eyes meet. He stares at me, his look positively feral, and my sex clenches in needy anticipation as he speaks. “Brooke Dumas.”

I shudder, and lean my wet body into his. “Definitely butterflies.”

“Let’s take care of them…” His smile is slow and wolfish. “Brooke Dumas.”

I laugh, but he doesn’t, and when his lips settle over mine, it isn’t to give me a slow, sampling of a kiss, but a burning, plundering kiss that wipes out any coherent thought from my mind. He takes my wrists and slowly pins my hands at my back, and a bolt of excitement shoots through me.

He shreds me to pieces with that unexpected restraint that lets me know he plans to do whatever he wants to me, and I like it. I moan feebly as his teeth graze my neck, undulate helplessly as he tugs my flesh so firmly, I think he’s going to give me my first hickey.

With both my wrists still manacled in his large hand, he draws back, panting, and his piercing blue eyes linger on my bare breasts. The savage need in his face makes my breath ripple unevenly past my lips. Desire arches my spine, and he sweeps down, his mouth covering my breast to suck me as fiercely as ever. He fondles the other tip with his free hand, his palm slick and urgent, and I love how his dark, tanned skin contrasts with the fair skin of my breasts. Expertly he squeezes the flesh and sucks the hardened point into the heat of his mouth, his other hand firm around my wrists.

My body shudders against his bigger one, my pussy gripping with red-hot need. The mist of the water coats both of our bodies as it pounds on his back, and I become frantic, suddenly needing him now, fast, urgently. “Take me,” I plead, straining up to him.

His eyes glimmer as he pinches one nipple, and then the next. “That’s the plan.”

He lifts me easily by the waist and instead of lowering me onto his cock, he brings my breasts to his mouth. He sucks one, then the other, his arm muscles flexed as he keeps me in the air, feeding himself my nipples. Sensations hit me like lightning. Every suck on my nipples zaps down to my toes. And when I can’t stop whimpering and grimacing from the mind-boggling pleasure, he drops me down on his erection with such force that the instant he rams into my sheath, I’m so jolted, a breathless cry tears free from me.

“Too hard?” Voice craggy in desire and concern, he yanks me back up, his biceps bulged like rocks as he waits for me to speak.

Breathless, I shake my head and grab his shoulders. “I want you,” I whisper. “Please let me have you.”

His face clenches with need.

He lowers me more slowly this time, but he’s still massively big and drags thickly over every inch of my channel. A haggard whimper tears from my throat as I hang onto his hard shoulders, and when he starts moving, fucking me for real, I lose it and run my tongue along the slightly scratchy whiskers on his jaw, and suck his ear, gasping and moaning as I ride him as fast as I can. As fast as he’s riding me.

Electricity frissons down my spine when he slides his tongue into my ear, gently fucking me with it. “I love,” he rasps, the unexpectedly sexy way he utters the word catapulting me to within a breath of my orgasm, “how you fit me…”

“I love it too,” I say, part moan, part gasp.

He tugs my earlobe with his teeth, his haggard breaths straining his chest muscles as he holds me in the vises of his arms and speaks in my ear as he continues thrusting. “You’re so tight. So wet. Feel so good. Smell so fucking good. I knew you would be mine the instant I saw you. Aren’t you? Aren’t you all mine?”

“Yes,” I gasp, mewing because I love every word, trembling at each and every one he utters, letting them turn me into something wild and free until I’m whispering back to him, “Give me more, I want all of you, Remy, harder, please, harder,faster,” until I explode in his arms, the spasms in my pussy clenching rhythmically around his cock, milking his release out of him.

When I sag all around him, he grabs the back of my head in his open hand and holds me so tightly buried against his neck, I don’t even try to get my feet on the floor. He turns off the shower and carries us out, rubbing a towel over me before he drags it quickly over himself, and I get all gooey because he’s so strong and so sexy, he never even has to put me down before he immediately heads across the room so we hit the bed naked.

This is only our seventh night together, but I’m already anxiously awaiting the way we snuggle in bed.

Tonight he tucks me in, covers us up, and when he notices I’m limp and languid, he adjusts me so that he’s spooning me. I sigh in contentment as we settle down.

He scents the back of my ear. Then I feel his hand, scraping down my hair, softly petting me. His tongue follows, lightly lapping the place on my neck he bit in the shower. He drags it along the curve of my shoulders, my ear, awakening every inch of my skin.

I feel like he’s a lazy lion, bathing me with his tongue, licking and nuzzling me.

He’s done this other nights too. The unexpectedness of his raw petting drives me crazy with lust and love, and I’m getting addicted to this moment after the orgasm where I will be so relaxed and he will still have the energy to position me in a way where he can spoon me or hold me, and do all his manly, possessive lion-like OCD things with me.

Sometimes he washes his semen off my skin, but other times he gives me a series of slow, drugging kisses as he reaches between my thighs and fingers his semen back into my pussy like he wants to always be there.

Sometimes he asks me, with cocky blue eyes and in that sexy, lust-filled murmur he uses after making love, “Do you like it when I smear your skin with me?”

God, I love how he calls his semen “him.”

I love everything this guy does!

It’s still a novelty to me, to be sleeping with him. I’ve never slept with anyone before.

Every time we reach a new city, I wonder which side of the bed he’ll want, but Remington seems to always go for the one closest to the door, and I like the one farthest since it’s always closest to the bathroom. Although now that I think of it, even on the first night we slept together, it seemed to happen automatically.

He lays down on the side of the bed where he can put his right arm around me, and I can roll to my right side and drape myself all over him like a warmed gummy worm.

The first nights we were together, I wore his plain black t-shirt to bed but I don’t even bother anymore since he always takes it off me. He sleeps butt-naked and I can never even see him without wanting to jump his sexy bones. Remy is made to advertise everything that is manly, muscular, and sexy. I think that’s where a lot of his millions have come from. Advertising boxing gloves, some whip-fast jump rope, a sports drink, and a brand of sexy, tight, white boxer briefs.

He looks positively delish in those.

Tonight we’re both naked and deliciously entangled, and my sexy blue-eyed lion now seems content to have petted me for a long while, until I feel groomed down to my bones.

He’s pinned me to his side while his head rests on the bed headboard, and I notice one of his long, thick legs restlessly moves under the sheets. He doesn’t seem even the least bit tired.

“Are you getting … speedy?” I ask groggily, turning in his arms, hating that I’m now also using the term.

“I'm just thinking.” Smiling to comfort me, he plants a soft kiss on my lips. “But if I ever get out of hand with you ...” He reaches into his laptop carry case, which is on the nightstand, and retrieves a syringe with a clear liquid. He hands it to me with the cap on.

Wincing, I ease away from it like he’s going to use it on my butt. “No, Remy, don't ask me this.”

“It’s just to make sure I don't hurt you.”

“You’d never hurt me.”

He groans and rakes his free hand through his damp hair, pulling in frustration. “I can. I can very well get crazy over you.”

“You won’t.”

“You don’t know how you make me feel! I…” He snaps his mouth shut and a muscle jumps restlessly in his jaw as he clenches. “I get jealous, Brooke, when I'm normal,” he says, his expression fiercely bleak. “I don’t want to know what I’m going to do when I'm black. I get jealous of Pete, of Riley, of your friend, of anyone who gets to spend time with you. I'm even jealous of me.”

“What?”

“I'm jealous of being with you and not remembering what I did to you. What you said to me.”

My insides diffuse with tenderness. “I’ll tell you, Remy.” Reaching out to turn his sexy dark head to me, I kiss his jaw.

He’s still restless.

“Come here, Rem.” Taking the syringe, I set it carefully on the nightstand on his side, then I pull his head down to my chest and kiss his forehead as I massage the back of his neck with strong, nimble fingers. He groans and plops his face down on my breasts, instantly relaxed.

“Thanks for bringing her up,” I whisper, into his hair.

“I can bring up your parents. Do you want me to?” He sounds sober when he asks, nuzzling my bare puckered nipple.

“No,” I laugh.

He’s so protective and so unexpectedly giving that I just want to crawl into his big, lean body and curl myself in a ball and live inside his big gentle heart, because that’s the only place I’m interested in living in.

“Your sister.” He seems entranced with my nipple, looking at it and rubbing a thumb over it as I keep working on his nape. “I’m going to get her back to you, Brooke.”

My stomach tangles. I definitely, definitely want him to forget I even mentioned Nora. “No, Remy, I think she’s going to be all right and we should just leave her alone, please. Just fight for me and you. All right?”

He stays in my arms for a bit, but when my hands start slacking and I’m dozing off, he gets up.

“Come sleep with me,” I thickly whimper. “Don’t get up.”

He comes back with his iPad and I snuggle to his side as though magnetized. He uses my hip to prop it up and turns off the lamp for me.

“You’re going to hurt your eyes,” I complain.

“Shhh, Mother, I’ve just lowered the glare.”

He licks me, and I lick him back, and we laugh together.

“Did Pete tell you your parents went looking for you?” I ask.

“Yeah. I sent them some money. That’s what they want.”

My eyebrows come down. “They said they wanted to see you.”

“That’s what they say. They never wanted to see me until my face was public.”

“That’s a shame on them.” I feel instantly protective and don’t want him to feel bad, so I tenderly cup his jaw. “It’s such a handsome face.”

He chuckles, the soft vibrations reaching me. Delighting at his closeness, his warmth, the scent of his body, I turn in his arm and bury my face into his neck so the light doesn't bother me, and as I’m dozing off, I hear crunching sound and a fresh, liquid drop of something splatters on my cheek.

I frown. “Remy.”

“Sorry.” He kisses the spot where the drop fell and licks it up, and I groan in unbidden desire.

He playfully nips my mouth and his lips taste of apple. I love it, and suddenly I’m wide awake, feeling hungry and it’s not for apple. I love his smell, the feel of him, his eyes, his touch, I love sleeping with him, showering with him, running with him. I feel crazy. Crazy about him. Okay, I'm going to go to sleep before I break out in song. Instead I hear myself speak.

“Remington…” I murmur in a question, my voice groggy but already thickened with arousal.

He puts the iPad aside and his hand coasts up my curves. He clamps his fingers around my waist and draws me to his length, where I can feel he’s hard and ready. I’m so ready for him, I was born ready.

He ducks to kiss me, murmuring, Hmm, that’s what I was hoping for.
“This is so exciting, top-of-the-line seats. Either you give one hell of a BJ, or the guy’s definitely in love with you,” Melanie decrees as we sit in the first row center seats of the Chicago Underground.

“Well I haven’t gotten to the bee-jay part since the actual penetration is so exciting, you know?” I tell Mel, but suddenly all I have in my mind is BJ. Giving the man I love a delicious, whopping BJ that will make him love me forever.

Mel’s eyebrows sweep up. “Are you actually bragging to me?”

“No! I’m actually honestly—no sarcasm here—admitting to my best friend that I’m eager to give my guy my first ever bee-jay as soon as I can manage to take my mouth off his delicious lips.”

The unbelievable has happened. I think I just managed to make Melanie blush. She’s red-faced as she stares at me like I just confessed to an orgy. “My god. What did you do to my friend? Where the hell is she, you alien? Brooke, you are madly in love with this dude. Since when do you talk BJs to me?”

My smile suddenly fades, and so does my voice. “Please stop saying the L word, it only makes my stomach clench.”

“Love. You love Remington. Remington loves you,” Mel taunts.

“Here, girl.” With a playful glare, I hand her a piece of bubblegum I stole from Pete. “Put that in your mouth, will you? It’s made of glue and it will seal your trap together. Now tell me if you spot Nora anywhere.”

“I see her at three o’clock.”

Surprise siphons the blood off my face. “You do?”

My frame tenses when I see her. It’s Nora. In a deep, innermost part of me, I’d hoped it had been a nightmare, and that the chick with the blood-red hair, the pale face, and the black scorpion tattoo had been someone else. But no.

It is. Nora.

This sad-looking waif of a girl.

And I have to save her from herself.

As Nora takes her seat across the ring from us, I clench Melanie’s arm and shove a little paper I’d been clutching into her palm. “Okay, you need to take her this, very discreetly, so those big types near her don’t really notice the exchange.”

“Gotcha.” Melanie flicks her ponytail and walks around to the other side of the ring. Nora hasn’t seen me, I think, but tenses when she spots Melanie. Mel walks by, all flirty and bimbo-like, when she stumbles with one of the men, then bends to apologize to Nora and pats her hands as if saying there, there, no harm done, and then she’s heading back to her seat beside me.

My insides tighten with tension as my eyes stay trained to Nora. She glances down at her lap and reads the note, and hope and excitement twirl inside me when she seems to read it a second time. So she’s interested?

“Done,” Melanie says, and when Nora lifts her head, she sees me, her hazel eyes flaring slightly, and I exhale a long breathe of gratitude that at least she isn’t running away. When our stares hold for several seconds, I smile at her, just so she knows that I want to see her in “friendly” mode. She smiles back, barely, almost shakily, and then tears her eyes free as the presenter begins. My chest swells with even more determination to save my baby sister, and suddenly I can’t wait for it to be tomorrow. I just pray she’ll come.

“And nooow, ladies and gentlemen…”

“He’s coming out.” Melanie squeezes me.

Just knowing he’s going to come out has me on hyper-excitement mode, and when his name rings across the crowd, my heart has already kicked into overdrive and I’m quaking in my skin. “… Remington Tate, your one and only, RIPTIDE!! RIPTIDE!! Say hello to RIPTIDEEEEE!”

He comes out like a sun after months of night, and the world can’t stop shouting in gratitude. He swings up to the ring and whips off his red robe and, at the center of the ring, there he is. Doing his signature turn as the crowd roars his name, his muscular arms outstretched, chorded with veins, and the screams get louder and louder, for the people love the way he turns, his boyish face and manly body, the wicked glint in his eyes that promises them a good show. He stops right where he always does, and his dancing blue eyes tell me that he knows he’s the bomb and that I want him, and his dimples come out to kill me. Kill. Me.

The fact that I know that man is mine at night won’t even let me breathe.

But I thankfully manage a smile. Boy, I’m so bursting with excitement, I can definitely smile back at him from my seat.

The fight begins, and I sit drooling next to Melanie watching those arms with the vine tattoo where his shoulders and biceps meet flex out to strike his opponents. His strength, his footwork, his speed, mesmerize me.

Melanie shouts to him all the things I want to tell him and more, delighting me. “Kill him, Remington! Yes! Yes! Omigod, you’re a god!”

Laughing with pure joy, I hug her. “Oh, Mel,” I sigh, then I whisper in mischief, “Tell him he’s hot.”

“Why don’t you, little chicken?” She narrows her eyes and shoulders me. “You little nugget, tell him!”

“I can’t. I can never seem to shout in a crowd. I was the one usually shouted at,” I admit, shouldering her back. “And I feel like my voice will distract him. Come on! Tell him from me. Tell him he’s so hot.”

Up on her feet, Melanie cups her mouth and yells. “Brooke thinks you’re the hottest thing ever, Remy! Remy, Brooke loves you, Remy! Every inch and centimeter of you!”

“Melanie!” Shocked, I slap a hand over her mouth and shove her back down to her seat, but the crowd is so noisy today, I’m almost sure he didn’t hear. “Have another gum, Mel,” I say, glaring darkly at her. “And I’ll have your word you’re not saying that again, Melanie.”

“Oh all right, I’ll just tell him he’s so hot and all that.”

Laughing when I stiffly nod, she comes back to her feet and nudges my ribs, calling me a little Chick-fil-a sandwich, because I’m so chicken, and then she keeps on shouting all the things I think and don’t have the courage to scream. That he’s so hot, that he’s a god, that he’s a sexy beast and is so fucking sexy nobody can stand it…

I swear if I could even shout, I’d also shout that he’s mine, that I love you, that he’s my sexy beast … but I can’t even cheer his name alone among the crowd. And I realize maybe I do feel a little fear, after all. Because I’ve never given my heart to anyone until Remington. And he has the strength to pound it down as hard as he’s pounding his opponents.

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