Chapter 3—Transcending the Physical
The key grew heavier and heavier in Jude’s pocket the longer the night went. His mind kept envisioning Desiree waiting for him in bed, arms out, beckoning him to her. He usually ran from pleasure, only sought pain. Pain, he could endure. Pleasure was dangerous.
He’d had pleasure before years and years ago, when he was eighteen. He’d never forget it. He was a senior in high school, moody and angry, unhappy with his mother. He pushed people away, mostly a loner, but he couldn’t keep his mind off Lindsay Sorgenson. They were in three classes together. Her skin glowed. Her light brown hair fell in a smooth cascade past her shoulders. When she looked at him, her eyes spoke of knowledge he didn’t have.
The snake in the Garden of Eden. Taste of the Forbidden Fruit.
Her lips were lush and ripe. He wanted to taste them. He wanted to taste her. He kept catching her looking at him before she’d glance away. Finally, near the end of the year, she stayed in the hall to catch him after Government class.
She kept glancing up and down the hallway. “I like you. I’d like to meet you somewhere and talk, but no one can see us. It has to be a secret.”
To his young mind, that made it even more appealing. “Behind the drugstore that went out of business on 5th Street? In the alley?”
“Just before dark.” She turned and hurried away.
He watched her, confused. But weren’t women supposed to be mysterious? She was so smart, so pretty. He couldn’t imagine what she’d want to talk to him about, but he couldn’t wait to find out. The rest of the day went by in a blur.
He’d been leaning against the brick wall of the drugstore for ten minutes before Lyndsay finally got there.
She looked upset. “I shouldn’t have said anything to you, but you’re so good-looking and sexy. I can’t stop thinking about you.”
Girls had come on to him before. He knew he could cut notches in his bedpost if he wanted to. But then he’d be like his mom. And she disgusted him.
Lindsay went on. “You seem nice. I’ve never seen you with another girl. I thought, just once, before I graduate and get married . . . “ She stopped and took a long breath. “I’m sorry. This was a bad idea.”
He had no clue what her idea was. What had she had in mind? “Is something wrong? Are you afraid?” She acted frightened.
She stepped closer. “Would you kiss me? Just one kiss? And then I’ll leave.”
All this fuss for one kiss? He shrugged and wrapped his arms around her, then lowered his head and pressed his lips to hers. She tasted sweet, intoxicating, then her tongue darted to touch his. Sparks exploded through his body, and the kiss deepened. His cock sprang to attention. He was embarrassed and tried to take a step back, but she pressed closer, grinding against him. Sweet heavens! Did she know what she was doing to him?
He took her shoulders and pushed her slightly away. “Um, this is a little fast, isn’t it? I don’t know you, and you don’t know me.”
“I want to know you better.” She reached for him.
The glass had been broken out of the drugstore’s back door, and Jude reached over the jagged edges to unlock the door and guide her inside. They moved farther into the room and bumped against a long wooden counter. A lamp post stood at the end of the alley, dimly lighting the interior. Lindsay jumped and wrapped her legs around his waist, locked her mouth on his, and soon their hands were delving under clothing, exploring everywhere.
Her breasts filled his hands. Her thighs felt smooth and alluring. Clothes got tossed to the floor. She was on top of him on the counter, then he was on top of her. The whole thing was frenetic and wonderful. Heavy breathing. Sensual overload. When they finished, Jude couldn’t believe how fast one thing had led to another. He blinked at Lindsay in the shadows.
“Are you okay? Is that what you wanted?”
“I’ll never forget it,” she promised. “I’ll cherish it forever.”
He would, too, even though he wasn’t sure why it happened.
They took a minute to dress, to tidy their clothing, to gain their composure, and then Jude held the door for her. She took one step into the alley, and then was jerked out of sight. Jude frowned and walked outside to see what happened.
Murdoch Thompson stood in the center of the alley, bouncing a baseball bat off his open palm. “Smart people don’t mess with my girl. They know better.”
Jude knew Murdoch was some big jock at school, but he wasn’t sure what sports he played. He glanced to the side to find Lyndsay. One of Murdoch’s buddies held her, struggling, against his chest.
“Don’t hurt him!” she cried. “He doesn’t pay any attention to us, didn’t know I was with you. I’m the one who invited him to meet me here.”
Murdoch’s eyes narrowed and his jaw locked. “You like him better than me?”
“No, baby, it’s just you and I have been together since we were sophomores. I wanted to try something new before we got married next month.”
Next month? A week or two after graduation?
Her chin went up. “I know you’ve seen other girls.”
“That’s what men do.” He turned back to Jude. “Looks like you just got unlucky, dude.”
One guy with a baseball bat didn’t worry him. Jude had two inches on Murdoch and every inch of his body was muscle. In his neighborhood, riffraff didn’t monkey around with bats. They carried knives. Jude usually steered clear of them, but he’d had his share of fights. He placed his legs and raised his fists.
“Guys!” Murdoch called, and three more friends with bats stepped into the alley.
Four of them. He’d faced four before. And even if they won, he’d make sure Murdoch was a bloody mess before he went down.
When the friends rushed him, Jude sprinted straight to Murdoch. His fist connected with Jock Boy’s nose before he could even swing the bat. Big Red swung, and the blow hit Jude’s left shoulder. Hard. Jude grabbed him and turned him in time to take Stocky’s heavy whack. It connected with Red’s head, and Red was down. Jude jumped back in time to miss Meaty’s swing, meant to hurt. Then he lunged and yanked the bat out of his hand. Taking the bat in both hands, he raised an eyebrow at Meaty, and he ran. Stocky threw himself to tackle him, and Jude kicked him in the face. Stocky rolled sideways, and then Jude smacked him in the ribs with the bat. Stocky doubled up and wouldn’t bother him again.
He turned on Murdoch. Tears still streamed down his cheeks from the blow to the nose, and he looked afraid. He should. Jude was pissed. Jude started toward him, but Lindsay called, “Please. No.”
Jude turned and stared.
“I have to marry him. I’m pregnant.” Her face squinched in defeat. “I just wanted one happy memory. I’m sorry.”
He lowered the bat. “You sure?”
She swallowed and nodded.
Jude pointed the bat at Murdoch. “If you ever mess with me again, my gang brothers will come after you. Understand?”
Murdoch looked scared to death. Jude didn’t belong to a gang, but he didn’t know that.
Jude turned to the idiot holding Lyndsay. “I’ll give you two minutes to get everyone out of here, or I’m coming for you.”
The guy raced to help Murdoch lift Red off the pavement and drag him out of there. Lindsay went with them.
Jude reached inside the drugstore’s broken window and locked the door again. He’d leave things as he found them. He thought about Lyndsay on his walk home. Her future looked dim. He, on the other hand, was eighteen, strong and smart. Once he graduated, he was free. He’d leave his mother behind him and write his own future.
He’d learned something, though. All women were flawed. The good, the bad, the hopeless.
Now, with the last stragglers leaving his bar, his thoughts returned to the key in his pocket and Desiree. He already knew he was in trouble. He hadn’t been able to say no to Lindsay, and Desiree tempted him every bit as much. No matter how much wisdom was inked on his body, a craving grew inside him. And he wanted pleasure.