I don’t know what to say, so I simply press the ball of my thumb deep into his palm and rub it in a small circle. The tension in his hand eases, as does his voice. “But you have to accept that as part of the life. Let it ride, then let it go.


“Every year, before the start of the season, my dad would ask, do you still want this?” Drew turns toward me. “Because he knew how hard it would be if I didn’t. He warned me that it would get to me, and that I’d have to find a way to deal with it.”

“Did your dad play?” I’m dying of curiosity about his parents.

He blinks, a slow sweep of his lashes. Maybe the Ibuprofen and massage are kicking in. Or maybe I’ve hurt him with the questions. I hope it’s the former. I keep rubbing his hand, stroking up to his wrist then along the hard plank of his forearm.

“Not football,” Drew answers, watching my fingers. “He played baseball. Pitcher. Was recruited by MLB straight out of college. A torn rotator cuff during his last season kept him from going pro.” He flashes a smile. “Dad was my little league coach.”

“And yet you chose football? What, no good at baseball?”

His lip curls as his eyes flutter closed. “I kick ass in baseball, Jones. I could have played that instead. But football was always the one.”

“If you were good at both, how did you know?”

Drew’s long fingers twine with mine, holding me in a warm, engulfing clasp. He doesn’t open his eyes as he speaks. “Some things are like that. You just know.”

I clear my throat. “I envy you. I’ve never been totally sure of anything.” Other than wanting Drew from the moment I laid eyes on him. But I’m not saying that. Instead, I untangle my hand from his, and he lets go as if he knows I need to get free.

“Don’t be too envious,” he says wryly. “Knowing what you want and having it are two different things.” His eyes lock onto mine with a punch that I feel deep in my belly. “I’d rather have what I want than just know.”

I look away first, then shift over to the end of the couch and turn to sit cross-legged. “Lie down.”

He squints at me with a slight frown as if he doesn’t really want to move. “There’s more?”

Grabbing my coat, I bunch it on my lap and slap the spot. “Head here.”

Drew’s brows rise, his expression a mixture of confusion and weariness, and I laugh. “What do think I’m going to do to you?”

“I don’t know,” he says, as he eases down, unfolding his long length on the couch. “But I’m hoping for the best.”

“Where’s the trust?” I say with a dramatic sigh.

His head settles in the lee of my crossed legs. “I just told you something about me that no one else alive knows, Jones. I don’t think my trust in you could be more clear.”

I lean over him, our faces upside down from each other’s. He’s humbled me. My palms settle on his shoulders, pressing there gently to warm him, and my fingers find the leather cord he wears around his neck. I trace it, watching his skin prickle as I go. When I get to the pendant, I run a thumb over the polished wood.

He’s watching me, his gaze guarded, vulnerable. But when he speaks, it’s as if he’s leaving himself wide-open. “It’s a chunk of wood from the lintel on the front door of my parent’s house.” His lashes sweep down, hiding his pain. “Figured that way I’d always carry a piece of my old home with me.”

Shit. He’s slowly carving his name into my heart. And it hurts. I want to curl over him and shelter him with my body. But his cheeks are flushed and his neck grows stiffer by the second, as if he’s regretting his confession.

I rest my palm over the pendant, holding the wood against hard wall of his chest. When I can speak without emotion clogging my words, I tell him, “I’m going to massage your face now.”

“My face?” he repeats as if I’ve offered to stick my finger up his nose.

I smother a laugh. “We hold even more tension in our face than our hands.” Keeping my hands on him, I rub the tops of his shoulders before doing the same to his neck. He likes this and sinks down further into the couch.

His eyes flutter as if he wants to shut them. My hands ease up to his jaw then settle on his brow. “It’s okay. Close your eyes.”

When he does, I simply run my fingertips over his face, taking in his strong, clean bone structure. Strangely, I’ve always attributed Drew’s attractiveness to his inner light, the way he carries himself, and how his emotions shine through. But, God, he really is beautifully made.

Whereas my face is all curves, his is like a diamond, made up of dramatic angles and cut lines. His nose is high and straight, widening a bit in the middle, which only gives him more character. Prominent cheekbones veer down sharply toward his mouth, that gloriously mobile mouth that is always quick to smile. Relaxed now, it’s as if he’s pouting. His jawline is defined and in perfect symmetry with his cheeks.

With steady, firm pressure, my fingers ride over the ridges of his sweeping brows, following the tension. The slow, undulating light of the lava lamp casts deep blues and grays over his skin.

“Keep talking to me,” he whispers.

I pause. “Doesn’t noise hurt your head?”

Thick lashes cast shadows at the tops of his cheeks. “Your voice isn’t noise. It’s a song I want to hear over and over.”

Oh. My.

Taking a deep breath, I pinch along the underside of his brows, moving outward. Drew groans low.

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