Tru blue, p.12
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       Tru Blue, p.12

           Melissa Foster
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  “Cool enough to warrant a mattress.” Bear smirked. “Which means you will be getting laid soon enough.”

  “It’s not like that. I mean, it is. Don’t get me wrong; she’s hot as fuck, and I can’t wait to get closer to her, but it’s not like that’s all there is.”

  “Good, man. I’m happy for you. Not many women would be okay with all the shit going down in your life. You hear any more from Quincy?” Bear asked.

  “No. I left him a message offering to get him help…again.”

  “No one can say you’re not a loyal son of a bitch.”

  Despite his heartache over Quincy, he smiled at Bear’s words, thinking of Gemma. Tru Blue.

  “He’s family. I may not want him around the kids when he’s fucked up, but that doesn’t mean I’ll give up on him for good.” Needing to change the subject, Truman crossed the room to the alcove where he kept his tools. Quincy was the one person who could ruin his mood. “Help me out. I want to get all this stuff downstairs.”

  “All of it?” Bear cocked a brow. “The workbench, too?”

  “Yup. I’m making this one-bedroom apartment into a two-bedroom. Eventually we’re building a wall here.” He waved to the front of the alcove.

  “We are? Isn’t this my place?”

  “Oh, right. You mind?” Truman began taking the tools off the wall and putting them into a box.

  “Nah. ’Course not.” Bear was busy texting.

  “Hot date?”

  “Yeah, with my brothers.” He glanced at Truman and shook his head, then turned back to his vibrating phone. “Bullet and Bones are on their way over to help.” He shoved his phone in his pocket.

  An hour and a half later, Truman, Bear, Bullet, and Bones had relocated all of the shop paraphernalia downstairs and brought up the box spring, pillows, sheets, rug, and other things Truman had bought.

  Truman swept the alcove, and they rolled out the shag area rug and set up the bed.

  “No bed frame?” Bones asked.

  Truman shrugged. “What do I know about bed frames?”

  Bullet ran a hand over his beard and took a swig of his beer. At six five, he had a good two inches on Truman and his brothers. Colorful tattoos snaked along his arms, and Truman knew he had tats on nearly every inch of his chest and back, too. “This little gal’s got your nuts in a knot, huh?”

  Truman smiled. “You could say that. It’s nice to be with someone who actually cares.”

  “I believe our little boy is growing up,” Bones teased. He’d come from work, still dressed in his white button-down and slacks. No one would guess that beneath that professional attire were tatted-up shoulders and a badass biker.

  “Hey,” Bear said. “We care.”

  “Yeah, but he doesn’t want you sucking his dick,” Bullet said gruffly, then more amused, “Or do you?” He waggled his brows.

  Truman laughed. “Man, I don’t want you bringing that nasty beard anywhere near my junk. You might have mice living in it for all I know.”

  “Hey, sweethearts love my beard.” Bullet stroked his beard. “Tickles their thighs.”

  As Bullet’s brothers gave him shit about shaving his beard off when he was asleep, Truman pondered the rest of his surprise for Gemma. “Y’all know anything about sheet forts?” The saleslady had told him to buy sheers. He’d had no idea what the hell a sheer was, but once she showed him, he knew he had to buy them along with the sheets. The sheers were more feminine, which reminded him of Gemma, so he bought extras to use as curtains.

  The three brothers exchanged a look of confusion.

  Truman pulled out his cell phone and texted Dixie. A few minutes later she came through the door with Kennedy at her side and Lincoln in her arms.

  “Oh my gosh! This place looks so different without all the shop stuff up here.” Her high-heeled boots tapped across the hardwood floor.

  “Tooman?” Kennedy said, lifting her arms for him to pick her up. “Gemma coming over?” She’d been talking more each day, and it warmed his heart to know that she was settling in okay. Gemma had stayed for breakfast, and Kennedy had been over the moon about seeing her.

  “Yes, princess. But you might be asleep when she gets here. Want me to send her in to give you a kiss?” He lifted her into his arms and she nodded forcefully. “You’ve got it.” He kissed her cheek and showed her his bed, which was now draped in layers of earth-toned sheets and blankets. “What do you think of my new bed?”

  “Pwetty,” she said.

  “With a little paint, curtains, and a few plants, you’ll have a romantic little nook.” Dixie sat on the mattress and ran her hand over the blanket. “That’s really soft.”

  He didn’t have time for paint, but one day…

  “‘A romantic little nook.’ I think that’s my cue to take off.” Bullet lifted Kennedy from Truman’s arms and kissed her cheek, rubbing his beard over her chin. She giggled, and he handed her back to Truman. “Even Kennedy likes my beard. See ya, squirt.” He gave Truman a one-armed hug, then leaned down to kiss Lincoln, who was still in Dixie’s arms.

  “Me too. I’ve got a date. Let me know if you need anything.” Bones slapped Truman on the back, kissed the top of Kennedy’s head, and gave Lincoln’s foot a shake.

  “See you guys. Thanks for the help.” Seeing his buddies love up the children made Truman’s heart feel full. He set Kennedy down and Bear scooped her up.

  “Be-ah.” Kennedy giggled.

  “Don’t Be-ah me.” He rubbed noses with her, making her giggle again. “Are you going to be good tonight?”

  She nodded.

  “Good, because if you’re not, you know what happens.” He wiggled his fingers in front of her belly.

  “Tickle monstah!” she squealed. “Tooman!” She leaned toward Truman and he lifted her into his arms.

  “Good luck tonight, buddy.” Bear patted him on the shoulder.

  “Thanks for your help.”

  “No sweat. Oh, and I talked to Crow. He’s having the fencing delivered tomorrow, and the rest is on order.”

  “You rock, man. Thanks.” It was hard to believe how much his life had changed over the past few days, but they were good changes. He was happier than he could ever remember being.

  He sank down to the mattress beside Dixie, and Kennedy crawled to the middle of the bed and lay down.

  “You’re doing a really good job with these little guys,” Dixie said, handing him Lincoln.

  He cradled the baby in one arm, pressing a kiss to his forehead. “Thanks. I don’t want to screw them up, you know? They’re so little.”

  “Truman, you couldn’t screw them up. You only know how to do right by people.” She put her arm around him and sighed. “Before we get into the nuances of sheet forts, which I happen to be very good at building, do you want to unload? To talk about Gemma or the kids?”

  His smile came naturally. Just thinking about Gemma—or the kids—made him happy. “What’s there to say? One day I was surviving, and the next I was living. It’s chaotic with the schedules and never-ending caregiving from morning until night, but…”

  “You’re giving them all the things you never had.”

  “Yeah. I hope so. And Gemma? I don’t even know what to say, Dix. She’s…everything.”

  “I assumed so, when I got your text.” She glanced at Kennedy, who was lying on her side almost asleep. “Want help putting the kids down? Then we can get to work. It’ll be years before I have kids, so this is fun for me.”

  “Hey, you never know. Look at my life.”

  His phone vibrated with a text, and he dug it out of his pocket, smiling when a picture of Gemma appeared on his screen. He’d taken it this morning in the parking lot before she went home. She had that dreamy look in her eyes she sometimes got. The one that made his heart turn over in his chest.

  He clicked open and read the message. Running late. One of the kids puked all over. I probably can’t get there until closer to ten. Still want me to come by?

  He type
d a quick response as Dixie carried Lincoln to the bedroom. Definitely. Can’t wait to see you.

  Her response came immediately. Whew. I was afraid I’d have Tru Blue withdrawals.

  He lifted Kennedy into his arms, carried her to the bedroom, and grabbed her night-night storybook from the dresser, wondering what he’d done with his evenings before he’d found them—all three of them.

  Chapter Fifteen

  GEMMA CLUNG TO the railing as she ascended the steps to Truman’s apartment. She could barely lift her legs in her tight, short leather skirt and four-inch spike-heeled boots. She felt like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, but tonight’s party had been all about rocker princesses. Nine thirteen-year-old girls dressing up in black velvet and leather dresses with strict orders from the birthday girl of no lace. They’d had a blast, temporarily dying their hair pink and purple, with gaudy makeup and appropriate attitudes to match.

  The door to the deck slid open—and Gemma’s knees weakened at the sight of Truman, clean-shaven, wearing a white button-down shirt, the sleeves rolled up to his elbows, a pair of dark jeans, and his badass black boots.

  “Holy cow.” She couldn’t take her eyes off of him or his wickedly seductive smile.

  He slid a hand to her hip, his eyes taking their own slow stroll down Leather Lane. “Hi, sweetheart.”

  Sweetheart. She trapped her lower lip between her teeth as he tugged her against him, causing her to stumble on her heels. She grabbed on to him to keep from falling. He smelled spicy and delicious, and she leaned in closer, filling her senses with his scent. A husky laugh rumbled up from his lungs, stealing more of her brain cells.

  “My girl’s gone hot biker chick on me.” He nuzzled her neck. “Please tell me you didn’t let other guys see you in this, because if you did, their wives are in for a surprise tonight.”

  Her body hummed with his praise. “I guess you like it?”

  “I’d have to be gay not to, and even then, I have no doubt that you could turn me.” He lifted her chin and kissed her long and deep, making her already wobbly knees pure liquid. He tightened his hold on her, smiling into the kiss. “God, I love that.”

  “Knowing you have complete power over my limbs?”

  “Absolutely.” He captured her mouth again, his hands moving over her ass, pressing her against his hard body. “I love when you get so worked up you need to hang on to me.”

  He kissed her neck, and his scent wound around her again, lulling her into a euphoric state. “Tru…” She wrapped her hand around his neck, pulling his face closer. She pressed her cheek to his whiskerless face and her body shivered with the new, exciting feel of his hot, smooth skin.

  “And I love when you say my name breathlessly. Every. Damn. Time.” He sucked her earlobe into his mouth, and she curled her fingers over his shoulders. “And when you touch me like that.”

  Every kiss, every raspy word, every touch made her senses reel. Ever since they’d come back together, her heart had become an open door for him, and she couldn’t see it ever closing. She rubbed her cheek over his again. It was sensuously soft and titillatingly strong at once. Gazing into the eyes she’d begun seeing in her dreams, she said, “I loved your scruff. It grew on me and became as much a part of you as everything else about you. You didn’t have to shave for me.”

  He shrugged humbly, but his smile told her how much he appreciated her words.

  “I thought you might think it was more appropriate in case I come by your shop when you have customers.”

  “Oh, Tru.” She pulled him into another kiss, deeply touched by his consideration. “I like you as you are—scruffy, clean-shaven, none of that matters. Seeing you like this totally blows me away, but I honestly don’t care what anyone else thinks.” She had a pang of guilt, because no matter how much she tried to ignore it, she knew her mother would give her hell, but she wasn’t about to let that impact her relationship with Truman.

  “I’m glad you survived your pukey night. Was the little girl who got sick okay?”

  “We won’t talk about that in detail, but yes. She’s fine. Too much punch and too many twirls on the red carpet did not sit well with the birthday girl, Princess Patty.” She touched his cheek again, marveling at his chiseled jawline, and noticed a fine white scar running parallel to his jaw. She kissed it and he bristled. Despite his reaction, she traced it with her fingertip, wanting him to know that whatever it was from wouldn’t scare her or make her run. “How…?”

  “Prison,” he said softly.

  Her heart ached at the thought of him being behind bars, and even worse at him being hurt while he was there, but she didn’t want to make him relive whatever caused that scar. He had much deeper scars. The kind that would never be visible. And she had faith that when he was ready, if he was ever ready to discuss those years, he would let her know. She pressed another kiss to the scar and then to his lips.

  “I didn’t realize it was possible to miss a person as much as I missed you today,” she admitted as he led her toward the door.

  He stopped short of going inside and slid his hands beneath her hair, cradling her face. “Me too. I was afraid to tell you how much I missed you. Afraid of being too much—”

  “Tru.” Breathless. Always breathless. “I’ve never had enough. Please be too much. I need too much. I need you.”

  They kissed with the greed of two people who have never had enough—and who were ready to give it all to each other.

  They walked inside as they kissed. A floral scent hit her at the same time her eyes adjusted to the darkness. Candles danced on the countertops and coffee table. In the middle of the living room long gauzy sheets of colored fabric hung loosely from the rafters to the floor like an Arabian tent. Tiny white holiday lights sparkled along each panel, intertwined with ribbons of leafy green ivy. Her hand flew over her rapidly beating heart as he guided her forward, to the space where the gauzy panels parted. Beneath all that spectacular beauty, a red and white checked picnic blanket covered the floor. A children’s tea set, prepared with service for two, was spread out with candles and a single red rose alongside a carafe of wine and two wineglasses.

  “Truman,” she whispered shakily.

  “I wasn’t sure if you wanted tea or preferred wine, so I went with both. And I hope the sheer fort is okay instead of a sheet fort.”

  “It’s perfect. You’re perfect.”

  The denial in his eyes pierced through her, but that was okay, because he was right—no one was truly perfect.

  “In a perfect world,” she said softly. “We both would have had loving parents, and you never would have faced what you did. We didn’t grow up in a perfect world, but you’re my perfect.”

  He pulled her tight against him again and pressed his lips to hers. His heart was beating fast, so sure and steady it spoke louder than words ever could.

  He held her close as they walked around the magical tent.

  “Ohmygosh. Truman.” She wasn’t even sure if the words left her lips, she was so awestruck. The alcove that had once housed tools, big metal tool chests, ladders, and other gritty paraphernalia had been transformed into the most luxurious bedroom she’d ever seen. And it had nothing to do with expensive furnishings, because there were none. She could hardly believe Truman had gone to all this trouble for her. Gold sheers hung from floor to ceiling surrounding a thick mattress, which sat atop a beige shag rug. A fluffy cream-colored comforter, several pillows, and soft-looking knit throws in earthy hues were strewn across the foot of the bed. Sheers were also draped over the window, allowing the dusky, romantic moonlight to shimmer through. On the floor beside the bed was a hubcap, with a wide candle in the center. She loved that hubcap best of all, because she loved his world. This life he’d created for the kids—and for them. He’d gone to such lengths to give her something beautiful and meaningful, when all she needed was him.

  She turned to face the man who had obviously listened at a time when he’d been busy with her car and overwhelmed by his upended life, and
had cared enough to do something so big and meaningful when he had so little.

  “I think my heart just exploded.” She blinked up at him with damp eyes. “How did you…? With the kids to take care of and your job?”

  “I had a little help from my friends.”

  She threw her arms around him and kissed him. The fact that he’d asked his friends to help do all of this for her made it even more special, because Truman never asked for help.

  “I think I need to make a whole new prince outfit for my shop. Prince Truman, because no prince, fictional or real, could ever hold a candle to you.”

  TRUMAN REFILLED THEIR wineglasses, Gemma’s toes playing over his. Gemma had gone in to kiss the kids good night as Truman had promised Kennedy, and they’d long ago cast aside their boots and polished off a few glasses of wine. They were lying in the tent playing a game, weaving each other into their pasts as if they’d known one another forever. It was a game of pretend, something they’d both missed out on as kids—although he’d spent his whole childhood pretending his life was something it wasn’t—and playing this game made him feel even closer to Gemma.

  “Do you remember the night I scaled the gates around your house and snuck into your bedroom when you were sixteen?” He ran his finger along the length of her arm, loving the way she shivered under his touch.

  She leaned forward, fiddling with the buttons on his shirt, her fingers nimbly unbuttoning, then touching his chest. “How could I forget the night of our first kiss?”

  “That was a night of many firsts.” He set their wineglasses off to the side and lowered her gently to the floor, perching above her. She gazed up at him with lustful eyes. He traced a path from her chin, down the graceful column of her neck, along her cleavage, to the first button of her black leather vest, slowly unfastening it.

  “That was the first night you let me touch you.” He pressed a kiss to the swell of each breast. “Remember?” He wished the things they were making up were true and liked imagining having known Gemma back then.

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