Tru blue, p.7
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       Tru Blue, p.7

           Melissa Foster
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  “Do you dress like this for all the events?” He fisted his hands to keep from touching her. Jealousy clawed its way up his spine at the thought of other men leering at her.

  She shrugged, squinting as she fiddled with his gold cuffs and then the black velvet epaulets on his jacket. “Depends on my mood. Sometimes I wear long satin gowns like the one Kennedy is wearing.”

  He glanced at Kennedy, playing with a basket of tiaras, and imagined Gemma in a long shiny gown, her slim shoulders bared for all to enjoy, like they were now, beckoning his mouth to taste her smooth, tempting skin. The green-eyed monster dug its claws in deeper.

  “Sometimes I wear lacier outfits with more frills,” she added. “Or shorter outfits. If I’m feeling really daring, I wear the leather biker princess outfit. That’s always a hit with the parties. Oh, and the fairy princess with the wings like Kennedy tried on earlier. I love that one, too. It makes me feel light and fun.”

  He imagined fathers bringing their daughters in for events solely to get an eyeful of Gemma. He struggled to push the jealousy down deep, but it was a losing battle.

  “Do the parents dress up?” he asked tightly.

  She smiled, her eyes widened with joy, and she nodded. “Sometimes.” She ran her hands along the length of his arm, then from his chest to his waist, smoothing his jacket. “Oops, hold on.” She knelt before him to fix the hem of his pants.

  Holy fucking hell, it was his fantasy all over again. His temperature didn’t just spike, it exploded, flaming beneath his skin, searing outward from his chest, racing down his spine, to the very depth of his bones—and his jealousy burned along the same path.

  “Do you help the men dress?” She wasn’t his to be jealous over and he knew he was a jerk for asking, but he was powerless to rein in the ugly emotions gnawing at him.

  “Mm-hm.” She popped up to her feet and stepped back, openly admiring him. “You look…” She sighed longingly and patted his cheek. “Like the baddest Prince Charming I’ve ever seen.”

  That touch. That voice. That sigh—this woman. His arm circled her waist like a bullet, tugging her against him so hard she let out a sexy little squeak.

  “Bad as in not good?” he growled—an effect of his raging desire.

  She pressed a dainty gloved hand to his cheek, her entrancing green eyes holding him captive as she spoke in a sultry tone befitting of a vixen rather than a princess. “Baddest, as in badass, coolest, hottest Prince Charming this princess has ever seen.”

  He felt her heart hammering against his, tasted her breath as it swept upward toward his mouth, and when her hand came to rest on his back, he warmed beneath her touch. He brushed his lips over her cheek, inhaling the vanilla scent of her shampoo, then pressed his face to her neck, filling his senses with another feminine scent—the scent of desire. Her fingers curled tighter against him, and his hand pressed more firmly to her back. He drew away, gazing into her eyes, which had gone dark and trusting.

  “Three days ago, princesses weren’t even on my radar,” he whispered over her lips. “Now I’ll never be able to hear that word without remembering you wearing this killer outfit, helping my kids, touching me.”

  “Your kids,” she said with a shaky voice.

  “Brother and sister,” he corrected, then thought better of it. “But they’re babies. They feel like they’re my kids even though they’re my siblings.”

  She nodded. “I know. I see that.”

  He looked at Lincoln, so tiny and innocent, finally eating as he should, sleeping safe and warm in a proper crib with someone to love and watch over him. And Kennedy, happily playing, smiling at herself in the mirror with her hair freshly combed and washed, her tummy full, and her heart…Well, he was working on filling that up, too.

  “They’re my kids, Gemma,” he repeated. “Have been from the day I found them.”

  She rested her palm on his chest and her breath left her lungs, her fingers curling, claiming, her gaze serious and so full of emotions he couldn’t even try to wade through them.

  “I know,” she said.

  He felt Kennedy’s hand on his leg as she tried to wiggle between them. He and Gemma both smiled, easing apart to let her in. Silent longing filled the space between them as Kennedy held her arms up toward Gemma. He felt a fissure form in his heart, a small tear at the sight of his little girl reaching for the only woman to make him feel something for the first time in years—maybe even in his life. The warmth in Gemma’s eyes nearly did him in as she lifted Kennedy into her arms and Kennedy rested her head on Gemma’s shoulder.

  Truman swallowed past the new and unexpected emotions clogging his throat and pressed a kiss to Kennedy’s cheek. “Time to go home, princess.” He was speaking to Kennedy, though his eyes were still trained on Gemma.

  He knew he should let whatever this was between them go, to allow her to find a more suitable guy, someone whose past wouldn’t always hold him down and need explaining. But he’d spent his life doing things to protect others and putting himself last. Just this once, he wanted to feed the lover’s heart he possessed, regardless of the killer’s skin he wore.

  “Come home with me,” he said hopefully.

  GEMMA LAID LINCOLN in his crib as Truman settled Kennedy in the bed. Gemma hadn’t realized he’d given up his bed. Now the blankets on the couch made more sense.

  Truman lay with Kennedy, tenderly whispering to her as she dozed off. “Sweet dreams, little princess. You’re safe. You’re loved. I’m right here.”

  A lump formed in Gemma’s throat. After changing out of their prince and princess outfits, they’d returned to his apartment in separate cars, giving her just enough time to get nervous about where they were heading. Now all those nerves floated away, and in their place was something magical, something so overwhelmingly powerful, Gemma didn’t even try to question it.

  Truman Gritt was hard, he was tattooed, and he looked like he hadn’t shaved in weeks. He was all the things she never thought she’d want, and in two days he’d shown her that none of those things mattered. And, she realized with an inward cringe, she’d initially judged him the same way her mother might have. She hated that and vowed to never do it again. Beneath all that rough armor was the kindest, gentlest, most loyal man she could ever imagine. He wasn’t Prince Charming, and he wasn’t the type of man her mother would ever approve of. But he was real, and he was good, and at this very second, as he unfolded his massive, masculine frame and maneuvered around the bedrails he must have bought over the last day for Kennedy’s bed, he looked at Gemma like he’d just left a chunk of his heart on the mattress. She felt herself falling for him. It was impossible to fall for a man she barely knew, but as he took her hand in his and reached for the baby monitor with the other—when did he buy that?—impossible no longer mattered.

  Chapter Nine

  ALL IT TOOK was a glance, and Truman and Gemma were all over each other, kissing wildly as they pushed open the door to the deck and stumbled outside. Truman couldn’t yank the door closed and set down the monitor fast enough. Even a second away from Gemma’s sweet lips was too long. He’d never been so thankful for an outdoor sofa in his life as he was at this very moment as he and Gemma tumbled down in a fiery, passionate tangle of groping hands and hungry kisses. Her hands clawed and explored, finding their way beneath his shirt, eliciting a primal groan that felt as though it was ripped from his lungs. God, he wanted her. All of her. Her kisses, her hands, her fuckable mouth, her giving heart. Cupping her ass with one hand, her cheek with the other, he took the kiss deeper, their hips grinding and thrusting to the same frantic pace. She moaned into the kiss, sending lust sizzling through his core.

  “Fuck, Gemma,” he ground out, glad the kids were safely asleep behind closed doors and couldn’t hear them.

  Her eyes widened and just as quickly narrowed.

  “I love your mouth—”

  She grabbed his head, suffocating his words in another fierce kiss, a kiss that told him she was right there with him, s
o ready, so willing. His hand left her ass, seeking more, moving hard and fast over her hip, her ribs, to her full breasts, earning another needy moan. He drew back, pushed her shirt up, and his whole body shuddered at the sight of her creamy skin and taut, dark nipples straining against a pink lace bra with dainty satin bows at the edge of each strap.

  “Christ,” he uttered.

  She smiled up at him and ran a finger along the edge of his cheek.

  “Sorry,” he said. “I just…You’re just…”

  There were no words to describe the way her beauty slayed him, and he didn’t waste seconds trying. He unhooked the clasp and pushed the cups aside, taking one luscious nipple in his mouth and filling his hand with her other breast. She arched beneath him, fisted her hands in his hair, moaning and writhing, holding him in place.

  “Oh God. That feels so good.”

  He teased and sucked, grazing his teeth over the sensitive tip. She inhaled a sharp breath, and he smiled as he did it again, loving this wild side of her. He drew back, using the tip of his tongue to tease slow circles around the hard peak. Rolling her other nipple between his finger and thumb and squeezing just hard enough to earn another wanton moan, he continued the torturous pleasure. Her hands moved over his shoulders, along his biceps, clutching him tight as one of her legs wrapped around his, her foot resting on the back of his calf. Damn, he liked the feel of her tangled up in him. He wanted to learn all the things that drove her crazy. Did she like to be fingered, licked, sucked, taken hard and fast or slow and sensual? He shifted, taking her breast in his mouth again as his hand moved over her hip and dipped between her legs.

  Holy fuck. Her jeans were hot and, if he wasn’t mistaken, damp. His cock throbbed behind his zipper. He kissed his way down her belly, which rose with each quick breath. Seeing his tattooed hand against her soft femininity made him harder, pushed him further. He imagined burying himself deep inside her, imagined seeing those perfect breasts bouncing as she rode his cock.

  He lowered his teeth to the button on her jeans, ready to throw caution to the wind and let their wild desires lead them. But putting the kids to bed had kicked open the door to his past. Truman wanted to be selfish, to take everything she was willing to give and deal with the ramifications later, but as he thought about pushing his hands beneath that denim and seeking the wet heat he so desperately wanted, his conscience kicked in. He drew back, gritting his teeth, telling that fucking voice in his head to shut the hell up, but no matter how much he tried to convince himself otherwise, he wasn’t that type of man. And more than that, this—whatever this was—was totally different from anything he’d ever experienced. Gemma wasn’t a poolroom chick looking for a fast fuck who didn’t care about his past because she wanted nothing more than to get off. He needed to slow this runaway train long enough to let her in, at least enough for her to make the decision to go further with clarity.

  Another mind-blowing realization. He’d never let a woman into his life before. His chest constricted at the prospect.

  He reluctantly released that tiny flap of denim and pressed his mouth to the sensitive skin just below her belly button, slicking his tongue over it as if his mouth were nestled between her legs. He couldn’t resist sliding his tongue beneath the waist of her jeans. She arched her hips. He was this close to kicking his conscience to the curb, but when he lifted his eyes and saw her blissful, trusting expression, another organ constricted.

  His heart.

  His heart brought his mouth to her belly in an apologetic kiss. His heart made him move up her body and refasten her bra despite her resistance, right her shirt, and gather her in his arms. He pressed his cheek to hers and breathed her in—her lust, her sweetness, her disappointment—memorizing all of it. All of her, because once he said what he had to say, she’d be gone.

  “I want to make you feel more than you’ve ever felt in your life,” he said in her ear, unable to look into her eyes just yet. “I want to eat you for breakfast, hold your hand and fuck you until you feel me the next day.”

  “Then do it,” she said breathlessly.

  “I don’t want to hurt you.” He forced himself to draw back and meet her confused gaze. He felt the rigid edge of a knife slicing down his chest, a hand reaching inside the broken walls, clutching that organ that was driving him.

  Her lips curved up, but she trapped the lower one in her teeth and ran a tender finger along his hairline. “Are you that big?”

  He laughed and dropped his forehead to her shoulder for a brief moment of sheer and utter euphoria.

  When he met her gaze again, she was smiling.

  “Yes, but that’s the least of my worries.”

  She mouthed, Wow, her smile growing wider.

  He returned her smile, but reality pushed its ugly head in, stifling the happy moment. Hating to spoil this, her, them, he gazed into her eyes and said, “I want you, Gemma. I’ve never wanted anyone so badly in my life, but if we cross that line, it has to be with honesty from the very start.”

  He drew in a deep breath as the dark lie he lived under shadowed all hints of a smile, of hope, of anything good he’d felt seconds earlier, and the painful, horrible truth came out.

  “I’m not the man you think I am.”

  GEMMA LAY BENEATH Truman in a cloud of confusion. Her body was still thrumming from his touch, his kisses, and the emotions that seemed to seep from him and slither beneath her skin. But he was pushing away, sitting up and helping her do the same, and the torment in his eyes brought shivers of worry, scattering those decadent feelings.

  “I don’t…” She swallowed hard. “I don’t understand.”

  He leaned his elbows on his knees and gazed into the darkness. Tension radiated off of him, fighting against something else, something much sadder, further confusing her.

  He shook his head, his chin dropping to his chest, those intense blue eyes closing briefly, shutting her out. She felt his retreat, could almost see his walls cinching into place as his eyes opened. His jaw lifted, tightened, and he stared intently into the night. A deep inhalation expanded his chest. His shoulders squared as he turned to face her with a colder, guarded expression, like she’d seen the first night they’d met. In the space of a breath she saw sadness brimming in his eyes, and then, as if he’d pulled a curtain, his gaze shuttered again.

  “What I have to tell you will make you question everything you thought you knew about me. It will probably infuriate you, and it might even make you wonder if you can trust your own instincts.”

  “You’re scaring me,” she admitted warily.

  He nodded, his jaw working over whatever was in his head. “I know. I’m sorry. But I can’t touch you like we both want me to with this hanging over my head.”

  A nervous laugh escaped her lips. “You make it sound like you’re some kind of awful person.”

  He shook his head, his mouth curving down in a frown. “I don’t even know what I am anymore, but I know I’m not the guy who can take anything more from you without being honest.”

  “Truman, what does that mean, ‘you don’t know what you are anymore’?” She shifted, putting a few inches between them.

  He scrubbed a hand over his face. His scruff jumped as the muscles beneath clenched. “You asked about my childhood. It was nothing like yours, which I assume you’ve realized by now. The only reason we had a roof over our heads was because my grandmother left my mother her house in her will. At some point she must have sold it, or abandoned it. God only knows. My mother was like cancer. She destroyed everything she touched.”

  “She didn’t destroy you,” she said softly, unable to keep from caressing his arm.

  His eyes dropped to where her fingers lay, and then they blinked slowly, remaining closed for a beat before fluttering open again.

  “Yes, she did.” He paused, his struggle written in the lines mapping his face, the darkness burrowing into his gaze. “It’s a miracle I survived childhood, but by the time I realized she had a problem…I was a kid. I had
no idea. I don’t even know when she began using drugs. She was fourteen when she had me. My grandmother was still alive and we lived with her, but she was a mess, too. Who knows? Maybe I was the reason she started using. Lord knows I’m learning how hard it is to raise an infant, and the way she treated me, it’s an easy assumption to make.”

  He paused, and she could barely breathe. Her fingers tightened around his arm. She wanted to hold him until his painful past disappeared, but she sensed his walls and knew that the small touch he was allowing her was as much as he was going to accept right now.

  “My memories aren’t clear enough to know much about when I was young, but what I do know is that after my grandmother passed away, things got bad. And when Quincy was born, things got even worse.”


  “My brother,” he said softly. “I basically raised him until…for many years.”

  “I didn’t know you had another brother. Do you have other siblings?”

  He shook his head. “The night I found the kids was the first time I’d seen Quincy in months. The last time was when I pulled him out of a crack house and tried to get him help. He wanted no part of me or my help. As far I know, I don’t have any more siblings.”

  His voice cracked, and he cleared his throat, shifting his body so her hand slipped off his arm. He stared into the darkness again.

  “I told him to stay away from the kids until he gets clean. I don’t even know their birthdays.” His eyes glazed over, and he cocked his head to the side, looking at her with a solemn expression. “The doctor thinks Kennedy is around two and a half and Lincoln is around five months.” He pressed his finger and thumb to the bridge of his nose, as if he were in pain, and turned away again.

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