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Authors: Rachel Gibson

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary

Crazy on You (8 page)

BOOK: Crazy on You
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“I know what you’ll find.” He pulled her against his chest. “Start with the right front pocket.”

She did and found him hard and ready for sex.

“Are you on birth control?” he asked, his voice going all smoky.

She thought it an odd question at this stage. “I’ve had an IUD for about seven years now.” Ever since a pregnancy scare when Pip had been three.

“Do you trust me?”

“With what?”

“I had to have a complete medical exam before I joined the Potter County Sherriff’s office. Top to bottom. I’m clean. Do you trust me?”

He was asking to have sex without a condom. To take their relationship to the next step, and she wanted it so much it scared her. If they took things slow, maybe everything would work out. “Yes. Do you trust me?”

“Yes.” He took her hand and led her to his bedroom. He kissed and touched and undressed her. He made love to her whole body, and when he entered her, hot and throbbing skin to skin, she moaned and arched her back. He cupped her face in his hands and looked into her eyes as he plunged in and out of her body. “Lily,” he whispered. “I love you.”

Complete euphoria rushed through her blood and heated her whole body. He said he loved her and she felt it in every part of her body. The euphoric feeling stayed with her long after she left his house that morning. Long after she went to work and returned home that night. She woke with it, but when she returned home after dropping Pippen off at school, her happy euphoric bubble got shot all to hell.

She pulled her Jeep into the garage just as Tucker was getting home from work. It was garbage day and she walked out to the curb to pull her empty can inside.

Tucker being Tucker, he met her in the driveway and pulled it inside for her. She quickly shut the garage door and he followed her into the kitchen.

A smile played at the corner of her mouth. “Want coffee?”

“What are you doing tomorrow night? I have it off. I thought we could go to Ruby’s. Some of the guys said Ruby’s serves a good steak but to avoid the seafood.”

Ruby’s? Her smile fell. A restaurant in the middle of downtown Lovett—where the news that she was dating young Deputy Matthews would reach everyone by dessert. That wasn’t taking things slow. What she felt was so new, she wasn’t ready for that. “I have Pip.”

“Can’t he stay with your mom or sister for a few hours.”

“That’s awfully short notice, Tucker.”

He folded his arms over his beige work shirt. “What about Sunday?”

“I don’t know.” He was pushing her. She understood him, but there was so much to think about. Everything was happening too fast. He said he loved her, but could she let herself love him as much as he deserved? That crazy kind of love that consumed and burned? She was too old and had too much to lose to love like that again. “I have a lot of work.”

“Monday.”

“How about someplace in Amarillo.” That was a nice compromise. “The restaurants are better in Amarillo.”

“No. How about Ruby’s?”

“Why?”

“Because I’m tired of hiding. I want a whole life with you. You and Pip.”

“You’re young. How do you even know what you want? When I was thirty, I thought I wanted something different than I want now.”

“Quit treating me like a kid. I might be eight years younger than you, but I’ve lived a lot of different lives—enough of them to know what I want and what I don’t want. I love you, Lily. I told you that and I meant it. I want to be with you. I’m into you one hundred percent, but if you aren’t, you need to tell me. I’m no one’s secret. Either you’re in one hundred percent with me, or I’m out.”

Out?
A panicky little bubble lifted her stomach. “It’s been just a little over a month!”

“It’s been almost two months since I fell in love with you that first morning I saw you with curlers in your hair and bunny slippers on your feet. Knowing you love someone doesn’t take time. It doesn’t take ten years or ten months to figure it out. It takes looking across a driveway and feeling like you’ve been hit in the chest—like you can’t breathe.”

Out?
Her head spun and the panicky bubble grew in her abdomen. Love made her impulsive and emotional and irrational. It made her panicky and crazy, and she’d worked so hard to be rational and sane. She didn’t want to be crazy, but she didn’t want to let him go. She was so conflicted she couldn’t think, and she hated that feeling. It brought back all sorts of other feelings and memories . . . of pain and betrayal and hair-pulling fights. “I need a little more time.”

He shook his head. “I’m not waiting around for the crumbs from your table. I spent my whole childhood doing that. The outsider looking in. Waiting. Wanting what would never be mine. I can’t do it anymore, Lily.” He folded his arms over his chest. “Are you in or out? It’s that simple.”

There was so much to think about. Her. Pip. What if he left her after a few months or years? Would she survive this time? Would she lose her mind again? “Why are you so stubborn about this?”

“I’m not stubborn, Lily. I just know what I want. If you don’t want the same thing, if you don’t want to be with me, you need to tell me now. Before I get in any deeper and start thinking I can have things that I can’t.”

“It’s not that easy, Tucker. You can’t expect me to make a decision right this very second.”

“You just did.”

 

C
HAPTER
E
IGHT

 

“A
re you still playing basketball with Deputy Matthews?” It had been three days since she’d seen Tucker. He hadn’t even tried to contact her. She’d dialed him up twice, but he hadn’t picked up or returned her call.

Pippen nodded as he snapped Legos together. “I almost beat him at H
-
O
-
R
-
S
-
E today.”

She felt empty and envious—envious of her own son because he got to see Tucker. It was Saturday night. She should be relaxed and happy. Her salon was doing great, her son was fine, and she had the next two days off. Instead of relaxed, she felt edgy and ready to jumpy out of her own skin. “Do you like him?”

“Yeah, and Pinky too.”

He wanted a life with her. He wanted her to jump in with both feet or not at all. “Did you go into his house?”

Pippen shook his head. “Pinky got out and ran into our backyard like Griffin used to. I took her back ’cause she’s little and has no survival skills.”

She thought of Tucker pouring milk into a little cat bowl. Most of the men she knew said they hated cats. Only a supremely confident man would own one named Pinky. “What would you think if we had Tucker come over for dinner sometimes?” His confidence was one of the things she liked about him.

“Can we have pizza?”

“Sure.”

“And maybe he could come with us when go bowling,” her son suggested and snapped some sort of wings on the Legos. “He’ll probably win, though.”

Probably. Both she and Pip sucked. In the past, Pippen had always nagged her to call Ronnie to go bowling with them. “What about your dad?”

Pippen shrugged. “He has a new girlfriend. So, I probably won’t see him for a while.”

A sad smile twisted her lips as her heart hurt for her son. Ten years old and he had Ronnie Darlington all figured out. “What if I went out on a date with Tucker? If he took me out to dinner or something. Just him and me. Would that bother you?” she asked, even though she wasn’t positive that Tucker would ever speak to her again. She remembered the look in his eyes the last time she’d seen him. Sad. Final.

He snapped a few more Legos together. “No. Are you going to kiss him?”

She’d like to kiss him. “Probably.”

He made a face. “Grown-ups do gross stuff. I don’t want to go to high school.”

High school?
“Why?”

“That’s when people have to start kissin’. T.J. Briscoe told me his older brother rolls around kissin’ his girlfriend until his parents come home from work.”

There would come a day when Pip’s thinking would radically change. Thank God she had a few more years before that happened. “Well, you don’t have to kiss anyone if you don’t want to.” Lily bit the corner of her lip to keep from smiling. “Except me.”

She rose from the couch and moved into the kitchen. She looked through the window at Tucker’s house. The lights were out and he was no doubt working. Hiding in one of his favorite spots, waiting for unsuspecting speeders.

For the past few days he’d been avoiding her. He’d been honest about his life. He’d told her everything because he loved her. She hadn’t been quite so honest. She hadn’t told him everything because . . . she hadn’t wanted him to leave her.

She closed her eyes and pressed her fingers into her brows. She hadn’t been open and honest because she hadn’t wanted him to leave, but he’d left anyway. She hadn’t wanted to date him because of his age. She’d been afraid of what people would say. He hadn’t cared. He’d been bold and fearless. She used to be bold and fearless. She used to love with her whole heart, like Tucker.

She lowered her hands and looked at his empty house. Her heart got all pinchy and achy. She did love him. She’d fought it, but she loved him with her whole pinchy, achy heart. Loved him so much it crawled across her skin and brought tears to her eyes. Her head got all light and anxious. She couldn’t control her feelings. They were too big—too much—but unlike her thirty-year-old self she wasn’t losing it. She couldn’t control loving Tucker, but she wasn’t out of control. She knew exactly what she was doing when she grabbed her coat and purse.

“Pippy, I need to go somewhere.”

“Where?”

She wasn’t quite sure, but she had a good idea. “Just out for some air.”

She called her mother and made up a lie about having forgotten something at her salon. When Louella walked in the door, Lily shoved her arms in her coat and walked out.

She jumped in her Jeep and headed to Highway 152. She wasn’t crazy, she was going after what she wanted. What she’d been afraid to want for a long time.

Tucker had mentioned he liked to hang out behind the Welcome to Lovett sign, waiting for speeders. She drove past—and sure enough, a Potter County cruiser sat several feet behind the sign. She flipped a U, floored the gas pedal, and hit eighty as she passed. She was still in perfect control. Not feeling crazy at all. She glanced into the rearview mirror and saw nothing but the inky black night.

“Okay,” she said, still in control and not the least crazy. She flipped another U and this time got up to ninety-six. She glanced into the rearview and smiled as the red, white, and blue lights lit up the Texas night. She pulled over and waited. She crossed her arms and stared straight ahead, waiting. Her heart thumping and her chest aching. If she wasn’t careful, she might hyperventilate. A Maglite tapped her window and she hit the switch.

“Lily.”

“Neal?” She stuck her head out the window and looked down the highway. “What are you doing here?”

“My job. What are you doing out here driving like your tail’s on fire?”

“I’m looking for someone.” If Tucker wasn’t on highway 152, where was he?

“I need your driver’s license, registration, and proof of insurance.”

Lily gasped. “You’re not giving me a ticket are you?”

“Yes, ma’am. You were doing ninety-eight.”

Ninety-six, but who was counting. “I don’t have time Neal,” she said as she dug around in her jockey box. “Can you just mail it to me?” She found her registration and handed it over with her license and insurance card.

“No. I’ll be right back.”

“But . . .” She didn’t have time to sit around. She glanced in her rearview mirror and watched him move to his car. She called Tucker on her UConnect but hung up when his voicemail answered. Where could he be? She didn’t want to kick in the back door of a jewelry store on the off chance he’d respond. She wasn’t
that
crazy
.
Yet.

Within a few minutes Neal returned. “Sign here,” he said and shined his light on a ticket clipped to a board.

“I still can’t believe you’re giving me a ticket.”

“I can’t believe you sped by me twice. What the hell is wrong with you, girl?”

“I thought you were someone else.” She signed the ticket and handed him back the pen.

“Who?”

He was going to find out anyway. “Deputy Matthews.”

Neal rocked back on his heels and laughed. “Tucker?”

Lily didn’t have a clue what was so funny. “We’re dating.” She raised a hand and dropped it back on the steering wheel. “Sort of.”

“Poor bastard. Are you going to drive your Jeep into his house?”

“That’s not funny, and I can’t believe you’re bringing that up.” Actually she could. Neal had been one of the first responders that horrible night of infamy. And this was Lovett. No one could just let anything go.

“Tucker’s at the Road Kill with some of the guys. It’s Marty’s birthday and someone got him a stripper. If you go there, don’t get all crazy.”

She frowned. “I don’t get crazy anymore.”

“Then why are you out here speeding up and down the highway?”

It might not look like it, but she was in control. “I’m not crazy.”

He tore off the ticket and handed it to her.

“I thought you were my friend, Neal.”

“I am. That’s why I wrote you a ticket for one-twenty instead of one-eighty-five like you deserve.”

Lily gasped once more. “One hundred and twenty dollars?” She stuffed the ticket in her coat pocket.

“Good to see you, Lily.”

“Wish I could say the same.” What a jerk, but she had been raised right so she grudgingly added, “Tell Suzanne and the kids I said hey.”

“Will do and slow down.” Neal stepped back and Lily eased the Jeep back onto the highway. The Road Kill was about twenty minutes away and she was careful to drive the speed limit. She even drove a few miles under, but her mind raced—spinning and tumbling, and her heart felt like it was cracking. She was in love with Tucker. She took a deep breath and let it out, checking herself. She felt okay. Still not feeling crazy. Okay, maybe a tiny bit, but not enough to drive her car through someone’s house
crazy
. That
was
crazy. Destructive crazy, and she wasn’t that Lily anymore.

The gravel parking lot of the Road Kill was filled, but she was able to find a spot near the front door. She’d just go in, tell Tucker she loved him, and everything would work out. It had to . . . because she didn’t want to think about a life without him in it.

Honky-tonk music filtered through the cracks in the building and grew louder when she went inside. Everyone knew that the back rooms could be rented out, and she headed through the bar. A few people called out her name and she held up a hand and waved as she wove her way through the crowd. When she got to one of the back rooms, she slipped through the door as a stripper in a cop outfit cuffed Marty Dingus to a chair. From an MP3 player, Kid Rock sang about picking up a “mean little missy” in Baton Rouge. Lily’s gaze scanned the room until it landed on Tucker, who stood to one side. He wore a black T-shirt and jeans and his head was cocked to one side as if he was studying the stripper’s butt.

Her heart pounding in her chest, Lily walked past the shocked gazes of some of the other deputies. Tucker was transfixed on the stripper and raised a bottle of Lone Star.

“Seriously, Tucker?” She stopped next to him. “Cadillac Pussy?” She pointed to the MP3 and the music blaring from the small speakers. “You know how I feel about crude language.”

His head whipped toward her and he lowered the beer. “What are you doing here, Lily?” He looked shocked but not in the least ashamed.

“Apparently, I’m hunting you down.” She turned her finger to the half-naked girl bumping and grinding. “And you’re watching Marty get a lap dance.”

Tucker shook his head. “She hasn’t got to the lap dance part yet. That never happens until she strips to her G-string.” He said it like it didn’t even occur to him to be embarrassed that he knew that kind of information.

While she’d been out getting a ticket and acting a little impulsive, he’d been having a beer and watching a half-naked girl. Now . . . Now she was starting to feel a little crazy around the edges. “If you can drag yourself away from the sight of that stripper’s butt, I’d like to have a few words with you. Outside?”

“Sure.” He started through the small crowd of men and she slipped her hand into his. He looked back into her eyes and gave her hand a little squeeze that she felt in her heart. They moved down a short hall out the back door. A wooden deck had been built on the back of the bar, but this time of year it was empty.

Lily stopped next to a table turned on its side. She took a deep breath, past the big lump in her throat. Overhead light shined down on them, but his face gave nothing away.

She had to jump in now. All the way. “I love you, Tucker. I love you and I want to be with you.” She swallowed hard and lowered her gaze to the dip in his throat. “You were honest with me and told me about your past and who you are, but I haven’t told you about me.” She shook her head and got the rest out in a rush of words. “Everyone thinks I’m crazy. I admit I’ve done a few crazy things in my past. Things that it took me a long time to live down, and I’m afraid once you know, you’ll leave.”

“I’m not going anywhere.” He put a finger beneath her chin and raised her gaze to his. “I know who you are, Lily. I know all about you. I know you were one tick away from being 5150’d for driving your car into your ex’s house. I know that you were knocked flat by him, but you pulled yourself up and made a success of yourself. You should be proud of yourself for that.

“I know that you love your son and the first time I saw you with Pippen, I saw
how much
you love him. You said you’d kill for him, and I knew that I wanted to love and be loved like that.”

She blinked. “You know people call me crazy? Why didn’t you say something?”

“Because it’s not true. You’re passionate and you love with your heart and soul, and I want that.”

“What if it is true? I worked really hard not to be crazy, but I admit I’m feeling a little crazy right now. I got a speeding ticket tonight because I thought you were hiding behind the Welcome to Lovett sign.”

“Whoa.” He whipped he head back and forth. “What—”

BOOK: Crazy on You
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