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Authors: Cat Johnson

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Jimmy: Red, Hot, & Blue, Book 3 (6 page)

BOOK: Jimmy: Red, Hot, & Blue, Book 3
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He pulled his duffle bag out of the closet and began shoving clothes inside. He tucked his precious doctor’s note inside too, zipped up the bag and flung it over his shoulder. He’d find his mama, say goodbye and then grab one of the trucks. There was no way he could wait for Jack to drive him back to the base when he left two days from now. All he knew was he couldn’t get away from here, and her, fast enough. The problem was, he couldn’t run away from his feelings as easily.

Chapter Seven

 

Lia kept seeing the expression on Jimmy’s face when he heard the senator, that pompous ass, say she was marrying his son. As if that was going to happen. She couldn’t even imagine what Jimmy thought of her for kissing him in the barn if she was engaged to someone else. Actually she could guess what he thought and it wasn’t good.

If he’d only answer the damn phone and let her explain everything would be fine, but he wasn’t answering her calls. There was one good thing that had come out of all this. Lia tried to keep her spinning mind focused on the thought that Jimmy must care a little bit about her if he was this upset over the thought of her with someone else.

In the meantime, this eternal meeting was still dragging on. She kept her eyes peeled for Jimmy around the farm for the next hour. She even pretended she needed to use the restroom and had practically searched the first floor of the house for him before she ran into Lois Gordon and had to feign being lost. Now her father and the senator both looked like they were getting ready to leave and she still had yet to find Jimmy to explain. Fine, she’d just leave the explanation that she wasn’t engaged in his voicemail if she had to. Of course, he would probably delete her message without listening to it. Men could be so stubborn.

Then again, maybe she wouldn’t have to leave a message because suddenly his brother Jack was in front of her. “Looks like your
father-in-la
w
is itching to go. I guess there’s a limit to how much slumming a man like that can handle in one day. Is that what you’re doing with my brother, darlin’? Slumming? Because I got to tell ya’, he deserves way better than that.”

She bit the inside of her lip and took all of Jack’s insults in silence until he finally shut up. “Are you done?”

He gazed at the sky for a moment as if thinking before focusing again on her. “Uh, yup. I think that about covers it.”

“Fine. Now it’s my turn. First of all, it’s not any of your business, but since you’re Jimmy’s brother I will tell you. I’m not engaged to the senator’s son. The senator may want us together but it’s not going to happen. I’ve had dinner with John alone a total of two times and that was because I couldn’t think of a way to get out of it. And you know what, if your brother was so into me, he should have called me months ago.”

Lia’s heart pounded as she wound up for quite a rant of her own. Since the Gordon she wanted to yell at wasn’t here at the moment, this one would have to do. “In addition, I’ve been calling your brother’s phone for an hour now to explain all this to him and he won’t answer. So go get him from wherever he’s hiding and I’ll tell him in person.”

Jack watched her closely, as if deciding what to do with her. “No can do.”

She sighed her frustration. “Why not?”

“Because he’s gone.” The Gordon brother delivered that news with such certainty that she couldn’t doubt it was true.

“Gone where?” He couldn’t be too far. Where was there to go around here?

“He went back home.” Jack’s answer did nothing but confuse her.

Lia frowned. “Home? Isn’t this home?”

Jack hesitated just a bit before answering. “Not exactly.”

He scratched his head and screwed up his face as if the answer had been a hard one for him. Where a person lived shouldn’t be difficult to answer, unless there was something more than meets the eye.

“What’s going on, Jack? Who are you two? It’s pretty obvious you’re not waiters. Now I’m starting to doubt you’re farmers either.”

“Shit.” Jack shook his head. “This is something you have to discuss with him.”

She wanted to rip out her hair and scream from sheer frustration. “That’s what I’m trying to tell you. He won’t take my calls.”

Jack huffed out a breath and then took out his cell phone. He punched in some numbers then raised it to his ear. “Hey, it’s me. I know you’re in no mood to talk, but you might wanna listen. Your girl here says she’s not engaged to Dickhead’s son. She’s here next to me and she wants to talk to you. Okay?”

Your girl
.
She kind of liked that. And
Dickhead
? Good name, she liked that too.

Jack thrust the phone at her. “Talk quick. He’s not in a good mood.”

She grabbed it and spoke fast before Jimmy hung up on her. “I’m not engaged to John Dickson. I’m not even dating him. The senator and my father have been trying to fix us up for years. I don’t want to be with him, Jimmy. I don’t even like him.”

He was silent for a moment and then she heard him say, “Where do you live, Lia?”

“At the governor’s mansion with my parents.” She knew that sounded pitiful. Thirty years old and still living with her parents, but it was a really nice mansion. No wonder her father still had so much control over her life. She made it easy for him.

Jimmy snorted out a bitter-sounding laugh. “That figures.”

“Hey! I have my reasons.” She’d initially stayed living at home after college graduation because her grandfather was living with them. She was the apple of his eye and knew she wouldn’t have long enough with him once they diagnosed the lung cancer. Then she’d stayed because her mother had been ill and her father needed her. But somehow even though Granddad was gone and her mother was fine, Lia was still there.

“Whatever. Call me when you get home later. Your
mansion
isn’t too far from my hovel. Maybe we can meet somewhere.” Jimmy invitation was delivered in a voice that told her he may be talking to her, but he still wasn’t happy.

Meeting him so they could talk was what she wanted, but the way he had suggested it was not so great. Right now though, she’d take anything she could get. “Okay. I’ll call you when I get back.”

“Fine.”

The sudden dead air that met her ear told her he’d ended the call without even a goodbye. She really did feel like a teenager with a crush, and now she was remembering why she’d hated her teen years so much. They had just plain sucked and her thirties weren’t looking much better.

Lia handed the phone back to Jack. “Thanks.”

Jack stashed the phone in his jeans’ pocket, then leaned back against the pristine hood of the limo as the driver shot him a nasty look. “I just have one thing to say to you, darlin’. Don’t you go to him if you’re only going to hurt him later. Promise me that. He’s been through too much already.”

At least one of the Gordon brothers was still calling her darlin’, since it seemed Jimmy wasn’t any longer. But what was Jack referring to? Curiosity got the better of her and she couldn’t help but ask.

“What has Jimmy been through, Jack?”

He shook his head. “That story’s not mine to tell.”

After tipping his hat at her, he strode away. She watched him all the way to the barn where he was joined by a woman who’d just driven up the driveway in a Gordon Equine truck. She’d parked near the barn and run to him. He lifted the brunette up and kissed her enthusiastically while swinging her in a circle.

Lia’s heart twisted with envy. She wanted that kind of love. A man had never greeted her that way, though she had a feeling Jimmy, like his brother, was the kind of man who would. These guys were so much deeper than she’d given them credit for. Maybe she was the shallow bitch they thought she was.

She sighed and went to find her father. The quicker they got back to the city, the sooner she could get to Jimmy and work on smoothing things over. It was time to move on with her own life.

 

 

Jimmy hadn’t been in his apartment since the day he’d left for Kosovo six months before. Luckily he shared it with Jack, so except for the now-sour milk in the fridge Jack had forgotten to pour out before he left on furlough two weeks ago, it was in pretty much the same shape Jimmy had left it. Comfy, sort of clean and home away from home.

He threw his duffle on the bed and then himself on the couch. TV remote in hand, he decided women were put on earth strictly to torture men. One minute Lia was kissing him, the next she was engaged to Senator Dickhead’s son and then an hour later she told him she wasn’t.

Now he sat like a damn girl waiting for her call. Crazy. He checked his cell phone to make sure it had a signal and was charged then shook his head at himself.
Friggin’ crazy
.

The show on television held no appeal but he stared at it anyway. He guessed he dozed for a bit because the ringing of his cell phone startled him out of his sleep. Even while hating himself for being so anxious to speak with her, Jimmy still jumped to answer it. He fumbled the phone open and said hello.

“In the limo on the way home I told my father I’m never going to marry the senator’s son, no matter how much he and Dickson push us together. I also told him I’ve already met someone else. Someone I’m very interested in.” He heard her let out a short laugh. “It was a very long car ride home.”

Jimmy swallowed the lump from his throat. “I can imagine it was. Did you tell him exactly who it was you met?”

He firmly tamped down his growing hope. This was a start, but he couldn’t let himself think there may be a future for them. She was still the governor’s daughter and he was the abandoned son of a drunken father.

“Not yet.”

And there you had it. She wanted him as long as he could remain a secret. He laughed bitterly. “Yeah, that’s what I thought.”

“No, Jimmy. You’re wrong. I didn’t tell him because I want you to meet him first.”

He shook his head at her excuse. “I have met him, Lia.”

“I mean meet him on equal footing, with me as my date. I have to attend a black-tie cocktail party tonight. Any chance you have a tux lying around?”

She was asking him on a date. An actual in-public, meet-my-daddy date. Maybe she was serious about trying to make this thing between them work. Though he had to laugh at her tuxedo question. “Yeah, sure. My tux is hanging right next to my opera cape and ascot.”

Lia ignored his joke. “You can just wear a suit then. Whatever you’ve got will be fine.”

He sighed. There was nothing he could think of that he would enjoy less than being at this party with a bunch of rich guys in tuxes. Even terrorist torture was looking good next to this thing, but he was starting to realize if he wanted to be with this girl he was going to have to work at it. He’d have to suck it up. This party tonight was all part of the dues he’d have to pay to be with Lia, but boy would he love to not go.

Tonight would be the test, as least as far as her daddy was concerned. If he could make it through this party and survive the governor’s scrutiny, they might have a chance together. Though there were more people involved here than just the governor. “Are Senator Dickhead and son going to be there.”

“Yes.” He heard the hesitation in her voice. “Is that going to be a problem?”

Yes, but he’d be damned if he told Lia that. That bit of info changed everything. Now he wanted to go, if only to stake his claim for Lia. He’d knock any idea Dickhead and son had about her right out of their heads. “Nope. No problem. I’ll be there. Give me the address. I’ll meet you.”

After hanging up with Lia, Jimmy stood in front of the open closet. Inside, covered in a dry cleaning bag, were the dress blues he hadn’t worn in a long time. He hadn’t gained any weight so he figured they would still fit fine. More importantly, he’d feel better wearing this than any tux or suit. But seeing Lia while wearing his uniform also meant tonight was the night he’d have to confess to her who he really was. After he’d slept with her while letting her believe he was just a waiter, and then kissed her when she believed he was a farmer, he had a feeling she wasn’t going to be very happy about learning the truth.

Chapter Eight

 

Lia took her own car instead of riding with her father to the party. She made sure she arrived early so she could keep a vigilant watch for Jimmy’s arrival. Tonight was going to be challenging enough. She didn’t want him to have to be alone and feel awkward for any amount of time.

Smoothing the fabric of her black dress one more time, she realized she was feeling pretty awkward herself. Her stomach fluttered with butterflies she hadn’t felt in years, and all at the thought of seeing Jimmy again. Not just seeing him, but declaring him her official date for this event to her father, the senator, John and pretty much the world as she knew it.

She prayed he’d come up with something decent to wear. Second-guessing her suggestion he wear a suit to a black-tie event, she realized she really should have arranged for a tux to be dropped off at his house. Though it was doubtful he would have accepted it from her. James Gordon didn’t seem the type to take handouts gracefully. More than that, with his muscular build she doubted he would fit in anything off-the-rack anyway.

To still her jangling nerves, Lia grabbed a glass of champagne from a passing waiter’s tray. After downing a big mouthful much too fast, she quickly covered her mouth to stifle the burp it caused. Thinking better of her idea of using alcohol to calm herself, she placed the half-empty glass on a nearby table and glanced again at the doorway.

Maybe she should go out front and make sure, again, that they had Jimmy’s name on the guest list. She was about to do that when she noticed everyone, the women in particular, staring at the entrance. Through the crowd she saw a tall figure dressed in the unmistakable uniform of the Marine Corps. He stood for a moment in the doorway, and then took off his hat. He clutched it in his hand as he surveyed the room. Then he spotted her and slowly smiled.

Recovering from the initial shock, if not from the fluttering in her heart, she smiled back before making her way across the room. When she finally stood directly in front of him, she raised a hand and touched one of the many medals pinned to his chest. “Wow.” Her voice sounded breathy to her own ears.

Jimmy took her hand in his and planted a light kiss on her fingertips. “Hey, darlin’.”

She drew in a shaky breath, her gaze rising from the spectacular sight of the uniform to the face of the amazing man inside of it. “Well, this brings to mind about as many questions as it does answers.”

His expression turned contrite. “I’m sorry, darlin’. I know I owe you a lot of explaining. Later, in private. Can you wait until then?”

Lia could wait for an explanation, but not for a kiss. The buildup of sexual frustration within her couldn’t be denied any longer. She’d lived like a nun for months. Her body remembered too well what Jimmy could do to her and it demanded satisfaction. The uniform had initially been a shock, but now the sight of him in it was really starting to get to her. Who knew she had a thing for a man in uniform? Although maybe it was just this man in particular, uniform or not.

Smiling wickedly, she stepped closer and lightly ran her hands up and down his chest. “I’ll wait for us to talk, yes, but not for other things. Do you think there’s a coat closet around here somewhere?”

Grinning, he stilled her hands with his. “You’ll have to wait for that too, darlin’. But I don’t think I can wait for a drink. I’m such a bundle of nerves I’m practically shaking.” He hooked her arm through the crook of his elbow and led her toward the bar.

“Why are you nervous?” She glanced at him as they walked and her gaze caught on his medals and ribbons. Judging by the number, he’d been in a while and seen a lot. Certainly a lot more frightening things than a black-tie cocktail party.

Jimmy covered her hand with his and gave it a small squeeze. “Because I’m officially meeting my girl’s daddy.”

Her heart melted right there in a little puddle on the floor and she fought to not tear up. “I like being your girl.”

“Good.” He treated her to his crooked smile.

They paused near the bar, so she took the opportunity to stand on tiptoe and kiss him.

Jimmy’s eyes drifted closed for a second. He groaned and pulled his lips from hers. “Don’t get me started, darlin’. I’ll embarrass myself.”

She liked knowing he couldn’t resist her as much as she liked being his girl. Suddenly, her continuing to plan her life around the incessant round of political cocktail parties to please her father seemed absurd. This was not her place or her responsibility. Her mother was the other half in the Monroe-Carrington political dynasty, not Lia.

Through misty eyes she noticed her lipstick smeared on Jimmy’s mouth. Reaching up, she wiped it from his lips. “Let’s get out of here.”

His eyes opened wide. “Now? I didn’t even speak with your daddy yet.”

Frustrated, Lia sighed. He was right of course. She’d invited Jimmy here for a reason. Them sneaking out before meeting her father so she could jump him made no sense. “Okay. We’ll go talk to my father. Then you’re taking me to your place.”

He laughed. “I’m warning you, darlin’. It’s base housing. It’s no mansion.”

“I don’t care, as long as you’re in it.”

He touched her face lightly, his eyes looking suspiciously misty as well. “Then let’s go find your daddy.”

Lia dreaded this meeting with every fiber of her being, but with Jimmy next to her and the promise that they could leave and be alone together as soon as it was over, she faced it bravely.

Her father’s eyebrows couldn’t have risen any higher into his receding hairline when she introduced them.

Fortunately, he didn’t have a chance to comment since Senator Dickson walked up at the same moment. “Governor. Lia. And whom might this be?”

Lia smiled sweetly, enjoying this probably a bit too much. “Senator, I’d like to introduce you to my date. Actually, my boyfriend, James Gordon. You may remember him from Gordon Equine this afternoon.”

The senator’s mouth dropped open just as his son joined them. With a soaring heart, Lia repeated the introduction to John Dickson III and watched his face react in kind. Taking control of her life and her future had been far easier and much more satisfying than she’d ever imagined.

When they arrived at Jimmy’s apartment shortly after, Lia felt like they were two kids who’d just snuck out of the prom to fool around.

“I still can’t get out of my head the expression on the senator’s face when you introduced me as your boyfriend.” He grabbed her and gave her butt a squeeze. “You enjoyed telling him that. Didn’t you?”

“Yes. So?” She scowled. “He deserved it after he called me naïve today in front of all those men at your farm. And you should talk about enjoying things. You nearly crushed John’s hand when you shook it. Tell me you didn’t love doing that.”

“Can I help it if I don’t know my own strength?” Jimmy shrugged. “And in my own defense, he was trying and failing to crush mine first.”

She laughed and started to unbutton his jacket. “Why don’t you show me how strong you are right now?”

“Gladly, darlin’.” He groaned, deep and low in his throat and then scooped her up into his arms. Jimmy carried her to the bedroom and laid her gently on the bed. Under the moonlight streaming through the window, they undressed each other. Once they were naked on top of the covers he pulled her close and held her tight. She fit perfectly. Being in his arms again felt like coming home.

Tempted to rush things by the overwhelming need about to explode inside her, she reached for and grasped the hard length of him. His hand grabbed hers. He raised it above her head and held it there as he took his time exploring her face and throat with his mouth. Admittedly, she enjoyed every sensation as he kissed her thoroughly, but she needed so much more.

“I want you now.” She wrapped one leg around his hip and pressed closer.

Jimmy nipped gently at her earlobe. His warm breath against her skin sent a tingle straight through her. “You’ll get what you want, when I want.”

“You are an extremely frustrating man, James Gordon.”

He covered her pout with his lips, soothing her bad mood with the thrust of his tongue.

Angling her body, she managed to press just the tip of him against her entrance. She felt him laugh against her mouth as he kissed her, even as he pulled his pelvis away far enough to break contact.

Finally, he raised his mouth from hers. “I couldn’t get you off my mind, not for even a day, the whole time we were apart all those months.”

His confession brought fresh tears to her eyes. She tried to joke them away. “Neither could I, and believe me I tried. It really pissed me off.”

He released his hold on her hand and stroked her face. “You don’t have to try anymore because I’m right here.”

“Yes, you are, and do you think you could make love to me now? I’ve waited a very long time for you, James Gordon, and I don’t usually have to wait for anything.”

He smiled. “I bet you don’t. I guess I could see clear to giving in to your request, since you asked so nicely and all.”

After quickly donning a condom he got from the bedside table drawer, Jimmy kept his eyes open and gazed into hers when he slid inside her. They’d already had a night of wild, passion-filled sex six months before. She could honestly say this time felt even more wonderful. They moved together as one, slowly, tenderly. It was so different than their first time together. That had been sex, this was definitely making love. Lia hadn’t truly known the difference before. She did now.

Her body tightened around him. Jimmy drew in a sharp breath in response and pressed tighter against her. She clung to him as she felt the climax coil within until it snapped, sending spasms of pleasure through every part of her body.

“Ah, yes.” Jimmy’s breath and pace quickened as he came right after her. He shuddered with the last of his orgasm and with his face pressed against the pillow next to her head, he blurted, “I love you.”

Her eyes flew open. She couldn’t help the reaction. His unexpected postcoital confession had come as a total shock. He looked as surprised that he’d said it as she was hearing it. He groaned and tried to roll away. “I’m sorry. That was way too soon. Forget I said it. I take it back.”

Tightening her arms like a vise around him, Lia prevented him from moving off her.

“Yes, it is too soon, but don’t you dare take it back.” She smiled and squeezed his rib cage hard until he let out a pain-filled wheeze.

“Oh, my God. I’m sorry. Did I hurt you? How could I hurt you? You’re so big and strong.”

He let out a short laugh and gently pulled her arms from around his rib cage.

“It’s all right, darlin’.” He blew out a slow, controlled breath. “There’s some stuff I have to tell you and I think now is as good a time as any.”

Lia lay next to Jimmy and listened as he talked. He told her everything that had happened over the past six months, at least everything he was allowed to. There was a lot that was confidential, but she didn’t care about that part. It didn’t matter to her where in the world he’d been or why. What was most important to her was that there was a very real reason why he hadn’t been able to be with her before now. Even more touching was that he had wanted to be with her each and every day they’d been apart.

Listening to his voice in the darkened room as he sat propped up against the headboard with his arm around her shoulders, she could barely comprehend all he said. He talked about atrocities with a distance that belied the events that had happened to him. She was certain he was giving her only the tip of the iceberg. For what he told her, for what she knew he still hid from her, her eyes brimmed with tears.

She cried over how he’d been hurt and tortured. She cried out of guilt because she’d hated him for not contacting her even though he’d had no choice in the matter. And she cried that he hadn’t felt he could call her when he’d finally come home to heal.

“That’s pretty much all I can tell you. I didn’t want to start off with secrets between us.” He reached out and brushed the tears from her cheeks. More fell in their place.

“I’m so sorry, Jimmy.”

He shook his head. “None of it’s your fault, darlin’.”

“But I wish I could have been there for you.”

“You were. I thought about you constantly while I was there and afterward when I was home. I made love to you thousands of times in my mind.” His laugh held a touch of embarrassment. “And quite a few of those times I imagined telling you I loved you.”

“Which is why you said it before.” Lia felt her heart ache. He was in love with the image of her in his head, the one he had clung to during the horrors he’d been through. He wasn’t in love with the real her.

“Probably.” Jimmy pulled her closer and touched his lips to each eyelid.

It didn’t matter. He’d grow to love the real her. She’d make sure he did. Lia moved over him, straddling his thighs with her own. She grabbed his face in both hands and kissed him hard. She felt his growing erection beneath her. “Make love to me again?”

Groaning, he rolled her onto her back. “My pleasure.”

BOOK: Jimmy: Red, Hot, & Blue, Book 3
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