Love On the Run Pt. 03


His balls were tight and he was leaking fluid, Jessie knew he was close. Relishing this power she had, she backed off, hoping to delay his orgasm.

"Bruja", he growled, and pulled out.

Deftly Julian rolled off the bed and he grabbed her. She wrapped her arms around his neck, clamping her legs to his waist. He backed her to the wall and just as in the shower he slammed in.

She cried out at the angle, every sweet spot hit as he began to fuck her hard. She kissed him, giving him her moans and cries, swallowing his as he rode her hard and fast. He reached the peak first and she opened her eyes, watching him as he shook and shuddered against her.

Impossibly, it was that erotic sight that took her over the edge one last time, and she creamed his name against his lips even as he was collapsing to his knees. Awkwardly the fell even as she thrummed with the peak, and Jessie began to laugh between gasps of pleasure.

Tangled up he held still inside her and kissed her face as she came down, and only when her legs stopped twitching did he pull out.

"Are you okay?

She laughed again, softly. "I might never be okay after that."


He rose and held out his hand. She took his hand and he jerked her to her feet, hauling her to his chest he kissed her again. Jessie clasped her body to his, but then he let her go.

"I need to use the dryer."

She watched him go, confused. He went to the bathroom and she heard him moving around as she found a box of tissues and cleaned herself off. Just what the hell was that?

She heard the door of the dryer slam and the machine began. Temper sizzling she stalked naked to the kitchen where he stood, hands on the corner of the dryer, staring at the closed lid like it held state secrets.

"What the fuck was that?"

"What?" He asked softly without turning.

"We agreed to keep this on the down-low, but god damn it, Julian, it's never been just about a quick lay between us."

Muscles taut he turned and she had to force her eyes to meet his, ignoring his naked body. "Never? What about that first night?"

"I didn't know you then! I've spent ten years, ten fucking years celibate, alone, and afraid. In that time, no man has ever made even a little bit tempted to break my solitude, not until you strode up and sat at my table! Since that night you know damn well there's been something between us!"

Her own anger startled her, and Jessie shook her head as she closed her mouth. It was like something possessed her. It had to be casual sex. She would go on to a new life, hiding from the very people he hunted for a living. Why did she feel compelled to push this?

"I saw you." Julian stalked closer, his eyes narrowed. "If there really was something between us, how could you kiss Henry?"

A strange relief soared through her and Jessie barked out a laugh. "Jealousy? This is about jealousy? Aren't you the one who suggested I, what, court Henry in the day, fuck you in the night?" Silence greeted her, spurring her on despite the tight set of his jaw. "What you saw was Henry kissing me, not me kissing him. He was kissing me because he realized I no longer have feelings for him, and he needed to prove it to himself. He knows about us, for chrissakes, and he gave us his blessing!"

Julian made a strangled sound and stomped his way to her, grabbing her arms tightly. "Is that true? You don't want him?"

"No! You, I want you, god damn it!"

He kissed her then, and just as before it felt like a claiming, but there was something else to it. She couldn't deny the passion, but Jessie felt the need to comfort him as he trembled in her arms. She stroked his shoulders, arms, back, everywhere she could touch, trying to sooth even as his mouth incited a riot in her soul.

"What's wrong now?" she asked as he pulled back.

His eyes were dark as the midnight sky, glittering down at her. "You're secretive, you're a criminal, you're stubborn, and you're too damn smart for your own good. You're funny, independent, but you don't trust anyone and you don't truly give anything of yourself. And I think I might love you."


Jessie couldn't sleep. For the rest of Julian's four hour shift with her they'd buried themselves in the physical. He'd been slow and tender when she needed rough and fast. Distance, she wanted distance.

Even now alone in the bed she could smell the remnants of their passion, but it was the conversation as he'd dressed that haunted her.

"Julian, we've known each other a week."


"So people don't fall in love that fast. Infatuation, yes, but love is real, it takes hard work, trust, respect, and time."

"You trust me, Jessie. You wouldn't be here if you didn't. I trust you. We sure as hell respect each other. What more do we need?"

"Time!" she'd shouted.

"I don't like this any more than you do. I don't have time for anything serious, and if I did, I swear you'd be the last woman on earth I'd choose!"

With that he'd stormed out and since then she'd been hurting, but she couldn't say why. Madness, this was all madness. Ghosts from her past had been chasing her all her adult life, but none had ever caught up and captured her. Not until Julian came along. In a world of transition that was constant, in ten years he'd been the most stable thing she could remember, and anchor.

And now he'd brought her back to the beginning. Johnny Bones was gunning for her and she didn't know why beyond that it was something his boss Diego was willing to kill for. If she could figure it out, get the DEA what they wanted, she could have a life.

But that life would be far away, under a new name, a new look, a new future. One that meant she had to steer clear of any danger, anyone that could recognize her. Anyone Julian worked with.

Damn it! Why did she care? He was the fool with romantic notions, Jessie couldn't afford to be anything other than practical. This was what she wanted, wasn't it? A new life, free from fear, in one stable place, a chance at a real future.

Punching the pillow she sighed harshly. It didn't matter what she wanted. It would never work. Could she give up her future for Julian, or would he give up her career for her? Good sex, a few laughs, and too many adrenaline-fueled situations pressing them together, that's all they had. Hell, if they'd met under normal circumstances they'd probably tire easily of each other, right?

Her eyes slid to the spot in the wall still marked by the sweaty outline of her body where he'd pressed her, fucking her hard. Damn it, with that level of passion she knew she couldn't answer her own last question.

She stood and grabbed for the robe hanging on the bedpost. Latching it tight she crept into the hallway. Klein was snoring on the couch in the pre-dawn darkness so that meant TV was out, and that left eating or reading, perhaps exercising, thought she liked to wait until after breakfast these days.

She'd read everything so she stood there, looking around when her eyes hit an unfamiliar dark show. Crouching, she realized it was her old backpack. Well, a trip down memory lane would do her good.

She dragged it back to the bedroom and closed the door, flipping on the light. It was garishly bubblegum pink with hot pink trim. God, she'd been an entirely different girl back then. Jessie had once been the all-American girl: tanned, blonde, a cheerleader with straight A's. She'd had innocent dreams of college and a career teaching. Marrying Henry when he completed law school, settling down, having kids, buying a home.

Now that dream instilled a certain kind of panic in her, tinged by boredom. Was that true? She thought of the fantasy that had seen her through the last five years. Moving to Spain, finishing school, finding some good man...never settling down. She envisioned dinner parties with other couples, but kids had become like uncertain ghosts in her mind.

Now even that future felt like a ghost image.

Shaking it off she unzipped the bag she'd left behind the night she'd first run, when she could take only one bag with her, the one stuffed with clothes, cash, and food. This bag had held the few things that made her smile.

The first things revealed were her three favorite books. The Great Gatsby, Beloved, and Defy Not The Heart. Even now she felt no shame at her love for a classic bodice-ripping romance. Each book had sadness and joy in parts, but was a world away from the dark life she'd fled.

Next came the bundle of her mother's old scarves, cheap department store things, but what they were wrapped around made her heart pound. Unfurling them she revealed the rings, all three of them. The slim, small diamond her father had bought her mother when they were poor students. The simple gold bands from their wedding, one heart engraved on the inside of each band per anniversary. There were just eight.

Next was the small book. Pictures of her mother with long hair, tan lines, and the light of love in her eyes. Pictures of her father, young, handsome, sandy-haired with an easy smile. Then pictures of them as a family. More pictures without her father, when sadness filled her mother's eyes.

There was a picture of Jessie in her Girl Scout uniform delivering all the cookies she'd sold. Then there was one from their last Halloween in California, and no more. All the pictures after showed Jimmy's slick smile and her mother's thinning frame as drugs took over her life. Jessie had spent the whole of her life trying to distance herself from that and refused to keep those pictures.

Then there was the cigar box. Opening it she smiled. Love letters from Henry when football and cheerleader camp had separated them, filled with tender promises only possibly under the blinding light of puppy love. The shells from the beach they'd collected the day of their first kiss. The matching bead necklaces his cousin Kaylie had made for them.

Lastly she found a small box that had originally held a candle bought at some fashion shop. Inside was her half of a necklace that when joined with another, made a heart and said "BEST FRIENDS."

"Diane," Jessie found herself saying. Her best friend from childhood, long ago left to California. Where was she now? When they'd been seven year-olds playing, Diane had dreamed of growing up to be a horse. Thinking on that Jessie laughed.

There was nothing else. She held the bag upside down and shook, but nothing came out, though something rattled. She opened the smaller outside pocket and out fell ancient feminine supplies. She smiled at her preparedness, but the truth is after two years alone with her stepfather she'd had this bag packed and ready to go at any time.

She felt down, wondering at the girl she'd been. Had she ever been that naive, well and truly? Still, she'd made it. Ten years after and she was back home, healthy, in one piece, and with a little bit more luck she'd get the DEA what they needed.

And it had better happen soon. In the dark of night she could admit to herself she'd developed feelings for Julian. Maybe it was just the pressure of the situation, and if so, she needed space and distance fast.

Her hand brushed a hard lump under the vinyl base of the pocket. Frowning she felt the main chamber of the backpack and there was the lump, but it was inside the lining. She couldn't remember ever losing anything the size of a keychain in the backpack. As a teenager she'd always kept her keys on a chain around her neck.

Jessie paced quietly into the kitchen and got a steak knife, bringing it back to the bedroom. Shoving the backpack's treasures aside she opened the zipper as far as it would go and felt the lump. It was in a hollow place, and something light and metal clinked against something metal slightly heavier.

Puzzled, she gently plunged the knife into the seam byt the object, and slowly moved it along the vinyl, sawing as she went. After a few inches a red plastic cylinder with a beaded chain fell out, a key on the other end. A bus locker key.

At last she had the answer. In the locker that this key opened she knew lay the secret that had kept her life in danger for ten years. This key was the key to her freedom.

She didn't need the DEA, not with this. She could call Johnny Bones herself. If she was smart, she could work her own angle. Call Gonzalez, set up an exchange, get word to Diego, but her freedom. But it would mean moving on, running again, leaving a huge mess in Julian's lap.

With a heavy heart, she reached for the phone.

Chapter Eleven

Julian stood on the landing that passed for a porch. The sun was rising and Miami was yawning awake. He loved this town. After a childhood in New York where people were stacked six-deep and twelve-high, Miami seemed like heaven. The pace was slow, the people beautiful, and an atmosphere of fun permeated everything.

Normally watching the sun rise put a smile on his face. It meant he'd survived to see another day and even if everything had fallen apart there was still another chance. Often he thought of the sunrises he'd seen around the world, on missions, in deployment, on shore leave, and at home. Of all the sunrises, of all the promises that there was still hope, this was the one that made him feel truly at home.

Now he wished the damn sun would stay down. Soon the refresh team would come on, and he'd have to go inside and talk to Jessie. He'd' be polite and efficient, keep to business, when all he wanted to do was wring her neck.

It was inevitable. Danger, secrecy, and passion were breeding grounds for intimacy. He'd seen this happen before with agents, hell it was a rampant problem. Sex with witnesses in protective custody, even sex with suspects happened all too often. About three times a year one of his fellow field agent thought they'd fallen in love with someone tied up in the underworld. It never ended well.

So it was puppy love. He laughed, bitterly, thinking of the very long life he'd lead. But no, he'd never been in love before, but he suspected it didn't feel like this. This was madness, infatuation, nothing more. It had to be. She tore him up inside, made him happy and anxious, scared and angry, needful and passionate all at once. Julian only felt any sense of contentment when she was in his arms. It wasn't love, it couldn't be. Love shouldn't hurt.

Flexing his hands and curling them into fists, a sense of grim peace descended at that thought. If this wasn't love but madness, the best way to handle it was to enjoy one another as often as possible until they got it out of their system.

All that stuck in his craw was the ease with which Jessie was handling it. A decade of celibacy and next to no experience with men, sex, or relationships, and damn her hide, she seemed to know the score. He was the guy who was built for casual sex, never once in his life having the ability to offer a woman anything more, and he was mooring over her. He felt like a lovesick youth in the bloom of the first full adult crush, but when he thought back to his on his eleventh grade English teacher, it hadn't been this painful or beautiful. Then again, he'd never gotten to fuck Mrs. Morales.

The front door opened and he turned, expecting to see Agent Klein, but instead it was Jessie. She wore a long, light nightgown and her thin robe belted tight around her, the chill of the morning making her nipples push against the thin fabric in an enticing way. Her hair had been brushed but was still tousled and loose, a light strawberry blonde that complemented her pale skin, and the effect made her look like a woman fresh from sex. Her eyes still seemed dazed, a gorgeous shade of green that made him think of jungle canopy and hot, sweaty days. Damn it, she was a witch.

"Good morning," he said curtly and turned back to the rising sun.

The day promised to be humid but for the moment the salty ocean breeze was cool with the vestiges of night. Jessie wrapped her arms around her body and came to stand with him, looking out over the city. He felt the heat of her and wanted to close his eyes and drink in the sensation, but he couldn't afford to lose it. He had already risked too much with her and for her.

Putting her elbows on the railing she kept her arms crossed, and like the trained agent he was Julian knew it meant she had something to say that scared her. For a torrid moment he imagined her proclaiming her love and falling into his arms, but then he realized it was far more likely she was going to ask him to remove himself from the case. He clenched his hands into fists once more and waited for her to speak.

"I'm sorry I pushed you last night."

That took him by surprise. "Oh?" he meant it come out light, unaffected, but he sounded like he was being strangled. Hell, he felt like he was.

She turned to face him, but he kept steady, offering only his profile. "Julian, what's going to happen? Let's say we find what it is Diego wants, and use that to get him. If he goes away, could I stay in Miami?"

Without looking at her he felt his jaw tick. Damn her for being pragmatic when he was so goddamn foolish. "No. You know as well as I do when Diego goes down he will leave someone in charge. If that person is strong he'll hold the empire, and killing the woman who put Diego away will be priority number one. If the lieutenant isn't strong and can't hold the empire, someone will kill him and take over. You'd be safe then, but it will take a few years. Besides, what do you have here?"

There was a pregnant pause and he felt her looking at him, but Julian resolved to remain stoic.

"I'm not sure," she said at last. "I guess no matter what I'm moving on. Are you..."

"Yes?" he curtly asked when she didn't finish right away.

"Are you stuck here?"

Shock rolled through him and finally he turned slowly to face her. She was close, and smelled of vanilla and spice. He was becoming such a pussy, that her smell made his knees slightly weak. He'd seen what women could do to a man, and it hurt his pride it was happening to him. "What do you mean?"

"Like assigned here for work?"

"Yeah. The only time a DEA agent can easily transfer is if he's been totally compromised. I'm not there yet, and we're so close to taking Diego down."

She fiddled with the cement wall of the balcony. "I mean, you did say you grew up in New York."

Sighing he folded his arms not sure if he would hold her or throttle her. With every word she was feeding him hope, false hope. The sad truth was he knew she wasn't even doing it on purpose, the woman had no clue just how completely devastating she could be. "Ask me what you really mean, Jessie. Let's not play games."

She blushed, and the sight of a woman who was totally unrestrained in bed blushing in the morning light made him smile, but it was tight. Damn, but she was built to be a killer.

She sighed and squared her shoulders. "When I leave, would you come with me?"

Nothing could have shocked him more. Every dark thought he'd had about her in the dark flew from his mind as a part of him Julian had thought long-dead blossomed with hope. "Do you mean that?"

She jerked a nod.

"Do you love me?" He hated the vulnerability he heard in his voice then, and it made his temper yawn wide awake.

She trembled slightly. "I don't know, Julian. The past two weeks have been...something."

Oh, yeah, he wanted to throttle her. Strangle her, then kiss her, drag her back to bed and fuck her senseless. She stepped back, perhaps sensing his temper. "You're asking me to change my life completely. The next time you ask, you'd better be damn sure."

He turned to go inside, planning to bark at Klein so he woke up, but Jessie's hand shot out and landed cool and soft on his arm.


"What?!" he shouted without turning around. Taking a deep breath he forced himself to calm. "What?"

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