“Lucy… Lucy, Lucy…” His voice beside my ear is soft and gentle. Deep and low.
His arm around my waist is heavy and secure. He wraps his other arm around my shoulders, locking me against him.
I feel his chin against my shoulder, feel his forehead brush against my hair as his arms gently squeeze.
For one long second, everything inside me bucks against him and the waves of horror rise. Then it feels so good that I can’t fight him. My muscles slacken and I relax against him, letting myself give in to the careful, whispered words and strong strokes of his hands along my arm and hip.
“Lucy Rhodes…I can’t believe you’re here. It’s gonna be okay. Whatever’s wrong…”
I shut my eyes. “Why do you like me?”
“What?” His tone is surprised, but his body doesn’t stiffen.
“What do you mean, Lucy?”
“You wrote me a letter one time,” I say hoarsely.
Why did you do it? My throat is so tight, I can’t get the words out.
“Why do you like red, Lucille? The color red.”
“Because it’s festive,” I rasp. My voice is unsteady. How embarrassing.
“So is yellow.”
I shake my head. No, “yellow is bright.”
“Festive,” he says.
“Cheery. There’s a difference.”
“Yes.” I laugh—because it’s so ridiculous, this conversation. The location of it, and the circumstances. “Did you get off your horse and onto mine?” I ask him, even though it’s clear he did.
“Learned it in the circus.”
“What?” I laugh.
“It’s true. I had a crush on this woman once. I was younger. She was a trapeze artist.”
I lean my head back, feel his cheek against my cheek. Then his lips against my cheek. The kiss is gentle. Undemanding. And yet, it makes me shiver.
I put my hand over his, over the one that’s cupping my hip. “Yellow is way different than red,” I murmur.
“Of course. That’s the point that I was making, Lucy. You like red because you like it. And you don’t like yellow. Not the same way.” His voice is husky, sending shivers over my arms. “I like you because I like you. I like that you eat your cereal dry and wear those little ribbons in your hair. I like that you ride well and your skin smells sweet like flowers. I like that you eat too much candy corn at Halloween.”
“You know that because of the show.”
“And?” His fingers brush over my hip.
I can feel him shrug behind me. “I don’t think that you’re the ‘feisty’ one. I don’t see you as one of the Rhodes. I understand what’s television.”
“Don’t be worried. Not here, while you’re with me. I’ll take care of you. I’ll give you what you need if you can tell me what that is.”
Stinging tears well in my eyes. “What if I can’t?” I whisper.
“I’ll figure it out.”
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