“Funny.” I turn on the lava lamp. Yes, the room boasts one, which I found cheesy the time I visited, but it serves a purpose now.
“I mean, that was not very subtle, Jones.” His eyes are both bleary and twinkling. Bastard even looks good in pain.
“You’re going to be sorry you teased me.” I turn off the overhead light and plunge us into a darkened world of dreamy blue moving shadows. “And if you make a crack about sex one more time…”
“You’ll get very angry?” Drew asks as he plops down onto the couch. A sigh leaves him as he leans his head against the padded back. He’s hurting but he seems pleased. “Thank you for finding me a place to lie down,” he says. “I needed this.”
Carefully, I sit next to him. “I’m just happy he didn’t notice the oil.”
Drew bursts out laughing again, but it ends with a groan. “Anna.”
The underlying emotion in the way he says my name robs me of my voice. My grip is unsteady as I uncap the oil and rub a bit between my palms. “Give me your hand.”
Drew’s brows rise but he complies. Usually, his hands are warm, but his skin is now cold and clammy.
“Most people think a neck rub is the best thing for a headache,” I say, holding his hand between mine for a moment to warm it. “But we carry an enormous amount of tension in our hands. They have pressure points that link directly to headache pain.”
His big hand is almost too much to manage. I concentrate at first on his wide palm, kneading my knuckles down the center of it. And Drew groans, letting his head fall to the side. His long fingers loosely curl, engulfing my smaller hand.
“My mom used to do this for me when I had migraines,” I say. “Aside from a shot, targeting pressure points is the fastest way to alleviate the pain.”
“You are a goddess,” he says on another groan. “A hand rubbing goddess.”
His forearm is carved oak beneath my fingers, his skin smooth and rapidly warming. “Only to you, babe.”
We’re quiet then.
“So, Floyd?” he says out of the blue.
My hands still for a second. “I’m supposed to answer that?”
He tilts his head, eyeing me. “Old boyfriend?”
I tug gently on one of his long fingers, squeezing at the end. “Not really.”
“You just leave a string of hook ups in your wake?”
Though it’s dark in here, he clearly sees too well. I stop and look him in the eye. “Like you can talk.”
His fingers thread through mine a second before I can pull away, and he holds firm. “I’m jealous.” The light of the lava lamp casts his face in undulating blue. Lines deepen around his eyes, but he doesn’t look away. “Okay? I…” His lashes lower. “I don’t like seeing you with a guy who knows you that way.”
“Do you know how many girls I’ve seen hanging on you?” My heart is pounding far too hard. “How many ass slaps you’ve given outside our class?”
He frowns. “I’m a jock. We slap asses by way of affection. And just because I’m friendly to those girls doesn’t mean I’m ha**ng s*x with them, you know.”
I make an unflattering sound of disbelief, and he gives my hand a small tug. “Fine, don’t believe me. The question is, did it bother you to see that?”
Trapped. By my own big mouth. I fiddle with the tip of his thumb, running the pad of my finger along his trimmed nail. “I wouldn’t like it now.”
He doesn’t say anything. Not for a long, excruciating minute. But I feel his gaze like a heated blanket. Then his thumb runs over my knuckles. “Well then,” he says gruff and stilted, “you can sympathize.”
A pang much like guilt shoots through me. “He was just a hook up.”
Drew waits a beat before answering in softly, “So am I.” The accusatory note is not missed.
And I swallow hard. “Yeah, but you’re the hook up that doesn’t seem to end.”
He snorts, but his grip tightens for a second. I ease it by pinching the fat pad between his thumb and forefinger where a world of tension hides. He grunts and slides further down on the couch, closing his eyes. “That’s good.”
“I know. Your hands are too tight.”
“Funny,” Drew murmurs, “that’s what Coach Johnson, my offensive coordinator, says. He’s always after me to stretch them more.”
The lines of his face are still tired and pinched, but there’s a smile hovering around his mouth. I set his hand gently down on his thigh and take his other one.
“You really love it, don’t you?” I ask.
His hand in mine jerks a little before he opens his eyes. “Football? Of course. I wouldn’t do it if I didn’t.”
“I don’t know,” I shrug, “some people would. To please their parents, to fit in, for the attention. There’s plenty of reasons.”
“Yeah, well they aren’t going to get very far if they don’t love it. The pressure will topple you otherwise.”
“Does it get to you,” I ask softly. “The pressure?”
He goes so silent that I know he doesn’t want to answer. Though his reticence shouldn’t hurt me, it does.
“You don’t have to—”
“Sometimes it does,” he says in a low voice. “Sometimes…” He takes a deep breath. “I wake up on the verge of a scream. Like it’s all trying to bubble out of me when I let my guard down to sleep.”