Jess strode towards the elevator doors and absent-mindedly ran her fingers through her hair while waiting. She could barely talk straight to the concierge. Her mind and her eyes couldn’t focus; her brain flickered through images of the last time she was with Jeremy. The memories made her blush – even her ears were warm.
It’d been two months since she’d seen him – two long and agonizing months in her opinion. They’d called each other, sent text messages and Skyped as much as they could, but it was never enough. She’s finally in Houston and couldn’t wait to be with him.
Just as the elevator doors were about to close, she heard a “Hey! Hold the door.” Jess instantly pressed the button to give that person a chance to get in.
“Thanks,” huffed Chandler as he rushed in.
“It’s nothing,” Jess replied, instantly recognizing him as Chandler Parsons, one of Jeremy’s new teammates and fast-becoming friend in the team.
He threw a brilliant smile at the pretty girl with a small suitcase by her side. A new neighbor perhaps or someone’s visitor, he assumed. Moving his eyes upwards, he admired the lean shapely legs discernible under her Capri pants. She had on a white boat-necked tee and a tank top underneath; the soft curve of one of her shoulders visible.
“My name is Chandler,” he introduced himself, putting forward a hand.
“Jess,” she answered and took his hand in hers.
Chandler was on his way to pester Jeremy into going out for lunch before they head for Toyota Center. They had a game early in the evening, so practice was set for the afternoon.
“So we’re getting off at the same floor,” he told Jess.
“I guess so,” she commented.
Why isn’t my charm working? Chandler wondered.
They both stepped out through the elevator doors and walked towards Jeremy’s apartment.
“Are you following me?” CP grinned.
Jess shook her head and smiled. As she rang the bell, slow realization came.
Barely a few seconds passed before the door was opened and Jeremy rushed out to give Jess a tight hug. He lifted her off her feet and gave himself the luxury of inhaling the familiar scent of lavender. As Jess nuzzled Jeremy’s neck, she sighed, God, she missed him so.
Jess finally whispered, “We’ve got company.”
Jeremy did not ease his hold of her, but whispered back, “I know. Don’t care.”
Chandler stood and gawked.
“Uh, hey CP,” Jeremy said, after a slight nudge from Jess forced him to let go.
Jeremy looked a bit embarrassed – only a bit. You would have to be blind not to see the happiness in Jeremy’s eyes, though. He had his arm around Jess, his hand resting on her hip – a sure sign of “Yeah, she’s mine.”
Jeremy shrugged, “Not every part of my life is out there.”
“I get it,” Chandler agreed; he knew that Jeremy protected his privacy like a hawk. “I won’t say a thing – nor will I keep on disturbing.”
“If you needed to talk to Jeremy…” Jess said.
“I just wanted to ask if he wanted to go out for lunch,” Chandler explained, but judging from the look in his friend’s eyes, Jeremy had more things in mind than lunch. “We can all catch up and get acquainted later, right, Jeremy?”
“Sure,” Jeremy replied, “…after the game.”
“Nice to meet you, Jess.”
“You, too, Chandler,” she replied.
As Chandler took the elevator down to his floor, he thought, No wonder the flirting didn’t work.
“You must be tired,” Jeremy said in between kisses.
He had Jess exactly where she should be – in his arms, in his apartment, by his side. They sat on his couch and relaxed after their lunch.
“Nothing a quick shower and nap won’t cure,” Jess murmured as she nipped at Jeremy’s lower lip.
Jeremy groaned – he so desperately wanted to do those things with her. He hated not having more time with her before he had to leave for team practice.
“Have I said I missed you?” he asked.
“More than a dozen times since I arrived,” Jess grinned, “same number of times I said I missed you, too.”
He looked at her face, at the quick smile on her lips. She’s really here.
“Josh will pick you up and bring you to the game,” he told her while he took her hand in his and became amazed at how big his palm was in comparison to hers. The two J charms on the bracelet resting on her wrist jiggled and caught his attention.
“We’ll be having a late dinner with some of your teammates after?” Jess asked. She rested her head against his chest and listened to the beat of his heart.
“Yeah,” Jeremy confirmed.
“I hope we get to say hi to Jared.”
jared Jeffries was a Blazer now – and the Portland Trailblazers are playing against the Rockets tonight.
“Me, too,” Jeremy shared.
“Do you miss the guys?” Jess asked.
“We send messages. Landry’d call once in a while but we’re all busy with training and the season starting and all,” he sighed. “I’m happy Toney is at least a familiar face – and Chandler, of course. He’s been a great support.”
“I hear a new bromance is in the air,” Jess laughed.
“Okay, enough talking,” Jeremy decided and lifted her unto his lap, her face facing his. He took Jess’ hands in his and kissed them. “I really missed you,” he said, his face serious, his forehead resting against hers. Jess felt a twinge in her chest. “I love you, Dumbo,” she whispered, as their lips met in slow but deep kisses.
“I have never met a – person – like you – who is so crazy with karaoke,” Jess told Chandler.
“A white guy, you mean,” Chandler laughed as Jess lightly blushed. “Jeremy told me the same thing the first time I dragged the newbies singing.”
“That’s true,” Jeremy laughed. “He’s a whasian (white Asian) when karaoke is concerned.”
Josh Fan shook his head and added, “He is more Asian than I am, if that is what it means to be one.”
Chandler, Josh, Jess and Jeremy were gathered in the elevator on their way home.
The Rockets lost their first game at Toyota Center. Jess felt Jeremy’s and Chandler’s disappointment, but it did not seem like they took the loss too badly. The Rockets is the youngest team in the NBA and the whole roster was practically new. Everything is an adjustment, Jeremy had said during one of their Skype conversations.
It had been weird sitting and watching the game at Toyota Center. Part of her couldn’t help but compare it to Madison Square Garden during the “Linsane days”; it was definitely a change. Jess did not voice her thoughts to Jeremy, though; because she knew that he probably felt it, too and was doing everything to adjust to all the things that were new in his life.
Jeremy needed her support – as much as she could give him with the distance they had between them.
“I just need to get some stuff from the apartment, Jer,” Josh was telling Jeremy.
Jess looked at him with a puzzled expression. Josh was sharing the apartment with Jeremy and had his own room.
“I’ll be staying with CP,” Josh explained.
“You don’t have to,” Jess protested.
“Oh yes, he does,” Jeremy interrupted with a grin on his face. Jessica blushed.
“It’s okay,” Josh reassured her. “It’ll give me a break from him.”
He turned to Chandler and said, “Don’t even think about having karaoke sessions.”
“Thanks, Josh,” Jess said when their laughter died down. Josh just gave her a smile.
“It’s great to see you’re in good hands,” Jess said as she stood and brushed her hair, her gaze following Jeremy as he took his shirt off. He stood in bare feet and the usual shorts he loved to wear when he was at home. “Your teammates and friends are great.”
Jeremy crossed over to her and leaned to give her a soft kiss and said “But they’re not you.” His words gave her a warm feeling.
Jess was quiet. Knowing her, Jeremy knew she was probably feeling bad about being far away from him.
“Don’t be sad, Jess,” he said.
“I’m not…” Jess started to say, but she knew she couldn’t lie to him – not when he knows her so well. “Yes, I do feel bad. I want to be here with you,” she admitted.
“You and I both know we don’t have the luxury of that – yet,” Jeremy reasoned. “I am not going to ask you give up on your dreams.”
“And I love you for it,” Jess replied, “but…”
“No buts, Jess,” he said.
When Jeremy suddenly lifted her towards the bed, Jess hung on.
“That bed is – just wow,” she said.
“The best investment I’ve made,” he laughed as he gazed at the wide – and extra long – double-bed that had one of the best matresses he’d ever slept on.
He looked down at Jess as she lay in the middle of his bed now – his.
“Let me show you how much I’ve missed you,” he said with a smile.
“I missed you more,” Jess retorted.
“We’re even, then,” he mumbled against her lips.