Thank you for your wonderful comments on my true-life long distance love story!
I thought I'd share a bit of Jack Rudolph and Ellie Nichols with you. Jack and Ellie’s long-distance love story starts in Believe, continues in the free reads on my website, and in TMP’s new Valentine’s Day anthology, Be Mine, Valentine.
I’ve Got You to Talk With Me….
Ellie Nichols flopped onto her back. Her legs dangled over the edge of the bed and she stared at the popcorn ceiling. “I can’t believe we’re having this conversation.”
Jack’s deep, throaty laugh gave lie to the indignation in his tone. “What? I’m just saying that Wilma and Betty were way too hot to end up with a couple of schmucks like Fred and Barney.” She snickered and he pressed on. “I mean, if they were rich, I’d get it….”
“Because you think all women are mercenary,” she chided.
“Because I think women are smart,” he corrected. “Always looking at the big picture.”
“I do my best,” Jack muttered under his breath. “There has to be some reason guys like Donald Trump keep marrying models.”
“Changing the subject now before I step in quicksand.” His voice dropped a full octave. “How was your day, Ms. Nichols?”
Ellie ran a hand through her too-short hair and blinked at the ceiling, cursing technology and impulse. She pulled the cell from her ear and glared at its lack of cord. Her fingers fisted in her hair, tugging the shorn strands and trying to coax them into curling around her finger.
I need something to twirl, dammit.
“My day was fine. No big disasters, so I consider that a success.” Pressing her heels to the bedrail, she scooted onto the mattress. “How was yours?”
Jack blew out a breath. “Mine was…frustrating.”
“Aside from missing you?”
His teasing smile simmered along the airwaves. Ellie closed her eyes and conjured up the image. The moment she realized that the particular memory she accessed involved Jack Rudolph naked and pinned beneath her, her eyes popped open.
“Yeah, aside from your pathetic pining,” she answered, hoping he wouldn’t catch the wispy breathlessness in her voice.
“Aw. You missed me too, Elfie?”
Grr. Clear as day, the knowing grin in his voice flashed across the miles like a neon sign.
She released her hold on her hair and scraped her thumbnail over the casing of the cell phone, marking the spot where a cord should be. “I just know you’ll keep calling until I talk to you. I want to get it over with so I can watch Castle.”
He laughed but sobered too quickly. “I’m gonna be out of town a lot for the next few weeks.”
Ellie’s smile faded. “You are?”
“Dallas. It looks like the case I’ve been working on is going to intersect with something they have going down there. I’ll be meeting with the Special Agents in Charge there to sort out what we know and try to figure out where we stand.”
“Oh.” Ellie dug her heels into the duvet and pushed her way to the jumble of pillows propped against her headboard. “That’s good, though. Right? I mean, you can put your heads together and close the case faster if you do this, right?”
Jack remained silent for a moment. “They have a bigger case,” he said at last. “I’ll probably end up handing everything over to them.”
Disappointment rang clear. “Ah. I’m sorry.”
She heard him draw a deep breath. “Well, hell, it’s no big deal.”
He was selling, but she wasn’t buying. Ellie waited a moment to see if he had any better luck in fooling himself. When Jack didn’t say any more, she sighed. “It sucks, though. I mean, you’ve been working on that case for a while now, haven’t you?”
“I just…I was only tugging at strings. Dallas has the whole ball of yarn.”
An edge of bitterness crept into his voice, and Ellie wanted nothing more than to chase it away. “Yeah, but your strings are what could tie it all up in a bow. You should get credit for that.”
A soft snort followed by a low, husky chuckle told her he appreciated her efforts. “I’ll get credit for the assist, don’t worry.”
Ellie slid her hand into her pillowcase. Her fingernails rasped the poly-nylon shell of the pillow inside. “But you wanted the slam dunk.”
Jack’s laugh rumbled in her ear. “Basketball references…You are my dream girl.”
Basking in the warmth of his voice, Ellie rolled onto her side. “I’m a woman of many, many talents, and don’t you forget it.”
“Not likely I will,” he grumbled. “What are you wearing?”
A laugh bubbled from her lips. “Would you look at the time….”
“It’s Sunday. Your boyfriend isn’t on TV tonight.”
“I DVR’ed last week’s episode.”
“Call me back after you’re done.”
“It’ll be late,” she hedged.
“Tomorrow’s a holiday!”
Ellie laughed. “Spoken like a government employee. Here’s a newsflash for you, Special Agent Rudolph. Most patriotic Americans don’t get Martin Luther King Day, President’s Day, and every other fake federal holiday off.”
“That’s a crime,” he grumbled.
“I know. I think I’ll write my Congressman.”
“Well, I doubt Dr. King would approve of this relationship segregation.”
“I don’t either,” Ellie said quietly.
“Call me back. I want to say goodnight.”
“If I call you back, we’ll spend another hour on the phone.”
“My nefarious plot is uncovered.”
She smiled at the ceiling. “You could say goodnight now,” she suggested.
“I like hearing your voice just before I go to sleep.”
Ellie’s heart danced a little jig. With closed eyes she pressed a hand to her throat. The steady rhythm of her pulse strummed against her fingertips. “I’ll call you later,” she whispered.
“Yes!” he hissed triumphantly.
One word. That’s all it took to melt her bones into a puddle of goo. Ellie mustered up her last ounce of resolve and tried to mold it into some semblance of a plausible threat. “Don’t gloat or I won’t.”
“No gloating,” he answered quickly. “And Ellie?”
“You’re so much sexier than Wilma or Betty.”
Her laugh erupted in a breathy rush. “Thank you.”
“Any chance you have one of those cavegirl dresses hanging in your closet?”
“Goodnight, Jack,” she purred into the phone.
“No! Call me back!”
Ellie pressed the button to end the call and tossed her cell onto the rumpled duvet. Moments later it vibrated, alerting her to a new message. Ellie smiled. ‘You are going to call me, aren’t you?’ popped up on the display.
Her smile grew wider as she rolled over and grabbed the remote control. Pointing it at the television atop her dresser, she murmured, “Good to keep him guessing.”
Thanks for reading!