Love Realized (The Real Love Series)
Author:Melanie Codina

chapter TEN

Gillian was snuggled tightly in her jacket, her hat pulled far down on her head, and her legs securely wrapped with a blanket when she spotted him. She had wondered what Mike had meant when he said “unless I see you before then,” but now she knew. Mike was scanning the crowd and slowly walking past the people in the stands who were watching the football game. For a split second, she wondered if he was looking for her … she didn’t think so, but wouldn’t that be cool. To be sought out in a crowd was more than a little romantic. But knowing that he probably wouldn’t recognize her wearing a hat, she openly watched him, feeling safely hidden.

So when his eyes roved past her in his sweep over the section she was sitting, she smiled to herself like she enjoyed the game of hide and seek. But then his eyes snapped back to her, and a smile spread across his face. Yes, there was that smile again; she couldn’t help but smile back. He raised a hand, gave a little wave, and mouthed “hi” in her direction. It wasn’t until the heads of quite a few peopled turned in her direction to see whom he was talking to that she blushed. She ducked her head a little in embarrassment before she was nudged from behind by one of the other moms she sat by. “Well if you aren’t going to give a little wave back, I might be tempted to. Go on, don’t leave the guy hanging.”

Her hand flew up and she waved as if a string had pulled it from her lap and dangled it above her head like some fool. What the hell was wrong with her, and why did this giddy feeling make her act like a moron? Reigning herself in, she slowly pulled her hand closer and gave a tight wave. He just smiled at her and gave a little nod as he made his way toward another section of the bleachers. She felt like a schoolgirl with a crush. It had been a long time since she had felt this specific set of emotions, and strangely, she wasn’t as reluctant to feel them as she thought she would be.

“Well, well … looks like you’ve decided to get over that husband of yours. Good for you,” said the same mother behind her. What was her name again?

Another mother to her left interrupted her thoughts when she tapped on her shoulder. “I don’t know about the guy you were just smiling at, but I would really like to see you with that one.” The woman finished her statement with a nod in the opposite direction that Mike had walked, drawing Gillian’s attention toward the people making their way into the stands.

Her eyes landed directly on Jake and she smiled. She hadn’t seen him in two days, and it always bummed her out when that happened. She continued to smile as she watched him help an elderly woman up the steps, because that was just the kind of guy he was.

“Well, if the smile on her face doesn’t speak a thousand words …” Julie, the woman who had pointed Jake out to her, said. Then she turned back to Mother Number One and said, “Oh yeah, Brenda she’s gotten over that husband of hers. You should see the look on her face.”

Brenda, that’s her name! Wait, what did she say? A little taken aback by her statement, she shook her head at both women. “What are you talking about, that’s just Jake. He’s one of my oldest and best friends, nothing more.”

All three women looked in the direction of Jake and watched as he ascended the steps, still assisting the elderly woman. He helped her to the bench as she sat down, then Jake stood up and looked in their direction. As soon as his eyes met hers, his face lit up, and he graced her with his smile. She instantly felt that flutter in her chest that she had noticed a few times before and dismissed. Could Jake be more to her than just a friend?

Julie once again interrupted her thoughts, “You can keep telling yourself that, but I don’t know why you would fight something like that.” And with that, Julie got up from her place next to Gillian and moved behind her to sit next to Brenda, allowing room for Jake to sit. Be with Jake? Something about that sounded so wrong, but so right at the same time. Be with Jake …


“Hey you, I knew this was where I would find you—far enough away so Madison will not see or hear you, but close enough for you to see her clearly,” he said as he leaned down and kissed her on the cheek. She offered her cheek up to him as she always did. But just like he was accustomed to lately, he couldn’t help the desire he had to be pressing his lips against her lips, instead of her cheek. He had only the privilege of a few seconds to feel her lips against his that day at her house. But he remembered exactly what they felt like. Soft and perfect.

He knew his train of thought must be redirected before they cycled back around and left him standing in the crowded football bleachers with another erection. Quickly sitting down, he turned slightly to the women he recognized sitting behind Gillian.

“Hi there, ladies … good game tonight?”

They both smiled at him, and one of them replied, “Great game! Up by ten, and if they keep this up, CIF playoffs are in the bag.”

“Cool. Glad I’ve got Fridays off. I can follow the team now.”

“You should definitely come to all the games. We love having you around,” the other woman said in a slightly odd tone. Clearly, she was insinuating something, but what, he didn’t know. After giving one more polite smile, he turned his attention to the woman he came to see.

“How was your day? I heard you went for pizza with the boys after school before bringing them to my parents’ house.”

“You know I'm a sucker for anything with cheese on top,” she said, smiling at him before loosening the blanket around her legs to include him in its warmth. This, of course, required him to scoot all the way against her ‘til there was no space. No complaints from him in that department. He swiftly put his arm behind her, planted his hand on her hip to hold her in place and slid right up against her. And no, he didn’t feel it was necessary to move his hand from where it was located. He was going to feel this situation out, and besides, he was helping her stay warm this way. Man—so full of shit!

Once he was snuggled in nice and tight against her body, he relaxed a bit when he felt her relax into him. He just wanted to absorb the feeling of her body touching his. The hat she was wearing bothered him because he couldn’t stick his nose down into her hair and take a deep breath of her scent. Bet that wouldn’t look creepy at all. Although he could smell it by being close to her, he wanted more. That was what it all came down to.

Jake wanted more from Gillian, and he had to make her realize what his intentions were. On the way over to the game, he came to terms with the fact that what he was feeling for her was never going to go away until he tried. He had to see if she could accept him as more than a friend, and even though it was possible that she wouldn’t, it was time for some action. He needed to formulate a game plan … to figure out a way and find out if there was any possibility that she would want Jake the way he wanted her. A jolt of anxiety hit him as he wondered what would happen if she didn’t. No, she would; she had to.

He was staring out at the football field, not really seeing anything—lost in thought and the feeling of her body against his—when a hand on his thigh caught his attention. His quick intake of breath must have given the impression that her touch was unwelcome, and she quickly withdrew it. Immediately, he regretted its loss. Truthfully, her hand being that close to another appendage that wanted her attention was not a good idea, so he would just deal with it. He gave her a little squeeze around her waist to make sure she didn’t try and retreat too far.

“Sorry,” he said. “You startled me a little.”

She gave him a timid smile. “You were a million miles away. What were you worrying about in that head of yours?”

He so wished he could just profess his feelings, right here and now, so that everyone could stop seeing him look like an idiot in public. Apparently, thinking about Gillian made him look and act like an idiot … Thank God there was a cure for it, though. “Nothing much, just a long day,” he said, giving her a slight smile. And then her hand was on his knee again, giving it a slight squeeze under the blanket.

“Do you want to talk about it?”

With her hand on his leg, he could think of a few things he wanted to do, but talking was not one of them. He leaned in and kissed her on the side of her head and said, “Don’t worry about me, Gilly-bean. I’m fine.” He couldn’t help but notice the two women behind them staring at him. One of them gave one of those half-smirks, very similar to the one he had seen on Eddie’s smug face not but an hour ago. Damn, he really must be transparent. He turned himself back and settled against her again to finish out the game.

“Okay, just remember that I am here if you need me.” He couldn’t help but think to himself how that little statement could mean so many different things.

Oh, how I need you Gillian.

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