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Authors: Sophie Lira

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BOOK: Safe With You
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I lean back in the chair and rub my overstuffed gut. Olivia was one of the hottest girls I’ve ever seen in New Orleans. I’m glad I have the in to see her again, but I could tell pushing my luck would have gotten me nowhere tonight. Especially after how she freaked out about the homeless guy.

“So am I walking back to your place alone?” Cam throws a piece of my ice at my forehead. I shake my head and look away, tossing an extra ten on the table for the waitress who had to put up with our bullshit all night.

“Kyle Timothy Avery, for shame! Have I taught you nothing? While you were out being all Good Samaritan, I got three numbers, and she thinks I’m picking her up from work.” Cam’s monstrous grin spreads and he nods across the room to another waitress, who waves back.

“She’s a yoga instructor, dude. She told me to swing by her work later this week, so I am.” I lower my voice as I lean in. Olivia’s bright green eyes and pink, glossy lips assault my memory. “Her ass is fucking incredible, though.”

“You always have been an ass man. I, however, love a good rack.” He winces and nods to the door. “Dude, we need to split. I’m gonna burst. You know how I don’t like blowing up bathrooms in public.”

I shove his arm as we walk outside. “Oh, so you’re going to massacre mine?”

“Of course.” Cam stops dead in his tracks and turns to me with a cheesy smile. “And you’re used to my brand.”

“You’re disgusting.”

“At least I warned you this time.” Cam smiles, shaking his head.

The entire way home, I can’t let thoughts of the fight go. Baseball was my life, and just when I thought I was moving on, finally, the same asshole comes marching right back in. I stare at the brushed steel of the elevator and clamp my eyes shut. My night was going pretty awesome when I met Olivia. But now I’ll most likely never see her again because she probably thinks I’m some asshole who picks fights everywhere I go.

Cam sighs and grips my shoulder. “It’s not the end of the world, man.”

“Dude, I’m over it. Drop it.” A few knee surgeries and a massive amount of rods and screws aren’t going to change that I’m never going to play college baseball again, let alone professional ball.

Cam sighs and takes out his phone after it chimes to read a text. “At least you’re running again?”

“Drop it, okay? I don’t want anyone here to know about what happened. It’s bad enough I didn’t think about New Orleans being the epicenter for raging tools coming to party.” We get off the elevator. I swallow hard and continue on to my apartment.

“You should have come to LSU with me.” He nudges my arm. “It would have been epic.”

“Listen, for once I need my own life and some space.” We never have awkward moments, but this whole situation tonight almost makes me want to bring up the weather to change the subject. I moved to Louisiana to be closer to my best friend and the only person who calls me out on my shit no matter what, but not close enough to have to weather Tavares Twenty Questions on a daily basis.

“Whatever. I swear if you don’t get over this bullshit soon, I will drag you to a therapist myself. I’m fucking serious. I have two shrinks, and you don’t see it revoking my man card.” Cam sighs, and I wish he’d leave already. When we arrive at my apartment, I push the door open and kick off my shoes without a word.

Instead of going to assault my bathroom, Cam opens the fridge and pulls out a bottle of water and a beer. He hands me the water and downs his beer in a few gulps. “Want to play?” He nods to my Xbox.

“No, I’m good.” I walk into the kitchen as a dull pain heats my left leg. I rinse the remnant blood and beer taste out of my mouth and shake my foot. I’ve had raging, permanent shin splints for the last year and a half. “I need to … Nevermind, I’ll be back.”

When I get into my room, I flop onto my bed and almost scream into the pillow. Nothing I own here is from my past. The trophies, team pictures, and awards are all sitting in a box at my parents’ house in Houston. For their sake, it’s lucky it got back there in one piece.

After a good wallow and a lethal punch to my mini-sparring bag, I walk into the living room and drop into the recliner in the corner. Cam doesn’t even flinch as he continues to play video games. My gaze stays fixed on the scar running down my left leg that starts at the edge of my shorts. The remnants of where the rods held my leg together for weeks after the surgery resemble some sadist’s version of connect-the-dots.

There’s something about Olivia. Maybe because I think she needs someone more than I do. She’s the first girl I’ve talked to in years who didn’t know who I was or what was ahead of me. It was different in the best way. It’s like she saw who I am without knowing anything at all.






“Finally! An outfielder!” this guy, Zach, says as I fill out the signup sheet for a recreation softball league on campus. I don’t even know why the hell I enrolled in school, but I have nothing else to lose, so I might as well get a degree in the meantime. My dad said I needed to grab the bull by the horns and get some new hobbies. Baseball was my only hobby, so I’m sticking to what I know.

Cam will be so proud.

“I primarily play center, but I can fill in wherever.” The tightness in my chest gets worse as I look at the few other guys filling out paperwork. “But I prefer the outfield.”

“Dude, at this point I’m going to throw you in center and you’re covering all of it. We have no one.” Zach laughs as he takes another few sheets. “Hold that thought … Noah?”

A stocky guy with hair like a porcupine stops in his tracks and spins around. “Yo, that’s me, bro. What’s good?”

“You prefer right or left field?” Zach nods, circling some points.

“Either, I tear that shit up.” Noah smiles and I can’t help but roll my eyes.

This guy couldn’t run himself out of a paper bag.

“At this point, we’re barely having pick-up games. We don’t even have enough to compete against other teams and tonight’s the deadline.” Zach shuffles the papers around before straightening them against the tabletop. “Is that cool with you? Beer and softball?”

“Yeah, totally. Best way to do it. Do you want me to come try out or something since I’m new?” I turn back to Zach, almost not believing the words coming out of my mouth. I’ve never had to try out for baseball, but then again they don’t cut anyone when you start playing t-ball.

“Nah, just bring your game.” Zach stands and puts the papers in his bag. “See you next week, man.”

We shake and I leave the student center.

“Yo, Kyle!” Noah jogs up behind me as I walk outside.

“What’s up?” I shove the door open and I’m smacked by air so thick it’s like a steaming washcloth over my entire body.

“Fuck, is it always as hot as Satan’s asshole out here?” Noah wipes his face.

“You say it like the weather changes.” I laugh and slip both arms through the straps of my backpack.

Noah sighs and stops me in the middle of the sidewalk. “Dude, I know who you are. Kyle Avery? UNC, right?”

Fuck me, seriously? Again?

“How?” I swallow so hard I expect to choke on my own tongue.

“I played for Clemson until … ” He lifts his arm, displaying a gnarly scar from his mid-bicep all the way down to his wrist.

“What happened?” The words come out, and I can’t believe I’m on the other end of the question I’ve hated for so long. “Shit, I’m sorry. I know what it’s like.”

“No worries, dude. Car accident.” Noah shrugs. “I’m lucky to be able to play, let alone breathe. I fucked my arm twice because I played again before I was ready. Might need another surgery, but whatever.”

As much I never wanted to stop playing, the accident only ruined my career, not my life. It could have been so much worse, and I know I should be more appreciative about what I do have.

“Do me a favor?” I drop my voice as a few guys with
Tulane Athletics
T-shirts walk past. “Just, keep it on the D-L. I’m not ready to broadcast my life.”

“You got it, man.” Noah sighs and holds up his fist. “Peace.”

I bump his fist and take this as some kind of bond. I’m glad I have something in common with Noah because no one else understands how I’ve felt for the past two years. Right now I need something new to take my mind off everything, and I doubt this will cut it.

Chapter Three


Hot for the Student





Helena must have mystical powers. The pain and discomfort I usually endure for six weeks is almost gone after a few days. I’ve been justifying her free ointments and wraps by working double shifts so she can leave early. Even though she’s still paying me for them, I think the karma will eventually level itself out.

I can’t stop staring at the vase of barely bloomed, light pink peonies sitting on the counter next to the computer. I keep rereading his card over and over in my mind. He is beyond smooth.
Peonies trust the elements to thrive. Trust me, what you saw isn’t who I am.
I have no idea why I went so out of my way on the walk home.
Yes, I do. I wanted to see him again.
I want to come out of my shell, but I have no idea how.

I hate that my life sometimes seems to be going in the right direction but I can’t convince myself that I deserve happiness. Something keeps telling me Kyle is different, but I don’t know in what way. I’m also not sure if it makes me excited for something new or terrifies me.

The sunlight streaming through the ample windows casts a glow against the walls. I turn and sigh, staring into the classroom and wishing like hell I could take the hot yoga class. But I’m still sore and I don’t want to push my luck.

The chime of bells above the door startles me from my thoughts and I blanch as Captain America himself strolls inside, unleashing the same cure-all smile as the night we met.

“Hi.” My voice cracks and I grip my pen tight, hoping the rush of blood goes anywhere but my face.

“Hey.” He strolls over to me, holding a knee brace under his arm. The room bursts with his beachy smell; it must be laced with some kind of aphrodisiacal crack. Reason takes over my mind, kicking lust straight out the door.

“Thanks for the flowers,” I retort, pretending the blank computer screen in front of me is the most interesting thing on the planet. I want to think there’s something about Kyle to make me see who he really is, but all I can think about is him beating the shit out of some dude in the middle of the street.

“Look, I’m really sorry.” He sighs and shakes his head.

“We all have our days, it’s okay. I’m sure he deserved the ass-kicking.” I lean against the counter. Comparing him to Braden is something I’m going to do until he proves me otherwise. It’s totally unfair to Kyle to assume he’s anything like Braden. But as far as I’m concerned, everyone needs to be put through the ringer at this point.

“No, it’s not okay. It was just some asshole I used to know and it went south really fast. I swear I’m not usually like that.” Five points for Kyle.

“I didn’t peg you for a yogi.” I don’t want to talk about fighting anymore, physically or verbally; I’m over it. The whole reason I moved was to get away from the bullshit.

“I’m not, but since you told me to come by, I figured I should try it.” He swipes a sign-up clipboard off the counter. “But don’t make fun of me. I can’t even touch my toes.”

“I couldn’t touch my knees when I first started yoga, but I can get by now. Don’t worry.” My phone vibrates on the counter and I pick it up as a text flashes across the screen.


Aubrey: DAT ASS. Who is that? Is he new? Does he want private lessons? :)


I stifle a laugh as Aubrey humps the air behind the closed screen door. I love her sense of humor and her fun personality. I wish I’d opened myself up to her when I first started working here because her positivity is something I desperately need.

“Hey, Aub! Thanks so much for letting me pick up the next beginner class.” I shoot her a pleading glance that says
I want to properly align his hips
, and she grabs her mat out of her bag.

Lust comes back with a vengeance, ready for round two.

“Oh, sure. I know you’re itching to get back into teaching since Helena said it was okay.” She smiles and leans against the counter. Kyle looks up, and I think Aubrey mentally checks out the second he smiles. Her eyes glaze over and she smiles like she’s a twelve-year-old at a boy-band concert.

“First class?” She raises an eyebrow.

“Yes, I’m a little nervous, but I can see I’m in good hands.” He winks at me, and everything south of my eyes turns to mush. I can only imagine the pelvic lines and abs being covered up by his sleeveless T-shirt. If his toned arms are any indication of the rest of his body, I might weep in carnal appreciation.

Lust wins, punting reasoning square in the face.

“You should see Olivia in
. She makes a contortionist look like a pile of cement blocks.” Aubrey nudges my hip. “It’s like a crazy backbend and her head can touch her feet!”

Kyle locks eyes with me, hopefully having impure thoughts about what he could do with my flexibility. “You need to start speaking English. Unless Olivia wants to teach me what you mean.”


“She’s a very good teacher.” Aubrey’s grip turns white as she takes the clipboard from him. “And first class is on the house. Give us a few, and then she’ll meet you in the room when the previous class gets out. Newbies are usually in the front row, to the left.”

Kyle nods and sits on the tiny wooden chair next to the desk, looking a few inches too long for it in every direction. Aubrey grabs my arm and drags me toward the women’s locker room. Once we’re inside, she spins me around.

“How do you know him and why are you not hooking up with him yet?” She hops up and down, her fluffy bun bouncing around on her head. “He had the hottest eye sex with you. It almost turned
on, and I am a very taken woman. That’s talent.”

BOOK: Safe With You
12.27Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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