Authors: Cassie Mae,Jessica Salyer
He gives me one sharp nod, his eyes looking strangely bloodshot. He’d joked about how the Skyhawks were “so original” with what was splayed across his jersey, but I’m guessing it got to him more than he’s letting on.
He drives off and the tension in my chest loosens, until I turn around to Sam who’s got her arms crossed and eyebrow raised at me, and it tightens right back up.
I quickly swing the door open and crouch down to talk to her. “I’m sorry, I just—”
“How about we do this?” she says, twisting to face me. Her bare knees hit my chest and I tentatively settle my fingers on them to keep me steady. Instead of pushing me off, she puts her hands on mine. “Get me food, drag me to someplace where we can be alone, and then you can tell me what the hell is going on.”
It’s more than I deserve, so I nod like a mad man and hop around to the driver’s side before she changes her mind.
I want to be with her. I’m so into this girl who seems so strong and tough, who completely surprises me every time she says something. I want to know about her life, her dad… I want to spend time with Captain Nolan, and I want to kiss her and be that guy in her life. But there’s only one way I can see it happening, and it’s a dick move to even think about it, let alone ask her. But what’s worse? Asking her to hide whatever relationship we get into? Or risk her getting hurt because of it being out in the open?
I clutch onto her hand as I drive to Pizzeria, hoping I’ll get the chance to do it again after tonight.
The strings of cheese drape from my lips to the slice of pizza I’m holding about a foot away from my face. I twirl it around my tongue and then pull the extra cheese into my mouth before it breaks apart. I turn to look at Tyler and find him watching me, his face red.
“This is really good pizza.” I laugh.
“Uh huh,” he mutters and then takes a big bite.
When I finish chewing I say, “Do you normally hang out in restricted areas at airports?”
We sit on the hood of his truck, resting up against the window, pizza box between us. There’s a chain link fence in front and beyond that a tarmac.
“I like planes.” He gives me that sexy smile. “It’s the one place more cathartic than a football field. My dad used to take my brothers and me here, and it was probably the only time we weren’t beating the crap out of each other. We’d sit for hours guessing what planes were headed where, or where they were just coming from.” He points to a light in the distant sky. “Look here comes one—probably from, I’m gonna say, Texas.”
We watch it get bigger and bigger until you can see the outline of the plane. Then it’s flying over us, so loud it vibrates in my chest, and soon after it lands on the runway in front of us.
“Cool.” I smile and wipe my hands on a napkin and take a swig of Coke. It’s nice he wants to be alone with me, but I can’t believe he thought I would fall for the BS he fed me earlier. I mean
. Pushing me in the car and then blocking his friend’s view of me kind of gave it away.
When I saw him jog onto the field tonight, his droopy shoulders and half-assed high-fives made me think he was just disappointed about not playing. I’m sure it was hard for him to sit on the bench, especially when they lost. I bet every part of him wanted to be out there next to his teammates giving it his all. I ended up texting Brad to make sure he had a good night despite the fact that he too was on the bench. His “Skyhawks are the shit!” text with accompanying sideways capital D emoticon eased my mind.
But the way Tyler acted at his truck… it has to be something more than just about the game.
The pizza box moves silently when I push it down the hood a little. I scoot closer to him and then say, “Do you think I’m ugly?”
He chokes a little on the food in his mouth. “H-hell no. Why would you ask that?”
I pat him on the back. “Well, there has to be a reason you’re hiding me from your friends.” I give him a cheesy grin. “So what’s up?”
He blows out a big breath and tentatively taps the back of my hand with his. I turn my palm, rollercoaster heading down in my stomach.
“First, I just want to say”—he pauses again—“you know I like you, right?” His thumb moves back and forth over my knuckles, making my stomach jump over on the tilt-a-whirl.
“I like you, too. A hell of a lot.”
That smile is so damn hot I’m tempted to keep going on just how much I like him, but then it fades.
“Well, tonight, uh…” He blows out another breath. “Our locker room was trashed. Shit thrown everywhere. Lockers destroyed. It was bad.”
. Suddenly Brad’s “morning runs” make sense.
“Yeah.” He places a kiss on the inside of my wrist. “We don’t have any proof, but—”
“You don’t have to say it. I know who it was.”
His blue eyes turn apologetic. Like he has anything to be sorry for. It’s just one of the things that happens during football season in this town. One team starts it, the other retaliates, and it loops and loops in an endless cycle. I’ve fortunately been able to keep my ass out of all of that, but with Brad basically leading the mob with pitchfork in hand directed at the guy I like “a hell of a lot” I’m guessing I won’t be out of the rivalry business for long.
“All the jerseys were spray-painted with shit,” Tyler says, and I squeeze his hand. “Except for mine.”
“Yours was fine?” My forehead crinkles together.
“Mine is missing.”
I shake my head. Guess I’ll be looking for Tyler’s jersey next time I visit Aunt Gabby’s place.
“Yeah,” he continues when I don’t say anything. “So I wondered if they did this because I knocked Nolan’s lights out, or did he—”
“See us together.” I finish for him.
He boldly pulls me into his side, and so I boldly rest my head on his shoulder. He’s probably saying goodbye before this gets messy. I totally get it, I just wish we would’ve been able to kiss at least once befor—
“I don’t want to stop seeing you because of this,” he says, and I find myself smiling.
“So… what do you suggest?”
I gaze down at his jeans, tempted to touch the pocket near his hip. Hanging out with Tyler doesn’t scare me. I mean it does… but in the way I think it’s supposed to. I’m nervous around him, and my stomach feels like it’s in an amusement park, but I’m not scared to be with this guy who is supposedly my “enemy.” And even though it has the potential to get messy, I kind of want to forget about it, because of all the things going on in my life right now, I think I could use something for me.
So I lean up, grab the collar of his shirt, and pull him in for a kiss.
“I get it,” I say against his warm and shocked lips. “I think it would be better if nobody knew about us.” I pull back with a victorious grin. “Well, except for my best friend, ’cause I already told her.”
“So you’re okay with it?” He searches my eyes.
“Completely. It’ll be our little secret,” I say in the voice I use when I know I’m being super cliché.
His breath comes out in a rush of relief, and he shoves the pizza box farther down the hood so he can pull me right next to him.
“Then…” His thumb strokes the inside of my wrist, shooting goose bumps up my arm. “Are we… Or I mean, damn… how do I…?” He gives me this help-me look that is so adorable I’m sure that’s the look he uses to get his way.
“It’s okay,” I prod. “Go ahead and ask.”
“It sounds so lame,” he says, throwing his head back to the darkened sky. I laugh as another plane lands.
He sighs, but he’s finally smiling. “You want to be my girlfriend?”
I let him sweat for a little bit before leaning in again, hoping he’ll be the one to close the gap this time.
“Sure,” I answer inches from his lips. “I mean, until someone better comes along.”
He laughs, shaking his head, and I kind of adore how he embraces my sarcasm. His entire demeanor has changed, like flipping a light switch. The Tyler I played football with in the park comes back full force as he presses his mouth to mine. The stress and panic of the night flies away when his tongue prods my lips open and meets my own.
I silently promise him we’ll be careful. I just really hope we know what we’re getting into.
It’s getting cold. The frost crunches under my
as Woods and I step on the field. I stayed out way too late last night, but I couldn’t stop kissing Sam. It wasn’t until I realized I may have given her scruff burn—which was around one in the morning—that we’d been out that long.
Woods looks like he had a late night, too. He’s missed his mouth about five times trying to drink his coffee.
“If it comes up,” he says around his cup, “I propose our last-minute meetings start at noon.”
I nod and punch my fists into my pockets. I should’ve brought a jacket.
Most of the team is already here. Daniels stands on the fifty-yard line and waits for Woods and me to get within hearing distance.
“Is this everyone?” he asks, and a collected grunt answers him. Most of the guys aren’t really paying attention, but Daniels goes on anyway. “All right, guess we can get to it.” He pulls his duffel around, digs in the pouch, and pulls out Jacoby’s jersey. “This shit… It stops now.”
The few guys not listening quiet down, and most of us cross our arms and wait for Daniels to tell us what we’re going to do about it.
“Coach wants us to fight back on the field, but I say to hell with that. They took out one of our starting tight-ends, and our starting wide receiver is still on probation.”
A few eyes shift my way, but I keep my gaze on our captain.
Daniels fists Jacoby’s jersey. “I don’t know what the hell happened to make them go after—”
All of us swing around to the female voice that shot through the stadium. A dozen or so girls march to the group, each claiming their boyfriends’ hands when they get to us. Except one. Jacoby’s girl, Charly, walks right up to Daniels and pulls the jersey from his fingers.
“What are you guys doing here?” Daniels asks her in a low voice I’m pretty sure he meant to keep between them, but we’re all huddled so close we can hear him.
“I’m here for Evan,” Charly says, pulling the gold shirt into her chest. “I want that Skyhawk’s head on a freaking platter.”
The girls’ chatter fills the stadium as they argue with their boyfriends over whether or not they’ll get involved. Daniels wraps an arm around Charly and squeezes her shoulder.
“Hey,” he says to the group, but no one will shut the hell up. “Hey!”
The chatter fades, and Daniels drops his arm. “Skyhawks have an away game this Friday, and we have a bye. I think it’s a good opportunity to let them know we’re not gonna let this go.”
I take a look at the team—and their girls—and most of them are nodding. Charly’s eyes well up, and she gives a curt nod as well. I’m thinking
because I told Sam about the bye so we could spend time together. But if I’m not doing whatever it is that we’re going to be doing Daniels will kick my ass.
Daniels lets out a visible breath into the morning air. “You all in?”
“Hell yeah”s and “No shit”s are thrown out, along with several other things. I simply say, “Yep” when Daniels looks at me.
“Okay, then.” His eyes shift to Charly. “Anyone got any ideas?”
Most everyone leaves the field after our “meeting,” but I stick around, kicking at the turf around the end-zone. Damn, I miss this place. It’s been one game since the suspension, but it feels like it’s been twenty.
“You heading out?” Woods asks as he heads toward the parking lot.
“I’m gonna stay for a bit. I’ll catch ya later.”
He nods and it’s cool ’cause he gets it. I think they all do. The field is our place, and sometimes we just need to spend some time here.
I crouch down and run my hand over the white goal line. I’ve had eight touchdowns this year alone. Right here’s where I feel at home. The smell of grass is up there with the top scents on the planet. It’d be number one, but ever since I caught a whiff of Sam’s boner-inducing perfume, it’s been knocked down a spot.
My stomach turns as I think of her. It’s half good, half panic. I’m not sure if I should tell her what the team decided to do about Nolan and the rest of the Skyhawks. I don’t even want to think about it.
I straighten and take another deep breath of the field and close my eyes. The game would help loosen the tension. Too bad it’ll be another three weeks on the bench.
“See ya Friday,” I tell the end-zone, and then I start walking across the field, past the track, through the fence, and next to the bleachers.
Before I step foot into the parking lot, a hand snaps my wrist and yanks me under the bleachers.
“Shh,” Sam says, putting a finger against my lips. She gives me that wicked grin of hers I’m really starting to love, then tugs me farther into the shadows.
Her mouth is on mine, feisty and hungry. I let out a small laugh and match her intensity, nipping at her bottom lip and running my hands over her hips.
“What are you doing here?” I ask between nibbles to her neck.
“I wanted to see you again,” she pants. Her fingers tug at my hair. “I remember your teammate shouting about this meeting thing, so here I am.”
I travel back to her mouth for a quick kiss and let her lips move around my jaw and down my throat. I hold back a groan.
“No one saw, right?”
She shakes her head, still planting kisses along my now overheated skin. “You didn’t see me.”
Her heavy breathing matches mine when I kiss her again. I can’t get enough of her mouth, her tongue, her body under my hands. And even though I’m scared as hell about getting caught, I forget it for right now. It feels like the field. The tension in my gut and my chest disappears with every touch of her lips.
“I have a question,” she says, traveling to my ear and biting the lobe.
“O-okay,” I croak.
She pulls back, and I’m thinking we’ll keep kiss-talking, but she doesn’t go for my mouth. Her warm eyes flick to mine, and she catches her breath.
“Are you still going to play with Josh tomorrow?” The corners of her lips turn down. “Because I know you said you would, but after the whole locker thing, and now that we have to hide us, I wasn’t sure if—”
I press my hand to her mouth and plant a kiss on the top of her head.
“Can he keep a secret from your cousin?”
“Then I promised I would, so I will.” I rub my hands up and down her chilled arms. “But if you’re worried, I know a place with a bigger field, more running space, actual goal lines…and most importantly, it’s neutral zone.”
“No one will see?”
“No one that we know. If you and Josh are up for it, then I can text you the address and we can play there.”
“What about the rest of the guys on the team?”
“It’s not too far out of the way. I’m willing to drive a few linebackers if needed.”
She lets out a laugh and presses her nose into my chest. I hold her close, running my fingers in her curls.
“Thank you,” she says. “If you broke your promise, I’d have to break your nose and I really don’t want to do that.”
I nod, smiling and thinking,
, I love how outspoken she is. I start rocking her in my arms, and something thunders in my chest, causing a hurricane of familiar feelings I get when I suit up for a game. But for some reason, they feel more powerful. It scares the shit out of me because I hardly know this girl, and she’s doing this to me already.
“Do you mind if I bring a plus one?” I ask over her head. She jerks back and pinches her brows together.
“Seeing some other girl?” she teases.
“Yeah. She’s a bit high maintenance, though.”
I go to kiss her lips, but she stops me with her fingers. Her head tips to the side and her eyes widen.
“She’s my sister,” I say through my cheesy-ass grin.
Sam drops her hand. “She wants to come play football?”
“Probably not. Parker’s not into that stuff. But I did tell her I’d take her to the park this weekend.”
“Then yes, bring her. I want to meet her.”
That makes my chest burn with that powerful football feeling again, and I hug her against me, wondering if she can feel it. I like how she gets me. Family is important, and it doesn’t matter where we live or what school we go to, we want to share our lives with each other.
And if there’s one person I know I can share Sam with, it’s Parker.