“Oh. No, I didn’t mean it that way,” she assured me, catching the drink that I slid across the granite at her. “I just would have cleaned up all my school stuff.”
“And added it to the pile in the dining room?” I nodded toward what had once been a formal dining room, but was now Liberty’s study, and twisted the top off my drink.
“Guilty.” Her cheeks flushed.
“I know.” I shrugged, then drank half the bottle. Flying always sucked the water right out of me, and after a hell of a game in Baltimore this afternoon, I could use all the hydration I could get.
“You don’t mind coming home to a mess?” She asked, wrinkling her nose.
“I like coming home to you.” I loosened my tie and leaned on my elbows, facing her across the island.
Her lips parted, and my chest tightened as that perpetual electricity that wove itself around us rose again. It had been two weeks since I’d pinned her to the locker room door and made her my personal post-game dessert, and we still hadn’t had the what does this mean conversation, which basically meant we were stuck in sexual and emotional limbo.
But it wasn’t like we’d had a lot of time. With the season in full swing and Liberty knee-deep in her dissertation, we were both busy as hell, preoccupied, and pretty much doing everything we could to ignore the elephant in the room just in case we didn’t like what the other one had to say. Communication wasn’t our strong point. It wasn’t even our weak point. It wasn’t a point at all because it didn’t exist.
“I like being here when you come home,” she said softly.
“Good.” And just like that, I wanted her. Hell, it was pretty much a constant thing these days. She could probably offer me a sandwich, and I’d get hard for her.
“Coach’s rules.” I’d have it off as soon as I got upstairs.
“You did great today.”
“You watched?” My eyebrows rose, and a bubble of pride worked its way up my throat. We’d handed Baltimore their ass, and I’d thrown for two-hundred-and-sixty yards.
“Of course, I did.” She tilted her head at me. “Remember, I’ve been watching you long before you ever started watching me. You were my celebrity crush.”
“Huh. Right. I do remember something about a giant cardboard cutout.” That bubble expanded, making me feel ten feet tall and bulletproof.
“It’s not like you were shirtless or anything,” she mumbled, but I heard her.
“Tell you what. You just let me know when and where to show up, and I’ll watch you study. Day. Night. Afternoons. The dining room table. The library. It’s on. I’ll even get a jersey made.” A corner of my lips lifted in a smirk.
“Geeze, you don’t have to get all stalkery or anything,” she teased. “I mean, I know someone with my impressive GPA is going to pull the stats that bring the fans, but I have to tell you, there’s a line between my professional life and my personal one, and I take it very seriously.”
“Oh, do you?” I laughed.
She sighed dramatically. “You have no idea what it’s like to be hounded by legions of adoring fans.”
“I only care about one fan.” I quickly downed the rest of my drink to keep from seeing her reaction to my unintentional confession.
“Don’t you want to know what my favorite part of the game was?” she questioned, rolling her pencil over her notebook.
“I’d rather hear about your weekend,” I answered honestly. There were enough people either gushing over my game performance or criticizing it.
“I kept you updated via text about my entire weekend, which was spent either at the dining room table or right here.” She patted the counter. “I like this seat better because it’s closer to the food. And I’ll have you know that my favorite part of the game was when you bent over during the second quarter to pick something up, and the camera zoomed in on your ass.” She stared at me unflinchingly.
My jaw dropped for a second and—yep. Hard. So. Fucking. Hard.
“What?” Her eyebrows drew together. “Like you don’t know that you have a nice ass? Was that some kind of surprise? Because I’m pretty sure you always make the hottest-athletes-of-the-universe list, so it’s not like you should be shocked.”
I blinked, then finally got my mouth to move. “There isn’t a hottest-athletes-of-the-universe-list that I’m aware of, but…thank you?”
She scoffed and rolled her eyes. “What’s in the bag?”
“I picked up a little something.” A jolt of excitement barreled through me as I handed the little bag to her.
“Kind of. But not really. That’s a complicated question at the moment. Open it.” I walked around the island as she peeked inside the bag and pulled out a tiny, purple jersey with NOBLE across the back.
She made a little squeaking sound and held it out, blinking rapidly as she studied it. Then two tears fell down her cheeks.