Hendrix (Raleigh Raptors 3) - Page 49

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I placed a very supportive hand on her back, smiling at her. "It will be over before you know it," I said. Not totally immune to the nerves that tingled in my gut. Maybe I’d feel more like throwing up if I actually had somebody in the audience watching me. But all my boys were in the air.

The Raptors had won their away game, but they weren't due back until late this evening.

And it didn't bother me, not really. Not when walking across the stage and grabbing a piece of paper that represented the last three years of my accelerated work wasn't really that important. I mean, nothing was truly monumental about walking a short distance. Right?

"You busted your ass for years," I said. "This is the moment you've been waiting for. Once you get that piece of paper, you’re days away from taking up permanent residence with the Carolina Reapers."

"Hell yes," Paul agreed. "At least you know what you're doing with your life because I haven't got a clue what I'll do with this damn degree."

London and I laughed, the tension and pride rippling off of us in waves. She looked a little less like throwing up and a little more like sprinting across the stage to get this moment over with as quickly as possible. And I couldn't help but agree. Because while I was super stoked to be done with college and put this chapter of my life behind me, I was more excited about tonight, more nervous about what would happen.

Hendrix had texted me when he could, but away games meant busy schedules, and I knew that better than anyone. I also knew what Hendrix liked to do in the downtime during away games, and that was troll for the nearest blonde who wanted to perch on his lap.

Jealousy and anger twisted my stomach, followed quickly by a sticky, heavy wave of shame. We agreed not to sleep with other people, regardless of this not being a real relationship. Hendrix respected the terms of the rules we'd set.

Except for the one that we kept changing—the timeline.

And of course me breaking rule number five. Not that I was about to tell him that.

The dean of our school continued to call names as the lines grew shorter and shorter and closer to London’s turn.

I shoved my emotions in a box, content to deal with them later, and stayed distracted enough to know that I wouldn't text Hendrix. I’d simply hope he’d text me first when he landed. And if he didn't? Then I’d have to find a way to be content with that. I’d have to find a way to make peace with the fact that I'd gotten to live next to a roaring flame, for as long as a person like me survive it. Because Hendrix Malone wasn’t somebody you locked down with ties of monogamy and exclusivity. He was as bright as a shooting star and just as hot, moving at breakneck speeds across the universe. Untouchable. Indestructible. Brilliant.

The dean called London's name, and we all cheered for her along with her family seated in the auditorium. She hustled across the stage with the elegance and grace her sweet stature demanded, and she took the diploma from the dean's hands and staged the best pose for a graduation picture I'd ever seen. And then it was my turn.

And there were claps for me, the polite kind, and a couple of cheers from Paul and London, but there was one cheer that rang out above the rest. One whistle I knew all too well. And just as I took my diploma from the dean's hands and the photographer snapped the picture, I had the biggest smile on my face so much it hurt.

Because Hendrix Malone was in the front row, standing up and whistling so loud he was making a spectacle of himself. So much so that some of the family members were gaping up as they recognized who sat next to them.

I hurried off the stage. Hendrix beamed at me as I rushed toward him. He met me at the bottom of the stairs, and I made sure to cheer for Paul as he went behind me before launching into Hendrix’s arms.

"How are you here?" I asked, breathless as we ducked into a hallway right next to the stage. "You're supposed to be in the air right now."

Hendrix didn't waste time with an answer, instead planting me with a congratulatory kiss that was enough to make my knees weak. "I booked an earlier flight," he said after he released me. "I barely made it, but I had to see you walk across that stage."

And just like that, the doubts and worries and fears melted away. Burned to ash by his genuine thoughtfulness in his ability to surprise me and shake me to my core.


Tags: Samantha Whiskey Raleigh Raptors Romance
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