I hate hearing about his man-whore status. It depresses me. He has all of this experience and I have so little. Worse, what if I don’t measure up? There’s a distinct possibility that could happen. “I don’t know what’s going on with him. And I have no clue what he wants from me.”
He starts to jog across the field, his head turning in my direction and I shrink into myself, dropping my head, hoping he doesn’t notice me.
“Uh oh,” Kelli murmurs and I know. I just know he spotted me.
It’s like I can feel his gaze on me, hot and intense. Awareness prickles over my skin, making every tiny hair on my body stand on end and slowly, I lift my head to find him staring at me. His mouth curls into this half smile that’s way too fucking cute and his eyes light up as he makes his way toward where I’m sitting. I smooth a hand over my hair, tuck a few wild strands behind my ears and pray to God he has a secret thing for girls who wear no makeup and holey clothes while out in public.
He stops just in front of us, his breathing accelerated, the now familiar scent of him surrounding me and I try my best to inhale as discreetly as possible because wow, he smells good. I can actually see sweat glisten on his belly and oh my God, I think my ovaries just exploded.
Or that could just be cramps.
I can’t really tell.
I couldn’t miss her if I tried. She’s the last person I expect to see sitting on the sidelines while I’m at soccer practice—shit, I don’t even think I’m going to stick around town this summer to play, though I did last year and had a blast—but there she is. You can’t hide all that glorious, vivid red hair from me. I’d know that pretty head from a mile away.
Jade. Looking flustered with her hair falling out of a braid. I don’t think she’s wearing any makeup and her freckles really stand out against her creamy skin. Her lips are this peachy pink color that I’m dying to kiss. I can’t stop staring at her and I try to catch my breath, calm my racing heart, which had started out racing because of the exercise. But is now racing because the girl I want more than anything I’ve ever wanted before in my entire fucking life is sitting right in front of me.
“Hey.” I take a deep breath, wipe at my forehead again with my arm. Fuck, I’m a mess. I bet I stink too. “What are you doing here?”
“I brought her.” Her roommate sends me a serene smile and a wink, like we had this planned all along. Which we so didn’t, but now I owe her one. “She’s been grumpy lately.”
Jade jabs her in the ribs with her elbow. “Shut up.”
“She’s been avoiding me,” I say, deciding to just lay it all out. Fuck it. Any other girl who didn’t reply to my texts, I would’ve said good riddance. Hell, I don’t think I’ve ever texted another girl much unless it’s to say the following:
Wanna hook up?
Got any weed?
Aren’t you the girl I kissed in the men’s bathroom last night?
You know. Along those lines. This makes me sound like a shallow asshole and I’ll agree wholeheartedly. I’ve been a shallow asshole most of my life. A product of my environment, I’d say. But there is always that defining moment when a man decides he wants to change his ways.
Meeting Jade, spending time with Jade…has become that defining moment for me. Wild but true.
“I’ve been…” She sinks her teeth into her lower lip and I want to groan. It’s like she’s so incredibly sexy and doesn’t even realize it most of the time. “Busy.”
That’s the lamest excuse I’ve ever heard. I’m not going to give her any grief for it though. I’m walking a delicate line right now. I can feel it. “Totally understandable.”
The roommate frowns at me, as does Jade. “Really?” she asks.
I nod, glancing over my shoulder to see what’s going on out on the field. We called a break a few minutes ago and I should be chugging water so I don’t collapse from dehydration when I get back out there but…I can’t walk away from Jade. I’d rather suffer and pass out than miss this opportunity to talk to her. “What are you doing right now?” I ask when I return my gaze to her.
Jade’s cheeks turn pink. Almost as pink as the shirt she’s wearing, which happens to have a hole in it. A couple of them actually—one at the neckline and another that’s just below her left boob. “Um…”
“Nothing,” the roommate supplies for her. “She’s absolutely free.” That remark earns her another elbow jab.
“Kelli right?” I smile down at the roommate who beams back up at me like I just made her day. “I owe you. Big time.”
“I’ll collect too. Just saying.” She breathes deep and stands, smiling at the both of us. “My work here is done.”
“You’re not leaving are you?” Jade asks, her voice low and vaguely threatening.
“You’re going out with Shep after he’s done, right?” Kelli asks.
“That’s the plan,” I confirm.
“I can’t go out like this.” Jade waves a hand at herself, the frown she’s wearing so deep I swear she’s going to give herself permanent wrinkles. “I look…”
“Beautiful,” I finish for her, which only makes her cheeks turn pinker.
“You’re so full of it,” she mutters and I chuckle, moving so I can sit in the spot her roommate just vacated.
“Just telling the truth.” I take hold of her hand, my arm pressed against hers and I’m ultra-aware of her scent, the way she feels next to me, her fingers curling around mine. “Hang out with me tonight, Jade. You’ve ditched me all week. I’ve missed you.”
She turns her incredulous gaze upon me, those big hazel eyes eating me up, I swear. “You missed me?”
Nodding, I bring our connected hands up between us and drop a light kiss to her knuckles. “Yeah.”
“You don’t even know me,” she whispers.
“I want to. Get to know you.” I kiss her knuckles again. Her skin is so soft. I want to kiss more than her knuckles. Hell, I want to kiss her all over. “Come over. I’ll ditch practice right now. We can leave together.”
“But Kelli.” She waves a hand at the spot where her roommate once stood.
“Is gone.” I need to send her flowers or something as a thank you for bringing Jade to me. “Come on, Jade. Let’s go.”
“Don’t you need to finish practice?”
“They’ll survive without me.” I stand and pull her up along with me, releasing her hand. There are a few stragglers sitting on the bleachers, most of them female and gawking shamelessly at the field. I’m guessing they’re here for the shirtless show. Speaking of my shirt…“Let me grab my stuff and we’ll go?”
“Okay.” She nods, a bunch of strands of wild red hair falling around her face and I give in to the urge, reaching out so I can tuck all that silky soft hair first behind one ear, then the other. I skim her face with my fingertips, hear the shuddery breath she sucks in and I know I’m not the only one buried deep in this.
We’re both feeling it. The chemistry that crackles between us, that’s been there from the start, from that first moment our gazes met in the mirror. I touch her chin, smooth my thumb across her lower lip and her eyelids waver.