“The game isn’t until tomorrow night, and besides, I won’t be able to sleep.” He smiles ruefully. “Too nervous.”
It’s ridiculous, but I find his nervousness super cute right now. “You’ll be fine. You’ve made it this far. How can it go wrong?”
“Trust me, it can go wrong. It’s pretty hard not to think my life has turned into some sort of dream. Since I was seven and in youth league football, I’ve wanted this. A chance at the NFL, a chance to play football for one of the greatest teams ever. It never seemed possible before, you know? Just one unattainable dream to add to the long list of dreams I had when I was a kid. Something I can chase after, yet never seem to catch.” He shrugs, looking embarrassed he just spilled his guts.
But I’m stuck on one minor fact. “You’ve played football since you were seven?”
“Yeah. My mom put me in peewee football so that it would give me some discipline.”
“Did it help?”
“Oh yeah. Well, it gave me an outlet for all my energy and anger too.” He takes a sip of his water. “I was kind of a pissed off kid.”
“Really? Why?” It’s nice sitting here, getting to know him. I don’t want to share too many intimate details with him about my background, but I like hearing his stories. Makes me feel closer to him.
“The thing with my dad, how he was never a part of my life. That made me angry, and there was nothing my mom could do about it, so she put me in football. In the hopes it would allow me to channel my energy in a more positive way.” He laughs. “She’d be real proud. I sound just like her right now.”
“You two are really close, aren’t you?” I find that so sweet. Most of the guys I’ve known would never admit they were close to their parents.
“Yeah. She’s all I’ve got. And I’m all she’s got. It’s always been the two of us against the world.”
“She never remarried?”
“My dad didn’t marry her in the first place. But no, she never married. Said she never met a man worthy enough, and she didn’t want to bother hooking herself up to a loser just because.” His gaze meets mine, dark and intense. “You said you’re not a believer in marriage? Well, neither am I. I’m not much of a big believer in true love either. It all sounds like a bunch of shit if you ask me.”
“I totally agree,” I murmur, my gaze never leaving his. It’s like we’re bonding over our mutual distaste for love and relationships. While we sit here pretending we’re in love and in a relationship.
The irony isn’t lost on me. I bet it’s not lost on him either.
“No wonder we both so readily agreed to pretend we’re in a relationship like this,” he says. “We’re not believers.”
“Not believers of what exactly?” I know what he means, I just want to hear him say it.
“Believers in love.” His smile is slow, his gaze still intense. I’m starting to realize that’s an apt description of him. He can smile so easily but still appear so serious. Maybe Fable’s right—there still might be a hint of mischievousness lingering deep inside him. And I wouldn’t mind trying to bring that to the surface. “Love is a total waste of time.”
“If you think you’ve fallen in love, you’ll only get hurt.”
“And who wants to get hurt?”
“Definitely not me,” I agree.
“Attraction is for real, though.”
I frown. His comment just tripped me up. “Attraction?”
“Yeah, you know. Attraction. Chemistry. Being drawn toward someone, and that person being drawn toward you. That’s real.”
“So you believe in attraction, but not love.”
“Of course I believe in attraction. It’s what makes the world go ’round. It’s what draws people to each other in the first place, and makes them think they’re in love.” He takes another sip of his water and I watch him, entranced with the way his lips curve around the glass, how his Adam’s apple moves when he swallows. Ugh. All this talk of attraction and love is starting to get to me. Just watching him drink is making me squirm, which is totally ridiculous.
“I guess I didn’t think you’d be a big believer in attraction. I don’t know why,” I say, my gaze lingering on his now damp lips. His very full, shiny lips. Is it suddenly hot in here, or is it just me?
“Just because I don’t believe in love doesn’t mean I won’t indulge every once in a while.” He chuckles. “I used to indulge a lot more when I was younger.”
“Well, yeah.” His cheeks actually turn ruddy, like he’s embarrassed. “Most of my college years, you could’ve totally called me a man-whore and I wouldn’t have argued. I was with a different girl every night, it felt like.”
I frown. “And why exactly are you telling me this?” Not like college was that long ago for him. For all I know he could’ve considered himself a man-whore up to a few weeks ago.
And why does that make me feel so uneasy?
“I don’t know. I guess you’re easy to talk to.” He shrugs. “I don’t open up too often to people.”
“You don’t?” Because he is definitely opening up to me.
“I keep to myself mostly. Only have a few close friends.”