Win Big:A Bad Boy Sports Romance(7)

By: Bella Love-Wins



“Come on. We’re worked hard for this.” He looked deflated, and I was about to cave and agree when along came the perfect excuse. The second Nick and I left the building, I caught sight of Austin Grant and his yuppy tennis friends coming right toward us.

“Just kill me now,” I mumbled.

“Is he still bothering you?”

“Not really, but every time he sees me it’s his reminder to pick up where he left off with the hounding.”

“Maybe I can help.”

“How?”

“Follow my lead.” I was not expecting this. Nick slid his hand around my waist, pulled me tight into his chest, and he kissed me. I’d often wondered whether kissing him would change the way I felt about him, except standing here at the top of the steps of the Kinesiology and Athletics Building with Austin headed right toward us, I couldn’t give it a fair assessment if I tried. Nick was going all out, too. He raised his other hand and clutched the back of my head, parting my lips with his tongue.

The ruse would have worked if I hadn’t squeezed my hands between our bodies and pushed him away.

“Why’d you do that, Nick?” I asked, gasping for air just as Austin got to the top of the stairs and charged inside the building without saying a word to me.

“I was helping you,” he said with a goofy grin.

“It felt more like you were helping yourself.”

“Come on. You know I’d never take advantage of you. Plus it worked. He left you alone, didn’t he?”

I took the steps two at a time, with Nick matching my stride beside me. “Maybe it did, but…” I stopped and faced him. “We talked about this. I really like you, Nick…as friends. I don’t want to lose that, you know? Promise you won’t ever try that again.”

“Tell me you didn’t feel anything just now.”

I hesitated. I shouldn’t have paused, but I stopped to think about it. I liked it. My lips still tingled a bit, and maybe my knees were shaky. Still, I couldn’t tell him what he wanted to hear. “You want the truth or do you want me to be nice?”

“That bad, huh?” He started walking again, so briskly I almost had to skip to keep up.

“No, it’s not like that. You’re a great kisser, Nick. I just…I don’t feel the same.” I hated hurting him like this, but what was I supposed to do? “Please don’t be mad.”

“I’m not mad. Look, I’ll see you around.”

“Don’t rush off like that…Nick…Nick wait!”

He was halfway up the block already. Maybe it was for the best. I took a breath, reminded myself I’d just received the best news ever back in class, then nearly sailed home. Powering down the street in the direction of my dorm room, all I could think of was phoning my mother. I didn’t want to make that call while I was out in public. I might cry or laugh or start dancing.

My roommate, Kristy, wasn’t in yet. I didn’t expect her until after dinner. Her family always had Sunday dinner, no excuses, and I had the feeling her parents would have guilt tripped her into sticking around until the last dish was washed and put away. Her absence today was all right with me. I wanted a little peace and quiet before my roommate’s energy filled the place. I loved her, but sometimes she could be a real fireball. Which was a bit of a contradiction, given she was working on a double major in French and History so she could become a teacher and follow in the footsteps of a long line of teachers, principals and professor in her family.

I cleared a space on my messy bed and dialed my house number. Mom picked up.

“Guess what? I made it!” I squealed, throwing myself back on the bed and kicking my feet against the mattress. I didn’t have to explain what I meant. She knew.

“You did? Oh, sweetheart, congratulations! I’m so happy! I knew you could do it. It was all a matter of that Jeffries fellow seeing how good you are.” She sounded so genuinely upbeat, my heart almost broke. It wasn’t often we got cheerful in my family.

“Is Dad there? I want to be the one to tell him.”

A pause. All it took was that one pause for me to know something was up. “Mom? Is everything all right?”

“Hmm? Oh, sure. He’s just in one of his moods right now. I’m actually up in the bedroom, to give him his space.”

I closed my eyes. ‘Giving him his space’ was Mom’s way of saying she was not in the mood to be around him. The man was a doctor and had a nice bedside manner, but when he got home, he could be a loud, mean bastard. Leave it to my father to ruin my natural high without even a word of dialogue. “He wasn’t shouting at you or anything, was he?”

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