I Bet You (Page 12)
“That would be a BFN—big fat no.” She holds the bag of suckers up to the porch light. “Look, he drew something on the side of the bag.”
I take the candy from her and study the sketch. It’s a creature with a long neck, small ears, and an oblong body with fuzzy stick legs drawn in black marker.
“I can’t figure out what that is supposed to be.” She looks at me. “Is he deranged? Should we call the cops?”
“No.” A small laugh comes from me. “It’s a llama.”
I shrug. “Inside joke.”
Lying in bed later, I’m reading a romance book about a pirate, but my gaze keeps going to the note and the bag of candy on my nightstand. With a sigh, I put down the book and pick up the note—for the third time—tracing my finger over the confident strokes of his penmanship. The candy was a nice touch, but it hardly excuses what he did.
I nibble on my lip, thinking back to the sorority meeting and how Margo vowed she’d get Ryker to attend. He did say he wanted to make up for what happened, so what if I invited Ryker to the party? I mean, I can also ask Connor, but if I wrangled Ryker then everyone would know the bet fiasco is over and didn’t bother me at all. I wouldn’t have to be embarrassed, and everyone would think we’re…friends.
But that’s just silly, my inner voice says. You hate him.
YES, YOU DO.
But my fingers aren’t listening as I grab my phone and type out a message to him.
Got your note. We’re not even close to being even, Baby Llama. And before when I was texting you, I didn’t know who you were. I was just messing around.
I don’t get a response for several minutes and am about to put my phone back down when I see the three little dots that tell me he’s responding.
I still want to make it up to you.
Visions of him ravishing me on my bed come to mind. I squash those thoughts down.
How? I ask.
I’ll explain tomorrow. It’s midnight and I need to be at practice by six. That means breakfast is at five fifteen.
Oh! I didn’t realize he was so…conscientious. I guess I pictured him with two girls on either side, being rubbed down with oil as he drifts off to sleep.
Sorry I woke you, I text.
You didn’t. I was lying here thinking about you.
A sizzle of heat ripples through me. Damn that sizzle.
Oh, so you’re alone?
Uh-huh. You? Or is Connor there?
My teeth grit. I hate that he knows I have a crush on him.
Just me. I throw a glance over at Vampire Bill. At night, I put his cage in here. He doesn’t like to sleep alone. Neither do I. And you need to forget about Connor, I add.
Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me. Good night, Penelope. I’ll find you tomorrow.
Find me tomorrow…?
I stare at my name typed by his fingers…and it feels surreal that I’ve just had a decent conversation with him.
Still, I’m not sure I’ll talk to him when I see him.
With a sigh, I pick back up my pirate romance, and before long I’m asleep, dreaming of my own blond, curly-hair-chested pirate.
Someone clears their throat. A male. “Hey…you down there. Do you have any clue how hard you are to find?”
I stiffen at the husky words, embarrassed that Ryker has, once again, caught me with my butt straight up in the air. This time I’m scrounging around on the bookstore floor, looking on every shelf for the right workbook for my next class.
“What do you want?” I say without looking at him, tautness in my tone, although it’s a bit muffled from speaking while bent over.
“You. I told you last night we’d talk, and here I am.”
Ignoring him, I move another collection of books aside on the shelf, but my search is fruitless. A long frustrated groan comes from me.
“We do have a class to get to, so today would be nice,” he says from above me, “although the view from here is stellar. Your curves are…lush.”
He’s staring at my a*s.
“Keep your eyeballs in your head, quarterback.”
“Hard to do when you’re bent over.”
“Try harder,” I snap.
I huff out a breath and put my hand on the shelf above me to help me stand up. Ryker immediately extends a hand, his fingers clasping mine as he heaves me up. It’s the third time we’ve touched skin to skin—yes, I’m counting—and I inhale sharply as the sensation ripples up my arm and out like waves from a skipped rock on the water. Breathlessly, I stare down at the place where our hands are joined, and he’s looking as well, a look of speculation on his face. He swallows and drops my hand swiftly. His face changes, closing in and shuttering like a window, becoming contained.
No one really knows him, I think, except Maverick.
What I do know is he’s a god on the football field, an authoritative kickass quarterback that has kept Waylon in the top ten of the SEC for the past three years. Back last year, there was even talk of Ryker being a Heisman candidate, but that day is long gone…
I glance down at my hand, my skin burning where we touched, as if an electric current has had its way with me. I press my palm against my leggings.
I blame my reaction on the early morning, my lack of breakfast, and the search for the missing workbook.
“What do you want anyway? I’m busy.”
Amusement gleams in his eyes. “Damn. No one talks to me the way you do.”
I shrug. “I see you for what you are.”
A quick smirk. “A hot quarterback?”
“An a*****e,” I correct him.
“Some girls love assholes.”
“I don’t.” My arms cross.
“I think you do. I’ve seen the romance books you bring to class, the ones with bare-chested men on the covers.”
“Those are called alpha-holes.”
“I see. This romance novel thing has its own lingo, then?”
He grins. “What kind of football lingo do you know?”
“That you’re a gunslinger.”
He straightens, interest lighting his gaze.
I shake my head. “You really think I wrote that article about you and didn’t research the hell out of it? And for your information, a gunslinger is a quarterback whose arm is good for long, deep passes.”
He rubs his jaw. “Are you saying you’re a secret Ryker Voss stalker?”
I stiffen. “The interest was strictly professional.”
“So you’ve never checked out my Instagram or Twitter?”
“Never.” Okay, I have. In fact, I did last night after texting with him. All I found were a few pics of him hanging out with Blaze and Maverick, some of his workout routine—damn, his body is tight—and a few random shots of a tiny white kitten.
I won’t let the fact that he likes small animals soften me.
He grins. “You blush when you lie, Penelope.”
“I’m not blushing.” My face is hot as hell.
He considers me. “You find what you were looking for down there?”
I huff out a breath and put my hand on my hip. “No. It’s the stupid workbook for class. We’re supposed to have it by today and here I am…scrambling.” I run a hand through my hair.
“You’re stressed out.” It’s a statement, not a question.
He fishes around in his black backpack and pulls out a paperback book, flashing the red and black cover at me, a small grin on his face. “This the one?”