I Bet You (Page 17)
I walk briskly, my stride extended as I try to catch up to them without getting close enough to be noticed. Hell, I just want to be a fly on the wall for their conversation. Most of their exchange in the bookstore was about school supplies.
What I’m definitely not thinking about is the elephant in my head: that kiss.
Yeah, it was spur of the moment, but part of me wants to repeat it as soon as I can.
That won’t happen.
I’m getting Connor for her—not me.
I enter the science building, still following the…lovebirds? I watch their heads bend close to each other as they have a conversation that seems intense. What are they talking about?
I was on a team in high school. Please. And just like that, I grin at nothing in particular. Penelope is…funny.
As I head down the hallway to class, I see Archer coming around the corner, his arm around Sasha, one of the jersey chasers.
Anger curls around me. These past couple of days at practice have been tense, but I’m hanging in there, as long as he can keep his trap shut.
I head for the entrance to the auditorium just as Archer ditches Sasha and hightails it over to me. His gaze sees the pair up ahead—Connor and Penelope—and a wide grin splits his face. A low whistle comes from him as he checks her out before she disappears through the door.
I hate that he’s staring at her.
“What do you want?” I say.
He smirks. “Ah, poor Ryker, she’s with a guy. That certainly makes things interesting, but I’m sure a handsome fellow like you can figure it out.” He tosses his head back and laughs but then sobers, his eyes narrowing on my face. “Unless I’m wrong and you’ve tapped that already?”
I stare down at him, my fists tightening. “None of your g*****n business.”
“Now that’s a no if I ever heard one,” he says in his slow drawl before giving me a slap on the back. “Don’t worry, sport, maybe you can talk her into it. I mean, I know you’ve lost some of your game with the ladies this year, but surely you can get this girl.” He considers me. “But then, maybe you’re not feeling masculine enough? I mean, you’ve had some bad press lately. They say it affects the libido.”
I exhale. “Don’t you have better things to do with your time than worry about who I’m screwing? People who talk about sex are the ones who aren’t getting it, bro.”
He waves me off. “Actually, this is the highlight of my week. I’m going to win that trophy this year because you’re too much of a p***y to get a piece of a*s that should be so easy for someone like you—seeing as you’re the big man on campus and all.”
I smirk. “Sounds like jealousy to me, Archer. I’m not taking your bet. And as soon as Maverick comes back to the team, your a*s is no longer captain.”
His face reddens, and I’m glad I finally hit a nerve. He’s a hard nut to crack under all that fake bravado. “You think you’re so good, don’t you? You think just because you’re Ryker Voss everyone’s just going to give you a pass.”
I tower over him, inching into his space until I hope he smells my toothpaste. “Keep all this talk up and you’re going to get hurt.”
He laughs, a bit shrilly, and bounces away from me on the balls of his feet. “Whatever. It’s all in good fun. Now, get back out there and try again, buddy. You’re letting her get away with some guy who can’t hold a candle to you—supposedly.”
Then he’s gone, vanishing down the hallway with Sasha by his side, leaving me fuming and ready to punch a hole in the wall. I settle for raking a hand through my hair.
Why do I let him get to me?
Because everything is getting to you now.
And something is going to crack.
It’s going to crumble around me, and there won’t be anything I can do about it.
I close my eyes briefly until a very Southern female voice interrupts me.
“Ryker? Oh, goodness. How are you? I haven’t seen you in forever.”
I whip around, and it’s Margo…something. Maybe she’s been lurking here for a while—I can’t tell. I can’t think of her last name, but I recall what I know about her: last year she dated some rich dude who screwed her over for a Theta. Apparently, she caught him red-handed at a party. I can’t recall all the details, but the rumor mill ran rampant.
“You’re just the person I wanted to see,” she adds. A slow smile breaks over her face as she eats me up with her eyes.
I know a come-on when I see it.
We don’t usually chat, but I’ll bite.
“What’s up?” I ask, looking down in bemusement as she crooks her hand into the bend of my elbow and leads me over to the side next to the wall where we’re out of the way of foot traffic. I’ve never taken her for the flirtatious type, or as one to dress skimpily—she’s more of a CEO type—but today she’s showing off, wearing three-inch heels and a short white sundress.
My ego is still a bit bruised from being brushed off for Connor, and that’s what makes me malleable as she delicately and briefly fingers one of the buttons on my shirt. “You know, I’ve always loved how you dress. Even though you’re this big strong football player, you certainly have style. Where do you shop?”
“Anywhere that has big and tall,” I say dryly. “Is there something you wanted to talk about?” That isn’t about fashion? “I have a class to get to.”
She smiles again and leans in closer until I smell her perfume, something flowery and sweet. It’s nothing like Penelope’s candy scent—dammit, why am I even thinking about her right now?
Rein it in, Ryker. Rein it in.
She laughs up at me, big eyes wide. “I just wanted to say hi. We had a class together last semester, but you were always so covered up in girls I never really got to talk to you.”
Uh-huh. Margo’s the kind who gets what she wants if she wants it bad enough, and she’s never made an attempt to talk to me.
“Well, here I am, ready and waiting. Let’s talk.” I give her a cocky grin. I can flirt with the best of them, and if it helps me forget that this year is sucking so far, so be it.
She preens. “I think you’re an excellent football player. The way you throw the ball…and stuff.”
Stuff? I scratch my forehead. Is she serious?
From behind me, I hear the sarcastic tones of Penelope’s voice. I turn around and sure enough, she’s standing there, minus Connor.
Her hand goes to her hip. “Well, don’t you guys make the perfect Ken and Barbie.” She says it completely without malice, but there’s a glint in her smoky gray eyes as she measures the distance between Margo and me.
Margo takes her in, her lips pressing together tightly. “Hello, Penelope.”
I sense tension and straighten. “You two know each other?” They eyeball each other like two dogs after the same bone. “Aren’t you both Chi Os?”
“And stepsisters—since last year,” Penelope says tightly.
Margo nods. “My mom married her dad, Professor Wainwright.”
Professor Wainwright? My eyes flare. But he and Penelope don’t have the same last name…
“The psychology teacher?” He’s also the chair of the department and my guidance counselor. I have a meeting with him soon to make sure I’ve got my credits together for graduation. A graduate of Waylon back in the day, he was a quarterback in the NFL for a few years.