I Bet You (Page 18)
Penelope gives me a short nod. “It’s not something I go around telling people.” She shrugs, a hard set to her face. “I barely know my dad. I happen to know a lot about football because I like the sport.”
Ah. I know what it’s like to barely know a parent. My mom left my dad when I was three and has been floating in and out of my life ever since. She only comes around when she’s in between boyfriends and has nothing better to do. The last time I saw her was over two years ago at a football game in Austin, where I’m from. Despite the fact that I’m the quarterback, she’s never been to a game here at Waylon. From watching the myriad of emotions flitting across Penelope’s face, it seems we have that dynamic in common.
“Don’t you have a class to get to?” Margo says to Penelope.
“It can wait.”
Margo narrows her eyes. “I wanted to speak with Ryker alone.”
Penelope stiffens and looks back at me, her eyes gazing at me accusingly.
The arch in my eyebrow says, Are you jealous?
Never in a million years, her smirk replies.
Then why the dirty looks?
She grits her teeth.
“I thought you’d already gone inside to sit with Dimpleshitz,” I say pointedly.
“I did. I came out to find you.”
She eyes Margo and chews on her lip, obviously contemplating.
Did things go south with Dimpleshitz?
I’m about to ask her when Margo stumbles in her heels—how do you do that standing still?—and I reach out and grab her. She melts in my arms. “Thank you, Ryker. You’re so strong.” She bites her lower lip and pushes out her t**s. My eyes, of course, go straight down to her cleavage. I’m human, after all.
I glance over at Penelope, who’s glaring at me.
“No worries,” I say to Margo, setting her right. “Is there something else you wanted?”
She clears her throat, her hands fluttering. “Yes, as I was saying earlier…I think you’re the best player in the country, and no one is more disappointed than me that you aren’t being considered for the Heisman this year.”
She definitely has my attention now. I frown. “The award isn’t everything,” I say, even if it so is.
“Good Lord, he could still win. He was cleared by the NCAA. How many times do I have to tell people?” Penelope says rather loudly.
“Are you…defending him?” Margo asks, an incredulous look on her face.
Penelope shrugs. “Even if he doesn’t get the Heisman, he’s going to be a top pick in the draft. That’s nothing to sneer at.”
“But he did the betting thing to you.”
“I’m right here,” I add dryly.
Penelope looks at Margo. “And he apologized and has made up for it. Once I forgive someone, it’s over and done. We’re moving on. Isn’t that right?” Her smoky eyes meet mine, and f**k, my heart kicks up a notch. My gaze drifts over her porcelain complexion, taking in the curls that fall around her shoulders. I stare at her lips, remembering that kiss.
She’s not for you.
I swallow. “Yeah.”
Margo lets out a heavy sigh, and this time her hand on my arm is insistent as she tugs. “Whatever.” She focuses back on me. “Anyway, as I was saying, the Chi Omegas are having a huge—”
“Willyoucometothehomecomingpartywithme?” Penelope asks rapidly, running the words together as she stands with her hands clenched.
I whip my gaze back to her. “What?”
Did she just ask me to go to a party with her?
She nods. “It’s a homecoming party at the Chi O house after the game. I know you usually go to the Tau house…” Her voice drifts off and she fidgets.
I grin at her, giving her the full golden boy charm. “I’d love to, babe.”
She grimaces at the endearment. “And I invited you,” she adds, a scowl on her face as she sends a triumphant look at Margo.
“Whatever floats your boat.” I turn more fully toward her, hoping Margo will take the hint and move away, but she doesn’t. “What about Dimpleshitz?” I ask. “Is he going to be okay with that?”
She looks confused and waves me off. “I invited him too…just now. I was coming out to tell you. Aren’t you proud of me? I mean, I was nervous, but he asked me out, so I think he’s really into me. It gave me the confidence I needed.” She smiles.
A frown scrunches my forehead. “I see. So I’m not your date?”
Penelope gives me an unsure look. “No. We can invite as many people as we want. We want to have a better party than the Thetas, and Margo insists we ask the most popular A-list students to come to the party. You’re my pick.”
A muscle ticks in my jaw. I get it now. I’m just a commodity. A means to an end. Get the popular jock there and everyone else will follow.
“Dudes! What’s going on?” Blaze calls out as he waves. Dillon is next to him, the backup quarterback from Alabama with dreadlocks and a killer smile. They jog over to us, faces expectant. Carefree. Maybe that was me at some point but not anymore.
Blaze sidles up to Penelope, his gaze darting from her to me, a questioning look in his eyes. “So you guys are cool now?”
I just got her a date with her #1 crush—so yeah.
Margo is still attached to my arm, and part of me, the part that’s smarting after not being the only person Penelope invited to the Chi Omega party, decides to let her keep hanging on, especially since Penelope can’t stop looking at me and Margo.
Charisma appears in our circle and throws an arm around Penelope then gives me a narrowed look. “What’s up?”
Penelope says brightly, “I asked Ryker to the Chi Omega after party for homecoming, and he said yes.”
An expression of surprise then understanding flits across Charisma’s face as she looks at Penelope and then Margo.
Blaze’s ears perk up, and he turns to Charisma, his eyebrows waggling. “I haven’t gotten my invitation yet. How’s about it, babe—wanna ask me?”
“Don’t call me babe and no.”
“I’m inviting you,” Penelope announces.
He lets out a whoop and high-fives Dillon.
“Well, if it’s going to be a big hoedown, I gotta be there too,” Dillon mutters.
Charisma rolls her eyes. “Great. It’s going to be one big football sausage fest.”
Penelope gives Margo a smile. “Aren’t you glad Charisma and I managed to invite all these great guys?”
Margo grits her teeth and pushes out a smile. “Of course. Our party’s going to be the best.”
Blaze gives me a long look. “Homecoming isn’t that far away. Maybe we all need to hang out some before it gets here.”
My lips tighten. I know what he’s insinuating. He wants me to bang Penelope.
Penelope shrugs. “Sure.”
Class is weird.
Ryker and I enter at the same time, and because we’re a few minutes late, the only seats left are in the very back. Connor is sitting up front, where it’s packed, and someone took my seat. Professor White is known to be a quiet talker, so if you want to keep up, it’s best to sit close.
I’m glad I still have my backpack and workbook on me.
We head to the back, and Ryker’s face is a mask as he settles in next to me.
While Professor White gives us a few moments to look over some notes before a quiz, I lean over to Ryker, keeping my voice low. “Aren’t you proud of me?”