I Bet You (Page 21)
I frown. I don’t know what to say.
“How are you doing?” Cora says brightly after that, standing to join him. She picks up Cyan from her high chair and places her on her hip. This close up I can see Cora’s peach lipstick when Mom wore pink…how short she is when Mom was tall.
“Fine,” I murmur. Cora is nice.
“You should come to dinner soon,” she adds softly. “I’ve been itching to make a lasagna. I heard it’s your favorite.”
Cora doesn’t wait for an answer, just holds Cyan out to me, and I take her and settle her on my side. I’m not sure how to hold her, but I loop my arm around her waist and her legs seem to just know what to do as they straddle me. Red hair sprouts and swirls from odd places, mostly in the front and back of her head. And her eyes—they’re just like mine, the color of fog in the morning.
I can’t help it. I smile down at her.
“She’s six months today. We’re celebrating,” Dad says, watching me with Cyan. “We were hoping you were working, and here you are. Want to join us for a few minutes?”
I raise my head and meet his gaze. “I have to work, but thank you.”
He gives me a short nod. “Of course. I admire your work ethic. Vivien was the same when it came to teaching.” A brief smile crosses his face. “Everyone at Waylon adored her.”
“She is—was—the best art professor here,” I say, reminding him that she was part of Waylon before he came back.
Cyan blows a bubble with her spit, and I laugh just as the bell over the door jingles and Margo enters. She’s wearing yoga clothes, and I figure she’s popping in for one of our smoothies at the bar like she does sometimes. Our eyes meet over Cyan’s head, and she frowns, her eyes flashing around our group. I don’t think Cora and Dad see her and I’m about to wave—I’m not sure why, maybe because Cora is her mom and she’s nice. Is it possible Margo has it in her to be a human being?
But before I can say anything, Margo’s lips tighten as she hitches her bag up on her shoulder and marches back out the door.
I exhale. I don’t get her.
But I don’t understand life or people much since Mom passed away.
“Here ya go,” I say, handing my half-sister back to her mom. “I need to get back to work. Glad you guys could make it out to eat.”
Resignation sits on my dad’s face. “I take it that’s a no on dinner next week?”
“I’ll have to check my schedule.”
Cora puts her hand on his arm. “It’s okay. School’s just started, and she’s busy. We’ll have her over another time. Margo too.”
I tell them goodbye and head in the other direction, my hand dipping into my apron as I grab a sucker.
A few minutes later, I look over my shoulder to the football table.
Ryker’s watching me. He’s got this quizzical look on his face, and before I know it, he’s up and out of his seat and walking over to me. Blaze, who’s sitting next to him, watches with a sardonic expression on his face, as if he’s trying to figure him out. I also see the jersey chaser who was sitting next to Ryker—I don’t know her name, but it’s a different one than the last time he was here—watching him as well, a pout on her pink lips.
“Hey,” he says when he stops in front of me, taking me in. He’s wearing another button-up shirt, and part of me toys with the idea that he wore it for me. My eyes drift over his chest and move up to his face. He’s as gorgeous as ever, hair a tousled mess, eyes intense and searching.
I must look frazzled. My wavy hair is in low pigtails and drapes over my shoulders. It did look cute this morning when I fixed it, but it’s late and stray hairs are starting to poke out around my face. At least I’m wearing cute skinny jeans, a royal blue velvet designer pair I bought at a consignment store downtown. Soft and silky, they cling to my muscles and accentuate my long legs.
And points for not having any ketchup on my shirt.
“You okay?” His voice is gruff as he watches me.
“Yeah. Why do you ask?” I pat my head. “Is my hair crazy?”
He flashes a smile. “No, it’s fine.” He looks past my shoulder to where my dad and Cora are. “I saw your dad talking to you and things looked tense. Just making sure you’re all right.”
“I’m good,” I say. “Thank you.”
We stand and…well, just stare at each other. It’s how we are, I think. We’ve done this in class a few times this week, neither of us quite knowing what to say to the other. There’s a tension between us, a tugging of sorts, and I can’t put my finger on exactly why. I blow out a little breath. Oh, screw this. I do know why. He’s hot as hell, and I keep picturing him having his way with me. And I have to stop. Just seeing my dad reinforces the fact that Ryker is dangerous.
I can’t help this pull I feel toward him, as if I’m the moon and he’s the Earth.
“Hey, I have a question for you,” I say. “Do you really think I smell like rainbows, or was that all part of the bet?”
He smirks. “Been wondering, huh?”
“You smell amazing.”
You do too, I want to say, but I don’t.
“So, just out of curiosity and for no other reason, when you said that part about us having a connection…” My voice drifts off when my phone pings with a text. I pull it out and read the message.
“Who is it?” he asks.
“Connor. He wants to have lunch tomorrow in between classes at the student center—the pizza place.” I stare down at the message for a beat then look up at Ryker. “Should I go?”
A muscle pops in his jaw. “If you want.”
“Should I say no and play hard to get?”
He frowns. “If you want to go then go. Whatever.”
I scowl. Why is he being so touchy? “Isn’t this how normal people do dating, by asking their friends about how to respond to a text?”
“I do what I want and nothing else. You haven’t dated much, have you?”
His gaze brushes over my lips, lingering. “Have you ever had a serious boyfriend, Red?”
“No. Have you?”
“No, I’ve never had a serious boyfriend.”
I laugh and he grins. “You know what I mean,” I say.
He nods. “I’ve never dated a girl longer than a month.”
A month? Holy cow. “You really are a player.”
He shrugs. “I’ve just never been in love.”
“Ditto,” I say.
He arches a brow. “Connor?”
I frown. “That isn’t love. I-I’m just curious about him. He seems like he’d be a good fit for me.”
“A good fit?” He shakes his head. “Red, come on. It’s not an arranged marriage. You need chemistry and sexual attraction. You should be thinking about him all the time, and when he walks in the room, your entire body should get hot. Is that happening?”
No. I swallow. But I can’t tell him that. I just can’t. It would be revealing and would make me vulnerable.
My phone pings again and I look down. “It’s him again.” And even though Ryker hasn’t asked what he said, I tell him anyway. “He says if I’m busy tomorrow, I can come over to his place tonight and watch a movie. Oh, that sounds…interesting.”