I Bet You (Page 23)
He looks pissed at first but then switches gears and laughs. Sticking his hands in his pockets, he glances down the empty street. “You sure you called him? If you was mine, I’d be here by now.”
Look him straight in the eye. I nod. “He’s probably worried right now that I haven’t called him back because he told me to call him once I checked my trunk for a spare, and I already did that.” I hold up my phone and wave it at him to show him I have it out and could have called him. “He worries about me and we’re friends—good friends.”
Archer’s lips curl up, a smile without teeth, yet I feel the sharpness of it. His head lowers, his eyes at half-mast. “Ah, he’s not your friend and you shouldn’t trust him. You know why?”
“Why?” I don’t like the know-it-all sneer on his face, and my hands tighten.
He thinks about his answer and points a finger at me, waving it all over the place. “See, cher, I’m itching to tell you, but if I do, it won’t be fair.”
My nerves are stretched too thin to piece together his drunken words. He walks forward and puts heavily muscled forearms on either side of my car, caging me in.
S**t. My hand clutches my keys. Just stab him in the eyeball. Do it.
But my arms feel like lead. I’m too scared to move.
His words are slurred. “You don’t need him. I’ll show you a real man.”
A loud voice from behind him startles us both. “Dude! Archer? What’s going on?”
Sweet baby Jesus. I’m saved. Relief washes over me and I crane my neck to see who it is.
Archer pushes off from my car and whips around.
Blaze is in his truck, idling by the road. He pulls to the side, turns the ignition off, and gets out then run-walks over to us. I recall tutoring him last year and how after each of our sessions in the library, he’d insist on walking me to my car.
“You okay?” Blaze asks me as I lean against my car, palms flat on the cool metal. My legs are noodles.
“I am now.” I put my hand to my chest. “Just need my heart to slow down.”
“Was he bothering you?” Blaze sends a narrowed, angry glance over at Archer, who’s taken a few steps away from me.
“He’s drunk,” I tell him. “I don’t know what would have happened if you hadn’t come along.”
“I didn’t do nothing but ask her if she wanted some help,” Archer calls out belligerently.
Blaze looks back at me, grimacing. “Did he touch you?”
“She shoved me,” Archer shouts, but we both ignore him.
I shake my head. “He was leaning over me…” I shake my head. “He said stuff about Ryker I didn’t get.”
Blaze lets out a string of curse words and sends a menacing look at Archer. “You’re an a*****e, Archer. Why did you scare her?”
His jaw juts out. “I was just kidding.”
Blaze’s gaze comes back to me. “Do you want me to call the cops?”
I consider it, but in reality nothing happened. Yes, he showed up in the dark and said some odd things and came close to assaulting me…but he never technically laid a hand on me. My jaw clenches. Plus, he’s a football player. I knew exactly what would happen if I called the cops. Nothing. He’s too important of a player. Magnolia lives and breathes Waylon football.
“I didn’t do anything!” Archer says.
“Just get him out of here,” I say.
Archer kicks at a pebble on the concrete as he makes his way to his Range Rover. “Everyone believes the worst about me. Bunch of assholes.” He pushes his hand out at us, as if he’s done with us. “F**k y’all.”
He gets in his car, cranks it up, and peels out of the parking lot. As soon as he’s gone, I let out a sigh of relief.
I send up a prayer that he doesn’t hurt himself or anyone else.
“I told him I called Ryker, but I didn’t,” I tell Blaze as we watch Archer’s taillights disappear.
“He would have helped you.” He rubs his brow, looking at me contemplatively as if he’s not sure what to say. He frowns, seeming to be mulling something over.
Blaze looks at me. “I don’t think we should tell Ryker about Archer being here. It will only make things worse with them.”
I frown. “There’s tension between them?”
“They have a history.” He looks as if he might say more—as if he knows something I don’t—but then he settles for walking over to my tire and studying it. His gaze is rueful when our eyes meet. “I guess you need some help with this?”
The Duke of Waylon enters my dressing room at the church, and I flip around to face him.
My eyes take in the thickness of his thighs in his beige breeches, the white linen shirt that’s wet from the storm that rages outside. He stands with his feet apart. “You’re not marrying him.”
“Go to hell,” I say.
He pops off his shirt with a swift movement and I gasp. He’s built like a Greek god, rippling with power, an alpha male to the core. Droplets of water run in small rivulets across his muscles, tracing over his pecs and soft curls, dancing across his abdomen then disappearing inside his tight pants.
He c***s an eyebrow. “You’re looking at me like you want me, Lady Penelope.”
“The sentiment seems to be returned, my lord.” I flick my eyes to the bulging tent in his crotch.
With two steps he’s at my side and his hand tangles in my auburn tresses, tilting my chin back until our gazes are locked. He trails a finger down the curve of my face, and a flood of heat washes over me.
“Of course it is. You’re mine and no one else’s.” He kisses me deeply, his lips like wine, dark and intoxicating.
My arms curl around his neck.
“Beautiful,” he murmurs as he shoves my bodice down, freeing my heavy breasts.
“We can’t do this,” I breathe. But there’s no truth in my words.
His glittering gaze spears me. “Indeed, my lady, we can. I’m going to f**k you until you forget all about your fiancé, Viscount Connor.”
I slam my notebook shut, my chest heaving just like the heroine’s. Why do I keep writing these ridiculous fantasies about him?
I flip on the TV where I find Twilight on Netflix and hit play. If I can’t write fiction without Ryker as the hero, then I’ll just veg out. I send a glare at my notebook. “You will not be opened again tonight,” I announce.
“S**t!” Vampire Bill squawks.
I head to the kitchen, blaming my lapse in writing judgment on the fact that the handsome quarterback has been in my dreams at night more times than I care to count.
The doorbell rings as I’m popping popcorn in the kitchen. With a brief look at my clock—it’s after ten—I clutch my around-the-house cardigan at the neck and grab my pepper spray. I will not be taken unaware again like last night with Archer.
I walk into the den and approach the door. “Who is it?” I call out.
“Ryker?” I say back.
“Ryker!” Vampire Bill squawks, and I turn around to hush him.
“Yes,” replies the deep male voice.
I stare at the door.
“You gonna let me in, Red?”
I frown at the door. “It’s late. And stop calling me that. My hair is auburn.”
I hear him laugh. “Late? It’s the weekend, plus your lights were on when I drove past. And Auburn doesn’t make a good nickname.”