I Bet You (Page 29)
I halt and look at him. “You shouldn’t have been!”
His mouth parts at my vehemence, but I take off walking again and he keeps up with me.
“Why are you so upset?” he asks. “Are you jealous?”
“Get over yourself.” I’m breathing hard as I walk-jog.
He takes my arm and pulls me to a stop. “You are. You can go on and on about Connor and how perfect he is, but if a girl stops and says hi to me, you storm off. Why is that?” He studies me intently. “Don’t you think that means something?”
We stare at each other for several seconds. My chest is rising and so is his, and I almost feel that if I took one tiny step toward him he would wrap me in his arms and kiss me so f*****g hard.
“Red. Say something.”
No. He’s the one who left my house; he’s the one who said he didn’t want to hurt me.
“What are you thinking, Penelope?” His voice is layered with emotion.
It’s as if he needs me to tell him something, to pour my heart out to him.
But I can’t. I won’t.
I inhale a sharp breath. “This distraction needs to get to the library.”
I pull my arm away and take off in a full-on run. I probably look ridiculous running in flats and juggling a backpack, but it is what it is.
My eyes close briefly as I hurry toward the library.
God help me. I can’t fall for him.
I just can’t.
A few hours later, I’m in my dorm room, stewing after seeing Penelope. I clench my fists and pace around my bedroom. F**k, I’m antsy, and all I can think about is how pissed she was about Sasha and how amped up I am that I can’t get her to admit she wants me just as much as I want her. It doesn’t matter that she’s a distraction right now. It doesn’t matter that I’ve sworn I won’t get involved with anyone.
My eyes land on a framed picture of my dad and me at my last high school football game, and my lips twist. If I had a solid relationship with him, maybe I could call him up and talk about this pressure I feel to be the best, to be a top pick in the draft. But my dad isn’t the kind of guy you open up to. Plus, he’s still disappointed in me after the fighting scandal.
My chest is heavy and I scrub my jaw. There’s no one to talk to, really, about Penelope. Blaze is too immature, and Maverick lives with Delaney now so I barely see him. And Dad? Ha. He thinks women are for sex only. Guess I can’t blame him considering how my mom left us.
I get a text and grab my phone.
It’s from Blaze. Dude. Your girl is here at the Tau house.
On my way.
I hop in the shower, and twenty minutes later I’m out the door and headed to my truck.
The frat house is thumping with the strains of Post Malone as I walk in the door. It’s a full-scale party with people everywhere, open pizza boxes on the counter, and a keg in the kitchen. I grab a red plastic cup of beer and head to the basement where most of the people like to congregate.
Penelope is the first person I see, and I pause mid-step on the stairs and nearly spit out my drink when I get a gander at what she’s wearing: a plaid miniskirt with a fitted white collared shirt. The buttons are done all the way to the top and a little scarf thing is tied around her neck. Schoolgirl. At first glance, it’s demure, but then I look down and see her high-heeled black boots. Good God. My teeth snap together. Her auburn hair is curled and in pigtails, and she’s not wearing her glasses—a clear sign she’s on a mission.
Is it Connor she’s trying to ensnare? I run my eyes over the crowd, but I don’t see his familiar tall frame and dark hair. My fists unclench. Good. Sure, he’s decent, but a kernel of anger rushes through me every time I see the nerdy a*****e.
I watch Penelope and Charisma—and is that Margo? Yep. The three of them, along with several other sisters, are laughing as they dance together at the edge of the space. No dudes around them.
I don’t even know Blaze is next to me until he speaks, his gaze on the group. “You got here fast. I see you’re watching the Chi Os,” he murmurs.
He chuckles, and I turn to give him a sharp look.
“Something you want to say?”
He scratches at his head. “Dude, you’ve got a thing for her, for Penelope. Like bad.”
“No, I don’t.”
He shakes his head and gives me this look like he knows s**t. “I’m your go-to guy with the ball, man, and I read you like a book. You can’t keep your eyes off her. Even that day at Sugar’s…” He shakes his head.
I swallow and rub at my jaw.
Blaze muses. “You’d have pretty babies together.”
My eyes flare. “Are you drunk?”
He shrugs. “I’ve had a few, but just because I’m a football player doesn’t mean I’m not romantic and s**t.” A grin flashes across his face. “Plus, you deserve some good in your life. I say go for it. Win that bet and get the girl at the same time.”
He’s babbling. I squint at him, taking him in. “Question. Ever watch Twilight?”
“Team Jacob all the way.”
I shake my head. “I don’t even know you.”
He shrugs. “I have sisters. Girls love that s**t.”
A slow song comes on, one of Ed Sheeran’s, and I see a group of frat boys eyeing the girls.
With a muttered farewell, I leave Blaze behind and head toward Penelope. The closer I get, the tighter my chest feels.
What’s it going to take to make her see I’m not the person she thinks I am?
Why does her opinion matter to me?
I watch her toss her head back and laugh, her hair curving around her shoulders, lying in copper coils.
“What’s up? Enjoying the party?” I say as I stop in front of them, giving them my signature cocky grin.
“Oh. Hey.” It’s Penelope and she’s staring at me—like she does—as she takes a sip of her drink.
I don’t even pretend to do small talk. She isn’t one for it, and I don’t want to give her the opportunity to run away from me.
“Let’s dance.” It isn’t a question.
I take her hand, clasp it in mine, and tug her forward. She follows.
“Brute. She didn’t say yes,” Charisma calls out after us.
“She would have,” I say over my shoulder.
Penelope hasn’t said anything as we reach the middle of the makeshift dance floor. She curls her arms around my neck and looks up at me. My hands linger on her lower waist, so f*****g tempted to press myself completely against her, but I don’t because my dick is a steel rod.
My gaze wanders over her auburn hair. She’s so gorgeous it makes my teeth hurt. “Nice outfit,” I say. “Did you wear it for me?” I can’t stop the bullshit coming out of my mouth. F**k—the truth is, I don’t know how to talk to her. Sure, I know how to flirt and f**k, but I don’t know how to really like a girl. I recall the fact that I asked her to do laundry with me. I really suck.
“I dress for myself.” She shrugs. “I didn’t know you’d be here.”
I nod, staring down at her. “You ran off today before we could finish our conversation.”
“It wasn’t cool. I was trying to explain to you that I don’t give a s**t about Sasha.”