I Bet You (Page 46)
Margo’s eyebrows hit the roof, and I bite back a giggle. Thank goodness for alcohol.
She takes a drink and stares at me over the rim of her glass. “I know one thing for sure—there’ll be no football players allowed at our party. And I think we should tell Coach Alvarez. He doesn’t put up with shenanigans.”
Charisma studies Margo. “For an uptight b***h, I like how you operate. Honest to God, I think you’re better since Kyle dumped you. That experience definitely brought you down a peg and made you one of us.”
“Uh, thanks?” Margo says.
I’m feeling warm from the shots. I nod. I like Margo a hell of a lot more than I used to.
Charisma taps her chin. “I have some volleyball guys on speed dial. A couple of basketball players, too. I’ll get them to come.” She nods, as if warming up to the idea. “Yeah, we’re revoking all the football invitations. Those chauvinistic assholes can all go hang out with the Thetas. I don’t give a s**t. We don’t need them.”
I’m tearing up and I laugh.
She laughs with me.
“If someone is doing shots, I’d like to get in on that.” The voice is deep and familiar, and when I turn around on my bar stool, I see Connor.
He’s wearing his ball cap and a grin. I’m definitely not crushing on him anymore because my heart doesn’t even skip a beat.
“I’m game for a few if you ladies will let me join you? My treat.” He smiles.
Margo takes him in, her gaze lingering on his broad shoulders. “I’ll have another terrible champagne.”
I nearly gasp in surprise.
He ends up ordering a beer for himself, a champagne for Margo, a screwdriver for Charisma, and another shot for me. His nicely defined bicep reaches between Margo and me to give the bartender a wad of cash.
“This is my stepsister, Margo,” I tell him, and then I sit back to see how it all plays out. She’s looking at him with wary yet interested eyes, and he’s looking at her lips. It just might work. He’s got the money she’s drawn to. Although I do wonder how a video-game designer would stack up in her eyes.
He takes a swig of his drink. “Didn’t know you had a stepsister.”
“No one does. She likes girly drinks and little sweaters. She’s also headed to NYU after gradation to get a graduate degree. Aren’t you going there too?” I recall one of our conversations before class a few weeks back.
He gives Margo a considering look. “Yes, I am.”
Margo draws little circles on the bar with her finger, her gaze bouncing from me to Connor, a bit of an accusation in her eyes that says, Are you trying to fix me up with your one-time crush?
“Yep,” I say out loud before tossing back my shot.
They start chatting about their plans for next fall, and I look down at my phone and turn it over. Just to see.
I’m so f*****g sorry. Please talk to me. Where are you?
My teeth grit and I clutch the phone, so tempted to type out a message, but I don’t. Instead, I click my phone off for good and stuff it deep into my purse.
The sound of banging on the door wakes me up. I blink open my eyes and peer over at the clock on the nightstand. Almost one in the morning. S**t. I’ve only been asleep for thirty minutes. I rub my eyes and run a hand through my hair, patting it down. Blearily, I stumble out of bed, walking past the clothes I wore yesterday in a pile on the floor where I took them off when we got in from Cadillac’s. Charisma, Margo, Connor, and I closed it down at midnight.
Vampire Bill squawks from his cage. “S**t! Door! I need a cigarette! Call the cops!”
“No need for that,” I mutter. “I have a pretty good idea who it is.”
I should just ignore him.
Instead, it’s as if my soul is connected to his, as if I know he’s out there waiting for me to open the door. And part of me wants to see him—even if it’s only going to break my heart.
I grab my long cardigan and tug it around my shoulders then make my way out to the hallway.
“Who is it?” I ask.
“Ryker.” His voice is husky, and I rub my arms.
Charisma pops her head out the door, her hair definitely looking decidedly worse than mine. “Need some help?” Obviously, she heard who’s here. “I can hold him down while you pluck his chest hairs out?”
“No.” I shake my head, so she goes back to her bedroom and shuts the door.
I open the door and there he is. Wearing gym shorts and a Waylon hoodie, he looks rumpled and worn out. His gaze captures mine, his face lined and hard. The bruise around his eye brings everything that happened with Archer back into sharp focus.
“What do you want?” My hand clings to the doorjamb, and I block the entrance to my house.
“You didn’t respond to my texts,” are the first words out of his mouth. Accusatory.
“I’ve been worried sick. I sat on your porch for an hour hoping you’d come home. I went back to the library. I drove all over campus.” He exhales, pushing a hand through his hair. “Can we talk?”
“No.” I shake my head.
“It’s late, and I’ve been drinking, and I don’t want to be around you.” My voice is brittle. “You broke my trust, Ryker. You told the team we had sex.”
A muscle in his cheek flexes. “Drinking?”
“At Cadillac’s with my friends.” Then I have to toss in, “Connor was there.”
Anger flits over his features and his eyes sharpen. “Really?”
My arms cross. “I don’t owe you any explanations.”
His eyes laser in on mine. “But I owe you one. Let me come inside and we’ll talk.”
I rub at my forehead, already feeling the twinges of a headache that’s bound to morph into a full-blown jackhammer by morning.
“Stop calling me that.”
He bites his lip. “It didn’t happen the way you think it did. I didn’t have sex with you and then just bust up in practice, high-fiving everyone. Did you really think that about me? After everything we’ve talked about?”
I frown. “Don’t point fingers at me. This is not my fault. You f****d us up all on your own.”
He swallows and looks away. “I know. I tried to tell you in the library the other day. I just couldn’t.”
My heart cracks at his admittance and pain ripples through me.
“I wasn’t on board with that stupid bet, Penelope. I never accepted it. I told him no since the beginning. I’m not that guy. You know me.”
“You have to believe me.” He leans in and I take a step back.
“Please. I don’t want you inside my house right now.”
He scrubs at the shadow on his face with both hands, a ragged look on his face. “Just…give me a chance.”
“Why? I gave you something precious, and you told everyone about it. Did you tell them I was a virgin too?”
“F**k…no. I didn’t even mean to say what I did. It just came out. Blaze had just told me Archer harassed you then I went out on the field and he tackled me and we fought. My anger was out of control…I don’t know…everything just fell apart. I just…snapped.” He lets out a pent-up breath. “I hate that I said it, Red. I hate it so much. I wanted to take those words back—”