I Bet You (Page 7)
What the hell?
The words are enough to make me sweat.
I slam the journal shut, shoving it back under her laptop. Penelope has a crush on Connor, but her imagination goes all over place—even to me?
I push down the hard-on in my pants and go back to the stool at the bar. I thought she hated me…right?
She does for sure now—look what you did to her.
Hell, she’s probably back there crying.
I swallow. S**t…that bugs me.
Feeling my neck prickle with awareness, I glance over at the table and see Archer staring at me, an amused sneer on his face. He raises an empty glass and mimics pouring it out on the table, obviously making a point about the tray Penelope dumped.
My jaw tenses and my hands clench. Ignore him. He’s just trying to piss you off and get a reaction. It’s no secret we butt heads, which can be expected when I’m offense and he’s defense, but our personalities just…clash. He doesn’t like that I’m the captain of the team and goes out of his way to nitpick at anything I do, whether on the field or off. In fact, he wasn’t even supposed to eat with us tonight but somehow managed to wrangle an invitation out of Blaze.
Charisma has shooed Blaze off, and his shoulders slump as he goes back to the table. She focuses back on me, and if looks were bullets, I’d be dead. “As for you, I suggest you get out of Sugar’s and don’t come back. Penelope doesn’t deserve what you did.”
I heave out an exhale. “It’s the best restaurant in Magnolia. I eat here all the time.”
She purses her lips. “She might poison your food.”
I shake my head. “Can you just tell her I’m sorry?”
She arches an eyebrow at me. “Go to hell, QB1. She doesn’t like you anyway.”
“Why is that?” I’m baffled by her bitter attitude toward me, and it must get across to Charisma because she gets this funny look on her face. She opens her mouth to respond but then shuts it.
“What?” I ask. “It’s more than just the article she wrote, right?”
She shrugs. “She doesn’t have the highest opinion of quarterbacks. Her dad was one and was a real jerk.” She pauses as if she’s said too much. “If you really want to make it up to her, how about doing something nice for her.”
“Like what? Flowers?”
“I’m not telling you how to apologize, QB1. You’re a smart guy. You figure it out.” She rakes her gaze over me. “BTW, wet khakis aren’t a good look for you.” With a hair flip, she’s off to the back where Penelope went earlier.
After Penelope brought up the bet and I saw how upset she was, I mostly forgot about my pants. I look down at them now and grab a few napkins from the bar to dab up the water. It doesn’t do much good. F**k. It does look like I peed myself. With an annoyed exhale, I pivot around and head for the door to go back to campus, not interested in returning to the football table and dealing with Archer and his gloating.
Plus, a part of me is miffed that Penelope turned me down cold.
For some reason, my gaze lands on Connor.
I study him, taking in the dark hair and square glasses as he sits at a table near the window. He even has a calculator in his hand. What on earth does she see in this pasty dude? I guess he’s handsome? Hell if I know.
Then I narrow my gaze, realizing all at once that he’s pretty much the complete opposite of me—thin, dark hair, unathletic.
Observing Connor gives me an idea…and I think I have the perfect way to prove I’m not the a*****e Penelope thinks I am.
Inside the locker room, Blaze’s naked a*s does the Whip and Nae Nae as several hoots and cackles come from the team.
“Get in gear,” I call out as I saunter by out of the shower and slap him on the butt with my towel. “We have to be in class in thirty.”
He keeps on dancing, hyper as hell, and I grin, glad he makes that energy work for him on the field as our star wide receiver.
Making my way to the lockers, my gaze lands on the golden wildcat statue that serves as the bet award and sits inside the glass trophy case on the far wall. My mood plummets. I take in the white board on the wall where the bets are listed. The one with Penelope is now there: Ask Penelope Graham out and get a YES: Completed. Points were given to Archer, Blaze, and Dillon, who bet that I couldn’t. I have a giant goose egg.
The ketchup bet isn’t listed since it wasn’t players against players.
Coach Alvarez stomps into the locker room wearing a don’t tell me you’re screwing off expression on his square face. Slashing bushy eyebrows accentuate his brown eyes as they spear every player in sight. His voice careens around the room. “Turn that f*****g music off!” A mouthy man with a barrel chest and dark skin, Coach loves football—and cursing. “And why are y’all still in this g*****n locker room? Get the hell out of here and get to class.”
My teammates pick up the pace, rummaging around in their lockers.
“You know the drill. I expect you back at three for practice with your heads on straighter than they were this morning. I need to see some f*****g teamwork. You looked terrible out there. Get your s**t together and stop acting like girls in a hair-pulling hissy fit. Our first game is this f*****g Friday.”
A few players hang their head. Yeah, we had a few scuffles on the field, a late hit and some shoving on the defense. Things aren’t right with our team, and it’s because our star defensive player, Maverick, is gone. Regret tugs at me, and I wonder if there was anything else I could have done to stop him from fighting last year.
Coach’s militant gaze pins me. “Remember, Ryker’s your captain. Listen to him and don’t bring your s**t onto the field. Got it?”
I nod. Coach and I get each other. We both want a championship this year, especially after the fiasco last spring.
“What about the defense, Coach?” It’s Archer’s voice, and I swivel my head toward him. “Don’t we get a captain?”
Coach crosses his arms. “Maverick’s your captain.”
Archer shrugs and lifts his hands. “Yeah, but he’s gone for three games because of the NCAA ruling. Can’t even practice with us.” He pauses for dramatic effect. “With all due respect, sir, Ryker doesn’t cut it for us. He knew what Maverick was doing and didn’t tell anyone.” His eyes are on me. “He was there at every fight Maverick participated in and should have stopped him.”
My blood pressure spikes and my fists clench. I take a step toward Archer, but Coach holds his hand up at me, warning me to chill out. He looks back at Archer. “That was last year and this is a new season. We’re moving on. What’s your point, son?”
Archer straightens his shoulders. “Moving on is exactly right, sir. We’d like to elect our own captain—for the defense. It might be good for morale.”
That sonofabitch. He thinks he can just slide in and take Maverick’s place? I want to spit nails. No one can replace Maverick. Archer is just manipulating Coach to get what he wants.
“I’ve been talking to the defense, and they want me in charge.” Archer takes another step until he’s standing at the front of the team.
Coach looks around, his gaze taking in faces, trying to read us. “Is that so?”
Some of the defensive guys nod.
Coach thinks for a moment. “If the defense wants it, that’s good enough for me, but when Maverick comes back, you’ll need to work it out amongst yourselves. This isn’t a competition, boys. It’s a team. Got it?” Coach looks at me. “You good with this, Ryker?”