I Bet You (Page 8)
F**k no. I think Archer is a piece of s**t, but what can I say that doesn’t sound like I don’t have the best interests of the team in mind? My jaw pops. “I’m with you, sir.”
He nods. “All right. Let’s do it and move on. Got it?”
“Yes sir!” I say with several others.
He puffs up his chest. “Now get the f**k out of here and get to class.”
I nod in agreement and do my best to shake off the practice.
I need time to process the new Archer situation.
His face appears behind me as I style my hair in the mirror. My lips thin. “What do you want?” I say.
“Now, now, take it easy, number one,” he says in his lilting accent. “I’m not trying to ruffle your feathers, just dropping by to say your arm looked real good out there today.” He grins. “We’re captains now. We need to pep each other up, keep our teams running smooth.” He holds up his hands at my glare. “Just sayin’. I’m impressed, especially considering how spectacularly you got shot down yesterday. I figured your confidence would be in shambles today.” He makes an exploding sound and moves his hands, mimicking a blast. A grin flashes on his face. “She. Nailed. Your. A*s.”
A muscle twitches in my jaw. Archer has a knack of knowing what to say to piss me off.
“G*****n, but she’s a hot one,” he says. “I wouldn’t mind taking that out for a ride.” He grinds his hips as if he’s screwing. “Oh yeah, baby.”
I flip around to face him, my face hard as stone. “You wanna try me, a*****e?”
He reads me loud and clear and stops his grinding.
Yeah, that’s right, my eyes say. P***y. He might be our fastest cornerback, a big and capable player, but I’m taller and meaner and I f*****g want it more, whatever it may be. I always have. Since the moment I walked out on the field for my first high school game as a freshman and smelled the grass, felt the bright lights of the stadium, I knew football was my dream.
I snatch my Wildcats shirt out of my gym bag and slip it over my head. I shove on my khaki joggers and forgo my sneakers for a pair of leather flip-flops.
“Losing that bet still bothers you,” he murmurs, hovering around me. “I don’t blame you, because honestly, who turns down Ryker Voss? And this girl, I mean—she hates you.” A gruff laugh comes out of him. “I’ve been replaying that restaurant scene all damn day. It’s like a movie in my head that I can’t turn off.”
I ignore him and throw my towel in the bin then bend over to pick up my dirty practice clothes and put them in my bag.
He holds a finger up. “I’ve been thinking…a girl like that, with all that fire…I really wanna go for it. Know what I mean? Tame her. Maybe wine and dine her then f**k her so good she begs me to never leave.” He chuckles, his eyes sharpening. “That is, if you’re okay with me moving in on her?”
A switch is thrown inside me, and it isn’t so much about Penelope as it is about everything that’s happened over the past few months. The thing is, I’ve been at a tipping point since the scandal. I wasn’t docked games like Maverick, but I was investigated and lost any chance at the Heisman Award. You have to have a spotless rep to be named the best player in college football and, well, let’s be honest…my name is pure s**t in the media right now. That ship has sailed, and my anger and disappointment have been simmering for months, only heightening now that school is back in session, and I have to face everything and deal with it.
I’m not the golden boy everyone likes to describe me as.
And all I want to do right now is take it out on Archer’s face.
My chest rises rapidly as I throw a quick look around the room, checking for any coaches, and when I don’t see one, I move fast, getting up in his space and pushing my hand into his chest until he’s pinned against the concrete wall.
He briefly squirms to try to get away from me, but it isn’t going to work. When he sees that he can’t get loose, he settles for puffing out his chest. “I didn’t know you cared so much about her.”
My open palm slaps against the concrete behind him. “This isn’t about her. This is about you maneuvering to be captain. Please. You’ll never take Maverick’s place. Just stay out of my way. Got it?”
Blaze appears at my right, a hand on my bicep as he tugs on me, but I’m immovable. This little fight has been building for months. “Dude, let him go.”
“Get out of my face, Blaze,” I say, my eyes not wavering from Archer’s.
“You’re a leader, man. You can’t be pushing people around,” he says, bouncing around us.
I grit my teeth. “We’re playing like s**t. No one cares. Why should I?”
“I care, man.” Blaze looks around for help, but the rest of the team is silent, waiting. I feel their eyes on me. Hell, everyone is watching me. All the damn time. I’m sick of it.
“This is exactly what Coach was talking about.” He gives Archer a glare. “Plus, Archer was just kidding, right?”
He nods and attempts to raise his hands in mock surrender. “All I’m saying is it looked like you have a thing for her.”
“I don’t.” I move in closer and put my nose to his. “And if I really wanted her, I could have her.” The words feel wrong, but I can’t pull them back. The truth is, part of me was wired up and excited during the bet—excited to see if she’d say yes. What if she had?
Would I have stood her up? Maybe. I don’t know.
A sly expression grows in Archer’s eyes. “Prove it.”
I frown. What the hell is he talking about?
“Prove it,” he repeats, louder and with a bit of shrill in his tone. He looks around at the players. “Everyone listen up. We’re going to have us a doozy of a bet—one we don’t put on the board.”
My jaw twitches again. “I’m not playing your games.”
“The bets are good for the team. We’ve been doing it for years,” someone says, and I see most of the players nodding. A few rumble amongst themselves.
Archer smirks and gives me a victorious look. “I bet you can’t tap that, number one. I bet you can’t score that girl before homecoming. Defense against offense for the whole shebang. If you lose, the whole offense loses. Got it?”
Some of the offensive players agree and clap me on the back, offering words of encouragement.
“You got this, dude.”
“Don’t you want that trophy?”
I eye the guys surrounding me, reading their excitement, and tension wraps around me. My teeth grind together. A bet to f**k a girl is not in my wheelhouse.
I release Archer with a push.
He gives me a hard look, one that tells me he isn’t going to let this bet go. “It’s all up to you, number one. If you want to win that trophy, you’ve got to bang Penelope.” He curls his lip. “I don’t think you can do it.”
My gut tightens and my fists curl at his crude words. Penelope and I may not like each other, but I do respect her, and I don’t like him talking about her like she’s a piece of meat.
“F**k off, Archer.” I give him and everyone a final glare then stalk out of the locker room with Blaze on my heels.