Authors: Teagan Kade
Tags: #Romance, #Holidays, #New Adult & College, #Romantic Comedy, #Sports
A Bad Boy Romance
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Published by Teagan Kade
Edited by Beverly Bernard
Copyright © 2015 by Teagan Kade
All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, brands, media, and incidents are either the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously. The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of various products referenced in this work of fiction, which have been used without permission. The publication/use of these trademarks is not authorized, associated with, or sponsored by the trademark owners.
For Lincoln, my compass and constant.
“I just want to back up in my Mustang and run you the hell over.”
If this is humor, my date’s doing it wrong. I don’t do dark. I certainly don’t do twisted.
My fingers work furiously below the table.
I text, praying the two weeks I’ve spent with my roommate so far is enough to form the sisterly bond required to get her into rescue mode.
I smile with all the realism of a dental dummy. “You’re studying medicine?”
Supercreep leans a little closer, the downlights casting his eyes into shadow. “You get to cut people up, legally.”
I don’t know what to do. I eye the door at the back of the restaurant right next to the Chinese lucky cat. I can’t tell whether it’s waving me to safety or goodbye.
He reaches past my barely eaten Mongolian lamb. I subtlety take my hand off the table. He’s cute, this Declan, Dave—I really can’t remember—but he’s
weird, precisely the reason why you shouldn’t let your dad set up your dates.
My cell starts ringing. I don’t care if it’s someone trying to sell me life insurance. I bring it to my ear and mouth ‘Sorry’ to Dave-lan. “Hello?”
Praise be, it’s Amber the Roommate. “Listen carefully. You’re going to move your hand to your mouth and gasp. Eyes nice and wide now.”
I do as she instructs, Dave-lan’s interest piqued.
“Repeat after me, ‘That’s terrible’. Make it dramatic.”
“Now, ‘Yes, I’ll be there right away’.”
“I’ll be there right away.”
“Awesome sauce, but you’re on your own now, hon.” She hangs up.
I bring the phone down slowly.
Think, Lucy, think.
“Um, no. I’m afraid my Aunt Maribelle (
… She’s had a heart attack. I have to go.”
Lying is not my forte. Never has been. Dave-lan swallows it down though, a big gulp of ‘That’s horrible’.
Before he offers to drive me to the hospital I’m already up and gathering my things, slapping down a twenty that will more than pay for my half of the
meal. “I’m so, so sorry.” I’m reeling out, already moving away. “I’ll call.”
And I’m gone.
Don’t look back.
If I had an aunty I’m sure I’d feel worse.
Like it was delivered by His hand, a taxi rolls up just as I’m coming out of the Happy Rooster, one of a handful of restaurants off campus popular with the date-night crowd.
It’s hot as Satan’s cornhole out here tonight. My clothes are sticking to me, vegetable oil practically leaking from my pores.
“Gamma Phi,” I tell the driver, his nationality ambiguous. “Stat.”
“Do you own every single Disney movie in existence?”
Amber’s going through my collection on the shelf above my bed, organized into alphabetical order, I might add.
I take the ribbon out of my hair. “Just the ones with princesses and happily-ever-afters.”
Her eyebrow goes up. “Seriously? I mean, you’re fucking with me, right?” She takes
Beauty & the Beast
out. “I mean, Belle here’s hiding your secret stash of weed, isn’t she?”
I take the DVD from her and slot it back into position. “No.”
“I take it the date didn’t go well?”
“He said he wanted to run me over.”
“Creepo said what now?”
Our room at Gamma Phi is more of a cupboard. Pacing between the beds, Amber can only get two or three steps in before she has to turn.
I’m seated, an interrogation. “Something about chopping me up? I think I’ve erased it from memory.”
Amber’s the house alt girl, one of just two pledges, moi included. She’s wearing clothes in varying shades of distress and an illegal amount of denim. Her hair’s the same shocking shade of green as the conifer outside our window. “Fuck me. I mean, I’ve been on bad dates, but this guy sounds like Manson material. Good thing you called in the SOS. You’re too pretty to wind up in a dumpster.”
She sits opposite me, hands fidgety. Two weeks in and her side of the room looks like tornado alley. “I
find you a man. Don’t you worry about that.”
“I’m here to study. Dating and partying? Not really my thing.”
For whatever reason, Amber does strike me as the party type, the upside-down girl chugging from the keg before standing on the kitchen bench and telling everyone to ‘go crazy’. She’s got a kind of Kirsten-Stewart-in-
thing going on, primo sidekick material in any case.
A foghorn signals she’s just received another text. I always crack up a little at the absolute foolishness of such a sound coming from such a tiny device. One thing I have learned is that Amber has
of friends. Me? Just Mr. Muggly, and he’s not very talkative being a sock monkey and all. Still, he’s one of just two things I have left from my biological parents, the red ribbon being the other.
Amber’s face comes to life, though it could just be the glow of her cell screen. “Grab your sweater.”
“We’re off to see boys playing with their balls.”
Dad’s the basketball fan in our two-strong familial unit. He tried to get me involved—boy, did he try—but sport has never been my thing. I like the arts, movies, books, the KonMari Method. The idea that some troglodyte throwing a ball through a hoop entitles him to millions a year doesn’t seem right. Not while the people that really matter out there are paid a pittance, people who actually make a difference. And that’s what I want to do—make a difference.
The Panthers are the pride of Manning University, five time national champions. That was before the decade-long drought in the trophy department. The ‘Cat House’, as it’s affectionately known, is packed tonight given this is the first game of the season. From nowhere Amber produces two black and purple scarves, wrapping one around my neck and using it to pull me down to the front row.
“We can’t be down here,” I protest, conscious of the way the silver foxes down here are ogling us.
But, confident as can be, Amber’s somehow drummed us up two seats right in the middle, courtside. The guy in the suit next to Amber doesn’t seem too pleased by her presence. The professor-type woman I’m seated next to smiles slightly as she takes in my Plain Jane appearance, no doubt thankful she’s one seat away from the ‘troublemaker’.
I sit forward, a little anxious for some reason. “Great seats.”
Amber pulls a Baby Ruth from her pocket, offering it. I pass.
She takes a bite, speaking through the chewing. “I know a guy who knows a guy who gives blowjobs to a friend of the sports coordinator. You know how it goes.”
I really don’t. It helped being a legacy for both Amber and me. I don’t imagine Gamma Phi would have let her heathen self into what is known around campus as ‘The Church’. It’s got a good rep, Gamma Phi. I imagine the sisters will do whatever they can to keep it that way.
Cheerleaders bounce away in front of us all big smiles and energy.
“Cute outfits,” Amber remarks.
I laugh a little at the thought of her as a cheerleader.
Her mouth’s churning chocolate as she speaks. “You were one of them, right? Back in school?”
I point to myself. “A cheerleader?”
“No, a scoreboard. Yes, a cheerleader. It would fit in well with your prom queen demeanor.”
“I wasn’t prom queen.”
The stadium suddenly erupts, the lights shutting off and actual lasers cutting across the court.
The announcer’s voice booms. “And nowwwwwww, welcome to the lair of the Manning Panthers, the Cat Hooooooouse. Gooooooooo, Panthers!”
Amber says something, but it’s drowned out in a cacophony of whooping and catcalls.
The Panthers emerge in single file from the far end of the stadium.
The enthusiasm is all a little too much to take as the team members settle themselves into position on the court, the opposing Rattlers running on with far less fanfare.
The lights come up, everyone seating themselves and settling in for the game.
“You know much about basketball?” I ask Amber.
She laughs, what’s left of her Baby Ruth projected all over Suit Man. “Jack shit. Something about a ball and a ring. I’m just here for the eye candy.”
The eye candy?
I scan the court. She might be onto something. Both teams are full of clean-cut athletic types—tall, strapping specimens of male-kind.
Then I spot him. He’s different than the others. He just stands there under the glass with his hands behind his head. He doesn’t jump around and carry on. He’s heavier built than the other boys, biceps covered in ink. He looks more like a repeat offender than a college basketball player, hair dark, a single lick swinging in front of his right eye. There’s an effortless just-got-out-of-bed-in-this-perfection aura about him and something else muddier below.
I point. “Who’s that?”
Amber squints, leans forward. “Ah, yes.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“You’re telling me you don’t know anything about the Panther’s secret weapon this year?”
“Nate Compton, sports scholarship. His biceps aren’t the only thing bulging, if the rumors are to be believed.”
“He looks like a…”
“Judging a book by its cover a little, aren’t we?”
“No, I just… He doesn’t seem like the type.”
A horn signals the start of the first quarter.
Amber sits back, the final piece of Ruth passing between her lips. “I guess we’ll find out.”
Both teams are charged. The Rattlers clearly have the defense down, but the Panthers are hot on the attack, sinking two threes in the first two minutes.
The teams blur past our position, but I can’t seem to pull my eyes away from forty-four, the mysterious Nate Compton with his hard, gorgeous body.
my internal censor taunts.
One of the Rattlers’ power forwards makes a break down the center. He sidesteps a shooting guard clearly out of position and soars into the air for a dunk, but forty-four is there, belting the ball from his hands so hard it goes sailing somewhere into the thick of the crowd on the other side of the stadium.
Both players land hard, the ref calling a foul.
“Bullshit!” Compton shouts, throwing his hands up and clocking one of the Rattlers in the shoulder on his way back to the key. He’s in the right. The block was clean.
The Panthers slip five late in the first quarter, the crowd’s cheering turning to frustration at another turnover. There seems to be some tension on court too, the Panthers unable to come together cohesively for defense. Easy points are lost.
Just before the buzzer, the Rattlers make another power play. Forty-four is ready for them. The Rattlers’ power forward burns up through the center, a simple sidestep by forty-four putting him directly in his path. With a kick of his shoulder, forty-four sends the Rattler slamming to the ground. I feel the impact under my feet, a collective gasp coming from the crowd.
It’s on. There’s a scuffle. I’m sure fists are thrown, forty-four’s tattooed arms moving somewhere in the thick of it.
The refs manage to bring things into a loose order, the two teams separated but the verbal assaults continuing.
One of the Rattler guards is pointing at this Nate character, really giving it him. In response, Compton puffs his cheek out, hand making a blowjob motion. “Why don’t you go suck off your boyfriend a bit, huh?”
Others hear it too. This isn’t what the Panthers are known for, what
is known for. In anything, Nate Compton stands in direct violation of the squeaky clean image the university is trying to promote.
Amber seems impressed. “Guy’s like a damn concrete silo.”
I have to admit, he’s got game. He sent that guy to the floor without so much as moving a muscle—
those hot, rippling muscles.
The game goes on, but it’s clear the tension has reached critical mass. Forty-four replies with a dunk—a three-sixty no less—that turns the crowd wild. It’s showy, though, with far too much room for error, the kind of circus stunt better left for the street.
The Panthers coach is shaking his head. He looks to the heavens, but I doubt he’s going to find the divine inspiration needed to handle a loose cannon like forty-four.
The second quarter moves into the third. The Panthers move ahead.
The more I watch Nate Compton, the more I’m both repulsed and intrigued by him at the same time. I’m studying him, working my way up his body when he turns and stares right at me. He’s trying to say something, yelling it, but I can’t hear him, my focus lost.