Read The Company You Keep Online

Authors: Tracy Kelleher

Tags: #Romance, #Contemporary, #Fiction

The Company You Keep

When the opposition is too delicious to ignore!
Running slam-dunk into Vic Golinski at her college reunion leaves Mimi Lodge with a
lot
of questions. Back in the day, they were Grantham University’s star athletes
and
polar opposites. If she said left, he said right. If he said hot, she said cold. All of that opposition had an unexpected consequence: a heated attraction….
So will she and Vic still clash like the fiercely competitive jocks they once were? Life might have softened their beliefs, but clearly that incredible chemistry is still there. As the reunion unfolds every meeting is a study in grown-up lust—and restraint—as they decide where these exhilarating feelings are taking them.
“There’s something between you and me.”
Vic smiled. “Although I’ve always thought we were completely wrong for each other.”
“Maybe we’re actually attuned to each other in ways unimaginable?” Mimi suggested.
“Oh, I can imagine all right,” he said teasingly. They continued to shift and sway as they stood there in the moonlight. Their faces close, so close to contact, but not quite.
Mimi felt giddy, felt herself tremble. “You know what they say? Opposites attract.” She grabbed his finger when he pointed it at her. She felt possessive.
He looked at her hand on his. “Why’d you do that?”
Because she wanted him. “Because you shouldn’t point at people,” she answered instead.
“You’re teaching me manners now?” He angled his head one more time and brought his lips near hers.
She angled her head the other way, but kept their mouths only an inch apart. “So, is this where you assert your manliness and kiss me?”
“Bossy, too.” He put his hands on her waist. Drew her hips to his.
And that was the type of assertion she wanted from him.
Dear Reader,
When I was in college, I was a jock—not the first thing most romance writers tell you.
I was a member of the varsity women’s crew at Yale University, and in my junior year was elected captain. But I also served as an undergraduate representative on the university’s Title IX committee. This group of faculty, administrators and students evaluated the effects and compliance actions regarding the federal measure to ensure equal opportunity for men and women competing in intercollegiate athletics.
The head of the committee was the athletic director at that time. He was intensely loyal to Yale, and his family had a long relationship with the university. He also understood the emotional, social and historic aspects of sports, in addition to the physical benefits. Yet above all else, he valued the importance of doing the right thing.
Luckily for me, he took me under his wing, and I learned a lot about patience, kindness and the joy of life despite hardships—of which he had suffered more than a few. And because of him, I made regular pilgrimages back to my alma mater for the annual Yale-Harvard crew race on the Connecticut River. I returned for more than the race, though. I returned because I learned the importance of keeping in contact with true friends.
And, now in retrospect, I realize he was the genesis for this School Ties miniseries.
Warmest regards,
Tracy Kelleher
PS—As always, I love hearing from my readers. Reach me through my website,
www.tracykelleher.com
The Company You Keep
Tracy Kelleher
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Tracy sold her first story to a children’s magazine when she was ten years old. Writing was clearly in her blood, though fiction was put on hold while she received degrees from Yale and Cornell, traveled the world, worked in advertising, became a staff reporter and later a magazine editor. She also managed to raise a family. Is it any surprise she escapes to the world of fiction?
Books by Tracy Kelleher
HARLEQUIN SUPERROMANCE

 

1613—FALLING FOR THE TEACHER
1678—FAMILY BE MINE
1721—INVITATION TO ITALIAN
1762—ON COMMON GROUND*
1774—A RARE FIND*

 

 

 

*School Ties
Other titles by this author are available in ebook format.
Don’t miss any of our special offers. Write to us at the following address for information on our newest releases.
Harlequin Reader Service
U.S.: 3010 Walden Ave., P.O. Box 1325, Buffalo, NY 14269
Canadian: P.O. Box 609, Fort Erie, Ont. L2A 5X3
I’d like to thank Audrey Zak for providing insight into training methods for the sport of water polo.
This book is dedicated in loving memory of Delaney Kiphuth, a smart and gentle man.
You left us all much too soon.

Contents

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Chapter Thirty

Chapter Thirty-One

Chapter Thirty-Two

Chapter Thirty-Three

Chapter Thirty-Four

Chapter Thirty-Five

Chapter Thirty-Six

Chapter Thirty-Seven

Chapter Thirty-Eight

Chapter Thirty-Nine

Epilogue

Excerpt

PROLOGUE

 

Grantham University
Twelve years ago

 

“WHAT ROCK HAVE YOU BEEN living under for the past twenty-two years?” Mimi Lodge wailed. She shook her fist, the wide sleeve of her black-and-orange-pinstripe class jacket slipping down her arm.
Grantham University, an Ivy League college in Grantham, New Jersey, had been educating future world leaders for centuries in a pristine setting of academic Gothic architecture, ornamental shrubbery and a strong sense of entitlement. And every year its senior class picked a new jacket to wear for Reunions weekend before graduation. At five-foot-nine, with wide strapping shoulders from years spent competing in water polo—and the long, sleek torso from being in top physical condition—she was one of the few who could carry off such a garment with aplomb.
Of course, maybe it was just her forthright attitude that substituted for shoulder pads. She continued to fume. “In case you didn’t know it, this is the twenty-first century. Men and women are equal. Women have had the right to vote for almost one hundred years. You know the twentieth amendment?”
Vic Golinski, the object of her tirade, slowly peeled off his blue blazer. Vic was also graduating from Grantham, but he was wearing more sedate attire—or at least,
had been
wearing—until Mimi had upended a water pitcher all over him in a particularly heated moment. They were participating in what was supposed to be an open panel discussion.
Reunions organizers often featured panels with faculty members, administration officials and occasionally students to discuss topics of interest to returning alumni. Theirs had been anything but routine. With the subject being The Impact of Title IX on Participation in College Varsity Sports, the session had drawn a large crowd. Title IX was an amendment to the Civil Rights Act that prohibited discrimination based on sex in regards to school sports. And while the university abided by the law, there were any number of Grantham alumni from the once all-male bastion who felt it was undermining long established men’s teams.
And it appeared to Mimi, these former students—meaning, old, stuck-in-the-mud type guys—were not alone. Vic Golinski might be all of twenty-two, but as captain of the football team, he appeared to be firmly stuck in the mud. How else to explain his statement, “I believe the university’s football program must inevitably suffer due to siphoning off dollars to create so-called parity programs in minor sports. What’s going to happen next? The call for creation of a women’s football team when girls programs don’t even exist in high schools around the country? That would be the height of absurdity, all in the name of so-called equality.”
Whoa there.
Minor sports?
(Meaning hers, no doubt.)
Height of absurdity? So-called equality?
Talk about reaching a tipping point. Mimi had seen red. Her hand had migrated to the water jug. And upended it—all over her classmate.
“Giving women the right to vote was the nineteenth amendment,” Vic corrected, his voice low as if he was trying to keep his temper in check.
Mimi stood there, barely keeping still, while Vic yanked his arm out of the sleeve of his soaking blazer…when…when she momentarily forgot her anger. Instead, she realized that when water comes in contact with a man’s dress shirt, it turns the material virtually translucent. Translucent and amazingly pliable, she couldn’t help noticing, as the thin cotton molded to Vic’s biceps and triceps, in addition to his well-contoured pectoral muscles.
She stopped in midstride, took a deep breath and willed herself to replay what he’d just said. “Details,” she scoffed in rebuttal. Vic Golinski wet might be better than any firemen’s pinup calendar, but that didn’t excuse his reactionary sentiments.
He loosened the knot of his orange tie and undid the top two buttons of his blue dress shirt. A few dark curls from his wet chest hair peeked out through the opening. “The devil is in the details,” he responded.
Mimi gulped and turned away. She exited the building and marched away from Baldwin Gymnasium where the panel had been held. She walked a short distance along the path, before she cut between two of Grantham’s Social Clubs, the university’s version of coed fraternities. Ahead lay the Alexander Hamilton School of International Studies, an elite branch of the university. She had wanted to ditch Vic, but he kept up stride for stride, shoulder to shoulder—forcing her to keep acknowledging his presence.
“You deserved that soaking—and more,” she muttered, her eyes focused on the uneven sidewalk. “What you said is just so infuriating…such a personal affront to me as captain of the water polo team, one of your so-called ‘minor sports.’” She raised her hands and gestured with her fingers to form quotation marks. “You have no idea what you are talking about.” Without bothering to look she jaywalked across Edinburgh Avenue, oblivious to the fact that she’d also crossed against the light.
Her statement was met by silence. Surprised, Mimi looked over her shoulder—and realized that Vic Golinski was waiting for the light to change and the “Walk” signal to flash. Mimi shook her head. “What’s the matter with you?” she scolded him. “There’s not a soul, let alone a car, in sight. Don’t you believe in taking the initiative?”

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