Short teasers for Finding the End Zone
“You know what I’ve been thinking about all day?”
I smirked. “Football?”
He tugged at my curls, and I inched closer. “No. I’ve been thinking about an even more fun game.”
Narrowing my eyes, I asked, “There’s a game you like playing better than football?”
“What game do you like better than football?” With his eyes zeroed in on my lips the way they were, my question came out on a whisper.
His warm lips covered mine, and I sighed into the soft pressure of his mouth.
At last, I tore my mouth from his. Panting, I said, “I thought we established there would be no shenanigans.”
“Correction, that was your idea.”
“But you saluted.”
His grin was positively wicked. “I had my fingers crossed.”
I pushed at his chest. “I knew it! I saw how you kept one hand behind your back.” Fluffing my hair, I said, “You promised me ice cream.”
“I’d rather lick you.”
“Let me guess—you have a 4.0.”
“Lucky you to be paired with me, huh?” I shot him a smug grin.
A naughty smile broke over his features, and I think his voice dropped an octave. “Oh, yeah, but not for your GPA.”
Beneath the table, I crossed one knee over the other and willed myself not to react to that voice. “Exactly what’s that supposed to mean?”
Callahan leaned forward on those delicious forearms. “It means I get to study with the hottest girl in class.”
With a snort, I shook my head. “I don’t get involved with study partners, especially study partners who are also jocks.”
“I prefer football player.” He winked. “And those were your rules before you met me.”
“Sorry I’m late. A group of girls from the freshmen dorm rolled in at ten minutes to close and spent twenty minutes deciding to buy one bag of sour gummy worms and a couple boxes of Red Hots.”
Without acknowledging my outlay on the table, she began extracting notebooks, folders, and books from her bag as though it were Hermione’s magic purse from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. At last, she set her pack on the floor beside her chair, pulled a pen from somewhere in her curls, and opened one of her notebooks. “I’ve outlined a list of themes we could explore. I’m sort of partial to exploitation in Hardy’s novels.”
“Hello, Jamaica. How was your day?”
When she glanced up at me, I sat back in my chair and crossed my arms over my chest. She might have ideas about how this partnership was going to go, but I had ideas too.
I jacked a brow. “How was your day?” Letting a little grin slip out, I shrugged. “Aside from annoying freshmen at closing time.”
Her head tilted to the side as she finally looked at me, a puzzled expression on her stunning face. “Um, it was fine. Good, actually. Yours?”
“Better now.” I leaned my forearms on the table and dropped my voice half an octave. “I’m looking forward to pairing up with you.”
She scolded me with her face. “Partners. We are project partners.”
I coughed into my hand to hide my laughter at her expression and her schoolteacher tone. “The difference is—what?”
“We aren’t ‘paired up’ as in getting together. We are partners preparing a class project for our mutual advancement.”
“Is that what we are?” I drawled.
In football, timing is everything. When the quarterback does a three-step drop and throws a slant, the receiver needs to shed the defender and hustle his ass to the center of the field to catch the throw that’s coming about two seconds after the center hikes the ball.
The other night, the timing had started moving in the right direction with Jamaica. Then Finn and that bunch of jersey chasers he lets hang around him showed up and blew up the play. Or maybe it was only the one jersey chaser who was the problem. She didn’t react much until Tory opened her whiney mouth.
Usually, I catch Jamaica sneaking peeks at me several times during the hour we’re in class together. I won’t lie, catching her looking at me makes my pickle puffy, as my buddy Wyatt Baxter likes to say. Yesterday in class, I didn’t catch her glancing my way even once. Didn’t take a genius to figure out she thinks I have something going with that spoiled little sorority chick—and she’s not impressed. Right when I dispel one of her stereotypes about me as a football player, something comes along to reinforce a different one. In this case, that football players only date jersey chasers.
I shoved my gear into my over-sized duffel bag, slung it over my shoulder, and headed out of the locker room. As I made my way up the tunnel to the exit into the parking lot, Finn fell into step beside me.
“Hey, what put that Debbie Downer expression on your pretty-boy face, ’Han? You can’t look like that when we’re playing the Trojans this weekend. We are going to mess. Them. Up.” A joyful laugh accompanied his words as he punctuated them with three not-so-easy punches to my shoulder.
“Dude, do you get any school work done when you ‘study’ in the library with that pack of freshman and sophomore hyenas you let hang around?”
We stepped out the doors of the sports complex and headed across the parking lot to the bus.
“Wait, is that what’s bugging you?” A feral grin slid over his features. “It’s that curly-haired hottie you were with. Now that I think about it, you were sitting with her in the library one night last week too.”
“Knock it off, Finn. She’s my partner for my lit class project.” I slung my bag into the compartment in the undercarriage of the bus, resituated my backpack over my shoulder, and headed for the doors.
“You won’t mind then if I make a run at her the next time you’re studying with her in the library.” He tossed his duffel in beside mine and followed me onto the bus. “What’s her name?”
“Don’t even think about it, asshole.”