He was trying real hard to keep from bursting out laughing at my expense. I rolled my eyes, knowing my face was resembling a red sea star. “You’re annoying.”
Yeah. He lost the battle. He burst out laughing, then hugged me to him, his hand rubbing over my back quick. “Never seen you like this. It’s cute.”
Jake and Colby shared a look.
I elbowed Stone away, fighting from dropping my eyes to the floor. “So, um, I can make more food. Pasta? I can do a healthy primavera. You have all the stuff here. I’m actually impressed.”
Stone leaned back against the counter by me. “I have a girl who comes in and cooks a bunch of meals for me every week. I gave her last week off ’cause you were here.” He turned to the guys. “You guys want lunch?”
The two glanced at each other. Both shrugged.
Colby said, “That’d be great. Yeah.”
Stone said to me, “Games start in an hour. We were going to watch some tapes beforehand.” He was eyeing all the ingredients I’d pulled out on the counter. “You got this? Or you need help?”
It was my last day before heading back to school. Minus the freakout yesterday, the concussion was fading. I was more clearheaded. It took everything I had not to break down and dig into my textbooks, embracing my inner nerd for a bit, but one more day. I was giving myself one more day, and I owed Siobhan a call.
So, trying to stick to that plan, cooking had become my outlet.
He was right. I’d pulled up trying to find what a typical pro football athlete food program was, and it was mostly healthy food, mixed with junk food. Stone was a wide receiver. I wasn’t sure, but I found a few programs for what a pro soccer player would eat. I was adapting one of those programs for Stone. Though, hearing he had a girl who did his menus, I wasn’t sure how helpful I’d be.
One day at a time.
I was finishing up when he came back to the kitchen. I was pulling out the baked potatoes, adding broccoli over the top with a sprinkle of cheese. His arms came around both sides of me on the counter, and he leaned over me, looking over my shoulder.
“That looks good.”
“Hmmm.” I turned in his arms, leaning back so I could see him face to face.
He smirked. “You have a crush on my teammates?”
“No!” I laughed. This was mortifying. “But I just wasn’t expecting the quarterback and lead cornerback from the Texas Kings to walk into your kitchen. That’s all.”
“I’m the lead wide receiver for the team.”
“I know, but you’re you. You’re Stone.” I smacked his chest with the back of my hand. “I don’t look at you like that. You’re you. They’re…them.” Lame. So lame, but true. My face was warming up again. “They’re superstars.”
He straightened, some of the amusement leaving him. “Colby was a third-round pick. Jake was second round. I was second overall draft pick.” He was back in my space, pushing me back, crowding me. “You know what that means, right? I was a first-round pick. One other guy got picked before me, and he was the Heisman winner. You understanding where I’m going here?”
I placed my palms on his chest, but he was like cement. He wasn’t moving. His heart just picked up pace and I got what he was saying. Still didn’t matter.
I shrugged. “What do you want me to say? I grew up with skinned knees and you teaching me the most efficient way to pick your nose. No. You’re not a big mega-athlete star to me.”
He barked out a laugh. “Shit. That’s embarrassing.” But he stopped pushing me. “I get it. Just, if you start getting feelings for any of my teammates, talk to me first. Yeah? Since you know.” He pushed his groin up against mine, grinding there a second.
There was a hard glint in his eyes, and his jaw clenched for a second. But his voice was teasing, and the grinding made me forget the first two reactions instantly. He forced oxygen out of my lungs, and I was coughing, a rush of heat exploding through my whole body.
My arm curved around his neck. “Jesus, Stone.”
He paused, his head reared back so he could see me better. But he didn’t move back.
I swear, if he had, I was going to climb up on that counter and lock my legs around his waist. My hand flattened on his shoulder, as if I could keep him in place. But he remained, then he was moving, but his body remained in place.
Both of us shared a grin.
“Someone’s awake,” he murmured, his eyes growing dark and wolfish. “Fuck.” He abruptly pulled back, sneaking an apple from behind me in a bowl. “This between us.” He motioned from my vagina to his dick. “It ain’t normal. You know that, right?” He moved farther back, leaning against a counter opposite me. “I had a girlfriend in college. A full year. I never felt this shit for her that I feel for you.”
Yep. Now my hands were tingling. He was sending shivers all through my body.
“What are you saying?”
He shrugged, but I still saw his jaw clenching again. “Just if you want to fuck someone else, talk to me first. If I’m fucking someone more than once, I don’t fuck another girl. No place for that drama in my life. So I’m telling you, I’m not planning on stepping between anyone else’s legs. I’d like the same appreciation.”
The same appreciation? Was he serious? Did he not realize how broken I was?
I swallowed over a knot, my hands suddenly clammy. “The fact that I’m standing upright as a functioning member of society is remarkable. Yeah. You and me, I get it’s not normal, but it’s helping me somehow. The idea of even thinking about someone else like that… I’m just standing. That’s my main focus right now.”
His eyes suddenly cleared, sobering. He stood from the counter, walking over to me. A sensual look moved into his gaze, but there was more. A predatory look, too. And I so felt like his prey, but I stayed. I waited. I watched him come, and I was trembling from head to toe until he was close enough to touch me. As it was, he didn’t, but I felt his body heat. That was affecting me in a whole different way, coursing those same shivers all over me, exploding.
“Good. I like you standing.” His eyes flashed, growing molten. “I like you in other ways, too, but I want you fighting the most. I need you to fight again.”
I swallowed. Noted. He liked me fighting.
Hearing voices coming, Stone stepped back. He was across the kitchen, eating his apple when Colby and Jake entered.
I was in the same room as two—alright, three—professional football players. Jared would piss his pants. Well, no, he wouldn’t. He’d act all cool, I’m sure, but I couldn’t wait to tell him.
I turned to Stone. “When’s Jared coming in?”
He’d been mid-bite of his apple at my question. “Oh. Uh.” He frowned. “Tomorrow sometime?” He shrugged. “Not planning on meeting up until after the game, though. Why? Georgia said you’d been talking to him. When are you going to talk to him again?”
Colby was listening, looking between Stone and me. His dark eyes sparkling. “Who’s Jared?”
“Yeah.” From Jake, a smirk on his face. “Who’s Jared?”
Stone gestured to me with his apple. “Her stepbrother. He’s flying in for the game tomorrow night. I’m getting them tickets.”
Jake leaned against the counter next to Stone, swiping his own apple on the way. “He a big Kings fan?”
Stone grinned, all cocky. “He’s a big Stone Reeves fan.”
Jake rolled his eyes. “Enjoy the spotlight now, buddy. You know Good Ol’ Bilson is gonna take it tomorrow night, right? I’ve got the tapes on Bolston and I ain’t letting him get anywhere. All those ESPN clips that rave about you and Colby, they’re going to be saying my name tomorrow night.” He nodded at me. “Your girl’s brother will be my number-one fan. Just see, man.” He winked at me.
“Yeah. Okay. You’re delusional.” Colby puffed up his chest, just as cocky. “Little dude’s gonna eat out of my palm. I’m the quarterback. I head the whole fucking boat.”
Jake snorted. “Right. ’Cause all those pretty runs Reeves takes into the end zone ain’t worth shit.”
“All those pretty runs come from my pretty hands.” Colby’s head was up and smiling. “I can do this all night long, baby.”
“Baby!” Jake hooted. “Who you calling baby? I don’t call anyone baby unless she’s under me, or straddling me, and even then—” He stopped, his eyes darting to me. “Uh. Sorry. I mean…” Then he shrugged, throwing back to Colby, “You want to get the right terms, baby. I’m sweetheart, not baby.”
“Really?!” Colby’s nostrils flared, but he had a shit-eating grin on his face.
Stone pushed off from the counter, coming to stand next to me. “Those two trash talk all the time. This is a snippet of the shit they say in the locker room.”
“All day, every day.” Jake held his arms out wide. He was bouncing on the back of his heels, as if getting warmed up for an actual game.
The oven beeped at that second, and I moved over to pull out the primavera.
“Damn.” From Jake. He leaned over me, breathing in the pasta. “That smells fucking good.”
“Looks fucking amazing.” Colby tapped Stone on the chest. “No wonder you ain’t been social lately. Got this to come home to now.”