Have I mentioned that Summer is a crazy person?
A follow-up text quickly appeared demanding that I leave Taylor in Summer’s fashionista hands to prepare for our night at the club. I think Taylor felt bad that the girls might have felt excluded, so she agreed to do the whole girl thing with them and meet me here later.
Not gonna lie—I was worried about leaving her with those chicks. Taylor’s done great at adapting to the guys. Hunter’s roommates, on the other hand, are a fucking handful. It was with some misgivings and a warning to call me if they tried making her cut her hair that I left her in Summer, Brenna and Demi’s clutches.
Now we’ve been at the club an hour already and I’m starting to wonder if I should organize a search party.
This place is slammed wall-to-wall. Even some of the Minnesota players showed up, along with another team from New York City. When I spot number nineteen at the bar, he offers to buy me a shot, and I accept because my pride never gets in the way of free booze. While we’re mostly relegated to communicating with hand signals and nods, I think we manage to squash the beef. Until next season, anyway.
Eventually, our teams merge around the end of the bar and take turns jabbing each other and shouting war stories over the DJ’s set list. As much as we want to hate them, the Minnesota guys seem cool. Though I’ll feel a lot better if we’re the ones buying their pity drinks next year.
As I’m checking over my shoulder toward the entrance for the fiftieth time looking for Taylor, a face catches my eye. Just for a second, but then he’s gone. Hell, I’m not even sure I saw him at all among the strobing lights and pulsing bodies. Despite the knot in my stomach, the sudden bolt of adrenaline, I assure myself that my eyes were just playing tricks on me.
“Jee-zus,” exclaims number nineteen, whose name I couldn’t hear when he tried to shout it over the music.
Foster follows his gaze and releases a sharp wolf whistle. “Holy fuck, Con. You seeing this?”
My brow furrows. I turn around but can’t figure out what they’re gawking at. Until two blonde heads catch my attention in a sweeping beam of light.
Summer and Taylor are making their way through the crowd. They’re tailed by Brenna and Demi, but everyone whose name isn’t Taylor ceases to exist for me.
I think I drop my glass. Was I even holding one? Everything else filters into the darkness until it’s just Taylor, walking toward me in a tiny white dress glowing under the UV lights. Her hair curled, makeup done. That sexy beauty mark above her mouth that makes her look like a modern Marilyn Monroe. That’s my girlfriend.
I must look like a total jackass striding over to her while trying to hide a hard-on, but fuck me she looks stunning.
“Dance with me,” I say at her ear, wrapping an arm around her waist.
In response she bites her lip and nods. Just that little thing makes my dick twitch and I’m not sure how we’re getting out of here without me ripping her dress off.
“You’re welcome,” I hear Summer say, but I ignore her, single-mindedly pulling Taylor toward the throng of dancers.
“I suck at dancing,” Taylor tells me as I gather her into my arms.
“Don’t care,” I mutter. I just want to touch her, hold her. I know she can feel my erection as her body melts against me. I want to ask her what she wants to do about it but I’m not that fucking drunk yet, so I hold my tongue.
“Just don’t let me look stupid,” she says, finding it easier to speak in my ear now that she’s wearing heels.
I place a kiss on her neck, feel her skin erupt in goose bumps in response. Then she turns to face away from me, presses her ass against me while she dances, and I bite down so hard on the inside of my cheek I taste blood.
“You’re killing me,” I groan, slowly sliding my hands down her body, savoring every sexy curve.
Taylor looks over her shoulder and winks. “You started it.”
Someone suddenly taps me on the shoulder, a dark-haired guy I make out from the corner of my eye. I assume he’s asking to cut in, and I’m prepared to tell him to fuck off when that knot in my gut returns.
“Hey, Con,” a voice from the past drawls. “Fancy meeting you here.”
My stomach drops, a wave of queasiness washing over me. I shutter my eyes and paste a completely expressionless mask on my face.
“Kai,” I say coolly. “What are you doing here?”
He does the same gesture I’ve been doing all night—signaling he can’t hear me. “Let’s go talk over there,” he says, pointing somewhere past my shoulder.
“I’m sorry about this,” I mumble in Taylor’s ear.
“Sorry about what?” She looks uneasy, gripping my hand tightly as we follow Kai to the smaller bar at the back of the club. I still can’t believe he’s here. Goddamn Kai Turner, still scrawny and stinking of weed. I haven’t seen him since I moved clear across the country to get away from what we did.
The fact that he’s tracked me down, all the way to some random joint in Buffalo, tells me nothing good will come of this reunion.
I’ve got Taylor’s hand in mine, holding on for dear life. Half because I’m afraid she might take off on me. Half because I’m not sure what I’ll do to this kid if we’re left alone.
“The hell are you doing here, Kai?” I demand.
He smirks. I know that look too well. It worked better when we were teenagers. Now it reads like the guy trying to sell you gold-plated watches out of a backpack.
“Good to see you, too, brother.” He slaps me on the shoulder. “Ain’t this a fucking coincidence.”
I shrug his hand off me. “Bullshit.” There are no coincidences or happy accidents where Kai is concerned. Since we were in middle school, he’s always had an angle. Back then, so did I. “How’d you find me?”
His leering eyes slide to Taylor, who shrinks at my side. Everything about the way he looks at her makes me want to lay him out.
“Alright, you got me. I’m living in the Big Apple now. Some of my boys were playing in the tournament and I thought I might run into you, so I tagged along. Tried hitting you up. Weird, though.” His pointed gaze slides back to me. “Your number’s disconnected.”
“I got a new one.” To lose people like him.
Taylor grasps my arm, questioning me with her big turquoise eyes.
Christ, I want to get her away from him. I’d leave if I didn’t think he’d just follow us. And frankly, I can’t trust what might be waiting outside the club. I know Hunter and the guys would throw down for me in a heartbeat, but I’ve got no way to get their attention, which means right now I’m on my own.
“This your girl?” Kai sees my discomfort and focuses in on Taylor just to get under my skin. I can’t tell if he wants a fight, or if he wants me to ditch her so there isn’t a witness. “Guess you have gone east coast.”
“The fuck’s that supposed to mean?” I ask, fists clenched. At this point I don’t give a damn about getting tossed out of the club. I push Taylor a step behind me to shield her.
“Nah, nothing, man. I’d hit that ass. And I’m sure she’s got a great personality.” He flashes a toothy grin. “You just used to have standards.”