Denver: I like you too.

Shepard: I know you do.

Denver: UGH. That is NOT the right response, Shepard!

Shepard: Oh, I’m sorry. Let me act surprised then.

Shepard: Golly gee, I had NO idea. Wow. I’m SO flattered.

Denver: I lied. I hate you again.

Shepard: You could never hate me.

Shepard: So what are we going to do about this mutual attraction?

Denver: What can we do? We live over two thousand miles apart.

Shepard: There’s always college…

Denver: There’s always college.

Shepard: Is that, like, a deal?

Denver: Okay, I have another confession to make.

Shepard: What do I look like, the Pope?

Denver: No. He’s way cuter than you.

Shepard: There are a lot of things about you that are suddenly starting to make sense.

Denver: QUIET!

Denver: See, I’ve always had this…plan: go off to college, fall madly in love with my soul mate, and get married when we graduate. I know you don’t believe in forevers or soul mates or any of that, so it’s really hard for me to say that’s a deal…especially when it comes to you.

Denver: Is that going to be a problem for us?

Shepard: No.

Denver: You sure?

Shepard: I’m sure.

Denver: This scares me.

Shepard: Me too, but, Bucky?

Denver: Yes, Cap?

Shepard: I’d give forever a shot with you.

Sixteen

Shepard

“Where are you in the lineup tonight?”

“Second.”

“Really? You mean I don’t have to spend my entire Saturday night with you?”

“You say that like it’s a bad thing.”

She runs her eyes over my attire. “I mean, you do look pretty snazzy in that suit.”

“Snazzy, huh? Not hot? Sexy? Fuckable?”

Red fills her cheeks, and it’s one of the few times I’ve actually seen Denver blush.

I lean over, my shoulder brushing against her, my lips running along the shell of her ear. “Say I’m fuckable, Denver.”

She sucks in a deep breath, holding it for far too long before finally letting it out and raising her chin up high.

She turns to me, meeting me head-on.

“You’re fuckable, all right, but you’re not getting any tonight.”

My champagne glass disappears from my hand, she guzzles the contents down, and then she brushes past me with a triumphant glint in her eyes.

I shake my head, smiling, watching her immerse herself in a group of players like that’s exactly where she belongs. As a journalist, it probably is.

I wonder how her article is coming along, what exactly it is she’s writing about. I’ve had plenty of opportunities to ask her, but I can’t say I care enough to actually do so.

I’m only letting her write it so I can spend time with her. She can write anything she wants. Tell people I wet the fucking bed for all I care—as long as by the end of this whole exchange of services, she’s mine.

“I see you brought her back. A first for you, man.”

Braxton appears beside me, holding out a new glass of champagne. I take it with no intention of drinking it. Like hell I’m letting Denver drive my truck again.

“Yep,” I reply.

“Guess you haven’t fucked it up.”

“Not yet.”

“You will.”

I glare at him. “Thanks, dick.”

He lifts a shoulder. “What? She’s too good to be true, and too good for you.”

“You say the sweetest things, Brax.”

“Does she know what happened with your brother? That little hissy fit you threw?”

I tense at the mention of Zach and Delia and the second biggest mistake of my life.

“She doesn’t,” I say through clenched teeth. “And I’d like to keep it that way.”

“You should tell her, let her decide if you’re redeemable.”

“I will…eventually.”

Braxton grunts like he doesn’t believe me.

Fucker.

I do plan to tell her, just not yet, not when things are going as well as they are. I’ll do it before the wedding.

I hope.

My phone buzzes in my pocket and I pull it out, switching off the alarm.

“That’s my cue. We’re second tonight.”

“Second? Lucky little shit.” His heavy hand lands on my shoulder. “See ya next week.”

I groan, mentally ticking off another event in my head.

Two down, just three more to go.

Since Gerard didn’t press charges and because my coach finds me “valuable”—his words, not mine—I got out of the whole mess pretty clean, all things considered. I’m suspended for the remainder of the season, not allowed to participate in team activities, and must pay a nominal fine for making the team look like shit.

The club made me pay damages. I mean, seriously?

Whatever, it’s understandable, but for my agent and PR team to force me to attend these charity events instead of just donating like I always do? Fucking deplorable.

The only good to come of it is the excuse to spend time with Denny.

I push through the crowd to find her, and my ears perk up when I hear my name.

“Are you dating Shepard Clark?” asks a redhead with perky tits.

“Dating?” Denny wrinkles her nose. “No.”

“If you’re not dating him then you must be related,” another girl says. “Shep has never brought the same girl to more than one event.”

If Denny is surprised by this, she doesn’t show it.

She waves a hand, laughing. “We’re most definitely not related either.”

“Then what are you?”

“Well, to tell you the truth,” she starts, leaning in closer to the girls. They all follow her lead, bending their heads together. “I’m only here because I feel sorry for him.”

Oh, I cannot wait to see where this goes.

One girl grabs her chest, mouth dropping open. “Is he dying?”

“Is he off the team?”

“You’re pity dating him?”

She nods, frowning. “I am. The reason you don’t see him with the same date twice is because once girls find out about it, they don’t stick around—no matter how big his wallet is.”

“Is he scarred?”

“A weird birthmark?”

“Two left feet?”

They pepper her with questions and she continues frowning, shaking her head solemnly.

“Worse.” She leans in closer. “He has a micro-penis.”

“No!” one of the girls gasps.

Denny nods and holds her hand up, pinching her fingers together, telling everyone I have a three-inch dick.

“It’s true.” She shrugs. “It’s a good thing he knows how to use his mouth or else I’d have been out of there so fast.”

The girls clamor, all exchanging shocked comments, some going as far as saying they always suspected.

She takes a sip of her champagne, surveying the room, looking smug.

Until our eyes lock.

Until she sees the promise of revenge.

Her hands begin to shake. Her cheeks flush, lips part.

Just wait until you see what I can do with my tongue, Bucky.

“Where are we going? You just passed the burger joint.”

“We had burgers last week. I’m craving p…”

In my peripheral, I watch as she clenches her thighs together, anticipating the word leaving my mouth.

“Pizza.”

She releases a frustrated sigh. “God, it’s hot in here,” she says, playing like she wasn’t waiting for me to say pussy.

Don’t worry, Denny, pussy is definitely still on the menu for tonight.

“Does this mean we’ll be eating back at your place?”

“Yep.”

“Do you mind if we stop at Smart Shoppe first? I want to grab a few things.”

“I already bought your coffee creamer,” I tell her.

Her mouth drops open but she quickly snaps it closed.

“Well, I need other things. Besides, it’s rather presumptuous of you to assume I’d be staying the night again.”

“You are. We both know you are.” I glance over at her. “Like you’ll give up a night of snuggling Steve.”

“Excellent point.” She flips on the A/C, and I know it’s because she’s wound tight about our plans for dinner—well, my plans for dinner. “I’m still mad you wouldn’t let me bring him.”

“You’re lucky I’m letting you anywhere near him after you tried to steal him twice last week.”

She crosses her arms over her chest, putting her breasts on display.

“I would have gotten away with it the second time if he hadn’t peed in my duffle bag.”

“He peed because he was getting kidnapped and was terrified.”

“He gets his dramatics from you. You owe me a new bag, too.”

I laugh. “You tried to steal my dog and I owe you a new bag? Keep dreaming.”

We pull into Smart Shoppe. The event tonight was local, so the drive isn’t much compared to last week…or next, which she has no idea is three hours away. We’re also slotted to leave last.

She’s going to love that one. I’ll tell her later.

“Ugh, I should have changed before we left. I look ridiculous,” she grumbles as we walk through the parking lot. “Oh god!”

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