“Was it? Couldn’t have waited until you got back to your room?”

“I’m sorry, but did you see that dress?” I whisper into the phone. “You know what, don’t answer that.”

“I’m shaking my head at you, Clark.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

“Maybe try calling Joe? He’s still there, second to last to leave.”

“Son of a bitch,” I complain through gritted teeth.

That bastard Braxton laughs again.

“I am thinking really hard of turning around right now, though, if that makes you feel any better. I’m so tempted to do it just to see Joe let you out.”

“I’m hanging up on you, dick.”

“Good luck, Clark.”

The line goes dead.

“He can’t help us?”

I shake my head at her. “Nope.”

“Do you have any other teammates here?”

“None that I want to call.”

She marches toward me, holding her hand out. “Then I will. Gimme.”

“No way!” I clutch my phone to my chest. “Not happening.”

“You will call someone to get us out of here, or this”—she twirls her fingers between us—“will have been a onetime-only thing.”

I smirk at her. “Oh, Den. We’ve waited years for this to happen—we both know I don’t have to do anything other than crook my finger at you to get you back in bed.”

“Want to test that theory, Cap?”

“I’d bet double on it.”

She grits her teeth because she knows I’m right, and then she lunges for my phone again.

Naturally, she misses.

Thank you, baseball reflexes.

She turns back to the door, banging loud and hard. “Help us!”

“Quiet! If my coach finds out about—”

“You fucking me in a closet while you’re supposed to be raising money for charity?”

“Yes, that. If he finds out, I’m fucked. We need to handle this discreetly.”

She raises her hand like she’s about to bang on the door again, hard green eyes penetrating me across the small space. “Then you better start dialing, Shep.”

“You’re crazy.”

She lifts a brow.

“Don’t worry”—I wink—“I like it.”

With reluctance, because I know he’s going to give me intolerable amounts of shit, I scroll until I find Joe’s number and hit call.

“Are you calling me from inside the building? Where’d you disappear to?”

“I, uh, I kind of need your help.”

“Oh, this is going to be good.”

I hear the smile in Joe’s voice and now I want to kill me for doing this to us.

“I’m locked in a closet.”

“I’m sorry, you’re in the closet and you need my help getting out? I’m flattered, Clark, but I don’t bat for that team.”

“Joe…” I pinch my nose. “I’m not alone.”

“Who are you with? That girl you brought?”

“Obviously.”

He hoots in laughter. “Oh wow, man. That’s ballsy considering all the trouble you’re already in. What a dumbass.”

“I don’t need a talking to, Joe. I need help out.”

“Where are you?”

“If you go out of the room through the main door and make a left, we’re down at the end in the small storage closet.”

“Give me five.”

He ends the call.

“Is he going to help?”

“Yes, but it’s going to come with a price.”

She gives me a lopsided grin. “Was it worth it?”

I want to toss a witty comeback at her, a saucy grin, something flirtatious and fun and light—but I can’t.

There’s something that’s bugging me more than I’d like to admit, and if Denny and I are going to have a future together, I need to start bucking the fuck up and talking to her about my insecurities—the same ones that drove me away from her all those years ago.

“I don’t know, you tell me, Ms. It’s Not As Good As I Imagined.”

She ducks her head, and I can tell the reality of what we just did is hitting her for the first time.

I make my way over, wrapping an arm around her waist and drawing her close. Gently, I place two fingers under her chin and bring her face up to mine.

Her cheeks are still flushed from her orgasm, a sheen of sweat still covers her forehead, and even her makeup is looking like it has seen better days.

She’s still so fucking beautiful though.

“Did you mean it?” she whispers.

“More than anything.”

“I want to believe you.”

“Then do.”

She sighs, closing her eyes against my stare. “I’ve heard you say that before, Shep. I’ve heard you tell me you mean it then in the end, you didn’t.”

“I’ve always meant it, Den, even then. Even when I pushed you away, I meant it.”

“Then why?” She drops her head to my chest. “Why couldn’t we be together?”

I press a gentle kiss to her temple. “Because I’m a fucking pussy when it comes to love. I’m petrified to have my heart broken. I don’t want to experience that same earth-shattering pain my mom felt when my dad died. So, I run and I hide and I push people away, especially the people who mean the most to me.”

“I’m not going anywhere, Shep. I never planned to go anywhere.”

“I know that now.”

“I can’t do this with you again if all you’re going to do is break my heart.”

For a moment, just one single moment, Zach and Delia flit through my mind, but I push them away.

I pull Denny’s face back up to mine, forcing her to look me in the eyes.

“I won’t.”

I’m a liar.

The saddest part? We both believe what I’m saying.

It’s nearly twenty minutes later when there’s a tapping at the door.

“Clark?”

“Oh thank fuck,” I mutter, pushing off the wall. “Joe, dude, I never thought I’d be so happy to hear your voice.”

“Say that again, just a little louder. I don’t think the microphone caught that.”

“I lied. Go away.”

“No!” Denny shouts, running to the door and yanking on the handle. “Please let us out!”

“Not until Clark tells me I’m the best shortstop on the team, and that I have the biggest dick.”

“Your cock is massive and you’re the best shortstop!”

“Thank you, sweetheart, but I need to hear it from Clark’s mouth.”

“That was the sickest thing I have ever heard leave your mouth, and you talk a lot of shit,” I tell Denny quietly. “You need to take it back.”

“Fine, I take it back, but you need to say it. I’m starting to feel like I’m suffocating in here. If that’s the price you have to pay then pay up.”

“Clark? I’m needed back at the party. It’s now or never.”

“Say it,” Denny pushes.

“Fuck,” I groan. “You’re the best shortstop on the team and you have the biggest dick!”

Joe cackles and turns the knob, pulling the door open. His grinning face fills the doorway.

“’Sup, buttmunch?”

I grab Denny’s hand and shove past him.

The applause starts, the noise filling the otherwise empty hallway.

Several guys from the team are standing out there, all hooting and hollering as Denny and I make our shameful exit.

“Way to go, Clark!”

“Yeah! Nice going!”

“You’re the real MVP!”

Denny being Denny, she starts high-fiving and fist-bumping the guys, apparently feeling real goddamn proud of herself.

Fucking hell. I duck my head and pull her forward as fast as I can.

When we get to the last player, Denny yanks herself out of my grasp and turns to the crowd.

“I’d like to take this moment to address some rumors you might have heard about Shepard Clark—rumors spread by me.”

They all listen with rapt attention, amused smiles on their faces.

Bastards.

“I was wrong to tell everyone Shep’s penis is only three inches long. That was a miscalculation on my part.”

What is she doing…?

She gives me a quick wink. “It’s clearly four.”

With that, she bows, and then she sashays down the hall, leaving me standing here with my mouth agape and all my teammates in tears of laughter.

“I vote we keep her,” Joe says.

A smile creeps across my face as I stare after the woman who just fucked me in a supply closet, made me confess my love for her, and then told all my friends I have a four-inch dick like it was nothing.

I vote we keep her too.

Twenty-Six

Denver

I was right. Casual with Shep would be impossible.

Every feeling I’ve had about him in the last five years reared its ugly head the moment he slid inside me.

I felt the love, hate, adoration, the rage, and the hurt—all of it. With every thrust, every gentle touch…it was all there, begging to burst from my chest.

And when he asked me if it was what I’d always imagined? I couldn’t bring myself to lie to him, not while he was inside me.

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