“Blow leaves your system after forty-eight hours, babe.” Weston rolls his eyes. “You’d have to be real dumb to get caught.” He plants a hand on my knee, but there’s nothing sexual about the gesture. “So how you liking Briar? Better than Brown?”
“Classes haven’t started yet, so I can’t say one way or the other. The campus is gorgeous, though.”
“You living in the dorms?”
“No, I moved in with a few of Dean’s friends. Actually, one of them is Hunter Davenport, your old Roselawn teammate.”
“No shit! You’re shacking up with Davenport?”
“No such thing.”
I’m about to argue when I feel a subtle shift of energy in the room. Jake Connelly has just entered, and let me just say, the man’s got presence. He strides in holding a bottle of Sam Adams, stopping in front of the armchair opposite our couch. The guy currently occupying the chair shoots up instantly. Connelly calmly takes his place.
His dark-green eyes flick in Brenna’s direction as he sips his beer.
Brenna is momentarily distracted from McCarthy. She takes in Jake’s dark jeans, black Under Armour shirt, and Red Sox cap. “Connelly,” she says curtly. “Good game.”
He gives her a contemplative look. There was no sarcasm in her tone, but I think he senses the difficulty with which she voiced the praise. “Thanks,” he drawls. Takes another sip of beer.
McCarthy tries to get her attention by whispering something against her neck, but her eyes remain on Jake. And his remain on her.
“Where do I know you from?” he says thoughtfully.
“Hmmm. Well, are you able to hear any of your hecklers when you’re on the ice? Because I’m usually the one screaming obscenities at you,” she offers helpfully.
He sounds amused. “Got it. Briar puck bunny.”
“Ha! They wish.”
“You hang around the team. I’ve seen you.”
“Got no choice.” She tips her head in challenge. “My dad’s the coach.”
Jake is completely unfazed.
McCarthy, on the other hand? Utterly appalled. He jolts upright, causing Brenna to nearly fall face-first on the carpeted floor. Proving he’s at least a gentleman, he regains his grip on her, then eases her onto the armchair before jumping to his feet.
“Why didn’t you say something?” He turns to Weston in betrayal. “Why didn’t you warn me?”
“Who cares, man. She’s good people.”
“I told her about my busted knee! Coach wasn’t gonna put it on the injury report next week. What if she snitches to her father?”
“So?” Weston’s still not concerned.
“So next thing I know, one of his goons is slashing my knee, you know, oops! It was an accident, and suddenly I’m done for the season.”
“My dad runs a clean program,” Brenna retorts, rolling her eyes. “No Tonya Hardings on the roster.”
Weston snorts. Connelly grins, and damned if that doesn’t make him even more attractive.
“Also?” she continues. “This isn’t the CIA, and I’ve got better things to do with my time than spy on a bunch of college hockey players for my father.”
McCarthy loses some of his bluster. “Yeah?”
“Yeah.” She rises from the chair. “I came here tonight to chill with my friend, have a few drinks, and maybe fool around with a cute guy.”
His expression becomes hopeful. “We can still fool around.”
She throws her head back and laughs. “Sorry, big boy. That ship sailed when you practically threw me across the room because of my cooties.”
A couple of his teammates whoop with laughter. Poor McCarthy is not as amused.
To my surprise, Connelly intervenes. “Don’t listen to her, man. She was never going to hook up with you.”
Brenna raises her eyebrows. “I wasn’t, huh? I don’t think you know me well enough to make that call.”
He stares at her, his tongue coming out to moisten the corner of his mouth. It’s extremely sexy. “You’d never sleep with a Harvard player.”
She stares back for several seconds before capitulating. “You’re right. Never in a million years.” Her gaze shifts toward me. “Time to go, crazy girl. I’ll get us an Uber.”
Probably a good idea. I lean in to give Weston a kiss on the cheek. “It was so good to catch up,” I tell him. “And thanks for the invite.”
“Any time. Hopefully we’ll hang out again now that you’re in the Boston area.”
“Absolutely.” I stand up and glance at Jake. “Have a good night.”
He just nods.
“Four minutes away,” Brenna says, holding up her phone.
McCarthy is still standing close to her, not bothering to hide his disappointment. “You could stay…” He trails off, awaiting her response.
Secretly, I think she totally would’ve fooled around with him, Harvard be damned. Unfortunately, he really did blow it with his overreaction to her identity.
She takes pity on the guy, looping her arms around his neck and brushing her lips over his stubble-covered cheek. “Maybe in another life, McCarthy.”
Smiling ruefully, he lands a lighthearted smack on her butt before she walks off. “I’m holding you to that.”
On her way to the door, Brenna flicks the pithiest of looks in Jake Connelly’s direction. His green eyes gleam with amusement as she disappears from the room.
Three minutes later, she and I are in the backseat of our Uber. Brenna addresses me in a grudging tone. “That wasn’t too atrocious.”
“See! I told you it would be fun,” I tease.
Scowling, she jabs a finger in the air between us. “With that said, I’m totally telling my dad about McCarthy’s knee.”
I grin. “I wouldn’t expect anything less.”
Brenna decides to crash at my house when she finds out my roommates are having a party of their own. She confesses that she’s a night owl and has a hard time falling asleep before three or four a.m. Me, I love a good after-party like I love my Prada boots, so I’m happy bringing her home with me.
To our dismay, everyone’s gone when we walk through the door. My roommates are still up, though. Hollis and Fitz are on the couch, battling each other in a shooting game. Hunter is passed out in the easy chair, clad in sweatpants and a threadbare T-shirt with the sleeves cut off.
The only evidence of a get-together is the dozens of empty beer cans and the faint scent of marijuana that seems to be coming from Mike’s direction.
“Get the fuck out of here,” Hollis is growling at Fitzy. “Stop cornering me.”
“Stop hiding in the same warehouse if you don’t want me to find you.”
From the doorway, I watch as the soldier on Mike’s side of the screen faces down the barrel of a scary-looking gun. On Fitzy’s side, it’s clear he has Hollis completely trapped.
“Any last words?” Fitzy asks.
“I never learned how to ride a bike.”
Fitz bursts out laughing. A deep, sexy laugh that rolls out of his muscular chest—and dies the moment he spots me.
“Holy shit, that was funny,” Brenna tells Hollis as she saunters into the living room. “You actually said something that made me laugh. Like, with you and not at you.”
He responds with a scowl. “Oh, hi there. How was Rome?”
“Rome?” she says blankly.
“Yeah. Rome.” His dark look travels toward me. “Right, Brutus?”
I reluctantly turn to Fitz for assistance. “What the hell is he talking about?”
“Et tu, Brute,” he murmurs wryly.
“Davenport told us where you were,” Hollis accuses. “So don’t try to hide it.”
“I wasn’t going to,” I say cheerfully. “Bee, you want a drink?”
From the armchair, Hunter cracks one eye open. “Only thing left is the bottle of Fireball,” he mumbles, haphazardly gesturing to the end table.
I eye the whiskey bottle apprehensively. “Feeling spicy?” I ask Brenna.
Grinning, I duck into the kitchen in search of shot glasses. When I come back, Brenna is nestled on the other side of Fitzy, trying to convince him and Hollis that she was coerced into attending the Cambridge party.
“It was terrible,” she bemoans.
“Bullshit! She had the best time ever.” I set the glasses on the table, then glance at my roommates. “It’s okay if Brenna stays over, right?” I’m wondering now if I should’ve asked for permission.
But Hollis waves his hand dismissively. “Of course you’re staying over,” he tells her. “My bed is your bed.”
“Oh honey, I wouldn’t touch your bed with a ten-foot pole.”
“Speaking of poles…” He wiggles his eyebrows.
“Keep it in your pants, Michael.”
“Aw, have some mercy on him. He needs it tonight,” Fitz says, slinging one tattooed arm around her shoulder.
And no, I’m not jealous seeing that.
Why would I be?
I tear my gaze away and focus on pouring the Fireball.