Home > Block Shot (Hoops #2)(17)

Block Shot (Hoops #2)(17)
Author: Kennedy Ryan

“Stripper heels and stripper poles, honey!” She tosses a swathe of blonde hair and looks me up and down. “I’d love to get you in one of my classes. Hell, I’d love to get you in one of my clubs, Banner. Men love tits and ass, and you’ve got both, m’dear.”

My face heats. I’m used to being complimented on my intelligence and things that have little to do with the outside. I always said it didn’t matter, but that was another lie I fed myself. The gulf between the truth and the lies we tell ourselves is filled with misery. It’s not bad to enjoy praise about the physical. That doesn’t make me shallow. I can be as proud of losing more than fifty pounds as I am of negotiating an eight-figure deal for one of my clients. I’m not the smart girl. Or the pretty one. Or the whatever label people want to assign to me. I can be all those things at once.

“The class, maybe,” I say. “The club, never.”

“My last date appreciated my time on the pole,” Quinn interjects with a roguish grin. “if you know what I mean.”

“My virgin ears.” I cover my ears and laugh.

“I doubt there is anything ‘virgin’ left on you,” Quinn says. “Not after last night with Zo. It’s been weeks since you saw each other, right? I’ll take it easy on you today, since I’m sure he didn’t last night.”

I chuckle right along with my friends, neither confirming or denying, and quickly change the subject.

“Speaking of the pole,” I say to Tanya. “You still do those parties here in the city?”

“As long as there are horny men looking to get shit-faced,” Tanya says wryly. “I’m doing parties. But those are separate from the clubs. All private high-end affairs.”

“Yeah, I know.” I look at her frankly. “I have an awkward favor.”

“Anything for you, Banner. You know that.”

“I have a couple of guys who, if they sneeze too hard, could be out on their asses. The league is watching them like a hawk. Think you and your girls could keep an eye out?”

“What exactly are we watching out for?” Tanya asks, her precisely plucked brows lifting.

“Not just being at a party. They can have their fun. I mean drugs or something that could get them in real trouble. I don’t want it on Instagram or TMZ if we can help it.”

“It wouldn’t be exactly professional,” Tanya says, a glint in her eye. “And I can’t make any promises, but tell me who I’m looking for.”

“Oh, I got a list.”

The three of us laugh. Many of my duties representing clients, especially young players in the NBA, which has become somewhat of a specialty of mine, are written in invisible fine print.

“Between tail, weed, and fights in the club,” I add as our laughter dies off, “I need all the help I can get keeping these guys in line and under contracts.”

“We’ll be on the lookout.” Tanya grabs her tote from the floor and heads toward the exit. “In the meantime, try to make one of my pole dancing classes.”

I nod and laugh, starting to stretch before Quinn tells me to.

“Is that the new model AesThetic sent?” I ask, nodding to the prosthetic lower leg I haven’t seen her wear before.

“Yeah.” Quinn extends it for me to see. “Pretty cool actually.”

“Cool enough for you to put your name behind it?” I lean into an abductor stretch. AesThetic has been after her for a year to endorse their line of prosthetics.

“We’ll see.” She puts on her drill sergeant face. “I’m more concerned about your legs than theirs right now. Come on, gimme some squats. Ass to grass, lady.”

We’re both incredibly focused people, so we go through the motions of my workout with almost no chatter for the first twenty minutes, other than the orders she barks to guide me. We’re starting battle ropes before she delves into her juicy gossip phase.

“So about last night,” she says, lips pressed into a sneaky grin.

I pause to look at her warily, a rope in each hand.

“What about last night?”

“I just thought I picked up on something.” She pretends to search for a word, but I know how calculating my friend is when she “senses” a tidbit. She probably practiced this conversation in the mirror this morning. “Interesting.”

“Oh?” I start the workout, snapping the ropes, alternating left and right. “What was so interesting?”

“You and Jared Foster.”

One rope slips from my hands, throwing the rhythm off. I ignore her raised brows and pick up the fallen rope. Our two names even linked casually stands the hair up on my neck. I don’t have feelings for him anymore, but I would never presume to be safe around Jared. The man is his own danger zone.

“There is no me and Jared Foster.” I fix all my concentration on the forceful undulation of the ropes in my hands.

“Really?” Quinn takes a sip of her berry-infused water. “Then what was that my Spidey senses picked up between you two?”

“Disdain? Revulsion? Nausea?” I ask with false pleasantness. “I think you got your webs crossed, Spidey.”

“You forget I can sniff out sexual tension like a bloodhound.”

“I didn’t forget. I never knew.” I drop the ropes and walk away to grab a towel and wipe my face.

“Well I can,” she asserts, hands on slim hips. “And there was something there. Fess up.”

“There’s nothing to fess.”

“I won’t judge, you know,” she says softly. “I mean if you’re worried about Zo or whatever.”

I freeze with a bottle of water midway to my mouth and glance Quinn’s way. Her expression is the patience of a saint and the obstinancy of the Devil.

“Okay, so we have a history,” I admit. “We went to college together.”

“Oh my God.” She clutches her imaginary pearls dramatically. “To see that man in his prime.”

“I’m pretty sure he’s in his prime now,” I say, remembering how Jared looked last night. “This was pre-prime, and he was still kind of prime-ish.”

“So did you guys . . .” She makes a hole with two fingers and thrusts another finger in and out “. . . do the nasty?”

I heave a breath and close my eyes, not wanting the flood of curiosity and questions I know my answer could unleash.

“One night. We had a one-night stand my senior year, but it ended badly.”

Fuck the fat girl.

“Really badly,” I reiterate, focusing on the high shine of the studio floor. “And we haven’t been around each other much over the last decade. When we are, our interactions range from polite to awkward, but I suspect we have the potential for downright hostile.”

“So in college it was hate fucking?” Quinn whispers hopefully. “’Cause that shit is intense.”

If there was a chair in here, she’d pull one right up.

“No, in college we were . . .” All the nights we laughed and studied and challenged each other in that laundromat invade my memory: Jared helping fold my clients’ clothes and teasing me about my bad knock-knock jokes. “We were friends.”

“Maybe you can be friends again,” Quinn says. “He seemed pretty cool last night.”

“I think it’s best to just leave it alone.” I grab a yoga mat for poses to end the workout. “We’re at rival firms, and if there’s one thing I know has not changed about Jared, he’s still ruthless. More now than ever.”

“And I had to go and give him guest passes.” Quinn adjusts my body in Kapotasana pose.

“Yeah, thanks for that.” I laugh at her chagrined expression. “It’s okay. Hopefully we can avoid each other.”

“And how was it last night after not seeing Zo for so long?” Her knowing look seeks to know more. “You guys fuck like savages?”

Never.

I chastise myself for the thought. We’ve been together six months, and I keep hoping for wild chandelier sex, but that hasn’t happened. It sounds crazy, but sex has never been as important to me as all the other things that make a relationship work, that make it rich.

“It was really good to be with him again for sure,” I say, neatly side-stepping her question.

The timer on her watch goes off, indicating that our session is over.

“When is he moving in?” she asks.

“The Titans will make the playoffs.” I grab my water bottle and bag from the corner of the studio. “I don’t anticipate them going too far, though. Not this year. He’ll come here after his last playoff game and plans to stay until he has to report for pre-season workouts.”

“Wow. That sounds serious.” Quinn smiles warmly. “He’s a good man.”

“The best.” I deftly shift topics. “I’m loving the Girl, You Better app, by the way.”

We chat about the app and how it might be improved until we reach the front desk. As soon as employees spot her, Quinn is pulled in several different directions.

“I gotta go.” She kisses my cheek. “Make sure to log your points.”

“Alright, Sarge,” I joke. “I will.”

I’m leaving, focused on logging my workout into my phone when I bump into someone entering the building as I exit. We somehow end up trapped together in a partition of the revolving door.

“I’m so sorry! I . . .”

Him.

“Imagine seeing you here,” Jared drawls, standing still so I can’t move forward either. His closely cropped hair glints golden in the bright morning sun.

“It is my gym,” I answer caustically.

“Your gym,” Jared says, arms folded across his chest. “Your city. I don’t remember you being this possessive.”

“I’m surprised you remember me at all.”

One dark blond brow ascends and that wide mouth tips at one corner.

   
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