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

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

“Foster,” Bent hisses at my elbow. “All you have to do—”

“Shut the hell up.” I whip a look around to him. “You knew about this?”

“Good God, Foster,” Prescott intones from the head of the table. “Put a bag over her head and take the top so she doesn’t crush you. It’ll be over before you know it.”

I stand so abruptly my chair falls behind me and crashes to the floor. His words have barely polluted the air before I’m at his side and have one of his arms twisted behind his back and his face pressed to the table.

The other guys mumble and cough and protest weakly, but I spread a glare around the table in case any of them feel the need to defend this motherfucker whom they don’t even like or respect. The Pride? Give me a damn break. These men aren’t lions. They’re sheep who follow and bray.

“You’re making a huge mistake, Foster,” Prescott screams, straining futilely to loosen my hold on his arm and head. “No way you’re in after this.”

“You tiny-dick son of a bitch,” I growl. “Do I look like I still want to be in your pathetic secret treehouse club?”

I tighten my grip on his arm, watching with satisfaction the discomfort pinching his features.

“Not only do I officially withdraw my bid for admission to this foolishness you’re masquerading as brotherhood,” I bend to say in his ear, “but if I hear you bothered or hurt Banner in any way, I’ll beat you with your own belt and knock the teeth down your throat.”

I release him and he immediately surges to his feet and turns on me, stepping so close our noses almost meet. His beer-scented breath huffs into the small space separating us. I don’t step back but let my rage and his wrestle in the tension-tightened air.

“Do it,” I whisper, fists clenched and ready at my sides. “I’d relish beating you in front of them.”

“You will regret this,” he says, the side of his face I pressed to the table mottled and red. “You’re throwing away the opportunity of a lifetime, and this will follow you forever. Is chubby worth that?”

I force myself to smile instead of snarl.

“Everything I have, I earned, even against the odds.” I shrug carelessly. “It would be in your best interest to stay clear of me. You’re an unweaned baby, still sucking on your mama’s tit. If there’s one thing you should have learned about me over the course of these last few months it’s that I’m a resourceful motherfucker and will do whatever is necessary to achieve my goal. I hear you’re bothering Banner Morales, I’ll put you down.”

I hold his stare for an extra beat so he feels the weight, the truth of my words.

“That’s a promise, Prescott.”

I don’t wait for a response but grab my laundry bag, my backpack and ignoring the gaping faces assembled around the table—including my best friend’s—take the steps from the basement two at a time. It’s only when I’m standing outside Prescott Hall and drawing in a cold bracing breath of winter air that I process what has happened. I just flushed the last three months of my life down the toilet. All the fetching of drugs and booze, completing dangerous, impossible tasks, breaking laws and generally subjugating myself to this asshole . . . wasted.

Hell, I even broke up with Cindy last week, my girlfriend who looks and fucks like a porn star.

All of it gone. Poof. For nothing.

Not for nothing. For Banner.

A girl who doesn’t even know I like her. Who I’ve never even kissed.

“What the hell was that, Foster?”

Bent’s angry question slaps my back as I walk down the front steps.

I turn to face him, a few steps below.

“I should kick your ass.” Even though my voice is quiet, he knows my anger when he sees it.

“You messed up, dude.” Bent sucks his teeth and shakes his head agitatedly. “You wanna fuck her anyway. What was the harm?”

I tilt my head and consider him through the puffs of frigid air expelling from our mouths and noses.

“How do you know what I want?”

“Besides knowing you for four years and never seeing you like this about any other girl?” The stiff line of his mouth cants just a little.

“I’m not ‘like’ anything.” My words sound defensive even to me.

“You talk about her more than you talk about Cindy. Remember Cindy? The one who actually sucks your dick? Yet all I heard was Banner is a genius. Banner kicked my ass today in debate class. Banner’s a double major. Banner speaks all these languages. Banner, Banner, Banner.”

“Ex,” I correct softly, allowing myself a smile. I must have talked about her more than I realized.

“What’d you say?” Bent asks, blowing into his hands.

“I said ex-girlfriend. Cindy and I broke up.”

“I know that, too.” Any trace of a smile disappears. “We make it our business to know everything about Pride prospects.”

Any ease between us withers. Tension reclaims my shoulders.

“Well you can stay out of my business because I’m not a prospect anymore.” I turn to begin the ten-minute walk to the laundromat where Banner’s already studying.

“I can probably smooth things over with the rest of the group and pressure Prescott to let you in,” he calls after me. “That was Prescott’s thing. No one else wanted to do it.”

I shake my head and keep walking, letting my middle finger raised in the air do my talking for me. After a few moments, the sound of the door slamming shut signals that Bent gave up and went back inside.

Good. I need all ten minutes to figure out what I’m going to do.

Tonight was supposed to be the night. The night I laid my cards on the table and told Banner how I feel.


Is that the right word?

I don’t “feel” for girls. I fuck them. And if I want to be the only one for a little while, I date them. And once I don’t care if someone else has them, then I stop. But obviously there’s a pattern.

I mean, with the fucking and all.

It’s more than that with Banner, though. Prescott says she’s fat. Honestly, maybe she is a little chubby. Who knows under the oversized sweatshirts she always wears. I love the way she looks, but that’s not it. She’s not my usual type. With Cindy, I knew within two minutes how I would get her. I’m a calculating motherfucker, instantly and constantly assessing weaknesses and tendencies to get what I want. Most people are simple, easy to figure out. But Banner has an algorithm I haven’t solved yet.

Maybe tonight I will.



I had never been to a laundromat before college.

Growing up, Susan, my stepmother, did our laundry on the weekends. She probably spoiled us—me, my dad, and my stepbrother, August. Our clothes magically appeared in drawers and closets, washed, hung, folded, and fresh-scented. It wasn’t until college that I realized what a pain in the ass it is to do your own laundry.

Banner runs a small business, taking in laundry from students like me, too busy or lazy to do it themselves. She usually studies at Sudz, an off-campus laundromat, while her client’s clothes wash and dry. Most of the dorms have a laundry room, so Sudz doesn’t see as much traffic as you’d think. Some nights she studies so late she’s arranged with the owner to just sleep here on a couch in the back room. We often have the place to ourselves.

Tonight we have the place to ourselves.

I hover at the entrance of Sudz, shifting the bag of laundry on one shoulder, my backpack on the other, and observe Banner at my leisure. In a flurry of deft movements, she tames the wild tangle of whites into orderly stacks, all the while whispering to herself, the thick, sculpted arch of her dark brows dented in concentration. Earbuds in, she is rehearsing what I know to be conversational Mandarin Chinese.

Banner has a thing for languages. First day in our Debate & Public Speaking class, Professor Albright said the power of language is how it connects us. He asked something in English, and of course, we all answered. Then he asked a question in Spanish, still many replied in kind. French, fewer, but some still answered. Italian, almost no one, a few, maybe three. When he called out a question in Russian, only one voice echoed from the very back of the huge lecture hall.

Banner Morales.

Even uttering the phlegmy, harsh Russian consonants, her voice sounded like it had been smoked over coals then left chilling on ice. Richly flavored, but cool. Husky. Confident. I couldn’t resist. I had to turn and see who belonged to that voice. I’m used to girls noticing me, but Banner’s eyes never left Professor Albright standing down front, even though I stared up at her for a good minute. I wanted her to see me watching her, but she didn’t acknowledge me. I’ve been trying to get her to see me ever since.

“Hěn hào chī,” she whispers, starting on a stack of darks.

I tap her shoulder and she jumps, screeching a little and making me laugh. It’s so unlike her to screech.

“Sorry,” I say, my grin unrepentant.

“You scared me half to death, Foster.” Hand pressed to her chest, she rolls her eyes, but a good-natured smile tugs at those full lips. Her lips look perpetually just kissed. She has one of those Julia Roberts mouths. Her lips, the top and bottom, are precisely the same width and fullness. There’s no dip or bow, like when they were molding Banner’s features, they tugged at the corners of her mouth and said just a little wider.

They must have thought, “There. Perfect. That’ll torture Jared Foster every time he looks at her.”

“What were you mumbling about when I walked in?” I ask.

“Working on restaurant conversation tonight.” She turns off the audio on her phone.

“Oh, that’ll come in so handy.”

“More than the Latin you took in high school,” she says, chuckling. “They call it a dead language for a reason. You need to learn something that’ll be useful to you in business.”

“Yeah, yeah. I will. Now tell me what you were saying when I came in.”

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