Home > Block Shot (Hoops #2)(5)

Block Shot (Hoops #2)(5)
Author: Kennedy Ryan

“You mean kiss you?” I ask. “Or like kiss you kiss you?”

He chuckles and lifts the hair off my shoulder, tucking a chunk of it behind my ear.

“I’m pretty sure the second one,” he says, piercing me with another heated glance. “Is that the one with tongue?”

My brain, temporarily atrophied though usually agile, reaches for the nearest excuse.

“I-I don’t kiss guys who have girlfriends.” I arrange my face into polite apology and hope to end this perplexing conversation.

“Ahhh.” He nods, his expression reflective. “I figured you’d say that.”

“Yeah, so, we should probably—”

“That’s why I don’t have a girlfriend anymore.”

The breath stalls in my throat. My heart pummels me from the inside out, rattling against the cage of my ribs.

“You mean Cindy?” I ask.

“Yeah, no more Cindy.”

“You wha-wha . . . huh?”

“You wha-wha . . .” he mocks me, his full lips spreading into a blinding grin. “You heard me. I don’t have a girlfriend anymore. Cindy and I broke up.”

“But I’m not your type,” I blurt.

“And yet I broke up with her so you,” he says, laying the tip of one long finger on my breastbone, “would kiss me.”

I glance from the finger resting between my breasts to the sculpted lines of Jared’s face. Does he feel my heartbeat tom tom-ing through my sweatshirt, hope and doubt trading thumps in my chest? I’ve imagined kissing him, not just how he would taste or how his lips would feel, but imagined him wanting it as much as I did. Imagined how it would feel to be wanted back. Now that he says he does, it seems too good to be true.

“I think I’m getting, um,” I say, licking my lips, “mixed signals.”

His eyes trace the slide of my tongue, making me self-conscious. I tuck my lips in, hiding them from the singeing heat of his glance.

“Really?” he asks with a husky chuckle. “You’re too smart to be confused by something so simple.”

His other hand cups the nape of my neck, subtly pulling me closer.

“No mixed signals, Banner.” He lowers his head to breathe the next words over my lips. “Just this one.”

Doing laundry the last few years, I understand static electricity—the charge produced when things rub against each other. I didn’t even realize we’d been rubbing against each other all semester in some form or fashion; the clash of our wills, the meeting of our minds, and now our lips rub together. Our tongues move in tandem. We cling.

He possesses my mouth. There’s no other way to say it. As much a command as it is a kiss. I’ve never been kissed this way. His thumb presses my chin so my lips open wider, and he storms in. It doesn’t feel like a first kiss. There’s nothing uncertain or tentative about the way he fits his lips over mine. He kisses me like he’s rehearsed it a thousand times.

And God help me, after a startled gasp, I kiss him back. The heat between our mouths burns through my shock like a flame eating through wax, and he quickly reaches the wick—the very end of my hesitation. He flattens his hand between my breasts while we kiss, and though he’s nowhere near my nipples, they peak. Tight and hard and sensitive, anticipating the possibility of his touch. His other hand angles my head back, and he plumbs the depths of my mouth, licking inside, stroking my tongue with his. He traps my hair in his fist and pulls, growling into the kiss.

What the actual fuck?

It’s so intense. It’s deeper and hotter and on the edge of what I can handle. His hunger grabs me, holds me so tight for a moment I can’t breathe.

“Jared,” I mumble against his mouth, pull back and touch my throbbing lips. “Slow down. I . . . it’s a lot.”

His forehead crashes against mine, his hand still at my neck and his fingers wedged into my hair.

“Shit,” he breathes. “Sorry. I’ve just been thinking about this for a long time. It’s hard to go slow.”

I’m struggling to keep up. This golden boy from the upper reaches of Kerrington’s social stratosphere, whom I’ve been secretly crushing on—for not one year, not two years, but three, even while I was dating the last jerk—has been thinking about kissing me for a long time? For so long that it’s hard to go slow?

“Sorry,” I say dazedly. “This feels like The Twilight Zone.”

“The Twilight Zone?”

“Yeah, it was this show that—”

“Banner, I know what The Twilight Zone is, but why does it feel that way to you? Is it because we’ve known each other all semester and I’m just now making a move? The first day we met in Albright’s class—”

“We didn’t first meet in Albright’s class,” I cut in. “We met four years ago.”

“What?” He frowns. “No, I would have remembered.”

No, he wouldn’t.

“Obviously, you don’t.” My laugh is soft, self-conscious. “We met at freshman orientation. All the girls were squealing about you and Benton Carter. I want the blond one. I’ll take the one with dark hair.”

I drop my eyes to the floor.

“I sat right beside you,” I tell him. “And you asked to borrow a pencil.”

“I don’t remember any of this, but I do remember the first day I noticed you in Albright’s class.”

He looks at me, a dark blue direct assault.

“And I’ve been noticing you ever since,” he adds. “I thought we’d have more time, but when you said you’d be in New York next semester, I realized this might be our last night here together, and I couldn’t wait any more.”

“For me? You couldn’t wait for me?” Despite the wondrous words coming out of his mouth, I still have to ask. To be sure. “I’m sorry, but I’m so confused.”

“Still?” Something close to irritation mixes with the humor in his eyes.

He slides wide palms down my arms, gently squeezing the muscles through the heavy cotton of my sweatshirt.

“Then let me make it abundantly clear,” he says, his voice husky and sure. “I like you, Banner.”

Guys like him, not only this good-looking but also brilliant, have that one girl in college they date for the sake of their brain. It assures them they aren’t entirely superficial. When that girl is a CEO, cures cancer, or is the first woman on Mars, they can say I knew her when. I dated her . . . nay, I fucked her . . . when.

I was that girl to my last boyfriend, Byron. He dated me while he needed help getting through his Econ class, but that wore off. He cheated on me before the ink was dry on his final exam. I grew up with a father who never looked at another woman besides my mother and made faithfulness look good. Look possible, normal. So I have a zero tolerance cheat policy. When I discovered Byron’s infidelity and dumped him, he felt insulted that I, who should have been grateful he’d deigned to date me, ended it.

I could barely breathe when she was on top.

Everything jiggled when I fucked her.

Those are his cruel words I overheard. He said worse things that I didn’t hear for myself but got back to me and still haunt my thoughts. Still nick my confidence.

“You like me, huh?” I finally ask, training my glance on his chin, avoiding his eyes. “You mean in an ‘I think you’re smart and have a great personality’ way?”

A muscle along his jawline flexes and his lips tighten. He pulls me into him, and he’s big and hard through his jeans.

“No, I mean in an ‘I want to fuck you’ kind of way,” he says sharply. “Any other questions?”

My heart stops beating for a microsecond and then rushes out of the blocks, sprinting so far ahead my brain can’t catch up.

“Tonight?” I press my hand to my chest, hoping to soothe the rapid rate.

“Yeah, tonight, if you want.” He links his fingers with mine and presses his hand to my chest. “Your heart is racing.”

Embarrassment burns under my skin and spreads over my cheeks in a flush, confessing my self-consciousness. Another way this body has betrayed me. The freshman fifteen. Sophomore seven. Junior jelly belly. Senior cellulite. With each year at Kerrington, I accomplished my goals and my confidence grew, but so did my waistline. My confidence has never been dictated by the number on the tag in my jeans. I know what I am and I know what I’m not, and I’ve made my peace with that. But these things Jared’s saying . . . they confuse me. They mix things up again and reignite the futile hopes of that chubby girl sitting beside the most beautiful guy at freshman orientation. The guy who probably remembered the pencil I gave him more than he remembered me.

So, yeah. This is strange, and I don’t trust it. When Jared and I started studying together this semester, I put my crush in time out. I disciplined it. I locked it in its room with no dinner.

I starved it.

Now he’s feeding it with impossible words and heated looks and urgent touches. He brings my hand to his chest. His heart beneath my palm thuds fast and heavy.

“Feel,” he says, twisting our fingers together over the tight muscles and ungiving bone. “My heart’s racing, too.”

His heart is racing.

And his breath is short, panting.

His eyelids half-mast over the desire smoking his eyes.

His body is giving me clues, but I’m still having trouble putting it all together.

“This could be our last night together, Banner,” he says softly.

Since elementary school I’ve been focused. Perfect attendance from kindergarten until high school graduation. Charity work, skipped grades, extracurricular activities, and always the highest GPA. I’ve dated very little and ended any relationship as soon as it started distracting me.

The guy I’ve crushed on since freshman year wants me. I have no idea why or how, but he does. His racing heart beneath my hand attests to it. What if tonight, for one damn night, I do what I want to do instead of what is required? I don’t know how all the pieces fit together, but I do know I’ve denied myself many things over the years pursuing my goals. I want this. I want him, and for once, I’m going to indulge.

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