Home > Jersey Girl (Sticks & Hearts #1)(12)

Jersey Girl (Sticks & Hearts #1)(12)
Rhonda James

We've already ordered our burgers, and after drinking two iced teas my bladder is screaming. Roni must read the desperate look in my eyes, because she turns and points to the corner furthest from where we're seated. After fighting my way through a throng of bar patrons, I wait in a short line to do my business. As I wash my hands I take a good look in the mirror. Rather than fight with my hair this morning, I'd pulled it into a quick braid that now hangs over one shoulder. My cheeks are flushed, but I figure it's due to the stuffiness of the room. I pull a lip balm from the pocket of my jean shorts and liberally apply it to my dry lips. Rubbing them together, I give my appearance a quick nod and turn to fight the crowd.

The number of bodies in the small space has increased. As I walk back to where Roni is waiting, I'm jostled around. Just as I come to a clearing, I am knocked backwards and end up falling into an unsuspecting customer. My hands flail out and grasp the first thing they come in contact with, which happens to be a very lean body.

"I am so sorry." The words are out of my mouth before I even look up to see whom I've just manhandled. Amber eyes pierce straight through me as recognition sets in for both of us, and a smirk fills his handsome face.

"Whoa, Dimples. Better lay off the sauce." The playful catch in his voice catches me off guard, and it's the first time he's actually looked me in the eyes since Scotty interrupted what I affectionately refer to as what could have been. I want to be angry with him for ignoring me, but he had to go and give me a nickname. And not just any nickname. For some reason, this one feels personal. By looking at us you would never guess he's seen me before, but I know differently, and I curse my body for its traitorous response to his charming good looks. Using very capable hands, he rights me to standing and checks me over. "You okay? You didn't hurt yourself when you crashed into me, did you?" I can tell by the gleam in his eyes he's drunk, and for a few seconds we share an intense moment. One that tells me he's thinking the same thing I'm thinking. I blink up at him, unable to tear my eyes away.

I'm captivated by his presence. The last time I was in his arms I hadn't taken time to fully appreciate his beauty. That's most likely because I was distracted by his nakedness, but even still, how I didn't notice until now completely baffles me. The photos I studied fail to do him justice. His dark hair is longer on top and shorter on the sides. It looks as if he's used hair product to tame the longer pieces, but one rebellious strand has broken free and falls over his right eye. I want so badly to reach up and run my fingers through his hair under the guise of tucking it back in place, but I refrain. His full lips part, and he cracks a smile when he realizes I'm still staring.

"N-no, I'm fine." I smile through my nervousness and blow out the breath I've been holding. "How have you been? I'll bet you're glad to have your bed back. Though I have to admit I was sad to leave it." The minute the words are out, I wish I could take them back.

He's about to respond when a redhead approaches and wraps her hands possessively around his forearm. My eyes narrow in on her hand, and it's all I can do not to shout Back off bitch. He's mine! But sadly, that's not the case.

"Brantley, baby, who is this?" Baby? Is this the type of girl he goes for? With her super skinny jeans, heavy black eyeliner, and four-inch stiletto heels, she looks every bit the part of hooker-wanna-be. She stares coolly, sizing me up as if I may be looking to take away her man.

"Oh, this one here is Rivers' kid sister, Cassie." He reaches over and has the nerve to pat me on the top of my head like I'm a dog. If looks could kill, he would disintegrate right now. Much to my embarrassment, that's not how this cruel world operates. The redhead gives a smug smile of victory and titters with laughter.

"I wondered when they started allowing high school kids in here." And just like that, her attention is focused solely on the object of her desire. They both turn and walk away, dismissing me as if I were never there.

I'd be lying if I said I didn't watch him go, silently willing him to look my way one last time. But he never does.

CHAPTER SIX

BRANTLEY

It's only eleven in the morning, and it's already been a bitch of a day. Thanks to some of the guys partying too hard on Saturday, Coach put the entire team through the ringer at practice, and my whole body hurts. Hell, even my hair hurts.

I cut across campus in a daze, functioning on autopilot, when I hear someone calling my name.

"Brantley!" I turn and find a blonde frantically waving her arms to get my attention. We hooked up once after the team suffered a loss during our sophomore year, and she's been hounding me ever since. Don't get me wrong, she may be a nice girl, but once the alcohol wore off, I realized we had nothing in common. She's overly made up, fake in every sense of the word, and only wears designer fashions. I grew up in Colorado. If I'm not in uniform, you'll likely find me in a pair of Timberlands and jeans.

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