Home > Jersey Girl (Sticks & Hearts #1)(8)

Jersey Girl (Sticks & Hearts #1)(8)
Rhonda James

"We grew apart," I answer, trying to avoid further explanation. I know those two remained close, despite the distance. Their love of the game keeps them in contact, especially during the off-season when they don't have to play against one another. "I just needed a change, and Great Lakes has an amazing music department." He gives me a look that says he knows there's more to it than I'm letting on. "Can't a girl miss her big brother?"

"Please tell me you didn't transfer here to be close to me." He pushes back his plate and lets out a frustrated groan. "Cass, I'm going to be really busy with hockey, and Ashley and I spend a lot of time together. She's pretty demanding."

I can't hide the disappointed look on my face. It's true; I did need to get away from Minnesota, but he was the real reason for my transfer. I know he doesn't intend to hurt my feelings, and it's probably wrong of me to expect him to change his life just because I showed up. But it would have made me feel better to hear him say he missed me too.

"That's fine. I don't expect you to drop everything for me. That's not what I'm implying. I just know your life is about to drastically change and this may be the last time we have to reconnect." I nervously chew the inside of my cheek as I push the last few bites of my breakfast around in a syrupy puddle.

"Hey," he leans forward and covers the back of my hand with his. "I don't care how far away my job takes me, or how busy I get, I'll always be your big brother and I'm always here for you. I just meant I might not be the same Scotty you remember from growing up. Things have changed. Time's changed me." He fidgets as he tries to explain himself. "I mean, my priorities are different than what they were when we were younger and you were trailing around after me."

"No they haven't. Your priorities are still the same. It's just now you have the freedom to pursue them without anyone hovering over you," I tease. "You think I didn't know what you were doing in your room when you were seventeen? I was fifteen. I may have been naïve, but I wasn't stupid." I laugh, watching as he turns three shades of red.

"And here I thought you were all sweet and innocent." His lip quirks as he eyes me warily. "So, you and Fairfax? I'm assuming you two..."

"Yes," I answer his unspoken question. "For nearly two years. See, I'm not sweet and innocent anymore."

"You'll always be my little sister, Cassie. I don't like thinking about some guy putting his hands on you."

"I know, Scotty, and I love you for that. But you have to know there are going to be other guys, regardless if you're ready to accept it or not."

"I suppose," he replies, giving me a half-hearted shrug.

"So tell me more about Brantley." His eyes narrow, and instantly I can tell he assumes I'm interested. Even though I am interested, I'm asking more out of curiosity. I want to know more about the sexy man who boldly stared into my eyes while touching himself. I have a feeling that image will remain frozen in my brain for months to come. "And before you ask, I'm not after him. I'm just curious to know more about the guy you call your best friend."

His shoulders visibly relax as he leans back, spreading his arms wide across the back of the booth. "For the most part, we're complete opposites. He's a planner, whereas I tend to jump right in without thinking. I'm a sucker for love, and he can't run away from it fast enough. But on the ice we're both driven and really fucking good at our job. He's just always been there for me. All of the guys are like that, but I know no matter what, Cage will have my back. He's the one friend I trust to be loyal until the end. There are not many people you come across who you can say that about, you know?"

As I listen, I find myself remembering the look on Brantley's face when he learned who I was, and now I understand. What scares me is the way his kisses left me longing for more. But what terrifies me even more is the fact that given all Scotty just told me, I'm fairly certain it won't stop me from wanting him. In fact, I think it makes me want him even more.

CHAPTER FOUR

BRANTLEY

After Rivers leaves for breakfast, I pack a bag and head over to the frat house, where my buddy, John, has a futon I'll crash on for the next few days. There's no way in hell I'm putting myself back in that position. I mean, it's no surprise her brother will pummel my ass if he finds out what went down. But it's not just that. I hate to admit it, but I'm attracted to her. She's pretty, but at the same time, she's nothing like the girls I normally hook up with. Not that I hook up with a lot of girls. At least, I don't think I do.

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