Ryans bed, p.25
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       Ryan's Bed, p.25


  “How was your session yesterday?”

  I jumped, and my hand hit my locker as I whirled around, but I shouldn’t have been surprised.

  Ryan and I had talked a little last night on the phone, and I knew he would seek me out today. This was the new normal. Things were returning to a more regular schedule at home, which meant my mom stayed home twice a week. She reserved the right to drive me to school those mornings, and this was one of them.

  Cursing, I waved my hand around.

  “Shit.” Ryan touched my arm and leaned forward to inspect my fingers. “I didn’t mean to scare you.”

  I tried for a smile, but it felt like a twisted clown grimace. My fingers really hurt. “Oh. No problem. It was my bad. I was zoning out.”

  He ran his thumb over my knuckles. “You jammed two of your fingers. I can reset them, if you want. This happens all the time with basketball.”

  Oh God.

  My knees wanted to crumble because it hurt so bad. I jerked my head in a nod, bracing my other hand against his shoulder. “Okay. Do it.”



  He pulled, and I screamed.

  “AH!” I did crumple this time. Grabbing his arm, I caught myself.

  People were watching us, and I was being a bit overdramatic, but I was happy. I could be dramatic about this. This pain would go away.

  “You okay?” He ran his finger over mine and murmured, “All better now?”

  I tensed, waiting for the pain, but none came. I moved my fingers around, bending and wiggling them. “No. It’s fixed. Thank you.”

  A cocky smirk came over him. “I found my calling. I’m going to be a doctor. I like fixing girls and having them swoon over me.”

  I hit his shoulder with my other hand. “So hilarious.”

  He chuckled, his eyes darkening.

  I straightened, responding to him. That throbbing need began to build, and I leaned toward him.


  Kirk, Nick, and Tom sauntered over to us.

  Kirk held his fist up, and Ryan met it with his, turning to rest against the locker behind me. His hand moved to my waist as he nodded to the others. “What’s up?”

  “We’re having a party after your first game, right?” Kirk was the spokesman. He glanced to Tom and Nick, who both nodded.

  Ryan’s hand flexed on my hip, but his tone remained casual. “Yeah, sure. Your place?”

  “I can throw it. That’s no problem.” Kirk looked at me. “You coming, Mackenzie?”

  I looked at Ryan before speaking. “I think so.”

  “I gotta ask because you’ve gone all goody-student lately. No skipping. No drinking. You haven’t partaken in our parties, and we haven’t had to interrupt you and Romeo here during any PDA. What happened?”

  I’d started healing. “Things got better at home.”

  Things weren’t a hundred percent. That wouldn’t happen. But they were definitely over the fifty percent mark. One day, I figured I’d have to claw my way higher. It would suck. There were layers in me even I didn’t want to share, but I’d have to deal if I wanted to get up there.

  I was okay where I was for the moment.

  I settled back, moving to lean fully against Ryan as he talked over my shoulder with his friends. His hand on my waist moved behind me, and I felt it slide under my shirt, rubbing up and down.

  It felt good, calming.

  We stayed like that until the warning bell rang and everyone dispersed. It was nice to have just the guys at my locker. That wasn’t a normal thing anymore—there were almost always girls around too. If it was Kirk standing with us, sometimes Cora would come over. Kirk would throw an arm around her shoulder and talk to Ryan while flirting with her. Sometimes, Erin approached, and if she came, her friends followed behind. Things were still tense between us, but she’d been giving me a stiff smile or hello lately, and sometimes I gave it back. She didn’t deserve my friendliness, in my opinion, and it’d be a long day in hell before she and I became anything other than civil to each other.

  After seventh period ended, Ryan caught up to me at my locker. “Are you sticking around during practice?”

  I switched out my books, putting the ones I needed for homework into my bag. “Yeah. My mom and dad are going to a counseling session tonight.”

  “So we can hang out afterward?” He moved in as I closed my locker, tugging me close so I was almost resting against him. I felt him through my jeans. He was already hard, and I knew what else he was asking.

  Feeling my body warm, I grinned at him. “Oh yes.”

  “Yeah?” His eyes were teasing, a twinkle in them. He tugged me closer, closer, closer until every inch of my body was plastered against every inch of his.

  I could feel his breath against me, and I murmured back, “Hell yes.”

  I felt him smiling before he kissed me.

  A loud slam sounded right next to us, and Ryan’s head jerked up. His hands tightened on my waist as he growled, “What the fuck, man?”

  The guy grinned at us as he bounced a basketball. He threw it at the locker on our other side, moving down the hallway. “Want to make sure you’re coming to practice,” he called over his shoulder.

  “Now I might not.”

  The guy caught his basketball and stopped in his tracks. “You serious, man?” His fingers tapped on the ball.

  I didn’t know who the guy was, but it wasn’t a stretch to guess he was a senior. No junior would’ve talked to Ryan like that.

  “I’ll come when I come.” Ryan pushed away from my locker, standing in front of me. His shoulders were rigid, and he kept a tight grip on my hand.

  Kirk and Nick materialized from behind us, moving in to flank Ryan.

  Kirk’s hands shoved into his pockets. “What’s the deal, Wachowitz?”

  “My deal is Jensen. He’s more interested in getting laid than getting to practice.”

  A low growl came from Ryan, and he started forward.

  Nick held his hand up, halting Ryan, but he was speaking to Wachowitz. “You might want to watch your words. Ryan hasn’t missed one practice this week, and he’s already captain. You know he has a say in who gets nominated.”

  “Team nominates the co-captain.”

  Nick’s grin went wide, and his head cocked to the side. “But Ryan gets final say. If he doesn’t like you, he isn’t going to pick you.”

  Wachowitz’s stance grew less intimidating. His head lowered, and he stuffed one of his hands into his pocket. “You serious?”

  Ryan released my hand. He passed both his friends, moving purposefully. He went up to Wachowitz and shoved him against the locker. “I don’t give a rat’s ass if I’m captain or not. You come at me like that again, and I’ll get your ass kicked off the team.”

  Kirk and Nick pushed forward, standing close behind Ryan.

  Wachowitz swallowed, his Adam’s apple bobbing up and down, and he moved his head in the same motion.

  “Yeah, man. I apologize.” He held his fist up, but Ryan ignored him.

  Meeting my eyes, Ryan spoke to Wachowitz, “Do it again, and we’ll have more than fucking words. Got it?”

  Wachowitz’s gaze jumped to mine, and he swallowed again. He didn’t say anything else, only turned and disappeared down the hallway. He didn’t bounce the basketball against any more lockers.

  “Well, that was fun,” Kirk said as Ryan came back.

  Ryan was still holding my gaze. I had darkness in me, but so did he. There’d been a few glimpses over the last couple months, but this was the first time I’d really experienced it. It was a window into how he’d been before I showed up.

  A shiver went down my spine as Ryan bent to kiss me.

  “I’ll see you later?” he said softly.

  I nodded, feeling all sorts of flutters in my chest.

  He stepped back and clapped Nick on the shoulder. “Let’s go. Wachowitz is going to have a hard practice today.”

  Nick’s grin was almost e
vil. “Hell yes, he is.”

  They took off, but Kirk lingered behind.

  “Basketball isn’t your thing?” I asked him.

  He laughed, shaking his head. “Sports in general are not my thing. I love to watch, bet on the game, hit on chicks in the bleachers, but that’s it. You?”


  Come on, Soccer Superstar.

  I heard Willow calling me that again and found myself saying, “Soccer, actually.”

  “Really? It’s a spring sport here for us. You going to play?”

  I heard myself saying, “Yeah. I think I am.”

  I wasn’t sure who was shocked more, him or me. Then again, I hadn’t thought about sports since June twenty-eighth.

  Bouncing basketballs sounded like a thunderstorm—with whistles shrieking, tennis shoes squeaking against the gym floor, and a whole ton of yelling. The smell of sweat filled the room, but someone had propped open the double doors so fresh air circulated through, along with the sound of dance music being played somewhere down the hall.

  I’d gone to the bathroom and saw some of the dance team practicing a routine near my locker.

  There were a lot of students out and about in the school, but I was one of the only audience members for basketball practice. The coach came in, saw me, and started to protest. I saw how his shoulders tensed, and he scowled, but Ryan ran over, with Nick and another guy hot on his heels. They talked to their coach and after a bit, his shoulders relaxed and the scowl flattened to a firm line of disapproval. He said something to Ryan, who nodded and ran back to his place for drills.

  I went back to my homework, not making a peep, and finally practice ended.

  The guys stayed around for a scrimmage game, and I sat and marveled at how damn good Ryan was. He’d been the first to finish the drills. He’d given the calls.

  I mean, I could be biased, but he seemed to be the best at shooting, and he worked the hardest.

  Wachowitz, on the other hand, was dragging. He’d been lagging behind half the team since the middle of practice. He missed a pass, and after he missed another, one of his teammates yelled for him to tag out.

  He did just that, and the game kept going.

  “Can I sit?”

  I turned, surprised that I hadn’t noticed anyone coming up the bleachers, and saw Cora pointing to the seat beneath me.

  I nodded. “Sure.” I moved down a little, giving her some space.

  She sat, straddling the bench so one foot was next to mine and the other was below her. She watched the court. “I always forget how good Ryan is until I see him.”


  She nodded, her gaze solemn.

  We watched the game for a moment. Ryan’s teammates cut across the gym, and he passed to one of them. The toss was so fast that the ball was in his teammate’s hands before he blinked.

  She sighed. “Just get ready. It’s about to be insane, especially with you being Ryan’s girlfriend.”

  “What do you mean?”

  She looked to me, almost reluctantly pulling her gaze from the court. “Ryan’s nice and humble, not arrogant. People forget how good he is until the season starts. But they remember real quick. Friday night, after our first game, it’s going to be insane. Girls will be throwing themselves at him nonstop.”

  Lovely. Willow had slowly stopped talking to me over the last two months, but I might have to pull out some of my inner Willow for this. Bitches might have to go down.

  And as soon as I thought that, I was tired.

  I was tired of the fighting, tired of the cattiness, tired of the way some girls seemed to hate each other just because.

  “Don’t you get sick of it all?”

  “What?” Cora frowned at me.

  I glanced over and saw that she wasn’t the only one who’d come into the gymnasium once practice ended. A whole bunch of others had congregated beside the bleachers. Erin, her friends, Peach, some of the popular senior girls. There were guys with them too—half were talking to the girls, and the others shouldered past the group to sit on the first row of the bleachers.

  I gestured to the group forming. “What you were saying—all the girls, all the fighting.”

  She stared at them and raised a shoulder. “I don’t know. I don’t really get an option, you know?” She turned back. “I feel like I have to fight just to have my friends notice me.”

  “Not Kirk.”

  She threw me a look, half rolling her eyes. “He noticed me because you told me not to give a shit. I didn’t, and he came right over, but it hasn’t been like that since. I give a shit. I don’t know how not to. I’m not at the top of the food chain. I mean, look at him.” She gestured to Kirk, who had his arm around Erin. His face was bent toward her neck, like he was nuzzling her, and she laughed. “He flirts with everyone, makes out with everyone—”

  “Not when you’re around.”

  She gave me another one of those “are you serious” looks. “I’m around right now.”

  “Bet he hasn’t seen you yet.” I flashed her a grin and hollered, “Kirk! Up here.”

  “Mackenzie!” she hissed under her breath.

  Too late.

  Kirk lifted his head, saw us, and a broad smile lit up his face. His arm dropped from Erin’s shoulders. She shot me a scathing look as Kirk left her side and came darting up the bleachers to where we sat.

  He dropped down next to Cora, straddling the bench like she was. She could’ve leaned back into him, and he eyed her backside like that was what he wanted.

  “I didn’t see you guys up here,” he drawled. “What are you doing?”

  Cora stiffened, pointing to me. “She’s waiting for Rya—”

  “I’m talking to you. I know what Malcolm’s doing here.” His eyes were steady on her.

  I saw her blush; it traveled up her neck to her cheeks.

  “I’m talking to Mackenzie,” she said quietly.

  “Interested in going somewhere and talking to me?”

  Cora’s eyes were glued to mine, and they widened. I watched as she sucked in her breath.

  “What?” It came out as a strangled squeak.

  Kirk snorted, moving up behind her so there was no point in her not leaning against him. If she didn’t want to be touching him, she would have to move forward. She didn’t.

  He ducked his head so his lips could find her shoulder. “You heard me.”

  Another strangled sound came from her. She still didn’t look at him, but she wasn’t moving.

  Kirk’s eyes flicked up to mine in confusion.

  The buzzer sounded, ending the scrimmage game. I nodded to
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