Home > Just for Now (Sea Breeze #4)(9)

Just for Now (Sea Breeze #4)(9)
Author: Abbi Glines

“Um, well, I’d love to come to your game. If that’s okay . . . with everyone. . . .” I trailed off, waiting for Preston to tell Brent why this wouldn’t be okay.

“Cool, yeah, it’s fine. Preston will be there too. You can sit with him.”

“Okay, bud, that’s enough. Don’t pressure Manda into anything. I’m sure she has plans.”

There was the excuse I was waiting on Preston to throw in the path. I watched as Brent’s face fell, and I didn’t care anymore what Preston wanted. If he was worried about me coming there for him, then he could get over it. I wasn’t turning down Brent’s innocent invitation just to appease Preston.

“I’ll be there. Can I bring a friend? He likes football too.” I had no idea who I was bringing, but it felt like the right thing to say at the moment. Letting Preston know I didn’t plan on coming to see him or sit by him was my main goal. I’d find a “friend” later.

“Yeah! Cool. Bring whoever you want.” Brent’s eyes lit up. I could ignore the adult Preston, but the little boy who looked so much like him, with innocent hope in his eyes—I couldn’t turn that down.

A short snippet of “Wanted” by Hunter Hayes played on my phone, alerting me to a text message. I needed the small distraction. I pulled my phone out of my purse and looked down to see Jason Stone’s name on the screen.

Jason: Can I call you?

The reminder I needed that getting near Preston Drake was a bad idea. Jason was a good idea. He was safe. I glanced up at Preston. “I’m going to leave you two to your dinner. I’ve got a call to make, and I need to get home. I have an early class in the morning.”

Preston’s forced smile didn’t go unnoticed. Why was he annoyed? I turned my attention to Brent. “I’ll be at your game. Have Preston text me the details,” I told him.

His big grin was worth the uncomfortable situation he had put me in.

“I will. See ya then,” Brent replied.

I nodded and slid out of the seat. I waved bye to both of them and headed for the door. Once I was outside, I texted Jason.

Me: Yes.

My phone rang just as I was buckling my seat belt.

“Hello.”

“I’m not disturbing you, am I?” Jason asked.

“Not at all.” More like giving me a good reason to get the hell away from Preston.

“Okay, good. How were your first two days of classes?”

I pulled out onto the almost deserted road. During the summer you couldn’t get out on this road this time of night. It would take hours to get a couple miles. But all the vacationers had gone home for the new school year. Although the weather was still warm, the crowds were gone.

“They’ve been good so far. Tomorrow may change things, though. I’m taking calculus, and I am getting supernervous about it. What about you? Are your classes going well?”

Jason chuckled into the phone. “I’ve had two classes so far, and I hate them both. Maybe tomorrow will be better. But calculus first year? Really? I’m impressed.”

Math was my thing. “Yeah. I’m a math person.”

“Me too.”

“Really? What’s your major?”

There was a pause. “Um, I’m having a few arguments with my parents about that. I’ll get back to you on it.” Weird. His parents were arguing with him about his major? “The reason I called wasn’t to bore you with talk about our courses. I was wondering if maybe you’d be free anytime in the next month?” He ended his question with an amused chuckle.

“Um, yeah . . . I think I have some openings in my schedule,” I replied, smiling.

“Then my next question is, how soon would your schedule be opening up? I was thinking of flying down . . . soon.”

This was the right thing to do. Jason liked me. He wasn’t pushing me away and giving me warnings. “How about next weekend?”

“Perfect.”

Chapter Eight

Preston

Calculus. Why the hell did I agree to calculus? Passing this class would be a miracle. Keeping my grades up was part of the deal with my scholarship. If I failed a class, then I lost it. I couldn’t lose this. If I played this season the way I played last season, I should have my next two years at a state college covered. I had to pass this one class first. I’d been putting it off. It was time I faced it.

Walking into the room, I did a quick scan for a desk close to the front. Instead, my eyes found Amanda. She was laughing at something another girl was telling her, while some guy was leaning on her desk looking directly down her shirt while laughing along with whatever the other girl was saying. The douche.

Amanda was close enough to the front. A few girls called out my name as I walked toward her, but I ignored them. I kept my focus on Amanda. Her eyes lifted to meet mine as I made my way to her. The smile on her lips faltered. She was trying to keep her distance because she was smart. I was the ass**le not allowing it. I should be letting her run, but every little inch she pulled back I confused her. I was a shithead. This realization wasn’t going to keep me from sitting beside her, though. The other guy needed to back the f**k off. His eyes were looking places they hadn’t been invited. Manda needed a damn bodyguard.

“Hey, Preston,” the brunette who had been making Amanda laugh greeted me first. The cooing tone of her voice was familiar. She was interested. She knew what I was like, and she was still willing. I got that a lot. I managed a small smile and nodded, but I didn’t take my eyes off Amanda’s.

“Hey, Manda,” I said as I took the seat on the other side of her.

“Preston. Uh, hey.” Her nervous reply was expected. She didn’t want me near her. I couldn’t blame her or take offense.

“You taking calculus first semester of college? I’m impressed. I’ve been putting it off.”

Amanda shrugged a shoulder. “I like math.”

Calculus was not math. It was a f**king science experiment gone wrong. I started to reply when the guy standing beside her cleared his throat. I glanced up at him with an annoyed snarl. Why was he still standing there?

“You took my seat,” he said.

Now, that made me smile. “Then I guess you should have been sitting in it.”

I turned my attention back to Amanda, whose bright pink cheeks told me this was embarrassing her. I didn’t want to do that, either.

“I may need help. I’m glad you’re good with numbers,” I told her, leaning back and getting comfortable. The guy started to say something else, and I cut my eyes back his way in a silent warning. I wasn’t moving, but I’d sure as hell move his ass.

He let out a loud sigh and moved away. Smart boy.

“What are you doing, Preston?” Amanda whispered as she leaned over toward me.

“What exactly do you mean, Manda?”

“You know what I mean. Why are you sitting here? I thought we’d agreed to keep our distance. After . . . everything.”

I didn’t want to keep my distance. I might not get to have her again, but I liked being near her. She made me happy. She made the darkness not seem too smothering. “I want to be friends,” I explained, watching her chew her bottom lip nervously.

“How can we do that?” she asked in a low voice.

I had no idea. All I wanted to do was cuddle her up and keep her. That wasn’t an option, though. “We just do.”

The worried look in her eyes made me feel guilty. I was asking her for something that she wasn’t ready for. But I needed it.

“Okay. If that’s what you want,” she finally replied.

The professor walked in and started talking, so our conversation was over. For now.

She didn’t look at me during the entire class, and I had a problem looking at anything but her. Was the memory of what we’d done going to drive me insane? Normally, once I slept with a girl and I was over any attraction, I moved on. But something about Amanda was holding me. Was it because I was drunk and the memories are so blurry?

* * *

Once class was over, Amanda stood up quickly, grabbed her books, and shoved them into her backpack. She was in a hurry to get away from me. Not what I wanted.

“You have another class?” I asked, standing up and stretching.

Amanda looked over at me and her eyes zeroed in on my lower stomach. I lowered my arms slowly and my shirt covered back up the patch of skin she’d been checking out. The appreciative gleam in her eyes had me wanting to strip the damn shirt off. If that was what it took to hold her attention, I’d do it.

“Um, I—uh—no. Not right now,” she stammered as she pulled her backpack up higher on her shoulder.

“Want to go get some coffee? I didn’t have time for any this morning.”

Amanda glanced back at the door, and the girl who’d been talking to her before class stood waiting on her. “I was going to the library, but I wouldn’t mind some caffeine first,” she replied, looking back at me.

Yes. She had caved easy enough. “Can we go alone? I wanted to talk to you about some things.”

Her eyes widened a bit, and I could see the understanding. Did she want to pretend it hadn’t happened? I wasn’t going to be able to do that.

“Okay. Let me go tell Kelsey I’ll meet up with her later.”

Amanda

Why was I doing this? I deserved the Stupid Award. But then again, how was a girl supposed to tell those pretty blue eyes of Preston’s no? It was impossible. When he set out to get your attention, he was insanely hard to ignore. He hadn’t made peace with what had happened between us. I knew that was what all this was about. He needed to feel okay with everything. He and Marcus were close. He probably felt guilty. The sooner I eased his guilt, the sooner I could get my distance. This friends thing was not what he wanted. He wasn’t friends with girls. He had friends. Lots of friends. None of them were female.

Once we got outside the math building, I grabbed Preston’s arm and pulled him away from the crowd and underneath an oak tree. There was no need for us to go get coffee and pretend. It would only give him a chance to get more under my skin than he already was.

“Listen, I know what’s bothering you. I get it. This is about Marcus. So whatever you need me to do to ease your conscience so you can go on with your happy-go-lucky self, just tell me. Let’s not pretend that we’re going to be friends. Because honestly, I can’t be your friend. It would never work.”

Preston stood silently staring at me while my little “clearing of the air” became a full-blown rant. I hadn’t meant to get carried away, but I had. Just looking at him and feeling my body get all excited by his nearness made me mad. What did the guy have to do to me to make me hate him?

“This isn’t about Marcus. I wish to hell it was. But it isn’t.” Preston reached out and put a hand on my waist and pulled me closer to him. Oh my. Not what I was expecting. “I can’t stop thinking about you, Manda. I try. I try all the damn time, but I can’t.”

Wow. My knees were a little weak.

“I want to be near you. I can’t seem to keep away.”

Double wow. I couldn’t form words at the moment. A strand of his pale blond hair was falling in his eye, and I wanted to tuck it behind his ear. To touch it. But I didn’t. He pulled me closer.

“Can we be friends? Will you forgive me for that night?”

The word “friends” was back again. I hated that word. I had never been friends with anyone who made my heart race and my body tingle. How could I even manage that kind of relationship?

“We can try,” I choked out.

His hand slid behind my back and settled on the curve above my bottom. Friends didn’t stand like this. He wasn’t doing a very good job with this friends thing.

“I’ll be good. I promise. I’ll be the best damn friend you’ve ever had.” His voice had lowered into a husky whisper. I shivered from the sexy sound.

“Mmmm, I’m gonna have to work on that,” Preston added. “Feeling you shiver. I like it. I’m gonna want to feel it more.”

I swallowed hard and tried to control the emotion in my voice. “Friends don’t get this close, Preston,” I said, and I started to take a step back when he pulled me tightly against him.

“No, Manda, they don’t. But I can’t stop wanting you close. Can we be close friends?” He asked, lowering his head until his warm breath tickled my ear. Closing my eyes tightly, I grabbed his arms to keep myself steady. What was he doing? “I like you close. Real close.”

“Have you lost your f**king mind?” Cage York’s voice broke the spell I’d fallen under, and I found the power to shove away from Preston.

“Stay out of this, Cage,” Preston snarled, turning his heavy-lidded eyes from me to Cage.

“And let you get the shit beat out of you? ’Cause if you touch her, not one of those buddies of yours is gonna have your back when Marcus kills you.”

“I said to back the hell off.”

Cage smirked and shook his head. “I ain’t gonna do that. You can go find another f**k buddy. Amanda is off-limits. You hurt her, then you hurt Low. I can’t let that happen. So you see, this gets personal.”

Cage had always been protective of Willow. They’d grown up together and were best friends. Marcus had issues with it sometimes, but over time he had started accepting it more and more. Especially since Cage had fallen in love with Eva.

“We’re friends. Leave this alone.” Preston turned to face Cage. This wasn’t looking good.

“Cage, he’s right. We are just friends. Let it go. We aren’t and will never be anything more than friends. I promise.”

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