Home > Jock Row (Jock Hard #1)(3)

Jock Row (Jock Hard #1)(3)
Author: Sara Ney

Looks down his nose at me.

I clutch my cup tighter; it wasn’t my intention to offend or piss anyone off. All I want to do is have a good time and laugh a little after being sick for so long—is that a crime?

He’s certainly staring at me like it is.

“You know what you could do, Stacey?” Derek intentionally butchers my name; I can see in his steely gaze that he’s trying to belittle me, the dickhead. “Run along and get yourself another beer.” He’s on his tiptoes, pretending to stare down into my red cup. “Looks like yours is half empty.”

Ben nods, drinking from his cup. “We’d hate for our guests to be thirsty, especially the ones who need booze the most.”

“You’re not trying to get rid of me, are you?” My laugh is nervous.

“Us?” He manages to look affronted. “No, babe, I live here. It’s my job to make sure everyone is having a good time, and you definitely don’t seem like a good time. Ha. Ha.”

I catch his dig. Try not to let it sting.

“I’m good, but thank you for the offer.” I swirl the contents of my cup, peering into it with one eye closed. “Besides, this isn’t beer. It’s water with a little lemon and it’s still pretty cold.”

“Water?”

I scrunch up my nose. “Yeah, I’m not really much of a drinker, and I’ve been sick, so is it really a smart idea to get drunk?” My chin goes up a notch. “I don’t think so.”

Derek’s face contorts. “Where’d you find water around here?”

“Uh, the kitchen?”

“Where in the kitchen?”

Is this a trick question? “Uh…the fridge?”

His eyes narrow. “We keep the fridge locked during parties.”

My brows rise into my hairline. “You do?”

“Yeah. So no one takes shit.” Like you just did. “Did you miss the big sign that says OFF LIMITS?”

My cheeks are on fire. No way is he accusing me of stealing from the house; it’s just a bottle of water, from a fridge that was open. Sure, it had a lock on it, and sure, there might have been a sign, but the fridge was open nonetheless.

Crap.

“I’m sorry,” I say sincerely. “I didn’t realize it was supposed to be locked. It opened right up.” All I had to do was fiddle with the handle a few seconds, and presto—all the drinks for me!

He glances down his nose at me for the second time tonight, silently judging me. “Maybe instead of sucking down that stolen water, you should have a beer—or five, since—”

“You seem so uptight,” Ben finishes.

“Thanks, I’m good,” I insist, pulling at my sweater, peeling it away from my scorching skin, needing room to breathe. The room seems to be getting hotter by the second—or it it just me? Normally, guys like this wouldn’t bother me—I can handle a little unease like a champ—but coupled with how warm I am, and the heat these guys are throwing off…

I’ll admit to being more than a little uncomfortable, and not just from the sweater.

Cameron pipes up then, unwittingly rescuing me, resting her hand on his meaty bicep, displayed beneath a black, short sleeve shirt. Changes the topic. “Before when you were getting water, Derek was telling us before how the baseball team won the College World Series last year. That’s the World Series of Baseball, but for college.”

My brows go up, holding back a look of disbelief. “Yes, I know what the CWS is, Cameron, and Iowa didn’t win it.”

“Yes they did!” She laughs. “Derek threw the winning pitch—he’s seriously amazing. Scarlett, you should hear the story.” She has her entire arm wrapped around his, giving him an encouraging squeeze. “Tell her the story Derek.”

I look at Ben. Glance at Derek. Back at these two naïve girls, and shake my head, dismayed. Literally can no longer handle their amount of bullshit.

“You realize these two are…teasing you, right?” The red cup hits my lips and I take a swig, readjusting the jacket and scarf I’ve been holding in my other hand. “USC won the College World Series last year—they win it almost every year.” The water tastes warm now, tepid at best, as it flows down my throat.

“How the hell would you know that, Miss Know-It-All?” Ben, challenges me.

Miss Know-It-All? Wow. I don’t think anyone has ever called me that a day in my life.

“My dad. He’s not a huge fan of major league baseball, but he loves watching college ball—loves it.” I tap my chin with a forefinger. “I remember last summer, he had the damn finals on for an entire week, on every TV in the house. We all had to watch that dumb game—no offense. The College World series is in June, right? I think I’m remembering that right…”

When my sentence trails off, Derek jerks his head in a terse nod at Ben, crossing his arms and spreading his legs in a defensive pose.

Raises his brows. Nods toward the kitchen.

“Anyway,” I chatter in an attempt to redeem myself, filling the silence with my babble. “I just remember being home and my dad watching that game. The highlights would be on when I left for work, and the game would be on when I got home from work. USC won that tournament, I’m sure of it.”

Both Cam and Tessa are having a hard time following the conversation. “Why would you say you won?”

I blow out a puff of air, gently tugging the sweater from my skin and giving it a few shakes to let the cooler air get in. “They lied because they’re trying to impress you, Tessa—kind of ridiculous if you ask me. I mean, honestly, you guys are really good-looking, you shouldn’t have to make shit up.” I push out a laugh—it comes out sounding strangled. “Weak. So. Weak.”

I push out another one, hoping to smooth things over, hoping they’ll be amused by the teasing tone of my voice and take pity on me.

“You’re not going to stand here with us all night, are you?” one of the guys asks.

“What else would I do?”

“I can call one of the rookies to take you home so you don’t have to keep standing here.” Ben drapes his arm around Tessa’s shoulders. “Besides, I want to get to know your friend better, and you’re making it impossible.” He tilts her chin up with his thumb, staring down into her eyes. “Wouldn’t you like to get to know me better, babe?”

Tessa nods, dumbly. Damn her!

I swallow the lump in my throat.

“We’ll take real good care of your friends.” He tries to back away with her, but I stop him. “You can walk away knowing they’re in good hands, babe.”

Not so fast, you bull hunk.

“I have no doubt about that.” I grip his forearm as he grins wolfishly down at Tessa and holy shit is it solid. Built like a tank, his forearm is a firm mass of muscle. I give my head a shake. “Are you sure it’s wise to go off with them? I mean…they’re strangers.”

“Strangers? What are you, fucking five?” He glares down at me. “What’s in that water that’s making you so goddamn bitchy?”

Tessa and Cameron volley back and forth between us, eyes wide as saucers. A little horrified, a little tipsy, a lot excited, and gorgeously clueless. I can hardly believe these two Neanderthals are turning my friends on! But they are—I can tell by the looks on both their enthralled faces.

Shit.

My friendship is no match for an athletic pedigree, great body, and handsome face.

So, I stand my ground, having nothing to lose; these girls are not leaving with me when I go.

“You did not just call me bitchy.” No one has ever called me that—not once—and if I wasn’t so pissed off, I might be embarrassed. All I’m trying to do is enjoy my night out, but these assholes are making it impossible. All because in some sick way, they see me as ruining their chances.

“Don’t call her bitchy, Ben, it’s mean!” Tessa scolds, narrowing her eyes and smacking at his arm. Her palms rests there, fingers doing a thorough pat-down of his skin. “You should apologize.”

He rolls his neck, getting the kinks out, his big, brown eyes rolling toward the ceiling. “If it’s not the sobriety making her act this way, it must be that butt ugly sweater.”

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