Cecelia Merrill was used to being on her own. Lost and lonely, Lia couldn’t wait to graduate and watch her judgmental little town fade behind her. All she had to do was survive three more years of high school, and she was free. She wouldn’t let anything hold her back.
Craig Knightly had almost achieved what no one in his family had before – all he had to do was complete his student-teaching assignment, and in less than a year, he would have a college degree. He was ready to put down roots and start his life. Nothing was going to stand in the way of his dreams.
Sometimes all it takes is a moment for everything to change.
A student and her teacher. A coach and his athlete. An unexpected friendship. Forbidden feelings between an unlikely pair.
Neither is playing a game they can win.
“I was wondering how I was scoring.”
“I can’t tell you.” She knew that. I was immediately on edge, wondering what she really wanted. “Out with it, Lee. Whatever it is.”
She had to tip her head back to look up at me. “I need you to score me low enough so I don’t make varsity, just JV.”
“No,” I snapped, narrowing my eyes, not needing to think about what she was saying.
“Listen,” she snapped back, “I’ll perform shitty on some of the stations and throw it myself if I have to, but I don’t want to be bad enough that I screw myself out of a spot on JV.”
“Then don’t. Bring your all to practice, kick ass, and see where you score.”
“You’re going to try to boost me to varsity.” She stated it as if she knew it was fact, as if she could read my mind.
“I’m going to average all of your scores just like I do everyone else.”
“Okay, whatever,” she sassed, doubt clear. “Figure out the teams however you like, but I need you to promise me you’ll put me on JV.”
I watched her closely for a minute. “Why? Is it the practice times? If rides are a problem I can pick you up.”
“I can walk.” She shot down the idea completely.
“Because I want to play JV.”
The hell she did. No one wanted to play JV, not when they were good enough to play at the next level. “Why?” I ground out.
She crossed her arms over her chest, pushing her breasts a little higher. “Because.”
I swore. I tried to keep my language clean while on school grounds, but she brought out the worst in me. “Lee,” I warned, “you may have forgotten how this works, but I’m a stubborn ass, and I’m not budging. You want something from me, you tell me why you want it.”
Fire filled her eyes. “I don’t want to be on your team.”
I tilted my head, waiting for the rest of the explanation because that was not good enough. She ran her tongue over her bottom lip. Unlike the girl from last fall, this one was not even remotely intimidated by me.
“I don’t think it’s a good idea. You and I have,” she paused, dropping her eyes and struggling to find the right word, “history, and I don’t want that coming back to haunt me.”
“And how would our history haunt you exactly?”
“I don’t want anyone to think I get preferential treatment.”
I laughed loudly. “Preferential treatment? Because I’m your teacher? Or because I was your coach last fall? ’Cause that makes sense,” I sneered.
“You know what I’m talking about.”
“I don’t, actually. Because unless you told people we’re friends outside of school, no one knows.”
“Please, Craig.” I loved it when she said my name. It reminded me of a different time when it would be a gasp on her lips. I was a sadist like that. “Just put me on the JV team.”
I mulled over her words for a minute. “No.”
Done with the conversation, I turned, lifted my duffle over my shoulder and headed for my Chevy. It was all alone in the empty lot. Not even Lia’s wretched ride was there.
“What do you mean ‘no’?” she shrieked. “You can’t say no.”
I didn’t slow down. “I can. I did. No.”
I threw my bag in the bed of my truck and reached for my door, but she stepped in the way to keep me from opening it. “Don’t be difficult. Please?”
I stepped back slightly. “You think I’m being difficult?” I laughed humorlessly. “You’re throwing a temper tantrum like a damn toddler, asking me to break rules for you, but I’m difficult because I won’t?”
Her jaw set and her nostrils flared. “Yes, I’m asking you to break rules for me. For once. There is no reason you can’t do this for me. Except the fact you want to be a miserable prick.” She threw her bag onto the ground in anger.
“If you think me wanting you to play on a team that is actually worth your time and effort instead of being held back is me acting like a miserable prick, then you have another thing coming little girl. The world is filled with men a lot meaner than me. I can’t wait to see how you’re going to handle the guys who really are dicks.”
“This has nothing to do with how well I play!” She pushed both hands into my chest and shoved me back a few steps. “This has everything to do with you!”
“Me?” I hollered back.
“You! You and your pathetic little power trip!” She groaned in frustration, clenching her fists. “Oh, my God, you are so infuriating.”
“How in the hell does this have anything to do with me? There is no power trip. I’m doing my job. As your coach!” I shouted over her. “You’re the one who is irritating as shit!”
“Oh, don’t even!” Her face had turned the same shade as her hair. “Why can’t you just move me to JV? Why do you have to make every single thing so difficult?”
“Because there’s no reason for you to be there! Give me one good fucking reason!”
“Because if I play for you, we’ll be at each other’s throats constantly!”
“Bullshit,” I spat the word. “We’ll be at each other’s throats whether you’re on my team or not. Try again.”
“God, you are something else!” She put her hands on her head, completely frustrated. “Because, if we’re alone, and you know damn well we will be, we won’t pay attention to those stupid ground rules. We’ll end up right back where we were in October! I know it and you know it, whether you want to admit it or not!”
“You don’t know that!”
“I do!” She screeched. “I won’t be able to stop it any more than you can.”
Her eyes widened in shock, as if she couldn’t believe she had actually said the words. She was right. I couldn’t stop it.
The difference was I didn’t want to.
She was absolutely adorable when she was angry with me. I needed to kiss her. I clutched her cheeks, stepping into her, and leaned down, capturing her lips.
She resisted me for a split second. Then, she released the breath she was holding, sighing into my mouth. Her hands clutched my shoulders, pulling me closer, then she draped her arms around me like a vice, holding me there. She lifted her legs, wrapping them around my waist, and my hands went to her ass as I pulled her closer.
I took a step, pushing her back against the door, trapping her between my truck and me. I kissed her until we were both completely breathless and her hands were tugging at my shirt. I almost let her take it off, remembering the feeling of her nails on my skin.
The sound of a truck somewhere in town brought me back to reality. I pressed my forehead onto hers, trying to catch my breath. God, I’d missed her.
Carina Adams has been writing and creating characters for as long as she can remember, allowing her to fall in love with the next man of her dreams with every new story.
Thankfully, fate stepped in and granted her the ultimate wish – a life full of men. Carina lives in a picturesque New England town with her husband, the man who ruined the thought of all others, and two amazing sons who always keep her on her toes.
Carina received her MBA in May, but would much rather play with her imaginary friends (the voices in her head) than work her 8 to 5. When she isn’t trying to juggle being a working mom with karate and football practices, surprising her children with her sci-fi movie knowledge, or writing, you can find her with her nose pressed against her kindle, laughing with friends, or living life vicariously as her Derby Girl persona, Writers Block.
Carina is the author the of Bastards MC series and best selling Forever Red. She is currently writing Out of The Blue, the follow up to Forever Red. She loves to hear feedback from her readers, no matter what type. You can email her at: email@example.com