Jennifer Lane is joining in our celebrations with an excerpt from her just released book, Blocked. Check it out!
I was just about to slurp the leftover milk from my second bowl of cereal when Lucia entered the kitchen. With my bowl suspended in midair, I watched her stop in place once she saw me.
Shit. So much for avoiding her after my beer-goggle kiss a week ago. The girl confused the hell out of me. I’d hoped some time away from her would clarify things, but given the uptick of my heartbeat when she strolled in the room, that obviously hadn’t happened.
As I set my bowl back on the table, my eyes floated from her flushed face to the slogan on her hot-pink T-shirt:
Volleyball is my passion
Spandex is my fashion
I grinned. Thank God guys don’t have to wear Spandex. When she turned to leave, I caught a glimpse of the luscious curve of her bottom. And thank God girl players do.
“Wait, don’t go.” Why did I just say that?
She pivoted and nailed me with her suspicious gaze. “What?”
Feeling unnerved, I gestured toward the open box of cereal on the table. “Want some dinner? You don’t have to leave on my account.”
She stared at the cereal for a few moments. At first she seemed to give the box a longing look, like she’d discovered a deep cache of oil on a barren stretch of land. Then her eyes tightened into the same hostile look I’d seen so many times on her father. Despite this, I noticed dark hollows beneath her eyes and felt a smidgen of concern for her. That level of exhaustion typically didn’t occur until later in the season, when Holter’s constant demands would inevitably wear down the girl’s team.
“I’m not hungry,” she finally said.
“But you haven’t eaten anything.”
She glanced up from the box of cereal with wide eyes. “Yes, yes, I have.”
When she stepped away from me, I took my time getting to my feet in an effort to avoid scaring her away. “Then why’d you come to the kitchen?”
“I…” Her eyes darted around the modern appliances. She backed up until her butt brushed the counter, which one hand gripped with white knuckles. “I came to get a drink.”
Why did she look so tortured? “Oh.” I shrugged. “I’ll get it for you.”
I made it to the fridge in two strides and opened the door. “What’d you want? We’ve got cranberry juice, orange juice, Coke…hey, there’s even some beer hidden back here — ”
“Water,” she said. I backed out of the shelf and straightened, wondering if I’d heard her correctly. “Just ice water.”
“That’s kind of boring.” I crossed over to the cabinet and snatched a glass from the shelf, then returned to the refrigerator door to fill it with crushed ice and filtered water. “Here ya go.”
She hesitated as she studied the drink in my outstretched hand. “Relax. It’s not poisoned.” I grinned at her.
She grasped the glass. Her hand trembled as she took a sip. “Why are you being nice to me?”
Man, she had trust issues. All I did was get her a freaking glass of water! I performed a little bow and adopted an English accent. “The setter is here to serve the hitter, milady.”
Was that a hint of a smile? The subtle quirk of one corner of her mouth filled me with warmth, and I realized that was the first time I’d seen her even come close to a smile. Esa chica needed to learn how to chill if she wanted to last as a Highbanks varsity athlete. She set down her glass and seemed to take a deep breath.
“Have you always been a setter?”
Her question made me pause. Why does she want to know? “Yep.”
I need to be in charge. “I like being the leader of the team.”
“Kind of tall for a setter, aren’t you?”
Wow. Mute Girl actually engaged me in conversation? I watched her gaze linger at my feet and slowly sweep up my body. I stared right back at her, trying to figure out what she found so fascinating. When our eyes met, it took a second to register what was going on. Damn! She had just ogled me. Having her eyes roam over my body…I had to admit it felt pretty great. I winked at her, and a pretty, rose-colored blush crept up her neck a second before she looked away.
Jennifer is offering an e-book copy of Blocked to one lucky winner.
Click HERE to enter the giveaway.
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