Ryker Lee is finally enjoying his senior year—he has great friends, hangs out with hot girls, and is on track to get a football scholarship that will set him up for college. Despite this, a small part of him wonders if there’s more to life than parties and meaningless hookups—and if football even means as much to him as it does to his fellow teammates. And when he meets the new girl at school, his world totally changes...
Aurora McClay is new to Lawton. She’s grateful that her twin brother, Hunter, is star of the football team and can help her adjust to her new school, but she’s not grateful at how overprotective he is over every person she meets. Just because she is deaf does not mean people have to treat her differently. When she meets Ryker Lee, the two of them spark an instant and intense chemistry, one that proves to be controversial not only because of Ryker’s reputation as a player, but also because of Aurora and Hunter’s father’s bigoted views about who Aurora can and can’t date.
Aurora and Ryker know in their hearts that they are meant for each other. But can their relationship endure the turmoil of rumors and prejudice?
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Making a Play
The view from the back of the pickup truck was pretty damn sweet. Like every Friday night, the bonfire was blazing, music was pumping, and the people I’d grown up with in this town were all here. Most importantly, my cousin, Nash, was here. Smiling, with his arm around Tallulah, who I credited for helping him find himself after his injury. He’d coached tonight at the game. He couldn’t play, but he had been there on the sidelines, yelling at us, cursing like a fucking sailor. Made me grin, thinking about it. The win had made it perfect.
Losing a defense coordinator after only a few games could have been bad, but Dace hadn’t been liked by anyone. His ass belonged in jail. Nash taking over his place on the field had been the best thing Coach Rich could have done for us. It made the team complete with Nash out there again.
“Ryker,” a female voice called from below. I turned my gaze to the ground and saw Nova Cox grinning up at me. She’d been flirting for a few weeks now, and I’d been letting her work for it. She was smoking hot. A transfer last year from someplace in Tennessee. I couldn’t remember where. She’d told me, but I hadn’t paid much attention. This year, so far, had been pretty wrapped up with getting Nash out of the damn, dark hole he’d crawled in after he was told he’d never play football again.
Shifting my gaze once more just to be sure he was good, I caught him kissing Tallulah with her arms around his neck. He was fine. More than fine. He’d battle his demons for a while still. I’d never seen someone die, but he’d seen death up close. I’d still need to keep an eye on him, but for now he looked pretty damn happy. I could ease off some of my protecting him and let Tallulah change his world.
It was time I enjoyed my senior year. So far it’d been shit. Nothing like I had imagined. I loved playing football, and I knew it was going to be what paid for my college. But it wasn’t my life. Not like it had been for Nash.
I wanted something more. I just wasn’t sure what that was yet. But I wanted a life that meant something. Made me feel like I had made a difference.
“Come down from your throne and party with the rest of us,” Nova cooed up at me, batting her long eyelashes that I would bet about fifty bucks weren’t real. Her creamy-mocha skin looked really damn attractive in the moonlight. With a shrug, I walked to the tailgate and jumped down right in front of her. She giggled, and it wasn’t annoying. That was a plus.
“That beer?” I asked, reaching for her red plastic cup.
She scrunched her nose up. “Ewww, no. It’s a margarita. Blakely brought two gallons of some mixed up.”
I let go of the cup. That shit sounded nasty. “I need a beer,” I told her, and turned back to the keg on the truck bed to get me some.
“Rumor is you don’t want Blakely here, but Nash made you let her come for Hunter’s sake,” Nova said.
Girls and their gossip. I didn’t like Blakely. She’d hurt Nash when he was down. But it was the second best thing that happened to him, getting rid of her, Tallulah being the best. I shrugged and took a drink. “Don’t care if she’s here or not.”
That was the truth. As long as I wasn’t subjected to talking to her, I was good. I’d never thought much of her when Nash was with her either.
Nova moved in closer to me and made sure to press her breast against my arm. She liked her chest size and made sure to push those things up so everyone else could see them and admire them too. I wasn’t complaining. She was welcome to press them on me if she wanted.
“You seem more relaxed tonight. Not so uptight and tense. I like this side of you. I haven’t seen it since last spring.”
I lifted my left shoulder slightly, one for an acknowledgment of her words, and the other to get a rub on those boobs she was pressing on me. They seemed real. She wasn’t stuffing the things when she jacked them up. I hadn’t been sure how much of her was fake. She had the lashes, and I knew that hair was too damn perfect to be all hers. It looked good on her, though.
“I’ve been preoccupied with Nash. But it seems his luck has turned.”
Her hand slid across my chest as she turned toward me. “He seems happy.” Her voice had dropped to a sexy purr, and it was nice. She rolled her assets over my chest as she moved to stand in front of me. I spread my legs slightly in my stance so she would easily fit up against my body. Attraction with her was not an issue, and I knew she could feel it against her stomach. No way she could miss it. A small grin spread over her full lips, and I decided it was time to taste them. See if this was going to be as fun as it was promising.
Leaning down, I took a slight nibble on her lower lip and pulled its juicy plumpness into my mouth to suck it before going in for a full taste test. The sweet margarita was mixed with the mint from her gum, and it worked. It was girly and sexy.
I rested my hands on her hips and pulled her closer to me. She wiggled against my arousal and thoughts of taking this back into the woods and away from the whole damn field party’s viewing pleasure sounded like a wise idea.
“Ohmygod, just get a damn backseat somewhere. No one wants to see that.” Blakely’s familiar, annoying voice was like ice over my head, but I only broke the kiss. I kept Nova up against me.
“This field is mine. Might want to remember that.” The threat in my tone was cold. I wanted it to be.
Blakely tossed her long blond hair over her shoulder and rolled her eyes. “I’m with Hunter.” She said it as if it made her safe. Dating the quarterback was the only reason she was here. At least she knew it. But Hunter was a junior. He wasn’t originally from here, and we played well together on the field, but he was not one of my boys. This wouldn’t save her ass if she pissed me off.
“Don’t give a fuck,” I replied. “If he wants to leave with you, he can, but he won’t stop me from sending your ass off.”
She opened her mouth to say something more, but Nova interrupted her. “Looks like he’s already gone. Running.” Nova sounded pleased. “Guess he was waiting until you walked off to make his escape.”
I turned to see Hunter in a full-out sprint, headed toward the clearing where everyone parked. Nova wasn’t exaggerating. The dude was moving. I doubted he was running from Blakely. I was more than positive he’d been looking forward to getting laid tonight. Blakely was well known for being easy.
“What the fuck?” Blakely’s tone, however, did make me smile. Whatever his reasons for running, she wasn’t happy about it.
“Damn, bitch, what did you do to him?” Nova drawled, enjoying this a little too much. Girls could be vicious. In a fight, though, I knew Nova would take Blakely out fast. She may not be from around here, but I could tell by the way she carried herself that she was not a female you wanted to tie up with. She’d lived a much different life from me. Her parents weren’t around much. From what she said, I knew her grandmother had raised her. Once she’d mentioned her dad being in jail. I didn’t ask her any questions, because I wasn’t sure I wanted to hear the answers. My home life was a fairy tale compared to hers.
Blakely glared at Nova, and I watched as Nova straightened, then turned from me to Blakely. Nova cocked her head to the side, and the threatening gleam in her eyes made me a little nervous. “You want some?” she asked with no emotion. Then she crooked her finger at Blakely in a come and get it way.
The fear in Blakely’s eyes quickly replaced the anger. She backed up a step and shook her head. “No. Jesus, what’s your issue?” Her tone was a bit shaky as she tried to keep her cool. I felt a little sorry for her, and that was surprising even to me. Blakely spun and stalked off, walking faster with each step down the same path Hunter had just taken.
From the looks of how fast he’d been moving, I didn’t think he’d be there when she arrived, unless he had been getting something from his car.
Nova’s shoulders relaxed, and she turned back to me with a seductive grin as if nothing had happened. Her eyes were like caramel, and before this moment, I’d thought they held a kindness and warmth. Now I saw the fight there. I wondered where that came from.
“I’m not against finding a backseat. Your truck doesn’t have a big enough one, though,” she said, then took her fingertip and ran it down my chest until she reminded me exactly what I had been feeling before our interruption.
This was going to be easier than I’d expected. Nova had been tossing it around willingly, from what I’d heard, but it had all been college guys. I was the first guy her age that she seemed interested in. I figured college guys had probably taught her a lot.
“Where’d Hunter run off to?” Nash called out in my direction as if I had been the one to send him running.
I shrugged. “Been preoccupied. Don’t give a fuck where the QB went. But my guess is getting the hell away from his date.”
Nash rolled his eyes at me, but I could see he was trying not to laugh. I smirked at his attempt, and that got a grin out of him.
“If the two of you are done with your humor, we can go find a spot . . . alone now,” Nova said, placing a hand on my left cheek and turning my face back in her direction. She was brave. No self-confidence issues with this one. That was for damn sure.
“Okay, yeah, I got a place,” I told her, and shot one more glance at Nash. He was watching us with amusement, and I saluted him before taking Nova and walking away.
Nova was fun. There were times I saw the way Nash looked at Tallulah or she looked at him, and I wanted that. Or I thought I did for a moment. Then I remembered that I was living the life right now. I didn’t have time for that kind of shit. I didn’t need to use my truck. There was an empty barn waiting on us.