Home > Block Shot (Hoops #2)(5)

Block Shot (Hoops #2)(5)
Kennedy Ryan

“Yeah, so you tell bad jokes. Big deal.” I pause, taking the reins of this conversation carefully in hand. “What about kissing? Are you a good kisser?”

Her hands are suspended, frozen midair over the warm laundry. Wide eyes collide with mine, and her mouth drops open.

Oh, yeah. Keep your mouth open like that, Banner. I have just the thing to put between those lips.

“What did you say?” she asks on a startled breath.

“I said are you a good kisser?” I cross my arms over my chest and wait for her to breathe deeply enough to answer me.

“Um, I guess.” She bends her head and reaches to scoop up all that glorious hair back into whatever knot she had it imprisoned in before. I stop her, taking her wrist in my hand. I wait for her to look at me, to really, maybe for the first time all semester, see me.

“If you’re a good kisser,” I say softly, not releasing her eyes and leaning one last time on our professor, “convince me.”

3

Banner

“Convince me.”

The challenge lands at my feet like a gauntlet. Jared and I consider each other, unblinking. Confidence and questions darken his eyes to blackest-blue. What is even happening right now? Did he . . . is he asking me to . . . does he want . . .

Nooooooo.

Guys like Jared Foster don’t proposition girls like me in laundromats. Don’t get me wrong, I think he likes me. A lot. We laugh every time we’re together. Our conversations are stimulating. No one challenges me more in a debate. He’s the smartest guy I know, but he also looks like a handsome ski instructor who traded in the slopes for an Ivy League campus.

As for how I feel . . . it’s more how I’ve been feeling for the last three years, ever since freshman orientation when Jared asked to borrow a pencil. That day his hair, now a sun-colored buzz, hung to the angled line of his jaw, the darker and brighter blond strands twisting into shampoo-commercial perfection. He was beautiful then, but he was barely out of high school. He’s filled out the last four years. His features have hardened, the sharp incline of bone at his cheeks rising under taut, tanned skin. I could barely concentrate during orientation because he was so close, and many a night here in the laundromat I’ve read the same page five times trying not to stare.

It was an added bonus when his brain proved to be as alluring as his face. And I’ve never laughed as much as I have studying with him this semester. Knowing he was out of my league, I’ve been forcibly content as just friends, and the possibility that he wants more, leaves me thoroughly thrilled and confused.

“I’m sorry,” I finally say, barely hearing my voice over the heartbeat pounding in my ears. “I don’t know what you mean.”

He tilts his head, the tuft of blond hair capturing the harsh fluorescent lights overhead. He quirks that wide mouth. Jared can say more with the corner of his mouth than most people do with a hundred words. Turned down, canted up, twisted. Humor, disdain, skepticism. Those lips say it all without uttering a sound, but I have no idea what they are saying now.

“I said convince me you’re a good kisser,” he speaks slowly, like I might have a processing disorder, which could be the case because . . . huh?

Dark blond brows elevate over a simmering stare while he waits.

“And how would I convince you?” I ask, my words coming out on thin air. The longer he looks at me like this, like I’m a meal and he hasn’t eaten, the breathier I sound.

He steps forward, eliminating the sanity-giving space between us. He’s so close I have to tip my head back to keep our eyes connected.

“You could kiss me,” he offers, so close now his breath feathers over my skin. Steamy, yet minty. So close the rumble of his deep voice reverberates in my own chest.

“You mean kiss you?” I ask. “Or like kiss you kiss you?”

He chuckles and lifts the hair off my shoulder, tucking a chunk of it behind my ear.

“I’m pretty sure the second one,” he says, piercing me with another heated glance. “Is that the one with tongue?”

My brain, temporarily atrophied though usually agile, reaches for the nearest excuse.

“I-I don’t kiss guys who have girlfriends.” I arrange my face into polite apology and hope to end this perplexing conversation.

“Ahhh.” He nods, his expression reflective. “I figured you’d say that.”

“Yeah, so, we should probably—”

“That’s why I don’t have a girlfriend anymore.”

The breath stalls in my throat. My heart pummels me from the inside out, rattling against the cage of my ribs.

“You mean Cindy?” I ask.

“Yeah, no more Cindy.”

“You wha-wha . . . huh?”

“You wha-wha . . .” he mocks me, his full lips spreading into a blinding grin. “You heard me. I don’t have a girlfriend anymore. Cindy and I broke up.”

“But I’m not your type,” I blurt.

“And yet I broke up with her so you,” he says, laying the tip of one long finger on my breastbone, “would kiss me.”

I glance from the finger resting between my breasts to the sculpted lines of Jared’s face. Does he feel my heartbeat tom tom-ing through my sweatshirt, hope and doubt trading thumps in my chest? I’ve imagined kissing him, not just how he would taste or how his lips would feel, but imagined him wanting it as much as I did. Imagined how it would feel to be wanted back. Now that he says he does, it seems too good to be true.

“I think I’m getting, um,” I say, licking my lips, “mixed signals.”

His eyes trace the slide of my tongue, making me self-conscious. I tuck my lips in, hiding them from the singeing heat of his glance.

“Really?” he asks with a husky chuckle. “You’re too smart to be confused by something so simple.”

His other hand cups the nape of my neck, subtly pulling me closer.

“No mixed signals, Banner.” He lowers his head to breathe the next words over my lips. “Just this one.”

Doing laundry the last few years, I understand static electricity—the charge produced when things rub against each other. I didn’t even realize we’d been rubbing against each other all semester in some form or fashion; the clash of our wills, the meeting of our minds, and now our lips rub together. Our tongues move in tandem. We cling.

He possesses my mouth. There’s no other way to say it. As much a command as it is a kiss. I’ve never been kissed this way. His thumb presses my chin so my lips open wider, and he storms in. It doesn’t feel like a first kiss. There’s nothing uncertain or tentative about the way he fits his lips over mine. He kisses me like he’s rehearsed it a thousand times.

And God help me, after a startled gasp, I kiss him back. The heat between our mouths burns through my shock like a flame eating through wax, and he quickly reaches the wick—the very end of my hesitation. He flattens his hand between my breasts while we kiss, and though he’s nowhere near my nipples, they peak. Tight and hard and sensitive, anticipating the possibility of his touch. His other hand angles my head back, and he plumbs the depths of my mouth, licking inside, stroking my tongue with his. He traps my hair in his fist and pulls, growling into the kiss.

What the actual fuck?

It’s so intense. It’s deeper and hotter and on the edge of what I can handle. His hunger grabs me, holds me so tight for a moment I can’t breathe.

“Jared,” I mumble against his mouth, pull back and touch my throbbing lips. “Slow down. I . . . it’s a lot.”

His forehead crashes against mine, his hand still at my neck and his fingers wedged into my hair.

“Shit,” he breathes. “Sorry. I’ve just been thinking about this for a long time. It’s hard to go slow.”

I’m struggling to keep up. This golden boy from the upper reaches of Kerrington’s social stratosphere, whom I’ve been secretly crushing on—for not one year, not two years, but three, even while I was dating the last jerk—has been thinking about kissing me for a long time? For so long that it’s hard to go slow?

“Sorry,” I say dazedly. “This feels like The Twilight Zone.”

“The Twilight Zone?”

“Yeah, it was this show that—”

“Banner, I know what The Twilight Zone is, but why does it feel that way to you? Is it because we’ve known each other all semester and I’m just now making a move? The first day we met in Albright’s class—”

“We didn’t first meet in Albright’s class,” I cut in. “We met four years ago.”

“What?” He frowns. “No, I would have remembered.”

No, he wouldn’t.

“Obviously, you don’t.” My laugh is soft, self-conscious. “We met at freshman orientation. All the girls were squealing about you and Benton Carter. I want the blond one. I’ll take the one with dark hair.”

I drop my eyes to the floor.

“I sat right beside you,” I tell him. “And you asked to borrow a pencil.”

“I don’t remember any of this, but I do remember the first day I noticed you in Albright’s class.”

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