Home > Hook Shot (Hoops #3)(6)

Hook Shot (Hoops #3)(6)
Kennedy Ryan

While I try to figure out what’s really up.

“Good to see you again, too,” I say, forcing a small smile.

“How were Iris and August when you left San Diego?” she asks, snagging a few of the olive hors d’oeuvres from Chase’s small plate.

“Good. Working on the nursery.”

She goes still for a moment, a natural smile curving her mouth, before she turns to her friend Yari who walked her over.

“So how do I convince you to wear my watches, Mr. Ross?” JP asks.

All the attention falls on me. “Let’s play it by ear,” I reply and sip my wine.

“Well, you do have great arms,” JP points out unnecessarily and again. “It’d be total arm porn.”

I wince, because that still just doesn’t sound right.

“You have no idea what that is, do you?” Lotus leans over to whisper. She’s in my space, and she smells fresh and sweet and spicy, like she dabbed drops of her personality at her wrists and behind her knees.

“Um . . . it sounds like some freaky shit.”

She laughs, and it’s the first time her openness, the freedom of who she really is, has been unleashed on me. I’ve seen it from a distance with Iris and her daughter Sarai, but Lotus’s dark eyes shine with humor and her lips twitch even after she’s done laughing.

We don’t have time to go deeper because Keir grabs a mic and verbally herds everyone into the yacht’s main saloon.

“Thank you all for coming tonight,” Keir says, spreading a warm smile around the room. “It wouldn’t be a party without one of our legendary games, now would it?”

He and Vale laugh when the crowd lets out a collective, exasperated groan.

“Tonight, in honor of our special guest, Mr. Kenan Ross,” Vale says, gesturing over to me, “we’ll play a new game.”

Not wanting to be the center of attention for long, I offer a brief, probably awkward smile, and hope they’ll get on with it.

“You can thank me later,” I whisper to Lotus once they’ve moved on, taking a chance that the ease which existed a few moments ago might linger.

“You’re a Drake fan?” she asks.

“Huh?” I run the conversation over in my head. Why would she ask me—

Oh, the Drake album, Thank Me Later.

“Not really,” I reply honestly. “I mean he’s aight, but he’s not like top five.”

I’m about to ask for her top five, considering this is the longest she’s ever spoken to me, when the word “kiss” arrests my attention.

“What’d they say?” I turn to ask Lotus, but she’s not there. She’s gone and is standing with Chase and nibbling off his plate. He bends to whisper something in her ear. She shakes her head, starts to walk off, but then steals his plate first before joining Billie and Yari a few feet away.

“He said we’re playing Hook Shot,” Amanda says with a look I think is meant to be sexy.

“Uh . . . that’s a game?”

“Yeah, in your honor. You know the hook shot in basketball, when you—”

“Yeah, that part I get.” I point to myself. “I’m a basketball player, so yeah. Hook shot, but what’s the game?”

Vale approaches, her Icelandic blue eyes cool and smiling when she proffers a leather bag.

“Pull,” she says with an encouraging nod.

“Pull?” I ask, still wondering what the hell is going on.

“Yes.” Her tone is patient and she shakes the little bag. “It’s a drinking game.”

Even more lost.

“So,” she continues, slowing her words, like that might help me, “you pull your icon.”

“Icon?”

Now I feel stupid. Every answer she gives me spawns another question.

“Pull,” she repeats, and at least she’s laughing. “And I’ll show you.”

I reach into the leather bag and feel several smaller silky bags. I grab one and look at her for what’s next.

“Open, but don’t show.” She offers the bag to Amanda, who does the same.

There’s a small boot in my bag.

“It’s a boot,” I say.

“Shhhh!” Vale hisses and laughs even more. “It’s a secret.”

Several people didn’t get the memo because when I glance over to Lotus’s crew, she’s comparing hers with Billie’s and Yari’s. Hers is a button she shoves quickly back into the bag.

“Someone else has the same icon as yours,” Vale explains. “You will both take a shot of tequila. That’s the ‘shot.’ And you kiss the person who has the same item you pulled. Like a hook-up. Hook Shot, but you don’t actually hook-up. It can be a quick kiss.”

She laughs, waggling her brows suggestively. “But it’s more fun when it’s not.”

“Kiss?” I huff a fuck that laugh.

“It’s like Spin the Bottle,” Amanda adds with a shrug. “Like you played in high school, but . . . older and with better kissing.”

Dammit, Banner, you owe me big time.

“Nah.” I shake my head. “I don’t think so.”

“But it’s zee game,” Vale says, dismayed. “In your honor. Hook Shot is a real game. We did not make it up. Just added fashion.”

“It can be zee game all it wants,” I tell her, grinning to soften the absolute truth that I’m not interested. “I’m not playing.”

Games always have me doing stupid shit, and then when I resist doing stupid shit, I look difficult.

“It’s fun, right?” JP asks when he walks up. “Hook Shot. Get it?”

I don’t want to kiss him or Chase or whomever has the other boot. The only person I’d want to kiss has a button. And I’m tired of watching Chase run after her all night. Even now he’s caressing Lotus’s bare arm and sliding his hand down her back as low as it can decently go without grabbing her ass. He’s agitating me.

“No one has to kiss. Only those who want,” JP says, leaning forward and inviting me to laugh with him. “Some like to watch.”

“Yeah, JP, I think I’m gonna. . .” I stop when I see what he clutches loosely in his hand.

Maybe this night is salvageable.

“So you asked what you need to do to sign me for the watches, right?”

The speculative gleam in JP’s eyes brightens and he nods slowly.

“Oui,” he replies with a grin. “Tell me how.”

3

Lotus

“Chase, I said no.” I inject some steel since he doesn’t seem to be getting the hint.

“Why not, Lo?” He cages me against the bathroom counter with his body.

“I don’t have to give you a reason except I don’t want to.” I shake my hands dry since he’s blocking the towel. “I’ve tried to be nice, but you following me in here is not okay.”

“We had a good thing.” He kisses my neck and cups my breast, finding the ring piercing my nipple and squeezing.

“Get the fuck off.” Space in the below deck bathroom is tight. When I shove him, his back hits the door.

“Are you crazy?” Chase snaps, voice low and his face reddening. “You want people to hear?”

“Touch me one more time and everyone will know ‘cause I’ll be kicking your pasty ass all up and down the observation deck.” I step to the door he’s blocking. “Move.”

“Tell me what I did,” he says, his voice and frown softening. “I know it was good for you, too, so why—”

“Chase, I just want something else right now.”

“Someone else?”

“If I did want someone else, that’d be my damn business, but I just want myself. I got shit to figure out. Me shit. Nothing to do with anybody else, and I don’t need attachments, even casual ones, complicating things.”

“Casual? Lo, we weren’t casual.”

“Yes, the hell we were, Chase. You could have fucked all of SoHo twice and started on Hell’s Kitchen—I wouldn’t have cared. We weren’t even casual. We were convenient. I wanted some dick. You wanted some pussy. I was willing and you got lucky, but luck’s run out.”

“And now I’m no longer convenient?”

I sigh, no patience for some needy boy sniffing in my pants tonight. “Don’t act like you haven’t had this conversation a hundred times with girls.”

“Yeah, but this is different.”

“Awwww, is rejection new for you and your dick?” I make a fake sad face. “I feel so bad for the two of you.”

“Is this temporary?” he asks.

Is it?

I have no idea. Chase was the domino that dropped and started this boycott . . . pun intended. That sense of emptiness and dissatisfaction, the ache for something more had been nagging whenever I had sex for a while, but that last time with Chase, fear crept in. He’d held my wrists together over my head, and something changed.

Snapped.

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