Out of bounds the summer.., p.13
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       Out of Bounds (The Summer Games #2), p.13

           R.S. Grey
 

  If I flew to Rio and competed anything other than perfect routines, I’d have to fly back to Texas with a depleted bank account and no endorsement deals to show for it. I’d go right back to my old life—same shitty apartment complex, same overworked mom, same tiny bed that squeaked any time my mother adjusted in her sleep—except this time, I wouldn’t have gymnastics to distract me. No, I’d have a GED and a mountain of regret. I couldn’t do it. I had to win gold; I’d never forgive myself if I didn’t.

  “Figured you might want something a little stronger than water,” the bartender said, returning to my table and sliding into the seat across from mine without an invitation. Between us, he dropped a pint of amber-colored beer. I glanced up to meet his eye and smiled my thanks. He nudged the beer an inch closer to me. White foam spilled over the sides and I leaned forward to suck down the first few ounces so it wouldn’t spill over the rim when I picked it up off the table.

  The bartender seemed to enjoy the show.

  “What’s your name?” I asked, eyeing him over the brim of the glass.

  “Colby.”

  I smirked. “I’m Brie.”

  “Colby and Brie.” He nodded, already gloating. “Cheesy, but it looks like it’s meant to be.”

  The rowdy group near the bar interrupted our flirting with loud cheers, reminding me of their presence. “Shouldn’t you be manning the bar?”

  He shrugged. “Those guys tip like shit anyway. Besides, this is my uncle’s bar. He can’t really fire me for flirting on the job.” His gaze dragged down my neck and chest, not bothering to hide his attraction.

  I laughed and took another small sip of beer. I hadn’t had dinner yet so I made a point to take it slow.

  “Don’t like it?” he asked with a laugh.

  I shrugged. “I can’t really stand beer to be honest.”

  His brow arched. “I could have guessed that. You look kind of uptight.”

  I furrowed my brows. “Uptight?”

  He pointed to my hair. It was up in a tight bun and even though a few wisps had fallen out, I knew the visual it offered. I looked like a prima ballerina when I styled my hair like this, but Colby didn’t seem to mind.

  “I bet we have a bottle of champagne or something in the back,” he said with a sly smile. “Want me to try to find it?”

  Before he could get up, a shadow fell over our table, blocking the hazy yellow light from the bar. I knew it was him before I even looked up—not because he had some kind of superpower over me, but because the man had a signature smell, his natural scent and mountain fresh body wash combining in a way that made my body tingle.

  Erik.

  His gaze hit me, dragged down to the beer I was still clutching in my hand, and then slowly swept over to Colby.

  “Get out of the booth.”

  Colby reared back, surprised. “Excuse me? This is my bar.”

  Your uncle’s bar.

  “Do you always serve alcohol to minors in your bar?” Erik asked, pointing to the beer in my hand.

  His voice was pure grit and if I had been Colby, I would have gotten the fuck out of the booth, but he didn’t budge.

  Colby shook his head, feigning innocence and looking to me for backup. “Man, I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

  I shrugged, bored. “I’ll be twenty-one in two months.”

  Clearly, Erik was bored too, because he leaned in and gripped Colby’s collar in his fist, yanking him out of the booth.

  “What the hell!?” Colby shouted, yanking out of Erik’s hold. “I’ll call the cops, bro. Are you her dad or something?”

  I bit back my smile.

  Erik practically snarled. “Or something.”

  Colby threw up his hands, deciding I wasn’t worth the trouble—or maybe he realized Erik wasn’t a man to challenge. He was taller than Colby. His chest was broader. His arms were leaner, muscled. His eyes, though beautiful, worked well to warn most people off, and his strong jaw finished the job nicely.

  I clapped slowly, drawing Erik’s attention back to me as Colby wandered back to the bar, mumbling under his breath. “Good work. You saved the world from a twenty-year-old having a drink and a moment of peace.” I pointed to the door. “You can go now.”

  He slid down into the booth as I leaned back. Colby had sat in that same spot a moment before, but Erik filled the space, consuming everything around him like a black hole. I crossed my hands over my chest, steeling myself against his presence.

  He reached across the table and gripped my beer, taking a long drag before leveling me with his gaze.

  “Quite a day you’ve had,” he mocked.

  I looked away, not interested in his teasing, but when he spoke up again, there was no hint of amusement in his tone.

  “When I used to have bad days in the gym, I took it out on my coaches as well.”

  His honesty shocked me, but I kept my gaze on the TV screen, pretending like I cared what was happening on the baseball field.

  “I had a bad temper and a short fuse. No one was harder on me than myself, and I know you’re the exact same way.”

  I glanced back at him with an arched brow. “I ate shit today—on skills I can usually do in my sleep.”

  He nodded, swallowed another sip of beer, and waited for me to continue. I didn’t, not right away. I let him finish off nearly half my beer as I worked up the courage to talk to him.

  “It’s starting to get to me,” I said, hating the softness in my voice. “We leave for Rio in two weeks.”

  “Two weeks is plenty of time.”

  I snorted. “Right.”

  “I meant what I said earlier. You’re not trusting your body. You’re letting the competition shake your confidence and you need to relax. Remember you’re a world champion. The Olympics aren’t that different than Worlds.”

  I shook my head. “They’re very different and you know it.”

  He sat back and drank his beer, letting me stew in silence.

  “No,” he argued, finally. “I don’t know. This will be my first games too. I quit competing a month before the Olympics and never came back to the sport.”

  I arched a brow, surprised he was willing to offer up details about his life after the day we’d had.

  “Were you injured?” I asked, bringing up the rumor I’d heard.

  He turned away, narrowing his eyes on the row of alcohol behind the bar. It was a while before he answered. “It was a culmination of things.” He rubbed his hand across the back of his neck before meeting my eyes again. “The reasons aren’t important.”

  I could sense a darkness there, a secret he wasn’t quite willing to offer up yet. I wanted to lean forward and take his hand, promise he was safe with me, but he wasn’t. We weren’t each other’s confidants. Far from it.

  “That’s fine if you don’t want to share the reasons, but I am curious.”

  I stared at his lips cast in the hazy glow of the bar. “Curious about what?”

  “If you regret it.”

  He leaned close so I had no choice but to focus on him, inhale his beauty from across the table. “Never. Not once. The fire that burns in you—that need to compete and win—it never burned inside me. I never had the passion you have.”

  “I’m scared I’m going to choke,” I admitted, playing with one of the coasters on the table, tearing it in two and then in four. “June, Lexi, and Molly have done this before. They know what to expect, but I feel like I’m the wildcard. I could go down to Rio and win gold, but I could just as easily go up in flames.”

  “It’s not luck, Brie,” he pointed out. “It’s skill, and you’ve got it.”

  I laughed. “Do I? It didn’t feel like it today.”

  He dropped the empty pint glass back on the table and pushed up off out of the booth. “You need to forget about today. It’s gone. Over. Tomorrow you’ll get back in the gym and your body will know what to do. Give yourself a break.”

  I slid out of the booth after him; I knew there was no point in
resisting if he was ready to go. He dropped a few bills on the table to cover the beer and Colby’s ego, then ushered me toward the door with his hand wrapped tight around my elbow. I inhaled a deep breath, feeling the stress of the day start to melt away. His body was right behind mine, steady like a rock as he led me out to the parking lot.

  “Thanks for that,” I said as he held the passenger door open to his truck. When I glanced up, his gaze was on my mouth, hovering there for a moment before he backed up.

  “It’s nothing,” he assured me, rounding the front of the truck to get to the driver’s side.

  I hopped in and buckled my seatbelt. As he put the truck in reverse and pulled out of the parking lot, I leaned forward to turn on the radio, trying to find something to drown out the silence.

  “It’s broken,” he said, catching my hand before I could turn the dial. “And I’ve been too lazy to fix it.”

  I smiled and settled back into my seat. “Or maybe you just like the silence.”

  He didn’t argue and when I glanced over, I could see him gripping the steering wheel with both hands.

  “I need to text the girls to let them know I don’t need a ride home.”

  He shook his head. “They’re the ones who told me where you were.”

  My brows arched; I hadn’t even questioned how he’d found me.

  “Did you ask them where I was?”

  His gaze was on the road and his knuckles were turning white on the steering wheel.

  I smirked. “You were worried about me, weren’t you?”

  I liked the idea of him thinking about me, wanting to check in and make sure I was okay. The fact that he didn’t answer only confirmed my suspicions.

  “You were.”

  He still didn’t reply, but a slow Cheshire grin overtook my features. I leaned closer, focusing on his sharp profile. That jaw. Those cheekbones. I wanted to brush my lips across them, listening for his quick intake of breath. He was completely tensed, ready to fight, but there was no need.

  “I thought you didn’t play with girls, Erik,” I said, throwing his words back at him.

  The game was over; I’d won.

  With one quick jerk of the steering wheel, he whipped the truck to the right. The tires thumped against the lane dividers and I lurched to the left, holding my hands out to steady myself between the car door and the center console.

  He kept driving along the shoulder until we reached a line of oaks with branches hanging low over the road. He slammed on the brakes and I jerked forward. He killed the engine and the headlights faded. The sounds of the forest invaded the cabin, owls hooting and frogs croaking.

  I turned to face him, praying he’d gather his senses, restart the truck, and pull back out on the road.

  Suddenly, I was scared.

  Suddenly, I wanted out of the game.

  “What are you doing?” I asked with a shaky voice. “Take me home.”

  He turned to me and the moonlight cut across his face, casting him half in shadow.

  “Unbuckle your seatbelt.”

  Chapter Seventeen

  Erik

  “What are we doing here?” Brie asked, her voice wavering. “It’s late.”

  Now she was scared. Now she was the meek girl she had tried hard to convince me she wasn’t.

  “Unbuckle your seatbelt,” I repeated.

  She crossed her arms over her chest and stared out at the road, resisting me. I pushed off my seat and reached over to unbuckle her myself.

  “Hey—”

  I cut her off. “Prove it.”

  “Prove what?” She turned to glare at me, fire brewing behind her narrowed eyes. “God, just take me back to the house or we’re going to start fighting again.”

  Even as she tried to argue, her body contradicted her words. Her heart was racing beneath that thin cotton dress. Her pupils were dilated. Her hands shook as she crossed her arms, steeling herself against me. The air between us was charged—electric—and when she took her bottom lip between her teeth and bit down, I knew she could feel it too.

  “Prove you’re not the weak girl. Prove you can get out of your head for once in your life.”

  I saw the fire spark in her eyes after that. They were smoldering.

  She was fierce; she wanted to be seen, and not just for her gymnastics skills. No, she wanted to be desired. Coveted. Craved. Had anyone ever touched her the way she wanted to be touched? Had anyone ever ripped that bun out and tugged her long hair, tilting her head back to expose the creamy skin of her neck?

  I wanted to devour her. I wanted to reach across the front seat, tilt her neck to the side, and drag my mouth down her chest, listening for soft moans and cues for where to take my lips next. But sitting in the moonlight with her trim body and her delicate features, she looked scared. I wouldn’t touch her until she proved to me she wasn’t. If I pushed this past the point of no return, I didn’t want to break her.

  For three long breaths, we stared at each other from opposite sides of the truck. Her eyes widened, questioning whether or not I was serious, and I told myself that if she looked away, if she broke the connection, I’d restart the ignition and take her home.

  When a slow-spreading smile overtook her pink lips, I nearly lost control. I contained my urge to reach over and pull her onto my lap, to force her to feel my erection between her thighs, but suddenly there was no need. She was moving, pushing off her seat and crawling over. She draped one leg on either side of my hips and slowly—so fucking slowly—she slid down to straddle me. Jesus. She was so sexy. Her dress rode up on her hips, exposing her bare thighs. I touched her knees and then dragged my hands higher. I gripped her thighs tightly, keeping her there as she settled into place. I could feel her shake, nervous about crossing the line we’d both been walking for weeks.

  “You’re right, I’ve never been touched by someone like you,” she said, leaning forward to drag her lips across my neck. “Show me what I’ve been missing.” She sighed and her warm breath hit my neck like a shot of lust. My palms moved higher and I glanced down, watching as I unveiled another few inches of her thighs. Her skin was velvet there.

  “Are you going to teach me?” she asked, pressing her lips to my neck again.

  I groaned and squeezed her thighs, answering her without words. My thumbs were an inch away from her panties, so damn close and she knew it. Her breathing picked up. Her breasts pressed against my chest with each inhale she took. Her nipples were tight little buds, further proving her desire.

  “Touch me,” she begged.

  Fuck.

  I ripped one of my hands from her thighs and gripped her neck, tilting her head so that when my lips crashed against hers, she couldn’t pull back. She wanted to be felt and I was too selfish to leave her hanging. I kissed her once, softly, then pulled back to gauge her reaction. Her eyes were wide and dilated. Her lips were parted and just as I leaned in to kiss her again, she fell forward to meet me. I kissed her hard and she whimpered. Her lips were soft, tentative, but she warmed up quickly and started kissing me back with equal fervor. She tasted so sweet and when I tilted her head to the side and slipped my tongue past her lips, she ground down against me, rubbing herself against the zipper of my jeans.

  She knew how to move. She knew how to use her little body. All those years of ballet ensured she knew how to keep a rhythm and she was teasing me, showing me how good it would be with her on top, rolling her hips and riding me until I couldn’t stand it. I used my hand to grip her waist, keeping her against me as I rose up to meet her. Her panties were nothing, silky and thin and so fucking wet I knew I’d have a stain on my jeans when we were done.

  She pulled her mouth free and dragged it up to my ear, whispering against my skin, “Don’t make me beg for it.”

  I grinned and leaned back to stare down at her. She was a vision. Her lips were swollen and red. Her bun was falling out and long strands of brown hair fluttered around her face, framing her high cheekbones.

  I moved my hand from h
er waist and brushed it up beneath her dress, shoving it higher so her panties were finally exposed. She tried to lean in and hide her face against me again, but I held her neck with my other hand, tilting her so she had to face me, face us. I wanted her to watch this. I wanted her to see me touch her. If she wanted to be with a man, she needed to learn what that meant.

  “Erik.”

  Her panties were a pale shade of blue, dark and damp in the very center. They were already slightly off center from her little lap dance. I could see a sliver of her pussy, pale pink and so sexy I almost forgot she was there, watching my reaction to her. A quick glance up showed she was wearing a little smirk, so pleased with herself for stealing my control.

  I didn’t wait then. I reached down and hooked my finger around the material, brushing it to the side and baring her completely.

  “Jesus,” I moaned under my breath.

  Her fingers dug into the back of my neck and I didn’t hesitate then. I reached forward and stroked a finger up and down her wetness, biting back a groan as I did it again. I took it slow, feeling her and loving the way she squirmed on my lap. Her legs parted even more, a silent plea for me to continue.

  “You’re so beautiful.”

  She let out a soft cry as my finger found her most sensitive spot. I circled around it gently, never quite giving her the touch she craved. I toyed with her, teased her until she was nearly putty in my hand.

  I looked up at her with a devilish smile. Now who has the control?

  Her eyes were half hooded, lost in the hunger. She wanted it as much as I did, maybe more, and when I brushed lower and finally, slowly, sank my middle finger inside her, it took hardly anything. I dragged my finger out and pumped it back into her tight pussy once, twice, three times, and then she came apart for me, clenching around my finger and crying out in the silent car.

 
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