The summer games settlin.., p.2
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       The Summer Games: Settling the Score, p.2

           R.S. Grey
 

  Kinsley tsked. “Sounds like an excuse to see people in their skivvies.”

  I tossed my luggage onto my bed. “Yes, well, isn’t that basically the meaning of life in the first place?”

  I didn’t have to look over my shoulder to know they were exchanging one of their trademarked worried glances. They weren’t used to seeing this side of me. In L.A., I hadn’t gone out much, but that was because my entire day—6:00 AM to 6:00 PM—had been dedicated to soccer.

  “Do you guys have any purple or orange clothes I can borrow?” I asked, reaching for a blue tank top and pairing it with red shorts. There was enough red, white, and blue gear stuffed in my suitcase to last a lifetime. They basically shelled it out to us in bulk as soon as we were called up for the national eam.

  “I think this will look better,” Kinsley said, reaching around me for a giant white fleece I’d packed as an afterthought. It was technically winter in Rio, but it felt more like a mild L.A. summer.

  She laid the fleece out over the blue tank top and then offered me a proud smile. “Yeah, see. That’s adorable.”

  Ten minutes later, I had the outfit I wanted to wear: blue tank top, red shorts, white knee-high socks, and a yellow trucker hat I’d picked up at the airport. It had Rio de Janeiro spelled across the front in scrolling cursive. On top of that outfit, Kinsley and Becca had laid out their choices for me: black track pants that covered every inch of skin from my navel to my ankles, the white fleece, and a red scarf they dictated should be worn like a burka.

  “Oh, and you can keep the white socks,” Kinsley said, like she was doing me a big favor.

  Becca nodded. “Yeah, and maybe just wear the hat over the scarf?”

  “I think I can handle it from here.” I started to usher them to the door, sweeping my arms back and forth so they’d get the picture. “You guys have helped enough.”

  After they left, I used my suitcase to barricade the door. I changed quickly, pulled my blonde hair out of its ponytail, and shook it out. Loose, long waves framed my face, and when I put the trucker hat on backward, it took the edge off my feminine features. I smirked at my tan reflection in the bathroom mirror. Night one in Rio was going to be a good one.

  “ANDIE! Let us in!” Kinsley yelled, banging on my bedroom door.

  Or not.

  I grabbed my phone from my bed, pushed my suitcase aside, and pulled the door open to find Kinsley and Becca changed and ready for the party. No. Just no. They looked absolutely ridiculous in matching red Adidas track suits, black hats, and sunglasses. Either they’d just walked off the set of an 80s music video or they were now officially part of my security detail. Either way, I wasn’t going anywhere with them.

  “What the hell, you guys? I’m not walking into the party with you two dressed like that.”

  They followed me out of the condo, adjusting their hats and assuring me they’d blend in just fine. I knew better. Sure they were still sexy, confident, kickass soccer players, but they’d lost a little of that edge. Once Liam and Penn had “put rings on it”, there was nothing left to keep them from becoming real adults. (They literally got excited over a Friday night spent watching Parks and Rec reruns before turning in at 9:00 PM.)

  “What about your husbands?” I asked, reaching for some legitimate reason to block them from coming with me. “Surely they don’t want you two mingling with a bunch of eligible bachelors.”

  “While you’re correct in your assessment that I’ve still ‘got it’,” Kinsley said with a gesture at her bright red tracksuit. “I’ll have you know Liam trusts me and made me promise I wouldn’t let you go alone.”

  I groaned. Liam too?! How many parents did I have on this trip? I tried to walk faster, hoping that if I took four steps for every one of theirs, I’d eventually lose them. No such luck. They picked up the pace and linked their arms with me, successfully shackling me to my embarrassment.

  “This will be fun!” Becca said with a little skip in her step. “Girls night!”

  Kinsley nodded. “We don’t have practice until noon tomorrow so we should be able to let loose.”

  Kinsley and Becca were only four years older than me, but when we arrived outside the party, it felt like I was walking in with my parents.

  “Whoa, a disco ball!” Becca said, pulling us through the door. “Who packs a friggin’ disco ball for the Olympics?”

  The Brazilian swimmers ushered us inside with big smiles.

  “Good evening, ladies,” one of them said with practiced English and a heavy accent.

  “Sorry! Liam Wilder already put a ring on it,” Kinsley said, waving her left hand in the air like Beyoncé. Becca did the same, and since they had death grips on my arms, I couldn’t slink away. Their wedding rings formed a veritable force field of chastity around us that no one seemed to notice but me.

  “Should we get some punch?” Becca asked.

  “We should really only be drinking water this close to competing,” Kinsley said.

  Dear god, I needed to get away from them.

  “Guys, I’m going to head to the bathroom,” I said, sliding out of their grips.

  Becca looked alarmed, as if needing to pee was an admission of some untold guilt. “Oh, should we all go?”

  “NO!” I shouted, then lowered my voice to a whisper. “I, uh…I need to poop.”

  “Oh, someone’s neerrrvvouuuusss,” Kinsley said with a knowing smirk.

  “It’s her first Olympic party, of course her bowels are moving Kins!” Becca laughed.

  I closed my eyes, took two deep breaths, and then slapped on a fake smile. “Honestly, I’m so glad you guys came with me. I’m just going to head over to the restroom and when I get back, we can party together the rest of the night.”

  My fake speech threw them off, so much so that they let me go to the restroom all by myself; as a twenty-one-year-old, I never thought that would be an issue. Fortunately, the second I was out of their sight, I finally saw the party for what it really was: a playground.

  The Brazilian guys had a condo that was at least twice the size of ours. The living room was packed from wall to wall with a multinational bevy of Aphrodites and Adonises. Kinsley and Becca were holed up in the foyer, and as I wove through the party trying to find a restroom I didn’t actually need, I realized it wouldn’t be hard to steer clear of them for the rest of the night.

  Everyone was shouting over the music, and I couldn’t distinguish one accent from another. I caught passing words in English, but by the time I turned, I couldn’t tell who’d said what. I made it past a rowdy group of guys who were blocking my path to the drinks table, but I weaseled my way through, mostly unnoticed thanks to their gargantuan stature.

  “Oy! Where you going?” one of them asked with a heavy accent as I pulled a beer from the table and tried to slink back into the madness.

  “Oh.” I laughed. “Just grabbing a drink.”

  I wiggled the can back and forth and they all broke out into smiles. Clearly, they approved of alcohol. Between their stature and thick beards, they looked like a group of Vikings who’d accidentally time traveled to 2016. One of them had on a rugby shirt that looked big enough to cover my whole body, which made perfect sense. They were definitely part of a rugby team.

  “All right, well you guys have fun,” I said, trying to shimmy past them.

  The one who was closest to me—a giant with a red beard that stretched down past his chin—clapped me on the shoulder. My knees buckled under the weight. “Stay! Drink!” he bellowed.

  I thought it over for a second. Drinking with a bunch of rowdy rugby players hadn’t really been in my vision for the night, but if I stuck with the Vikings, Kinsley and Becca would never be able to find me. I scanned across them again, and wide cheeky smiles flashed back at me. Crooked or missing teeth were par for the course, but they seemed fairly harmless—so long as none of them thunder-clapped me on the shoulder again. It literally felt like getting hit by car.

  Ten minutes later—the details were fu
zzy—Gareth (bearded dude) had hoisted me up onto his shoulders and was parading me around the party like a piñata. His teammates formed a scrum around him, and they all taught me a drinking song, one that sounded like a sea shanty borrowed from pirates in the Victorian era.

  “What will we do with a drunken sailor? What will we do with a drunken sailor? What will we do with a drunken sailor early in the morning?”

  I didn’t actually know the words, but I was singing along with them at the top of my lungs just the same.

  “What shall we do with an all-i-gat-or? Something-something drunk James Taylor…EARLY IN THE MORNING!” I bellowed, tilting back and forth on Gareth’s shoulders. I’d chugged two beers and the alcohol was sloshing around my stomach in the worst way possible.

  “Keepitup, lassie,” Gareth said, tilting his head back to look up at me.

  “Oh my god! You just called me lassie!”

  I threw my head back to laugh, which in hindsight wasn’t the most genius move. Shifting my weight back threw off Gareth’s equilibrium. Picture a tipsy raccoon on the shoulders of a bear. Sure, he weighed five times what I did, but he couldn’t counterbalance my weight and before I knew it, I was sailing for the ground in slow motion. There was a distinct moment when I thought, This is where a sexy man would catch me if I were a Disney princess. That thought concluded right as I collided with the ground with a heavy “oomph” and the air whooshed out of my lungs.

  The music faded and the laughter died down as people formed a wide circle around me. Did they think I was dead or something? Wait, am I dead?

  I blinked, and blinked again, trying to make out some definitive sign that I was still alive. The lights overhead swung back and forth, but that could have been the angels calling me to heaven—or y’know, hell, since that’s honestly where I was headed for lying to Kinsley and Becca about needing to poop.

  A face leaned over me, blocking the heavenly (or hellish) light. I caught caramel eyes, dark hair, a defined jaw, and a pair of dreamy lips.

  Was it God? Or…

  “Are you the devil?” I asked the floating head. “Because I swear I was going to clean up my act really soon.”

  The face laughed and I focused on the lips that had been moving and now stretched across a seriously cute face. If Satan was this handsome, I’d probably be able to handle the eternal damnation business.

  “All right, I’m going to lift you up. Just give a shout if something hurts,” said the devil with a very cute British accent.

  Hands wrapped around my shoulders and lifted me up to a sitting position. I could breathe again, and I didn’t feel any pain. I patted my elbows and my head. I surmised that I’d managed to fall very gracefully, like the princess I’d imagined earlier.

  “All right?” the British voice asked again, coming around to face me.

  The bobbing head was connected to a very, very handsome body. I took my time scanning over him until I reached his face and realized all at once that I recognized the devil.

  “You’re Frederick Archibald,” I said with a small, shocked voice.

  “I prefer Freddie—”

  A slow-spreading smirk took hold of my heart just as Gareth rushed forward.

  “Lassie!” Gareth boomed. “I’m sorry, but you’re too slippereh!”

  The rugby team was all there surrounding me, probably awaiting my cue to send me off for a proper Viking funeral. I waved him away and pushed to stand. “I’m fine, really.” My wrist hurt, but that wasn’t from the fall. “I swear.”

  There was another five minutes of them picking up my arms and turning me around to confirm I didn’t have a bone sticking out or something.

  “I think she’s fine,” Freddie said, hovering just behind the rugby guys.

  I stared up and smiled, finally getting my first real look at him. Either he was stealing my breath, or I’d lied about being okay earlier. Had I punctured a lung? Dislodged my heart?

  The rugby team agreed that I was stouter than I looked, or that I looked like I needed another stout. Either way, they departed and I was left standing a few feet from Freddie, trying to work up something witty to say. He was wearing blue jeans and a red t-shirt. I couldn’t tell what color his boxers were, but if I swapped my pants for his, I’d be one step closer to completing my Rubik’s cube.

  “Feeling better?” he asked, taking a step toward me.

  I smiled. “Yes, but I need you to take your pants off.”

  CHAPTER FOUR

  Freddie

  “YOU NEED MY trousers?” I asked, confirming that she had in fact said what I thought she’d said.

  This girl was cute—more than cute, really. Her blue tank top rode up an inch or so on her trim torso, and one look at her long legs proved she played a sport in which she ran—loads. Her bluish gray eyes were hard to ignore, even with the lopsided yellow cap covering half of them.

  She looked like that type of American girl blokes dream about: pale blonde hair and sun-kissed skin, as if she’d just walked off the beach. I told myself this was the reason why I wasn’t leaving her alone. She’d had an entire team of titans more than ready to keep her occupied for the night, and yet my curiosity had gotten the better of me.

  She pointed to her red shorts and I caught another glimpse of her long legs. “Yes, we have to swap so that I can have blue pants and a blue top. It’s for the game. We have to leave the party wearing one color, and I guess my color is blue.”

  I had no clue what she was going on about, but there was no way we were swapping trousers. Her shorts would hardly fit around my ankle.

  “C’mon, you have to play,” she said, jutting out her bottom lip. Something told me she got away with murder having a pair of lips like that.

  “I can’t give you these,” I said, “but my boxers are blue.”

  Freddie, you dim perv. She doesn’t want your boxers.

  Her brows rose in shock, but it didn’t last. The surprise faded into a smile and she reached out for my hand. “C’mon, we can change in here.”

  I’d braced for a slap for even suggesting the idea, but maybe American girls were different. She led me past the drink table and we turned a corner down a long hallway. The party was less crowded back there, and every person we passed took one look at us, her hand in mine, and assumed the worst. The lads clapped me on the shoulder and the girls flashed jealous stares.

  “Wait, I don’t even know your name,” I said as she knocked on one of the doors at the end of the hallway.

  She turned and smiled at me over her shoulder. “Andie.”

  I knew that name. “Andie Foster?”

  “How’d you know?”

  “You and the other football girls are the talk of the games.”

  She arched a brow and nodded, not bothering with a response.

  The room she pulled me into was an unoccupied bedroom. It had the same furniture as all the other rooms in the Olympic Village: standard queen bed, chair, and dresser. There wasn’t a suitcase or bag in sight.

  “Looks like we’ll be safe in here,” she said, turning to face me. “But you’ll have to turn while I change.”

  I opened my mouth to reply, but she was already working on the waistband of her shorts. I turned and stared at the opposite wall, trying to talk down the excitement in my pants. I could hear her pushing down her shorts. I pictured them sliding down her tan legs and I shoved my hands into my pockets and pinched my eyes closed. I had as much willpower as any bloke, but this was pushing it.

  “Hey, I don’t hear you taking your boxers off over there,” she said with a laugh.

  Oh, right.

  I unbuttoned my trousers, pushing them down to the ground.

  “Rest assured, I put these boxers on right before the party,” I said with a smile.

  “I don’t care,” she said. “Here.”

  I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and then something landed on my shoulder…a red, silky something.

  “Jesus.” I groaned under my breath. She’d tossed
her panties at me, a red, lacy pair that felt like heaven in my palm.

  That’s it. I’m moving to America after the games. It’s such a beautiful, beautiful country.

  “Ahem!” She cleared her throat. “I need those boxers. My butt cheeks are cold!”

  I’d survived more high-pressure situations than most blokes have by the age of twenty-seven. I’d competed in two Olympic games and swam in hundreds of races at the international level. None of those situations were half as difficult as facing away from Andie in that moment. I knew she was standing behind me. Her bare skin was right there, all I had to do was turn around; she probably wouldn’t have even noticed.

  “Freddie!”

  Bloody hell.

  I pulled my boxers off, ignoring the slight tenting situation occurring in the front. I walked backward, trying to hand them off to her like a gentleman. It seemed like a good idea right up until my hand brushed against her bare ass.

  “HEY! Hands off the tush,” she said, yanking the boxers out of my hand.

  “Ah, sorry,” I said with a cheeky smile. “My mum told me never to throw my knickers at a girl.”

  She laughed, though I was more focused on trying to push aside the memory of how soft her skin had felt. I pulled my jeans back up and buttoned them.

  “All right, they’re a little big, but it’ll work.”

  I turned to find her rolling up my boxers so they wouldn’t fall down her hips. They were rather large on her, but by the second roll they seemed secure enough.

  “How do I look?” she said, adjusting the hat over her hair.

  Un-fucking-believable.

  “ANDIE!”

  Bang. Bang. Bang.

  “ANDIE FOSTER! We’re coming in!”

  Fists pounded on the bedroom door right before it crashed open. Two girls jumped forward, one with pepper spray and the other with a bottle of beer poised to strike.

  “We’re too late!” The brunette one had zeroed in on Andie’s knickers still clutched in my hand. “HE ALREADY HAS HER PANTIES!”

 
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