Songbird (A Sinclair Story #1) (9 page)

BOOK: Songbird (A Sinclair Story #1)
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“How
is she with the Sinclairs and which one knocked her up?”

Melodee
realized
they thought she was a dirty little secret, and had a
baby to one of the brothers. Her immediate reaction was to spin around and make
a smart remark, but she refrained. Jewel didn’t need that negativity. Plus,
public fights would not be the best information to get back to Denise from CPS.

“We’ve
got you a seat in the family section,” Charles said, and Melodee realized he
was trying to distract her from the curious stares. “Matty can’t make it, he’s
on a huge case at the moment, but he said he’d catch it on TV.”

“Yeah,
he told me,” Nathan said shortly. And Melodee knew that wasn’t the only thing
the eldest brother had had to say. Suddenly she saw a payphone against the side
of a large brick building, sheltered under huge snow covered trees. It reminded
her of something she did every few days.

“Before
we go any further I need to make a call.” She nodded toward the booth. She
didn’t own a cell, all she had was a voicemail box where a few select people
could leave her messages.

“Just
use my cell,” Nathan said, “and I’ll pick you up your own tomorrow.”

Melodee
came to a grinding halt, her hand wrenching free from Nathan’s.

“I
don’t need a cell, I’m happy not having a device attached to me permanently,
and I don’t like to be easily contactable.” She kept her voice low.

“Every
woman should be able to call for help if they need,” Nathan growled. “What if
something happens to Jewel? What if you’re attacked?”

Melodee
laughed. “Don’t forget who you’re talking to. There are very few people I
couldn’t best in an attack situation. I’m not afraid.”

Nathan
reached out to take Jewel from Melodee. “You’re arrogant, and that scares me.”

“I’m
not arrogant,” she said softly, “I’m confident, and I trust in my training and
abilities. You don’t know my life, don’t second guess me.”

With
a huff she released the precious little girl and left them standing there. As
she lifted her hand to dial into her private mail, she realized her fingers
were shaking. Nathan riled her up like no one else could. Closing her eyes, she
fought for composure before entering the number and password.

“You
have two new messages,” the automated female voice sounded in her ear. “Press
one
now.”

The
beep sounded in her ear. Followed by a familiar voice. Dwayne from the fight
club.

“Hey,
Songbird, big fight coming up in two weeks. It’s worth twenty grand, knockout
style until one winner. Let me know if you’re in?”

Melodee
hadn’t planned on fighting again anytime soon, but twenty thousand dollars
would set her and Jewel up for a long time. If nothing else came up, she’d be
fighting.

Another
beep sounded in her ear and the second message started.

“Hello,
Melodee Lee, my name is Craig Luiz and I am the solicitor in charge of your
parents’ will and estate. It has taken me a long time to find you, but I need
to discuss the estate with you. If you could phone me back in a timely
manner...” The male voice listed out two numbers before he disconnected.

Melodee
pulled back from the phone and stared at the receiver. How the hell had the
solicitor found her? And what would he have to tell her after all of these
years? There was something very strange about that message. She decided to
leave it for a bit; for now she wouldn’t be calling back. Although she did take
a few seconds to leave a voice message for Dwayne, confirming her place in the
fight.

“Everything
okay?” Nathan asked when she made her way back to them. He was focused on her
with his usual intensity. Their tense words from before were already forgotten.

Melodee
nodded. They continued walking to the basketball stadium, joined by orange clad
college students and townsfolk, all heading to support their team. And Nathan
apparently.

“I’ll
see you after the game,” Nathan said, handing Jewel and the diaper bag to
Melodee. He leaned down and kissed her on the cheek and then another right in
the corner of her mouth.

“Look
after them,” Melodee heard him mutter to Charles as he left.

She
chuckled. “Don’t worry, Charlie, I’ll look after you.”

He
shook his head, a grin crossing his features. “I’m never living that down, am
I? I still maintain that the fight was unfair, you were raised by ninja monks.”

Melodee
grinned, he wasn’t even close. But the fight had definitely been unfair.
Together they followed the masses of orange-colored fans streaming into the basketball
stadium.

 

The stadium was massive and
filled to capacity. Syracuse team colors were dominant throughout, a world of
orange, and she figured the opposing side didn’t have much of a shot at a home
game. A chant of
Nate, Nate, Nate,
had
started up at some point and didn’t seem to be dying off. Comfortable in her
soft-backed chair, with Jewel on her lap happily chewing on her teething toy,
Melodee was just trying to take it all in.

Charles
laughed at her expression. “You think this is crazy, you should see the pro
games.”

“Basketball
fans are insane.” Melodee could see a few shirtless men, their chests painted
with numbers and symbols.

“What
can we say, we like our sports here, and you just happen to be living with the
basketball captain.”

Melodee
watched the play of lights over the shining basketball court. Their seats were
very close to the court, she could see everything. “Is he going to make
professional?” she asked.

“He’s
definitely going to be scouted this year, but whether he decides to continue
on, only Nate can tell you that.”

She
spun her head at the strangely somber tones from Charles.

“What
does that mean?” she asked.

Charles
just shrugged, and in that moment the music and a loudspeaker kicked in.
Melodee sat forward in her seat, anticipation flooding her system, and she
realized she was waiting to see Nathan. He had knocked her on her ass and was
slowly but surely chipping away at her protective shield. She felt vulnerable,
but the sense of exhilaration when he was around was eclipsing everything. Melodee
had spent her life running, but she had always known that the capacity for epic
love was inside of her. She felt things very strongly. And she was already half
in love with Nathan, and dammit she promised she’d never do something as stupid
as falling in love. Especially overnight. But in love or not, the future was as
unsure as ever. Their lives were worlds apart, and unless they could find a
middle ground, what hope was there?

“Where’s
Luke?” she said, looking around.

“He’ll
be here any second,” Charles said, and sure enough, in dashed the youngest
Sinclair, just before the start of the game.

“Hey,
Dee,” he said, having adopted Nate’s name for her. “And hello, precious Jewel.”
He tickled the little girl, who started to giggle.

“Get
lost on your way here?” Charles drawled.

Luke
grinned. He had perfect teeth, just like the rest of the Sinclairs. “Found a
damsel in distress, she needed assistance.”

“I’ll
bet,” Charles snorted. “Did you get her name this time?”

Their
conversation was cut off as names sounded over the loudspeaker. In single file,
men entered the court area. Nathan was last, wearing the number one on his
orange jersey. And now Melodee understood all the men with large number ones
painted on their chests. Her eyes greedily drank him in; his hair was so blond
under the lights. His aqua eyes flashed as he scanned the crowd. He stopped
when he found her. They simply stared at each other, the moment brief, and yet
it went on for a million years.

People
screamed, women called his name, and yet in that moment, Melodee knew he saw no
one but her. Jewel finally noticed him and started waving her arms toward
Nathan. She already loved him, that was for sure.

“Holy
shit,” Charles said, distracting her.

She
forced her gaze from Nathan, wondering what Charles had seen. Following his
line of sight, she understood his curse was for Nathan. She hadn’t noticed
before, but the star center had moved off the court and was making his way up
the stadium. He stopped right in front of them, and judging by the gasps and
mutters, this was not something that generally happened. Leaning down, Nathan
planted a kiss on Jewel’s cheek, and then moved across to imprint his lips onto
Melodee’s. It was brief, but scorched her all the way to her soul.

“Wish
me luck,” he said as he pulled away.

Reaching
up, she grabbed his shirt and hauled him closer to her.

“Good
luck, Nate.” She lowered her voice. “I'm going to kill you for this.”

With
a laugh he pulled away and went back to the court. Melodee sighed as she
noticed her face was now plastered across all of the screens surrounding the
stadium. The words written beneath her picture:
Who is Slam Dunk’s mystery woman?
The image frozen on the moment he
kissed her. Melodee wasn’t sure if everyone noticed, but on the large screen
she could see vulnerability written all over her face. And she hated that. She
wanted to get up and leave, she detested publicity, but knew this was for
Jewel. They needed to keep up appearances, so she simply smiled and maintained
her calm.

Thankfully,
before the stares could get to her, the cheerleaders hit the court and
distracted everyone. The show was fast, the beat of the music flooding the
space. Melodee was fascinated by the way they threw each other in the air. Had
she ever been allowed to attend normal school, she’d have loved that. During
the routine, the two teams seemed to be huddled up with their coaches. Nathan
definitely wasn’t the tallest on his team – a few of them towered over him –
but he certainly held center of attention when he talked. Finally it seemed as
if the game was ready to get underway. Five men on each side, and the rest were
on the bench.

Charles
and Luke started giving her a rundown on the rules. It didn’t take her long to
realize two things. Nathan moved with skill and grace unparalleled by his
teammates. And that she still had no interest in anything to do with sports.
Yet for some reason she couldn’t take her eyes from the court. Jewel fell
asleep after her bottle at half time, snuggled into Melodee’s shoulder. She
never even stirred during the second show and cheers.

“I’m
glad that Nathan found you and Jewel,” Charles said, close to her ear.

Melodee
met his gaze. “Don’t get the wrong idea, this kissing and girlfriend business
is just for Jewel until we make sure she has a good family.”

“Whatever
you say, Dee. But we both know there is something between you two. I’ve never
seen Nate like this with any woman. He never brings them to his place and he
wouldn’t normally give a damn about CPS.”

“I’ve
lived a shitty life, Charlie. I don’t have the capacity to survive all of this
fame and uproar that surrounds Nate. He deserves so much better.”

Charles
laughed. “Good luck with that one. Nate’s a devil when he sets his mind to
something, and you’re in his sights.”

They
stopped chatting then as Luke came back from the concession stand with food for
everyone.

“Damn
it, Leanna is a cheerleader,” the youngest Sinclair cursed as he noticed a
woman with long, braided red hair. “Nate’s going to shit a brick.” All of them
focused on the court then.

“Who
is Leanna?” Melodee asked, leaning forward.

Charles
had straightened in his seat, his glare also landing on the redhead. “Just
someone with a dangerous obsession. She’s unstable.”

“Crazy
as fuck,” Luke said. “I haven’t seen her in ages. She used to stalk Nate. It
got pretty out-of-control.”

Melodee
pulled Jewel’s sleeping warmth closer. Leanna had better not come near them
now. Melodee had a bad case of mother bear and would not be able to control her
actions.

“Is
she glaring up here?” Luke barked. “We can’t leave Dee and Jewel alone while
she’s around. If she saw Nate kiss her, she might be ready to snap.”

He
was right, Leanna’s dark eyes were locked on their group. Melodee wasn’t
worried for herself, but Jewel was very vulnerable. Time to incorporate her
training to protect her precious baby.

“I
might have to have a few words with her,” Melodee said, her tone hard. “If she
threatens Jewel in any way I will hurt her.”

Neither
of the men said any more, but the worried expressions didn’t leave their faces.

The
second half of the game was close, and Melodee found herself forgetting about
the psycho cheerleader and focusing on Nathan. She even let out a cheer as his
three-point shot landed right before the final buzzer, securing the win for
Syracuse. The crowd went nuts – flashes as photos were taken – and the
announcer over the speaker wrapped it all up. Jewel woke up just in time for
them to stream out with everyone else leaving the stadium. The entire time
Melodee stayed focused on her surroundings. No one was ambushing them tonight.

BOOK: Songbird (A Sinclair Story #1)
11.22Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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