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Authors: Emma Hart

The Love Game (9 page)

BOOK: The Love Game
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That was a fucking close call.

 

Chapter Fifteen - Maddie

 

“The whole 'do you always ignore the girls you sleep with?' line was magic, Maddie. Pure freakin' magic.” Megan laughs across the room. I pause, my mascara wand suspended in mid-air and smile at her through the mirror. I'm glad she's thinking about the plan, because I'm not.

I'm too preoccupied with how I feel when he's touching me.

When he did the hand on thigh move earlier I wanted to castrate him. Really, I wanted to rip off his gentlemanly parts and rub them against a cheese grater. Repeatedly. When he started rubbing my leg, I wanted to punch him, yet when he took his hand away I wanted to grab it and demand he left it there.

That thought makes me feel slightly ill. I wanted Braden Carter to touch me, and when he did I enjoyed it. I damn well enjoyed that innocently sexy move he did with the pad of his thumb against the inside of my leg. This plan is getting dangerous.

It's a week in and already I can feel a little crack against my attraction to him. Yeah, the same attraction I locked away in a steel box complete with heavy duty padlock and a coded password.

What gets me is how I could be disgusted with him one minute and kissing him the next. And I didn't care. I still don't care. Ugh, how can I like kissing someone I hate so much? I need to remember this is a game, and to win I have to play. I have to play by the rules.
His
rules. The only way to win is by playing by the rules of the player.

Sex governs the game. It's the aim, the grand prize. Anything other than sexual attraction and feelings of sexual want don't have a place here, not on my watch.

One week down and three to go. He's feeling more than just sex with me, that much is clear. My act is believable, and I know he's falling for it. And me.

I just have to remember to hate him.

 

~

 

My hair blows in the wind, and I scrape it round my neck, holding it to one side. The breeze is a welcome addition to the too-hot fall weather, so I don't mind. I just wish I'd thought to bring a hairband with me.

Lila hums loudly as we step onto the sound, following the sounds of laughter and cheering to the far end of the beach. The whole freshman year is here, it seems, and music is pumping from somewhere. A bonfire is being set up, and I hear Megan's groan.

“Why do they need a bonfire? It's still 80 degrees out.”

“Because they're cool.” Kay laughs. “Dicks.”

I grunt my agreement and look through the crowd, my eyes searching for Braden. Do I get five minutes to actually enjoy this party before I'm forced into playing the doting new girlfriend?

Apparently so.

We find a spot, and Lila immediately begins to examine the sand for pebbles and driftwood. God help any piece of driftwood that scratched or grazed her leg. Apparently deeming it safe to sit, she settles down and leans back against a tree. Megan shakes her head, and both she and Kay drop themselves to the sand. I follow suit, but more conservatively than they did it.

I run my fingers through my hair, loosening small tangles from the soft curls at the ends. Sand shifts behind me. Two hands grip my waist, and I jump, letting out a shriek.

“What the-” I turn to look straight into bright blue, amused eyes. “Braden. You scared me.”

“I'm sorry, Angel. I thought I'd surprise you,” he replies, shifting and moving closer to me.

“I think you achieved that,” I mutter, hating the way his skin feels against mine. Or am I hating the fact I like how it feels? I don't even know.

He rests his chin on my shoulder, pressing his cheek against mine. “I thought you were starting the party without me, girls.”

“Like we'd ever do that,” Kay says in a fake pleasant tone. “We all know you're the life and soul of the party, Carter.”

“Put your claws away, kitty.” Lila shoves a plastic cup in her face. “Then shut up and drink.”

“Yes, zookeeper.” Kay rolls her eyes, and Lila smirks before turning to Braden.

“Where's Ryan?”

“He's grabbing beer from the car with Aston. They'll be here in a minute,” Braden replies, moving his head so his breath fans across my cheek.

“Lila, can I have a drink?” I ask her. I need something to stay sane tonight.

“My work is done.” Kay throws her hands up, her cup resting in the sand. “I have successfully corrupted Maddie.”

“Not completely,” Megan half-smiles. “She still doesn't swear or sleep with everything in sight.”

“She isn't going to, either,” Braden mutters. “The sleeping with everything part, that is.”

“Because you're a fine one to talk.” Lila raises an eyebrow.

“Hey.” He points a finger at her. “I was single then. I'm a changed man.”

I want to roll my eyes. Several times. Of course he is – and if he isn't, he soon will be, courtesy of yours truly. Because I can do this.

Lila rolls her eyes for me, and Ryan and Aston approach us. Ryan beelines for Lila while Aston casually sits near Megan. Oh ho, does someone have a little crush? No, that would be stupid. The only thing he has a crush on is what's inside her panties.

“You're quiet,” Braden says softly to me.

I smile and turn my face into him. “I'm just listening.”

“Oh, you can listen?” He tickles my side slightly, and I wriggle.

“Don't tickle me.” I squirm.

“Why? Are you ticklish?”

“I'm not. Nope. Not. At. All.”

“I bet you are.”

“I'm not!”

He moves his fingers against my waist, and I squeal, moving and wriggling in his hold to get away.

“Braden, stop!” I sputter out through controlled laughter.

“Not until you say you're ticklish,” he teases and tickles me some more.

I shriek and fall backwards, kicking up a little bit of sand. He comes down with me, half lying on me, his arm still around my waist.

“Say it,” he whispers, looking into my eyes.

“No,” I whisper back. “I won't give in.”

“Neither will I.” He drops his head, and his lips capture mine, soft and warm. My eyes flutter shut, and my hand rests against his neck. My fingers press into his skin, holding him to me.

Braden flicks his tongue out and runs it along my bottom lip, sucking it gently into his mouth. His teeth graze it slightly, nibbling as he releases it. I ignore the gasp wanting to escape from my mouth and the heat spreading down through my body. It pools in the pit of my stomach like molten lava, a swirling, boiling mass of want and need.

And then I remember that I hate him.

“Hey,” I groan. “No distracting me with kisses.”

He pulls his head up and grins at me. It's a kind of sexy grin, and one I'd melt at if it was anyone other than Braden. Yes – Braden. Playboy, player, user of women for his own pleasure.

Yep. That did it.

I slide to the side of him and sit up, shaking sand out of my hair.

“Watch where you're flingin' that shit.” Kay bats at my hair. “That could take my eye out. It's a lethal fuckin' weapon, Mads!”

“Oh, shut up, you.” I flick her with the ends my curls and notice the others have disappeared. “Where did everyone go?”

“They went to get food from the barbecue while you and Casanova were sucking face.”

I shake my head. She can be crude sometimes, but it's just her. I wouldn't want it any other way.

“Hey, Kay.” Braden leans round me. “Isn't that your friend over there? Darla or whatever she's called?” Oh, great.

Kay huffs. “If you wanna be alone, just say.” She stands, gives me a playful salute, and saunters off to where the blonde bombshell that is Darla is standing.

I turn my face and look out past the fire and the partying to the water as it rolls up the sand. It's always the same at the parties. Whether it's a frat party, a dorm party, or a beach party. I always feel like the only one not enjoying it.

After six months of following my old best friend round them while she chased after my brother, only to get her heart broken, can you blame me? No. I don't blame me either.

“You're somewhere else,” Braden observes. Remembering I hate him would be so much easier if he wasn't already so tuned into me.

“Just thinking,” I reply, keeping my eyes trained on the clear blue sea. “You don't have to stay here, you know. You can go find the guys.”

“No.” He leans against the tree and pats the space next to him. Sigh.

I crawl backwards and sit next to him, curling into his side as he wraps an arm around me. I rest my head on his shoulder, and he lifts my legs so they're resting over his. He brings his knees up, and I'm wrapped around him like a blanket. His cheek leans against the top of my head.

I can feel the eyes of people from the party on us. It's making my hairs stand on end, making me want to get up and run away from this whole fake production.

But then – then there's a little part of me enjoying it.

 

Chapter Sixteen - Braden

 

I learned three things last night.

One, Maddie Stevens fits in my arms perfectly. Two, I want to fuck her, badly. Like, really fuckin' bad
ly. And three, her hair smells like apples.

It's been nine days since Ryan and Aston challenged me to make Maddie fall in love with me, giving the limit of a month to do it. I won't need a damn month at this rate. She's falling – and she's falling hard and fast. I give it ten days, and I'll prove to them I can do it and then I'll walk away from her.

Because, let's face it, if I was a falling in love kinda guy, I'd fall in love with someone like her. Under that curvy body, fiery hair, and behind those pretty green eyes is a girl unlike anyone I know. I'm also pretty damn sure I won't meet anyone like her either.

And that's the problem. When she smiles at me, really smiles, I can see her turning me into a falling in love kinda guy. That makes her dangerous, too fuckin' dangerous, and I gotta get her in bed and walk away before it's too late.

She's tapping a message out on her cell with her brow furrowed as she walks around the corner towards me. Her hair is swept to one side, hiding her face from the rest of the world. I step out from where I was waiting in the stairwell and grab her hand, twirling her into me.

She looks up at me with wide eyes and leans against my chest. “Dammit, Braden! You have to stop doing that to me.”

“Doing what?” I grin down at her.

“Scaring me,” she huffs, pocketing her phone.

“Everything okay?” I push her hair back from her face.

“Yeah, just my brother.” She frowns again and shakes her head. “Doesn't matter. He's just being his usual stupid self.”

“Sure?” I smooth the frown lines out with my thumb.

“Yep,” she says brightly. A little too brightly. She smiles but there's no light in it, not like there was last night. And I'll be damned if I wanna find out what's going on instead of wanting to fuck her in every possible way right now.

It's because she's Megan's friend. That explains the whole caring thing that's starting to go on here. Of course.

I kiss her forehead and link our fingers. We leave the stairwell and head towards the campus cafeteria. It's not the best food in the world, but I know she has a class in half hour. I swear she takes every damn class possible.

We follow the line through and find a small table in the corner. I've already noticed she hates being the center of attention.

She's picking at her food and barely eating any of it. I want to talk to her, but I haven't got a clue what to say. I must be the most insensitive guy ever, but feelings have never mattered much to me. To me, the only feelings that mean anything and are real are in the bedroom.

Until I look into Maddie's sad eyes. Then her feelings are very, very real.

Instead of talking, I settle for sliding my hand across the table and taking hers in mine. I've seen guys do it in those stupid movies Meggy's made me watch. Maddie looks up and gives me a sad, worried smile and I figure it's comforted her some.

What the fuck do I know?

“Hey, Braden.” A girl with long, blonde hair approaches me. The perfect distraction.

If I wasn't in this fucking fake relationship.

“Hi?” I reply. I'm pretty sure I should know her name, but I'm drawing a blank.

“So I was wondering if you were free tonight. We could, y'know, pick up where we left off last time?” She twirls some hair round her finger and juts out a hip.

Fuck. Why does this shit keep happening?

“No, sorry.” I say, feeling Maddie's eyes on me. “I'm not available anymore.”

“What do you mean, not available?” Blonde girl looks between us. Are all the girls I sleep with blonde? Shit.

“As in, I have a girlfriend.”

“Who happens to be sitting right across from him,” Maddie mumbles. There isn't enough 'shits' for how I feel right in this moment. Why is it always chicks that can mess up my carefully laid plan?

BOOK: The Love Game
12.24Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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