Playing for Keeps / Page 21

Page 21


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"It wouldn't hurt you to give him another chance, sweetheart," Mrs. Blaine said.

Seriously, did any of them even consider that he was Haley's date? Not that he was, but still it was f**king insulting as hell. If Haley wasn't one of his best friends he'd consider doing something to tell her family right the hell off, but she was and he couldn't or she'd stop cooking for him and he wasn't risking that. What his little grasshopper could do with a chocolate chip cookie.......

He pushed back in his chair. Telling her family off might not be a choice, but that didn't mean he couldn't rescue his little grasshopper. He took her hand into his as he stood up, not missing the dirty looks her family sent their entwined hands, and gently pulled Haley to her feet.

"Dance with me?" he asked softly, nodding towards the small dance floor filled with a half dozen couples.

Her eyes darted back to her family and widened when she spotted Robert heading her way.

"I'd love to," she said, practically dragging him away from the table.

*************

When Jason pulled her into his arms she felt herself relax for the first time in an hour.

"You want to tell me about him?" Jason asked, expertly maneuvering them around the other couples on the small dance floor.

Chewing her bottom lip nervously, she watched Robert take Jason's vacated seat. He said something to her father and both men looked over at them.

"He was my high school boyfriend. We broke up senior year."

"And he wants to pick up where you left off?" Jason guessed.

"No," Haley said, absently drumming her fingers against his shoulder, "he wants to perfect his record."

At Jason's frown she shrugged. "I refused to sleep with him."

She felt the muscles in Jason's shoulder go tight as he narrowed his eyes first at her, then to Robert before looking back down at her.

"How can you be sure that's all he wants?"

"He told me," Haley said simply. "He's not interested in anything more than adding another notch to his belt."

"What an ass**le," Jason muttered, earning a few gasps from the women around him. She could tell he was just barely holding back an eye roll.

As much as she hated being here tonight, and god did she hate being here tonight, she had to admit that it was nice not being totally alone. Having Jason with her made this night almost tolerable. He'd even managed to make her laugh, not on purpose of course, but she'd been unable to stop herself from laughing at his shocked expression when her family dismissed him so easily. Her family's treatment of him had pissed her off more than the way they'd treated her.

She should just leave. It was obvious that they weren't really wanted here and she wasn't about to have Robert forced on her so could spend the next two hours discretely removing his hand from her leg or trying to ignore the sexual innuendos he'd whisper in her ear.

Plus, she really didn't want to sit around while they treated Jason horribly for another minute. He was a good friend and deserved better treatment than that, especially since he'd been nothing but kind to them no matter how rude they were to him.

They both looked over in time to see Robert stand up and head in their direction. Great. This night was about to get worse.

Jason grinned that sexy grin of his as he leaned down and whispered, "Let's get the hell out of here."

He really was the best friend ever, Haley decided as they made their escape.

Chapter 12

“I’m sorry, Mr. Bradford,” Eric, one of his normally best students, mumbled quickly as he averted his eyes away from Jason’s murderous glare.

For the past three weeks he’d been biting everyone’s head off. His normally easy going façade was completely gone now. It didn’t make any sense. He’d been getting the best sleep of his life and Haley had quickly become the most important person in his life. He couldn’t imagine living without her. He didn’t want to.

No matter what they did during the day at night they came together. Not in the way he would like, but he was still able to find peace at the end of a long day. Two weeks ago they both gave up on rushing out of the other’s bed to go shower and change their clothes in the morning. Now he had toiletries in her bathroom and some closet and bureau space and she had the same in his house.

It was weird, but probably not as weird as two best friends who slept together but didn’t so much as kiss. It was like they were living together, but alternating from one house to the other. They spent a lot of time together, but they also spent a lot of time on their own or with friends. When he was away from her he wondered what she was doing and thinking. A few times he had to stop himself from calling her to find out. The only thing that was saving his sanity was knowing that she wasn’t dating another man. He didn’t know how he’d feel about that. Judging by the urge to put his fist into a wall every time he thought about her and another guy it wasn’t good.

Another loud cheer went up next door. He clenched his jaw tightly as he focused on the fifteen students of his Honors U.S. history class. This was their two hour study block to go over the material for the final exam which was tomorrow and only ten minutes into it and he wanted to throttle every last one of them.

He threw his papers onto his desk in disgust, making his students shift around nervously in their designer school uniforms.

“I don’t understand this. We’ve gone over this material all year and none of you have any idea what hell we’re talking about!” his voice rose, making the girls look close to crying.

Another roar of applause came from next door, drawing his attention back to the woman who was always on his mind. He speared his fingers through his hair and paced the floor. He was wound so damn tight right now, so close to snapping.

A soft knock came at the door connecting his classroom to Haley’s. She popped her head in, smiling. That smile was like a balm to his soul, instantly relaxing him.

“Yes?” he asked her in a much softer tone than the one he’d been using with the kids.

Haley nibbled her lip nervously. “Mr. Bradford, I was wondering if I could ask you and your students a huge favor. I need some help preparing my kids for their test tomorrow and since both classes are studying the same material I was hoping you wouldn’t mind coming in here and giving me a hand.”

“Yes, of course,” he found himself answering immediately. Who in the hell could say no to someone so adorable? She pushed her glasses back up on her nose and smiled again damn near making his knees buckle.

“Excellent!” she said brightly, pushing the door opened wider. “Why don’t you kids come in here?” She turned to face her class. “Alright, you bunch of miscreants, make some room!”

Jason grabbed the review packet he made over the weekend and followed. As he walked past Haley he couldn’t stop himself from grabbing her hand and giving it a squeeze. If any of the kids saw they smartly kept their mouths shut.

He watched as his students filled the empty seats in her classroom. They kept shooting him nervous looks. No doubt they were waiting for him to start yelling again. Little did they know his little grasshopper kept him grounded.

Haley hopped up onto her desk and crossed one beautiful leg over the other, drawing every guy’s attention. He had to stop himself from killing the little bastards then and there.


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