Page 69 of King of Campus

“No, that’s what I always order,” I say with a distinct edge to my voice. “You can ask Lexie if you don’t believe me.”

And just like that, I’m thinking that agreeing to this dinner with Roan was a colossal mistake. This guy has one hell of a massive ego…

“Open the menu and take a look at the specialty pizzas.” His suggestion is mildly stated as if he knows his question has rubbed me the wrong way. Guess I have to give him points for that. Begrudgingly…

Feeling annoyed that he thinks I’m some creepy closet Roan King fangirl, I don’t question his reason for asking me to do this. I’m too busy silently seething across from him. The second page has a long list of all the different styles of pizza you can order. Without another word, my eyes start scanning the list. Hawaiian. Supreme. Veggie. Margherita. The King. The Henry Winkler. The Works…

Wait a minute.

The King?

My eyes immediately arrow back up to that one. Mushroom, sausage, and pepperoni.

Oh come on… are you kidding me?

It’s rather flatly that I ask, even though I already know the answer, “They seriously named a pizza after you?” At my favorite place. God… the injustice of it all…

He grins and something dangerous pings in my belly. Damn him for being able to do that. “Yep.” His eyes actually twinkle with unfettered glee. “Glad to see you’re finally a fan of something of mine.”

The waitress arrives with two big glasses of water. Clearly they’re well acquainted because she gives him a little wink even though I’m sitting right across from him. Then Roan orders us an extra-large King. I roll my eyes when he says it. He must notice because he looks like he’s trying to rein in his laughter as the waitress asks if we need anything else. Almost as an afterthought, Roan tacks on an order of garlic knots.

Which, yeah, I love as well.

But I’m not telling him that.

Once she’s gone, he takes a long drink of his water, almost draining the entire glass. When I raise my brows in question, he explains that he and Dylan just worked out. And he only wolfed down a protein bar before leaving for the gym and that was hours ago.

Leaning forward, he looks to be on the verge of saying something when an older man approaches the table with his wife.

Breaking eye contact, he glances over at the elderly couple before giving them both friendly smiles as if they’re already acquainted. But I notice it’s different than the smiles he beams in my direction. There’s not a devilish curl to his lip or humorous twinkle in his eyes.

“Young man, I hope you don’t mind the interruption, but we just couldn’t resist coming over and congratulating you on the winning season Barnett is having.” The couple has to be in their late seventies, maybe even early eighties. They’re so cute.

“Thank you, sir.” He nods politely to the man’s wife. “Ma’am. The whole team is playing well.”

The man’s face crinkles in response. “Yes, they certainly are, but it’s you who keeps catching all those passes. Can’t say I’ve seen anything like it in a good decade. You sure are something to watch out there on the field.”

Nodding again, Roan accepts the compliment graciously. “Thank you, sir. But I couldn’t catch any of those passes without Liam Garrison throwing them right to me.”

The man agrees easily before laying a wrinkled hand on Roan’s shoulder. “Garrison’s a solid quarterback. Has a good arm on him.” He pauses for just a moment before his sparkling brown eyes take on a decidedly cagey look. “Been hearing rumors about you turning pro after this season. Not sticking around for another year, huh?”

Looking slightly contrite, Roan dips his chin in acknowledgement. “That’s the way it looks right now.”

“Well, I sure hate to see Barnett lose you. There’ll be quite a hole in the program when you leave.”

“I appreciate you saying that but there are a number of talented players coming up. I have no doubt they’ll be able to fill the open spots left by this year’s graduating seniors.”

The man smiles but it’s obvious he has a differing opinion regarding the issue. Instead of addressing Roan’s statement, he says instead, “Well, good luck to you, son.” For the first time since he arrived at the table, the man’s warm eyes slide to mine before he tips his head. “You two kids enjoy the rest of your evening. Get rested up for the big game on Saturday.”

Roan says goodbye to both of them before his eyes settle on mine again. Once the couple leaves the restaurant, I quietly ask, “Doesn’t that get old after a while?”