“She doesn’t.” Liv loops her arm through mine. “She wants to come and have banana split sundaes with us, don’t you, Erika?”
“I mean, well, I guess?” I’m not sure. I always want ice cream, but being around Tank makes my heart ache even if I’m enjoying watching him and Liv spar. I no sooner get the words out of my mouth than I’m over Tank’s shoulder and being carried away.
“Like I said, I’m headed to Erika’s dorm anyways. See you around,” he fires before taking off with me faster than a man his size should be able to move.
“Hey, come back here,” Livvie yells, but Tank isn’t stopping. I should have known brute force would win. It always does.
I spent days avoiding Tank and I’m now draped over his shoulder. His hold is firm yet gentle. I want to be angry with him but I’m enjoying being near him again. His scent has me relaxing into him. He’s got me mind wishing that one day he will hold me for real, not just because he feels a debt to the Audley twins but because he wants to. I shut my brain down from having more of those thoughts. They are dreams and if my parents taught me anything, it’s that my dreams don’t matter. I didn’t see Tank coming but I really should have.
The man is unmissable.
My first thought as I toss her over my shoulder is, I shouldn’t be doing this. My next thought is, How long can I keep her in my condo before she calls the police? Neither thought keeps me from moving forward. I don’t even stop when I realize that Erika hasn’t let out a peep of protest. I tap her lightly on the ass. “You okay?”
“This isn’t the most comfortable position I’ve ever been in,” she answers.
That’s not good. I lift her off my shoulder and lower her until she’s cradled in my arms. I haven’t been able to touch her for nearly a week and now that I have my arms around her, I don’t really want to let go. Her hair is up in her standard ponytail. The long rope of hair brushes against my arm as we walk.
“I have strong legs from dancing, so I can actually walk.”
Her words only make me clutch her harder.
“There are rocks on the ground,” I say, as if that’s a perfectly reasonable explanation for carrying her across the street in full daylight when she’s not injured in any way.
“I certainly don’t want you to worry about the rocks on the ground.”
Is that sarcasm? I can’t tell, but given that she’s not trying to wriggle out of my grip, I’m carrying her all the way to the condo. If she asks why, I’ll tell her it’s arm day and I gotta work my shoulder muscles.
“Zeke must’ve done you a really big favor,” she says.
“Huh?” That wasn’t the question I was prepared for. I mentally switch gears to the Audley twin.
“I mean, the favor must’ve been an important one because you keep coming over whenever he calls.”
“No. Why? What’s he been saying?” I scowl. Audley’s a decent guy, but if he’s been talking trash to Erika about me, I’m going to make his face look like it’s been through a meat grinder. No one will have a problem telling the twins apart after I’m done with Zeke.
“Nothing. He never talks to me. Neither of the twins really do, not that I mind that because I want to be left alone.”
“And you’re not into football players, right?” I was fucking giddy when I heard that. Not gonna lie. I worried about her being in close quarters with the Audleys. I don’t think those boys are attractive, but I know when they’ve shown up at my boxing match a time or two, panties were always on the floor.
At the door of the condo, I enter my pin code and wait for the lock to release.
“You heard that?”
I heard everything, I think, but know better than to admit it. “Olivia isn’t a quiet girl.”
The buzzer sounds and we walk through. I opt for the stairs instead of the elevator because that way it takes longer. Once we get into the condo, I won’t have much excuse to carry her around anymore.
“No. She isn’t, but I think it’s because she’s always felt very comfortable in her life. Having those twins always around her probably helps. No one’s gonna look at her funny unless they want one of those boys in their business.”
There’s another note of…longing…in Erika’s voice. I glance down to see a small, almost sad smile playing around the corners of her mouth. My girl might not be interested in football players, but there’s something about the connection between the Audley twins and Olivia that makes Erika envious.
If she hadn’t admitted that football players do nothing for her, I’d think she had the hots for the twins, but I believe her when she says she’s not interested. So the desire for what Olivia has comes from somewhere else.