The End Zone

Page 2

They hugged long, and tight, and desperately, his skin soaking into hers like a kiss.

The girl thought to herself, this is how beautiful love stories begin. She pressed her ear against his thrumming pulse. His body was warm, but his muscles were rigid like ice.

The girl closed her eyes and the storm disappeared. Not because it had stopped, but because beside him, she felt fearless.

And on the eighth night, the girl gave the boy more than friendship and a hug, without even meaning to—and definitely without agreeing to.

On the eighth night, the girl gave the boy her heart.

He took it silently, never offering his back.

“Yo, JoJo. Your ass is on wingman duty tonight.” A steaming Starbucks mug slides across the shiny chrome desk he bought for me last Christmas. I lift my head, skeptically examining him through my hazel eyes.

Sage Poirier. My best friend. Louisiana’s finest college quarterback. The man who put the ‘ho’ in manwhore. My forever crush. The list goes on, but I’m sure you get the point. I rearrange the golden neckline of my sensible powder blue blouse, tossing my strawberry blonde tresses (heavy on the strawberry) across my shoulder.

“I have an English lit exam tomorrow.” I yawn, my hand already hovering over the keyboard of my MacBook. The bribe—pumpkin spice latte with marshmallows, not technically on the menu, but the barista would throw in her own kidney to get Sage to smile at her—is appreciated, albeit pointless. With the amount of homework I have, I’m not going to budge from my seat tonight. Sage grabs the chair opposite to me and plops backwards on a heavy sigh, his arms bracing its back. He is wearing his black New Orleans Saints cap backwards, his Wayfarers hanging under the brim of his hat from behind. It’s the indisputable, international I’m-a-douchebag badge, and it occurs to me, for the hundredth time since we moved in together freshman year of college, that if I hadn’t known him since age ten, I would probably find him as sexually attractive as a gassy rat.

“You’re no fun.” He leans forward and flicks his thumb and finger on the tip of my nose. His mischievous, dimpled smile widens when I swat his hand away.

“I have grades to keep,” I retort.

“So do I.”

I snort a laugh on an eye roll. “You’re one of the most sought-after quarterbacks in Louisiana. Going pro next year. At this point, you can flake your way to being a brain surgeon if you’d like. Every professor in this college would kiss the earth you walk upon if they didn’t fear you’d file a restraining order against them.”

Sadly, it isn’t even an exaggeration. Don’t get me wrong—I’m thrilled for my best friend. He deserves everything he’s achieved, which is a lot. At twenty-one, he has his own shiny, burgundy truck, a brand new apartment he rents all by himself (I pay the bills in exchange for my room), and three NFL teams courting him like he is a damsel in a Disney movie. Despite all his success, he’s never once been uppity or conceited to me about it. Instead, he gives me access to his new place, new truck, and new life. He is still the good Southern mama’s boy who takes off his hat whenever he visits the small farm we lived on. The only downside to being Sage’s best friend is, well…

“Question is—do you want to kiss the ground I walk on, or better yet, me?” His elbows are on the desk now, his head cocked to the side attentively. “Because, Jolie, baby, you’re the only person I’m looking to impress. Ideally between the sheets.” He winks.

Insert an emoji of moi gagging uncontrollably at his tackiness.

This is not the first time Sage has made a move on me, and I bet it won’t be the last time I shut him down.

A month ago, Sage and I accidentally bumped into each other in the hallway while I was butt naked after a shower (forgot the towel in my room). He was on his way to pee, sporting impressive morning wood through his gray boxers. I was looking down, head hanging in shame as I hurried to my room. He was looking down, rearranging his junk. That’s how we ended up colliding, limbs tangling together, with me tumbling down and him reaching for my ass to make sure I didn’t fall. What a gentleman, right?

From that point forward, Sage has been adamant that we need to hook up. Emphasis on the word ‘need’ and not ‘should’.

And, Lord, forgive me. If he were any other guy, I’d be all over him like a rash after a torrid Vegas vacation. The man looks like the love child of Matthew Noszka and James Dean. The fact that he is six feet four inches of tight abs and only five percent body fat does not—I repeat, does not—make it easier for me to constantly reject him. But you know what makes it really easy for me to say no? The notion that Sage, whom I grew up with and know better than anyone else, is going to break my heart into a trillion pieces, smash it to dust, then skip over all the leftovers on his way to the next pink sheet-covered bed.

Because. My. Best. Friend. Is. A. Whore!

I love him, but he is a manwhore who can’t keep his dick in his pants for longer than twenty-four hours. I’m pretty sure this fact could be backed up scientifically, if someone put effort into researching the subject. Anyway, I’m too attached to Sage—and to my heart—to mess with either of them so recklessly.

“It’s a no from me,” I say in an exaggerated English accent, folding my arms and feigning boredom, doing my best Simon Cowell impression. We’ve been bingeing on the British version of X Factor lately and Sage makes me do an impression of the British judge every commercial break. If I refuse, he tackles me to the floor and tickles the shit out of me. I thrash and try to worm my way out from between his steel arms, only to be pinned tightly onto the floor, his hard body over mine. He is so aggressive and dedicated, ninety percent of the time I cave simply because I’m too scared I’ll accidentally come or fart (hey, just keeping it real).

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