The Deal (Off Campus #1)(135)

By: Elle Kennedy

Shivers fly up my spine. Oh no. Now I’m turned on.

As my heart pounds and my body tingles, I let out an annoyed groan and grab his hand. “Fine. Let’s go upstairs.”

“Nope. I changed my mind about that. We’re going to stay down here and enjoy the party.”

I drop his hand like a hot potato and scowl deeply. “You’re such a vagina-tease.”

Garrett laughs. “Yeah, but you still love me.”

Tiny butterflies of happiness take flight in my stomach and dance around my heart. I take his hand again and lace our fingers together. “Yeah,” I murmur with a smile. “I still love you.”



MY FATHER WAITS outside the arena when the team bursts out the back doors. Dean had somehow gotten his hands on an old-school boom box, and he has it propped up on his shoulder as Queen’s “We Are the Champions” blasts out of the speakers. There’s nobody around to hear the victory song but us, and the family and friends who made it out to Philly to watch us play. Applause breaks out as we stroll up like the champions we are, and several of my bonehead teammates take exaggerated bows before heading over to say hello to the people who came out to see us.

I fucking did it. I mean, it was a team effort—no, a team domination, because for the first time in years, the Frozen Four championship game was a shutout. Simms didn’t let our opponents score. Not even once. And it seems fitting that the three lamplighters on our side came from me, Tuck, and Birdie, respectively.

I’m proud of my team. I’m proud of myself for leading us here. It’s the perfect end to the perfect season, and it gets a little more perfect when Hannah rushes over and hurls herself into my arms.

“Oh my God! That was the best game ever!” she declares before kissing me so hard my lips feel bruised.

I grin at her enthusiasm. “Did you like the little gun-finger I flashed you after that goal? All for you, baby.”

She grins back. “Sorry to burst your bubble, but you were actually pointing at the old guy a few seats over. He totally freaked out and started shouting to everyone that you scored that goal for him, and then I heard him ask his wife if maybe you knew that he was just diagnosed with diabetes, so I didn’t have the heart to tell him who the goal was really for.”

I break down in laughter. “Why is nothing ever simple with us?”

“Hey,” she protests. “We’re more interesting this way.”

I can’t argue with that.

From the corner of my eye, I see my father lurking near the bus, but I don’t make eye contact with him. In fact, I notice that nobody is looking at him. Not me, not Hannah, not any of my teammates. A few months ago, I told the guys the truth about my dad, because the conversation I had with Hannah about life not being fair and my father still being revered had stuck with me. So after the New Year, when one of our sophomore D-men asked me if I could get him a Phil Graham autograph, I could no longer hold it in. I sat the boys down—even Coach was there—and told them everything.

Needless to say, it was damn uncomfortable and pretty fucking intense, but when all was said and done, my teammates proved to me that I’m not just their captain, but their brother. And now, as we all head for the bus, not a single pair of eyes travels in my superstar father’s direction.

“I’ll see you back at campus?” I say to Hannah.

She nods. “Yep. Uncle Mark is driving me back now, so I should be there around the same time you guys get in.”

“Call me when you’re home. Love you, babe.”

“Love you, too.”

I plant one last kiss on her lips, then climb onto the bus and settle in my usual seat next to Logan. As the door shuts and the driver pulls away, I don’t glance out the window to look at the tall, surly man who’s still standing in the parking lot.

I don’t look back these days.

I only look forward.