With Every Heartbeat
Page 18

 Linda Kage

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Actually, we worked well together on the field and off, since we all three worked at the same nightclub as bartenders. Noel had actually been the one to get me the job there, for which I’d be eternally grateful. I’d been living in the dorms my freshmen year, but I hated dorm life. I was so not the communal resident type. So many people, crammed into one building, parties all night long, no privacy—it’d been hard for me to handle.
But with the money I made at my new job, I’d been able to rent an apartment off campus as soon as the semester had ended. This summer had been nice, having my own space to myself. It didn’t even matter that Ten had invited himself over and moved in with me a few months ago when he’d given up his apartment with Noel, after Noel had moved himself and his siblings in with Aspen at her place. Ten was loud, obnoxious, and annoying, but he wasn’t a bad roommate. He respected my privacy, didn’t mess the place any more than I did, and he didn’t treat me like a freak. He was actually a pretty great friend, and had a way of making me feel like a normal person whenever I was around him.
Happy that I’d been able to form such a good relationship with both Noel and Ten, I glanced toward both of them working on the opposite side of a little red car as me. I had more than just friendship and a place to live to thank them for. If it hadn’t been for Noel getting me my job, I probably never would’ve met Cora. And I’d no doubt still be a hopelessly shy virgin to this day.
“Shit,” Ten muttered, glancing across the car lot. “The chicks are getting more business than us.”
I looked up and yep, the line on their side was growing. “We need to step it up, boys,” Ten called as he made a show of slowly peeling his shirt off over his head and tossing it aside before shaking out his damp hair.
One car full of women waiting in line with their windows rolled down hooted in approval. Noel followed suit and lost his shirt, but Ten took it to extremes by not so accidentally getting soap suds on his chest and blatantly staring at the women as he wiped them clean. “Oops. I’m such a mess. Oh, damn. There I go again.”
Then he made sure to flatten his entire front against their window as he reached across the roof of their car to wipe it down. They got right back in line to get their car re-cleaned as soon as we were finished with them.
“Come on, Ham,” Ten called to me. “Lose some clothes. Help us out here, man.”
I just smiled and shook my head no. So Ten felt compelled to give me a “wetter look,” as he called it, right before he sprayed me with water.
The cold water actually felt good in this heat, but I scowled and told him he was dead. Cheers of approval rang out as I charged after him so I could wrestle the hose away and spray him back. The girls waiting for their cars to be washed urged us on. In moments, the line on our side of the lot had doubled.
Soaking wet, we eventually returned to business. When we were at our busiest, Noel’s cell phone rang. He checked the screen and moved off, saying it was from home.
As he stepped to the side to answer it, Ten called for more help at our car. So another player on the team, K.C. Jennings, stepped over.
“So either of you know who the new chick is over there?” He picked up a sponge and started scrubbing. “That blonde? The sweet tall drink of water?”
Ten gave a low whistle. “You better not be talking about Gamble’s little sister or he’ll skin you bald, man. And I’m not talking about the hair on your head.”
K.C. shuttered and pointed. “No shit. That’s Noel’s little sister? Damn, she’s hot.”
Ten glanced over as well before his eyebrows shot up. He sent me a mischievous grin before patting K.C. on the shoulder. “Actually, no, not that one, but apparently you need Ham’s approval before even looking at her.”
My gut tightened when I realized they were referring to Zoey. I refused to respond, or look, or even acknowledge that I heard them, but K.C. whirled toward me, lifting his eyebrows up into his hairline. “No shit. You already traded Cora in for a newer model? Sweet, man.”
As Ten burst out laughing, I scowled and straightened. “What! No. I didn’t. That’s Cora’s new roommate.”
“Cora’s new roommate whom you warned me to stay away from,” Ten was a little too gleeful to add.
I sent him a murderous scowl. “Only because she’s not like that.”
A grin spread over K.C.’s face. “Well, hell. I can make her ‘like that’ if you need her broken in.”
I just stared at him with the sudden urge to break in his face. How dare he speak about Zoey that way? How dare he even look at her? She’d done nothing to garner that kind of talk. She hadn’t even dressed provocatively. All she was doing was innocently cleaning cars, and the horny guys were panting after her like freaking dogs in heat. Couldn’t they look at all the other girls over there, with their boobs hanging out and butt cheeks on display? Those ladies actually wanted guys ogling them. Not Zoey.