Playing With Fire

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Every Word


“Again.” I blow on the whistle and my brother takes one pathetic step before dropping his hands to his knees again.
“I think I’m gonna be sick.”
I blow the whistle again. “Too fucking bad. Do it on your own time. You’re on my time.”
Dale’s face takes on a green tinge but to my surprise, he starts up the bleachers to Arbury Academy’s soccer field, weaves through the seats, and comes back down the steps on the other side.
Fucking teenagers.
Dale’s lived in my home all of three weeks. Three fucking weeks and that was all it took for him to revert back to his dumb-as-shit ways. The first day of summer school, I thought I’d gotten through to him at least a little. He’d taken the move in stride, decorating his room and even preparing for summer school by going to get his own supplies. But I shouldn’t have given him too much leg to stand on.
By the third week, I’d received an email from one of Dale’s teachers letting me know he’d been absent for the third time in a row and since I hadn’t gotten messages from any of the others, I decided to do a driveby around the time that class was supposed to start and caught him smoking weed with one of the stoner kids by the stadium.
That’s the thing about these damn private schools no one talks about-- kids with money are walking pharmacies and that’s the shit I’ve been trying to get him away from in the first place.
I, more than anyone, don’t have the time to babysit a brat that acts more spoiled than a teen movie star with a drug problem. My season starts soon and I need a clear head if I’m going to help my team get a trophy this year.
So here we are.
“Come on, bro. How long? It’s Saturday!” My brother’s pussy whine only intensifies my anger. I’m sex-starved, pining after a girl I fucked once, and irrate as hell. It’s either this or I use my fists because I’ve had it with his insolence at this point.
“‘Till you drop motherfucker. You think you’re one of these kids out here who got daddies to bail them out of jail? This ain’t Cali, bro. This is the south and you’ll get locked up for bringing illegal substances to a schoolyard,” I shout at him from my place on the grass field. “And I’m telling you right now, if you go to jail, I’m leaving you there.”
Dale groans as he trudges up the short bleacher’s stand. Damn this kid is out of shape. I’ll need to bring him to the gym sometime if he ends up playing baseball again.
Two more sprints up the bleachers, a mile around the field, and my brother stays true to his word. I watch Dale with no sympathy as he vomits into one of the nearby garbage cans.
Fucking pussy.
His chest is still heaving by the time he makes it over to me and I cross my arms over my chest. “You miss even one more class, and the deal’s off. No car, no apartment, no money. I’ll even tell mom to let your ass rot in juvie. That what you want?”
He shakes his head.
As hard as I am on my brother, he’s not a bad kid. He’s not built for the bad crowd and even if he doesn’t know that, I do. I have half a mind to introduce him to people who’ve been through some real shit in their lives. Despite us growing up without a dad, Dale never had to struggle the way mom and I did after he left us. I got drafted to the NFL when I was twenty years old. After that, my family wanted for nothing and my brother has taken full advantage of that privilege since.
Not anymore.
“Keep testing me and you’ll be on the first plane back to Chicago, you hear me?” My brother’s posture straightens and his eyes glaze over as he stares at something behind me.
I snap in his face and turn over my shoulder. “Hey, I’m talking to--”
My words die on my lips as I see what my brother is looking at. At first glance the woman in tiny running shorts and a tank top looks like any other student, maybe a cheerleader or a softball player, but when she turns, jogging down the edge of the field, I note the wild blonde ponytail, bouncing behind her and my dick aches. I’d know that blonde hair anywhere.
I’d wrapped my hands in it and pulled for two of the most memorable hours of my life.
The cord of her earbuds shifts between her bouncing tits as she runs and it’s my brother’s voice that snaps me out of my trance.
“Hey, Miss DeLower!”
I whip back around to face him. Miss DeLower? “How do you know Holli?”
My brother frowns. “Miss DeLower’s my English teacher. How do you know her?”
The hell? Holli never told me she was a teacher. She’d just said she was in grad school.
I glance back at her just as she pulls her earbuds out and starts toward me and Dale with her arms crossed. My brother doesn’t even pretend to hide the fact that he’s staring. Amateur.
Holli purses her lips. “Mr. Sutton. Can’t say I put it together when I got the attendance list, but now that you’re standing next to each other, I’m surprised I didn’t.”
Her stunning hazel eyes do a quick scan up my body and there’s no mistaking the heat in them. But she looks anywhere but directly at me. “You don’t look old enough to have a junior in high school.”
“I don’t. Dale is my brother.” Who I suddenly wish wasn’t here, watching this interaction. “I didn’t know you were a teacher.”
Her teeth worry her bottom lip and it’s distracting. “It’s my first year.”
My brother looks between us as if he’s trying to put the pieces of a puzzle together without the picture of what it’s supposed to look like on the box. “How do you know my brother?”
Her cheeks flush pink as the heaven between her legs and I can see the replay of that entire night flash in those brown and green swirled depths.
“Her brother’s my teammate,” I offer when she doesn’t say anything.
Holli clears her throat. “Yes,” she confirms turning back to my brother. “He helped me move in last month.”
My brother isn’t an idiot and Holli’s not a very good liar. But at least the asshole has enough respect not to call her on it and I’d deny it if he asked me outright.
As if sensing the awkward tension in the air, my brother raises a brow at me but I give him nothing. “I’m gonna go get a Gatorade,” he says, narrowing his eyes at me. “See ya, Miss D.”
I watch him jog off toward the vending machines by the concession stand and Holli exhales. “Great. As if my last name didn’t make me enough of a side show in this place, I’ll have a TMZ headline tomorrow. DeLower Sister Deflowered by NFL star’s teammate.”
I frown, her distress sobering me. “Why do you say that?”
For the first time since approaching me, Holli’s gaze flickers to mine. “Hmm...Your little brother’s shit eating grin at the fact that I’m blushing like a virgin in heat?”
I smile. “Oh come on. You’re not going to be a headline. A trending hashtag maybe, but my publicist would thank you. He says my fans think I’m boring.”
Holli glowers at me. “This isn’t funny.”
“Dale won’t say anything. He’s misguided and makes shit decisions, but one thing he doesn’t do is disrespect women.” At least not after I’m through putting the fear of the lord in his ass.
She shoots me a strange look and tilts her head. “Seriously?”
“Seriously, what?”
“Dale is my best student. I mean, it’s only the third week, but he turns in all his work, participates in class, adds thoughtful discussion. It’s hard to believe he’s troubled.”
If only she knew the half. But her admission surprises me. I can’t remember a teacher ever saying a non-disparaging word against that terror, let alone a praising one. But the last thing I want to talk about with Holli, is my little brother.
As if reading my mind Holli changes direction like an amtrak. “Did you mean what you said?” she asks, looking around to make sure no one can hear her. “You know, about you not caring what my brother thinks?”
I study her for a moment. I’ve never had an issue figuring women out. All of them are different, at their core though? They all value the same things.
But Holli?
She’s unlike any woman I’ve met. She’s not overly confident nor loquacious. Her words aren’t empty platitudes meant to fill the void of silence and she says more with her expressions than her lips. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to know she’s skittish and untrusting and since she keeps a tighter lid on her past than her own brother, I know next to nothing about her except that she comes like it’s the only thing she’s good at and has a fiery attitude on the days she’s not hiding in plain sight.
I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t considered having a background check run on her, but I know I’d only feel like an asshole if I did. And somehow, I don’t think Holli would be too forgiving of that.
But I want her. Really fucking want her.
One time wasn’t enough for me. I want to taste her soft skin and devour her whole. I want the ballsy girl who dragged me up to her hotel room, then turned shy on me the second she had her clothes off.
And damn it. I did fucking mean what I said.
“Every damn word.”

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