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Most of the guys in my town had me marked as off limits. My dating history was slim to none, until Dylan. He didn’t let labels deter him from sweeping me off my feet.
The day Avery Stanton took a chance on me is that day my life changed. Nothing else mattered but her. All I ever wanted was for her to be happy. I just wanted to love her, no matter how much distance was between us.
Dylan Knight wrecked me. He made me fall in love with him and then took it all away. Now I’m back, and I can’t deal. How do I pretend that he no longer owns my heart when all my heart does is scream his name?
Avery’s back and I know I have a fight on my hands. I remember every minute, every touch, every kiss, and every breath of our time together. Now I need to remind her.
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Five years ago
“I’m heading out. I told Harley I would pick her up before the game,” I yell out to my parents as I fly down the stairs.
“Hold up, Av. You got money?” Dad asks, standing and walking toward me where I now stand at the bottom of the stairs.
My father always wants to make sure I have money. Not because I’m a spoiled brat, but because he says he never wants me to be stranded. Mom confessed that it’s secretly because he wants to make sure that, if I decide to participate in sexual activities and the guy’s not prepared, I have the cash to cover the condoms. My then-boyfriend, Scott, who was two years older than me, and I were really close, and they feared that we might take the next step. I considered it, but I just wasn’t ready. Scott was understanding and never pressured me. Turns out he was getting serviced from one of his sister’s friends while they were home from college on summer break.
“Yep. I got my check in the mail today for tutoring and cashed it on the way home from school.”
“You girls be safe. Curfew is midnight,” he reminds me.
“You know it.” I stand on my tiptoes and kiss his cheek. “Bye, Mom!” I yell out over his shoulder.
“Bye, sweetie. Have a good time. Drive safe,” she says as I’m rushing out the door.
I climb into my Kia Sportage and head toward Harley’s house. She and I have been best friends since she moved to town when we were in the sixth grade. We bonded over our love of school supplies. Seriously, I was obsessed and so was she. Most girls got excited about the new clothes, but not this girl; give me the pens and cool pads of paper. I’m still a sucker for school supplies, which makes it a given that my major next year at college is going to be education. I tutor three days a week after school and I love it.
When I pull into Harley’s driveway, she’s standing on the front porch waiting. We’re both excited about tonight. Tomorrow night is the first football game of the season for our school, Montgomery High. It’s a Saturday game, since the hosting school is doing a big ground-breaking ceremony at their new field tonight.
“Hey!” she says, opening the back door. She tosses her overnight bag into the back seat. “I’m so excited for this. Usually it’s just a pep rally at school. Your brother is cool as hell.”
My brother, Alan, is the high school football coach. He’s ten years older than me. Mom and Dad were high school sweethearts and got pregnant soon after graduation. Mom had some complications and was told it was unlikely she would be able to carry another baby. They tried for years before finally giving up, accepting that they were destined to be a family of three. A few years later, I came along.
“Right? I didn’t even have to suggest it. It’s like he’s actually cool or something.” I laugh.
“That’s because he is and you know it.” Harley laughs along with me.
“Shh, don’t let him hear you say that. His ego is big enough already.” It’s the truth. My brother is the high school science teacher, the football coach, and a good-looking guy: tall, dark hair, and muscular. He played football in high school and college, and always wanted to come back home and coach. Lucky for him his high school coach retired two years ago and Alan was offered the position. My parents were thrilled because he was moving back home. Now if Mom could just get him to settle down so she can have a few grandkids.
“On behalf of the entire female population of Montgomery High, let me just go on record stating that science is a hell of a lot more fun when you get to stare at his fine ass.”
I can’t help myself as I laugh. It’s true, all the girls in our school—and even a few of the teachers, from what I’ve heard—drool over my brother. “So, are you going to talk to Brad tonight?”
“Who knows. One minute he acts like he’s interested, and the next he’s cold as ice. I don’t understand him.”
“He’s got a lot going on. This is our senior year, and you know he has scholarships riding on this season. Cut him a little slack.”
“I know, I just hate the way it makes me feel. Like he can just toss me aside and only come around when it’s convenient for him.”
“It’s a lot of pressure. I remember when Alan was going through this, he was moody as hell.”
“You were eight.”
“I know that, but I also remember him being moody and mean his last year at home.”
“I know you’re right.” She tilts her head back against the seat. “If I could just get a commitment out of him, something more permanent you know? It would ease my anxiety.”