Thief (Love Me With Lies #3)(7)

He called a time out and put the team in a huddle.

I took the stairs two at a time. The closer I got, the paler she got, and she was already pretty pale. When I crouched down next to her, her eyes were wide and she looked ready to bolt.

“Olivia,” I said. “Olivia Kaspen.”

She looked momentarily shocked. She composed herself quickly. Her eyes danced around my face before she leaned toward me and said, “Bravo, you found out my name.” Then in a lower voice, “What the hell are you doing?”

“You’re quite the mystery on campus,” I said, tracing the outline of her lips with my eyes. I’d never seen such sensual lips in all my life. How had it taken me this long to find those lips?

“Are you going to be making a point any time soon, or are you holding up the game to brag about your detective skills?”

Oh my god. How could I not laugh at that? I wanted to tell her right then and there that she was going to marry me, but I was pretty sure she’d slap me if I did. I decided to turn on the charm. It would have worked with any other girl. But, damn if she shot me down.

“If I make this shot, will you go out with me?”

She all but rolled her eyes. The look on her pretty little face was of absolute disgust. Then she stole my line and called me a peacock.

“It took you all week to think up that one, didn’t it?” I said, smirking. I was fairly certain at that point she was playing hard to get.

“Sure,” she said, shrugging.

“So then, it’s fair to say that you were thinking about me all week?”

When I was a kid I watched a helluva lot of Looney Tunes. Smoke was always coming out of the character’s noses when they were angry. Usually, it lifted them right off the ground. The expression on Olivia’s face was that of smoke coming out of her nose.

“No … and … no, I will not go out with you.” She wasn’t looking at me anymore. I wanted to grab her chin and steer her face back to mine.

“Why not?” My first inclination was to say: Why the hell not?

“Because I am a llama and you are a bird and WE are not compatible.”

“Okay,” I breathed. “Then what will it take?” I was completely out of my element. Begging a girl to go on a date with me. This was f*cked up.

“Miss it.”

I stared into her cold, blue eyes and knew I’d just met the kind of girl books are written about. There was no one like her.

“Miss it,” she said again, “and I’ll go out with you.”

I didn’t say another word. I was in shock. I jogged back to the court, my mind so stuffed with opposing thoughts I figured I’d die of a brain explosion before I got to make the shot. I wasn’t going to do it. It was crazy. She was crazy. Fuck. That. Shit.

But, when I stood at the free throw line, ball in hand, I had a couple seconds of deep thought. I was angry. I should have done what came naturally, which was to win the game, but I kept seeing her face. The way she looked down her nose at me and said, “Miss it.” There had been something in her eyes that I couldn’t shake. She asked me to do the impossible. She set the bar high and she expected me to fail.

I raised the ball, my palms curved around it like it was an extension of my body. How many hours did I spend playing basketball each week? Twenty … thirty? It was nothing for me to make this basket — I could do it with my eyes closed. But, something about the look on her face tied an invisible string around my wrist, making me clutch the ball harder than I normally would. I could see the sad victory on her face, like she had resigned herself to all men being disappointments. She was wrong if she thought that she could predict what I was going to do. If I wanted her…

I wanted her.

I missed the shot.

I was in way over my head.

I missed a shot. People looked at me like I’d gunned down a gym full of people instead of shooting an air ball. My mother was always teasing me, telling me that I didn’t take anything seriously. It was a joke in my family — my lack of dedication to anything. I was good at most everything I did, but I didn’t love any of it. Not basketball or finance, or boating, or the money that came so easily to my family. It all made me feel empty. My friends — the ones I’d grown up with — spent their time and money getting box seats or floor seats at baseball games and football games and basketball games. I’d go to the goddamn games and enjoy them, but at the end of the day, there wasn’t a damn thing that filled me. I started reading books about philosophy. I even took a couple classes my sophomore year. I liked it. Philosophy gave me something to believe in. But, Olivia Kaspen stepped into my life, and for the first time, I was dedicated to something. Her philosophy. Her emotional makeup. I was taking her seriously. All five feet, two inches of her. She was mouthy and condescending and she never smiled, but I liked her. I wanted to give her something. So I missed the shot.

“Is it true?”

I looked up from my plate of pancakes. Desiree, one of the cheerleaders, slid into the seat opposite me. She was wearing her makeup from the night before and my buddy, Kiel’s jersey. Why did girls want to wear a guy’s jersey? Eerised

“Is what true?”

“You missed the shot for a girl?”

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