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CHAPTER ONE

  

ROXY

I’m having a baby. In about seven months, I’m popping out Ezra Thomas’s child.

If he hadn’t been sticking his dick in half the girls on campus, I probably wouldn’t be freaking out right now.

He doesn’t know I’m pregnant yet.

But given how that asshole won’t return my calls, I’m likely doing this solo.

A basement party at some frat house isn’t the place to have a panic attack, but between the sweaty bodies and the loud music, I’m starting to freak out.

I push off the exposed wood beam and make my way to the back door.

“Roxy. Wait up.” Billy Babcock, resident bad boy and notorious flirt, sidles up to me. “Where ya going, biscuit? The festivities just got started.” He tosses his muscular arm over my shoulder and shoots me a sexy smile.

My heart kicks in my chest, which I ignore because a pregnant girl probably shouldn’t flirt with her best friend, who’s not her baby daddy.

“I’m going to head home.”

Billy turns me to face him. I finally give in and look into his beautiful eyes.

There’s no question about it—Billy is a drop-dead gorgeous man. Confident on the verge of arrogant. Cocky but sweet. He has dirty blond hair, piercing blue eyes fringed with thick lashes, muscles for days, and just the right amount of scruff on his rugged chin. And don’t get me started on those sexy tattoos all over his thick arms.

But I don’t mess around with players anymore, not after what happened with Ezra.

Billy leans close enough that I can appreciate his spicy cologne. “It’s too early to take off. We just won a National Championship,” he says with cheek, like I don’t know.

Kind of hard to miss when his coach is my father. “I’m not in the mood for a party.”

Billy’s a six-foot-two-inch defensive back. He’s broad. Strong. Fearless on the field. Has quick feet. Could leap over me if he wanted to and easily bench-press three times my body weight. All reasons my father should love him.

If only Billy’s mouth wasn’t his worst enemy. This boy is always saying shit he shouldn’t.

Coach isn’t a fan.

I brush pizza crumbs off his Broncos t-shirt. “I’m tired.”

Billy’s usual carefree expression goes serious in a heartbeat, and he lowers his voice. “You feeling okay?”

I stare down at my shoes. “No. I mean, physically, I’m fine, but inside I’m...” I don’t know how to explain the suffocation clawing at my throat right now.

“You’re freaking out.”

I nod, grateful he knows my secret. Not many people do.

He squeezes my shoulder. “Let’s get out of here. Get some fresh air.”

“Are you sure you want to leave the party?” At least three girls are eyeing him right now.

For some reason, the thought of him hooking up with some random woman makes me bristle.

He glances around and shrugs. “The football house is having a party tomorrow. And maybe another one the night after that.”

Laughing, I shake my head. “You heathen. Of course you are.”

He winks. “See, you’re already feeling better.”

After he grabs his jacket, we climb up the rickety stairs and step out onto the back porch. A brisk wind whips around us. January weather in the Texas Hill Country is so unpredictable. One day, it’ll be seventy and the next, twenty degrees.

I zip up my coat and shiver.

He wraps his arm around my shoulders again. “Cold?”

“Yeah, but it feels good after being inside.”

“Wanna get some hot chocolate?”

I check in with my stomach that’s finally settled. “With those little marshmallows?”

“Is there any other way?”

I playfully pinch his side. “Nope.”

We jump in his thirty-year-old tan Ford Bronco, a gift from his grandmother that runs surprisingly well, and head for the nearest convenience store since it’s too late to go to a coffee shop.

After we load up on hot chocolate with marshmallows and whipped cream, we stop off at the park where we settle on the swings.

It’s dark enough that stars peek through the clouds and so cold I can see my breath, but this is the most settled I’ve felt in months.

“Thank you, Billy. I feel better.”

We turn so our knees are touching. “If you had dated me instead of Ezra, we could be doing this all the time. Actually, there’s a lot more we could be doing.” He shoots me a flirty smirk.

I snort. “I’d hate to curtail your extra-curricular activities.” I love Billy, but his reputation is worse than Ezra’s. His nickname is Billy Bigcock. Can’t get much more obvious than that.

He almost looks offended. “There are no extra-curricular activities. We can put that blame squarely on No-Nut November. It threw me off my game.”

I sigh dreamily and bat my eyes. “Gee, Billy, that’s what every girl wants to hear. That you and your roommates didn’t nut because you were afraid of losing a football game. Won’t that make you lose your vision or hearing or something?”

“What? I can’t hear you.”

We both crack up.

Then he motions to his lap. “To be clear, I’ve jerked off since November. I just haven’t hook—”

I throw my hand over his mouth. “Stop while you’re ahead.”

The second I remove my palm, he lifts an eyebrow. “What about head?”

I roll my eyes, but I’m laughing.

Until I remember what I need to do this weekend. “If I don’t hear from him by Saturday morning, I’m driving down to San Antonio. I need to have this conversation before school starts next week.”

“The whole team will thank you for not busting Ezra’s ass before the championship game.”

“I wanted you guys and my dad to dominate, and you needed Ezra to focus on winning. But it’s been tough to watch the media fall all over themselves to praise that spineless weasel.”

His voice goes soft. “I tried to warn you.”

“I know, and I regret not listening.” At the time, I wondered if Billy was letting his personal beef with Ezra taint how he viewed him.

But no, he was right. Ezra really is a dick.

I fiddle with the lid on my hot chocolate. “How flipped out do you think my dad will be?”

“Are you asking me if The Saint will shit a two-story brick house when he finds out you’re pregnant?” The Saint was my dad’s nickname in the NFL. “It’s a distinct possibility.”

“He’ll never believe this, but I really try not to disappoint him.” After partying too much last year, I buckled down in the fall and got better grades. But it won’t matter once Coach hears I got knocked up.

“Aww, biscuit. I’m sorry. But welcome to the club. I’m a disappointment to my father too. You’ll get over it.”

Billy might act like he doesn’t care, but doesn’t everyone want their parents’ approval to some degree?

“Does your dad really doubt your chances of getting drafted?”

Billy’s so dynamic on the field, the kind of guy who puts his whole heart and soul into the game. If he could do that with a relationship, he’d be as swoony as those rakish dukes I love reading about in my historical romances.

He shrugs. “I don’t think he cares now that I’m not quarterback.”

That’s the big rub between Ezra and Billy. Ezra gloats about being QB1, especially since Billy got switched to defense.

When I started dating Ezra last fall, I didn’t know he was such a douchebag. He puts on a good show for his coaches. Unfortunately, my dad loves him.

“Tell me everything will be okay.”

Billy takes my hand in his rough palm. “Rox, you’re a tough little firecracker. You can do this. I promise everything will work out.” Pausing, he tilts his head. “And if Ezra doesn’t take the news well, I’d be happy to clear up his confusion.”

My eyes sting, and I squeeze his hand. “I don’t want you to get in trouble.”

“Trouble’s my middle name,” he says with a crooked grin.

Flutters erupt in my belly from the look he gives me, but I ruthlessly stamp them out. Jumping from one player to another would be the height of foolishness, but I appreciate Billy’s friendship, more than he knows. “He’ll probably declare for the draft this spring, and then he’ll be out of our hair. But he should know the truth before he goes.”

“Do you want some company? I can drive you down to San Antonio.”

Do I want Billy to take me to confront Ezra? That sounds like a terrible idea.

“It’s something I need to do on my own.”

He nods, then gets up to stand behind me. “Wanna push?”

 

Nodding, I place my now empty cup on the ground and zip my jacket a little higher. Billy gives me a gentle shove, and my swing starts to move. “That pencil dick wouldn’t know a good thing if it bit him in the ass. This is his fucking loss.”

“Thanks for the vote of confidence.”

“You know I got your back.” The vehemence in his voice calms my ruffled feathers.

Cold air rushes past me as I rise higher and higher. Closing my eyes, I hang on to the metal links and kick up my feet and let my head fall back.

That brief moment of weightlessness when the swing reaches the peak feels so good.

I can almost forget that my whole life is about to change.

Because next fall, instead of making captain of my Division 1 cheer squad, I’ll be nursing an infant.

Get Heartbreaker Handoff to find out what happens with Roxy and Billy!

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