Matchmaker (Empire High #4) - Ivy Smoak Page 0,1

and juice boxes. It wasn’t standard practice for our games at Empire High. But I didn’t blame Jefferson or his mom for not knowing that. I was pretty sure they were more used to attending chess club than sporting events. And honestly, what could some snacks hurt? Surely the other players would like that. Maybe it would help. Although the combination of being a scholarship student at this prestigious school and being the only freshman on the team was an uphill battle. In a few weeks the students would have to accept him though. All it was going to take was him kicking a last second field goal to make everyone rally around him. I just needed to figure out a way to make him stop hitting cars. “Sure, that sounds great.”

“What’s your favorite snack?” he asked.


“I think my mom kind of wanted to thank you for letting me join the team. It was her idea for me to try out, but I never thought I’d make it.” His glasses slid down his nose when he spoke and he quickly shoved them back up.

“I see a lot of potential in you. That’s why you’re on the team.” I slapped him on the back.

He smiled even though he lost his footing a bit.

“I’m sure the whole team will love whatever you bring. And I’ll eat anything.” With how much I worked out, any extra calories wouldn’t be an issue. Another result of having too much time on my hands. Work. Coach. Exercise. Rinse and repeat.

“Okay. Thanks, Coach Caldwell. See you tomorrow!” He hurried off, nearly tripping over his own feet as he went.

I shook my head and grabbed the footballs that were left on the field. I shoved them into the equipment bag as I wondered about what else I could do to help Jefferson fit in. More encouragement might just make the other players resent him. Some kind of party, maybe? I shook my head. That was probably overstepping a bit. Hopefully Jefferson’s mom would bring something to the game that would make everyone suddenly love him. My mom won people over with her cooking all the time. My stomach growled just thinking about a home cooked meal. Takeout every night was getting a little old.

My phone buzzed in my pocket as I finished zipping the equipment bag. It was a text from Penny:

“Are you still coming over?”

I smiled to myself and texted her back. “Is this you begging?”

My phone buzzed almost immediately. “Ha. Ha. Very funny, Matt. I’m checking in because you keep canceling on me at the last minute. I don’t want to sit here like an idiot all alone on the couch again. I don’t like being stood up.”

I pictured Penny sitting on the couch, looking not at all like an idiot. She couldn’t look bad if she tried. She was beautiful. Intoxicating. She was a breath of fresh air in this city. And just texting her stirred something inside of me. Her unruly red hair was just begging to be wrapped around my fist. Her plump lips begging to be kissed. The last few times we’d hung out, she’d worn these little shorts that showed off just a glimpse of the bottom of her perfect ass. I didn’t want her to be alone on a couch. I wanted to be on top of her on that couch.

And I was pretty sure I was going to hell. Because Penny wasn’t mine to be thinking of. She was James’ wife. I shouldn’t have been thinking about fucking anyone’s wife, let alone one of my best friends’. Something was seriously wrong with me.

I ran my fingers through my hair and sighed. “Maybe we should do it a different night,” I texted back.

“Please, Matt. James is working late tonight so he won’t be home for a few hours. It gives us plenty of time.”

I was pretty sure she didn’t even realize how suggestive that sounded. Or…had she made it sound suggestive on purpose? For just a second I let myself think that she desperately wanted me too. Stop.

Penny was fun. And kind. And sweet. And yes, beautiful. But I knew I wasn’t actually in love with her or anything crazy like that. My friends teased me about it. But they were all joking. Because they knew the truth. My heart was too cold for love.

I looked up at the stands. Sometimes during the games, I’d look up there. And if I squinted and let the cheering faces blur together, it