Romancing the River (Survive the Romance #8) - Cami Checketts


Kinsley Grady stood in the student section of the Cedar Hills High stadium, screaming herself hoarse with the rest of the crowd. Their team had just won the first round of playoffs and were headed to the quarter finals. Her brother Britton was the quarterback. She was proud of him, but she couldn’t take her eyes off the wide receiver.

Axel Dexter.

Axel was all things good and beautiful. Handsome, charming, funny, kind, athletic, smart—her list could go on and on. He was also two years older than her and her brother’s close friend, so she doubted he realized she was even of the feminine variety.

The entire team rushed the field as the final seconds ticked off, backslapping and jumping around happily. Axel took his helmet off and turned. Kinsley could’ve sworn he stared right at her. Those blue eyes took command of her world and she prayed he’d never look away.

“Axel Dexter is looking at you,” her friend Ellie said in disbelief.

“What? No.” But she couldn’t look away. Axel’s irresistible lips curled in a slow smile that made her stomach leap and her knees knock together.

Ellie grabbed her hand and squealed, “He is!”

Another player grabbed Axel. The tension in Kinsley’s stomach lessened when his concentration left her. She looked at her petite redheaded friend. “Do you really think so?”

“I saw it. Don’t doubt my intuition where hot men are concerned. You have to wait for him after the game.” Ellie gave a dramatic sigh. “Some girls have it all—gorgeous brown hair and naturally tan skin—not to mention your perfect, drop-dead gorgeous senior brother. Of course his hot friends actually notice you. If only Britton wasn’t in love with Kelley. Maybe then he’d see me as something other than his honorary little sister.”

Kinsley laughed and squeezed her hand. “So you’re saying there are some benefits to being teased nonstop by my big bro?”

“Benefits? Axel Dexter? He’s everybody’s dream man.” Ellie shook her head. “He’s so hot and nice and charming. The only thing wrong with him is he’s poor.”

Kinsley’s eyebrows shot up. Axel only had his mom trying to provide for him, but Kinsley knew from Brit—and her friendship with Axel’s mom—that they both worked hard. Axel was always clean and presentable, and he made second-hand clothes look amazing. She agreed when Brit said Axel had the most potential of any of his friends to be successful.

Axel was going places.

If only Kinsley could go with him.

“Do I really wait? I think he likes Jessica.” The stands were starting to empty and the players filtered to the locker rooms. Luckily, because they were the top seed, this first round of playoffs was at their home field. Kinsley would’ve still been at an away game, but she’d have ridden with her parents. That would never have worked to wait for Axel.

Ellie’s nose wrinkled like she smelled something foul. “Jessica Vulture? He might’ve taken her to Homecoming, but the girl really is a vulture. It’s literally her last name. She doesn’t deserve Axel. Go wait outside the locker room and it will be beautiful. He’ll see you, give you that sexy, slow smile again. Then he’ll ask you if you need a ride home. He’ll take you for shakes and then for a kiss. Lucky that you rode with me so you do need a ride home.” Ellie blew a kiss at her and walked off down the grandstand steps. “Ta-ta, my friend. Get a ride with Axel or walk your skinny rear home.”

“Love you too,” Kinsley shot back.

Ellie waved and kept on walking.

Kinsley’s stomach was suddenly a bundle of nerves. She should do the smart thing and chase her friend down, but maybe this was her shot at Axel. Saying goodbye to some of her other schoolmates, she walked on unsteady legs around the side of the stadium where the exit to the boys’ locker room was. Some parents, including her own, cheerleaders, and girlfriends were waiting. Her brother Brit’s girlfriend Kelley stood with Brit and Kinsley’s parents. Those two were a match made in heaven and practically engaged already. Jessica Vulture was happily not there.

Maybe Kinsley did have a chance with Axel.

Kinsley dodged around the side of the building. She didn’t want her parents to see her, first and foremost, but she also didn’t want the other girls to see her and question who she was waiting for. They were all older than her and had a lot more reason to be waiting.

She plastered herself in a dark alcove and waited and waited, occasionally