The Sin of Kissing You (Falling #2) - Maya Hughes

1

Dare

The doors to the ambulance slammed shut. I’d turned up early to training camp, but my trip to my room had been stalled by the Residence Director and a ghost from my past. After a frantic scramble to get the RD to an ambulance, the reunion previously cut short loomed over the new pro football chapter of my life.

From the way she’d glared when she’d spared me a glance while we got Felicia into the ambulance, it wouldn’t be a happy reunion. Not that I anticipated any different after how we’d left things.

The tight end assistant coach, Hank, talked over the murmur of the crowd who’d gathered when the ambulance drove up onto the brick walkway in front of the building. I should’ve been hanging on his every word. Two practices per day. Team meetings. Offensive team meetings. Nutritionists. Weight trainers. Team building activities. Be ready to work harder than I’ve ever worked in my life for my spot on this team. I should have been taking notes and committing every syllable to memory. Instead, I couldn’t rip my gaze away from the raven-haired woman who’d haunted every one of my dreams for the past four years.

Bay. Her name reverberated in my head like a gong rattling me to my bones. Her last words revisited me every night, ripping out my heart all over again. Bay.

She turned, her gaze locking with mine. Yearning crashed into a tanker of shame exploding in my chest.

I was frozen, unable to move or speak or do anything other than look at the woman she’d changed into since the 1,398 days since I’d watched her walk away. The speeches I’d practiced for weeks—months—on end in my head dried up in my throat.

“Keyton,” Hank barked.

I jolted, ripping my gaze away from her. “Sorry, sir.”

He shook his head. “Better shake that distraction before Report Day tomorrow. With everything that went on, I didn’t get the keys from the Residence Director.”

I jumped into action, placing my palm against his chest to stop him from moving. “Don’t worry about it. I can get them. I’m sure you’ve got better things to do.”

His gaze narrowed before lightening up. “You got that right. Everything should be in your room already. If it’s not, the RD or the team coordinator can help you out.”

He walked away, leaving me on the brick patio outside the dorm building backlit by the California sun. The glass-and-stone seven story building was my new home for the next four weeks. Training camp.

It was where I’d never expected to be. Only four months ago, I’d been sitting in my empty college townhouse. The house, nicknamed The Brothel by the previous occupants, had once been the place for Nerf battles, backyard grilling and memories I’d carry with me forever. But that night I’d been all alone.

It felt hollow without the rest of the guys there. I’d been beside the phone with the TV on, feeling like a vise was gripping my heart. Every pump was a challenge as the first round of the draft ended. I hadn’t expected to go in the first or even second round. Through the screen, I watched as two of my roommates got their invites early and sat with their girlfriends with wide grins and reassuring hugs. They’d gotten their names called in the first two hours.

Their tickets to the pros came with seven and eight-figure signing bonuses.

And then, once I’d given up hope, they called my name in the third round. I didn’t have a squad of people around me jumping and yelling and screaming my name like the other guys. Sitting in my room alone, I’d mumbled through some words that must have been semi-coherent when my phone rang. At least there’d been no one around to see the dazed look that I’d worn for a week.

I hadn’t let myself believe this was truly happening. Even when the ticket to California hit my inbox. Even when I packed up all my shit into a few suitcases after selling everything I didn’t want to haul across country.

Every step of the way, I expected someone to tell me there’d been a horrible mistake, or to wake up in a hospital from a head injury and be an eighteen-year-old back in my hometown of Greenwood.

But the feelings that coursed through me when I’d laid eyes on Bay for the first time since our high school graduation convinced me that this was real. Her piercing gaze wasn’t something my brain could’ve matched.

With sweaty palms, a churning stomach