But when Luke lets go of me, I miss that hand. I miss the spark. I miss the electricity I felt when he touched me.
Instantly, I know the answer to the what the fuck was that question.
How did I miss it?
The signs are so goddamn obvious but I’ve been avoiding them. Ignoring them. Shoving them under all the rugs in my head I could find. And as Luke talks me up, bragging about how I’m good at poker, love rock music and golf, and am always there for my friends, I’m reeling inside from the realization.
“Let the bidding begin,” Luke says.
A hand goes up in the front row. A guy in a tight blue sweater lifts a paddle. “Twenty thousand,” he says.
Luke whistles, then smiles at me approvingly. “I bet you go for higher,” he says.
But I can barely think about the words he’s saying since I’m still shocked.
I’m ridiculously attracted to Luke Remington.
That’s what these weird feelings are. These strange sensations. This irritation I’ve felt for the last week since I dared him to show me his moves at Rapture.
But acting on the attraction would be dangerous, no matter how often a movie of those dance moves has been playing for me at the most inopportune times day and night.
Acting on it would be foolish too, since we don’t even want the same things. We’re on opposite pages when it comes to relationships.
But some people would say stepping into the box and facing down ninety-five-mile-an-hour fastballs is more dangerous than taking this kind of risk.
When the bidding goes to thirty, then thirty-five, then forty, Nate pops up from the front row and shouts, “I dare you.”
He’s daring Luke, right?
Except, I stop thinking. Like when I’m at the plate, and I spot my pitch and I know I can hit it, I tune out the world.
And I just do, taking the dare for myself. I clear my throat and cut in, meeting the emcee’s gaze. “Weren’t you going to bid, Luke?”
My friend’s frozen for a few seconds. The whole ballroom goes starkly silent.
Then a smile spreads on his face. Slow and playful. Right along with a twinkle in his green eyes. “Are you daring me?”
I fucking am. “Yes,” I say, feeling bold and a little wild, and not at all irritated any more.
Luke shrugs, the kind that says he’s going for it. “Fine. I take that dare and I raise it. One hundred thousand for the star shortstop.”
Holy shit. He just threw down big time for me. Luke turns to the crowd. “Going once…”
A couple guys in the second row hem and haw as they whisper to each other. They look like tech bros. They might have enough dough to beat Luke.
Don’t. Don’t raise that paddle. Don’t crack open your wallets.
I don’t dare look at Luke though. Don’t want to give away how much I’m hoping no one messes this up for me.
“Going twice,” my friend says, drawing it out like he’s asking the crowd to just try to take this away from him. Just fucking try.
The tech bros settle into their seats, paddles down. I scan the rest of the ballroom, hunting for any signs of movement.
Am I really about to go on a date with my friend?
What’s the harm in one date? Especially if it’s a nice date. Yes, that might solve the problem of Luke.
“Sold! To me!” Luke declares.
The audience erupts into cheers and claps.
As I leave the stage, I am very much looking forward to a nice date with my good friend.
A NEW PLAYBOOK
Is there a devil on my shoulder?
The question clangs loudly in my mind as I wrap up the auction. “Thank you all for coming. And don’t forget—the best sport ever starts up again in two more weeks,” I say to the crowd, hoping the reminder of training camp will quiet the what did I just do question.
But no such luck.
I’m in two places as I head to the wings then go through the motions backstage with Reese, taking off my mic, thanking her, and reviewing the night.
There has to be a devil on my shoulder, cackling maniacally, having a field day at having kicked the angel far, far away.
That question—why, why, why—grows louder with each passing minute, then louder still when Tanner joins us in the hallway a few minutes later. While we talk to Reese about the final bid, I’m acutely aware of the scent of his aftershave. Woodsy. Of the wave in his hair. Grabbable. And of the gleam in his blue eyes. Confident.
Utterly confident. Like he’s figured out the answers to the universe.
Another question pops up. Why the hell am I spending so much time assessing my friend’s looks?
Sure, he’s hot, but I already knew that. I don’t need to analyze exactly how smoking he is.
But that’s what I was just doing.