When we reached the gymnasium, I did exactly what I said I wasn’t going to do–sprawled out on the bottom row of bleachers and batted my eyes like a fangirl. Okay. Not exactly. I did sit on the first row, but my posture was decidedly rigid.
He disappeared into the locker room and returned a moment later with two basketballs. When he saw me locked tightly onto the seat, he smirked.
“Come on, Honeycutt. Show me what you can do!”
Two times in a matter of minutes, he surprised me by knowing my name–not just my first name, but my nickname and last name, too. That thought was crowding into my mind, which had frozen at the sight of his smirk. No one deserved to look that good while smirking.
When I still didn’t move, he shoved the ball into my stomach, just as he would have with one of his teammates. I stared at it, running my fingers over the pebbled texture for a moment, before lifting my eyes to his incredulously.
“You can’t be serious. I can’t even bounce it.”
Travis snorted out a laugh and demonstrated the exact bounce that I feared. “It’s called ‘dribbling’. First lesson.”
At his cocky tone, I stood and gave him my own smirk. “Dribbling sounds like something a baby does. I’m just going to call it bouncing, if you don’t mind.”
“Whatever, Bex. Just bounce the ball. It’s not hard. All you have to do is drop it; it’ll bounce on its own.”
Well, that didn’t sound too hard at all. I held the ball out and dropped it, prepared to catch it when it came back to me. Instead of hitting the polished floor with the rubbery ping that Travis’s ball made, it hit the toe of my shoe and rolled away, looking about as dejected as I felt.
To his credit, he didn’t laugh. Instead, he handed me his ball and ran after the one I’d dropped.
“Okay, so there’s a bit more to it than that,” he admitted when he returned. “Here, I’ll show you.”
He set his ball down gently and then stepped behind me. I started to face him, but he stopped me with a gentle hand to my shoulder. What happened after that felt so surreal that I had to convince myself for days that it had actually happened. Without hesitation, Travis moved closer until he was completely flush with my back. My breath caught when I felt him bend his knees a bit behind me, and then he nudged my right foot forward with his. His knee pressed into the back of mine, causing me to adopt a stance similar to his, but I knew I wasn’t quite as graceful. I leaned forward a bit, mostly to escape the heat of his body, but he pulled me right back to him.
“Hold still for a second,” he muttered.
I couldn’t breathe. Every inch of him was molded to me as he perfected my stance. Even with him crouching behind me, I was overwhelmed by the size of him. Slowly, he reached out and ran his right hand along my arm until he reached my wrist. It was a feeling that I never wanted to forget–not for the rest of my life. I closed my eyes and breathed in, surrounded by him, his warmth, his smell… Goosebumps prickled in his wake, and I fought off a shudder.
“There.” Satisfaction oozed from him as he stepped away and admired his work. “Stand like that as you dribble–”
“Bounce,” I interrupted.
He bit back a smile and rolled his eyes. “Bounce. Fine. You won’t hit your feet that way.”
Soundtrack cover shoot with Katie Marcario and Blake Mundell