Jesse and I leave the quiet little haven we’ve adopted as “our spot” before anyone else shows up.
We change clothes in the locker room, exchanging quick kisses and driving each other mad with lingering touches. We begin warming up with shooting drills as the other girls stumble in. Half the team is on the court when Sam comes in. The shot Jesse puts up over my head misses the net and she spits, “Fuck!”
Having not witnessed Sam’s arrival, I bounce the ball back and take a jab at her, “What’s the matter, Cooper? Is my being here throwing your shot off?”
Arms snake around my waist and I shiver in spite of myself. Sam’s voice is in my ear and my eyes close, “Hey, baby.”
In spite of everything with Jesse, the smile I give Sam isn’t forced, “Hi.” I turn and wrap my arms around her neck in a hug, “I missed you.”
She rubs my back and sighs, “I’m here now. I missed you, too.”
We pull apart and she kisses me softly, “I’m going to change. I’ll be right back.” Her smile makes me almost sad that I have to break up with her.
I feel breath on my neck and sigh, my whole body is acutely aware of Jesse’s presence behind me. She puts her hand on my hip and whispers, “I love you.”
My hand covers hers and my eyes close before I turn my head just slightly. I take a deep breath and open my eyes to whisper, “I love you, too, Jesse Cooper.”
She leans forward, her lips against my ear just briefly, and whispers, “I’m kissing you in my mind.”
I watch her walk away with a smile. She greets Courtney and I watch as she straddles the weight bench. I try to not think about the position she’s in and then she lays back, making me groan out loud and turn away.
Ashley emerges from the locker room and smiles as she approaches, “I see you didn’t opt for the car idea.”
“Not yet,” I laugh. I loop my arm through hers, “Are you bringing the girlfriend to the party tomorrow?”
“Yes,” she smiles. Then she asks, “Who are you bringing?”
“Sam. Jesse and I decided that would be best, all things considered.”
“And when is Sam leaving for Ohio?”
“At six the morning after,” I smile, “thank God.”
Ashley’s eyes drift to the view just over my shoulder, “Oh god, I hate you so fucking much.”
I glance over my shoulder and back at her and immediately back again, “Holy hell.”
Jesse, without her warm-up shirt, is doing chin-ups with Courtney. The two make quite a sight, all muscles, sports bras, and curves. The sheen of perspiration on their bodies doesn’t hurt, either. I find that I’m chewing my bottom lip and then I take a long breath before turning back to Ashley.
She shakes her head, “I don’t know how the hell you keep your hands to yourself.”
I smile, “I thought you didn’t approve of me being with her again.”
Ashley rolls her eyes, “I don’t have to like you being with her to admit that I’d never be able to be alive and alone with her without fucking myself blind.”
I throw my head back and laugh, “God, you are twisted!”
“Hey, don’t laugh too much,” she playfully grabs my ass, “I almost fucked you blind once.” She walks away, swishing her butt at me as a joke.
“Walker,” I call to make her turn around and when she does, I pull my shirt up, “I’m still waiting.”
Her eyes narrow and she fans her face, “Oh, moth–fuck you.” She turns and keeps walking.
I take another look at the girls working out and catch Jesse watching me. A cold chill goes down my spine and I smile at her. She winks at me with a crooked grin. It takes everything in my body to will myself to turn away but I do it, mumbling to myself, “Less than forty-eight hours and you are all mine for nine days. God help us both.”
Before he lets us go, Coach has us gather around, “Okay, this is our last practice before the break. The day after break is over we have a conference game. This is the one rule I’m going to give you: Be as ready for that game as you would be if we didn’t have a break. Meaning don’t drink too much, stay up too late, or anything else that would hinder your performance and make me want to kill you.” He smiles at us, “That said, be good. Have fun. Be careful. You’re dismissed.”
Sam nudges me with her elbow, “Will you take me to the airport?”
I turn and smile at her, “Of course.”
She leans forward and touches my forehead with hers, “I’m going to miss you.”
Reaching up to cup her cheek, I whisper back, truthfully, “I’ll miss you, too.”
She sighs loudly and pulls away from me, “What are we supposed to wear tomorrow night?”
“Oh, just whatever,” I shrug, then add, “Or you can show up naked.” The wicked smile I give her is genuine. Memories flash behind my eyes of her body and the slow undulation she has that makes me reckless.
Ashley runs up to us and manages to slide herself between the two of us, “Did someone mention fashion?”
“We didn’t mention fashion but I’m sure you can turn the conversation into one about that topic,” I laugh. She’s trying to distract Sam from noticing how preoccupied I am with trying not to watch Jesse.
She points at me, “Well we already know what you’re wearing.” She turns to Sam, but I cut her off.
“Yes, Sara, we do.” She turns away again and I shrug, making Sam laugh, “You need to wear a nice shirt and some nice pants.” Ash grins wickedly, “Unless you want to wear a dress.”
The thought makes Sam and I laugh really loudly. I look up to find Jesse watching me from her spot at the free throw line. She smiles that Cooper smile at me and I want to kiss her so bad I feel like crying. She dribbles twice and shoots, but it doesn’t fall through. I study her form and notice she’s not squared to the basket. She runs after the ball and tries again. She still doesn’t line up square and I call out without thinking, “Square your shoulders!”
Ashley stops talking for only a moment and then distracts Sam again with talk of shoes and color coordination. Jesse looks at me and dribbles twice. She pauses and shoots… Still off. She’s better at this than she’s making out. What’s going on? Just then it clicks. She wants me to come “help” her.
I sigh and stand, “Jesus Christ.” I turn to them, “I’ll be right back.”
As I approach, Jesse puts her hand up, “I don’t need your input on how I’m throwing like shit.”
“Oh really?” I cross my arms over my chest, “I can help you.”
“You can, huh?” She turns to me, palming the basketball and holding it out to me, “Prove it.”