Home > Beyond the Play (Out of Reach #3)

Beyond the Play (Out of Reach #3)
Author: Kaylee Ryan

 

Paperback Formatting: Jersey Girl Design

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

 

Parker

 

Fall is my favorite season. Don’t tell my family because choosing any season other than baseball season in the Monroe household is a travesty. I do love baseball season. How could I not? My dad played professional ball my entire childhood. It’s in my blood and that of my sisters as well. My older sister, Paisley, played college softball like me. Our little sister, Peyton, is a freshman in college this year, and she plays as well. It’s almost as if it’s a Monroe family tradition.

Anyway, back to fall. I love to watch the leaves and the weather change. I live for the months that I get to break out my leggings, oversized sweaters, and knee-high boots. And don’t get me started on the pumpkin-flavored coffee sold at the campus coffee shop. They would make a killing if they sold that stuff year-round. Then again, that would take away one more thing to look forward to during my favorite time of year.

Honestly, I think a big part of why I love this time of year is that my dad was home every fall. It was a couple of months every year that we got to be a family. All five of us were home to eat dinner together and for the holidays. It was the time of year I looked forward to the most.

“Hey, are you ready to head out?” my best friend, Autumn, asks from my bedroom door.

“Yep.” Grabbing my phone, I shove it into my small crossbody purse and follow her to the living room of our two-bedroom apartment.

We’ve been living in the same place, just off campus, since our sophomore year. Paisley still takes credit for that miracle. She claims she wore Dad down, so he was too tired to fight with me by the time I got to college. I think she might be half right. It was surprisingly easy to convince my dad to let us move off-campus as sophomores.

“I’m so ready to let loose,” Autumn says as we climb into the back of our Uber. “Midterms just about killed me.”

“You say that every single time, and I’ve hardly seen you crack open a book.” Autumn is smart as hell. She hears it once and retains the information. I, however, am not. Having my best friend be a genius is helpful when it comes time to cram. She’s the best study partner.

“It’s the stress of it all. Everyone on campus is on edge and has their nose buried in a book. There’s so much tension.” She rolls her neck as if she can feel all the tension she’s talking about right this moment.

“Not all of us can be super-geniuses,” I tease.

“Hey, you benefit too,” she fires back.

I smile because she’s totally right. “Who else is coming tonight?”

“The usual. Kate and Bridgett are meeting us there, and you know if Bridgett is there, Garrett and his shadow Troy will be there too.”

“Are you ever going to tell me what happened between the two of you?” I ask. She knows I’m referring to Troy.

She exhales, resting her head back against the seat. “Nothing happened. We kissed. He wanted more, I said no, and that was it.”

“Did he pressure you?”

“No. He never pushed it past kissing the rest of the night. He was gone the next morning when I woke up, and he acts as if it never happened.”

“You should talk to him.”

“He’s not interested.”

“How do you know?” I challenge.

“Can we not do this? Tonight is about going out and relaxing our minds from midterms. The last thing I want to do is try to wrap my head around Troy and what he does or doesn’t want.” Her eyes are pleading, so I relent. I don’t want to upset her, but I see the way he looks at her, and I know for a fact because she’s told me on multiple occasions she has a thing for him.

“Fine, but we are tabling this discussion for a later time. As in any time but tonight.” I give her a pointed look, raising my eyebrows for dramatics to make sure I get my point across. We will be discussing this. She can’t hide from how she feels forever.

“Thank you. Now, come on.” She reaches for the door handle and steps out of the car. I follow her, and as soon as my feet hit the sidewalk, she’s linking her arm with mine. “We need drinks and some sexy hard bodies to grind against.”

I nod because that sounds like a damn good time to me after the hellish week of midterms. We pay our cover to get into the club, and with a quick text message to Kate, we head to the back where our friends have secured a booth.

“About damn time!” Troy stands from the table and wraps his arms around Autumn in a hug. He smiles at me over her shoulder. His eyes are glassy, which tells me he’s well on his way to being drunk off his ass. More than that, drunk Troy is an emotional Troy. Tonight just got a little more interesting.

“Parker,” Troy slurs and teams it with a big cheesy smile. He doesn’t let go of Autumn, and the way that she grins up at him tells me she’s not the least bit upset about it. Yeah, we are definitely going to have that conversation.

“You need drinks,” Kate announces. “Let’s go, Monroe.” She grabs my hand and pulls me to the bar.

“Vodka cranberry!” Autumn calls after us, not bothering to leave Troy’s embrace to follow.

“Are they ever going to be official and put the rest of us out of our misery?” Kate asks as we reach the bar.

I shrug. “I don’t know. They’re both stubborn as hell.” I toss my long dark hair over my shoulder. I haven’t even hit the dance floor, and I’m already burning up in here. It’s packed, not that I’m surprised. This is a college town, after all.

“We can all see it,” Kate says with a sigh. “I hate feeling like we’re in the middle. We all know they want each other.”

I nod because she’s right. It’s crystal clear to those on the outside, but I also know that it’s not always that easy if you’re the one living it. I watched that with my older sister, Paisley, and her now husband, Cameron.

Kate’s hand clamps down on my arm where it’s resting on the bar while I wait for the bartender to notice me. “What?” I ask her.

“Hottie, nine o’clock. He’s not stopped looking at you since we stepped up to the bar,” she tells me in an excited whisper-yell over the music of the club.

“Really?” I ask enthusiastically. I’ve been single for far too long. Not that I think this hottie that Kate speaks of will change that, but I’m definitely ready to let loose and have some fun. If there’s a hot guy included in that, that’s just a bonus.

Slowly, I turn my head to casually look at where she stated, and my eyes lock with his. I suck in a breath when I realize who he is. Dark, messy hair, a crooked grin, and the tight black T-shirt he’s wearing shows me he’s fit. Not that I didn’t already know. I can’t see them from this far away, but his bright blue eyes remind me of a bright sunny day. How do I know? Because the sexy man staring me down like I might be his next meal is none other than Holden Bailey. The star shortstop for the Tomahawks. He’s admittedly the best shortstop in the league, which is what he’s known for in addition to his playboy ways. He doesn’t even hide the fact or try to deny it when reporters ask him about the rotating arm candy he’s photographed with. He might be sexy as hell, but he’s not the fun I’m looking for. The last thing I want is to be labeled as another one of his many women.

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