By: H.J. Bellus

“You call that singing?” His teammates bust out in laughter. I look up to see all of them watching us, even the man who is overdressed. “And my last name is Williams.”

“Blue here is a freshman cheerleader.”

“That would be me, and this would be the most awkward moment of my life.” I grab my burger and go in for the kill, taking a large bite just like Lane did.

“Consider this your welcome to college life,” Ethan advises. “My girl is a junior cheerleader. Her name is Stephie, and she never eats like that.”

Several men choke back their laughter, but it’s the one in long sleeves who holds my attention. He shakes his head and backhands Ethan.

“Well, I guess she doesn’t know how to live life then.”

Immediately I pray to the cheer gods that Stephie isn’t that one hardcore mean girl on the squad, but with my luck, I’m probably screwed.

Ethan and Lane assault me with numerous questions, and I do my best to answer them through bites of my burger. And mother-lovin’, humpin’ hell, I now know why the line was so long. As I stuff my face, I watch the man in long sleeves, studying his movements and his face. I’m careful to not make eye contact with him. I can tell just from his body language that he’s a closed book and doesn’t want unnecessary attention drawn to him. Unlike Ethan or Lane, who’d probably strip for women ogling them.

Throwing my napkin into the now empty red basket, I glance over one more time at the mysterious man. This time I realize what it is about him that sets him apart from the other men. His face is chiseled and well defined, everything runs from his strong jawline, and his brown eyes are perfectly framed with his eyebrows. The man could walk a runaway fully clothed and still be the most gorgeous person. I can tell he’s built and very athletic, just like the rest of the men at the table.

“So are you all football players?” I dig for the information on my own and almost feel guilty.

“Yes, ma’am,” one of the quieter men in the booth pipes up.

“Names? I mean, I can’t leave just knowing Ethan and Lane.”

Ethan takes the lead and begins pointing out the men. “Gus T., redshirt freshman. Dustin, sophomore defensive end. Lane, resident pussy. Tuck, the best running back in college football, and he’s a junior. Jared, sophomore offense.”

I know Ethan continues, but after learning the name of the man who’s held my attention even over that glorious burger, I get distracted. His name is Tuck, and he’s a running back, and obviously his teammates speak highly of him. And he’s the oldest at the table, and by far the most alluring. This time I outright stare at him, not worried if he catches me or if the others notice my actions. Ethan finally shuts his trap.

“Nice to meet all of you,” I say, not breaking my stare.

Tuck finally looks up at me, but only for a second as he offers me a shy little smirk. Just the brief eye contact and the slight grin has my stomach doing double time.

“Well, I’m off, boys.”

I stand quickly, mentally berating myself for letting a football team turn me into a schoolgirl with a massive crush. Steadying my sea legs and getting one last look at Mr. GQ, I turn to walk toward the door. Welcome to college life, Blue. Good hell, I’ve been out of my dorm once, and heated up over several men and eaten with a group of football players. Whore, much?

My sandal catches on the leg of a booth. My upper body flies forward, while my shoulder purse nearly knocks me out as it sails over my head. The floor comes closer and closer to my face, and all I can think about is the group of men watching me. My knee grazes the tile floor—or actually thumps into the tile floor—and that’s when my senses kick in. Using all my strength on my right side, I pull myself back up into a standing position before making out with the dirty tile floor.

My heart thuds so loudly, I can barely hear a thing over it, and when I turn to see if anyone happened to catch my little stumble, I see the whole table of football players staring with their mouths hung wide open. Even the booths near me are all staring.

“Don’t worry, I’m a cheerleader,” I say as I sprint from the restaurant, but before I make it to the door I see Tuck smiling once again.

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