When Drew finally stands up to Brier, will her days of being able to manipulate everyone be over?

If growing up as a quintuplet wasn't hard enough, wild Brier Cavanaugh also wondered if men were more interested in her or her trust fund?

Brier's defiant streak kept that hurt at bay. She left Kingsbrier unwilling to let the man she loved stop her from pursuing her dreams. Now, despite a fulfilling career, Brier knows something is missing from her life. When circumstances bring her back home, Brier confronts the one person she's avoided for years.

Drew Newhouse has never backed down from a challenge. He’s let his childhood sweetheart push him away because he knows they have always been meant to be. This time, he's playing for keeps.

With the help of the other quints, will Drew win Brier’s trust? Can Brier put her heart on the line and give Drew the chance they both deserve?

 

Brier Rose Cavanaugh was anything but a princess. She left those duties up to her younger sister Daveigh, who had the kind of heart that allowed one to commune with animals. Brier loved to be in the thick of it with the boys, so thank goodness she grew up with three brothers, too. Adam, Eric and Colton knew that no man was going to hold her back. She was not the girl who needed happily ever after because she was bound and determined to go it alone.

 

And that was exactly what she was at this very moment sitting by herself on her bed in her dorm room…Alone.

 

She’d never admit to anyone that she was waiting for someone. Just as she’d never acknowledge that Drew, the person whom she hoped would show at her door, was more than just a childhood friend. When Texas State played FSU two seasons ago, Brier had given him plenty of reason to stay away.

 

All the freshman girls on the floor gathered in Brier’s room primping in their maroon and gold. It was hours before game time, but they planned on making it to Bobcat Stadium while tailgating was in full swing. A knock came and Brier, as well as all the other girls, turned their attention to the massive body that filled the threshold. He was less than conspicuously dressed in the opposing team’s garnet color. One of her friends let out a low whistle. Another commented that Drew was in the wrong place and gave him directions to her room.

 

Brier hadn’t seen Drew in months. He avoided her like the plague since the morning after the quints farewell party for Colton over the summer. That night he’d told her he loved her and she couldn’t bring herself to say the words back.

 

Brier was tiny to begin with but, in Drew’s presence, she instantly felt smaller than she ever had. She wasn’t ever going to be enough for Drew. Eventually, he would understand that. Her self-esteem nose-dived back to where it had been when she let him go that summer. Her hand scooped towards her hip and she worried about how tight her jeans had become during her first semester. The freshman fifteen were nothing to Drew. He must have gained all of his weight in muscle. At this point, he didn’t need the shoulder pads he’d worn playing high school football to look intimidating. Although looking into his blue eyes, she could still see the boy he once was.

 

“What are you doing here?” Brier took several steps forward before insisting her feet stop. She wouldn’t miss him any less when he left a few hours from now to go back to Tallahassee. It would hurt more. She hadn’t realized that was even possible until she saw him for the first time after they broke up. She told herself that the next time she caught a glimpse of him at a party back home, or in the Kingsbrier fields with her brothers, that it would get easier. It never did.

 

Drew moved into her dorm room touching his number on the jersey he wore. “It’s not obvious?” he said with a friendly smile.

 

“Brier’s got dibs. Girl, we’re going to wait in the hall for you.” Her roommate, Rochelle, ushered the coeds out to an echo of the unfairness of it all.

 

“Brier, are you? I—”

 

Don’t tell me you miss me. Don’t say you want to try again, she thought. Because she still fell asleep at night wanting the opposite to be true. It was a fantasy that they would ever make it as a couple. Half of what had kept them together for those two years was just getting carried away sneaking off under everyone’s noses.

 

“We were just leaving. Aren’t you going to be late for your game?” She cut him off, grabbed her keys, and punched the button on the doorknob so that it would lock after them. Then Brier beat feet down the short hallway to where her girls stood to wait for the elevator.

 

She looked away from Drew, straight at Rochelle’s girlfriend, Angela, before pegging a stare at her roommate. Brier needed rescuing from herself and didn’t know what else to do. She ran towards Angela smacking her full on the lips with her own and holding her body close until Angela responded in kind. When they parted, Brier returned her attention to Drew. “When you talk to Adam, tell him I said, ‘hey’.” She left her eldest brother’s best friend standing slack-jawed in the hall.

 

The elevator bell dinged and as the girls got on they blocked Brier from view, smiling at Drew until the doors closed.

 

“Hell, Brier, if I knew you could kiss like that I would have chosen a different roommate.” Angela joked while looking lovingly at her partner. Rochelle took her hand and they laced their fingers together. Angela kissed Rochelle and then snorted. “The least you can do is say thanks for getting you away from that Seminole. I’m sure one of the other girls would have loved to have a go with him. You could have shared.” She looked back to see Brier back herself into a corner. Slumping down and bringing her head to meet her knees, she began to sob.

 

Rochelle kneeled down and lifted Brier’s face to the incandescent light. She took her thumbs and ran them under Brier’s eyes. “You’re going to ruin your makeup. No boy is worth crying over. We might not have been roommates long but now I understand why, if any guy looks at you the way that boys just did, you fall apart. It’s going to be okay. I’ll keep this secret for you.” Rochelle pegged the others in the elevator with a stare that insisted that they do the same. “But don’t you ever touch my girlfriend again.”

 

Two years later, both women continued to stand by her side. However, Brier still wasn’t sure she’d given Rochelle the apology she deserved. She hadn’t known what else to do. Drew was supposed to stay away like he was today. She wouldn’t have expected him to repeat his performance if…

 

There were too many of those scenarios. If he’d never shown in the first place. If she couldn’t feel his eyes on her at a party back home. If she didn’t stop dead in her tracks seeing his rusty old Cadillac parked in the driveway. If it didn’t seem like her brother, Adam, wanted to apologize to her for having Drew as a life-long best friend.

 

Brier picked at the beds of her nails pushing her cuticles back to the point that they were ready to bleed. An itch made her scratch behind her ear as if she was tucking a non-existent strand of long blonde hair back. She still preferred wearing  it short, though some days for fun she’d spike it up. Today is was soft the way Drew liked it. He always played with the wisps of white. For as much as her brothers mocked her for looking like a boy when Drew touched the nape of her neck and pulled her close while staring in other emerald green eyes, Brier felt pretty. 

 

The back of a lone small diamond stud that she wore through a cartilage piercing scraped her finger. Brier twisted the earring till it hurt to make sure it was secure. She’d lost the match to the pair and was ever so careful with the remaining one.

“Brier,” Bill poked his head in the door. She dated him casually. He was a nice Oklahoma boy who would make some girl very happy someday. “Everyone’s headed to the game. You coming?”

 

Brier looked at the clock. It was long past when Drew would have even been able to get over to her dorm. She’d been sitting there for hours. Bill held his hand out to her. She gratefully accepted.  This was her penance; to have the attention of a great guy that she didn’t want.

 

Putting on her brave face, Brier became all about having a good time. She would be able to clearly pick out Drew’s number on the field and sought comfort in the fact that he would never be able to make out where she was in the stands.

 

He was the kid who got the press excited on college game day. His was the name that the announcers tossed around. Of course, Drew Newhouse wouldn’t be thinking about the dumb girl who broke his heart in high school. There were legions of female fans who would be glad to take Brier’s place. They likely already had. She had nothing to lose because she’d already lost by giving him up.

 

Brier paid for her beer and the cougar tattoo which Bill transferred to her face with a combination of suds and saliva. She cheered, hollered, and tried to fit her heart back in the compartment that she’d put it in three years ago. After holding her ground for such a long time, Brier told herself that maintaining it was in everyone’s best interest not just her own. No slip-ups or thinking that just once with him wouldn’t hurt her chances of becoming the person she wanted to be. Drew would hold her back. Just like any other man, he’d expect her to give up on her dream to become a cop, and the criminal justice degree that she was spending her hard earned money on would be a waste.

 

What’s worse is that when her trust fund finally did kick in, Drew could be first in line holding out his palm for the green. Brier had seen the way other men, who were only interested in what the Kingsbrier name could do for them, treated her sister. Likewise, the floozies that her brother’s brought home drove Brier up a wall. The only exception to those bleached blonde bimbos was her sister-in-law, Ginny. She’d married Brier’s younger brother, Eric, after high school and they lived on what they had.

 

Texas State was already up by three in the first when they scored again. It was an amazing play. Brier jumped into Bill’s arms. He caught her tiny frame, pressing it against him as she slunk down the front of him. With her breast pressed hard against his chest, they kissed before he let her feet hit the ground. She meant nothing romantic by it. Brier was just living in the moment. The crowd around them went wild as both of them realized that they’d been on the giant screens. 

 

The line changed and so did the pace of the game when the junior Seminole quarterback took to the field again. Drew had been disgusted with sloppiness shown by both himself and his teammates during the last play. And what he saw on the Jumbotron made his blood boil. It was as if Brier needed to rub his face in it every time he was near her.

 

With the next play, Drew threw a seventy-five yard touchdown strike to cut into Texas’ lead, silencing the crowd in the once rowdy stadium. By half-time, they were leading. In the fourth quarter, it wasn’t that Texas had given up, it was that Drew refused to give in.

 

Brier’s heart was beating fast as they walked back into the dorms. She was desperate to pull up the game highlights on the internet and check the changes in Drew’s stats from last week’s game to this one. However, the throng of subdued fans who had been rooting for the home team was keeping her in check. Watching your team lose while your childhood friend played the best game of his college career was like attending a wedding and a funeral simultaneously.

 

Her mouth quirked several times as Bill commented on Drew’s prowess. The more he used the f-word as a slur, the wetter Brier’s panties had gotten remembering what her high school years had been like in the back seat of Drew’s car.

 

Angela and Rochelle arched their eyebrows as they sat down on the bed they shared in the triple this year. Brier silently pleaded for them to keep what they knew to themselves.

 

It was easier said than done when a gruff voice growled, “Get out.”

 

Drew towered over Bill. Behind him were two just as strapping men who had just showered and smelled delicious. They grabbed the boy by the shoulders and forced him out of the room. Then, after Rochelle and Angela made a hasty retreat, stood with arms folded like sentries blocking anyone from entering.

 

“You should be gone by now,” Brier stammered.

 

“Yeah, well they probably would leave without one player, but three they’ll hold the plane for. Besides, this isn’t going to take long.” Drew stalked towards Brier. She stumbled backward and he pinned her up against the wall on her side of the room. The baby blue eyes that she was so familiar with, filled with rage and anger instead of their usual kindness. Witnessing the kiss at the game in high definition, even if from her point of view it was innocent, had pushed Drew too far. He was as pissed as she’d ever seen him.

 

“I’m not letting you get away with this again. You think you can push me away. You still haven’t figured a damn thing out about us.” He tipped up her face to his and bent his body to catch her mouth before she could explain or protest.

The kiss lasted forever and was over too soon. Brier was breathless, her whole body was on fire wanting Drew the way they’d been as teenagers. 

 

Drew cocked an eyebrow and laughed reassured that his visit had hit the mark he’d intended. Other than the one time he had underestimated her, Drew knew Brier inside and out. He didn’t mind waiting for her, but he’d be damned if Brier was going to make him feel a fool until she was ready to admit what they had. Tonight was just a reminder that no one would ever come close to loving her the way he could.

 

“What was that for?” she asked, wide-eyed and unsure of herself. Part of her wanted to kiss Drew again. The other half wanted to rake her fingernails across his face for the scene he was creating. The war going on inside of her head was taking too much space to even be able to orient herself in the room, let alone manage a cohesive thought or comeback.

 

“Because I know you’ll never stop me.” Drew walked out of the room and down the hall with his comrades in arms surrounding him. The whole floor had come alive hearing the opposing team was there. Bill shouted obscenities at the trio as they marched towards the dorms bank of elevators. Angela and Rochelle were scurrying protectively back into the room to see if Brier was okay. She ran out, stopping to hold the doorframe for support. Her knees ready to give out.

 

“Fuck you, Drew Newhouse!” she yelled. In a flash, Brier became livid. How could he embarrass her in front of everyone by acting like a neanderthal? Who did he think he was? She was also totally turned on which made it worse when Drew called over his shoulder not bothering to look back, “Anytime, sugar. I’m the only one who knows just the way you like it.”

 

They both had a year and a half of college to go and, on top of that, Drew knew that until Brier had been to the police academy there was no way she’d back down. Supporting her dream sucked but he was willing to do it.

 

Copyright ©2016 Jody Kaye

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a creation of the Author’s imagination

or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, establishments, event or locales is

coincidental... That's right, I made it all up!

This excerpt is taken from an uncorrected proof of the book. Mistakes are possible... In other words, I'm human too.

Don't forget!

Join Jody's newsletter to stay up-to-date. Not only will you learn about promotions and new releases, you'll also get reader tips & tricks that will save you time & money, and help you to to find great new reads!

©2020 Jody Kaye