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If You Dare: Chapter 21

After

Violet

“Where’s your short story, Violet?”

I freeze, Professor Tate hovering by my desk. Shit. I completely forgot about the assignment. Everything going on with Wes and the Devils has completely distracted me.

Sorry, Professor. I meant to do the assignment, but then I got hunted down by a group of masked men in the middle of the night and forgot about it.

“Um. Sorry. I forgot to do it. I can get it to you tomorrow.”

Professor Tate’s lips thin. “I’ll extend your deadline this once. If you don’t get your story to me by tomorrow, you’ll receive a zero for this assignment.” I nod, but Professor Tate isn’t satisfied. “There is very little graded work in this class, Violet. Failing to turn in any of your assignments could easily lead you to fail this course.”

Sweat pools under my arms when I imagine Mom’s disappointment if I fail any of my classes and need to scrounge up thousands to pay to retake them. “I understand. I’ll definitely get it to you by tomorrow.”

I have no idea how I’m going to manage that when I haven’t written a single short story that quickly all semester. But I’ll just have to sit down and do it, even if every word feels like yanking a tooth from my gums.

As soon as class is over, I head for the library and duck behind the circulation desk. My stomach twists when I spot Wes and a few of the Devils shove two tables together and crowd around them. Wes actually has a textbook open while most of his teammates elbow each other and bark out laughs.

“Boys never change.” Edith tsks, peering at them over the rim of her glasses, the latest Nora Roberts installment open in her lap. “Wait until they’re men, Violet. Then they’ll be worth your time.”

“I thought you were just telling me the other day how much you love their attention,” I tease.

“I’m sixty-nine. Of course I do. But just because I wouldn’t mind having one in my bed doesn’t mean I want to marry one.”

I chuckle and shake my head. Edith snaps her book shut before waving it in the air. “I’m going to read in the back. Do you think you can handle this place?”

Other than the Devils, the library is vacant. I nod, even though their presence makes my hands tremble. These boys are the real-life nightmare I can’t escape. “Go enjoy your book.”

She points at my closed laptop on the desk. “You get writing, little miss.”

I try to hide my cringe by forcing a smile. “I will.”

As soon as Edith is gone, I pull out my latest book. A dark romance that was advertised as including knife play and “hand necklaces.” I’m not a hundred percent sure what that means, but I have an idea, and even worse, I think I’m going to like it. This is the first book I’ve read in months that has actually made me want to read. I’m still a fractured version of the girl I used to be, but I can’t help smiling at finding this piece of myself again.

A chorus of laughter breaks out at the hockey team’s table. A wave of dread washes over me. They can only be laughing at one thing.

Me.

But when I dare a glance over my book, it’s not me they’re watching—it’s the team’s newest recruit, a freshman. Mason. How he made the team in the first place is a mystery. He’s short and slim. The kind of guy who will get rag-dolled on the ice.

Trey slams Mason’s laptop shut, making some joke about porn. They all burst out laughing, and Mason pretends to join in.

Wes clenches his jaw. “Shut the fuck up or leave. I’m actually trying to work.”

At least it’s not just me he snaps at.

A mousy girl appears in front of me. “Hi. I can’t find the book I’m looking for. Can you help me?”

“No problem.” She tells me the title, a thick tome for her philosophy class, and I look up the call number.

She frowns. “I checked there.”

“Let me see if I can find it for you. Wait right here.”

I leave my post and head back for the stacks. The eyes of every hockey player at the table follow me, their stares turning my blood to ice.

I scurry back to the shelves, cheeks burning, and scramble for the book so I can get back behind the safety of the circulation desk. I chose my outfit carefully today. Sweater, cardigan, long skirt, and hair pulled up in a tight bun. All of it meant to make me invisible. Apparently, it didn’t work.

They can’t do anything to me here. We’re in public during the day. They’re just trying to scare me.

Before I can reach the desk and the girl waiting for her book, Trey’s spine-chilling voice calls out to me. “Violet! We need some help over here.”

I freeze, halfway between them and the student. Her wide gaze darts to the Devils and back to me before she rushes forward, snatching the book from my hand and murmuring, “Thanks,” before scrambling from the room.

When I remain frozen, Trey’s feline smile spreads. “Come on over, beautiful. We won’t bite. Too hard.”

They’re all watching with blood-thirsty amusement. All of them except Wes.

His blue gaze sears into me, but he’s somehow not delighted by whatever torment they’re about to inflict on me this time.

I don’t have a choice. If I don’t comply, whatever punishment they dole out next will be worse.

I step toward them slowly, hoping Edith will emerge from the back room and call for me. A student will rush through the door needing my assistance.

But the room stays silent.

As I near, Trey pats his lap. Nausea roils in my gut. I balk, but I’m too close now. He grabs my wrist and yanks me down onto him, my ass directly over the bulge in his pants. Nothing but his jeans and my flimsy skirt between us.

I squeeze my eyes shut, but that doesn’t stop me from hearing the low moan escape Trey’s lips. “Mmm. I wish we hadn’t been interrupted the other night. I would’ve had you screaming.”

I swallow down the bile and dare a glance in Wes’s direction.

A muscle feathers in his clenched jaw, his gaze melting me and Trey with the raging heat of lava. This isn’t even my fault, and he’s going to punish me for it.

To Trey’s right, Brody leers before his hand lands on my knee, drifting up and up to explore beneath my skirt.

My legs clench together and they chuckle. Tears prick my eyes. They don’t care where we are or who might see. They didn’t bother with the masks this time. They know they’ll get away with doing whatever they want to me.

Trey pulls the scrunchy from my bun, hair falling past my shoulders in waves. “Should’ve worn this in a ponytail so we could pull it.” My stomach twists just as he pushes me onto Mason’s lap, bony and painful. “Give him a lap dance. He’s still a virgin.”

“I’m not,” he seethes. Mason’s hands, massive despite his leaner frame, go right to my breasts, squeezing hard over my sweater and making me wince.

I flatten back against his chest, trying to escape the pain, but he only squeezes harder.

Trey slides out of his chair with a slimy grin, crouching under the table where he’s hidden. “Don’t let her make a sound.” He pushes my skirt up my thighs and pries them open, making me gasp at the sudden, violent intrusion. Brody clamps a hand over my mouth.

A wild glance in Wes’s direction tells me he’s not happy, but he’s not moving to rescue me either.

Of course not. He was the one who pinned me to the ground in the woods. He was the one reaching for his fly to fuck me into the dirt.

Trey’s hot breath hits my panties. I try to scramble away, but Mason and Brody hold me down, Trey keeping my legs in place like guillotines. “I bet she tastes so fucking good,” he murmurs.

A chair screeches, making all of us jump.

Wes is at my side, grabbing my arm and hauling me up and off Mason. His face is stormy, and for a second, I think he’s going to rescue me.

But then he sits and hauls me onto his lap.

He’s rock-hard between my ass cheeks. So hard, if he pushed inside me, it might be the worst pain I’ve ever felt.

His arms wrap around me, and this isn’t about him rescuing me or giving a shit about me.

This is possession.

“Get out,” he growls at his teammates.

Trey emerges from beneath the table, still grinning. “We were just starting to have some fun.”

“Get. Out.”

Now the smile slips from Trey’s face and his eyes narrow. “What? She’s all yours now?”

“That’s how it works. I claimed her. She’s mine.”

His words send a thrill through me, even if they shouldn’t. She’s mine. I might not be safe in Wes Novak’s arms, but they’re the only arms I want to be in.

Trey rolls his eyes, grabbing his bag. The other guys follow suit. “Whatever, man. I’ve got a line of puck bunnies waiting to suck my dick.”

Wes and I remain motionless as the rest of the team leaves the library. When it’s just us, I brace myself for his lips to brush against my skin. His hands to drift up my thighs or to squeeze my breasts. To do everything to me that his teammates were doing, everything that got him hard and made him want to try for himself.

Instead, the cocoon of warmth from his arms disappears and he shoves me from his lap. “Get the fuck off me.”

I’m on unsteady feet, free from his clutches, and I should be rushing to get away. Take advantage of this moment of freedom, of safety. But I’m frozen in place. I can’t read him. One minute, he can’t stop himself from wanting me, and the next, touching me repulses him.

A gaggle of giggling freshmen enters the library, gathering around a table in the opposite corner, and I head for the circulation desk, hands shaking and mind spinning.

I should be glad he didn’t grope me like his teammates. Glad he didn’t take advantage of me.

He hates me. He loves tormenting me. He’s my bully.

But part of me is still hanging on to the Wes Novak I used to know. Part of me even wants the Wes he is now.

I don’t care if he’s rough. I don’t care if it hurts.

Against my better judgment, against every instinct in my body warring with my mind, I want him.


Wes

The redhead is back, but this time, she brought a friend.

I could’ve studied in my apartment with my noise-canceling headphones, which is usually my preferred place to study, especially after Trey’s gotten a few beers in him and passed out. But being here means keeping Violet in my sights, so that makes putting up with the puck bunnies bearable.

She even dresses like a librarian. Long, flowing skirt, frumpy sweater under a cardigan. She doesn’t want to be noticed, and I wish I didn’t. Wish I could go even more than a second without thinking about her.

Fucking Trey had to pull her onto his lap. Put his filthy fucking hands all over her. I tried to contain myself, tried to fight against the urge to rip her from their grips, bend her over the table, and fuck her right there in front of them, show them all exactly who she belongs to.

He pulled that scrunchy from her hair and kept it. Like a fucking trophy.

Once I knew he planned to taste her, I couldn’t hold back anymore.

At the circulation desk, she smiles at a student. My stomach twists. Been a long time since I’ve seen a smile on her face. Since she smiled at me.

“I’m so excited for your game, Wes.” The redhead squeezes my bicep. I forgot she was next to me.

“We should go out to celebrate after,” her raven-haired friend suggests.

“I plan on it,” I tell them.

The redhead trails her finger up and down my arm, and I want to shake her off. “We’re really good at celebrating.”

The girl wouldn’t know subtlety if it bit her in the ass.

“Have a good day,” Violet calls to the student.

Even after everything, she still has it in her to be kind, sweet. After everything she’s done. Everything we’ve put her through.

Her bright hazel eyes find mine across the room. I lean into the redhead’s touch. “Yeah, baby. Let’s celebrate all night.”

Violet can’t hear anything we’re saying, but it doesn’t take a genius to see this girl’s basically offering to climb onto my lap and ride me right here.

That familiar pink creeps up Violet’s cheeks and she glances away. I grin. My cock stiffens at her jealousy.

The redhead notices, but she thinks my hard-on is for her. She simpers and skims her hand across my thigh. “Remember how your cock could barely fit in my mouth?”

All I remember about that night is imagining Violet’s face while the redhead sucked me off.

She gets close to my erection now, grazing a sharp nail up my inner thigh, dangerously close. Driving me nuts and not in a good way.

Violet would wait for my instructions. And then she would do everything exactly as I tell her.

The librarian emerges from the back room, and Violet shoos her. From the way the woman hobbles, it’s rough being on her feet. Every time she tries moving up out of her chair or pushing a cart, Violet takes over. She’s like that. Bends over backwards for people who deserve it. And the people who don’t.

This time, the librarian’s not backing down, though. “Go get your lunch!” she barks. Not the typical librarian keeping everything to a whisper.

Violet scurries out of the room with a smile, and for some stupid reason, I’m mesmerized by every step she takes—the sway of her hips, the swish of her long skirt—and wish she’d packed a lunch.

The librarian locks her beady eyes on mine over her glasses and gestures me over with a crook of her finger. “Gotta go, ladies.” I’m all too relieved to shake the redhead’s palm off my thigh. “I’ve got a hot date.”

I saunter up to the desk and lean against it, flirty smile fixed in place. Old ladies love me. “Hey, beautiful. What can I do for you?”

I’ve noticed how she fans herself anytime one of the student-athletes or professors waltzes into the room. Even saw her at the gym once pretending to lift weights while she gaped at the biceps of the football player doing curls next to her. Bet those romance novels she’s always reading are absolutely filthy, if the half-naked men on the cover say anything about the contents.

But she throws me when she rolls her eyes at my charm. Then she points a finger in my face. “Don’t you hurt her.”

I stiffen. Did Violet tell her about what I’ve done? She should’ve known better than to open her mouth. Or maybe she means the redhead I was basically ignoring while she groped me. “Hurt who?”

“Don’t play dumb with me, boy. Violet’s a sweet girl. Sensitive. And she’s already heartbroken. She doesn’t need you breaking her heart too.”

Jesus Christ. She’s not worried about me literally hurting Violet—she’s worried Violet’s in love with me. She’s worried about something as inconsequential as heartbreak.

I force a smile, even as the charm is slipping away. “No need to worry about that. It’s not like that between us.”

The librarian rolls her eyes again. “Oh, please. I see the way you stare at her. The last time a man stared at me like that, he married me.”


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