- Author: Elizabeth Hayley
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Ready Or Not
The Love Game: Book Four
This book is a publication of Waterhouse Press.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not assume any responsibility for third-party websites or their content.
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To the Fugees,
because once our editor heard it,
none of us could un-hear it.
T A Y L O R
“I think he’s seizing.”
My best friend, Sophia, followed my gaze to the dance floor. To Ransom Holt, more specifically.
She hummed before saying, “Pretty sure he’s dancing.”
“His whole body is…vibrating.”
Her eyebrow quirked. “You know, Taylor, if I didn’t know better, I’d think you were just a teensy bit obsessed with how that boy’s body moves.”
I flashed my eyes to her, my bitch face showing just how unimpressed I was with her comment.
She merely smirked, the asshole. “Someone’s testy.”
“I just don’t even get why he’s here,” I muttered.
Here was Sophia’s boyfriend’s—scratch that—her fiancé’s bar. Well, not Drew’s per se, but the one he’d gotten up and running and continued to manage. It was actually a deck built off an existing bar, but they ran the Yard as a separate entity. And despite it being part of a dive bar, the Yard had a younger, funner vibe going, with backyard games sprinkled around the lawn it overlooked, cozy seating, and friendly staff.
Sophia looked at me like I was being ridiculous. Spoiler alert: I was. But I couldn’t really help it. Something about Ransom…bothered me.
“Because he’s friends with Brody,” she said slowly. “And pretty much all of us by this point. Except you,” she added pointedly.
Brody was Sophia’s brother who seemed to collect strays like he was a septuagenarian living alone in a double-wide. Unfortunately, he was unlikely to experience an SPCA raid anytime soon. He’d brought Ransom around a couple of months ago, and the guy had been a fairly regular fixture in our group since. The others had warmed to him quickly. I hadn’t.
I wasn’t a big enough douche to try to tell myself that my not getting close to him had anything to do with him. It was all me and my fucked-up emotions. The guy was attractive: tall, athletic, light hair that sparkled against his tan face, and a wide smile that he flashed easily. He was a bit of a goof, but it was actually kind of endearing. There didn’t seem to be any pretense with Ransom. What I saw appeared to be what I’d get with him. But I’d been wrong before. Very wrong. And that was what kept me away.
“He’s, like, undulating now. Does he think he’s a wave?” I asked rather than acknowledge her comment that I was the only nonmember of the Ransom fan club.
“Pretty hot wave,” she muttered.
I scowled at her. “I’m going to tell Drew.”
She shrugged. “Go ahead. Even he’s said how hot Ransom is.”
“Hot as in sweaty? Because he’s doing the sprinkler now, so that should probably cool him down.”
Sophia snorted. “You’re the worst.” She stood up, taking her glass with her. As she shimmied between our stools, she leaned down and whispered, “You’re also not fooling anyone.”
With that, she walked away to go mingle, her dark, wavy hair brushing across her back as she went. She sidled up next to her fiancé, and he pulled her into his side without even looking over at her, like he instinctively knew she was there.
I tried to push down the swell of jealousy that rose up by taking a gulp of my 7 & 7. I didn’t begrudge Sophia for her happily ever after. I was so freaking happy that she’d found someone who complemented her so well. But watching her have the dream I’d stupidly convinced myself I’d found almost a year ago only to have reality come calling in a nightmarish fashion made me a little envious too. Not that I’d ever tell her that.
There was a lot I never intended to tell her, which made me feel like the shittiest best friend in the world, but it was what it was.
“Hey, you not dancing?”
I jolted at the sudden intrusion of the deep, out-of-breath voice. Looking over at Ransom’s stupidly handsome face made my hackles rise before I could temper myself.
“Not sure I’d call what you were doing dancing.”
His smile only got wider at my bitchy tone. “I’ll have you know I get a lot of compliments on my moves.”
“From who? Strippers?”
I was joking, but his face shuttered at my words, his smile disappearing as he stepped back from me. He shrugged. “All kinds of people. See ya.” And then he bolted away from me like his hard, perfectly sculpted ass was on fire.
As I watched him go, Brody’s girlfriend, Aamee, came and stood next to me. She was in her official the Yard uniform of jean shorts and brightly colored polo, but she’d tied hers so it cinched tightly around her trim waist. The fact that Aamee, Sophia’s ex-nemesis and ex-sorority president, was working as a server in Drew’s bar still blew my mind a bit, but I couldn’t deny she was damn good at it.
“Wow,” she said. “Even