Home > The Chase (Briar U #1)(10)

The Chase (Briar U #1)(10)
Author: Elle Kennedy

With a scowl, I flip up my middle finger. “Not funny.”

“That was hilarious and you know it. See you tomorrow, crazy girl.”

I watch enviously as she dashes into the diner. I’d love to be having lunch and eating pie right now. But Brenna’s right—I can’t keep putting it off.

It’s time to go home.



There’s a shiny Audi in the driveway when we pull up. My shoulders tighten, and I hope Hunter doesn’t notice the reaction. I don’t glance at the driver’s seat to gauge his reaction, because I’m sure he’s thrilled to see Summer’s car. At least I assume it’s Summer’s. I stowed my beat-up Honda in the one-car garage before we left for Vermont, so there’s nowhere else she could’ve parked.

Besides, it’s a fucking Audi.

Hunter parks the Land Rover behind the silver car and addresses us in a stern voice. “This stays between us.”

“Obvs.” Hollis yawns loudly and unbuckles his seatbelt. He slept like a rock in the backseat the entire drive home.

“I’m not joking. If this gets back to Coach…”

“It won’t,” Hollis assures him. “This trip didn’t happen. Right, Fitz?”

I nod grimly. “Didn’t happen.”

“Good. But let’s go over our story in case he asks at practice tomorrow?” Hunter kills the engine. “We were in New Hampshire with Mike’s folks. We chilled by the fire, sat in the hot tub, played Monopoly.”

“I won,” Hollis pipes up.

I roll my eyes. Of course he has to be the winner of this fictional Monopoly game.

“Naah, I won,” I say smugly. “I bought Boardwalk and put eight hotels on it.”

“Screw that. I owned Boardwalk.”

“Nobody owned Boardwalk,” Hunter grumbles. “We didn’t play Monopoly.”

He’s right. We were skiing, aka the stupidest thing we could ever do, seeing as how we’re midseason. But Hollis, Hunter, and I are not exactly the best influences on each other. We all grew up on the East Coast and love winter sports, so when Hollis suggested a secret ski trip over break, it sounded like too much fun to miss out on.

Coach will be livid if he finds out, though. As hockey players, we can’t do anything that might jeopardize our bodies or our season. A drunken ski weekend in Vermont? Cardinal sin.

But sometimes you’ve got to prioritize fun, right?

And no, I didn’t agree to the trip just to delay seeing Summer. Because that’s pitiful and stupid, and I’m neither pitiful nor stupid.

So what if she hooked up with Hunter? She’s not my type, anyway. And now I get to pay less rent. Win-win.

“Okay, so we’ve got the story straight? New Hampshire. Fire, hot tub, Monopoly, hot chocolate.”

“Hot chocolate?!” Hollis screams. “What the hell! You’re throwing a whole new plot twist into this. I don’t know if I’ll be able to remember.”

I start laughing.

Hunter shakes his head at us. “You guys have been playing for Jensen a whole year longer than me—you of all people should know what’ll happen if he finds out we were partying this weekend. The skiing’s bad enough. The booze and weed might be worse in his book.”

Hollis and I sober up. He’s got a point. The last time a player was caught partying, he was kicked off the team. That player happened to be Dean, who took some molly at a party and then failed a piss test the next day.

Not that we did anything like MDMA this weekend. Just a few beers, one joint, and a bunch of tricks on the slopes that we probably—fine, that we absolutely shouldn’t have tried.

“Let’s go in. Can’t keep our new roomie waiting.” Hollis is downright gleeful, his grin eating up his entire face.

Hunter gives him a dark look as he hops out of the Rover. “Hands off.”

“No way. You can’t call dibs.”

“First of all, she’s not a piece of meat. She’s our roommate.” Hunter flicks up one eyebrow. “But if we are calling dibs, I’m pretty sure mine was implied when I had my tongue in her mouth.”

My teeth clench of their own volition.

“True.” Hollis sighs in defeat. “I’ll back off.”

The muscles in my jaw relax as I snicker. He says that as if he ever stood a chance. Hollis is a good-looking guy, but he’s a total bro, not to mention obnoxious. A girl like Summer would never go for him.

“Thank you,” Hunter mocks. “That’s so generous of you, Mike. Truly, I’m touched.”

“I’m a good friend,” Hollis agrees.

As we trudge up the front stoop, there’s no mistaking the glint of anticipation in Hunter’s eyes, which is to be expected. I saw his face when Dean called and said Summer needed a place to live. It was obvious he couldn’t wait for a repeat performance of New Year’s Eve.

Since I’ve got a practical head on my shoulders, I swallowed my feelings on the matter and warned Hunter that whatever happens with him and Summer, it can’t affect our living arrangements because her name is on the lease now. He assured us it wouldn’t.

As if he’s already sure something will happen between them.

Whatever. I don’t care if it does. Let them hook up. I’ve got better things to focus on.

I sling my duffel over my shoulder and wait for Hollis to unlock the front door. Inside, I drop the bag with a thud and kick off my boots. The others do the same.

“Honey, we’re home!” Hollis shouts.

Laughter echoes from upstairs.

My pulse speeds up when her footsteps approach the landing. She appears at the railing in fleece pants and a Briar sweatshirt, her hair up in a messy twist.

Hollis’ eyes glaze over. There’s nothing indecent about Summer’s outfit, but this girl could make a burlap sack look sexy.

“Hey. Welcome home!” she says cheerfully.

“Hey,” I call up to her. My voice sounds strained.

Hunter shrugs out of his coat and tosses it on the hook. “Blondie,” he drawls. “Glad you’re here.”

Hollis nods. “For real.”

“Aw, thanks. I’m glad to be here.”

“Hold on. You need a proper hello.” Grinning, Hunter bounds up the stairs.

Her cheeks go a little pink as he draws her into his arms for a hug.

I wrench my gaze away and pretend to be really focused with the task of hanging up my jacket. I don’t know if he kisses her or not, but Summer is still blushing when I force myself to turn back.

“Gonna get changed,” Hunter says.

He ducks into his room, and Hollis wanders off to the kitchen. Which means Summer and I are alone when I reach the second-floor landing.

She watches me warily. “Did you guys have a good time?”

I nod.

“Cool.” She edges toward her open bedroom door.

I peer past her slender shoulder and spot a perfectly made bed with a white duvet and about a hundred throw pillows. There’s a neon-pink beanbag chair on the floor, along with a shaggy white rug. An open laptop sits on a small corner desk that wasn’t there when Dean inhabited the room.

She’s made herself at home.

This is her home, a voice reminds me.

“Thanks for letting me—” She corrects herself. “—for agreeing to have me as a roommate.”

I shrug. “No prob. We needed a fourth.”

She’s still inching away, as if she doesn’t want to be near me. I wonder if she’s remembering how she practically threw herself at me on New Year’s Eve and then ended up playing tonsil hockey with my teammate.

Not that I’m bitter or anything.

“Anyway…” She trails off.

“Yeah. I…” I start traveling backward too. “I’m gonna grab a shower. We got one last run in—ah, round of Monopoly,” I amend, “before we left and I’m all sweaty.”

Summer raises her eyebrows. “I didn’t realize Monopoly was so strenuous.”

Hunter snickers from his doorway.

I turn to glare at him, because he’s the one who came up with the Monopoly alibi in the first place, but he’s not there. He’s moved past the doorway as he shrugs into a shirt.

“Board games are intense,” I answer lamely. “At least the way we play ‘em.”

“Interesting. I can’t wait for roomie game night, then.” Her shoulder bumps the door as her backward journey ends. “Enjoy your shower, Fitz.”

She disappears into her bedroom, and I lumber into mine. When my phone buzzes, I almost fall over with relief. I need the distraction before I start thinking too hard about how fucking awkward that whole encounter was.

The text on the screen makes me grin.

Still stuck at the 3rd gate! I fckn hate u, bro.

Rather than text back, I call my buddy. Morris is a fellow gamer, a good friend, and currently demo’ing the role-playing game I spent the past two years designing.

“Yo!” Morris answers immediately. “How do I get into the City of Steel, dammit?”

I snicker. “Like I’m going to tell you.”

“But I’ve been stuck here since last night.”

“I literally sent you the link last night. The fact that you’ve already made it to the city is wicked impressive.” I shake my head. “I haven’t checked the message boards today, but last I saw, none of the other betas were even close to passing the village level.”

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