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STRIPPED (The Slate Brothers, Book Three)
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Meet The Slate Brothers. Each One A Football Star. Each One Sexy, Rough And Completely Untamed.
A standalone romance with a guaranteed HEA
I can’t believe I want to f**k a football star.
I’m so not that girl.
I’ve always been a nerdy loner, my head in a book. And that’s how I prefer it…
But Tyson Slate is different, and for some reason he keeps teasing me, toying with me, touching me and making me melt.
I try to resist him but he’s so undeniably sexy, with muscles that I want to run my fingers over and gray-blue eyes. I try to pretend to be calm when Tyson is near, not wanting him to see how he’s flustered me with his words and his looks and that hard stare.
I can’t understand why he seems to want me, out of all the hot girls lining up to be with him.
But maybe it’s because I’m different, because I don’t come from his world.
Maybe that’s why he can be himself around me, let his walls down for just a little while, and then…touch me.
God, the way he touches me.
The way he looks at me.
I’m falling for him and he’s only going to trample my heart.
But Tyson Slate always gets exactly what he wants. And he wants me. Hard. Deep. Stripped of my defenses. And he won’t stop until he gets it…
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My best friend is trying to back out on me and I refuse to let it happen. As we stand on the campus quad just a few hundred feet from the gymnasium, I try to talk sense to her.
“This is a new start,” I remind Trishelle for what must be the millionth time. “You’ve got to tryout for the cheerleading team, or you’re just resigning yourself to another four years of who you were in high school. Besides, if you don’t go to tryouts, I’m not going to auditions.”
Trishelle and I are friends from high school, but we’re both trying to start fresh now that we’re in college. Neither of us had successful high school experiences, but college is supposed to be different.
We’re going to blossom, dammit–we’re going to do all of the things that we were too scared to do back then.
She’s supposed to go to cheerleading tryouts and I said I would go to acting auditions. But now my best friend is trying to back out on her end of the deal.
“Fine, Anna. I guess I’ll go make a fool of myself,” Trishelle finally agrees (thanks to my vigorous pep talk and refusing to take no for an answer), taking a big breath and adjusting her shorts. “Let’s just get this over with.”
“That’s what I like to hear. Sort of,” I say.
We continue on to the gymnasium, a massive concrete and glass building in the center of campus. Banners featuring the school’s basketball stars hang from the rafters. Once inside, Trishelle signs in and gets her number, and then we’re both on our own— her to go stretch and me to sit in the bleachers with a collection of nervous moms, boyfriends, sisters, and a few stage-dads who are so adorably freaked out that I can’t stand it.
I sit alone— which is cool with me. I’m perfectly happy to go to restaurants, theaters, and, I suppose, cheerleading auditions by myself. I’ve never understood why it worries so many people; solitude isn’t my preferred state of being or anything, but I’ve never been uncomfortable by myself. Maybe it’s a throwback to my childhood— kidney insufficiency means I spent a lot of time in hospital rooms alone despite the best intentions of nurses, other patients, and my parents. A transplant finally solved the problem, thought it a) left me with two insane scars and b) meant that someone had to, you know, die so I could have the transplant.
A therapist once told me that’s part of the reason I’m so hyper-responsible and anti-risk; I feel like I owe it to my donor to not mess up my life. Like, say, by auditioning for theater and totally humiliating myself and—
This isn’t the time, Anna. Focus on Trishelle.
Tryouts begin, and the stage-dads can’t sit still— they stand up and sit down over and over, hands to their chests or on their hips, like they’re playing a solo version of musical chairs. There’s lots of cheering among the audience, so I shout for Trishelle when it’s her turn to take a basic tumbling pass. She nails it, obviously, since round-off back-handsprings are something she’s been doing since first grade.
Trishelle was always a good gymnast, but for some reason the cheerleader mean girls never took to her. The way they treated her when we were in high school was sickening…
And that’s why my stomach is so nervous right now. I so badly want to see her do what I know she’s capable of, and it’s making me anxious and clammy.
Suddenly, the doors to the exterior of the gym open up, and a barrage of guys walk in. They’re sweaty and grass stained, and I guess that they’re from the football team— we saw them practicing outside on one of the fields as we were walking up. Plus, it’s fairly easy to spot a football player: Huge, muscular, and arrogant. They sit at the back of the bleachers, which means they’re only a few rows behind me.
“Not a double d cup in sight,” one of them says, sounding disappointed.
“That girl is hella flexible though,” another one says, and I hear some grunts of agreement. They go on like this for a while, picking their way through each and every girl auditioning, using their numbers to identify them. It’s a level of sexism I thought only existed in movies, but I remind myself that there are douchebag guys everywhere, and that if I cause a scene it’ll only distract Trishelle.
She wants this.
And so I want it for her, even if she’ll be cheering on these a-holes if she gets the gig…
The newbies are moving on to more difficult tumbling passes, and it’s obvious they’re using sudden death rules— people are dropping out, unable to complete the requested feats. Trishelle is still going strong, though, and I smile to myself when I notice that the vets running the audition have stopped doing passes alongside her. They’re talking in small groups like they’re just bored with the whole event, but I suspect it’s because they know they can’t hold a candle to Trishelle as a gymnast, and don’t want a side by side comparison.