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Faking It with the Forward: Chapter 30


Morning practice with the basketball team isn’t that different from hockey. Tall, muscular guys, ridiculous egos, ruthless competition. The bruises are different, and I haven’t seen any broken noses, but the injuries are just as severe. I’m learning a lot from the head trainer about the nuances of the different sports.

The biggest perk is that I’m not a popsicle when it’s over. The worst? That I don’t get to see Reese while I’m at work. No secret make out sessions in the supply closet or flirty looks over the water bottles. But we’ve worked it out—grabbing time during the day when we can. Which is why I’m rushing to the coffee shop after morning practice to meet him before classes.

He’s easy to spot hanging out in the to-go line, waiting for his order. He’s a full head taller than the rest of the patrons. His dark hair hidden under a Badger hockey knitted cap, which only makes his cheekbones more prominent. Damn, my boyfriend is hot.

He’s also not alone. Shanna stands across from him, looking gorgeous as always, a dark leather bag hanging over her shoulder that matches her boots. I slow down, unsure if I should interrupt. No, I’m not interrupting, but I’m sure as fuck going to eavesdrop.

“So you and the trainer,” she says, hitching her bag over her shoulder. Her nails are pointed and painted a dark red. “I thought for sure it was bullshit just to make me jealous.”

“Making you jealous was never the goal, but getting you to understand we weren’t getting back together was.”

Her eyes brighten and a wicked smirk curls on her upper lip. “So, it is fake. I knew it!”

Was,” he admits, “but not anymore. She’s the best fucking thing that’s ever happened to me.” He shrugs. “So, I guess I should thank you for pushing me into that.”

“You can’t really think this relationship is going to be the best option for you moving forward.” She steps closer, placing one of those well-manicured hands on his chest. “I can cut this thing with Brent at any time, and I’ll be back in the stands wearing your jersey for the next game.”

Circling his fingers around her wrist, he firmly removes it from his body.

“She’s all I want, and it’s not about what she can do for me. It’s what we do for one another.” She scoffs at that, and the look he gives her back is one of pity. “That’s what you don’t get, Shanna. I’m not a business or some kind of enterprise that needs a woman to make me look better. I want a partner that has her own life and her own passions. I want to stand by her while she does amazing things.”

“Bertha!” The Barista’s voice rings out. “George!”

My heart warms, not just from his declaration, but what he does when I’m not around, like handing out our codenames to the barista.

“That’s me,” he says. “And not that it’s any of my business, but I do think you should ditch Reynolds. That guy isn’t someone you want to bank on; he’s going to be a PR nightmare.”

He turns, leaving Shanna watching him walk away as he goes to pick up our coffee.

The expression on her face turns stormy and she turns with a huff. I take that as my cue to step back, hoping to stay out of her path, but no such luck.

“Well,” she stops in front of me, “enjoy him. I put in the work getting him to where he is today. If I’d known what he was looking for,” her eyes skim critically over me from ponytail to Reese’s sweatshirt, down to my tennis shoes, “I wouldn’t have wasted all that time.”

I close my eyes and will my temper to stay calm, but then I think about Reese and how hard he worked to keep me. I have no doubt he would have done the same for Shanna if she’d been the right person for him. “Reese isn’t a ticket to a lifestyle. None of these guys are. They’re men who work relentlessly, pushing their bodies and minds to the next level looking for success. That success is never just about them. It’s about their team, their family, their future. A man like Reese isn’t looking for something pretty to hang on his arm. He’s looking for someone ready to go through life with him as a partner. All of it, the ups and the downs, because trust me, there are going to be lot of both.” I set my jaw. “Reese needs a woman that loves him. Not someone hitching a ride for their own benefit.”

“You really believe that don’t you? You really think that he wants to stand next to you—a pathetic little tomboy—when he gets the call?”

“I know it.” I step closer. “And he’s right about Brent. You’re going to regret chasing after guys like that, because he’s using you as much as you’re using him and one day all of that is going to implode on you both.”

Nadia still doesn’t want to report what happened to her, but it’s going to come out—one day—guys like Brent and CJ don’t know when to stop. Shanna’s going to find herself in the middle of a huge scandal.

“Are you telling me that because you want me to dump him so your best friend can swoop in?”

“I’m telling you the same thing I told her. You’re both worth more than chasing jerseys.”

An arm circles around my body, holding out a cup with the name “Bertha” written on the side. Warm lips press against my temple.

Shanna’s eyes flick from my face to Reese and she scowls. “Fuck you both.”

“Well, we tried,” I say after she storms off.

“Yep.” He spins me so that I’m facing him and fists the front of my—his—sweatshirt and pulls me to him. “Is it wrong how hard I get every time you show up wearing this? I like everyone knowing that you’re mine.”

I like it too. Secrets relationships are fun, but exhausting. This is so much better.

“I’ve got class, but then an hour break.” He tilts his head. “You up for some tutoring?”

Room 110. With schedules as busy as ours it’s good to have a place to sneak off to in the middle of the day.

“Are you giving or receiving?” I ask, as if I’m considering the idea. “And what exactly are we learning here?”

“Both.” He leans over and adds, “I’m giving and you’re receiving. Practice makes perfect, even when it comes to eating your pussy.”

His grin tells me he’s being like this on purpose, just to watch me squirm.

“Your mouth is so filthy.”

“You love it.”

Fuck yeah, I do.

I love him, too.

“That. Was. Epic.”

My ears are ringing, and my skin is sticky with sweat from dancing all night. Reese looks down at me and grins, plucking a piece of confetti out of my hair.

“I admit it, they know how to put on a show.”

“An amazing show,” I gush, spinning around. “Like, the best one so far.”

He takes my hand and leads me off the floor with the other fans now that the lights are back on, and the band has left the stage. Yes, we had floor tickets, and Reese humored me as I pushed us as close to the stage as possible. My chest still feels like it’s vibrating from the bass and the roar of the crowd. “Just think, one day when you’re playing for the NHL you’ll have thousands of fans screaming for you like this.”

“I only need one fan,” he winks, “everything else is noise.” We keep pushing forward until we’re near the tunnel. His arm is wrapped around my body, protectively, and he looks down and asks, “What makes this one better than all the other concerts you’ve been to?”

I grab the front of his shirt, a black New Kings T-shirt I bought him at the merch shop. It’s a size too small and fits his body like a sexy, fanboy, glove. Stopping him in the middle of the moving crowd, I say, “You being here with me.”

“Yeah?” his head tilts, and he grins down at me. My heart flutters against my ribcage. Being with Reese never gets old. He has this way of always making me feel special and it’s important to me that I let him know that he’s special to me too.

“Yep.” I push up on my toes and kiss him. Ever since we went public, I’ve become a fan of PDA. Weird.

“Keep moving!” Security shouts, flashing a light in our direction. Reese laughs and holds onto me, making sure we’re together as we navigate the crowd.

When we’re outside the venue, I say, “You never told me how you ended up getting the tickets.”

“I told you, Logan helped me.”

“But how? They were completely sold out.”

His forehead creases. “Logan showed me a resale forum for serious fans. It’s not just first come, first served. You kind of have to plead your case.”

I know about this site. I’m actually a member. It’s a place for serious fans to keep the scalpers out, making sure tickets or limited merch gets to the right person.

“Let me see,” I say.

“Nope.” He leads me to the parking lot.

“Come on,” I beg.

“Not a chance, babe.” He drags my body against his side. “Let’s just say I pled my case for being a dumbass and was convincing enough that someone took pity on me.”

We make the long drive back to Wittmore and without asking, he heads back to the Manor. The guys are still up and playing video games.

“How was it?” Reid asks, barely looking away from the screen.

“A-mazing,” I say, still feeling wired.

“Want some food?” Reese asks, ducking into the kitchen. “Go upstairs, I’ll bring it up.”

Safely in his room, I sit on the bed and get out my phone, pulling up the forum. It’s not hard to navigate; I’ve been a member for a long time, but since I’ve been so busy at school I haven’t spent as much time in the community as I used to. Going to the buy/sell/trade section, I open it up and start scrolling. That’s when a username catches my eye: OneFive.

I hesitate, looking at the poster of Reese on the wall. His smug, sexy face taunting me.

Nope. I’m totally reading it.

Hey NK Fans,

Confession, I’m new to this group and new to the New Kings fandom. A friend directed me to this forum and suggested I tell my story. I’m stepping into this group with a mix of excitement and vulnerability. Today, I’m here not just to share my story, but to bare a piece of my heart.

A month ago, I met a girl. No, not a girl, the girl.

Our journey began in an unconventional way, a meeting of two souls each seeking something distinct yet vital. I was in desperate need of an exit from a toxic relationship, while she was on a mission to rebuild her self-assurance—something I had in abundance. It was a fusion of contrasts, an unlikely partnership, and yet, it clicked in a way we both never saw coming.

But here’s where life played its intricate game. Against every promise to myself, I fell for her. Harder than I could have ever imagined. Yet, in my state of blissed-out self-absorption, I made a grave mistake. I pushed her into a decision she wasn’t prepared for, unintentionally scaring her away. That’s on me. I admit it, I messed up. In a moment of shortsightedness, I let go of the most amazing girl I’ve ever known.

Look, I don’t know if she’ll take me back. I’m pretty fucking sure I don’t deserve her. But at the very least I can try to give her the thing she wants most of all.

Let me make this crystal clear: these tickets aren’t about me. They’re about her, the exceptional girl who deserves the world. She’s a powerhouse of dedication, unwavering in her pursuits; a beacon of kindness that lights up every room she enters. Her passion is infectious, her work ethic unmatched. Even if our paths don’t align again in the way I hope (though I’m determined to try), I can still give her this. A chance to witness the magic of New Kings live, to experience a night where the music resonates with her vibrant spirit.

So, fellow fans, this is my plea. Join me in this endeavor, in making a heartfelt gesture that could bridge the gap I foolishly created. Let’s come together as a community that celebrates not just the music, but the connections it forges. Let’s make sure that the best girl I know receives the gift she truly deserves.

Thank you for hearing me out,


I read and re-read the post, then absorb the comments. Several people offered up tickets for Reese’s heartfelt confession, including the ones he eventually purchased and gave to me.

A meeting of two souls each seeking something distinct yet vital.

Well, that’s one way to describe kissing me in a coffee shop in front of his ex and talking me into a fake relationship.

The door swings open and Reese enters backwards, hands full with bags of chips and a box of cookies. “Axel ate all the pizza,” he says, kicking the door shut with his foot. “But I broke into Jeff’s stash since he’s not home.”

“Awesome. I’m starving,” I reply, shoving my phone under the pillow. I reach for the cookies and he drops the bags on the bed.

“Don’t get crumbs everywhere,” he says, sitting next to me. He leans over, going for the chips, but slides his hand under the pillow, snatching my phone.


“You’re up to something,” he swipes open my phone. “Texting Logan about the show? Nadia? Posting that video I know you took of me dancing?”

“No!” I grab for the phone but he holds it over his head. “Give it back!”

I jump up, stepping on the bag of chips. It pops under the pressure of my weight and chips explode everywhere.

His eyes widen at the mess. “I literally just said don’t get crumbs everywhere.”

“This is your fault.” I use the distraction to dive for the phone again. “Never take a woman’s phone.”

He catches me and we fall back, landing in the chair he slept in our first night together. The already broken leg cracks under our weight and we land with a hard thump.

Tangled together, we stare at one another for a long beat, until we both burst into laughter. He sighs and hands me the phone. “Here. Just blur out my face if you post that video. I can’t have the other team using it against me on the ice.”

I take it from him and confess, “I was reading your post on the New King’s page.”

“Oh.” His cheeks turn pink. “And?”

“It was sweet.”


I kiss his chin. “No one’s ever done anything like that for me.”

“Yeah, well no one’s ever changed her internship for me.”

“But you did this first and I didn’t even know it.”

“You know what?” he asks, pushing my hair out of my eyes.


“That’s just the kind of thing people in love do for one another.”

“I’m starting to understand that.” I rest my hands on his chest. “Thank you.”

“For the tickets?” he asks, tilting his head.

For the tickets, for coming to my mom’s to get me, for helping Nadia, for teaching me how to let go of my past and embrace my confidence… well, for just being Reese Cain.

I press a kiss to his mouth. “For everything.”


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