Our Secret Moments: Chapter 17


“LET’S GO, Titans, let’s go! Let’s go, Titans, let’s go!”

If there was any time to put my head inside a bowl of ice water, now it’s now.

Nora has been chanting like a crazy person all morning as we got ready for the football game today. I don’t think she’s ever missed a game in her whole time here at Drayton and each time, she just gets crazier with her outfit choices and her chants.

Today she’s wearing Connor’s jersey with green face paint and a number fourteen sticker on her cheek. She even convinced Elle to do face paint too, but hers looks a lot cuter with a few green dots in a crescent shape on the side of her head. I stuck to wearing a training jersey that I ordered from the school site last week that doesn’t have anybody’s number on it and added a green ribbon to my half-up and half down style my hair is in.

“Let’s go, Nora, let’s go,” I chant back to her, waiting outside the door of our dorm. She’s giggling now as she runs out the door, a bag full of snacks and extra face paint just in case. After she’s finally done doing her pre-game happy dance, I lock the door and we walk down the hallway.

“Is it only me who’s actually kind of excited?” Elle asks, peering at us in the line that we’re walking in. “Like, I’ve always thought football was an attractive sport, but there is something in the water here.”

“I still don’t get how the game works,” I admit. No matter how many times I watched our dads play with Wes and Connor, I could never get the hang of it. Even now with all the research I’ve done, my brain just hurts even more.

“You don’t have to know how it works to enjoy it,” Nora says beside me. “It’s the atmosphere that makes it fun – the chanting, the band, the cheerleaders, the music. It’s a little on the nose, but that’s what makes it better.”

“I’m sure,” I mock, and she elbows me before hooking her arm into mine and I hook mine through Elle’s.

When we get down to the pitch, the bleachers are bustling with people all dressed like us on one side and the opposing team from the other college sit on separate stands. Just like Nora said, the atmosphere is otherworldly.

It’s fucking freezing out here in the early November chill, but the glow of the headlights, the massive time board on one side of the pitch and the smell of soggy hot dogs from the concession stand makes me feel like I’m in a movie.

The games I went to in high school were nothing like this. People were definitely louder then, but at college level, they’re more serious. The crowd knows that the teams aren’t playing to win a participation trophy, but they need to win to be seriously considered to be drafted into the NFL. And from what my research tells me, it’s competitive as hell.

We take a seat not too far and not too close on the bleachers, snuggling close together to keep warm. We’ve got our huge jackets, gloves and scarves on, rubbing our palms together to keep some heat going. Nora whips off her outer layers, showcasing her jersey instead when the team start doing warm-ups on the pitch.

That woman is crazy.

I scan the field and the bleachers, looking back to the small tunnel where the boys walk through as I wait for something. I have no idea what. I’m getting antsy and impatient at the thought of seeing Connor again after what happened the other night.

Not only is it awkward as fuck sitting next to and inadvertently lying to Nora about where I was the other night, I hate that I did whatever it was I did with Connor just as much as I enjoyed it.

I let him touch me in the places I’ve only dreamt about him being. I never would have told him that out loud and I don’t think I ever will. There’s always been a tiny part of me that’s had a crush on him. Of course, there has. It’s the oldest trope in the book.

He’s always been kind to me, especially after the way he looked after me at the party. He listens when I ramble and even when I don’t. He looks at me like he sees me and not like he’s judging me. It also helps that he has the deepest brown eyes I’ve ever seen. He has soft, slightly curly hair that I want to run my hands through, lips that look perfect for…

“You okay?” Elle asks. It’s only then that I realise I’ve been twisting my scarf between my hands. I smooth it out easily, taking a deep breath. I cannot get caught up with thoughts about him already. That’s just ridiculous. “Are you nervous to see them play?”

“No,” I say, laughing as I turn to her. “Why would I be nervous? I’m here for research purposes only.”

“Research?” Elle repeats, cocking her head to the side. That word has been fucking me up lately and I hate it. “I’ve seen you looking at Connor since we got here.”

“No, I haven’t. Why would I look at him?” I whisper, keeping my voice low as Nora chats with the girl beside us animatedly. That girl can make friends anywhere. I’m convinced it’s her superpower.

“Look, I won’t say anything, but I saw you dancing at the party. No matter how drunk I was, there was no way I missed that,” she says to me. I swallow. Hard. I’ve been replaying that night over and over before I go to sleep each night. It’s a sickness. “Unless I completely misread the situation,” she adds when I don’t say anything.

“No,” I whisper, “No, you didn’t.”

“I fucking knew it,” she says triumphantly. “You like him, don’t you? I bet all that forced proximity is eating away at you.”

I shrug. “I don’t know yet, Elle-Belle,” I reply.

She smiles wide, her dimples sinking in. “Well, either way, that’s fucking adorable. You deserve to be happy, Cat. Just…” She turns back to Nora who is still talking. “Be careful.”

“I know,” I say, “I will.”

That felt like a lie the second the crowd roared when the team slowly made their way back onto the pitch because when I saw Connor lined up, helmet in hand, padded up and fucking massive, a piece of me died inside. He scanned the crowd, looking and searching until his hot gaze finally landed on me.

And then he smiled.

At me.

My stomach somersaulted at the movement, and I hope to God nobody noticed it. My whole face lit up with the sheer excitement of what-if which I haven’t felt for a while. What if I let myself have this? What if I let myself fall?

Being careful seems to be the very last thing on my mind right now.

Is this supposed to turn me on, or is that just me? I don’t think I took my eyes off the players the entire game. Did I understand what was going on? Not completely. Did I feel my heart fall right out of my chest whenever I watched one of the players sprint with the ball? Every. Fucking. Time.

I didn’t know how much it excited me until they started playing. The crowd was almost animalistic as they roared and cheered with the team, encouraging them to go on. Nora was waving her hands in the air like a mad woman, yelling at the opposing team while Elle and I couldn’t stop laughing. It was a new and thrilling experience and now I want to go to every single game and deal with the chaotic aftermath.

Once the boys had showered and changed, we waited for them in the parking lot on campus that sits between the sports arena and our dorms. We were invited to a wind-down session back at Oliver’s house. No pool today, unfortunately, as it’s being cleaned. I don’t think I’d be able to look at his backyard without my thoughts turning feral.

Connor steps out of the doors to the arena, freshly showered and his brown hair a damp mess on his head as Sam, Wes and Oliver are in tow behind him but he’s all I see. Nora runs towards them as excited as ever.

“Holy shit,” she exclaims, looking up at Connor and Wes. “You were fucking amazing. And that second half? I almost shit myself.”

Wes laughs, slinging his arm around her shoulder as they continue to walk towards us. Connor doesn’t take his eyes off mine as he slowly walks towards me. I press my back further into his truck. “What did you think, Catherine?” he asks above Nora’s excited chatter.

I shrug. “You were good. You were all good.”

“Just good?” he asks, his voice low and scorching as he steps in closer to me. My heartbeat increases as my chest rises and falls while I look up at him. “We were better than good, and you know it.”

“Do I?” I tease. He presses one hand on the hood of the car, caging me in. He just loves doing that, doesn’t he? Even when people are around. He’s going to get us into some very deep shit if he carries on and if I continue letting him.

He lowers his head to the side of my face, his breath hot and tantalising against my ear. “Guess I’ll have to prove you wrong and turn that good into a fucking fantastic.”

Before I can say anything, Nora comes behind him and pushes him off me. “Okay, leave her alone, big guy. We’ve got celebratory shots to do!”

I never got to get a good look at Oliver’s house last week before I was pleasantly ambushed by Connor, but holy fuck… If I could be buried anywhere it would be here. Wooden floors, high ceilings, dark grey reflective refrigerators, a wine cellar, a fridge dedicated to alcoholic drinks only. It’s a frat boy’s wet dream. And mine too, apparently.

I spin in a circle before taking off my coat and hanging it by the door. Nora and Elle walk in front of me, taking off their outer layers too, dropping them onto an empty chair in the hallway. Wes and Sam rush past me, almost knocking me over as Oliver huffs.

“Just don’t break anything, please,” Oli says, running a nervous hand through his hair as we start down the long hallway. “My parents might be out of town, but they’re not idiots.”

I laugh a little, finally shredding off my scarf and gloves as I shove them into my coat pockets. When I turn, I almost collide straight into Connor’s chest. Luckily for me and the huge chunk of a man, he steadies me instantly, holding on to my shoulders.

“How many times are you going to fall into me, Cat?” he murmurs before setting me straight. I brush off my shoulders as if he’s left a mark there.

“How many times are you going to catch me?” I retort.

“As many times as it takes,” he answers easily, smirking at me. He looks too good like this – fresh, happy, tall. I mean, he looks tall all the time. It’s just a necessary description when it comes to him because it turns me inside out every time I have to look up at him.

“I walked right into that one, didn’t I?” I rub my temples, shaking my head at my own stupidity. His gaze travels over my outfit, looking down at my shirt as his eyes squint.

“What are you wearing?”

“A jersey,” I say, smiling, knowing it’ll rile him up.

“Right. And whose number is on the back?”

“No ones,” I answer with a shrug. “But I was considering getting number eighty-two. That’s yours, right?”

His eyes darken and I take a step back, loving the way I’m messing with him. “That’s Sam’s and you know it is. Next time you’re considering wearing anyones jersey, you wear one with my number, okay?”

I nod in fake understanding. This man is already so possessive over me. I hate it nearly as much as I love it. “So, I have to come to you for massages and I have to wear your jersey. It seems to me like you’re trying to keep me already, Connie. I hate to break it to you, but I don’t come to these things for you.”

“Is that so?”

I swallow. “Yep. I’m here for the team, not you. You just happen to be a part of it.”

“Are you sure? Because from the way you were whining my name and sitting in my lap last week, tells me a very different story. It tells me that you want me, you want this, just as much as I do.”

The thickness in his voice causes a deep, heavy want in my lower stomach as he walks closer to me, pressing my back into the wall. My pulse grows erratic, my breathing becoming choppy.

Is he finally going to kiss me? I want him to, so badly. I want to feel the roughness of his mouth against mine, his weight pressing into me like it did last week. I tilt my mouth up to his as he brackets my jaw with his hand, the heat making me grow more desperate by the second.

He leans down.


I’m going to quash this desire and get on with my day. Just a taste. Just the smallest amount I can get without going insane and I can continue to live my life just with the thought of knowing what he tastes like. Just a little.

“Cat! Where are you? You need to get your little tush here immediately,” Nora’s loud voice booms. “We can’t do shots without you.”

I sigh, closing my eyes. “I’m going to…” I nod down the hallway where the rest of the guys are.

“You don’t have to,” he murmurs, our lips achingly close.

“But, Nora…. And, you know.” I trip over my words like an idiot and he just continues holding my jaw, smiling at me. That fucking smile. Those fucking lips.

“Right.” He does nothing to put any space between us. “You don’t want her to think anything is going on, do you?”

“No,” I breathe. “Nothing is going on.”

“Then why aren’t you moving, Catherine?” His lips ghost over mine and I swear I hear myself whimper at the slight contact.

“I’m moving,” I whisper, closing my eyes for a second. I shake my head a little, causing Connor’s hand to fall from my face.

“Yeah,” he teases, “I can see that.”

My legs stay rooted in the spot and for whatever reason, all I can do is stare up at him. Why am I still here? My chest is heaving now, suddenly out of breath. When I still don’t move, Connor makes his decision for me and he presses a quick kiss to my forehead.

My fucking forehead.

And then he has the audacity to say, “I’ll see you, sweetheart,” before leaving me still plastered to the wall.

Fuck. My. Life.

After a few drinks and avoiding Connor like the plague, Elle and I are already tipsy, wandering around Oliver’s house. It’s like a maze in here – a beautifully crafted, privileged maze that I never want to escape from. Of course, we weren’t allowed to wander unattended because he’s a control freak and insisted on giving us a tour instead.

I pick up a large picture frame on a random coffee table in the middle of one of the hallways on the second floor. There’s nothing inside it, not even a stock photo. It’s just a pure gold frame with sparkles on diamonds edged into it. “What’s this?” I ask.

“Nothing. Put it back,” he demands. The tone in his voice makes me giggle. Oliver is one of the sweetest guys on the team – he’s usually quiet, a little reserved and has the most common sense out of all of them, next to Connor of course. “Eleanor! You can’t touch that.”

I turn to see Elle standing next to a teetering photo on the wall. It’s fucking massive – at least twice the size of us. It’s one of those weird oil paintings that you have to look at really hard to understand what it is. Elle has always had an eye for art and photography, so she’s clearly interested.

Oliver rushes over to her, gently pushing the painting back into place.

Elle shrugs. “I was just looking,” she mumbles.

“You look with your eyes, not your hands,” he demands, and I swear I see him wipe sweat from his forehead.

I move in step beside them as we continue walking down the hallway, leading towards the stairs. “You need to chill out, Oli,” I say, messing up his hair.

“That word has literally no place in my vocabulary,” he mutters, trying to straighten out his hair again. “I should never have invited you over.”

“Have some fun, Nayman. Let loose,” Elle says, hooking her arm through his. Some of the boys on this team are wound too tight. They care too much about the little things. Like thousand-dollar paintings that hang casually on the walls.

“Yeah, Nayman,” I mock, slinging my arm into the crook of his other arm. He just laughs, shaking his head as his olive cheeks turn a deeper red colour.

We take our time going down the floating steps, giggling as we almost fall through the small gaps. It takes us a lot longer than it should, but we’re already a little light-headed and the night has only just begun.

Only it hasn’t.

Because now, where the stairs usually end there’s now a flood of people, dancing and moving around each other with drinks in their hands. When did this turn into a fully-fledged party? I register the horror on Oliver’s face as he unhooks his arms from ours, almost tripping down the steps as he tries to get the party under control.

Elle steps in beside me and she frowns. “What?” I ask and then I follow her line of vision to where my eyes snag on Connor, standing near the French doors and he’s staring right. At. Me. “Oh.”

“He’s looking at you like he wants to eat you,” Elle whispers out the side of her mouth. “Or eat you out. It’s hard to tell.”

The heat of Connor’s gaze is like something I’ve never experienced before. He has this weird, rare talent where whenever I look at him, everything, everybody just fades away and it’s just him. He makes me feel like there’s no one else in the room other than us and my eyes can’t be torn away from his. His face is so perfect to look at, so comforting yet so thrilling that it throws me off.

I have no idea what’s happening between us. That kiss that we almost had earlier is enough to know how badly this could end if someone found out.

The face that obstructs my view gives me a second to breathe. “More drinks?” Nora asks, grinning, holding up two solo cups to me and Elle.

When my eyes connect with Connor’s again, I know exactly what my decision is going to be. Looking at him trips me up more than it needs to. I just need another night to forget for a while. Forget about waiting on the next call from my dad. Forget about the assignments that I know will make me sick to my stomach just thinking about them.

I grab the cup from Nora’s hand, and she giggles like an excited child as she grabs a stray cup from the bannister, and we all clink our cups together.

Here’s to forgetting.


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