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Block Shot (Hoops #2)
Author:Kennedy Ryan

Block Shot (Hoops #2)

Kennedy Ryan



Author’s Note


It was important that we hear Banner,

the heroine, speaking Spanish, her first language.

I understand many of the phrases in BLOCK SHOT could be translated in various ways depending on the Spanish-speaking people group and geography.

I, in consultation with Spanish speaking early readers, have chosen the translation we determined most authentic for Banner, a Mexican-American raised in California.





Part I





“There is something about falling in love

with a beautiful mind ...”





-Cindy Cherie, Poetess





College. Senior Year.





1





Jared





Testosterone and entitlement.

The air is thick with both.

And weed, which in my experience, transcends all socioeconomic barriers. The everyman drug. Even this tight circle of overgrown trust fund baby boys draws and blows from the pile of bags I tossed onto the large mahogany table at the center of the room.

“This is good shit,” Benton Carter says, proffering the joint to me. “Want some? You did bring it.”

“You mean I fetched it,” I say low enough for only him to hear. “And I’m just about over being the resident lapdog at Prescott’s beck and call.”

One glance to the head of the table confirms William Prescott wears that smug, self-satisfied smirk that seems permanently tattooed on his pasty face. He catches my eye, raises his joint, and gives me a thumbs-up.

“Ask me where he can put that thumb,” I tell Bent.

“That is not how you get in, Foster.” Bent shakes his head, but an irrepressible grin tugs at the corners of his mouth. He has no more tolerance for that asshole than I do. “Prescott’s the chapter president. Final say rests with him on whether you get in or not.”

Getting “in” seemed like the best thing I could do for my future when Bent told me about The Pride, a secret society akin to Yale’s Skull and Bones. It’s a national network of good ol’ boy bluebloods who look out for one another in business and pleasure. Only Ivy League and the most elite private schools like ours, Kerrington College, have chapters. Admission only comes “through blood or bond.” You’re either granted admission as a legacy connected through a family member or you get in because a member sponsors you. When Bent, whose family goes back four generations in The Pride, approached me about joining, it seemed like a fantastic idea. For someone as ambitious as I am, it was a gift from the gods. After months of doing the chapter president’s bidding, I’m ready to punch that gift horse in the mouth.

“You’re close,” Bent whispers, casting a furtive glace around the table at the other members still smoking, drinking, and posturing to impress each other. “Perform this last rite Prescott assigns tonight, and you’ll be in.”

“You do realize last rites are generally followed by death.”

“It won’t be that bad. Just . . .” Bent stares at the table instead of at me. “Just don’t lose it when he tells you what it is. Do this one thing, and you’re in.”

Based on the crazy shit Prescott has already had me do, this one thing could be anything. Breaking into a professor’s office to steal his laptop and an exam. Exhuming a grave to retrieve a Prescott family heirloom. Dismantling the bell in the campus tower. Not to mention buzzing all my hair off. What any of it has to do with so-called brotherhood and character, I have no idea. I think Prescott knows every time I smile to his face I’m mentally flipping him off, so he searches for the most risky, asinine tasks he can come up with. By luck of birth, he ended up in this position, and from my perspective, he is the least likely to succeed without the inherent advantages of his daddy’s money and The Pride’s fraternal network. I’m not the most submissive lion in the so-called pride on a good day; I’m nearly at the breaking point after three months of bowing and scraping to this tool.

“Whatever he wants me to do, I hope it’s quick or that it doesn’t have to be done tonight.” I glance at my watch. “I have a study group in less than an hour across campus.”

Bent narrows his eyes at me through a cloud of smoke.

“A group?” he asks. “Or a girl?”

I stiffen and cock a brow, silently asking what the hell. In the smoke-filled basement of Prescott Hall with these bluebloods, Bent may be a Pride legacy and I a mere prospect, but he knows I remember him as the lanky kid I met at freshman orientation. We’ve been tight ever since, and I’ve locked the door on most of the skeletons in his closet.

My face blank, I toy with an unlit joint. “What girl?”

There’s a war between reluctance and loyalty on his face before he releases a smoky sigh.

“Prescott knows you don’t study at the library.” The words slide from one barely open, hardly moving corner of Bent’s mouth. “He knows you study at the laundromat.”

His face and eyes sober.

“He knows about Banner.”

The air chills around me and a queasy feeling grips my stomach at the mention of Banner Morales. Dark, bottomless, espresso-colored eyes fringed with long, thick lashes. Full lips tinted by chocolate and roses. High cheekbones and one dimple on the right side. A bold nose dusted with exactly seven freckles. I blink to clear the mental image, sharpening my focus on my best friend’s worried expression.

“What does she have to do with this?” I strip my voice of the emotion struggling to break the surface. “She’s just my study partner.”

Bent tips his head and gives me a knowing look.

“Foster, come on. It’s me.”

I haven’t talked to anyone about Banner. How I think about her all the time. And how she makes me laugh without even trying. How my dick gets hard when I smell her shampoo. All of this is fodder for merciless ribbing, so no. I haven’t talked to anyone about Banner, except Bent, and even then not much. I maintain a blank face and level my mouth into a flat line.

“Dude, I’m clueless,” I answer evenly.