No Boundaries:A Bad Boy Sports Romance(8)

By: Violet Paige

I needed to start taking better care of myself, but there were only so many hours in a day and it seemed that out of the twenty-four most people were able to function with, I had thirty-five hours of work to complete. That didn’t include showering or eating.

I rubbed the back of my neck and tried to reach up on my toes to get a stretch down the back of my legs. I should have been used to being on my feet all day, but once I added night shifts, my body revolted. It was too much. All of it.

There was another reason I couldn’t eat. It could be summed up in two words: Kane Hawkins.

I sighed louder than I meant to, but I glanced out the windows that lined the wall on the left of the classroom. All the children were on the playground, and I had a break from recess duty. I had a minute to let my stomach roll with the memory of what happened last week. It wavered between nausea, excitement, and dread.

I turned from the window. It was supposed to be easy money. Guaranteed to add enough cash in my pocket to pay my bills so I didn’t have to leave the education center. I sat on the corner of my desk. I took a job doing something humiliating so I could keep one that meant more to me than anything else. It was some kind of twisted poetic irony.

Nothing else that happened once I tied on that waitress apron made any sense. I almost had sex in the back of the bar. I had let a man I’d never met touch me. Kiss me. Lick me. Suck me like a piece of candy.

And I liked it. No, I loved it.

And for what? To get pawed at by a drunken biker? And then to have Kane Hawkins defend my honor and end up being hauled off to jail? None of it made sense.

I felt guilty. Guilty about everything. The almost sex. Missing part of my shift. The fight. Hawk’s arrest. Dragging my ass to work exhausted every morning this week. There wasn’t a corner I could turn to where I didn’t feel the guilt.

It was as if something had possessed me that night. Something sexy. Something forbidden. And it was almost Hawk. I had almost let him take total control over me.

“Miss Bristow?”

I jumped at the sound of the small voice behind me.

“Hey, JJ.”

I thought I was alone. I had let my thoughts drift to places I never should have let them go at the center. Teaching here was my true calling. These kids needed me. And they needed me to get my shit together.

I could relate to them. I thought maybe more than some of the other teachers. There was a part of me that was like them. I had lost my mom at a young age. I knew what it was like to feel that kind of pain. To feel like I had been abandoned. I knew it too well. If these kids were lucky, they had one parent. But looking at JJ, I knew he wasn’t one of those.

“Is it ok if I stay inside?” he asked.

“Don’t you want to play with everyone else?” I asked.

He shook his head. “No. I just want to read.”

He scuffed his feet along the linoleum floor. It wasn’t the worst request he could make.

“All right,” I caved. JJ was one of those kids who was quiet. He’d rather bury his head in a book than play kick ball or tag.

He settled into his desk and pulled a mystery ghost story from his backpack. I pulled out my chair and finally braved my phone. I pulled a news page and started skimming for a headline.

I had been nervous all day. I wondered if there would be news about Hawk. I wondered if I would be called in. Would he need me to testify? Would he have a fair judge? Should I try to call his attorney and offer to make a statement?

Should I call my dad at work and get his advice? I knew that was pointless. He was a huge Sharks fan, but he worked in family court. He couldn’t get involved to help in this situation. Add to that, I hadn’t told him I took a job waiting tables and I would have more explaining to do. I didn’t need that right now.

I looked up when I heard the shuffle of more feet enter the classroom. Recess was over. I sighed when the bell rang overhead. Another day gone. Another lesson taught. The students rushed in, grabbing their backpacks and lunch boxes before lining up by the door. I hurried them down the hall to the carpool line and then to the bus line, dropping them off along the way.

I returned to the classroom and smiled at Hunter.

“So what club do you have today?” I asked, patting him gently on the shoulder.

He shrugged just slightly from my touch. Over time, I had gotten used to his aversion of being close to other people. But there were moments when I could reach out. Show him warmth.

There were a variety of programs set up at the education center for underprivileged kids and their families after school. There was everything ranging from ballet and gymnastics to soccer and swimming.

“I don’t know.” He looked at the floor. “Football, I guess?”

I felt a small wave of relief. Today would be a good day. I wouldn’t have to prod and convince him. Normally he chose not to participate in any of the clubs, but for some reason, football had sparked his interest.

I hoped it pulled him out of his shell.

Something had to work.

“Well, come on then.”

We scurried through the maze of halls past my third grade classroom door and out the exit door to the playground, where just a few minutes ago I had spotted Hunter watching the other kids play.

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