Home > Wingspan (Westbrook Elite #2)

Wingspan (Westbrook Elite #2)
Author: Cambria Hebert








* * *


You ever have sex to scratch an itch?

But then after you get some, the itch is worse?

Bro, WTF?

And no, the itch I’m talking about is not the kind you get from having sex. I’m not packing some kind of STD.

I got checked just to be sure.

Maybe it was bad sex. Is there such a thing as bad sex? I mean, I never thought so. But here I was… itchy as hell.

And yeah, maybe pissy as hell too.

The shrill sound of Coach’s whistle was sharp enough to cut through practice, but I didn’t stop instantly. I did a few more strokes and then dipped underwater before popping up to tread the rippling waves.

“Owens!” Coach blasted, stalking over to stand at the end of my lane. “What the hell was that?”

Shifting the goggles up onto my head, I wiped my hand over my face. “What?”

He made a rude noise. “Are you swimming butterfly or trying to Hulk out in the water?”

“Coach, if I was going to be a superhero, it would not be the Hulk.”

He rolled his eyes. “What’s with the aggression?”

Look, it was one thing for my best friend, Ryan, to point out my shit mood, but it was entirely different when Coach picked up on it. We were supposed to leave all our shit in the locker room, not haul it into the pool. I was usually stellar at this.

I shrugged. “I’m just tired. Guess I was overcompensating.”

“Engage your core. You look sloppy. You wouldn’t have to slap the water like that if you were swimming correctly. Technique, Owens. Worry about speed later.”

I was the best butterfly-stroke swimmer Elite had, but he was acting like I was the worst.

Ryan appeared, hooking an arm over the rope beside me. “I’ll swim this lap with you.”

I scoffed. “Your butterfly stroke sucks.”

Ryan was the best freestyle swimmer we had.

He grinned, looking like a deranged bug with those goggles and blue swim cap on his head. “All the more reason to practice.”

“You two wanna get out and go have tea? This is a pool, not a café!” Coach scolded.

I positioned the goggles back on my face.

“Do it right this time, Owens.”

“Bro.” Ryan beckoned. “Be one with the dolphin.”

I laughed under my breath, a little of the tension leaving me. And then we were swimming, and I shoved everything else out of my head to focus on my core, timing, and body movement. The butterfly stroke was the hardest in swimming. It required more muscle mass, more muscle work, but it wasn’t something you could perfect with brute strength. In other words, you had to not only have the muscle but use it correctly.

Hence Coach’s shitty comments.

It requires a lot of concentration, skill, and, honestly, force of habit to keep both arms, the head, shoulders, and part of the chest out of the water for each stroke.

It also helped to have Ryan swimming next to me because there was no way I’d let him look better at my stroke.

“Better.” Coach was gruff as if giving even a half-assed compliment would give him a raging case of diarrhea.

Then he blew the whistle again, calling practice. I started to pull myself up out of the water, but he stopped me. “Not you, Owens. Give me two more laps.”

“Why me?” I practically whined. I was fucking tired.

“Because you showed up late to practice.”

“The hell I did! I was here on time.”

“Yeah, well, it sure didn’t look like you in the pool. Two more.”

I cursed under my breath, letting go of the side and gliding into the cold water. The temp made it easier to swim faster, and while I guess I was sort of used to it when I wasn’t swimming balls to the wall, it was still cold.

Bubbles escaped my nose, rising overhead as I slid deeper beneath the surface. The dense water quieted everything, muting out life above and offering a moment of reprieve. The clear liquid sparkled, and light bounced around the ever-rippling waves. I hung out for a moment, enjoying the weightless, calm feeling as I stared at the wobbling shadows the lane ropes at the surface cast across the bottom of the pool.

Resigning myself to a few more laps, I broke the top to refill my lungs.

Ryan sat on the side, feet dangling in the water.

“Coach torturing you too?”

“I’d never leave you to suffer alone.”

“I love you, bro!” I hollered.

Ryan laughed and dropped into the water.

“Start swimming, or I’m adding another lap,” Coach ordered.

By the time we were done, my arms felt like Jell-O and my shoulder muscles were quivering under my skin. I showered off quickly, not even bothering with my hair. It had been under a swim cap and wasn’t even wet anyway.

Once dressed in a pair of gray sweatpants, T-shirt, and matching hoodie, I jammed my feet into my Air Force Ones and grabbed my bag. My baseball hat was barely on my head when a protein bar flew at my face. I snagged it out of the air, ripping the wrapper in one fluid move.

“I’m so hungry I could eat a baboon’s ass through an electric fence,” I quipped, shoving more than half the bar into my mouth in one bite. Screwing up my nose, I said, “Why are these things so small?”

“Wes already ordered for us at the diner,” Ryan informed me as we stepped into the parking lot toward our Wranglers.

Ryan’s dad owned some of the biggest car dealerships in the state, so of course, the good bros we were, we drove matching four-door Jeep Wranglers. Well, almost matching. Mine was red with black. His was black on black with neon-green accents on the tires. We had different bumpers on the front too.

Thankfully, Shirley’s wasn’t far from campus, and within minutes, we were stepping into the diner and being waved toward two booths where the rest of the team was already eating.

My stomach growled angrily, and the second I slid into the booth, a plate piled high with a burger and fries appeared. Groaning appreciatively, I snagged the burger, shoving it between my lips. “Just go ahead and make me another one,” I said as I chewed.

The waitress, whose nametag read Shirley, laughed. “I’ll get the order in.”

“If I wasn’t already taken by this burger, I’d ask you to marry me.”

She laughed again.

“Anything else?” Shirley asked the table.

FYI, all the wait staff here wore nametags that said Shirley.

I was too busy eating to answer.

By the window, Wes laughed. He swam freestyle like Ryan. “We’re good, Shirley. Thank you for getting that ready for them.”

“You can call me Veronica,” she said, voice a little shy.

I paused in chewing, eyes colliding with Ryan’s, who was across the table from me. We both grinned, burger all up in our grills.

When she was gone, I swung to Wes. “Bro! She told you her name. Her real name.”

Wes’s cheeks pinkened, and I scooped up three fries and shoved them into my mouth. “These need cheese sauce.”

Ryan grunted. That meant he agreed.

“She probably tells everyone her actual name,” Wes replied.

“Never told me,” Ryan quipped.

“She brings you extra fries,” Wes pointed out.

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