Second Down (Moving the Chains Book 2)

Second Down (Moving the Chains Book 2) by Kata Čuić

Book: Second Down (Moving the Chains Book 2) by Kata Čuić Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kata Čuić
cheeks are flushed red, reminiscent of the first day I met him. His voice is so soft, I barely hear him over the din of the pep rally. “It was fine. Thank you for asking.”
    The words are uttered in a robotic, monotone way as if making simple conversation with me is merely a byproduct of being polite.
    “I’m so sorry. I’ll fix this...somehow. I wonder if I can decline?” I draw a deep breath, but it does nothing to counteract the increasing pace of my heartbeat. “I’ll just talk to the sponsors or something. I mean, they can’t force someone to be on court, right? There has to be an option to say no.”
    His answer is immediate, which shocks me a bit. “If there is, I’ve never heard of it happening before. Why would you decline? You deserve to be up here.”
    “Uh, no. You’re the popular one, not me. I’m just the pity vote.”
    “No, you’re not, Evie.”  
    Something in the tone of his voice makes me look up at him, only to find him already staring at me. “You’re up here because people love you. Because you’re nice to everyone, and you do so much for this school. I’ve told you a million times. You are popular, you just don’t act like it, and that’s what makes everyone look up to you.”
    The fact that he’s actually engaging in conversation stuns me almost as much as my nomination. “Rob, please. I’m up here because I was on the freaking news. They feel bad for me after what happened. That’s all this is.”
    “Listen to me, okay? People don’t feel bad for you. They admire you. You’re the strongest person I know, and they all probably think so too. Everyone loved you before this, but now? You’re like some kind of badass that nothing and no one can bring down.”
    I can’t stop the smile that tugs at the corner of my mouth, in spite of the tears that well in my eyes. “We’re paired together because I’m the damsel in distress, and you’re the badass who saved me. This is a freaking joke.”
    He finally pulls his gaze away. “Yeah…I don’t think that’s why we’re paired together. But, I’ll fix it. I don’t want to do this anyway. You’ve earned this, and you belong up here. You stay on Court; I’m going to decline.”
    If I needed any more proof that we’re over, he’s just delivered it.
    We’re standing in front of the entire student body. The panic that I’ve been fighting against weighs me down with the finality in his tone. It’s like every set of eyes is trained on me, seeing right through my flimsy mask as if they all know everything I’m hiding.
    Tightening my grip on Rob’s arm, it takes everything in me to choke out my words. “Rob, don’t make me do this alone.”
    “You won’t be alone. They’ll assign you another escort. Probably whoever was next up in the voting.”
    “Truth or dare, Falls.”
    I can feel his eyes on me, but I can’t stop looking at the crowd. Watching them, watch me.
    “Truth or dare,” I grind out.
    “You make me feel better. I don’t know why. But, when I can smell you nearby, or I can feel you, it just...I don’t know. It makes me feel less afraid.”  
    “Wait. What?”
    “I didn’t wanna tell you. I don’t want you to feel responsible for me the way Mike and Alex do. I know you can’t stand to be around me anymore, and that’s okay because I totally get it. But if you resign from Court, then I will too, because there’s no way I’ll make it through this without you. So just let me decline, and you stay.”
    My words come out in a rush, but I can’t think straight. I can’t catch my breath. Everything looks fuzzy, and oh, God. I might just pass out.
    Rob’s other hand folds over mine that squeezes his arm like a vice. His rough fingers sweep over my knuckles in a slow, soft, rhythmic pattern.
    “Evie, I’m right here. It’s okay. Just breathe. In and out. Just breathe. I won’t let you go.”  
    His soft voice coaxes my body to obey, and soon my vision clears.

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