Just before they entered the room, something snapped through my ears at the sound of her voice, but it was nothing I could place, nothing I could pin down with certainty. We all stood to greet her, and as soon as I got the first glimpse of her dress, everything around me slowed to a sluggish, weighted crawl.
It was almost as if my brain couldn’t process what I was seeing, so the vision of her was reduced to blocks of color.
When it all snapped together, I lost my breath in a pained whoosh. This could not be happening.
As she smiled brightly at Dayvon, giving him her full attention, I realized she hadn’t seen me yet. My next-door neighbor, the one who had called me an arrogant asshole less than twenty-four hours earlier, was the new owner of the Washington Wolves. And she hadn’t seen me yet.
Suddenly, I understood the rampant tug of nerves and the unshakable feeling that something was about to go very, very wrong. I swiped my hand over my mouth and let out a slow breath, straightening my shoulders and holding my head up high. I could do this. I’d stared down three hundred-pound linebackers who wanted to rip the helmet off my head as they tackled my ass to the ground.
I could do this.
She turned in my direction, and I saw the moment it registered. The hitch in her step, the narrowing of her eyes, the slight purse in her scarlet red lips.
“You,” she whispered.
Everything stopped. All eyes turned in my direction. The temperature in the room with that one hushed word from her went from cordial to downright glacial.
“Oh, shit,” I muttered under my breath. She crossed her arms tightly over her chest. The chest I’d ogled while she shoved cupcakes at me.
There was absolutely no part of this that could end well.