Exclusive Excerpt from The Rivalry
by Beth Bolden
“Sam?” Heath’s voice was impossibly deeper, and sweeter than he remembered. Oh, you’re in deep. So fucking deep you’re never going to dig your way out—even if you tried. Even if you wanted to.
“Yeah, yeah, it’s me. Sam.” Sam cleared his throat. He sounded just as lame as he had in his voicemail, but he’d apparently lost his chill right along with his heart.
“Sam,” Heath said, with so much certainty that even Sam was reassured. He was here, his name was Sam, and Heath had called him back.
“I’m sorry I’m calling so late,” Heath continued, “I just realized what time it must be there. I didn’t get your voicemail until after practice was over.”
“Practice, yes,” Sam babbled. “Not too late.”
“Good,” Heath said.
“I . . .” Sam suddenly didn’t know what to say. Or maybe it wasn’t so much a sudden or unexpected occurrence as it was a terrifying one. Naturally, he said the very worst thing he could. “I’ve missed you.”
There was absolute silence on the other end of the line. Then Heath cleared his throat. “Is that why you’ve discovered a predilection for throwing yourself down mountains and out of airplanes?”
There was nothing Sam wanted more than for Heath to whisper “predilection” in his ear, in that dark, deep honey voice, while he was even deeper inside Sam. “No?” Frankly he couldn’t even remember why he’d started doing it. Probably because Felicity was insane, and he’d decided to recklessly join in her insanity because the first time he’d done it, on a whim, he’d felt a little better, if only for a moment. He’d been able to focus merely on staying alive, and at the time, that had felt like a very good thing.
“You seem unsure.”
Sam was unsure of every single fucking thing at the moment. “Not much is making sense, right now,” Sam admitted.
“Then maybe I can help.” Heath paused. “I actually . . . I told my agent to leave off the idea of bringing you to LA. You’re good where you are. Or if you’re not, there’s lots of better places to be. We’re good here.”
Sam was breathless, the words knocked from his lungs with Heath’s words. Not only had he told his agent to drop the idea, it had never been Heath’s at all. “All good, then?”
“It’s a passing thing. It’ll pass.” Heath sounded as determined as Sam had ever heard him. That was all Sam needed to know to believe that wasn’t true at all. They both knew it, but Heath would never admit it. Suddenly, Sam was blindingly, pointedly angry. If Heath didn’t want him there, then that was the one place Sam intended to be.
“You really don’t need to come here.” Heath paused. His voice hardened. “I don’t want you to come here.”
Sam’s hand shook on his phone. Not from nerves. Not from the unreal arousal he felt whenever he thought about Heath. Not from anticipation. Nope—they were shaking because he didn’t think he’d ever been so pissed off in his entire life. How dare Heath get on the phone and tell him that he didn’t want him there? Sure, he’d told him during the fishing trip that they weren’t friends, but this was more than that. This was a punch straight to the stomach. Sam thought he’d learned to deal with rejection after Dane had left, but apparently not, because this was a whole new breathless, painful revelation.
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” Sam said.