Thanks so much for going on this journey with me! Here are chapter 21 & 22 of Broken Record for your reading pleasure! Scroll to get started!
K. A. LINDE
Not for reprint or sale.
It had been official before. But now it felt official.
Lucas and Savannah were a couple.
It was overwhelming standing in the glittering ballroom with some of the tallest people Savannah had ever met while cameras flashed blindingly. And it took a lot to make her feel overwhelmed. Growing up with her father as a politician usually took away most of her fear.
But that was politics. This was something else entirely.
This was professional basketball.
A world she had noticed after mere seconds that she clearly did not fit into.
She should have made Lucas ask around about attire. Or done some research herself. She was kicking herself for not using those four years of journalism school to help her prepare for this. What a waste.
She’d heard black tie and thought like any other normal human being—black tie. Cool, careful, sophisticated. Sleek ball gowns, coifed hair, soft lips. A politician’s black tie. Not, apparently, the black tie for the wives and girlfriends of professional basketball players.
“Are you fidgeting?” Lucas asked with a quirk of his lips.
“No,” she said, stopping at once.
“I don’t know this look.” He arched an eyebrow. “What’s going on in that head of yours?”
She pursed her lips and then gave in. “I’m dressed like a politician’s daughter.”
“You are a politician’s daughter.”
“Well, yes. But no one told me I was supposed to dress, well, like that.” She gestured to the extravagantly decorated women around the room. Each of them in a dress to outdo the Kardshians. Low necklines, cut out bodices, mile high slits, and every delicate neck, wrist, and ear dripping jewels.
Lucas followed her gaze. His eyes slipped over the women of his now colleagues before coming back to her. “You look perfect, Savi.”
She laughed. “You have to say that. And anyway, it’s easier for me. You pull out a tux and fit in perfectly.”
Though, she noticed that actually he was dressed differently than many of the other players. Several of them were in nude suits or extravagant brightly colored jackets, short pants with loafers and no socks, multi-colored patterned bow ties. Dear Lord, they were not in Kansas anymore.
“It’s just not stuffy in here. Let your hair down,” he said with a wink.
Of course, her hair was not down. Not at all.
He laughed at the look of despair on her face. “Who knew Savannah Maxwell would be undone so easily?”
She glared at him harder. “I am not undone. I’m…adaptable.”
“You are adaptable. You’ll be fine. I’m going to make a circuit for the team.” He pressed a kiss to her forehead. “Go make friends.”
She straightened her back as he walked away. This was no different than any other ballroom she’d had to face. No different than the press rooms in college. Or even her office at the Washington Post. She was made from stronger stuff. She could endure this as well as anything else. Especially if it was for Lucas, who seemed to be glowing in the limelight of his upcoming rookie season of professional basketball. And she truly did want to see him that happy.
She’d seen nothing but that happiness the last two weeks they’d spent together. In fact, they’d spent nearly every minute together that wasn’t captured by her job or his work outs. Even Liz complained that she hardly saw her now, but she said it with a lift of her lips like she knew this newfound bliss had been long earned. Dylan found it fabulous and told her to get as much dick as she could. Savannah still blushed thinking of that conversation…even if she had been doing just that.
“Excuse me?” a woman said behind her.
She whirled around and found a stunning blonde in the skimpiest, tightest, most revealing dress she had ever seen. And in high heels, she barely grazed Savannah’s chin. “Yes?”
“You’re Savannah, right?”
“I…am.” It came out more of a question than a comment.
“Great! Kam said that Lucas’s girlfriend would be here with him. I made him ask around what your name was and what you looked like. You know how men are,” she went on. “They never ask the right questions. And then we’re left floundering.”
Savannah laughed. She liked this woman, despite herself. “I completely get that. And you are?”
“Oh my Lord, Jesus take the wheel. I’m Tiffani, Kam’s wife.”
“Nice to meet you,” Savannah said, wracking her brain for who Kam was.
Tiffani must have recognized the look. “What am I thinking? No one else calls him Kam but me. Kamari Simpson.”
“Oh!” Savannah squeaked. She should have put two and two together. He was the star of the team. He’d moved to D.C. three years ago for double the money and had turned the team around. But what Savannah really knew about him was that he’d played for Duke…against Brady…and, thus was the enemy.
Once a Tar Heel, always a Tar Heel.
“A blue devil,” she said with a wrinkled nose.
Tiffani cackled. “And don’t we all still give him shit for it. I was born and raised in Lexington. I still never let him live down the year he beat Kentucky in the Final Four.”
Savannah burst into laughter. Oh yes, she was going to get along with Tiffani just fine.
“Anyway, let me go introduce you to the girls,” Tiffani said, taking Savannah by the arm as if she didn’t barely scrape five feet tall.
Savannah squirreled away the names of all the wives and girlfriends she was introduced to. She was used to having to remember specific details about people with barely any time to jot them down for an article. Her memory had to be snappy and soon, she stood with the strikingly beautiful group of women including Amber, Jacqui, Kelley, Leticia, and Cookie. Apparently, Cookie wasn’t a nickname either.
Tiffani had sauntered off to who knew where. She seemed to be known and loved by everyone. A feat, considering the cost of getting in here had to be high…and not just in regards to wealth.
“So, how long have you been with Lucas?” Kelley asked. She was the easiest to remember since she wore a mesmerizing shade of kelly green.
Savannah bit her lip, wondering how much she should tell them. She’d always been private. But she didn’t want to hide her relationship with Lucas. Not that she had to be profligate with information either. “We’ve known each other all our lives.”
Jacqui snorted. “So recently then?”
“No, literally, we’ve known each other since infancy.”
Cookie nudged Kelley. “Didn’t the last one say that? Theo’s girl?”
“Yeah, and now, he’s with Erika.” They all glanced across the room at a girl she’d met briefly with Tiffani.
“Look, no offense,” Leticia said, “but rookie girlfriends don’t usually last through the season.”
Savannah shrugged. “There’s nothing usual about me.”
Kelley patted her hand. “You’re real pretty and all, but it’s not really what they go for. You’re a bit…conservative.”
“There will be a lot of women…a lot,” Amber said, “who will be utterly shameless to get in your boyfriend’s bed.”
She wondered how many of them had been shameless to get where they were now.
“We don’t say this to be mean,” Jacqui said quickly. “You seem like a nice girl.”
“But nice girls get hurt here,” Cookie finished.
Savannah gnawed on her bottom lip. She’d only just gotten back together with Lucas. It had only been two weeks truly. But she could see perfectly clear how this life would be difficult for any woman. It hadn’t been an easy thing to see him at Vanderbilt with the flocks of admirers, and they hadn’t even been together then. She knew he’d be gone for games for long stretches of time. And worse, that neither of them had been faithful to their past partners. Always with each other, but still…
What if they argued one night and he went out onto the road? Would old habits win out? Would he find his ex-girlfriend in Vegas for a week while she was here in D.C. hammering out her journalism career?
She swallowed and released her lip, straightening her spine in the meantime. No, she couldn’t think like that. Those were the words of women who had things to fear. Savannah had known Lucas her entire life. If they were going to do this for real, then she knew he would do it for real. And if it wasn’t enough, then he’d let her know that too. They were in this together, after all.
“Thanks for your deep concern,” Savannah said sarcastically, “but I think I can handle this on my own.”
Then she turned and strode away from those women.
And she knew that she should shake off their words as easily as she could walk away from the venomous vipers. But they clung like wet sand to her bare skin.
“Get up or you’re going to be late for work,” Lucas murmured against the shell of her ear.
Savannah yawned and stretched. Her eyes were hooded as she looked up at him already in a t-shirt and basketball shorts, ready for the gym. “Or you could come back to bed.”
“If I come back to bed, neither of us are making it to work.”
She gripped his t-shirt in her hand and pulled him down for another kiss. “Who said that’s a problem?”
He laughed against her mouth. “Your boss?”
“Ugh,” she grumbled. “Adulting sucks.”
“The sooner you leave, the sooner you can come back.”
She rolled her eyes. “I don’t think it works that way.”
“You never liked mornings,” he said, yanking back the covers.
She groaned. “Fine. Fine. I’m getting up, jerk.”
“Don’t get me wrong, I love having you in my bed,” he said with a wink as she eased to a sitting position.
“You made that abundantly clear last night.”
He grinned. “And the night before.”
“And before that.”
“Hey, we have to make up for lost time.”
She glanced up at him, standing over her in his bedroom. She wondered if he really meant that. Part of her said sure they’d wasted a lot of time being stupid. That they should have gotten together in high school, instead of letting her fear of losing his friendship hamper them. They should have made promises after high school graduation, when they went off to two different schools. They should have done something other than hurt each other over and over again the last four years.
But at the same time, would they be where they were right now—happy—if they’d taken another course? It might have been a circuitous meandering route, but it was theirs. There were too many horrors in their past and fears about working through their future, that it felt more like she should just live in the present with him than think about time they were making up for.
“I’m just glad you’re mine,” she said, reaching out and taking his hand.
“And you just got serious.” He crawled on top of her on the bed, easing her back down into the fluffy pillows. “You’ve been getting that tone of voice ever since the banquet.”
“I have not.”
He stared at her with his piercing eyes. “You can’t hide from me, Savi.”
“I don’t want to.”
He searched her expression. “No second thoughts?”
“I just said that I was happy we were together,” she said on a breathy laugh.
“I know. I just want to make sure we’re on the same page. Communication isn’t exactly our strong suit.”
She nodded. She hadn’t told him what the vipers said at the banquet. And even though their words rang through her mind, she didn’t whisper them to him. She knew the words he’d say to soothe her. But the truth was that neither of them knew what it’d be like this fall, and she didn’t want to overanalyze something that hadn’t even happened.
“We’re on the same page,” she told him.
He pressed his body down into her and fitted his mouth to hers. She brought her legs to either side of his hips and wrapped them around his waist, pulling him closer. He groaned deep in the back of his throat as he ground his lengthening erection against the flimsy material of her thong.
She shoved at his basketball shorts until she freed him. He was too impatient even to take off her panties. He just roughly tugged them aside and thrust deep inside of her. She arched backward, biting back a scream.
“God, yes,” she whispered as he started moving.
They both knew that they didn’t really have time for this. She needed to look professional for work. She really did not have time for a shower and blow out. He needed to be in the gym already. But it didn’t matter. They couldn’t keep their hands off of each other. Even at the peril of her job, she still reached for his hips to drag him deeper inside of her.
He growled something fierce and then gripped both of her hands in his, slamming them back down over her head. She whimpered, and her core tightened as he took control. He pumped into her relentlessly until she was shaking and everything started to go fuzzy on the edges.
“Lucas,” she groaned. “Close…so close.”
“Come with me.”
And he hit that spot just right one more time, and she came undone. As she clamped tight around him, he bottomed out in her, his body shuddering as he hit climax.
He bent over her and placed a soft kiss on her lips as her insides turned to jelly. “You are going to be late to work.”
She brushed her nose against his. “Worth it.”
He chuckled with a shake of his head. “Indeed.”
Savannah managed to be only five minutes late, but she didn’t regret the shower she’d indulged in one bit. Coming to work smelling like sex was probably worse than being five minutes late. Even enduring the tongue-lashing her boss gave her for the inconvenience. But she worked twice as fast as all of his prior assistants so he let it go.
She’d been working so diligently, she hadn’t even noticed the time until Dylan appeared at her desk. “Hey there, are we still doing lunch?”
Savannah glanced up. “Christ, is it already noon?”
“Yep. Sure is. I know you must not be aware in your sex daze.”
She rolled her eyes.
“Or is the late night gala events for the basketball team?” Dylan pulled out her phone and started scrolling.
“It is neither.”
“Look at this shit that I found this morning.” She handed the phone to Savannah, who took it warily.
She looked down at the article buried in the sports section, which included a write up on the basketball gala she had attended. Including a full spread of the team and a few individual shots of the players with their girls. She recognized Kamari and Tiffani together, looking like a ridiculously matched set. And then her eyes rounded when the picture at the bottom was her.
“Oh my God,” she whispered.
“Yeah. That’s you girl!”
“I mean…I knew that Lucas and I were photographed together, but shit…” She read the section and her frown deepened.
Rookie Lucas Atwood with girlfriend Savannah, daughter to Senator Jeff Maxwell.
“Ugh! They know who I am now.”
“I’ve worked pretty hard to not have my name or picture attached to that byline.”
Dylan shrugged. “It’s who you are. Just own it.”
Except it wasn’t who she was. Or she’d worked her whole life to be more than just Senator Maxwell’s daughter. And now she was Lucas Atwood’s girlfriend. It was as if she were always just a product of some guy, instead of a person in her own right. Frustrating in a way that she couldn’t explain to someone who had never had to endure it.
“I don’t know,” Savannah said instead of explaining. It was easier that way. She handed the phone back.
“Ohhh,” Dylan cooed as they headed out of the building. “Do you think Easton is going to see this?”
Savannah stopped in front of the elevator. “Uh…I don’t know. It’s kind of obscure. I wouldn’t have even seen it if you hadn’t shown it to me.”
“Is he a sports guy?”
She nodded. “He coached tennis and loves basketball. But that doesn’t mean he reads the sports section of the newspaper…right?”
Dylan shrugged. “I don’t know, but I would love to be a fly on the wall if he sees it. He’s going to lose his shit.”
“You’re probably right.” Savannah frowned. “God, I am not looking forward to that conversation.”
“He doesn’t know you’re with Lucas, does he?”
“Ha! No. I’m not telling him that. Not after what he said when we broke up.”
“Are you two still talking?”
Savannah shook her head. “I haven’t heard from him in weeks. I don’t even know what he’s doing. It’s…kind of easier that way.”
“Do you miss him?” Dylan asked, prying.
“I don’t know. We were together for three years. So, I think about him. How could I not?”
“But not since you got your new man.”
Savannah laughed. “I guess so.”
“That’s good. That’s healthy.” Dylan tilted her head to the right. “I was thinking Thai?”
Just then her phone buzzed in her purse. Savannah tensed, anticipating the text from Easton. She knew it was coming. She wasn’t lucky enough to avoid it.
But when she checked her phone, it was just from Lucas.
Got called in for an interview tonight. Going to be home late. Will let you know when I’m on my way back.
She jotted out a quick response.
Sounds good. Miss you.
Miss you too.
She grinned giddily at the text before putting her phone away and trying to let it all roll off her shoulders. She was happy. She was with Lucas. Maybe Easton wouldn’t even see the picture. Maybe he’d wouldn’t care. Maybe he’d already moved on too. Though a part of her twinged at that thought. But she couldn’t have it both ways. And she was finally happy with the boy she’d always wanted. Whatever Easton was doing was…none of her business.
“Let me know if you get that text message,” Dylan said with a wink later that day.
“I’ve been lucky,” Savannah said as they left the building for the end of the day. “I think I might be in the clear.”
She’d been amazed that Easton hadn’t texted her. But also, relieved. Not that he’d be happy to know she was with Lucas, but this seemed a good sign. He’d been a bit out of sight, out of mind the last couple weeks. And that was a good thing for her relationship with Lucas. She’d like to keep it that way.
“Well, I’m dying to hear more of the Savannah saga.”
“You’re the worst. You know that, right?”
“Obviously,” Dylan said with a laugh. “And hey, maybe this weekend we can actually hang out. You can even bring Lucas. That is, if you’re not too busy fucking all weekend.”
Savannah just shook her head. “You’re ridiculous.”
“Love you! See you tomorrow.”
They exited out into the muggy August air. She immediately reached for a hair tie and pulled her long dark hair off of her neck. She was not looking forward to the Metro ride back to Liz and Brady’s. For a split second, she missed her place in Georgetown. She’d have to find her own place here soon. She knew she was cramping her brother’s style, but she hadn’t been ready to sign a new lease. Or make any decisions about her life at all. It just finally felt like it was getting back on track.
With a sigh, she headed toward the nearest Metro station. She’d only gone a half dozen feet when she heard her name called behind her. She turned around in confusion and then froze.
“Easton?” she muttered.
Then, there he was. Jogging to catch up to her. His blond hair, somehow, even more bright than she remembered. And those eyes bold and staring straight through. He was in a slick black suit. His blue tie perfect, held in place by a tie clip she’d given him when he’d first gotten the job with Brady. He looked…good.
Her heart skipped at the sight of him. Two months. It had been two months since she’d seen him. Now…here he was. Right in front of her. And she remembered all three years they’d spent together. The good and bad and the life she’d envisioned for them.
“Savannah,” he said when he finally reached her. “You look beautiful.”
She stumbled out of her vision and took a step back. “What…what are you doing here?”
“I left work early to try to catch you.”
“Why?” she hedged.
“Because I…I fucked up.” He looked so earnest when he said it. He ran a hand back through his hair. “I can’t believe I fucked this up so badly.”
She narrowed her eyes reflexively. “Is this about the article?”
His brows rose in confusion. “What article?”
But she didn’t buy it. She hadn’t heard from him in weeks. He’d dropped off the face of the planet. She’d assumed…they were over. And now he was here? On the day that there was an article about her and Lucas together in the paper?
“The article in the paper. With me and Lucas.”
Easton’s eyes shuttered at the mention of Lucas. “I…didn’t see anything about you and Lucas.”
And she searched those eyes, that perfect face, the one she had loved for so long. She tried to see the guile in them. The reason to let her anger rise and walk away from him without looking back.
But it just wasn’t there.
How could it not be there?
“So…you just…came on your own?” she whispered. “Two months later?”
“I…I waited for you,” Easton said. “I thought that if I gave you your space then you’d figure out what you needed to figure out. I thought you’d come back. That I wouldn’t have to live in our apartment in Georgetown alone anymore. But then I realized I was an idiot. And if I wanted to make it work, then I had to come back for you. So, I’m here.” He took a step toward her, clearing the distance. “I’m here because I love you. I’ve always loved you. I wanted to spend my life with you. Have a forever with you. You’re it for me. You’re the one.”
A shiver ran down her back and goosebumps broke out over her flesh at those words. The ones she longed to hear him say all those nights she’d waited for him. “Easton…I…I don’t know.”
“Please.” He reached out for her, taking her hand in his. When she didn’t immediately jerk away, he drew her a step closer. “I’m so sorry for what we went through. You were right. I needed to realize that I could forgive you and move on from what happened. And I know that this is what I want. You’re the one I want.”
She opened her mouth and then closed it. She had no idea what to say to that. She had never in a million years expected this conversation. Anger, she had anticipated. But love…she didn’t even know where to begin.
“Can we just go somewhere and talk?” he asked.
“I’m not sure that’s a good idea.”
“We were together for three years, Savannah,” he said softly. “Let me take you out. Dinner or coffee or…something. I feel like we owe each other a conversation.”
She found herself nodding despite herself. It had been three years. And they had ended in such a horrible place. A broken engagement. Hate-filled words. One conversation could be okay.
“Coffee,” she finally said.
He smiled brilliantly, lighting up the street all around him. “You won’t regret this.”
“It’s not…we’re not…”
“I know,” he said automatically. “But…we should talk, right?”
She nodded again slowly. “Right.”
“Come on. I know you love that place two blocks over. A flat white?”
She could do nothing but nod as she walked with him to have a long overdue conversation.
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