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With just over a month to wait until the release of Ty's story--Facts, Smacts!--it's time I treat you all to the opening chapter. I loved writing Tyron and Logan's story so much. It was such fun to write. I hope you're eager to get to know my guys soooo much better.Facts, Smacts! © Becca Seymour, 2023 --Unedited and subject to change
“Fourteen times a day.”
“No way. It’s gotta be more than that.”
I ruffle Brody’s hair and snort when he attempts to duck away while sending me a glare. “Maybe for you, kid. You’re a regular fartin’ machine.”
My little brother huffs and bats my hand away when I attempt to destroy his carefully styled hair. I swear, when I was fourteen, I didn’t give a shit about my hair. Hell, I still don’t.
Admittedly I shave most of it. Who has the time to stand in front of a mirror? Not this guy.
“I do not, asshole.”
My grin stretches wide. “You let Pops hear you cuss like that, I dare you.”
Once again, he narrows his gaze at me. “Shouldn’t you be leaving now?”
“Aw.” I clutch my chest. “You tryin’ to get rid of me already?”
Brody rolls his eyes, something he’s perfected a little too well since I was last home from college. “Yes,” he deadpans, causing my lips to twitch. He looks far too much like me when he does that, and a bit like Pops as well. We’re all grumpy shits at times.
“You about ready?” Dad steps out into the courtyard where I’ve been shooting some hoops with Brody before I head to the airport. His smile is soft as he takes us in, and I know he will get sappy in three, two… “I can’t believe you’re going to be a senior.”
“Yeah, yeah. I know, Dad. I’m all grown up and remarkably handsome, considering my weird-ass genes.”
Pops catches the tail end of my words when he opens the patio door. He looks between us, eyes staying a few moments longer on Dad before he huffs out a breath. He should be used to Dad getting all sentimental. This is the fourth time he’s had to say goodbye at this time of year. Make that eight if we include his goodbyes to my twin sister.
Christ knows what he will be like next year when my other sister Tammy leaves, and then when Brody finally flies the coop, I imagine Pops will have to work triple time at containing Dad so he doesn’t hang on to my brother’s leg or something.
Preventing him from leaving… I can totally visualize that.
“He’ll be fine, Jack,” Pops says, moving into Dad’s space and wrapping an arm around his waist. He follows up with a kiss on his cheek and whispers something in his ear. I smile over at them, relieved Pops handles Dad so well.
Don’t get me wrong, my dad is hardly a shrinking violet. My height is all his, which means he’s a tall guy. He’s also got a fierce protective streak and knows how to wrangle four hyper kids while running a successful gym and keeping my much more serious and grumpy Pops in line.
Yeah, I get my outward “don’t give me any shit” disposition from Pops. Funny how that works. Dad likes to tease that when they started IVF with their surrogate, their swimmers did a little meshing, blending Pops’s crabby with his awesome good looks.
Pops doesn’t even argue, probably because we all suspect he’s right.
“I know he’ll be fine, Mac,” Dad agrees, albeit a little whimsically, “but that doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to miss him and be sad that he’s leaving.”
That’s my cue to sweep in and give him a tight hug. He loves this shit¾when I initiate hugs and remind him I love him. He’s told me more than a million times how he was so relieved I broke out of my dickhead stage when I was fifteen and stopped being embarrassed about showing affection.
Not that I’ll admit it, but I was glad too.
Being a sulky fucker is exhausting at times.
That doesn’t mean I’m prepared to be all rainbows. Screw that.
Having two dads comes with a shitload of bullshit. My go-to is to defend and keep wannabe shitheads at a distance. Thank Christ, during the first week of training at college, one of my now best friends, Kieran, shared with us that he’s gay. It made dropping my guard much easier, especially when our team offered unconditional support.
“You ready, Tyron?” Pops’s deep voice catches my attention, and I bob my head, dragging Brody one last time into a hug that he pretends to hate.
“Yeah. Is Tammy still around?” I wonder if I can get one last hug from my kid sister.
“Nope. She’s already headed out with her friends.”
“Of course she has.” I swear Tammy’s social life is busier than all of ours combined. And since she turned seventeen, I’m relieved I’m not at home to deal with the army of douches trying to date her. Pops and Dad have it handled, though.
I hug Dad once more, reassuring him it’s okay for him not to come with us to the airport¾one time of him being the clingy, cringeworthy parent in public was enough¾and I promise I’ll make it home for Thanksgiving. It tends to be the only time I can get away between practice and games. Last year I didn’t even come home for Christmas, heading to Sammy’s parents’ place instead, as they live just an hour away from campus rather than the long-ass flight it takes for me to come home.
Not long into the journey to the airport, I receive a text from Sammy, asking what time I’m flying in.
I shoot him the time, and he lets me know he’ll collect me.
Sammy: 2nite party
Me: Sounds good. Where?
Sammy: Off-campus. Bradshaw’s.
I grin. Bradshaw always throws great parties.
Me: Sounds good
“Who’s blowing up your phone?”
A quick glance at Pops and he’s side-eyeing me, the dark eyebrow I can see arching impressively.
“Just Sammy. Making plans for tonight.”
Even though I expect it, I still sigh when he frowns and purses his lips.
“Out with it.”
“It’s just, it’s your last year. You need to make sure you don’t take too much on. That means balance and not worrying so much about letting your friends down if you can’t go out or something.”
“I know that.” I can’t hold back my second sigh. Pops is a hard-core academic. You wouldn’t think it really to look at him. He’s got this whole Idris Elba thing going on, and I love mocking him, saying he’s too pretty to be so smart. Yeah, you can imagine the clip around the head I get when I say that sort of shit to him, but still, he’s smart as hell.
On top of his crabbiness, we suspect some of his brainiac genes shimmied over to the donor’s egg.
It also gifted me with a photographic memory. Tricks. There’s no such thing as a photographic memory, but I’m pretty damn smart—an IQ of 185. I shit you not. Sounds like bullshit, right? Well, some of my teachers thought that over the years as well. The number of times I’ve been accused of cheating on a test is no joke. It wasn’t until I was in fifth grade that my parents reached out for specialist support and found that my eidetic memory was just a ripple of what my brain was capable of.
“Just remember your end goal. Don’t let basketball or other distractions get in the way of your upcoming application. And by that, I also mean take time to breathe.”
I bite my cheek to stop the snide remark wanting to break free. He’s not being an asshole. Well, not deliberately, but he knows how badly I want this. He knows how hard I’ve worked to juggle my accelerated program to finish this year with a B.S. and M.S. in Criminal Justice and Criminology. All while training, playing my ass off, and making sure I have time for my friends.
“I’ve got this,” I manage, ensuring there’s no bite to my voice.
He huffs out a breath and glances at me as we reach the airport drop-off. “I know you do. I’ve seen how hard you’ve worked this summer to make sure you’re a step ahead for your final year.”
“So I can play and not let my team down.” Wanting to do it all isn’t a bad thing, right?
Pops pulls up, engages the brake, and turns toward me. The struggle is clear as day on his face. He thinks I should drop out of the Bears this year so I don’t screw up my chances of joining the FBI.
It’s not only that.
What Pops hasn’t come right out to say is he’s concerned that I’ll take on so much that I get lost. It all links to that balance dig he made earlier.
“You know I need this,” I say. It’s something I won’t budge on. Sure, it means I hardly have any free time, but the camaraderie is worth it. I need the relief of being part of a team with my friends. Plus, it keeps me strong and fit. Above all else, playing with my friends keeps me grounded.
Finally, his shoulders relax, and he nods. “I know you do. Just remember to breathe, okay?”
I snort and lift both my eyebrows high. “Pot, kettle much?”
He shoves at me before tugging me into a hug. “I love you. Be sure to call if you need anything.” He squeezes tightly before releasing me.
“Will do.” I step out of the car and collect my two bags from the trunk. When Pops calls my name, I return to the open window. There’s a new intensity in his gaze, and I immediately know what he’s going to say.
“Will be fine. I’ve got her back.”
Pops nods, a little guilt registering in his eyes that I have my work cut out for me looking out for my party-loving sister on top of everything else I manage. “Thanks, Tyron.”
I smile and tap the top of the car. “You heading to the station?”
“Yeah. My shift starts in an hour. I need to get moving.”
“Go fill up on donuts and shi¾crappy coffee,” I jest, leaning back. “Stay safe, Pops.”
He nods once before he pulls away to head to work. I watch him go, dread hitting me as always. While Pops is a kick-ass detective, it doesn’t stop the sliver of worry that creeps inside me whenever I leave for college.
I huff out a breath, shaking off the stink of anxiety.
Instead, I focus on this being my final year and ensuring I make the most of it. I crack my neck before heading into the airport. In a few hours, I’ll be with my friends, drinking a beer and finally relaxing.
Feeling more at ease, I tug out my phone and distract myself with some more studying.
I wince when I spot Angie at the party. While we didn’t start up anything last year, me ending things before they had a chance came out of the left field for her. But there wasn’t a connection there.
But what else was I to do? She’s a nice enough girl, but she wasn’t the person I thought she was. We’d been slowly building a friendship, and what I thought was a spark of attraction I was looking forward to exploring, ended up not existing.
One exchange I witnessed between her and a friend made that clear. And while I was polite, it doesn’t mean I want to see her anytime soon.
I head toward Sammy and Bentley, who are in the kitchen of the sorority house we’re in. Sammy’s mixing liquor and pouring it into shot glasses.
“Hey,” he greets. “You want one?” He already knows my answer, but he’s a good guy, so he offers anyway.
“I’m good,” I say with a shake of my head. “You know they use diethylene glycol in antifreeze and brake fluid, right?”
Sammy rolls his eyes before knocking back the shot. “And it tastes delicious.”
I snort at his wince. “Sure it does.”
He chuckles before reaching into a cupboard. “I hid this for you.” In his hands is a bottle of Goza tequila. Other than beer, it’s the only thing I drink. It’s not full of half the shit of the crap he’s mixing up.
I grin and take it from him. “Good man.”
He places three plastic shot cups in front of me, and I pour. We lift the shots. “To senior year,” Bentley says and knocks back the contents.
I repeat the words and do the same.
“One more.” Sammy places his cup down, and I refill.
Holding the drink up, I look at my two friends. Sammy’s close to wasted, but Bentley seems to be holding his own. I won’t have much more, not willing to fall on my face and end up on someone’s social media. “To kicking ass,” I say.
Sammy snorts before drinking up. He seems steady enough that I know I can leave him to it, plus Bentley is the only one who can keep him in line.
“I’ll catch you later.” I’m feeling restless tonight. Spending the whole summer at home studying, only taking breaks to hang out with my little brother to play some one-on-one will do that to a guy.
I wander around, hoping the answer will come in the form of finding someone I know well enough to have a conversation with or, hell, maybe even see a familiar face who sparks my curiosity. But after ten minutes and avoiding the conversation starters too many people attempt with me, I head outside.
The noise is getting to me, the loud voices rubbing me the wrong way. And while I appreciate so many students telling me they’re excited about this year’s basketball season, it’s hard to give a shit when I want to relax.
Once in the darkness, I step farther away from the house. Despite the number of residences dotted around the area, it's a big yard. I walk away from the twinkle lights haphazardly tied up at the back of the building and make my way toward where I can just make out some sort of seating in the blackness. It’s a rickety wooden bench, and I test it with a shove of my foot, checking it won’t collapse on me. When it doesn’t wobble, I sit, relaxing in the quiet.
While it’s not silent, because of the music and noise from the party, it’s much more peaceful here. As I stare at the sky, it’s hard to spot any stars; there’s too much light pollution around. But the half-moon is bright.
The “Fuck” snaps my attention to the shadows surrounding the house. A grunt follows along with a thud. Alert, I jump up and head toward the sound, my steps quiet, my movement cautious.
I don’t call out as I follow the shuffling. There’s no one I can see milling around, but I know what I heard.
Once around the corner of the building, my eyes take a second to adjust to the slip of light seeping out of the side window. A quick scan of the area shows me a couple of trash cans and mountain bikes. There’s a shift of movement, and my gaze drops to a sneakered foot.
I react immediately, my pulse picking up speed. “Hey, you okay?” Two steps forward, and I crouch.
“Fuck.” A groan. “Yeah.”
From the gruffness and strain in the voice, it doesn’t sound like the guy’s okay. “You need a hand? What happened?” My gut tightens.
A grunt escapes him as he pushes himself to sit, revealing his face. Even in the shadows I see the scrape on the side of his temple, and it looks like he has a bruised eye too. “I can manage,” he says gruffly, and I ease back, taking in his face entirely.
Surprise flickers through me. “Logan?” As soon as his name escapes, the feeling in my gut pulls taut. A pulse of vibrating energy fills my muscles, making my limbs shake.
I know this guy.
Logan’s gaze connects with mine. His wince is immediate; whether from the movement or the fact it’s me, I have no idea. “Fuck. Tyron.”
Well, that clears that up. His reaction doesn’t do a thing to release the tightness in my limbs. It does the opposite.
My feet propel me forward, and for the first time, I’m touching him. Logan. I carefully tug him up, but rather than stepping away, I palm his cheek, tilting his head, forcing him to look at me. “Who did this to you?”
You hear that deep-ass grumble in my voice? Yeah, it kind of surprises me too. While I don’t like seeing anyone hurt, my reaction to Logan is over the top. But between you and me, I’ll be honest here and let you know there’s no reining it in.
And why’s that exactly?
Here’s the thing. Logan Bryce is fucking beautiful.
It’s something I thought for the first time last semester, after listening to him interact with the class and the professor in one of our shared subjects. He’s eloquent and funny. Smart too.
There’s also this embarrassed smile that quirks his lips just so when he realizes he has the room's attention. There’s usually a slight flush of his cheeks as well.
That I felt all this had taken me by surprise, for sure. But one thing I’ve learned from growing up in such an open family is you follow your gut and what feels right.
Last year that meant me staring a hell of a lot.
After searching my gaze and swallowing, he closes his eyes. “No one. I’m honestly fine.”
I should let go of him. The warmth of his skin is pretty damn addictive, though, and honestly, I’m struggling to pull away and release him. It’s only when he bites his bottom lip and his eyes flutter open, our stares connecting, that I know me being up all in his space will make no sense to him.
How can it when we’ve barely made eye contact over the past three years? Not for lack of trying on my part, though. Some of those blushes I just mentioned? Yeah, they may have been reacting to my full-on stares.
Forcing a step back, I scan what I can see of his body, giving him a quick check. His clothes aren’t torn or soiled, and there’s no fresh blood on his face that I can see either.
With a sigh, he wobbles. Instinctively, I reach for him, holding his arms carefully.
He looks a mess. From the stink of alcohol, he’s been drinking a fair bit too.
“Nothing. I’m fine.”
I don’t let go, partially because he may fall on his ass if I do, but he’s so not “fine.” The swelling on the corner of his eye is fresh, and the graze on his temple isn’t deep. It does trail to a small cut, though. I examine it a little more closely, getting into his space once again. Since he doesn’t push me back or try to get out of my grasp, I can get close enough to see it’s not deep and won’t need stitches.
And I totally don’t inhale. Do I want to? Maybe a little. But I imagine all I’ll smell is liquor rather than his enticing scent. His enticing scent?! The fuck.
Apparently, I’m more fascinated by Logan Bryce than I realized.
Not that I usually go around sniffing people, but I’m curious about Logan.
“Can you see out of your eye?” I ask, ducking down a couple of inches to see the damage better.
“I see four of everything,” he murmurs, his limbs trembling under my hold.
“That the beer, or do you have a concussion?”
He sniffs, a wince quickly following. “Shots.” His words don’t sound super slurred, so that’s something.
“Perhaps we need to get you checked out.”
A soft chuckle escapes him, and he wobbles. “You wanna check me out? All you have to do is ask once, Tyron.”
Alrighty then. I hold back my smirk, even as Logan’s eyes widen. It’s as if he can hardly believe those words spilled out of his mouth. This is not the time to be amused by his half-assed flirting, faux pas, mistake… whatever it was. Sober, Logan Bryce is pretty quiet¾not to be confused with dull or even an introvert.
Last year he became the treasurer of the LGBTQIA+ club, and as I mentioned earlier, he’s witty. I witnessed his humor many times in class.
As far as I’m aware, other than being the club treasurer and part of the social club, he keeps to himself. Hell, I’ve never even seen him at a party before. What’s brought him here tonight? Did he arrive like this, or has someone done this to him since being here?
Whatever, the answer is one I won’t like. Him or anyone being hurt like this is not okay, and fuck if my protective instincts don’t rush to the surface.
“Come on. Let’s get you inside.” I shift to move him. When I do, he stiffens, shaking his head, wincing just once before he stills. “What’s wrong?”
“I just need to head home.” More certainty and a little clarity enter his tone. His attention drifts to my hands. “You can let me go. I’m not going to fall.”
I’m not convinced, but when his gaze jerks to mine, I can see he’s on the edge of freaking out or snapping or something. “Okay.” Releasing him, I shuffle back a little. “Do you have any friends inside? You need me to call anyone?” The question of who did this and what happened burns on my tongue.
“Uhm, yeah. My friend Michelle’s inside. That’s who I’m here to meet.”
“How did you…? Never mind. I’ll text her again.”
I stay alert as he texts his friend, scanning the area to look for signs of… something, a scuffle maybe. One of the bins is tipped over. There’s a gate from the front leading to this side alley. It’s a small gate, and it’s latched, but there’s no lock. To get to the side of the house, I passed a small shed. Angling toward it, I see the door’s slightly ajar, and there’s no light.
Before I can ask if he came from there, Logan’s name is called from the front of the house. It’s Michelle. She appears before the small gate, her gaze widening when she sees me before it narrows when Logan turns in her direction.
“What the hell?” She shoves through the gate, only stopping when she’s holding Logan’s face. “Logan.” Clear exasperation colors her voice. “You need to be¾”
“I’m fine.” Logan cuts her off, and her gaze flicks back to me.
“I’ve got him,” she says, her words a little uneasy. “Thanks for helping him.”
I stare at her, gaze unwavering. She doesn’t seem overly surprised by his condition. That she just assumes I have nothing to do with this is… I don’t know… odd. It’s strange, right? Well, obviously I don’t go around beating the shit out of people. But it’s not like I don’t have a reputation for being a cranky motherfucker. People tend to stay out of my way.
I’ve heard the rumors about me, though. Some are accurate, and most simply hilarious. All I stay clear of and don’t bother confirming or denying.
“You need a hand getting him home?”
Immediately she shakes her head. “I’ve got him. Thanks.” She loops her arm through his and leads him away. I watch their slow progress, uncertainty and curiosity vying for the top spot.
If I’m sensible, I should forget this ever happened.
You’re smirking, right? Maybe shaking your head a little while scoffing, “Sensible?!”
Yeah, me too.
Releasing March 29th, Facts, Smacts! is available for preorder. Yet to read book one? While Facts, Smacts! is a stand-alone, you'll get more enjoyment if your read Kieran's story in Rules, Schmules! first.