This is War (The Checkmate Duet #1)(4)


by Kennedy Fox

However, I know I’m going to have to tell him eventually. I’m just waiting until I have to. Once our parents started fighting regularly and their focus shifted from being a family to sabotaging one another, Drew made sure to take care of me. Even when he was annoyed with my books and my distaste for sports, he made sure to keep an eye on me. I was a sophomore in high school and he was in his last year of high school when our parents’ fighting really got bad. I could no longer remember a time when we all sat down to eat a meal together or even to one of Drew’s basketball games. Somewhere between middle and high school, something shifted, and I really never knew what or why, but it pushed Drew and me together. If anything good came out of my parent’s divorce, it was that.

After my final class, I head back to my room, pile my clothes in a basket, and drive over to Drew’s house. Since he and Travis rent a house just ten minutes from campus, I visit after Drew’s shifts and do my laundry every Wednesday night. But since Drew works patrol all day, I stop in after he’s home from work so we can hang out while I wait for my clothes to wash.

“Hey, Vi,” he greets as soon as I walk in. His dark locks are a wild mess as usual, his eyes glued to the TV as his fingers furiously move across the game controller. You wouldn’t know by looking at his muscular frame that he’s a total videogame junkie. If he’s not in uniform or killing zombies through the screen, he’s working out with the guys in his unit.

“Hey. Washer free?”

“I think Travis just put his in a few minutes ago.”

I curse under my breath. “He knows I come over on Wednesday nights to do laundry. Why is this a hard concept to understand?”

He doesn’t answer, but we both know why.

Because Travis is a fucking arrogant douche who thinks he runs the world.

“Fine, whatever. I’ll wait then.” I drop my basket on the floor with a hard smack and stalk toward Drew. I plop on the couch next to him and ask if I can play too.

“You don’t know how to play,” he retorts.

“Well, then teach me. It can’t be that hard.”

He chuckles. “All right. If you think you can play with the big boys.”

“Stop being sexist and give me a damn controller.”

We battle it out for a half hour before Travis struts in the living room in a low-riding pair of jeans. I bite the inside of my cheek to keep myself from commenting, but it’s a hard task. I hate it when he walks around shirtless, showing off the outlines of his taut muscles and the V that runs below his waistline.

As if he could be anymore of a walking, talking cliché, he has a sleeve of tattoos on one arm and half a sleeve on the other. I catch myself admiring it more than I should, so I quickly look away before he notices.

“What’s up, V?”

“Why don’t you tell me, asshole? Your clothes almost done?”

“Not washing clothes,” he says flatly, but I see the corner of his lips turn up slightly.

“Then what are you washing? You know I do my laundry on Wednesdays.”

“My sheets.” He grins, and I have to swallow back a gagging noise. “I have a guest coming over soon.”

“Well if you’d slow down the parade of visitors, we wouldn’t have this conflict.”

“Or you could do your laundry somewhere else and we wouldn’t have a conflict at all.”

I set the controller down on the coffee table and walk toward the kitchen as he walks toward the couch. “You’re such a disgusting manwhore.”

He sits in my spot and calls out, “Aw, is someone jealous?”

I roll my eyes so hard, I swear they might fall out. “Suck a dick, Travis.” I grab my basket and walk to the basement door.

“I was hoping that was your specialty!” I hear him yell out, but as soon as he does, I hear Drew’s fist collide with his shoulder.

“Dude, quit hitting on my sister.”

“In his dreams!” I yell out, opening the door and stepping down the stairs.

God, I can’t wait until I have my own place and can limit these not-so-lovely visits.

CHAPTER TWO

TRAVIS

Watching Viola’s cheeks turn bright red gives me a thrill every time. She’s easy to rile up, even easier to embarrass. She pretends to hate me, but let’s be honest, there’s hardly anything about me worth hating. Even when she was just ten years old and we’d just met, I could make her blush without even speaking.

I work out every chance I get, eat right, and work my ass off both in and out of the gym. When I’m not working out or at my job, I enjoy other types of recreation.

Currently her name is Rachel and she’s basically salivating at the mouth as she waits for me to give her what she’s begging for.

I give in, of course.

I’m a guy after all.

When we’re both sated and panting next to each other, I clean up and pull my boxer shorts back up. She curls her body around mine and places a quick kiss on my shoulder. “Are you kicking me out now?”

I look over my shoulder and give her a sympathetic grin. “Sorry, babe. No sleepovers.”

That’s not entirely a rule set in stone, but I prefer to sleep alone. Especially if there’s no chance of morning sex the next day. I get up at five a.m. and head to the gym before I have to be to work at eight.

“All right.” She gets up and searches for her clothes. Once she’s dressed, she grabs her purse and walks over for a goodbye kiss. “Call me later.”

“Sure.” I escort her out of the house and kiss her once more before shutting the door. I spin around and nearly run over Viola as she passes in the hall.

“Aw...another victim released. How sweet of you.”

“They aren’t victims if they’re willing,” I retort matter-of-factly.

“Well, they’re airheads if they are.” She continues walking to the kitchen and reluctantly I follow.

“You sure sound pretty envious.”

“It’s not. It’s pity. There’s a difference.” She opens the fridge and reaches for a bottle of water.

“Trust me...she’s not feeling any amount of pity right about now.” I lean up against the doorframe and watch her take a long drink.

“If not pity, then definitely regret. Or perhaps she’s wondering where the nearest clinic is so she can get tested.” She takes another pull of her water and ignores my glare.