Home > Defender (Kensley Panthers #3)

Defender (Kensley Panthers #3)
Author: Nicole Dykes








I climb out of my truck and grab the twelve-pack of beer I picked up after work. My body screams at me over the hard labor I put in today at my landscaping job, but it’s the best kind of burn.

My muscles feel worn-out, and I’m still sweaty and dirty, but I’m happy. High school is over, and I miss playing football like crazy, but having my own job and my own place is more than enough to make up for it. I have money coming in and get in a good workout every day from working outside.

I’m parked in the driveway of my small two-bedroom rental house. But instead of going home, I head next door, busting through the front door, like I own the place. “Get ready to have some fun, fuckers! It’s Friday night!”

“Easton, what the fuck?” Jameson Bates, my old teammate and former enemy, is currently straddling my best friend, Garrison Dixon, on their couch, their lips fused together. They aren’t naked though—thank fuck.

Means they just got started and will likely have some killer blue balls, but they’ll be fine. “It’s Friday night! It’s time to let loose.”

“That was the plan,” Garrison grumbles as Jameson climbs off his lap, shooting me a death glare.

“I brought beer.” I hold up the twelve-pack as Garrison walks to me, slugging me in the shoulder.

“You’re supposed to knock, dickhead.”

“That’s really not my style,” I say as I plop down on the couch and crack open a beer. Dixon and Bates moved in here a couple of months ago. My best friend is coupled-up and so goddamned happy and in love, it’s sickening.

It’s fucking great.

He came out during our last month of high school. Told the entire locker room he was gay without batting an eye. It was brave, and I admired him for it. Later. At first, it stung because he didn’t trust me enough to tell me before that, but we got through it. We’re closer than ever now.

Literally—because I got a job at the same landscaping place where he and his boyfriend work and moved in next door.

Garrison sits next to me and opens his own beer, taking a sip. “You hear about Coach?”

“What about him?” I ask worriedly because our football coach is a damn good guy. He kicked our asses out on the field, but we always knew he had our backs.

“Apparently, they gave him a new assistant coach.”

I frown at that. “So?”

“So, it’s Chance Leighton,” Jameson supplies as he tosses a bag of chips my way.

I catch it, but I’m fucking stunned. “He’s a fucking Bear.”

“We know,” Garrison says as he takes my chips and grabs a handful. “Fucking unbelievable.”

The Kensley Panthers have one rival. The Big Bend Bears. Motherfuckers, if you ask me. A bunch of entitled assholes whose asses we kicked up and down the field. And now they’re forcing Coach to work with the kid who’s barely older than us and was the assistant coach there?

“That’s fucked up,” I say, unable to believe it. “Poor Coach.”

“So why are you here? And why the fuck are you stinking up our couch?” Jameson asks, taking a seat next to my best friend. I’m not bitter. I want Dixon to be happy, but I sometimes miss the days when it was just Dixon and me on Friday nights.

Laughing and partying after the games.

Okay, maybe I miss high school a little bit. They’ll be having their first football game of the season soon. Maybe we can go back, just to check on the old town. I don’t mention it now though. I’ll bring it up later. “Because it’s Friday night. We have to celebrate the weekend.”

“We were going to celebrate in our own way,” Jameson says, irritation clear in his voice, but he’s not that pissed off. I used to really get on his nerves, but I’m pretty sure he’s accepted that his boyfriend and I are a package deal.

“You guys can hump on the couch any day. We should start a bonfire in the backyard, get some of the guys to come over.”

They both shift awkwardly on the couch, and I know it’s because I mentioned guys from the team. But really most of them are pretty cool. There were a couple who had a problem with two teammates fucking around, but they can fuck off.

Nobody needs them anyway.

“You’re not starting a fire in our backyard,” Garrison says, and I think it over, standing up with my beer in hand and walk to the patio door, looking out.

“You guys need a firepit. I’ve seen some pretty badass ones on Pinterest. We can totally do that.”

I turn to see them both staring at me with their eyebrows raised before Garrison laughs. “You’re on Pinterest?”

I shoot him the middle finger. “Fuck off. I’m always looking for new shit to do.”

They’re both laughing, but I don’t care. My mind is already plotting a firepit. It’ll be badass, and I can start this week after work.

“No parties, but how about we grill?” I roll my eyes but then give in because at least it’s something to do.

“Fine. I’ll go shower and then pick up some steaks.”

“Veggies too,” Jameson says as I put the beer down, not having had very much of it yet. “I’ll invite Travis.”

I groan out loud, and my best friend just chuckles. “Do we have to?” I whine like a child.

“Yes,” Jameson says, his phone already out. “And thank fuck you added shower to that list. You reek.”

I flip him off again and grab my keys, heading over to my place without more of an argument.

Great. A night with Travis fucking Wyatt. The dude hates my guts, but if it’s the only way I get to hang out with my best friend, I’ll take it.









Really? Can I just have a night with J without the super-jock twins?

I love my best friend. I do. And it’s totally fine that he’s dating Garrison Dixon. It is. I mean, he’s happy. I’m happy for him.

But when he invited me for dinner, my first instinct was to say Hell no. Because his boyfriend and his boyfriend’s best friend are everything I despise.

They’re the epitome of the small town we grew up in. Of everything I wanted to escape. They’re all about big, loud trucks, football, whiskey, and hootin’ and hollerin’. They’re both proud of where they’re from, despite it being a place that’ll likely never fully accept Dixon and Bates together.

Who’ll pray for their souls and gossip behind their backs. Simply because they’re two men who fell in love.

I had huge dreams. I was getting the hell out of Kensley and out of Kansas altogether. I was going to college on the West Coast. To have a great career and never look back. But it was completely insane to think that could happen.

To think a big Ivy League school would want a small-town kid like me. Yeah, I’m Kensley smart, there’s no denying that. But I was fooling myself, thinking I could compete in the real world.

I didn’t get my scholarship.

And my parents wouldn’t pay for college. So now, here I am. In another small town, which people around here consider a big town because it has its own movie theater. I work landscaping with friends from high school and live in a studio apartment above a downtown bar.

Hot Books
» House of Earth and Blood (Crescent City #1)
» A Kingdom of Flesh and Fire
» From Blood and Ash (Blood And Ash #1)
» A Million Kisses in Your Lifetime
» Deviant King (Royal Elite #1)
» Den of Vipers
» House of Sky and Breath (Crescent City #2)
» Sweet Temptation
» The Sweetest Oblivion (Made #1)
» Chasing Cassandra (The Ravenels #6)
» Wreck & Ruin
» Steel Princess (Royal Elite #2)
» Twisted Hate (Twisted #3)
» The Play (Briar U Book 3)
» The War of Two Queens (Blood and Ash #4)