Author's Note: I'd wanted to post this during March Madness, but as those who follow my stuff already know, life's been crazy and I haven't really been writing as much as I usually do. That being said, life is still kind of crazy, but I feel like posting this part so I'm forced to finish the next part. As the summary says, this is dedicated to SuzQQ, who gave me the prompt, and I hope it doesn't disappoint. Honestly, it is an awesome idea that has been a blast toying around with. I love college basketball and Puck dominating the court is definitely a delicious image. However, I should mention that you don't need to understand basketball to enjoy this story. As might be expected given the pairing, the basketball game is of little importance to the story. :)
The first part is going to be Rachel's POV, and the second part (that I'm working on) is going to be from Puck's. This part is probably only rated-T for Puck's mouth and sensuality (isn't that the crap word the MPAA uses?), but the next part will definitely be rated M. And last but not least, reviews (good and bad) are not just welcome, but encouraged. Enjoy!
Rachel Berry stepped off the subway train along with her agent, Derek, following his quick footsteps as they split through the handful of people who also were visiting Hempstead tonight. She wasn't entirely pleased with her evening's plans, but she blended in nicely with the minimal crowd; no one else seemed particularly happy to be in the general vicinity of whatever was around this train station exit. Honestly, Rachel had no idea. She was simply giving her agent the benefit of the doubt that he wouldn't lead her nearly an hour outside of the city for no good reason.
"There's no place like home, huh?"
Rachel nodded, smiling appreciatively when her agent slowed his steps to walk next to her. "I don't want to appear sheltered or remotely stuck up, but I don't think I've been this far from the city since I moved from Ohio."
"They won't bite, Princess."
"I know that, Derek." Rachel rolled her eyes. "There's more of a chance running into that kind of behavior inside the city." Her eyes roamed around once again, noting a group of what appeared to be frat boys walking in what she guessed was the direction of a bar that didn't card. "These people seem completely harmless."
"I wouldn't be so sure considering those heels paired with that skirt."
Rachel looked down at her attire, her mouth tilting to one side in contemplation. Her top was covered up by a form-fitting white rain jacket tied around her waist, but that was probably for the best. The skirt was a basic black, pleated number that might be a little on the short side, but nothing too scandalous, and the heels weren't anything special either. The outfit was picked from her best friend and roommate, Kurt, straight from her closet; he'd point out what an unbelievable feat that tiny detail was if he were with them right now. Luckily he was busy celebrating yet another anniversary with his long-time boyfriend, giving Rachel the night free of his biting commentary.
"You know Kurt." Rachel shrugged. "I'm his personal Barbie doll."
"Well Barbie is going to land herself a Ken in that outfit." He laughed at Rachel's blushing cheeks and her failed attempt to hide them behind the veil of her long hair. "Don't play coy, Miss Berry. It's been awhile since you got any, hasn't it?"
"Derek!" Rachel shrieked, her eyes darting from left to right before she realized no one had even given the pair a second glance. "You're my agent. Care to show a bit of professionalism this evening?"
"Fine." He sighed heavily. "Due to your punctuality rule, we'll arrive at the arena a couple of hours before tip-off." He paused, his feet stopping, too. "Do you even know anything about basketball?"
"Yes," she hissed indignantly. "My father happens to be a huge sports fan, wishing season after season that I would learn to share his love for any of the major league displays of barbarism."
Derek chuckled at her offhanded observation, continuing to explain the schedule of events to her. It was fairly simple, as she was only expected to perform the national anthem before the game and then a number from the show during halftime. After that her and Derek were more than welcome to stay – they were given their own private suite in the arena – but Rachel already knew she'd be spending the first half of the game convincing Derek that they should return to the city as soon as possible; the campus seemed nice enough while walking toward the arena, but Rachel didn't appreciate any place where she wasn't appreciated.
Even in the largest city in the nation, Rachel was still recognized after passing the same amount of people she and Derek had passed so far in their journey.
"I'm going to go find the athletic director." Derek's eyes swept over the nearly empty foyer of the arena. "You might want to meander courtside. Talk up the show, you know?"
"Yes, I'm well-rehearsed in the routine." Rachel nodded obediently. "I'll meet you in the suite in an hour, before the press conference?"
Derek nodded before the two parted ways, Rachel's heels clicking loudly in the deserted hallways as she walked toward the middle of the building. She tried to appear confident, walking as if she had a clue of where she was going or what she'd do once she arrived, but her hands played nervously with the ends of her coat's belt and her eyes remained up and fixated on anything other than anyone she might pass. There were a lot of banners and large advertisements for small businesses, and before Rachel knew it, she was walking through a set of double doors that led her directly to the court. Well, to the second level, but from this vantage point she could see the entire basketball court.
There weren't many people sitting in the stands yet, which Rachel thought was strange since she'd been told this was such an important game for the home team. It was a winner-take-all type of deal, where one team would be advancing for a chance to enter some big tournament and the losing team would get nothing; their season would be over. Coming from a cut-throat industry, Rachel knew better than to wish both teams could win. She, however, wasn't supposed to root for any particular team since they were both from New York and therefore both potential patrons to her performance.
Rachel whipped around, her hair shifting in front of her face before she could brush it away back behind her ears. She blinked rapidly at the intruder, her breath a little shallow as she took in his appearance. Immediately she'd thought his voice was lovely, but, if she were being frank, his timbre was nothing compared to his looks. In a shirt that most men would deem too tight and a long pair of basketball shorts, the man's physical attributes were almost on full display – and Rachel liked what she saw.
His skin tone was golden olive, a mix of sun and a heritage that she was all too familiar with. It looked smooth, too, and Rachel wondered if a man would consider that a compliment or not. If not, perhaps it would be worth noting that it seemed particularly silky at the area of his bulging biceps. Plus, he had plenty of other features that were acceptable by any male, a strong jaw and broad shoulders just two worth mentioning. She could see mischief in his eyes, though, and the way his mouth seemed to be perpetually stuck in some kind of charming smirk were indicators that this gentleman knew exactly what she was staring at – and that she wasn't the first.
"No. My name is Rachel Berry and I'm performing at the halftime show this evening." She stuck out her hand toward him. "I'm the lead female star of the next Broadway hit. Tony-bound, for sure."
"Who's Tony?" He asked with furrowed eyebrows, his one free hand not securing a large gym bag atop his shoulder extending out to accept hers.
Rachel's calculated response about the Tony awards was lost on a quiet gasp at the calluses she felt on her palm once their hands met in the middle. She tried not to wonder out loud how he managed such a gentle touch with such rough hands, but she knew it was likely because the man played an instrument. She'd been in the music profession for the past three years and grew up surrounded by musicians; this gentleman might not look the part, but he at least dabbled with a string instrument of some sort. She guessed a guitar, but something about his attitude suggested something more.
Rachel scrunched her nose up, her eyebrows cocking together. "No it isn't."
"Well, my friend's call me Puck."
"And we're friends?" She asked, a smile on her face and in her voice, matching the one that had been in his. She wasn't typically so forward (she could hear Kurt's voice in her head saying "flirty"), but, for whatever reason, she felt comfortable with this stranger.
"We've been holdin' hands for the past minute, so I'd say we're somethin'."
Rachel blushed at the rumbling sound of his laughter when she ripped her hand out of his, her hands wringing in front of her and her eyes cast downward to focus on the appendages instead of Puck. She closed her eyes tight in embarrassment, wishing she could erase the memory of the twinkle in his eyes when she'd been caught red-handed … by the hand! This time she heard her friend Santana's voice echoing in her mind, reminding Rachel how pathetic she was when it came to this type of thing. Santana called it bait and hook, but Rachel didn't dare even think something so crass.
"Ain't no beef, babe." Puck chuckled again, his voice lowering. "I've had worse."
Rachel lifted her head abruptly, her scowl powerful and immediate. Everything that she once found attractive about the man in front of her was no infuriating, to the point that she found herself re-evaluating him without the rose-colored glasses that must have been in place beforehand. Frankly, he looked like a slob, and that ridiculous haircut was not just immature but unflattering given its length. She wished Santana were here so she could call it something vulgar, like a landing strip, before the two strutted off confidently like they did in bars sometimes.
"Well, it's been a pleasure, but I must go mingle."
"Mingle?" He cocked his eyebrows together. "Ain't nobody here, babe."
"That is untrue." Rachel turned back to face the arena, her hand rising in presentation of the other patrons, more trickling in through the other side doors around the court. "Plenty of other people are ready for an exciting game and, perhaps, interested in theater."
"'Cause those two often go hand-in-hand." He laughed again, and her scowl deepened. "But, whatever. Good luck and all that shit; I gotta jet." He passed by her without a second glance, tossing one final salutation over his shoulder, "See ya 'round, Berry."
Rachel huffed out a breath, watching his form until the very last moment. He'd retreated to another set of double doors at the same level of the court, tossing a wave to a few guys lined up courtside who were proudly displaying their blue painted chests. Each member of the group had a yellow letter in the center of his chest, Rachel guessing they were spelling the word "Pride" even though the I-guy was currently sitting next to the P-guy. For the sake of the university, Rachel hoped the boys were simply relaxing before the game started and weren't actually that dumb. Then again, they were talking quite loudly and appeared boisterous for no particular reason, so she imagined alcohol was involved and that wasn't exactly a spellchecker drink.
Avoiding that group, Rachel walked to the other side of the stands to start her campaigning. She laughed along with families and spoke to couples about the romance of the theater. She answered questions about her training and the basic plot of the show, explaining elements of her character while being in character. This wasn't her normal behavior. She was playing the part of the woman who depended on people coming to her show. It was true to her real life, but if she were being herself she would simply grab a microphone and wail that everyone who didn't come to see her perform was missing out. And even though she wasn't going to use that speech, she would have a microphone in her hand soon enough and knew people would get the message.
"Ya look kinda crazy right now."
Rachel shook herself out of her thoughts, focusing her eyes on Puck, who had stepped into her line of vision sometime after her daydream. She blinked in wonder, noticing he'd changed and realized then that he was a player for the home team. Hofstra was written proudly on the front of his jersey, the shine of the large #20 surprising her; it didn't look so big on television, but standing eye-level to his chest it was the only thing she could see.
"You're a player."
Puck scoffed. "Ya don't even know me."
"No." Rachel giggled for whatever reason, though in hindsight it probably didn't help convince him that she wasn't crazy. "I mean, for the team. You play for Hofstra."
"Oh." His hard expression melted back into the charming smirk from before. "Yeah. Number 1, babe."
Rachel lifted one eyebrow up in confusion. "Your jersey says 20."
"I meant skill level, babe." His smirk grew. "I'm the best."
"Modest, too," she bit back, his usage of the offending moniker starting to annoy her.
"No need to sugarcoat the truth." He shrugged. "And it ain't just true about basketball, babe."
"Please stop calling me that. I have a name."
His smirk tilted to one side, reminding her that Kurt's brother, Finn, said she had a lopsided smile sometimes that he thought was adorable. Rachel thought Puck's was just lazy, but in a sexy way – despite how much she didn't want to admit that. She'd already had him pegged for a ladies' man, and given his displeasure for the assuming he was a player Rachel figured she was on the right track. Player had a bad connotation, whereas a guy who had game was somehow completely different. At least that's what Kurt's boyfriend, Blaine, had tried to explain to her once when the conversation came up after a disastrous double date.
"I have a name, too."
"Allegedly," she remarked quickly, her eyes forced to watch the way he turned slightly to show her the back of his jersey. Small letters spelling Puckerman arched above the repeated number, and Rachel rolled her eyes. "Puck. I get it."
"I pegged ya for being smart." His eyes roamed over her (not the first time), and she squirmed a little at the attention. "Probably straight-A shit."
"I dropped out of college, actually." Rachel was all-too-satisfied by the bulging of his eyes, the surprise evident. "And I have eleven tattoos."
"Fuck," he breathed out. "That shit is hot."
Rachel crossed her arms over her chest, narrowing her gaze. "That's not why I told you that."
"Well then why did ya?" A devilish grin spread across his face when she opened her mouth to respond, but nothing came out. "We could save a lotta time if ya just admit ya like me."
"I don't like you." She shook her head vehemently, laying it on perhaps a little too thick. "In fact, I find you repulsive."
Puck chuckled, his head bobbing up and down once. "Keep tellin' yourself that, babe."
Rachel fumed as he walked away, joining the rest of the team on the court. She willed him to turn back in her direction just once so he could see just how unhappy she was with him, but Puck was too busy talking to his teammates and what appeared to be the trainer. Even in the distance she could see the athletic tape on Puck's left ankle, and she hated herself for the moment of anxiety she felt at the thought of his playing injured; she shouldn't care, especially not after the way he'd treated her.
"You look too pissed to be gawking, so what gives?" Rachel turned to her side, startled by Derek's sudden presence. He must have sensed her confusion, because he explained himself further. "It's been almost an hour and a half. You were supposed to meet me in the suite after an hour, remember?"
"Oh! I'm terrible sorry, Derek. I was …" She trailed off, her eyes following Derek's and noticing him watching the players. "Shall I come back later?"
"Please," Derek scoffed. "I saw your flushed knees from up in the suite. What's his name?"
Rachel glared at her agent, wishing he wasn't also her friend so she could just tell him to shut up or fire him. Or both. "Nothing."
"Yeah, okay. Doesn't matter." Derek waved her evasiveness off. "Other than you'll be screaming it later."
"Derek!" Rachel whisper-shouted, her eyes lifting in exasperation. "Let's just go take our seats for the press conference. The reporters are who needs to know we are here, anyway."
Derek shrugged and followed Rachel as if she had any clue where she was going. Even if she did, she was too distracted thinking about Derek's words and the object of those words to really pay attention to the route. Luckily after walking in one full circle, Derek seemed to notice her absent-mindedness and led them to a room down a dark hallway, reporters and photographers already lined inside. Rachel quickly screwed on her performance smile, starting with the woman closest to her while Derek moved directly to the bigger names in the media world. Even though they were getting a nice suite for free, this was most definitely a work night and they each had a job to do; Rachel had to promote the show, and Derek had to promote Rachel.
"If everyone would take their seats, we'll begin the press conference," announced the athletic director after a little more than thirty minutes of mingling. Rachel and Derek found two open spots in the middle, talking quietly amongst themselves as the coaches for the two teams entered the room along with a few of their respective players. Rachel didn't mean to, but her eyes immediately found Puck's as he sat down, her cheeks blushing when he actually winked at her.
"Mr. Nothing seems quite smitten with you," Derek whispered into Rachel's right ear, earning him a roll of her eyes. "Perhaps you should take your coat off and show him the whole package."
"It's for dramatic effect," she reasoned quietly, re-securing the belt around the jacket just in case.
"You are wearing something underneath that coat, yes?"
"Yes," she hissed quietly, placing her hand over his mouth. "Now shush. People are speaking."
"Like that's ever stopped you."
Rachel ignored his quiet muttering, listening to the reporters bounce question after question off the two coaches. Apparently it wasn't just an important game, but a rivalry game between two teams with a long history. The home team was actually the underdog, and even though she was told not to root for anyone, Rachel found herself internally hoping Hofstra won; she'd always had a soft spot for the underdog, likely because she was one. If she had it her way, she would have been discovered years ago and already a world-renowned talent. But, then again, there was also a lot of merit to finally achieving a goal that had been so long-fought.
"Nervous?" Puck questioned after the reporter asked the simple question. "Not usually, but now that Rachel Berry is here …"
Rachel's eyes grew as big as saucers, her mouth falling open when all eyes turned on her. She could see the entire room outside of those directly behind her, but her vision tunneled in on Puck. He was grinning like an idiot and she knew better than to glare at him but it took everything in her not the jump up and storm out. She hadn't managed a good storm-out since high school and she suddenly felt very overdue.
"Of course I'm a theater fan. What's not to love?" Puck answered the follow-up question flawlessly, though Rachel's ears were burning too much to hear the reporter. "And this girl." Puck whistled. "She'll blow your socks off, just you wait."
Rachel had a million different thoughts circling in her head while the reporters moved on from Puck to the other players on the other team, back to talking about the basketball game. She wanted to be furious with Puck for his comments, but the truth was he'd probably just done her and Derek a huge favor. Apparently he was rightfully cocky before when he said he was the best, as he had offers to play professionally once his senior year at Hofstra was complete. There were a lot of people here to see him, and now they all would give her their attention when asked to simply because they thought Puck would be doing the same.
Still, for whatever reason, she had some familiarity with the young man even though they were strangers, and she knew exactly what his response would be if she approached him about his remarks. It probably had something to do with how much of Santana she saw in Puck, but she knew when he said he loved the theater that he was speaking abstractly; if she had to guess, she'd say he loved role-playing, which wasn't uncommon in men who hid their true selves (ie: Puck). And despite his validation that she was amazing, Rachel knew he'd never heard her perform and was more than likely just wanting her to ask him about his choice of words so he could turn it around on her and say something completely crude about blowing other things.
Yes, she may not have graduated from college, but she did go to high school.
"You want to talk to him before we go up to the suite?"
"No." Rachel shook her head, standing alongside Derek and moving out of the tight space of the row of chairs. "I need to fix my hair and outfit before going back down to speak to more people."
Derek rolled his eyes but she ignored it, following him out of the room and toward an elevator that practically brought them right to their reserved suite. The room was incredible, far too large for just two people – and awfully luxurious for a university venue. It was high enough up that Rachel could see the entire arena, the players stretching on the court so small from so high. And yet, despite the distance, she honed in on Puck and wondered yet again if she had misjudged him. At first glance he'd been attractive and inviting, but then he'd come off as disgusting and invasive. Now she didn't know what to think, except that perhaps he deserved a second chance.
Rachel made quick work of her hair and retouching her makeup, finally removing her coat and checking the outfit in the mirror for the hundredth time since Kurt had picked it out. She was comfortable enough, but she wasn't sure if the top and the skirt necessarily went together. In fact, she'd suggested an amazing pair of dark-wash designer skinny jeans in lieu of the skirt, thinking Kurt would be pleased that she was actually picking up a bit of fashion sense, but he'd all but thrown up on her face for even voicing such a choice. This, he claimed, was perfect.
"That's what you're wearing?"
Rachel frowned at Derek through the mirror in the restroom. "That's not exactly comforting."
"No, you look … amazing," he finished after trailing his eyes over her body again. She'd fidget under his scrutiny if he weren't gay … and taken. "It's just funny."
"You really weren't listening to anything but him, were you?" Derek shook his head in amusement, filling in the blanks. "Your boy toy has a few specific teams vying for him." He nodded in her direction, as if pointing to her top with his head. "The Knicks are one of his top choices."
Rachel sighed, thinking that was just her luck. Even without meaning to, or knowing, she'd add fuel to the fire that Puck had already started in the press conference. Now it was as if the two of them were working together, he promoting her talent/show and her acting as a walking billboard for one of the organizations looking to pick up Hofstra's star player. If she were to the level of fame that she rightfully deserved to be, the paparazzi would be eating this up.
"Should I buy one of the school jerseys from the shop downstairs?"
"Are you kidding?" Derek coughed, shaking his head. "This is perfect. See if you can't get pictured with him. We could be on Page 6!"
Rachel rolled her eyes but Derek didn't notice since he was literally pushing her out of the suite. She had about an hour before she was set to sing the national anthem, and that time was meant to be spent speaking to the crowd. Now, however, she was on a mission to find and speak to Puck. Easier said than done considering he was currently preparing for a rather important game and likely wasn't supposed to talk to anyone. Or at least that's what one would have assumed before he broke away from the team and approached her courtside.
"I was wrong." His eyes traveled dangerously slow over her body before coming back up to focus on her eyes, his own darkening. "That shit is hot."
Rachel smiled appreciatively, needing the jolt of confidence no matter how crass it was delivered. Plus, the more receptive he was, the easier her task might be. "Diehard New York fan." She bit her lip, shrugging one shoulder. "What other teams are you considering?"
"None now," he groaned, his eyes moving back down to her chest and then lower. "I still don't see any tattoos."
"Maybe later," Rachel responded coyly.
"Now we're talkin'." He grinned at her, moving the basketball he'd been holding under the crook of his arm, securing it on his hip. "What's a guy gotta do to see some skin?"
Rachel rolled her eyes at his question, wanting to point out that between the sleeveless jersey, short skirt, and open-toed high heels she was hardly covered up. Instead, she said, "Tell me something about you that I don't know."
"I'm the best you'll ever have."
"I said something I don't know," she tossed back effortlessly, already have learned when he was saying something just to say it and when he was actually speaking truthfully – not that it couldn't be both in this case. Point was, she knew better than to be distracted by his somewhat off-color attempts at humor. "How did you hurt your ankle, Puck?"
"Puck? Are we friends now?"
She smiled at his teasing, but made sure to dish out her own. "You've been staring at different parts of my body for the past five minutes, so we're something."
Puck chuckled at the answer, dribbling the basketball between them once just to switch arms. It didn't take more than a couple of seconds, but the motion seemed to slow in Rachel's eyes. She watched the delicate way his fingers cradled the rubber sphere, made note of the dexterity it required for the action to appear seamless; she knew it wasn't as easy as it looked. And while it didn't make any sense, she was suddenly jealous of the basketball.
"Tell ya what. If I answer, ya gotta show me a tat."
Rachel contemplated the deal, going through the positions of her tattoos and knowing she could get quite a few answers out of him without even moving an article of her clothing. "You'll answer anything? Truthfully?" He hummed in the affirmative and Rachel suppressed her smile for just one more question. "And you don't think you should be practicing for your game that starts in less than an hour?"
"You ain't practicing your singing." He shrugged. "When ya got it, it ain't goin' away."
"Very well." Rachel nodded, not able to argue with that logic even though she would eventually have to leave to go through her runs. It wasn't because she was going to lose her talent, but it was a tradition. "I believe I already asked my first question."
"Oh yea." He fidgeted a little, and she found it endearing that she'd already forced his guard down a little. She knew she was about to hear the real story and not whatever he'd told the press or even his friends. "I twisted it dickin' around with my little sister last week when she and my ma were visitin'."
Rachel smiled, lifting her index finger on her left hand to reveal a red heart on the side of the digit. "Visiting from where?"
"Texas," he answered harshly, clearly frustrated as his eyes scattered around her body to see if any of the others were as visible as that one should have been to him. "I'm from a shitty little town in Texas."
"I'm from a very small town in Ohio," she offered as she turned her left wrist, revealing a gold star. It was her first tattoo, one that reminded her of her dreams and also of who she was. She adored it, and she appreciated the lack of ridicule she received from him after showing it; then again, he couldn't very well tease her about it the way Kurt and Finn could because he didn't know she used to leave a gold star sticker after her name ever since elementary school. "What's your first name?"
"I like that," she revealed quietly, showing another tattoo, this one on the inside of her left wrist.
"I like you," he admitted quickly, his voice hoarse while his eyes stayed trained on the song lyrics branded on her wrist.
His eyes flicked up to hers, that lazy smile creeping onto his face. "'Cause your hot."
"Why else?" She probed deeper, her tongue running over her lips absently while she turned her right leg enough that he could see the tattoo hiding just below her ankle.
"Ya ain't like other chicks." His eyes roamed over the bare skin of her leg as she carefully lifted her right foot out of her shoe and up to his knee, resting it there for a moment so he could see the other tattoo scrawled across the top that had been hidden by one of the shoe's straps. She gasped quietly when his free hand moved to the back of her calf, massaging the toned muscle gently while keeping her leg raised. "Your skin is as soft as it looks."
"What instruments can you play?" She asked in a rushed breath, moving her right leg out of his grip only to have her legs change position so he could see the tattoo on her left foot.
"Mainly guitar and piano, but I can drum a little, too." His eyes moved up her body, staring into hers again. Once the shock from her abrupt subject change wore off, he added, "And harmonica."
She giggled at the way he said it, as if it were supposed to be sexy. And, on him, it was – mostly because it drew attention to his mouth. Absently, Rachel pivoted her shoulders just a little, her hair falling out of the way as she reached behind her to pull back the left arm of her jersey enough to show the musical-notes tattoo hiding underneath the fabric. Her breath stuttered when his fingers danced over the skin above the tattoo, her eyes moving back to his face only to notice his were focused on her mouth now.
"I'm running out of appropriate spots to show you," she whispered, saying words meant to pull them back to reality but reflexively moving closer to him instead.
"You could show me later."
His voice was so husky, so raw. She'd never heard anything like it, which explained the unusual effect it seemed to have on her. She'd previously thought the arena's temperature was set too cold, but now felt as if she were on fire. His touch scorched her skin, and his proximity melted her insides just as fiercely. Rational thought and logic seemed to burn away because the only thing Rachel could do in response to his suggestion was nod her head a mere couple of millimeters both up and down, her bottom lip worrying between her teeth as she waited for his next move.
"Don't fuckin' bail on me, Berry," he choked out, forcing himself away from her but walking backward toward his team just to keep watching her.
Rachel blinked at the sudden ache she felt, and not just in the obvious spot. Her entire body yearned for him, and there was an overwhelming feeling of disappointment that consumed her with each of his passing steps. The heat that had surrounded the pair instantly dissipated, and Rachel found herself shivering at the loss of warmth. She wondered if he was feeling even remotely the same, though at the same time she didn't want to spend a lot of effort trying to define exactly what she was feeling. For once, Rachel wanted to live in the moment and not worry about making the wrong or right choice, or how the choice might affect her life/career.
The only thing that mattered right then – outside of leaving what was now a packed arena to warm up her vocal chords and prepare for her first performance - was the fact that she had four more tattoos to reveal, and considering their placements she wanted to make sure the questions she asked Noah were good ones.