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Chapter 1

San Diego

Brock

“I’M GETTING TRADED?” I practically choke the life out of my cell phone, I’m clutching it so hard.

“To the Chicago Outlaws.” My agent, Marty Chenovsky, jabbers on as if he hasn’t dropped a major bomb on me.

“The fuck I am.” Last season after San Diego’s way overrated starting quarterback had gone down with a career-ending injury, I’d stepped in and taken San Diego all the way to the playoffs. Given my stellar performance, I’d expected to get the starting position. Instead, the bastards are trading me to Chicago?

“They need a backup quarterback.”

“Why? The Outlaws have that kid, Pedro Santiago.”

“Not anymore, they don’t. They’re trading him for you. He’s coming to San Diego.”

What???!!! “As their backup?”

“As their number one.”

“What the hell?” My job’s being handed to some wet-behind-the-ears kid barely a couple of years out of college? That’s so not right. “He doesn’t have my arm or experience.”

“But he has God on his side.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

Marty clears his throat. “The new San Diego Missionaries owner has a Christian streak in him a mile wide, and Pedro? Well, he never misses church on Sundays, even when he plays out of town.”

“And the last time I saw the inside of a sanctuary was when I was baptized.” The only reason my parents had done that much was because their country club set expected it of them. Neither had given a damn about religion.

“It’s more than that. Your lifestyle doesn’t sit right with him.”

My lifestyle. Chicks and wild parties, he means. “We almost made it to the Super Bowl.”

“He thinks Pedro can get the team there as well.”

“Yeah. Right. Good luck with that.” Pedro Santiago may have a golden arm, but can he play hurt? When he stepped in for Ty Matthews for a couple of games this season, the Chicago front line kept defenders off him. He could be a pansy for all the San Diego owner knows.

“I know it’s short notice, but Chicago wants you there tomorrow. They already started training camp.”

The Outlaws’ rigorous camp is one of the reasons they won the Lombardi trophy last year. Still, I’m expected to jump-to just because they say so? The hell with that. I have things planned for this week.

Besides, I hate the fucking cold. My entire career I’ve played for warm weather teams. Clemson, the Florida Manatees. Three years into my NFL career, I’d been traded to San Diego. With its perfect weather and year-round mild temperatures, never mind all the bikini honeys on the beach, it had made this southern boy’s heart happy. No way am I trading that for the frozen tundra of Chicago. “I’m not going.”

“Well, guess you can always quit, or sit out a year.”

He has me by the short hairs, and the bastard knows it. I’ve played football my whole life. Love it too much to give it up. “Not doing that.”

“Well, then, you have no choice.” He gives me a moment to let me come to terms with it. “I know this is not what you wanted. But they need a quality backup, and that’s you.”

This last season I’d loved the thrill of game day, the roar of the crowd. Hell, I hadn’t even minded the aches and pains because I was their starting quarterback. I won’t get that chance with Chicago. “Like I’d get to play.”

“Actually, you will. For the entire season.”

What’s he talking about? I’m good, really good. But Chicago has one of the league’s best quarterbacks in Ty Mathews. Last season, he took them all the way to the Super Bowl and won. Makes no sense they’d drop him for me. “How’s that?”

“This hasn’t been released to the press yet. They’re waiting until you get to Chicago to make the announcement. But Ty Mathews needs shoulder surgery, and he’ll be out for the entire season. That’s why they want you. They know you can take them to the playoffs.”

I need to think about this. To give me time, I walk to the fridge, pop open a Corona, slug down a healthy gulp. “Keep talking.”

“You have one more year left in your contract. You do well in Chicago, and the sky’s the limit. You’ll be able to name your own salary. Every team in dire need of a starting quarterback will want to snap you up.”

Yeah, but in the meantime, I wouldn’t have a starting position, would I? I’d only be a temporary replacement. Once Ty Mathews heals, he’ll get his position back and I’ll be back to being number two. Seven years into my NFL career, I should be a starter, not a fucking backup. “I don’t know, Marty.”

“I know how you feel. You want to be number one. Well, this is your best shot. The Chicago Outlaws is the best team in the league. Lots of eyeballs will be on you. If you do a good job, other teams will come calling, and you’ll get better endorsement deals.”

With all the success I’d had this last year, I’d hoped some companies would ask me to hawk their products. But the only thing I’d endorsed this season had been a crappy, no-name razor. I want something bigger, something that will put plenty of zeros with double digits in front of them in my checking account. I also need that number one starting spot, because the way I’m going? No way will I make the Hall of Fame. This move would not be a guarantee I’d get there, but, Marty is right, it’d be a step in the right direction. I finish the brew, crumple up the can, toss it in the recycling bin. “Okay.”

“Great.” I can almost hear his sigh of relief. No surprise. If I don’t agree to this, he doesn’t get his agent’s cut. “A word of advice, Brock. The Outlaws run a tight ship. So, you’ll need to behave.”

“What’s that supposed to mean?”

“No excessive alcohol. No groupies. No orgies.”

“Well, hell, what’s the fun of playing football if I can’t drink, screw, or party?”

“That’s what got you into trouble in Florida, remember?”

Florida. Four years ago, I’d thrown a party to celebrate the Manatees getting into the playoffs. Security had been tight. They’d searched guests for drugs. But a player had sneaked in an illicit substance and he’d died from an overdose. Though I had nothing to do with it, I’d been crucified by the social media. When the season ended, Florida couldn’t get rid of me fast enough. They’d traded me to San Diego where I’d played backup quarterback for the last four years. Until this year when I’d thrown more touchdowns and passing yards than the quarterback I’d replaced. And they pay me back by trading me because the new owner is a born-again Christian.

Well, fuck them.

I wish I could tell them to go screw themselves. But I have no choice. It’s either Chicago or sit out the season. And that’s the kiss of death. Out of sight, out of mind in the league. No guarantee they’d even remember my name in a year’s time. And I’m not ready to hang up my cleats just yet.

“When do I leave?”

“Tomorrow morning. I got you a ticket on the seven-thirty flight to O’Hare. I’ll email you the details.”

My pit bull nudges his big head against my knee, as if he’s sensed my distress. I scratch his head. No idea if I’m trying to comfort him or me. “I can’t fly out tomorrow. Butch hates flying, and I’m not going without him.”

“We’ve made arrangements for your dog. Someone will come by later today to pick him up. They’ll drive him cross-country to one of the best dog places in Chicago. Once you’re ready for him, you can fetch him. Expect to get a call in an hour or so to arrange for his pick up.”

A dog kennel. Butch won’t like that. He hates to be penned up. I’ll need to get him out of there as soon as I can. “What about my furniture, my things?” My memories.

“They’ll be taken care of. We’ve arranged for movers to pack your belongings and ship them to Chicago.”

“Where? I don’t exactly have a place there.”

“We’ve leased a two-bedroom condo for you.”

He’s thought of everything, hasn’t he? But that’s not going to work. At least not long term. “I have a four-bedroom house. Where am I supposed to put all my stuff?”

“The movers will handle it, Brock. Any extra furniture will be put in storage. It’s only a short term-rental, so if you don’t like it, we’ll help you find a place. But you won’t be there at first. You’re reporting right to training camp.”

I’ll be staying in a condo, instead of a house. Butch will be penned up in a dog kennel, instead of running free. My stuff will be delivered and any extras will be put in storage. He makes it sound like everything will be peachy keen. Like hell, it will.

“I’m sending someone to meet you at the airport, one of our newer agents. She’ll be waiting in the luggage claim area. Her name is Eleanor Adams.”

Eleanor Adams? In an instant, the years roll back to the Eleanor Adams I once knew. The girl I never forgot. The one who got away. I rub the spot above my chest that always aches when I think of her. But Marty’s junior agent can’t be her. My Eleanor was headed for medical school someday.

“We don’t want the public to know about your arrival, so she won’t be holding a sign with your name.”

“How will I know her?”

“Don’t worry. She’ll know you.”

Makes sense. I’m pretty well known. But I’ve never heard of a chick sports agent, at least any that represent football players. A wild notion pops into my head. What if Marty’s trying to get rid of me? “You’re not pawning me off on her, are you, Marty?”

He barks out a laugh. “You’d be lucky to get her. She’s hardworking, dedicated. A stellar junior agent. But no, I’ll continue to represent you. You’re my cross to bear.”

Damn right I am. As much as I’m bitching, I wouldn’t want to lose him. He’s one of the best sports agents out there. “So why aren’t you meeting me at the airport?”

“I have an appointment. One I can’t break. Don’t worry. She’ll take good care of you. Feel free to ask her any questions about your contract with the Outlaws. Or anything else for that matter. She’s thoroughly familiar with your situation.”

My situation. Yeah, my well-and-truly-fucked-up ‘situation.’

No sooner do I hang up with Marty than the phone rings. It’s the dog service. Not taking Marty’s word about their reputation, I pepper them with questions. They assure me they do this all the time and provide references, mostly military, for me to check out. After a few phone calls that reassure me Butch will be in good hands, I call back the dog service and ask them to come by in a couple of hours.

Butch glances at me, his big, brown peepers worried.

“Don’t give me those sad puppy eyes. I can’t help it, boy.” I scratch the top of his head, right on the spot he loves to get rubbed. But his tail doesn’t wag. Damn if he doesn’t know something’s up.

“Look I know Chicago is no San Diego. No sun. Cold enough to freeze your nuts off. Well, if you had any.”

“Woof!”

“You’re never going to forgive me for giving you the big snip, are you?”

“Rawr!”

“You’ll love Chicago. You’ll see.” I don’t know if I’m trying to reassure him or me. But I do know one thing that will make us both feel better. I grab his leash and head out with him. Gotta take my best boy for a run on the beach one last time.

 

 

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Chapter 7

MacKenna

HIS HOUSE RESIDES IN A GATED COMMUNITY. Of course, it does. He might be a playah, but I doubt he wants a horde of women and fans crashing his home. Before we’re allowed entrance into the property, a dour guard at the front gate requests my ID. Unwilling to reveal my identity to a stranger, I start to argue, but Ty cuts me off. “Every visitor has to do it, MacKenna.”

Still fuming at Ty, I pull out my driver’s license and hand it to the beefy man. He glances back and forth between the ID and me before he steps inside the guardhouse. I suspect he’s running my driver’s license through a scanner, something that doesn’t sit right with me. Still unsmiling, he returns, hands me back my ID and waves us through.

“That was a violation of my rights.”

“They have to be careful. Many prominent families live here. Some employ their own security as well. Last thing the property management company wants is some criminal breaking and entering somebody’s home, or worse.”

He has a point. Security has to be tight to prevent a home invasion. But I don’t like to provide my personal information unless absolutely necessary. At the Outlaws’ camp, I’d handed over my license for identification, not realizing I needed to check the form that would keep my information from being entered into their database. Lesson learned. From now on, I’ll be more diligent about reading documents when my driver’s license is required.

Still, a visitor to Ty Mathews’ home shouldn’t be required to provide an ID, especially when that visitor has been shanghaied. Well, what’s done is done. Nothing I can do about it. Might as well enjoy the view. And what a view it is. The community’s Colonial houses sit on three acre lots, some with swimming pools in the back, their yards landscaped to an inch of their lives.

He drives up the driveway of a gorgeous mansion nestled between towering trees and pulls into a three-car garage in the back of the house. A huge truck occupies one of the bays. The third one contains a vehicle with a tarp thrown over it.

Once we emerge from his SUV, he leads the way into a gleaming-bright kitchen whose vaulted ceiling must be ten, eleven feet high.

“Would you like something to drink?”

“Water, please.”

He opens a subzero refrigerator, pulls out a bottle, uncaps it and hands it to me. “Make yourself at home. I’m going to change.” And then he starts to walk away, like nothing’s wrong.

Is he kidding me? “Wait.You’re not going anywhere until you explain what happened back there.”

He swivels toward me. His jaw flexing, he eats the distance between him and me. “You mean when you threw yourself at Ryan Jackson?”

He’s way into my personal space, so much I have to tilt back my head so I can glare at him. “I didn’t throw myself.” I sound like a harpy my voice’s so high. “I was talking to him. You know, like a reporter.”

His eyes narrow. “He doesn’t want an interview. He wants to fuck you.” He’s so wound up he’s practically vibrating with coiled tension.

Unwittingly, my gaze drops to his crotch. He’s hard. Very hard. Apparently, Ryan Jackson is not the only one who wants to screw me.

He manacles my arms, pulls me toward him. “And you practically invited him to do it.”

My nipples grow rock hard from being thrust into his chest. How could I be this turned on by his caveman behavior? “I did not.”

He goes on like I haven’t said a thing. “Yeah, you did. You pranced up and down that field with your hair down to your ass, your breasts bouncing all the way. Whatever bra you’re wearing? It doesn’t do shit, except draw attention to your tits.”

I wiggle in his hold. The way my body’s reacting, I can’t be this close to him. “Let me go, Ty.” When he does, I fling a hand across my chest. My nipples turn into hard little nubs whenever I get excited. And god knows I’m excited now. His behavior might be Neanderthal, but he’s turning me on. “That was not nice.”

He throws his hands in the air. “Jeesus H. Fucking Christ! I’m not trying to be nice. I’m trying to clue you in. Some of  those players you were flirting with? Half of them are aching to nail you. They think you’re easy.” He steps toward me again, and I stumble backwards. “They think all they have to do is crook a finger and you’ll fall into their laps. They’ve seen hundreds of girls like that, groupies who are only interested in one thing—bagging a Chicago Outlaw. And I guarantee you a lot of them have put you into that category.”

Tears seep into my vision. I shake my head to will them back. “I’m not like that. I’m not.” Taking another step, I run dab smack into the kitchen counter.

“Then stop acting like you are.”

“What did I do that was so wrong?”

“You flirted with them.”

My lower lip juts forward. “I did not.”

“Yes, you did. I was watching you the whole time. You flipped your hair, smiled, touched some of them. Since you don’t know shit about football, I can imagine what they were thinking.”

“That’s so unfair. I never asked for the interview with Ron. It was thrust into my lap.”

“And it was supposed to begin and end with him?”

“Yes.”

“At the Boys & Girls Club, you were talking to players as if you wanted to interview them. What happened to change your mind?”

“Well, I met you, and someone at the club who used to play football.”

“Who?” He snarls out.

“One of the owners. My friend, Marigold, knows him from their college days.”

“Todd Gryzinsky.”

“Yes. You know him?”

“Yeah, I know him.” His eyes flash at me. “Did he hit on you?”

“No! He was at the door. After Marigold talked to him, he was nice enough to let us in.”

“He wasn’t being nice, MacKenna. If your friend looks anything like you, he admitted two smoking hot females, bait for the hordes of playahs who frequent the club.”

“Like you?” I snap.

“No. Not like me.” Two muscled arms clutch the edge of the counter, caging me in. “In case you didn’t know, I don’t chase women. They chase me.”

I blow out a disgusted snort. “Yeah. I know.” Having heard enough, I’m more than ready to leave. “Well, this has been a really nice conversation, but I’d like to go home now.”

He pushes off to wander around the kitchen, his hands jammed into his jeans pockets, his hard body in full display. My stupid heart beats a mad, wild rhythm at the sight of his broad shoulders, slim hips, and mighty fine ass.

He stops pacing and glances back, his green eyes drilling into mine. “You’re serious about interviewing players?”

“Yes.”

“You never explained why.”

“Well, I just thought of football players as—” I can’t say that I thought of big, beefy men fighting over a pigskin as Neanderthals—  “athletes.”

“And now?”

“Well, after talking to you and Ron and watching mad dog Buchinsky work with kids as gently as he did, I’m beginning to see there’s more to them than football.”

“And that’s important, why?”

“Any reporter can cover the statistics, how far somebody threw a ball, how many balls a player caught. But I’d like to explore the human side of the players and write about them. What makes them tick? What makes them human? The newspaper’s subscribers, especially the women, would eat up those stories.”

He lets out a hard breath. “You’ll need to earn their respect before they open themselves up to you.”

“I know. How do I do that?”

He strolls up to me, all fluid grace and masculine power. “Well, for starters. You need to learn the game.”

I nod in agreement. “I’m reading up on football and doing research.”

“You need to do more than that. I can teach you.” His voice softens, as his hand reaches out to fiddle with my hair. “I can teach you lots of things.”

His body’s tight against me. His hard on’s pressed against my belly.

I glance up at him through my eyelashes. He’s so much bigger than me, so much of a man. He smells like one too. Not of that expensive cologne he’d sported at the club, but like a man who’s been throwing around some balls with kids. Nice, clean sweat and underneath it all, him.

“You drive me crazy, you know, with your soft hair, pouty lips, and milky skin.” He puts his lips to my neck, and I shiver. “You smell so good.”

Our emotions mingle, flaring up into a fiery need. I want him. I want this man more than my next breath. But there’s something he must be made to understand.

“I’m not a groupie.”

“Oh, sweetheart, of course you’re not. You’re sunshine and rainbows and everything that’s right in this world.”

Trembling with hunger for this man, all I can say is, “Ty?” 

“Say yes, sweetheart. Say yes, and I’ll give you anything you want.”

DIRTY FILTHY BOY is available for preorder at the following stores:

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Dirty Filthy Boy

 

Chapter 6

Ty

AS SOON AS WE REACH THE FAR SIDE OF THE PARKING LOT, MacKenna lets me have it. “That stunt you pulled in there was embarrassing.You humiliated me.”

I shrug. “Don’t know why. I saved your food.”

 “You actually think that macho posturing is going to prevent someone from stealing it?”

“Yep. The men won’t touch it. Too scared of what I’ll do to them. The women think it’s romantic what I did. You might want to say thank you, by the way.” I throw in to get her even more riled up.

Her jaw drops as smoke practically steams out of her ears. “Thank you? Thank you?”  Her pink cheeks turn apple red, and she goes from beautiful to stunning.

I execute a small bow. “You’re welcome.”

Her eyes bulge. “You’ve got some nerve, you know that.”

 Smiling, I cross my arms across my chest and broaden my stance. “It’s all part of the Ty package.”

“The Ty package?”

I wink at her. “I can show you, if you like.”

“You could show . . .” She fists her hands. “I could just . . .” She struggles not to blow a gasket. Wouldn’t that make a magnificent sight? But after a few seconds, she gets control of her temper and whooshes out a hard breath. “Men.”

“Yep.” I rock back on my heels. “That’s what I am.”

A cold breeze slashes between us, tussling her gorgeous curls, making her shiver. It might be early September, but the weather’s turned cooler, and the wind’s blowing like a son of a bitch out of Lake Michigan. That sweater she’s wearing can’t possibly keep her warm. I could volunteer my services to heat her up in my SUV, but she’s nowhere ready to go to the next level with me. A challenge, that’s what she is, and I love a challenge.

Without looking at me, she dives into her purse and retrieves her car keys. “Well, I better get going. Thank you for the interview and lunch.”

Another gust of wind turns her nipples rock hard. And suddenly reality smacks me in the face. She can’t go to the Boys & Girls Club in that sweater and tight skirt. Either will have my teammates salivating. Both, and I’ll have a fight on my hands. She needs to change clothes to prevent bloodshed. I point to her. “That sweater and skirt won’t work. You’ll need to put on something else—jeans, a sweatshirt, sneakers—to go to the rec center.”

She looks down at herself. “What’s wrong with what I’m wearing?”

“Nothing. It’s a perfect outfit for work. But we’re going to throw around a few footballs and you might be required for show and tell.” There is no might about it. I will use her to teach the kids how to throw a perfect spiral.

Her face scrunches. “Show and tell?”

“I’ll demonstrate how to pitch the ball. And you’ll be my assistant.” I pull out the car keys from my jacket, twirl the ring around my finger.

“I’ve never thrown a football.”

“And that’s why the kids will get a kick out of it. If I can teach you how to lob one, it’ll give them hope.”

“Use one of your teammates. They certainly know how to throw . . . and catch.”

“And risk being smacked by a whiff of funky BO? I don’t think so. You”—I lean in and breathe in her lavender-rose scent—”smell way better than any of them.”

She peeks up at me through her lashes, a flirty move, but doubt she realizes it as such. From everything I’ve seen, she doesn’t seem the flirty kind.

“I’m not going to win this argument, am I?”

I grin, sensing a victory. “Nope.”

“Fine. I’ll go home and change. I’ll meet you at the Boys and Girls Club.” She tosses over her shoulder as she heads toward the edge of the parking lot.

My key twirling comes to a dead stop, and I rush after her. I’ll be damned before I let her risk that drive by herself. The B&C Club is in a dangerous part of town. Anything could happen to her on the way over. “I have a better idea. Why don’t I follow you to your place. After you change, we can head to the club in my car.”

“I don’t think that would be a good idea.” By now we’ve reached the junker she climbed into at the Outlaws parking lot. There’s a dent in the rear passenger door that wasn’t there before.

“Did somebody hit you?” I point to the car.

“No. I dinged a column in my apartment lot. The parking there is . . . tricky.” She inserts her key into the car door. “I’ll just—” She struggles to get the door open, but it won’t budge. “Umm, drive myself.”

Not in that piece of shit car, she won’t. She probably doesn’t want me to know her address, but her objection is moot. “I know where you live, MacKenna.”

Her head jerks up from fighting with her car door. “What? How do you know?”

“You provided that information to our press office in the form you filled out.”

Her eyes widen. “And they gave it to you?”

I lean against my cherry Porsche Cayenne SUV which just happens to be parked next to her junker. “You must have forgotten to check off the box that prevents them from sharing your information with the Outlaws staff.”

“Darn it. I was so worried about the Ron Moss interview I gave it back without reading the small print.” She gnaws on her lip, obviously upset about her personal data being disseminated for anyone to see.

Her discomfort tugs at me. “The Outlaws Press office sharing your details. That’s a problem for you.”

Those crushed bluebell eyes of hers gaze helplessly up at me. “Yes, I’d prefer my private information kept just that, private.”

I grab my cell, dial the number of the head of PR. “Trevor? It’s Ty Mathews. The information MacKenna Perkins provided to you, home address, personal stuff. Can you erase it from our system?”

She stands in front of me, rubbing her hands up and down her arms. Predictably, my cock reacts at those tight nipples of hers. Damn it. It’s going to be a long afternoon if I don’t rein in my lust. Like the gentleman I’m not, I order my hard on to give it a rest and turn so my body blocks her from the wind. “They’ll need to retain your business info if you want to interview any member of the team. Is that okay?”

“Yes.”

“She’s fine with that. Okay, Trevor. Thanks.” I click off, bury the cell in my leather jacket. “Done.”

“Thanks.” Her nose is bright pink. Her eyes are watering. My blocking the wind hasn’t helped her enough. She’s freezing.

Much as I want to pull her into me and warm her, I resist. Don’t want her hightailing it again. But obviously, she needs to get away from the wind. “So, do you want me to swing over to your place and we can ride together from there?” Her eyes sparking with interest, she glances from her POS to my sweet ride.

Good. All I have to do is reel her in.

“If we go together to the rec center, you’ll get to ride in my car.” I click my key, slide the door open. The Porsche Cayenne is a thing of beauty—Carmine Red on the outside, black on the inside, the Chicago Outlaws’ team colors. “It has Bose Surround sound, GPS, Sirius satellite radio.” I pause for dramatic effect before I go in for the kill. “And heated leather seats.”

Her eyes round with wonder and her mouth forms a perfect “O”.

My lips curve into a smile. I thought that would do the trick.

Once she stops drooling over my car, I get her door open so she can climb into that sorry excuse of a car before following her to her place. I’m glad to see her parking garage requires a card to enter, but the inside is shit. Potholes big enough to eat a tire, crappy lighting. No wonder she ran into a garage column. Dirt and sweat stink up the elevator. The hallway leading to the unit on her floor is no better; it reeks of cabbage and onions.

Her cheeks bloom pink as if she’s embarrassed of the place. “It’s not much, but it’s the best I can afford. And my neighbors are nice.”

Damn, she must have caught the expression on my face. “That’s good.”

“And there’s a security station on the ground floor. You have to show ID to get in.”

Thank fuck for that.

Three security locks guard her door, each of which opens with a different key. When we enter her apartment, she offers me something to drink. All she’s got is water, tea and some fruity drink. While she runs into her bedroom to change, I make myself at home on her mud-colored couch and guzzle the H2O. But soon I’m up exploring the place.

Her tiny apartment smells like her. But that’s about the only thing it has going for it. The springs on the couch leave something to be desired. Probably got it at a garage sale or maybe it’s a remnant from her college days. The TV can’t be more than 26-inches wide. Didn’t know they still sold them in that size. Her kitchen contains the usual appliances—a stove, refrigerator. But they both look like they’ve seen better days. I don’t see a dishwasher and there’s a rack next to the sink, so she must wash her dishes by hand.

She deserves better than to live in this crappy dump. Aside from the small size and the smells outside her unit, I’m not totally convinced about the security of the building. I’ve got connections in real estate—people who owe me favors, acquaintances, friends. Surely, I could hook her up with a better place to live. The problem will be talking her into it.

Ten minutes later, she emerges from her bedroom, changed into jeans, a sweatshirt and sneakers. Although the outfit is supposed to make her shapeless, nothing can hide her amazing breasts. They’re large, perky and the reason God invented boobs. Their bounce all the way back to the elevator has me gnashing my teeth. As if my suffering’s not bad enough, she has trouble with her seatbelt, so I get an up close and personal of her world-class tits when I help her snap it on.

We arrive at the Boys & Girls Club to pandemonium. A few hundred kids, their parents, the media. It’s a fucking three-ring circus. But our head of PR has been there, done that, and he manages to control the insanity. With a few choice words, he corrals everyone inside the rec center, while the Outlaws take the stage. The head of the club introduces us one by one to loud cheers. I give the usual “Stay in School, Don’t Do Drugs” speech I’ve given hundreds of times before.

The real fun begins when we go outside. The kids line up in front of their favorite player. As usual, mine is the longest. After I hurl a few balls, I use MacKenna to demonstrate. Predictably, she can’t throw for shit. When I mention she throws like a girl, the kids crack up, just like I knew they would. Soon I have even the littlest ones lobbing the ball with confidence, if not very far. 

When she wanders off to write something into her note book, a fresh one, I keep my eye on her. She walks toward the opposite end of the field where Ron Moss is catching balls from a bunch of kids. When another receiver takes his place, she exchanges a few words with him. I talked to him yesterday before the game to clue him into what really happened with their interview. He’s a great guy who doesn’t hold a grudge. Soon his head’s bobbing and he’s smiling at her. She says something and gets a thumbs up before he goes back to working with the kids.

She jots something in her notebook before she stops to observe our left tackle, Maddox ‘Mad Dog’ Buchinski, who’s teaching a huge kid how to block. He has nowhere as many kids as I do, so the few he has are getting quite a bit of instruction from him.

When next I look up she’s talking to our kicker, Ryan Jackson. My hackles rise. Unlike the other players, who’re giving 100%, Ryan’s barely participating. When she asks him a few questions, he totally ignores the kids to put the moves on her—flashing that smarmy smile of his, laughing at something she says. Ryan’s the scum of the earth. A world-class athlete who’s allowed his fame to go to his head. He’s caused nothing but trouble with the other Outlaws—picking fights, insulting players. Most of them hate him. If it weren’t for his field-goal kicking golden leg, he’d be off the team.

But even worse than his humongous ego are his dubious morals. He chases anything in a skirt, especially younger women. Oh, he’s careful to card them. Last thing he wants is to be caught having sex with someone who’s underage. Still, there’s something offputting about a thirty-seven year old man screwing an eighteen-year old girl.

Before I go over there and put a world on hurt on the bastard, our head of PR blows the whistle, signaling the end of scrimmage. I patiently sign a few shirts and balls while keeping an eye on MacKenna and Ryan. But when he touches her, I can’t control myself. I pound toward MacKenna, grab her arm and haul her away.

“Wait” She trips, and I tighten my grip to keep her from falling. “That was rude. I was talking to Ryan.”

I keep up the pace, not slowing down one bit. “You don’t talk to him. You hear me.”

“Why not?”

We’re close to where the media lies in wait, cameras clicking away. “Who’s the lady, Ty? New girlfriend?”

Damn it! I should have thought this through before I went all ape shit. If there’s one thing, the Outlaws’ organization is adamant about is good press. Whatever a player has to do, he must present a positive image. And right now, there’s only one way to do that. My grip slides down and grabs her hand. “Smile for the reporters, MacKenna.”

Thankfully, she obeys me. She clutches her notebook to her chest and smiles. Until we get inside my SUV and I snap her into her seatbelt. Then she lights into me. “What was that all about? Why did you drag me from Ryan Taylor?”

All screeching tires, I peel out of the parking lot before somebody snaps a photo of her screaming at me. I don’t answer her until we’re well away from the club.  “He’s a sleazeball. All he wants is to nail you.”

“Oh? And you don’t?”

“Give me some credit, MacKenna. I’ve been the perfect gentleman so far.” Well, perfect for me.

Other than breathing hard, she’s silent until we take the highway out of the city. “Where are we going? This is not the way to my apartment.”

“My house. We need to talk.” She needs to understand professional football, and I’m not just thinking about the game, but the players as well. She needs to learn who she can talk to and who she needs to stay away from.

“Don’t I get a say in this?”

I firm my lips. “Nope.”

She mumbles something under her breath. Neanderthal, among a few other choice words. Yeah. I get it. I’m dragging her to my cave. Perfect gentleman flew out the window the second I hauled her away.

I shouldn’t have acted the way I did. I know it. She knows it. My overprotective streak’s flying a mile high. Something I haven’t felt in a long time. Since college, I’ve stuck to women who knew the score, staying away from dewy-eyed virgins who have no clue. Angry with myself, I smack the wheel.

“What’s wrong?” Her voice quivers with emotion. God, don’t let it be fear. Couldn’t handle that from her.

“Nothing.” ‘Ignore her,’ Warrior Ty whispers. You can’t afford to care about her. You can’t allow your emotions to get involved. That way lies disaster. You need to focus on football and your injured arm before coach takes you out of the game. But I’m not listening. Somehow she brings out the rescuer in me. I may have only known her a few days, but I ache to protect her against any and all harm. To give her the life she should have. But let’s face, the part of me that’s mainly in charge is my cock. And the damn thing’s rapidly growing out of control.

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