Jock: A Secret Baby Sports Romance(2)By: Aubrey Irons
I like the fire I see there for a second. And I’ve got another gun I want to holster between those fucking lips.
We hold each other’s gaze for a full five seconds before she arches a brow expectantly.
“Fine,” I finally say, sighing loudly and crossing my arms across my chest. “Maybe I need a change.”
The “maybe” part is bullshit. I can’t keep seeing Brandon’s ghost everywhere I look in this place. And if I keep drinking and drowning the memory of that night in a bottle the way I’ve been doing the last few months, I know I’m not going to have a career left to tarnish.
So, I’m out. Which is why I took this meeting when Randy mentioned it. Except this ain’t what I expected. She ain’t what I expected.
She might be all business in that boardroom blouse, but I can tell those tits are to die for. The swell of that ass in those jeans and the fact that my hand still remembers the feel of it from that slap is just the icing on the cake.
“‘Maybe’ really isn’t worth my time, Mr. Cade,” London says flatly.
“Yeah? Well is me being the best fucking thing to ever happen to your team worth your time?” I growl, narrowing my eyes at this little firecracker who thinks she can bring me and my antics to heel.
Her eyes twinkle, like she’s gotten a straight answer from me.
“What makes you think the Bulls would be a good fit?” she asks.
“I’m not the one auditioning here, sugar.”
That makes her smile broadly, those soft pink lips parting across a flash of white teeth.
“Oh yes, you are, Mr. Cade.”
“Look, just call me Holden.”
“Only if you stop calling me sugar.”
I grin. I like this sass.
“You’re auditioning, Holden,” she says, “Because I like to be sure of my prospects before entertaining a negotiation.”
“Please, you know your team would be lucky to have me.”
Randy sighs again. London raises a brow and subdues another grin.
“I’m not sure any team would be lucky to have you after the end of last season,” she says.
“Look, I don’t know if you actually watch football, but we went to the playoffs, sugar,” I say pointedly.
“Barely,” she says evenly, ignoring the first part of my jab. “You barely did. And I don’t think your behavior either on or off the field did you any favors.”
“I had a lot of shit going on,” I say.
“Busy social life or not, you still played an awful season,” she shrugs, letting it hang there.
“Fuck this.” I drop my arms and shake my head as I turn to walk away. “You know what, I don’t need this.”
“Yes, you do.”
I whirl back and meet her bright blue eyes. She cocks her head to the side, and a loose strand of auburn hair falls across her lightly freckled cheek.
Goddamn, this girl is a very confusing mix of confounding and sexy as sin, and I’m starting to see why she’s so fucking good at her job.
“I know three things, Mr. Cade.”
“Fine, Holden, I know three things. One, you’re the best quarterback in the league, hands down.”
I grin, but she cuts me off and quickly holds two fingers up in the air.
“Two, your last season was a disaster, and you’re one parking ticket away from being kicked off the team after you spent your off-season getting intimate with the Denver justice system.”
I glare at her, trying to keep my eyes from dipping down to the swell of her full tits in that blouse.
She waves a third finger in the air.
“And three, we need you.”
“Cards on the table, sugar?”
“I told you, I’m up-front with prospects,” she says with a shrug.
“That what I am?” I grin. “A prospect?”
She doesn’t even blink at the innuendo.
Color me intrigued.
“For now, yes.”
She bends her knee to pick her bag off the floor, sliding it over her shoulder as she starts to turn for the door.
“Shall we make a time tomorrow to meet up on the field?”
“I need to see you perform.”
I grin like a wolf at her as I lace my hands behind my head and nod my chin at her.
“I’ll perform for you any time, sugar.”
She doesn’t say a thing, but this time, I watch those freckled cheeks of hers go bright red.
“We’ll be running some drills, seeing what sort of form you’re in.”
Randy finally interrupts again. Nice to know I pay him for something.
“You’ve seen the tapes, Ms. Jacobs,” he says.
“The tapes from the first half of last season when Holden was performing at his peak, yes,” she says, smiling benignly at my chubby manager. “You don’t really want a prospective new team scout watching the tapes from the second half, do you?”
She follows Randy’s eyes as they dart to mine.
I shake my head.
She smiles as she turns back to me, her eyes only dropping for a second to the wide swath of abs and happy trail I’m very purposely showing her before she looks me right in the eye.
“Tomorrow it is then.”
“Yeah, fine. Tomorrow afternoon.”
“Tomorrow at eight a.m.,” she says, still looking me right in the eye.
I frown. “Why the hell so early?”
The corners of her lips turn up. “Is eight early?”
“Uh, yeah, it damn well-”
“He’ll be there,” Randy says sharply.
“See you then, Mr. Cade.”
“Can’t wait, sugar.”
I scowl as she leaves.
Fuck this. I know this is my way out, but I don’t have to fucking like it. I might need her bullshit team and whatever offer she’s acting like she doesn’t already have drawn up somewhere. But I sure as hell don’t need her and her attitude.
I decide right there that I couldn’t give less of a shit if I ever have anything to do with London Jacobs again.
…It would be a whole lot easier to believe if my eyes weren’t glued to her ass when she walks out.
Breathe, just breathe.
Visions of Holden Cade’s easy, dangerous grin, tongue-trippingly gorgeous eyes, and perfectly sculpted cheekbones dance inappropriately through my head as I speed-walk down the hallways of the stadium complex.
God, he’s attractive.
I scowl at myself, hating the heat pulsing in my cheeks and the dirty, wildly unprofessional thoughts about Holden Cade swirling through my head.
What the fuck is wrong with me? I am damn good at my job because I don’t let myself get caught up in the bullshit celebrity and macho-man crap of most pro football players. I’m literally surrounded by muscled, athletically perfect, cocky and juvenile men on the daily with the job I do for my father’s team, and I’ve never once been remotely tripped up or thrown off my game like I was back there.
My brow knits as I scurry through the underbelly of the Rattlesnake stadium, quickly reading signs to find my way back to the parking garage and my rental car.
Seriously, what the hell was that back there? I’m not some fangirl groupie or star-fucker; not one of those pathetic women who goes ga-ga over big-muscled, emotionally stunted meatheads. Not even close, which is why it’s so confusing that I can’t seem to stop thinking about his broad, tattooed chest; that body carved out of ironwood. It’s worrisome that I can’t keep my mind from tracing over the dangerous grooves of his hips and that tantalizing trail of hair leading down to his…
I take in a deep lungful of air as I finally find and climb into my rental, slamming the door shut.
No, this has nothing to do with the insufferable Holden Cade and his absurdly perfect body and wildly charming grin. And this certainly has nothing to do with his juvenile attempt at “getting to me” with his cheap lines and wicked tongue.
This is about landing the most important prospect of my career. This is about a deal that will make or completely shatter the last vestige of my father’s legacy.
“Please, you know your team would be lucky to have me.”
As much as it made me want to smack that smug grin right off his face back in the locker room, Holden’s right. Our team is dying a slow, money-sucking, humiliating death, one awful game and one crushing season at a time. Attendance is down, the rumors are turning into media and internet jokes, and if we don’t pull some sort of a Hail Mary out of our asses, the team that’s been in my family since my dad was my age is going to go belly up within the year.
And as much as I hate even admitting it to myself, Holden Cade might be that Hail Mary, which is entirely the reason I’m here in Denver testing the waters. Under normal circumstances, a player like Holden would be a player a team like the Houston Bulls would have no business even courting.
Too good, too expensive.
Too much of a diva, in my opinion.
I’ve been doing this long enough to see the writing on the walls, and I know with the God-awful season he just had, and the recently acquired police and tabloid rap-sheets, Holden Cade is one spelling mistake away from the end of his career, or at least a considerable downsizing of his contract.
And meeting him today was to affirm one thing: that for all his antics and bullshit, he’s not actually stupid enough not to know that.
That works for me, and that works for the team I represent. Because Holden Cade is against the ropes, and I’m about to be his only lifeline.
…So long as I can keep my damn mind out of the gutter and off those sculpted abs.
* * *
Back at the hotel, I skip even going to my room in favor of the hotel bar up on the roof. I order a double Blanton’s neat from a somewhat surprised older bartender, pay and thank him, and take it outside to the roof terrace with my phone to check in back home.
“So, it’s true.”
“Oh?” My dad’s voice perks up.
This whole thing was a hunch. I’m the meticulous data analyzer, while Dad’s the master at hunches. I don’t do “hunches.” Hell, I thought this was a terrible idea.
I still kind of do.
But he’s the one that heard the back-room whispers of Holden Cade maybe wanting to leave Denver, and so here I am following up on it.
That’s where my talent comes in, which is getting what I want. Because if it is true, it’s a chance of a lifetime. The sports world loves to use terms like “rebuilding year” when you’re having a struggling season. But when that keeps dragging on, you’re not “rebuilding”, you’re just a losing team.
We need a win.
And again, the truth of it is that we’d never be able to get a player like Holden. Not with his level of “it” factor on the field and his insane record. But it’s a perfect storm right now, in our favor. He’s fucked up one too many times. And for whatever reasons, he really wants out of Denver.
The hometown hero actually is jumping ship, and it’s the perfect time to pounce.
For a brief second, my mind flashes back to that chest, those arms, and those abs, and that wildly un-ignorable bulge under that towel. And for a second, I think of another thing I’d like to pounce on, before I scowl at myself and take a big sip of the whiskey to clear my head.
“He played it off like you said he would, but he’s hungry.”
“Good, good.” Dad clears his throat. “You didn’t let on how much we’re willing to off-”
He chuckles. “Sorry.”
I don’t have this job because I’m Archie Jacobs’s daughter. I’ve got this job because I’m really fucking good at it, and Dad knows it.
“His manager has some preliminaries to try and sway him. That’s all they’ve got right now.”
“So what’s next, hotshot?”
I grin at the pet name my dad’s called me ever since I can remember.
“I put him through the wringer tomorrow and see how he does under pressure. After the way the end of last season went, and with all his shenanigans over the off-season, I’m genuinely unsure how he’s actually going perform.”
“I need to see you perform.”
“You only gotta ask, sugar.”
I can feel the heat rushing into my face again as I quickly take another big sip of my drink.
“If he doesn’t totally blow it, I’ll drop an offer.”
“An offer huh?” I can hear the frown and concern in Dad’s voice, and I grin.
“A low offer.”
He chuckles. “Think he’ll bite?”
God I wonder if he bites.
I wonder how his teeth feel against my skin, how his lips feel on mine. I wonder where those abs lead-
I blink quickly, shaking the wicked and wildly inappropriate thoughts from my head.
“Yeah, he’ll bite. He’s hungry.”
Says the girl hungering for him like some sort of horny teenager.
I take another pull of whiskey as I look out over the city and frown. “I still don't get it though. Holden Cade is the Rattlesnakes. He is Denver. He’s like LeBron and Cleveland, or DiMaggio and the Yankees.”
“Beckham and Manchester.”
“Right, exactly.” I frown again. “He's the hometown hero brought up from the poor part of the city. That's his whole shtick. Why would he leave that behind?"
In a way, it feels disloyal to even think it, but the thought hits my mind like a flash: Holden is a winner, and the Bulls are, well, not.
Dad clears his throat. “Money?”
I chew on my lip before taking another sip of the Blantons.
Dad and I have gone through this, many times, before I even stepped on a plane to Denver. But he’s got his “feelings” and his “hunches”. Me? I’ve got family loyalty, and an inability to not do the job that needs doing. So that’s why I’m here really: loyalty. Loyalty to my dad’s team - his cause, however hopeless, is why I’ve agreed to scout Holden Cade and meet him here in Denver.
“In any case, London, we need to convince him to come over."