Jock: A Secret Baby Sports Romance(4)By: Aubrey Irons
“Let’s just run the drills, okay?”
* * *
Ten minutes in and Holden is fucking up wildly.
I frown. He’s definitely not on point, and part of it is certainly that he’s clearly a hungover mess, but it’s more than that. I’ve seen his tapes two dozen times, where he’s focused and on his game.
He’s neither of those things right now.
I sigh heavily for the tenth time at the wildly off-target ball Holden throws in his passing coach’s general direction, when I look up and catch a quick flash of a grin from him.
I frown. He’s not even really trying. In fact, he’s mostly just trying to show off to me, and not in the good way because he knows I’m a talent scout who wants him, but more in the way where I’m female and he just can’t seem to help himself.
And that’s exactly what’s happening. He’s winking at me, tossing me a grin as he misses another pass entirely. He managed to get one connection to his coach before he waves him off and trots over to my table and grabs his water bottle.
“So, what do you think?”
I give him a look. “Really?”
Holden grins and shrugs. “Hey, I told you I wasn’t a morning person. This is why games are at night.”
“Practices can be in the mornings.”
He squirts some water across his open mouth. “Yeah, I skip those ones.”
I’m about to roll my eyes when he puts the bottle down and suddenly peels off his sleeveless t-shirt.
I blink once, catching myself staring at that perfectly muscled chest and those perfectly carved abs before I scold myself inside and jerk my head back to my screen.
“Man, it’s hot out here.”
I know he’s trying to get a rise out of me, and it’s not going to work.
“You can strip down too you know,” he says with a grin, nodding at the tennis shirt and running shorts I’m wearing.
“I think I’m fine,” I say thinly, turning back to my screen.
“I think you are too.”
My eyes snap back to his. “Do you talk to all possible job offers like this?”
He laughs, stretching again and letting those muscles ripple under that tanned, tattooed skin. “Only the hot ones.”
I can feel my face getting warmer, and I know it’s not just the late morning sun.
Holden’s trying to be bold to throw me off, and I know it. Except this isn’t exactly my first rodeo. I’ve dealt with cocky jocks who think they’re God’s gift to womankind my whole life, and Holden Cade is nothing new.
Besides, I happen to know from experience that I can use that cockiness to my advantage.
But the annoying thing here is that this exchange isn’t as one-sided as I want Holden to think it is. Sure, he needs us, and we need him, but this negotiation goes to shit if he realizes just how badly we need him.
If any other player or prospect were fucking up like this, I’d have been out of here twenty minutes ago.
But we need Holden.
“You know if you wore something a bit more appropriate for a professional practice session, you might be performing better.” I flash a saccharine smile at Holden.
He eyes me. “Seems I’m off my game today.”
“Oh it does seem that way.”
He frowns as he holds my eyes with his.
Good, he’s getting frustrated. Frustrated means I’m throwing him off, which means he’s more open to suggestions when it comes to negotiating him away from Denver and over to us.
He’s clearly not used to losing like this, or messing up like this. I can see that in his eyes. Of course, maybe it’s also that he’s not used to a woman standing up to him and tossing his bullshit back in his face instead of taking her clothes off for him.
His eyes narrow. “Look, it’s been a rough week.”
“I think it’s been a rough longer than that, actually.”
Time to play hardball.
I start to stand. “You know what, Mr. Cade? I think we’re done here.”
Holden rolls his eyes and blows air through his lips as he turns away from me. “Fine, whatever.”
I slide my laptop back into my bag and sling it over my shoulder. Holden petulantly has his back to me, and I grin as I start to turn.
I can play hardball too, and this is going exactly as I wanted it go.
I allow myself a wide grin with my back to him before I hide it away and turn around.
“Yes?” I keep my face blank, keeping my eyes neutral as I watch him.
“Look, I-” He holds my gaze as he takes a step towards me.
His voice lowers. “Look, I need out of here, okay?”
“I’m off today, alright? I admit it. What if we try this again tomorrow.”
“I’m flying out tomorrow morning.”
The corners of his perfect lips turn up. “Then let me take you out tonight.”
I swallow quickly, my brow shooting up. “Out?”
“Yeah, out. Like, to dinner.”
I recover myself quickly, clearing my throat as I plaster a smile on my face.
“Oh, I don’t think so.”
Horrible idea. Terrible.
Holden shrugs; still shirtless. Still distractingly shirtless. He makes a clicking sound with his teeth “Shit, I thought the legendary LJ Jacobs would be a little more professional. You rebuff all your potential recruits like this?”
“Only the cocky, smug ones who show up late to a meeting and then don’t seem to care much when they blow it.”
“I haven’t blown a thing and we both know it.”
My brow knits again as I hold his gaze, feeling the heat of those eyes piercing right into me.
Holden flashes that smile again, only this time it looks a bit more genuine and little less smug.
“Woodside Grill, seven thirty tonight.”
“Seven thirty, or more like eight forty-five.”
His grin spreads across his face, and I swallow the lump in my throat as I eye him, trying to figure out what his play is here.
Hell, trying to figure out what mine is.
“It’s not a date, so don’t get your hopes up,” I say quickly.
Holden chuckles. “I just want to explain this all to you; why I want to leave and all.” His eyes trail over mine. “Just business.”
There is nothing “just business” about the way those eyes look at me, or the way they linger on my lips. I take a quick breath, pushing a lock of hair behind my ears as I stand up a little straighter and clear my throat.
“Just business sounds great. See you then,” I add primly, getting ready to turn on my heel and march away.
“Oh, and London?”
I almost gasp as Holden suddenly leans in close to me, so close that I can smell his masculine sweat. I shiver just slightly at his heat invading my senses like that.
“You should probably wear something more appropriate for a nice dinner,” he eyes my running outfit with a smirk as my eyes narrow at him. “It’s a classy place.”
There’s a serious moment of “smug” when the tight little scout walks off that field, after doing her damnedest to pretend she wasn’t doing everything in her power not to eye-fuck me.
Let’s run some drills, shall we?
Please. I’m not a trained little fucking monkey. I’m a fucking MVP. I’m a star. I’m not some groveling little bitch of a recruit begging for a job, and I don’t do crack-of-dawn practices.
Especially after killing a bottle of bourbon last night. I mean, shit, a guy needs his recovery sleep.
But all-in-all, it’s a short-lived feeling of glory. Because deep down, I know I’m not really buying my own bullshit here. I might not be some newbie little groveling no-name, but I do need a job.
And I know deep down that I can complain and bitch and moan, and blame her for the debacle of a practice I just crashed though. But I’m not blind enough not to see that I was the one fucking up just now on that field.
And a hangover isn’t the only thing to blame.
I frown as I take another slug of sun-warmed water from my water bottle before grimacing and spitting it out.
Fuck. Why can I play in front of forty thousand people no fucking problem - hungover, or even half-drunk like most of the games at the end of last season. But throwing a fucking ball around with this one stuck-up chick watching me has me all off my game.
And she knew it too, which gets under my skin even more. I saw that little smirk on her face when I stole a glance at her after I fucked up that crossing-pass drill. I saw that smirk and I wanted to wipe it right off her lips.
Problem was, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that by impressing her here on the field, or by showing her the best damn time she’s ever had somewhere like my bedroom. She’d be doing a whole lot more than smirking if she let me take control and put my hands all over her.
Or my mouth.
I scowl and shake my head. I’ve had a thousand girls, and there’s a thousand more out there far more eager to take a ride on my cock than London Jacobs. Hell, there are a thousand chicks out there far more eager to be in the same room as me than her.
I toss the warm water bottle aside as I grab my shirt off the table where I tossed it and start to yank it back on. This is just nerves is all; that’s what today was. This was letting the stakes at play here fuck with me; my desire to get the hell out of Denver and put the demons behind me screwing with my ability to see the road in front of me.
That’s why I was fucking up today, not because some sassy-mouthed little cowgirl was watching me and judging me with those stupid little spreadsheets of hers.
Like I said, there are a thousand other pairs of tits out there, and I do not need to get my head turned around by some tight-ass little number cruncher.
No fucking way.
* * *
I’m leaving the stadium later, still pissed, sweaty, and brooding, when Randy comes puffing up alongside me.
“Well that was bullshit,” he curses loudly, shaking a fist at nothing in particular as he falls into step next to me. “Utter fucking bullshit. She had no damn right to spring an early morning practice like that on you without giving you time to warm up or anything. I don’t know how they do things down in Houston, but I’ve got fucking standards for my clients, and that is the last time we’ll be entertaining a meeting with-”
It’s not until he suddenly goes quiet that I stop and look up, realizing I haven’t actually been listening to anything he said.
He makes a muttering sound.
“Holden, I said fuck LJ Jacobs and the Bulls. She had no right springing that on-”
He stops sputtering.
“Dude, I’ve worked with you long enough to know what you’re doing.” I give him a lopsided grin. “And thanks, but you can stop.”
“Look, we both know I fucked up those drills this morning because I got drunk as fuck last night. And we both know last season sucked, for the same fucking reason.”
“Last season did not suck, you just-”
“I was just drunk, all the time, Randy.” I level a look at him. “You know it, I know it, and the whole upper management here does too, which is why we’re having discussions like this in the first place. So, look, you can stop stroking my ego alright?”
He chews on it for a sec before he clears his throat and gives me a small grin. “Okay, okay; fine.”
“I set up a dinner with London for tonight to hash shit out. Let’s move forward with whatever the Bulls have for a starting offer.”
He raises a brow but nods. “Alright. So, at this little dinner tonight, we'll get her to dish a little more about the offer; see if we can get her to spill a little more about benefits, incentives, endorsements, and-”
He looks up to see me shaking my head at him slowly.
“There’s no ‘we’ tonight. It’s just me and her.”
He instantly changes his tune.
“Oh hell no! No. Holden-”
I laugh. “Dude, it’s going to be fine. I’m a big boy; I can handle myself.”
Randy dabs his forehead with a handkerchief as he pulls on his tie. “Yeah, I know exactly what you handle by yourself, pal. That’s what I’m fucking worried about.”
I grin. “Hey, I can behave.”
“No, you can’t.” Randy scowls as he shakes his head at me. “This is the worst idea I’ve ever heard.”
“Look, it’s not a contract negotiation, it’s just an informal thing so I can feel her out.”
Randy groans and I grin. “Dude, I can handle this. C’mon, you don’t trust me to say the right things?”
“I don’t trust you not to sleep with your future boss’s daughter,” he mutters.
I laugh and clap my manager on the back. “Randy, relax. At the end of the day, scout or not, she’s a chick.” I smirk. “And as much as she was trying to hide it, she was eye-fucking me just like every other chick does.”
I grin wolfishly as I grab my junk through my shorts. “You know what I mean.”
Randy drops his face into his hands and groans. “Jesus fucking Christ. Do you want this or not?”
I snort. “Oh, I wan-”
“The job, champ, not plowing Archie Jacobs’s daughter.”
I laugh. “Plowing? Fuck, Randy, no wonder you’re failing at Tinder.”
“Fuck you.” He glares at me. “Seriously though, losing team or not, Archie Jacobs holds serious clout in the league. Do not cross him like that and stay the fuck away from his daughter, alright?”
I grin as I pop the door to my car and start to get in. “Relax, I’m just going to mess with her.”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.”
“Holden, if you were my son, I’d have given you up for adoption.”
I laugh as I shut the door and roar off home.
“Knob Creek, neat?”
I thank the bartender for the drink and knock it back in two gulps. Normally, I’m a sip and savor type of gal, but right now, I need something to calm my nerves.