Player: A Secret Baby Sports Romance(10)

By: Aubrey Irons



“Not gonna happen,” I say, taking another gulp of bubbly to hide the grin and the blush that creeps over my face.

He laughs. “I think I’m allowed to compliment my wife.”

“Only if you behave.”

“So is me telling you that your ass in that dress makes my cock hard as a rock behaving?”

I swallow the mouthful of champagne quickly, choking suddenly on the rush of bubbles caught in my throat as my eyes dart to his. The grin on that handsome jaw says he’s messing with me - trying to get a rise out of me, or to test me to see where my boundaries are.

But the way his eyes are burning right into me says that his words are anything but a joke.

I shiver, coughing again as the heat pools between my legs. I’m remembering that kiss in the elevator, the feel of his hands on my face and my hips, the feel of his lips against mine. I’m imagining my dirty thoughts from the shower, and I quickly pull my eyes away from him.

“Um, no,” I say quickly, clearing my throat folding my hands primly in my lap. “No, it’s not.”

There’s a war inside of me. On one side is the proper girl - the girl trained to be polite, to fit into a certain level of society. I know I should be incensed by the crudeness of his words, the lewd way he’s trying to get a rise out of me. I should be turned off by every single facet of this man.

Except I’m not turned off in the slightest. In fact, it’s that crude, dirty edge to him that maybe has me feeling the exact opposite of turned off. Because the other side of that war inside is caught up in this wildness, the recklessness, and the insanity of everything that’s happened over the last twenty-four hours. The other side of me is screaming for release from the stuffy, and the planned, and the boring, side-lined existence of being partnered with someone like Vince Capra.

And release and freedom might just be coming from the cocky Texas cowboy smirking at me through the dim light of a Vegas dance club.

“Alright, c’mon wife. Let’s go dance.”

I bite my lip. “I’m not really a club person.”

Austin grabs the champagne out of the ice and fills up the half-empty glass in front of me before sliding it my way. He winks as he fills his to the brim as well. “Well, down the hatch, then.” He tilts the flute back, emptying the entire glass down his throat before he sets it back on the table and grins at me, like he’s daring me.

Screw it.

I knock the glass back, draining the champagne down my throat and resisting the urge to cough as I empty the whole thing.

Austin is nodding at me, grinning widely as I set the flute back down. “Well, shit. My wife, ladies and gentlemen.”

He starts to fill my glass again when I shake my head, still trying not to cough as I wave my hands over it. “Whoa! Whoa there, buster.” I choke out, narrowing my eyes at him.

“Just trying to loosen you up, princess.”

My brow shoots up and he rolls his eyes. “To dance, Jesus. I’m not a scumbag, you know.”

“I don’t know you at all, actually.”

He jumps up from his seat and sticks his hand down towards me. “Well let’s get to know each other.”

I eye his hand, chewing on my lip before I move my gaze up to those deep, hazel pools of his eyes.

“You want to get to know me after you fake marry me, huh?”

“More than anything.”

And just like that, as I reach for the glass of bubbly and take another huge swig of it, the battle inside of me is over in the blink of an eye.

And the new Natalie - the new me who goes to Las Vegas clubs and drinks champagne in private rooms, and who has marriages of convenience with strange, wealthy, and ridiculously attractive men - stands and takes her new “husband’s” hand.

“Alright, mystery man. Let’s get to know each other.”



And that’s when I willingly, readily, and eagerly lose myself. It’s taking his hand and letting him pull me into the mass of swirling, dancing bodies as the music pounds around us. Because twenty-four hours after meeting this man – twenty-four hours after kissing him like a crazy person – I’m now in the middle of a Las Vegas club, feeling his body pressed against mine as we pulse and sway to the music.

Twenty-four hours later, I’m leaving the good, the groomed, and the proper girl named Natalie Ames behind - leaving her standing by the wall like some piece of pretty art, or a conversation piece.

Because this Natalie Ames just let go. This version of me is letting the thundering bass move through her like a live current, and undulating her hips against the tall dark and handsome with the body carved out of iron behind her.

This version of me is running her fingers through her hair as she tosses her head back against his broad, chiseled chest. This me is biting her lip and moving in time with his hands on my hips, his breath against my neck, and his lips against my ears.

And there’s still one lingering part of me that knows how crazy this is - one final part of me that knows I shouldn’t be here, shouldn’t be dancing with this stranger like this, and letting his hands slide over my body.

But it feels too damn good.

All of it does - the letting go, the freedom, the craziness and the music and the champagne pounding through my veins like fire. And of course, him. Him being my new fake husband, my wild-card draw, and my leap of faith.

His lips slide across my neck as the music moves us like lovers, his hands entwining in mine.

And I’m free.

I’m wild.

I’m hauling him to the bar, laughing when his brow shoots up at the shots I line up across the bar. And I’m laughing, and spinning, and falling into him at the feel of his mouth and his tongue tasting the salt and the lime from my skin. I’m feeling the charge of something raw and something wicked as I taste tequila on his lips.

This is life. This is living.

And for the first time since I can really ever remember, I just let go.





9





Natalie




The first thing I’m aware of is the blinding pain lancing through my head.

I wince, blinking and feeling even worse when I do. I haltingly bring my hands up in font of my face, pawing at the light in some vain attempt at shutting it out, even if I’ve got at least a vague sense of it being sunlight.

Will someone turn that damn sun off?

I blink again, this time feeling the rolling wave of nausea oozing through me. I groan, feeling my tongue rasp like sandpaper across my parched mouth, feeling my lips brush together like crepe paper. I roll on to my side, the pulse in my head like a hammer blow again and again.

Gotta turn that sun off.

I’m aware of the nonsensical phrasing of the thought in my head, but it’s the one thing I can think of that might help in that horrible nightmare of champagne and tequila hangover.

My lips part in silent agony, wishing for water that isn’t there as I slowly push the sheets from my body and move to-

Oh God.

And that’s when I’m aware of the second thing.

I’m completely naked.

More than that, I’m completely naked, in a bed, next to Austin.

I freeze, the roaring pain in my head almost forgotten as I cringe and turn towards him. I wince as I slowly lift the sheet from his sleeping body and peek under-

Oh, yep, yeah, he’s definitely naked too.

I flush red, feeling the panic shooting through me like an electric current.

Oh my God, what did I DO last night?

I can’t breathe.

There’s the feeling of weight pressing down on my chest, and I’m trying to suck in air as I bring my hands to my face to try and fan myself when-

Oh. My. God.

Because that’s when realization number three hits me, like a slap in the face. Or rather, like the glare from the gigantic rock sitting on a gleaming, gaudy ring on my finger.

And very quickly, I am wide awake.

I sit bolt upright in bed, staring at the diamond ring on my finger and trying to grasp for answers in the blank memory of my night.

Holy shit.

It comes back in vague flashes - a chapel, a bottle of tequila, a limo ride I think, with more tequila.

Good fucking God, what did I do last night?

My eyes slowly move from the ring on my hand to the carnage of the hotel room around us - the empty bottles of champagne leaking the last of their contents across a chair in the corner, both of our clothes strewn across the floor.

I need to get out of here.

I wince when the pain comes rushing back as I slide my leg out of the bed and stumble for the robe hanging off the back of the duvet by the window. I swallow thickly, tasting tequila and forcing myself not to vomit as I lurch on my feet and clutch at the side table next to me for support.

I look down, and it’s then that the last of my grasp on keeping calm drops out the damn window.

Please no.

I want it not to be real. I want the very vague fracture of memory to be a nightmare, and I want the piece of paper sitting on the table to be a figment of my imagination.

But the very real, very legal looking, very official looking document sitting there with both our names signed across the bottom says this is anything but a dream.

In fact, it says one Austin Taylor and one Natalie Ames are legally married in the state of Nevada.

The marriage license falls from my hands as my head swirls and my feet move on autopilot. I’m grabbing my dress from the night before from the floor, along with one of my shoes, and stumbling for the door.

I clutch the bathrobe around myself as I yank the door to the room open.

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