Player: A Secret Baby Sports Romance(5)

By: Aubrey Irons



Lord, what is wrong with me.

The doors to an empty elevator opens, and I’m feeling silly at how reluctant I am to leave the warmth of that hand on my hip and that body so close to mine.

“So, yeah, thanks again for…you know.”

“Lying about you being my wife?”

I blush as the grin creeps drunkenly over my face. “Yeah, that.”

“Anytime.”

I start to step into the elevator when I stop and turn back to him, as if I need to somehow prolong this moment. “Now, do you want a selfie?”

He laughs, the sound so easy and so effortless as he winks at me. “Maybe I’ll take a rain check on that.”

I step into the elevator, my eyes locked on his standing right outside of it. And it could be the booze, or the free-fall rush of the day’s events. It could be that sneering grin on Vince’s secretary’s face.

‘You’re frigid, honey.’

But whatever it is comes rushing through me like this wave of crazy, and before I can stop myself, I’m sticking my foot in the closing elevator door, grabbing my stranger my the neck of his t-shirt, and mashing my lips to his as I kiss him with every single thing I have.

Fiercely.

He’s frozen for a second, but then it’s like his whole body comes alive as he suddenly wraps me up in his powerful arms and kisses me right back. I moan as I feel his lips open as they press back against mine, opening slightly as his tongue slides into my mouth. His hand cups my jaw, claiming my mouth.

I have never been kissed like this before.

His other hand drops to my hip again to pull me tight against him. And then it’s like we’re frozen like that, right there in the hotel lobby, with my mouth pressed tightly to my gorgeous stranger. Lip to lip, breath to breath, a flick of a tongue across the other’s.

And then suddenly the last shred of my sanity pulls me out of the fantasy free-fall. And I’m pulling back, my face hot, my body alive, and my mind exploding in a million different directions. He’s looking at me with this amused and yet animalistic wild look in his eyes. And I know I’m drunk, and probably just made a complete fool of myself, but I also just don’t care.

In fact, it feels pretty damn good not to care, for once.

“So, goodnight, stranger.”

The door starts to close as I bite my lip and step to the back of the elevator car, my eyes locked on him as he stands there, his eyes burning right into me.

“Night, princess.”

And then the doors shut, and I’m alone with my racing heart.





5





Natalie




I sit up in the bed, blinking groggily at the morning light piercing through the open shades. I grimace at the cotton taste in my mouth and the sweaty feeling that comes from sleeping in your clothes on top of the sheets.

So, that happened.

“That” being me insanely kissing a stranger in the lobby of a fancy hotel lobby like a crazy person.

Or a drunk person, as the case may be.

I groan at the memory, grimacing at the morning-after regret of letting my inhibitions run wild like that. What happened was reckless, and insane, and totally out of character.

And amazing.

The rush of feeling his lips on mine - the spike of adrenaline at the boldness of kissing him like that - lances through me like a drug, jolting me out of bed. I glance briefly at my phone, squinting at the dozen missed calls from my mother and from my sister, which only means Vince told them about me skipping out.

I’m willing to bet he’s omitted the part about him boning his secretary.

Yeah, what I’m sure are vitriolic, panicky voicemails can wait. I’m still wearing my dress from the night before, and I fumble for the straps, letting it slip from my body as I stumble across the plush carpet of the room.

God, those eyes.

Those lips, those hands on my body, that voice like oiled leather, and that smile like the promise of something wicked.

I flick on the coffee machine as I pad to the bathroom and start the shower. I step under the hot water soothing the aching in my head. I let my hands push through my hair under the spray, letting the heat and the pounding rhythm of the water seep into my skin as I try and make sense of the last twenty-four hours of my life.

I want to groan - to hide away and bury my head in the pillows of the hotel bed over my ridiculous behavior from the night before. But even thinking about it has the thrill of my recklessness teasing coursing through my body. My stranger - Austin, that’s his name - is like no man I’ve ever interacted with. In my world of finance types, and garden parties, and suits and ties and polish, the gruff, stubble-chinned cowboy with the tattoos and the t-shirt and jeans sticks out like a sore thumb.

A wickedly attractive, boldly forward thumb.

There’s that look - the way he looked at me like no man ever had before. That piercing, hungry, amused look - cocky with a touch of arrogance. It’s supreme confidence, but with the swagger and the boldness to back it up.

And that kiss. I can feel the sizzling heat from it lingering on my lips, teasing through my body as the steam and the water drape across my skin in the hotel bathroom.

Why did I walk away?

I know why, of course. Because I’m certainly not that girl - the one who drags strangers up to her hotel room.

But that’s not to say I’m not thinking about it, and dreaming about it, and wanting it now.

I close my eyes under the steamy spray of the shower, feeling the forbidden heat of that kiss tingle through my body like a whispered secret. In my head, I’m not pulling away from him at the elevator door. As my eyes close and my fingers move over the tingling skin of my body, and as my thoughts turn to the forbidden fantasy inside my head, I’m not pulling away at all.

I’m letting him take me.

I’m pulling him inside the elevator, letting him shove me up against the wall as the doors shut behind us. I’m sliding my fingers up his muscled arms, feeling his hands trace over the curves of my hips as I wrap a leg around his waist. In the heat of the shower, as my fingers slide across the heat between my legs, I’m imagining him reaching back and punching the emergency brake, keeping us locked away from it all in that elevator car as he strips away my inhibitions and my clothes, swallowing my moans as he takes me hard and fast. His hands all over me, his mouth, those lips, that cock-

The ring of my cellphone, rattling across the marble bathroom countertop, drags me kicking and screaming from the fantasy. And then I’m alone in the shower, not stuck between two floors in a dark hotel elevator with my mystery man from the night before.

Okay, stop it.

I quickly bring my hands away from my body and lean my forehead against the tile wall, feeling the heat flush through my face.

Enough of that.

I quickly shut off the water, shivering in the sudden chill that takes its place. Wrapped in a terrycloth robe, I step back into the suite, pouring a merciful first cup of coffee and slumping down on the sofa to glance at my phone.

My mother, of course.

I toss the phone away, groaning. Yeah, that’s a conversation I can’t wait to have.

There’s a chance she knows even without talking to Vince. God only knows how, but there’s almost a sixth sense to the missed call icon on my phone that tells me she knows what’s happened, and that somehow, this is my fault.

“Men will be men, Natalie. You mustn’t let a silly dalliance get in the way of your own future.”

I roll my eyes at the very probable line I can almost literally hear coming from my mother’s mouth. I might not want to have that conversation now, but it’s a sobering reminder that it has to happen at some point.

‘Some point’ is certainly going to wait until after coffee though, that’s for sure.

I’m grumbling into the steaming mug, curled up on the couch in my robe with plans to spend the next week in here if I have to, when my cellphone rings again.

My mother, again.

I roll my eyes and turn back to my coffee, but it buzzes a third time, and then a fourth.

Goddamnit.

I groan as I answer the call.

“Hello mot-”

“Natalie Elizabeth Ames!”

Yep, there’s that vitriol.

“Ten minutes before his company gala, Natalie?” My mother sounds absolutely aghast. “You don’t just leave like that, Natalie!”

“Are you at all interested in my side of the matter?”

Of course she’s not.

“Oh don’t get dramatic, dear. There are no sides here, merely what’s proper, and what’s not.”

I bite my tongue, pulling the phone away from my ear and taking another necessary sip of my coffee.

It’s not that I don’t want to tell her about walking in on Vince’s flagrant affair, it’s that I know she’ll actually still think I’m in the wrong for leaving him. I’m the “improper” one for not calmly taking a seat outside his office and waiting for him to finish.

She’s still talking when I bring the phone back to my ear.

“Furthermore, I see no reason why you feel a need to drag this family through anymore mud then-”

“Mother,” I interrupt, something I know gets under her skin like nothing else. “How’s Aspen?”

She sighs heavily at my abrupt subject change. “Aspen is fine, dear.”

Aspen, where my mother is currently vacationing with Monty - her third husband - at his new ski chalet. I scrunch up my face, loathing that I’m about to ask this.

But when you’re out of options…

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