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He removes her hand from him. “It’s over Shauna.”

“It’s not, Brady. I know where you’re staying. I’ll just come there. You’ll change your mind.”

“If you come to my hotel, I’ll have security escort you out.”

Shauna laughs. “No, you won’t.”

“I will,” he says. “Please don’t push me. You knew the score. We had some fun and now we’re done. I have to go now.” He turns to the security guard. “Will you make sure nobody follows me, please?”

Shauna pouts, and then sure enough as he walks away in the other direction, the guard has to hold her back as she tries to go after him. “Let it go, Miss,” he says. “You don’t want to be that girl, do you? Don’t beg for it.”

“What the fuck do you know?” she bites at him.

“Come on,” Caden says, urging Murphy and me to follow him. “We’ll meet him at the hotel.” He pulls his phone out and texts Brady.

“Is it always like that?” I ask him. “Do they all act like she did?”

He shrugs. “Some of them do. He was stupid and reckless before you, Rylee. But don’t hold it against him. You know how he is now, but his past may follow him around for a while. He’s had to make good on more than one threat to have hotel security throw a girl out.”

My jaw drops. “Oh, my God, really?”

“Some people don’t take no for an answer,” he says. “Even though they all knew what they were getting into, you have to know some of them thought they’d be able to get more out of him. Not all women are as classy as you are, Rylee.”

“Yeah, I’m real classy. Last fall, I was one of them.” I look back at the woman as we walk away. “That could have been me.”

“That would never have been you,” Murphy says. “Brady came crawling back to you, not the other way around. He loves you. That’s a miracle, don’t you know that?”

I nod. “I know. I just wish he could love Stryker.”

Murphy locks elbows with me. “He will. Give him time.”

When we get back to the hotel, Brady is already there signing autographs out front with a few other players. I look around and, luckily, Shauna isn’t anywhere to be seen. He smiles when he sees me, and he excuses himself to come over. “I’m sorry about what happened. I tried to let her down the first night. I didn’t want you to see that.”

“It’s okay. Let’s just forget about it and not let her ruin our night together.”

He takes my hand. “Do we really have to go out? Can’t we just hole up in our hotel room?”

“You’re going out,” Sawyer says, stepping up next to us. “You have to introduce Rylee to our place, man.”

“Your place?” I raise my eyebrows.

“It’s a bar some of us go to whenever we come to Boston. They have live music, a mechanical bull, pool tables, even a bowling alley.”

“A mechanical bull?” I ask warily, looking at Brady’s left arm.

He laughs. “Don’t worry, sweetheart, our contracts prevent us from doing anything that could cause us to get injured.”

“That didn’t keep Cole from riding it last year,” Sawyer says.

“Cole was a stupid son-of-a-bitch,” Brady says, laughing. “Got thrown off. Landed right on his pitching arm. He thought he sprained it. Hid it from the coaches for days while icing it every chance he got. He was lucky. And you can bet he’ll never do anything that idiotic again.”

“Pool sounds fun,” I say.

Brady gives me a cocky smile. “Oh, you play, do you?”

“I’ve played once or twice.”

I don’t tell him I was an ace back in college.

“Care to make a wager?” he asks, suggestively.

“And, my cue to leave. See you over there,” Sawyer says, slipping away.

“I don’t know, what did you have in mind?” I ask.

He thinks on it for a beat. Then he smiles big. “However many balls the loser leaves on the table is how many orgasms they owe the other person.”

I blush, looking around to make sure nobody heard. “I’m not sure that’s a penalty, Brady.”

He pulls me close. “See, this is why I love you. We always think alike.”

“Deal,” I say.

He grabs my hand and pulls me behind him. “Let’s go,” he announces to the group.

Twenty minutes later, we arrive at the massive club and are ushered into a VIP area where a private waitress stands at the ready to take care of our every need.

A few of the other guys on the team show up. Sawyer. Cole. Spencer. But Murphy and I are the only women. And you can believe we are getting dirty looks from half the females in the place.

“You’ll get used to it,” Murphy says. “Just ignore them. Don’t make eye contact and you’ll never have to know how much they hate you.”

“Why would they hate us?”

“We are living their fantasy, Rylee.”

I look around at the five uber-handsome players at our table. Four of whom don’t hold a candle to Brady in my opinion. “Yeah, I guess we are.”

For an hour, we drink, talk, and bowl. Brady hasn’t even mentioned playing pool yet. I imagine he intends to get me liquored up so he has a better chance of winning. It’s fine by me. If he wins, I still win.

My favorite song gets played by the cover band. I grab Brady’s hand. “Come on, dance with me.”

“I need to go find a chick to dance with,” Sawyer says.

“No! You don’t!” the rest of the table yells collectively.

“Come on guys, I’m not that bad,” he says.

“Except that you are,” Cole tells him. “Can you keep your dick in your pants for one night, bro?”

“But I want to dance to Rylee’s favorite song,” he pouts.

Murphy stands up. “I’ll dance with you.”

Sawyer looks at Caden who gives him a nod. “She’s all yours. For the dance, anyway.”

The four of us head to the dance floor on the other side of the club. The song is fast, but Brady pulls me to him and dances with me oh, so slowly. It’s the first time we’ve danced together. His hands find every place on me that’s not indecent – and a few that are.

“You feel so good,” he whispers in my ear. It’s not the first time he’s said those words to me. He says them often, but only when we’re making love.

I think that was his intention. He’s working me up into a frenzy right here on the dance floor.

I get lost in the music. I get lost in him. I never want the song to end. I want this moment to last forever.

Someone taps my shoulder, pulling me from the trance he’s put me in.

“Can I cut in?” a woman asks.

I turn around to see it’s the same woman from the game.

“Shauna, leave us alone,” Brady says.

She looks me up and down, appraising me like gum on the bottom of her shoe. “This is what you left me for? Boy, you sure traded down, didn’t you?”

“Don’t be a bitch,” Brady says, pulling me to the other side of the dance floor.

“Ignore her,” he says. “If she continues to bother us, we’ll go sit down. Or we’ll leave.”

He wraps me in his arms again, but this time it’s different. He’s protecting me instead of enticing me. A few minutes later, when Shauna hasn’t followed us, he finally relaxes.

“What the fuck is wrong with my cousin?” a deep male voice with a heavy Boston accent says behind us.

Brady spins us around and puts me behind him. I don’t miss that he looks over to see where Sawyer is, but he is on the other side of a very large crowd.

Brady holds his hands up, showing the guy he doesn’t want a fight. “If you’re talking about Shauna, there is nothing wrong with her. I’m just not interested anymore and she doesn’t seem to want to accept that.”

Another guy walks up beside the first one. “The way Shauna tells it, you dropped her like shit in the john.”

“That’s not the way it was,” Brady says. “We went out when I was in town. It was fun while it lasted, but I never gave her false hope. She knew I wasn’t in it for the long haul.”

One of the guys points to me. “Oh, but you are with the bitch behind you?”

“You don’t want to do this, man,” Brady says, taking a defensive stance.

I start to freak out. What if Brady fights the guy and re-injures his hand? I look across the bar, hoping one of the other guys sees what’s going on. Then I breathe a sigh of relief when Sawyer comes up next to us.

“Is there a problem here?” he asks.

Murphy motions to me that she’s going to get the other guys. I nod and will her to hurry.

“You brought reinforcements, tough guy?” one of them says to Brady. “Come on, let’s see what you got.” The guy pokes Sawyer in the chest.

“I’m not going to fight you,” Sawyer says to him.

“Oh, so you’re a pussy,” the guy says, pushing Sawyer with his hand. “Why don’t you just hide behind the dickhead, too, like the other stupid bitch?”

I look over and see Shauna at the bar, watching us with a smile on her face. I wonder how Brady could have been such a poor judge of character. Then again, I don’t think character was at the top of his priority list.

“Leave him alone. Your beef is with me,” Brady says.

A third guy comes up behind me, pushes me out of the way and grabs Brady’s arm. At the same time, one of the other two guys grabs his other arm and they hold him captive as the first guy starts punching Sawyer.

Sawyer takes a punch in the jaw and then spits blood on the floor. But he doesn’t raise his hand to the guy.

“Your friend here is just getting a demonstration of what we’re going to do to you in about ten seconds.”


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