Home > The Hot Shot (Game On #4)(3)

The Hot Shot (Game On #4)(3)
Author: Kristen Callihan

As if she hears my thoughts, her dark gaze snaps to me. And I swear I feel it down to my balls. She’s not pretty. No, her narrow face and high-bridged nose are too severe for pretty. Long straight hair, inky black at the roots and magenta at the tips, give her a Goth girl vibe. As does her black tank-top and black jeans. A tattoo of dogwood flowers, done in black lines, run along her left upper arm.

In short, she’s the type of female who has stayed clear of me for my entire post-pubescent life. And I’ve stayed clear of her type as well. Call it cliché, I don’t care. It’s just a simple truth; women who look like her have never had any interest in guys like me, and I’ve never given her type a second glance.

Even so, my blood quickens. Her intense stare holds power. And power is something I respect.

I hear it in her husky voice when she finally speaks. “Nip what off, do tell?”

That’s a sex voice, the kind that wraps around a guy’s dick and tugs. I absolutely do not need to respond to a sexy voice right now. Especially since she clearly considers us nothing more than a bunch of unruly boys.

Take charge. Control the situation. It’s what I do. Always. I step forward, bring her attention back to me. “We’re here for the calendar shoot.”

Her upper lip curls. “Well, I certainly didn’t think you were here for the little league group shot I have scheduled later.”

Cute. Really cute. Wait. What?

“You’re the photographer?” Dread punches my gut.

She scoffs with obvious annoyance. “Let’s not be a cliché, eh, pretty boy?”

Prickly heat fills my gut. I’ve been called that my whole grown life. I’m used to it and don’t really care when the guys tease me about my looks. But pisses me off, hearing it come from this woman, as if I’m nothing.

Ryder snickers. “She’s got your number, sweet cheeks.”

No, she doesn’t. Not even a little. But she thinks she does, which fucking irks “Hey now, we were told our photographer’s name was Chester Copper. Excuse me if I assumed it was a man.”

She flinches as if smacked, and a little crinkle forms between her brows. “I go by Chess. I’ve no idea how your PR manager got my full name.” It sounds as if she aims to find out.

I don’t envy the poor sap who let her full name slide. But I do like that I’m getting to her too. Turn about is fair play, honey. “Probably because they do background checks to weed out the freaks.”

Chess gives a me bored roll of her eyes. Now that I’m close enough, I can see that they’re bottle green, the color deep, but crystal clear. I don’t think I’ve ever seen eyes that particular shade, and it makes me want to keep looking.

I have no idea why I’m even noticing. Her appearance has no bearing on how she’ll do her job. And that’s the only reason I’m here.

At my side, Jake stirs, his brows pulling together. “Chester Copper… That’s kind of like Chester Copperpot from The Goonies,” Jake adds, looking around at all of us. “Remember that movie?”

Our photographer utters a ripe curse that makes me fight a grin.

“Yeah, that’s a cool flick,” Rolondo says to Jake. “Little dude who played the lead grew up and played Samwise Gamgee. Man, talk about a sad sap. As if I’m gonna toss myself into the fires of Mount Doom cuz I gotta boner for a hobbit.”

Dex, who has remained silent until now, shakes his head with clear disgust. “He was on a quest to save Middle-Earth from Sauron, chucklehead.”

“Naw,” Rolondo insists. “He wanted Frodo bad.”

My grin grows. Get these guys talking about movies and they’ll go off on a never-ending tangent. Something Jake knows as well. He makes a noise of annoyance. “Hello? Can we please get back to The Goonies and Chester Copperpot? You know, that old dude they find all shriveled and crushed by a boulder?”

Chess goes full-on red. “Yes, I know,” she grinds out. “My parents met at a draft house viewing of the movie. They expected a boy, and since my grandmamma had already embroidered all my baby blankets…” She shrugs as if bored, but I don’t miss the tension in those slim shoulders. She’s pissed.

“And they actually named you after a Goonies character?” Dex asks, horrified.

“Yes.” Her voice is tight and pained.

I’m torn between kind of loving her parents and thinking they’re nuts. On the one hand, big points for originality. On the other, who does that to a girl?

Rolondo murmurs something about crazy white people under his breath, clearly not low enough because Ms. Chester abruptly turns and strides into the studio with those long legs of hers.

After exchanging looks, we follow.

The loft takes up half the floor of the building. It’s an enormous space of exposed old brick, well-worn plank floors, and industrial black grid windows. There’s a living space with massive brown leather couches and one of those coffee tables that are made out of a gnarly tree trunk. An old, farm dining table is set opposite a gourmet kitchen.

It reminds me of my place, and I have an odd sense of homecoming. Some of the guys don’t care about their spots as long as there’s a massive TV and good couch to recline in. But I do. Our homes are our havens, and God knows we’re barely ever there, so we should have a place to enjoy.

Chess stops by a big pedestal table near a wall of bookcases, stuffed with books, knickknacks, and old cameras. The table holds football equipment: pads, footballs, our team helmets, even some shin guards and tape.

I guess we’re doing dress up, only I don’t see any uniforms. My insides lurch, as the back of my neck begins to tingle the way it doesn’t when I’m about to get sacked.

A slim guy with a bushy read beard hustles out from the bathroom. He’s wearing a yellow fedora and a lime green skinny-pants suit with brown pinstripes. Nothing out of place for NOLA. In an odd way, it makes me relax a bit.

“I’m James. Chess’s assistant. Sorry about the delay. We were on the balcony having a smoke.” He grins, and his gaze slides over Jake nice and slow. And Jake frowns in obvious confusion, as if he’s not sure if he’s being checked out. “Or I was. Chess was just keeping me company.”

Chess picks up a large camera. “They don’t need a play-by-play excuse, James.” She doesn’t glance our way as she checks her equipment. “Changing room is to the left. Strip down, and James will get you oiled up.”

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