Home > The Hot Shot (Game On #4)(5)

The Hot Shot (Game On #4)(5)
Author: Kristen Callihan

Adam? Marvin? Melvin? “Evan!”

“What?” Jake Ryder peers at me in confusion.

I clear my throat and lift my camera. “Nothing. Carry on.”

The advice goes for me as well. There is no way I’m going to be distracted by a mouthy quarterback. No freaking way.


* * *




* * *


“You seem…tense.”

I halt mid-pace and shoot Dex a look that would make most guys fuck off. The guy merely settles back in his chair, crosses his arms over his chest, and raises a brow. Since I’ve been trying to get him to be more involved with the team, I should be glad he’s taking any interesting in talking. Because Dex rarely does. But right now is not the time.

It feels like ants are crawling over the lining of my stomach. And it’s all I can do not to claw them out. I haven’t been this unsettled since my last college championship game. A game I fucking lost to his team, thank you very much. So I’m not in the mood to play.

“You’re done with your shoot,” I tell him. “Doesn’t that mean you can go now?”

His smile is thin and knowing. “I drove all of us here, remember?”

I do now. Shit.

“And even if I hadn’t,” he continues blandly. “I wouldn’t want to miss this.”

“Miss what?” I ask, even though I know full well what.

“You falling apart. It’s fascinating. You get stiffer with each turn you take around the room.”

I let my hands drop to my sides and order my shoulders to releax. My body ignores the directive. “Find something better to do.”

“Can’t. This is basic study,” he says. “Now, I know the signs when you’re close to losing your shit on the field.” As my center, the more he knows about my body language, the better. I tell myself this, but I really want to knock the legs out from under his chair.

“Dexter, when I’m about to lose my shit on the field, I’ll tell you. I have absolutely no qualms admitting when I need help during a game.” Some QBs would rather swallow their left nut than show any weakness. But we’re a team out there. And I believe in teamwork, not fucking up just to save face.

Dex tilts his head and inspects me as if I’m some sort of exotic bug that flew in through the window. Shit, I can’t think of bugs. It pulls my attention back to the uncomfortable prickling in my gut.

“And now?” he asks. “You gonna admit what’s getting to you in this situation?” The corners of his eyes crinkle. “I mean, I know what it is, but are you going to admit to it?”

Cursing, I lean against the rough exposed brick wall of the loft, and let my gaze wander around Chester Copper’s living area.

Chester Copper. Despite my discomfort, I want to smile. God, she’s a handful. The kind that will bite your hand off. It’s kind of hot, in a pissed off gloom and doom kind of way. I guess I’d be pretty pissy if I was a girl and my parents had named me Chester.

My smile fades. It’s clear she thinks I’m an asshole. I’m usually better at charming women. My game is off today. But I was expecting an old guy name Chester, someone who I might have been able talk football and maybe get away with asking him to take a few quick photos before I fled. Not a blunt woman with dark green eyes that seem to flay my skin and see right under it.

She had assessed and dismissed me in a glance. While I’m used to being judged on my looks, I’m usually not found wanting. I shouldn’t give one great fuck. And I don’t really, except now I’m supposed to strip down in front of her and pose before the unyielding glare of her photo lens.

The studio is cordoned off by massive rolling wall panels that can be moved around to block off however much space she wants. I stare hard at those panels. The harsh lights she’s using set the ceiling aglow, a beacon of my impending doom. Music throbs through the loft, some techno beat with a woman singing in a sultry voice. It started up as soon as Jake had begun his shoot.

“What the hell is that music?” I mutter.

“Goldfrapp,” Dex says easily. “‘Strict Machine’ to be precise. Great song. But I expected Jake to go for AC/DC or something like that.”

“This is dance music.” I squeeze the back of my tense neck. “I’m now imagining Jake strutting around on a catwalk.”

Dex cracks a smile. “Don’t give me that visual.”

“If I’m haunted by it, I’m sharing.” I roll my shoulders. “Jesus, why the music, anyway?”

“You get a choice. Whatever makes you comfortable.” He shrugs again. “It was surprisingly easy.”

“I feel like I’m about to be offered up like a side of beef.”

“Grade A, prime, quarterback ass.” This from Rolondo, who exits the bathroom, where we’ve been offered the use of the showers to clean off after they oil us up. Jesus.

He huffs out a laugh. “You look like you’re about to toss your Wheaties. What’s the problem, Manny? Shit, you’ve given interviews in your birthday suit plenty of times.”

Yeah, I have. Nudity is not the problem.

“Is it your junk?” Rolondo flashes a grin. “You worried it won’t stack up—”

“You do realize I’ve seen your junk, Ro’. Worrying about stacking up is not a problem for me.”

His grin only gets bigger. “So you have been looking.”

Dex shakes his head at me. “You walked right into that one, friend.”

I might have smiled on any other occasion. Now, I only wave them off. “Play your reindeer games with someone else, boys.”

“Shit,” Rolondo says with a drawl. “You must be suffering if I can’t get your ass riled up.”

From the far end of the loft, I hear Ms. Copper tell Jake he did a great job. Which means James will be coming to get me any second. My heart starts to pound, and I run a cold hand over my hot face. “I’m uncomfortable with this, all right?” I tell my friends. “And I don’t really give a shit what that says about me.”

Silence greets me. Dex and Rolondo are both wearing somber expressions.

“Dude,” Dex finally says. “If you don’t want to do this, don’t. We aren’t machines. Say no.”

I glance at the partition, and shift my weight, the urge to turn tail and run creeping up the backs of my thighs. “The team agreed, so I agreed.”

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