Trick Play is part of Kristen Proby's With Me in Seattle Universe.
He's one trick play from the biggest win of his career...
It was one night,
And it meant everything.
But then, I was drafted to a professional football team,
And that was it.
Or so I thought...
Now, she's interning with the coaching staff,
And she's my best friend's sister.
Everything screams "Penalty,"
But there's something about her,
A connection I can't deny.
A woman like her only comes around once in a lifetime,
And I refuse to let her slip through my fingers again.
I'm going to pull out every trick play in the book,
To score forever with this one.
+ Excerpt +
Just pretend you’re one of the guys. My brother’s words echoed in my head while I stood in the weight room in front of the Seattle football team, the only female in the room. My palms were sweaty, my heart was pounding in my chest, but I couldn’t let these guys see my fear.
They were trained to recognize weaknesses, capitalizing on them. I wanted their respect. I needed to impress my boss so I could land an assistant strength and conditioning position.
I straightened my spine, drawing on the years of hanging with my brother’s teammates, working out in the same gym, the easygoing camaraderie I always seemed to have with the opposite sex.
My immediate boss, the strength and conditioning coach, Jed Ruxton stood next to me. With student loans looming and no job offers, Noah offered to speak to Coach Ruxton. I wasn’t ashamed to use Noah’s connection, soaking up everything, hopefully landing a job, paying back those student loans, and supporting myself. I was willing to pay my dues, work my way through the system, high school or college whatever I could find, in order to be the one creating exercise plans.
I smiled as confidently as I could while the team’s head coach, John Phillips introduced me as the new intern and Noah Axworthy’s sister.
The implication was clear. I was off-limits.
My gaze traveled around the room, assessing them like they were sizing me up. A few looked bored, some skeptical. My brother gave me a nod of encouragement. Then my gaze landed on the one man I’d been dreading to see, the one I hoped wouldn’t remember me.
Clay Porter. I’d spent one night with him on the eve of the draft, almost six years ago.
I was a naïve freshman, he was a junior, torn because his father wanted him to finish his degree before entering the draft. Clay was worried about getting hurt and ruining his career.
I’d told him we could forget about everything for one night. We could get lost in each other and we had. He made me feel feminine and beautiful. I made him forget. The morning after, I left a note telling him to follow his dreams. Then I slipped out, not wanting to wake him. I checked it off as one amazing night that wouldn’t be repeated.
He was drafted to Seattle. I finished college then got my masters, but I never forgot him.
His expression blank, he crossed his arms over his chest emphasizing his bulging biceps. As a center he was large and fit, not sheer mass like the other offensive lineman.
“She’s here to spot you, to help you with your exercise routine. You’ll respect her like you do me. We need all hands on deck leading into the playoffs.” Coach Ruxton’s voice filtered through my thoughts, pulling my attention from Clay.
I wondered if the respect comment would have been necessary if I was a man. Female coaches were a rarity. I braced myself for some kickback about my gender, questions about how I could possibly spot the weight they’d be lifting. I was used to the come-ons, the insinuations that I’d be up for a good time. It was the questioning of my physical abilities that set me on edge.
“Let’s get to work.”
The players stood, getting started on their workout routine for the day, the one Coach Ruxton carefully planned based on the strength they’d need on the field, taking into consideration any lingering injuries or issues.
Noah stopped in front of me, laying a hand on my shoulder. “I’m proud of you, little sister.”
I raised my brow. “You heard Coach Ruxton. You’re supposed to treat me like any other coach.”
Noah scrunched his nose. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
My lips twitched. “I’m not your sister here.”
He scowled, crossing his arms over his chest, his feet planted wide.
I lowered my voice. “I don’t need you or want your protection. Please Noah. I’m one of the guys, remember?”
Noah shook his head. “I don’t like it.”
I opened my mouth to offer a retort when Clay Porter appeared at Noah’s shoulder. “You ready to work out?”
Clay’s eyes briefly flicked to mine before resting on Noah.
There was no sign of recognition in them. If he wanted to pretend that night never happened, it was fine with me. The last thing I wanted was for my boss to find out I’d slept with his star center. It would erase any respect I’d earned.
Noah finally took a step back.
I sighed in relief that Noah wasn’t going to treat me like his little sister, that he wouldn’t undermine my job. I thought I would be relieved that Clay didn’t remember me. Instead, there was a dull ache under my breastbone. A part of me wanted that night to have been memorable for him too.
Clay was a professional football player, making millions. That night, back in college, was probably a distant memory for him. I was sure the opportunity to score with gorgeous model-types was commonplace for him now.
I had to remember what I was here for. No matter how I got this job, it would look phenomenal on my resume. That was all that mattered.
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