“This world is hit or be hit. If you’re lucky, you can avoid most of the pain.”
“And if you don’t want to hit anyone?”
“Then you’ll end up on your ass…or, if we’re lucky, your knees.”
“I’d love to see you break that promise.”
“I’m a woman of my word.”
I stepped away before the beast under the towel got any crass ideas. Piper was peanut-brittle delicate, and I wasn’t about to crack her.
Not physically at least.
My locker was sparse. No needless pictures. No trinkets. Just the essentials—clothes, toiletries, and a pair of headphones. I grabbed my shampoo. Piper still didn’t look directly at me. How demure for a woman who practically eye-fucked me on my front porch.
“You weren’t so bashful the other night,” I said. “You can like what you see.”
“How kind of you.”
“You’re not the first one to come and stare at the beast.” I smirked. “Usually they come after staring too.”
“I can only imagine.”
She really couldn’t. I wasn’t a player. The women who let me into their beds didn’t stick around. Couldn’t blame them. I didn’t have a…light touch. They liked it, of course. But most women wanted more than just an animal fuck. Talking. Commitment. Love.
I wasn’t capable of that bullshit. I offered my cock, they took their fill, and I was gone. It worked for me. I liked my space. The quiet.
I liked the way Piper squirmed around me more.
“Don’t fire my father.”
“Why shouldn’t I?”
“Because he only met with the Monarchs’ GM. We were sorting out the details of the trade in case you changed your mind.” Piper had uncovered her eyes at least, though she stared at the ceiling once she saw the more expressive posters hanging in some of the guy’s lockers. “We weren’t bargaining. We weren’t working against you. If you agree to the trade, it has to happen fast. That’s all.”
“I won’t get traded.”
“If that’s what you want, fine. You can be as stubborn as you like, but don’t fire him.”
“He disobeyed my wishes.”
“He’s the last agent in our agency who will work with you.” Piper shrugged. “I might not know how many men are on the team or the difference between a fumble and interception—”
“—But I know your reputation, Cole. And it’s not good. No one wants to work with you, on the field or off. If you refuse the trade, the Monarchs will cut you by the end of the season—and that sends a message about your character to the league. The teams remotely interested in you now won’t take a chance then, not when they’ll have to deal with President Bennett targeting every move you make.”
“And this has nothing to do with your commission, right?”
Piper huffed. “You just got kicked out of practice, Cole. You better start focusing on your career before it’s over. This isn’t your last opportunity, but time is running out. Even you have a weakness.”
I encroached on her, surprised by her delicate and lovely scent. Something soft and bright. Orange blossoms? Not a smell I normally associated with a locker room, but it wouldn’t distract me, no matter how much my mouth watered.
“You want to find my weakness?” I dropped too close, too near her. The heat of her body radiated through me. I sweated again, without the beating sun or the suffocating pads. “You don’t know how dangerous I can be.”
“I’m not afraid of you,” she said. Her eyes lingered on my tattoos.
“You should be.”
“Why? Because you’re the beast?”
“It’s more than a nickname.”
“You’re just a man.”
I wasn’t so sure anymore, but damn if she wasn’t heating me in ways I’d long forgotten.
“How bad do you want me?” I whispered.
She flinched. “Excuse me?”
I hadn’t dropped the towel yet. “As a client.”
“I’m not going to beg.”
No. A woman like her wouldn’t. She’d have me beg. Make me fall to my knees and surrender to those base instincts that turned me into a raging, half-animal.
“I won’t leave the agency.” My eyes lowered, drawing over every inch of her curves. “But I’m not dealing with Maddy anymore.”
“You, beautiful. You want me that badly, you can have me. I’m all yours.”
“I work in the office, but I’m not officially an agent.”