She laughed. “The next time?”
“Yeah, the next time. You owe me.”
“What could I possibly owe you?”
“You didn’t say goodbye when you left. Just up and disappeared. You gotta know what that does to a guy like me.”
“Did you want me to stay? Help you whittle a mark into your bedpost?”
“Baby, you are the mark in my bedpost. You’re the pinnacle. The gold—no, ebony standard.”
I smiled. “Red, my bed is cold without you.”
“Might I suggest a blanket?”
“I’d prefer body heat.”
She took another picture, watching me squirm. Desperation in black and white.
Still, I gave the lady what she wanted.
“Enjoy it, Elle. Here. Let me flex.”
She giggled. “At least you’re a good sport about this. You know the hazing will get worse.”
“I’ll let them tie me up naked next time, provided you’re there to document it,” I said.
“Oh hell…I wouldn’t miss that. The team wouldn’t even have to pay me.”
“Fuck the team, we don’t need them. We’ll do it this Saturday night, just you and me.”
“You’re relentless, you know that?”
Couldn’t help it. I finally had her in my sights…and we had a lot to talk about.
“Let me take you out,” I said. “We have some unsettled business to sort through.”
I sighed. “If your panties aren’t soaked, I must not be selling this opportunity right.”
“I’ll wring them out when I get home.”
That sass. She needed something in her mouth to silence it…or a man to worship her while she dished out the harassment.
“You really should go out with me.” Any attempt at sincerity was wasted as my erection smashed into the goal post. “We should talk.”
The camera lowered. She wove a hand through her hair, twisting one of the red locks over her finger.
Why did that look so familiar?
“Lachlan…I’m not the kind of girl you think I am.”
“The one I’m spending the rest of my life with?”
“Not even close.” She shook her head. “I’m not someone who spends a weekend with a complete stranger, indulging in hour after hour of remorseless, anonymous sex.”
“Good thing we’re not strangers anymore,” I said.
“It doesn’t matter. I’m not that type, Lachlan…at least, not without copious amounts of alcohol.”
“Then drop the camera and grab a bottle of wine, cause I think we’ll have a lot of fun together.”
“I know I never said goodbye.” She took a breath. “And I never thanked you for the weekend. It was more fun than either of us should have had.”
“I’m the gift that keeps on giving, Red. Go out with me again so we can talk when I’m not…” I gave a tug. “Indulging the team’s traditions.”
Elle ripped a piece of tape from my shoulders. She hesitated, as if considering helping me escape. But that fantasy was too good to be true. She patted the tape over my mouth without the decency of a kiss first.
“Shh. It was a one-time thing, Lachlan. Not a mistake, but it wasn’t anything that can happen again. We’re working together now. I’m not on the field getting my head crushed by linebackers, but we have to see each other. A lot. Let’s not make this any more complicated than it already is.”
I laughed. The sound muffled in the tape, but she wouldn’t have listened even if I yelled it.
Jesus, she didn’t remember anything from our weekend.
Well…it would be an awkward conversation when she finally decided to talk.
And a major life revelation.
Wouldn’t she be surprised.
Elle stepped away, taking one last picture. “Start at your ankles. The tape’s a little loose down there.”
I nodded, but she didn’t stay to watch the fun as I shredded through the tape.
I should have followed. Should have run after her. Shouldn’t have let her leave without telling her the truth and demanding another dinner, another night, another morning with her.
Elle thought our story had ended?
Hell no. Our fairy-tale was only beginning.
The sweltering summer afternoon was made hotter because Lachlan Reed was on the field.
I was starting my fourth season with the Rivets, and I’d never once gone boy-crazy. Most of the guys weren’t my type, some were already married, and the others were notorious bad boys. To protect my career, the closest I ever got to the players was through a four hundred millimeter lens.