Or I had looked good, before the team dressed me in copious amounts of ankle tape. Amusingly, the tape was everywhere but my ankles. It’d be a bitch to peel off my arms, but I wasn’t about to complain to the handful of offensive linemen, diligently working to ensnare me. No need for them to offer me a full-body wax as well.
I’d only ever done that once.
No amount of sex was worth polishing the boys with molten sugar.
Well…it depended on the girl.
And the sex.
Though it had felt pretty nice in silk boxers. I wasn’t too classy of a guy—no monocle or top hat—but a velvet-soft manscaping felt like the chivalrous thing to do for a lady willing to gargle my bits.
But I wasn’t giving them any ideas. Jack Play-Maker Carson had another nickname—Trouble-Maker. Yeah, he was reformed. Yeah, his new son had tamed him a bit. But I’d be damned if I trusted that man with a roll of tape in his hand, half of the offensive line at his disposal, and me as the only rookie in a three-hundred-foot radius.
It paid to be cautious.
“Men…” Jack tossed another roll of tape to Caleb, his right guard. “Proceed. Let’s make sure his head stays on nice and tight. He nearly shattered his skull yesterday.”
“You gotta believe me, Jack…” I pinned my elbows to my sides and let them mummify me. At least it wasn’t superglue. Not sure what I expected, but I hoped for a little more originality with their hazing. This was the pros after all. “She was real. She came out of nowhere and saved my life. The most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”
Orlando, Jack’s left guard, was too familiar with this particular style of bondage. He snickered and stretched the tape tighter across my chest.
“How cute was she?” he asked.
“I’m willing to go stand in traffic to find her again.”
Jack was impressed. “Nice eyes?”
“Color of melted caramel.”
“Curvy?” he asked.
“In all the right places.”
“Strong as an ox too.” Caleb taped me up vertically and horizontally, just for some added structural support. “She tackled Wonder-Boy here.”
The nickname was Charming, but I wasn’t correcting any veteran on the team. I already owed Caleb a bagel every morning before we stepped onto the field. No sense making his order any more complicated.
“She had legs to her chin,” I said. “The most perfect pair of legs you’ve ever seen. Would have thought they were created by goddamned magic.”
They ran out of tape, but Jack was prepared. He whistled to summon Cole Hawthorne—not the beast I would ever trust with a good, old-fashioned hazing.
Cole didn’t play well with others, but his new wife was my agent. I got to see a completely different side of Cole when our strategy meetings transformed into play dates with her toddler. Cole marauded the field as a two-hundred-and-eighty-pound rabid beast. But at home? He was a perfect teddy-bear for Piper’s two-year-old daughter.
Jack ripped a piece of tape from the new roll and directed the offensive line to wrap my knees. He crossed his arms, surveying the work.
“So she tackles you, saves you, then what did you do?” he asked.
“I kissed her.”
Cole snorted. “Christ, I’d have run away too.”
The guys laughed. I shrugged, a motion made difficult by the two pounds of tape bunching my shoulders.
“Look, I don’t know who she was,” I said. “Some mystery girl. A guardian angel. The queen of my fucking world. It doesn’t matter. She was real.”
Caleb aimed the tape for my fingers. I groaned.
“Come on. You’re not taping my hands too?”
Orlando snickered. “You get your hands back when you catch the ball, rookie.”
Yeah. I’d expected that. I’d missed three easy catches today.
Good thing it was hard to embarrass me. Problem was, I’d never had an ounce of performance anxiety before—on the field or off. But nerves were a better excuse than hands turned to wood or a concussion confusing my right from left .
“Okay, he’s had enough.” Jack’s mercy came at a price. He waved a hand. “Let’s get him on the goal posts.”
Caleb and Orlando did the honors, and they turned me around to face the goal post.
That sucked. At least in college we’d taped the freshmen with their backs to the post. This was much more…uncomfortable.
“So what are you gonna do when you find this mystery girl?” Jack adjusted my head so my cheek smooshed into the padding. “You should reward her, right?”
“A real reward or your kind of reward?”