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Authors: Layne Harper

Tags: #Contemporary, #Romance, #Sports

From Now Until Infinity (2) (8 page)

BOOK: From Now Until Infinity (2)
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He leads me to an inconspicuous door and knocks. A beautiful girl, about my age, answers. She flashes Colin a huge grin. “You’ve got the whole place to yourself for about thirty minutes. That’s the best that I could do.”

He smiles back at her. “Thanks Gina. I owe you one.”

Colin grabs my hand and pulls me through a series of mazes filled with offices until we walk out on the cement floor of the Superdome. I’ve never been inside this stadium, but I’ve been in many other stadiums during my time with Colin. I don’t think that I’ll ever get used to how daunting they seem. The fact that Colin’s not intimidated by the shear vastness is a real testament to what a great player he is. He leads me to the dead center. My mind is reeling. I’m not sure why we’re here or why he’s almost vibrating with nerves. I squeeze his hand reassuringly. Whatever it is, we can handle it.

We stand in the center for a moment. I give him the time that he needs to process whatever thoughts he’s having. He’s almost shaking with anxiety. His green eyes are fierce. Whatever he needs to do here is the most important thing right now to him and to me. I’m prepared to stand there all day, although I know that we only have thirty minutes. Colin is going to have to collect himself. I can’t help him.

“Baby, whatever it is, you can tell me.” I reassure him again.

Finally, he seems to get his composure. I’m not used to this version of Colin McKinney. It’s something new for me to process.

Looking up at the roof, he begins, “This is where the Super Bowl will be held this football season.”

I squeeze his hand giving him the courage to continue. “This is where Clay won his first championship. This is where I want to be standing at the end of this football season with confetti falling all around me. This is the year that I have to win my first championship. I want it so badly, and I want to win it knowing that you’re in the stands watching me.”

I smile reassuringly at him and wrap my arms around his waist. He pulls back from me and out of my grasp while he runs his hands through his hair in frustration. “I’m not saying this correctly, Charlie.”

I stand there helpless and confused. Colin begins to pace in front of me. Walking back and forth. Back and forth. It’s nerve wracking. “Sweetie, take your time. It’s okay.” I try reassuring him again while I stand there watching not knowing what I can do to help.

He stops his pacing and walks back to me with determination. His demeanor has shifted to game day mode. He’s confident again and determined. “You’re my muse, my good luck charm, my whatever in the universe that stabilizes me. With you by my side, I was drafted to Dallas and won the starting quarterback job from a veteran. Since then, my career has been stagnant. We’ve been good enough, but not great. Now, that I’ve got you, I can have it all. I need you, Charlie. I need you, and only you, by my side to win the Super Bowl.”

His words are powerful. As a medical doctor, I don’t believe in silly stuff like good luck charms, but the man that I’m looking at does. The man with the most gorgeous green eyes that I’ve ever seen seems to believe that I’m his lucky talisman. My initial reaction is to laugh and explain that I’m just flesh and bones. I can’t bring luck to anyone. However, his demeanor and words tell me that he believes everything that he’s saying to me - that this moment might just be the most sincere moment that we’ve ever shared.
Have I finally gotten through all the layers and really seen Colin?

“Look, Charlie. I’m not saying that the road ahead of us is going to be easy. I’m not an idiot. I know that we’ve got a lot of shit that we need to overcome, but I’m asking you to trust me. To not give up on me because it will be hard. I love you with all of my heart and soul. I want to be standing in this spot with you. I want confetti raining down on us, and I want that picture to be hanging in my trophy room. I can’t live without you. Now, that I have you you’re mine.”

I have tears streaming down my eyes. I’m overwhelmed by his declaration and that he chose to do it in this spot that’s so important to him.

“When I win the Super Bowl, if you’re not with me, it will not mean shit.” He concludes while he places his large hands on my shoulder. He’s so determined and serious. I almost feel as if he’s the coach, and I’m his player. He’s giving me a pregame pep talk. “Tell me. Tell me that you’ll be here with me. Tell me that you won’t leave me if I spend too many hours at practice or seem distracted. I need to know that I’ve got your support no matter what even if the media prints horrible stories about us and my fans mob us at restaurants.”

I don’t hesitate. “Yes, Colin. Yes I’ll be here and celebrate your first championship with you. Yes, I will support you one hundred percent in this journey. Yes, I’ll be your muse. Yes, I’ll stick around through ugly media stories and fangirls. Yes, I’ll be yours until infinity.” The words spill out of my mouth, but even as I say them, I wonder if I can do it. I want to believe everything that I’m saying, but this is so fucking tough. I’ve got baggage, but this man has a truckload. Here’s when the “
what ifs”
return to the forefront of my mind.
What if there are too many fans? What if there are too many fangirls? What if I can’t take being in his shadow?

He grabs me and pulls me to him so tightly that I can almost not breathe, but I don’t care. I let him cling to me. I’m in love with him. He’s mine, and I’ll do whatever it takes to make him happy as long as the
“what ifs”
stay just that and remain “
what ifs.”

When he releases me, I take a big gulp of air. He laughs and sheepishly apologizes. I stand up on my tip toes and kiss him passionately and lovingly on the mouth. I want to reassure him not only with my words, but with my actions that I mean every word that I said (I hope?).

“Baby, I think that our time’s almost up. I don’t want to get Gina in trouble, but before we leave, will you dance with me?”

“Why, of course, sir,” I reply sweetly, in my best southern belle accent.

He fumbles for a moment with his iPhone before George Strait’s
The Chair
begins to play. It’s the song we danced to so many years ago at Hurricane Harry’s in College Station. He sets the phone on the ground and we two step where the fifty yard line will be when the Super Bowl is held. It’s the perfect conclusion to my hopefully last surprise.

At the end of the song, he dips me back, but instead of the chaste kiss that I got on the cheek so many years ago, I get a full on French kiss. I like this much better. There’re no questions about where I stand with Colin. We’re together forever through thick and thin, and we’ll make it work (hopefully).

He grabs his phone and slips it back in his pocket. We retrace our steps and find Gina on our way out. Colin thanks her for her help, and we head back to the waiting town car.

It’s only a little past noon, but I’m emotionally and physically spent. It’s not like we slept much last night either. “Colin, do you mind if we go back to the hotel for a little while. I think that I need nap.”

He chuckles at me and puts his hand on my thigh. “Just a nap, huh?” he asks raising his eyebrow.

I give him a look of horror. He knows that I started my period.
Ummm! Yes, just a nap.

He laughs and strokes my thigh all the way back to the hotel.

Chapter Four

 

 

I REALIZE that I sleep better with Colin by my side. It’s such a strange concept for me to wrap my head around. I haven’t shared a bed with a man since Adam, and with him I didn’t care whether or not he stayed over. Come to think of it, I only think that Adam and I actually spent the night together a handful of times. I’m lying in the suite bedroom staring at the ceiling wishing that Colin would come hold me until I fall asleep. I hate how needy I feel.

After counting the seconds for twenty minutes, I put the hotel robe on and walk into the living room of the suite. Colin’s standing at one of the windows staring out at the Mississippi River. His arms are crossed over his head, and are pressed up against the window. His head’s resting against his arms. His legs are in a lunge like position. He doesn’t realize that I’m watching him.

I’m torn as to what to do. He’s obviously having a quiet moment to himself, but his body language worries me. It’s not the way one would stand if they’re happy. I assumed that his declaration at the Superdome went well. Now, I’m concerned that I didn’t act as he had wanted me to.

Finally, Colin must sense me watching him because he slowly raises his head and turns to look at me. He smiles at me, but it doesn’t reach his eyes.

I slowly walk over to him and wrap my arms around his waist and press my body against his back. “Want to talk about it?” I ask in a soothing voice.

“Not really, but I don’t have a choice do I?”

“Look, Colin. The more you share with me, the more I feel apart of your life. Remember, we’re a team.” I try to reassure him.
God! How many more times are we going to have to have this same conversation?
It’s like we’re constantly taking two steps forward and one step back.

He leans back against me, and I hold him while he continues to stare out the window. Finally, he says, “Mark thinks that we should do an interview together sharing our love story to help repair my image with my sponsors.”

I pause for a moment and let his words sink in before I speak. “I’m assuming by your body language that you don’t want to do the interview.”

Colin turns around and places his large hands on my shoulders looking into my lavender eyes. “Charlie, I don’t do interviews. I mean, I talk to the media after games and practice and stuff like that. But, I don’t do personal interviews.
Sports Illustrated
asks me every year to do some sort of profile piece, and I turn them down every time. After you left me, I decided that my personal life was not for my fans’ enjoyment. Sasha’s article will be the most personal thing ever reported about me.”

As he’s talking, the first thought in my head is his divorce from Rebound Chick. I read all about it in the tabloid press. “I don’t understand Colin. Your marriage and divorce was widely reported in the news.”

Colin flinches at the mere mention of his first marriage. “Yes. You’re right. There were a lot of media stories, but neither I nor her ever said one word about it. Mark issued a statement when our engagement was announced, and now you know that I did that more to get your attention,” he says with a slight smirk. “As part of our divorce agreement, I paid her a lot of money to not speak about our personal life.”

I turn away from Colin cutting my eyes to the dark blue carpet. I hate hearing about his first wife. I quickly gain my composure choosing not to address Colin’s revelations about interviews. “It seems a bit hasty to me to be discussing doing a personal interview. Sasha’s article doesn’t come out until next week. Can’t we wait and see what the fall out is before we make knee jerk decisions? It’s quite possible that no one will care, and we can go on with our life in relative peace.”

Colin’s back is to me again as he stares at the Mississippi. I press my cheek in between his shoulder blades. His back is hairless even though his chest isn’t. I love how soft his skin feels against my cheek and it takes all my will power to not nuzzle him.

Colin pulls away from me, turning back around to me and giving me a soft kiss on the forehead to lessen the blow of us losing our contact and calls Mark back immediately. “We aren’t doing an interview until we know what my sponsor’s reaction to Sasha’s trash is.”

Mark must try to convince Colin otherwise, but Colin doesn’t budge. “You aren’t changing my mind. I’m hanging up with you and spending some time with my girl. Don’t bother having Aiden call me because I’m turning off my phone.”

He ends the call and turns off his phone tossing it back on the coffee table. The mood in the suite is instantly lifted. Before I know it, he’s chasing me like a little boy who can’t wait to torment the little girl in his class that he thinks is pretty. I run squealing from him and head towards the bedroom. Of course, he captures me with ease. As he’s picking me up, he grabs my behind and squeezes it sending a jolt of electricity through me. I wiggle in his arms as I throw my head back laughing. His long fingers dig into my ribs making me thrash with laughter. I plead with him to stop through a teary, hysterical voice. He mercifully cradles me to him and flashes me his Colin McKinney half smile. “You make everything better.”

I melt. I love that I make him happy. He’s looking at me with such reverence that my heart starts beating faster. I lean up and wrap my arm around his neck pulling his mouth to mine. I capture his beautiful lips and kiss him passionately hoping to make him forget the troublesome news article and over anxious agent. I want his focus back on me… on us… and our time in our bubble before the world knows about us.

Colin breaks our kiss first. He pulls back and stares into my lavender eyes, “Get dressed, beautiful girl. I have a touristy day and night in the French Quarter planned for us.” He places me gently back on my feet and swats my behind as I head into the bathroom.

Colin and I dress casual in jeans and boots. Colin puts on a baseball hat. I know that he’s hoping to avoid being recognized. It’s sweet, but let’s face facts. A 6’5” hunk that has an underwear campaign, does modeling for charity, and has been featured in
People Magazine’s
sexiest man issue doesn’t blend into a crowd.

 

* * *

 

After dinner, we go to Pat O’Brien’s piano bar. It’s one of the oldest clubs in the French Quarter. And true to Colin’s promise it’s also a tourist staple. Their piano bar is inside an all brick room with dueling pianos featured on a small stage. I’m a particular fan of piano bars. I love the rowdy atmosphere where you can sing at the top of your lungs and no one cares, and considering that I can’t carry a tune in a bucket, piano bars are my kind of place.

Colin orders a glass of water and I’m sipping one of their signature drinks, the Rainbow. It’s almost too pretty to drink, but I do anyway. It’s so good that I make a mental note to just have one because I've got a feeling that it’s pretty strong. It doesn't take long for the piano players to recognize Colin and begin playing the theme from the television show
Dallas
. Colin laughs and tips his hat to them.

BOOK: From Now Until Infinity (2)
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