Go Deep: A Bad Boy Sports Romance (6 page)

BOOK: Go Deep: A Bad Boy Sports Romance
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After catching my breath, I dragged my ass to my bed and took a seat beside the stack of papers he left. I hadn’t made it to page two when there was a knock on the door. This time I didn’t hesitate. I opened the door, grabbed his still sweaty t-shirt and pulled him inside. His lips were on mine again, groaning as he walked me backward until the back of my calves hit my bed.

I didn’t know I wanted him so badly until he kissed me. And now, we were finally here, inches above my bed, and I knew I couldn’t go through with it. Pressing my hands on his chest, I pushed him a few inches off of me.

“Slade…” I panted out. “That should not have happened…and we just can’t.”

He raised a hand to his face and brushed his cheek. “You mean the first kiss, or this last one when you dragged me back in here?”

“Both of them.” I looked away, hoping he wouldn’t see the residual desire in my eyes or hear it in my voice. “I’m sorry. Can you just go now? I, uh, I have to get some things done.”

“Damn.” He stood there, shaking his head for a second, then finally backed away to the door. “Fine.” A second later he was out the door, which he slammed so hard I was sure the hinges broke.

7
Slade

T
here was
nothing like a Friday night kegger to kick the weekend off, especially the second weekend of football season. Unfortunately, when tempers flare over football and alcohol, it’s easy to find the landlord standing on the porch the next morning yelling about damaged property.

The party had started off great. All the usual suspects were there – a handful of guys from the team, the frat brothers, and most of the girls from the cheerleading squad. Except for Cassidy, of course, but I couldn’t tell if that was because she was mad about us making out and almost having sex or because she just didn’t do parties. Ever.

Miranda, her roommate, was there, of course. She never did much socializing when she came around, but if there was a party with free booze around campus, she was there. I couldn’t quite figure that out. I had more important things to worry about, like the bet that was still going on. I had already made out with her earlier in the week, but I wasn’t quite ready to break the news to the guys yet. Apparently, there were still a few people who hadn’t put any money down. I figured I’d wait until there was enough money in the pot to make it worth it, or until I got her begging me to take her before I told anyone.

At some point in the night, after I’d managed to get myself quite plastered, some random kid—not anyone on the team or from the fraternity—got just as wasted and started mouthing off at me. I may have lost my cool, and from what I heard from the boys, I may have also mopped up the floor with him, from one end of the main floor to the other. Sadly, his ass wasn’t the only casualty in the fight.

This was why our landlord, Mr. Howard, had come to be standing in front of me right now, shouting about the damages to the house. “You know, I ought to kick you all out on your sorry asses and call your parents. I’d be well within my rights to name each of you in a civil suit for the damages to my property and the lost rent when I terminate the lease with your fraternity.”

In an effort to keep the news from reaching either my family or the national fraternity office, I decided to beg for a reprieve instead of letting things escalate. I figured anything Mr. Howard could do to me directly was better than anything my folks or the fraternity would do.

“Mr. Thomas,” I croaked through my aching head, “I take responsible for this mess.”

“How in the hell did you manage to destroy three of my antique tables and the two armoires in the front room, son?” he asked me.

“Some random guy came by last night and started a fight.” It made perfect sense in my head, but it did sound weak when I said it aloud.

“I assume you were plastered at the time,” Mr. Howard said.

“Yes, sir, we’d been drinking.” At that point I decided that the less I said, the better. I was making it worse.

“That little party you boys threw last night is going to cost you an additional fifty-seven hundred dollars in damages to
my
house.” It felt like his voice was bearing down on my shoulders.

“What? I don’t have six thousand dollars!”

So much for keeping a lid on the talking.

“You should have thought about that before you destroyed those antiques.”

Thinking on my feet was normally a breeze, but with my head pounding from this hangover, it took a while to come to the point where I realized all he needed was some reassurance.

“I’ll find a way to pay for everything,” I announced, not knowing how exactly I could make that happen. Six grand was a heck of a lot of money. Money I didn’t have and didn’t have the means of earning without a job, which I also didn’t have.

“Damn right, you will.”

“Yes, sir.”

“How do you plan on doing that?”

I lifted my head. That was a dumb question, even for him to be asking. “Whatever I can, sir.” I didn’t intend to sound like a smartass. I intended to make it sound like I’d simply do whatever he thought was best.

“Good. You can start tonight.”

“Start with what?”

“You know I own a restaurant downtown. You’re a pretty solid guy. You can bus tables until you work off the damages.”

I was looking for the silver lining, but there still wasn’t one. Bus tables? I didn’t know the first thing about working in any part of the food service industry, except that it was a waste of my talent and my time.

“I have football practice five afternoons a week.”

“We’re open late. Come by after practice.”

“But…” I started, but had nothing else to offer. I was fucked.

“The choice is yours.” Mr. Howard tapped his toe on the door stop. He was getting impatient. “Either you work for me until this is paid off or I go to your parents and the fraternity.”

If he went to the fraternity, I’d be kicked out. My folks would freak, and they’d probably make me move back home for senior year. That would put a serious crimp in my independence, so I went with bussing tables. Working off my debt was the best way to go, but that meant it would eat into my study time and what little free time I had. I just had to make sure I didn’t let it cut into practice time.

“You know what, son? You don’t have to answer right away. Just think your options over, and come find me before next weekend.”

He turned and headed down the walkway to his truck while I stepped out on the porch and watched him walk away. I would rather have chewed glass than take this gig, but what choice did I have?

“You heard that, right?” I asked Ryan when he came out front.

“Yup. Man, I’d take his offer. Or there’s a good chance they’ll kick us all out.”

“Yeah. This sucks ass, man.”

“It’s better than getting shut down.”

“Pretty fucking easy for you to say. You’re not the one stuck bussing tables at some place half the campus eats at.”

“Take it for the team, bud.”

“Right up the ass.” I whipped out my phone and left a message for the landlord, letting him know I was on board. After I hung up, I went back to my room.

Slade Clark, busboy.

I cringed at the thought, but hell, I needed to get used to that pretty damn fast if I wanted to keep the status quo everywhere else for senior year. I was the star quarterback. I was being sought out by the top NFL agents. My future wasn’t just bright. It was huge. It was bigger than Mr. Howard and his stupid furniture. But it was only as big as I allowed it to be.

He phoned back about half-hour later. “You’re doing the right thing, son,” he said smugly. “Now, look, I know you’ve got practice every weekday, and you boys play every Saturday night. That means I’ve got to work with your football schedule. I get it. You’re a big deal, kid, and I don’t want to interfere with that. Stop by on Monday after practice and we’ll get you started.”

“Yes, sir.” I tried to perk up, but the defeat in my voice wouldn’t leave.

“It’ll be over soon, kid…and you’ll be a better man for it.”

Like hell I would. I waited for him to hang up, wishing I knew who that punk ass kid was that showed up and started shit at the party. He should have had to take at least half the hit for what happened. The anger and deflection didn’t stop the dread that came over me. Hell, I could have punched something, but that would have done me no damn good.

Wishing last night had never happened, I got back into bed to sleep it off. There was a game tonight, and I had to be ready. Hours later, I woke up and got myself ready. The time for worrying was long past, and now was time to focus on throwing touchdowns and keeping up my momentum moving forward. I was still Slade “Slaughter” Clark. I was still damn good on and off the field. I was still the most wanted man on campus, and I was going out there tonight to make all those college girls soak their panties while I played the part of raising hell on the field.

“Guys,” I called out to the few frat brothers sitting in the foyer as I headed out. “No more parties for a while. The landlord ain’t happy about last night, so we need to lay low until the storm passes. Besides, we don’t want any more asshats showing up and causing problems.” The guys nodded. “Oh, and if anyone can find out who he is, let me know. I need to pay him a visit.”

Now that it was post-drunken haze, I couldn’t even remember the guy’s face, just that he’d been talking shit to me, and I eventually grew tired of his little bitch ass thinking he was something.

“Leave that to us,” Nathan hollered as I got out on the front porch. “All you need to do right now is worry about tonight’s game.”

Wasn’t that the truth.

I got myself together, shook off the whole thing and got over to the stadium. I was never late for games, and didn’t want to start a trend or cause a bad omen. That reminded me, game night also meant seeing Cassidy again. She’d avoided me much of the week after our little warm-up session in her dorm room, but couldn’t try that tonight. The silent treatment wouldn’t last anyway. We had that project to work on, and I was primed and ready for that sweet piece of ass now. Nothing could lift my spirits more than getting one step closer to owning Cassidy.

8
Cassidy


S
o
, how’s life down in the Deep South?” Shawn teased. He never let up on rubbing it in that I was still stuck in Louisiana and was beyond jealous of him for getting out and taking Pre-Med at Harvard.

“It’s the same ole same ole,” I told him. “Football season is in full swing. That’s about all there is to look forward to.”

“Yeah, I’ve been watching the games on TV,” he said.

“No, you’ve not.” Shawn wasn’t much of a football fan, so I didn’t mind calling him out on it. He always told me growing up that football was his brother’s thing and he didn’t want anything to do with it.

He chuckled nervously. “I’m not saying I’ve raised the football flags in my dorm or anything like that, Cassidy, but I put the game on here and there. It’s good background noise for when I’m studying.”

“Really? That’s a big step for you.”

“Yeah, well it’s the closest I can get to seeing you guys, so I don’t mind putting up with a little sports commentary once a week.”

I could hear it in his voice. He wasn’t kidding. He must have had a serious case of homesickness to have said that.

“Speaking of seeing us, I’ve got some interesting news,” I told him.

“Uh-oh. What did Slade do this time?”

“We got paired up to work on a project together for the one course we’re both in for this semester.”

“You guys are in a class together?”

“We both need it to graduate.”

“Well allow me to send you my condolences for your GPA. That’s gotta suck.”

“No kidding.”

“I’m surprised he has any requisite courses for that sports management degree he’s taking. It’s essentially the go-to degree that says
‘I’m really only here for the football’
.”

“Pretty much,” I giggled.

It felt so good to hear his voice again, after two weeks of settling back into school. Shawn had been my closest friend growing up. A lot of the relationship troubles I had over the years stemmed from how close we were. Everyone thought we were dating. Even Slade used to tease us until he met one of Shawn’s actual girlfriends.

“Sounds like you need to switch partners,” he warned me. “Slade can be a control freak.”

“Tell me about it,” I agreed, making a point of not admitting the part about making out with his brother. I still wasn’t sure how things had gone that far. It was best to forget it ever happened and never mention it again. As if Slade would ever let me. He kept reminding me that night was years in the making and there was more where it came from. The cocky prick.

“I mean, you’ll probably end up arguing over how to do most of the work. It’s always been his way or the highway,” Shawn continued, bringing me back to our conversation.

“I agree, Shawn. Except this time he’s actually gotten us off to a great start with the project already, and it looks like he’s going to continue contributing a lot to it.”

After hearing what I’d said, I put my hand to my mouth. I couldn’t believe I was defending Slade’s character.

“Wow, that’s surprising. What’s the project about?” I told him about Slade’s idea for the adoption drive company, how he’d done all the initial legwork to get a pretty good first draft of our business plan together, and about the site visit he planned. “That’s something… definitely not the slacker jock I remember from high school, but who knows, maybe he’s taking things more seriously now.”

“He seems to be.”

“Oh, that’s right, you have to see him all the time, don’t you? I mean, besides class, you’re on the cheerleading squad.” He laughed again. “How is it that you’re still on that team? I’ll never really understand it.”

“Have you seen my mom and sister lately?”

“Oh yeah. Right.”

“It’s the home stretch, thankfully, and when I get the hell out of this state, it’ll finally be behind me. Plus, maybe it’ll give me an edge when I finally hit the job market. I need every piece of leverage I can take to be more attractive to a potential employer.”

“You, more attractive? That’s a dangerous thought,” he teased.

“I know I’m hot. You don’t have to tell me,” I played along. When Shawn mentioned it, it was in jest. He wasn’t being creepy like his older brother.

“Hey, can you hang on for a sec? Someone’s on my other line.”

“Sure.” I was only on hold for a few seconds until he came back.

“Well, Cassidy. I’ve got this organic chemistry lab I have to get to. It was great hearing your voice, hun. We’ll talk again soon, okay?”

“I hope so. Bye Shawn,” I said, feeling bummed at being almost sixteen hundred miles apart with only the occasional phone call or text.

Shawn’s degree kept him busy pretty much non-stop. And between my perpetually full course load and cheerleading, I was in pretty much the same boat for the last three years. We didn’t have nearly enough time for each other anymore. Luckily, there were still the summer holidays and Christmas, but it wasn’t always a guarantee that he’d be home for Thanksgiving. Hell, I couldn’t blame him. I wouldn’t want to come back to the land that time forgot either, if I had a choice.

I stared at my phone’s black screen for a few minutes after we hung up, wondering if there was some way we could be closer after I graduated. Then, my phone vibrated as another call came in. My body instantly tensed up. It was Slade.

“Hey doll.”

“What’s up?” I answered.

“I won’t be able to make our next meeting for the project, unless we can do it late.”

I rolled my eyes. “How late?”


Late
late.”

“Are you yanking my chain here?”

“Nope. It’s got to be late. I’ve uh, got things going on.”

“You’ve done enough work that I can let you off this once,” I told him. “But I don’t think meeting late is a good idea.”

“Why not?”

“Hmmm, let me think. Slade Clark trying to get together with a chick he’s after, and at God knows what hour of the night? Seems to me you’d like nothing better than to pick up where we left off.”

“It’s not that. Really, it’s not. Besides, I’ve never let time of day stop me from getting any.”

“God, you’re such a pig.”

“The pig you had no problem dragging back into your dorm room,” he gloated. “Who knows what would have happened if I didn’t give in when you asked me to.”

“Stop talking, Slade. Fine. You get a pass. I’ll take it from here with the project until we’re closer to the next milestone. Bye.”

I didn’t mind having a little time to get in some of my own work on the project anyway, but two weeks later, after three more missed meetings, I texted him. He’d been so scarce after classes and between practices and games, I was starting to get concerned. He promptly phoned me back.

“Hey, sugar. What’s going on?”

I ignored the sweet talk and got right down to it. “We need to meet. I’ve sent you my changes since last week and you’ve blown off all our meetings since the last time we talked.”

“That’s because like I told you, I can only meet late at night now.”

I noticed loud bustling and voices in the background. “Where are you? Some big dinner party?”

“No, no,” he stammered. “Look, can we do after eleven tonight? The student center’s opened all night. I’ll pick you up.”

“Fine.” I huffed at my phone and hung up.

“Why are you calling Slade all hours of the night?” Miranda asked out of the blue when she stepped out of the shower.

“Huh? Uh, nothing. Just this project we’re working on.”

“I haven’t seen him much either. Not even at the parties around campus. I wonder what that’s about.”

“I have no idea,” I told her.

Up to now, I’d managed to not tell her about what Slade got up to in our dorm room a few weeks ago. I wasn’t ready to be grilled on how great a kisser he was or why I didn’t jump his bones, so I kept it to my lonesome.

“You wouldn’t be hiding something from me, would you?”

“Me? No…hiding, what would I have to hide? Like what?” Damn, that came out too nervous. Even I thought I was guilty.

“Tell me,” she persisted, studying me like she could drag secrets out of me by looking at me sideways.

“There’s nothing to tell.”

“Wait. Did something happen between you and Slade?”

“Me and Slade? No…not at all. Why would you think that? Did I not just mention he’s been shirking on our project too?”

“Hmmm. Okay…just be sure to tell me if it does, or there’ll be hell to pay, missy.” She grabbed her light jacket and a tiny black purse she liked to wear to campus hangouts.

“I will. Where are you off to?”

“This Master’s student is hosting a talk on séances at her place off campus. I can’t miss it. Hey, you should come.”

“Um…I think I’ll pass, hun.”

“Cool, but don’t think I’ll let you off the hook for the next invite. We haven’t spent nearly enough time together lately. You and I need a good talk session.”

“Sure, hun.” I nodded and she rushed to open the door.

“Soon. Talk to you when I get back.”

Later that night, around midnight, my phone woke me up, buzzing next to my bed. I picked it up and was too groggy to check the number.

“Hello.”

“Get dressed.” It was Slade. “I’ll swing by in fifteen to pick you up.”

I didn’t appreciate having to wait until he was ready to work in order for us to meet up to work on the project, let alone him waking me up like this. “Fine,” I groaned. “I’ll be down by then.”

He was waiting in front of the dorm by the time I got downstairs, with the passenger side door open.

“Hop in,” he called from inside.

The gentleman was long gone. Maybe that meant he was done trying to get in my pants. I took that as a good sign. I slid into his car, and the smell of cigarette smoke and fried food assaulted me immediately.

“What have you been doing? Hosting parties in the Slaughter-mobile? Or did you have me waiting because you’ve been out drinking at some new smoking club dive bar?”

“Good one. And no. I’m fine to drive. Haven’t had a drop, and you know I don’t smoke. Just taking care of some personal business.”

“You’ve been out trying to get a piece of ass, then, haven’t you?”

He cut his eyes at me. “Why would I do that when I’ve got you right here?” he teased and put a hand on my leg.

I pushed his hand off and gave him the evil eye. “Don’t even try that tonight.”

I was only going to put up with as much as I had to for this project. After that, we had no other need to interact.

“Look, I’m sorry, Cassidy. I’d explain it to you if I could, but it’s really complicated.”

“You don’t owe me any explanations.” I told him, keeping my eyes facing forward as he drove. I’d heard enough of his bullshit already. I was here to make preparations for the pitch portion of our project and set up the time for the interview with our business owner or investor. Nothing more.

“What the hell, Slade?” I asked as he pulled up to his frat house and parked. That’s when I looked over at him again. Sure, the student center was a block from here, but my gut feeling was dead on, that he was trying to get me alone with him.

“I figured we could work on the table in the foyer or the kitchen,” he told me, getting out of the car.

“Seriously?”

“I’m tired, all right?” He was getting that short-tempered, badass attitude I’d seen enough times on the football field and back when we were kids. “I don’t feel like those bright lights right now.” He looked pretty run down too. I don’t think I’d ever seen him look lethargic.

“Okay. Just don’t make a habit of this. Got it? And we’re staying on the main floor.”

“Fine,” he barked.

I followed him inside, relieved that we weren’t heading up to his room for another mindless session of stupid almost-life choices. We went straight to the kitchen, where he put on a pot of coffee.

“It’s a little late for caffeine, don’t you think?”

“Speak for yourself. I need this. Anyway, what are we going over with this project?”

“The pitch,” I told him, pulling out my computer tablet with the slide presentation.

“I think one of the points we need to make is that we can help with the over-saturation of shelters in the area,” he said first off. “When we talked to Gladys, that issue came up a few times. Lots of service providers, no coordination of pet placement activities. Meaning, they’ve all got small budgets and are duplicating their efforts unnecessarily, and to the same target audience of potential pet owners.”

“Good point,” I agreed.

He was pretty good at this. He hadn’t even looked at my slide deck and he’d gotten right to the point it had taken fifteen pages for me to get to. Our project needed to focus on two streams of thinking. First, the more obvious was how we could assist the public with the adoption process and with finding resources, like animal shelters or pet stores. Second, and possibly more important to a more consistent revenue stream was that we needed to focus more on shelters. They had established, underutilized budgets, and they had an interest in minimizing the number of animals left in their care due to mismatches between the pets and the people who visited their specific shelters.

While the coffee brewed, he sat beside me and took a look through the presentation. “Looks good.”

“I went with the idea of rotating the pet adoption drives at individual shelters instead of a centralized off-site location for several shelters to come together. This way we can draw attention to each location, and then cycle through the locations so it’s fair and lets people know where they all are. This also helps for people who want to adopt when there’s not a drive going on. They’ll know where to go to do that, since we’re not going to be running an actual shelter ourselves.”

“Smart. Did you email this to me?”

“Several times, but check the last email for the final draft.”

“Cool. How are we going to deliver this presentation? Maybe you can do the intro and I’ll get into the budgets and answer questions.”

“That could work.” This was going way better than I thought.

“So, we’re done with the first two hand-ins for this project?” Slade asked, getting up again to fill his coffee mug. I’d already declined on the late-night coffee buzz, so he didn’t bother asking me again if I wanted to partake.

BOOK: Go Deep: A Bad Boy Sports Romance
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