Authors: Daphne Swan
HEARTS IN OVERTIME
All rights reserved, including the right to publish this book or portions thereof (except for reviews, news media reports, brief quotes with attribution, and purposes of promotion of this book in any form whatsoever.
This book is a work of fiction. All characters in this novel are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
The material in this book is intended for mature audiences only and contains graphic sexual content and is intended for those over the age of 18 only.
All participants in sexual activities within this book are over the age of 18.
As a special thanks for downloading, this limited edition also includes six sizzling bonus stories. This means
Hearts in Overtime
ends right around the 52% mark.
HEARTS IN OVERTIME
“Are you sitting down?”
I can’t help but roll my eyes. Gina is always so dramatic. It’s obvious that she’s calling with news of a job, but she wants me to draw the details out of her.
“I sure am. Do you have something for me?”
“Tell me you love me,” she says.
“I love you more than life itself,” I tell her. “You’re the best literary agent a girl could possibly hope for.”
“This is big, Charlotte. This is really big.”
I’m beginning to see that. She usually doesn’t go to these great lengths to deliver the details of a new job, so I start getting pretty excited. The past few writing gigs she arranged for me were extremely lucrative. I was able to pay off most of my credit card debt with that last one.
Although my ultimate dream is to storm the
New York Times
bestselling charts with my literary fiction, this is a massive goal that’s going to take time to achieve. In the meantime, a girl has to eat. Gina came to me last year with a proposition. A tech genius out of Silicon Valley wanted to write a book about his life and his work, but he could hardly string a sentence together unless it was packed with tech jargon. That’s where I came in.
I basically wrote the whole thing based on a few interviews with him, and then he slapped his name on the cover. This was more than fine with me. He got to enjoy the ode to his ego, and I got a check for $20,000. Nobody bought the silly thing; it was a vanity project, pure and simple, which was perfectly fine with everyone involved.
After that, Gina started shopping me around as the go-to girl for businessmen and industry leaders who had money to burn. For these insanely wealthy men, who had homes all over the world and thousands of people working for them, they considered a biography or an autobiography to be one of the essential feathers in their caps. I was more than happy to oblige. It’s nice to finally be making a living as a writer, even if I’m not working on my own stuff at the moment.
“I’m dying of curiosity,” I say to Gina, dutifully playing along. “What’s the skinny on the new job? Details, please!”
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?”
She laughs. “Okay. First thing’s first. The client is offering…wait for it…two hundred and fifty
I can hardly breathe.
If I didn’t know better, I’d think Gina was playing some sort of sick joke on me. But I know deep down she would never be so cruel. Which could only mean…
That’s a quarter of a million dollars! With that kind of money, not only will I be able to pay off my credit card in full, but I’ll also be able to wipe out my student loan debt! And not only that, but I could also put a down payment on a house! A house! Sure, I’d have to leave New York and move somewhere way cheaper, but still! I could buy a house!
I reach down to give myself a hard pinch on the arm just to make sure this is really happening.
“Well?” Gina prompts. “Are you going to say anything or are you in shock?” With a shrill little laugh, she says, “Make a noise if you need me to call you an ambulance.”
“Who?” I manage to say.
“I guess technically speaking the client is Bruce Maddox because he owns the team, but the subject of the biography is going to be none other than Ryan Blake. Can you believe it?”
There was a pause before Gina speaks again.
“Are you asking who Ryan Blake is?”
I shrug. “Yeah. I mean, I guess he’s an athlete if he’s on some team.”
This prompts a peal of laughter from my agent. I wait patiently until she gets it out of her system.
“Yes, Charlotte. He’s an athlete. He’s only the starting quarterback for the Brooklyn Vipers, two-time winner of the Super Bowl MVP, two-time winner of the league MVP and brutally hot brooding bad boy. I can’t believe you’ve never even heard of him.”
Apart from the “brutally hot brooding bad boy” part, Gina’s explanation sounds like gibberish to me. I’ve never paid any attention to football or any other organized sport. I just don’t understand the appeal.
I feel the need to point out the obvious.
“I don’t know the first thing about sports—about football or whatever. Are you sure I’m the right person to write his bio?”
“Please don’t tell me you’re actually thinking about turning down the offer,” she says. “It’s not like you knew much the tech industry or the world of finance before you wrote the other bios. You learn as you go. And you get paid handsomely for the on-the job training, I might add. Need I remind you that they’re offering two hundred and fifty thousand dollars?”
“And why is that?” I can’t help but ask. “Why so much?”
“What do you mean?”
“Two hundred and fifty thousand dollars seems wildly excessive. Where’s the catch?”
“No catch,” she assures me. “Honestly, Charlotte, when it comes to money, these guys have a warped sense of value compared to you and me and the rest of the world. They drop two grand on dinner without batting an eye. They fly private jets, they keep endangered species as pets and they shower their wives and girlfriends with jewels that cost more than most people’s houses.”
I shake my head in dismay. I covet wealth as much as the next guy, but once you reach a certain point the overabundance becomes garish and tasteless. At least that’s how I look at it.
Then again… I’m pretty far from that point—which is putting it mildly—so I have no problem with trying to extract as much as I can from these people.
“If they’re bleeding money like that, how come you didn’t negotiate a higher price?” I ask Gina. “You did say they
two hundred and fifty thousand, right?”
“That’s right. And I did consider doing just that. I still can if you want me to, but I would advise against it when it comes to this project. After it’s complete, I’ll be able to market you as a biographer to the star athletes. Once Ryan Blake’s book is on the market, your value as a writer is going to skyrocket. Believe me.”
I do an involuntary shiver. “You really think so?”
“I know so. This book is going to
, Charlotte. It’s not going to be like your other projects where the subject of the bio prints up a couple hundred copies to give to all his minions. This one’s going to be sold through all the major channels. I guarantee you it’ll hit the bestseller lists. They’ve already lined up a publisher and everything.”
When she names the Big Five publisher who will be handling print and distribution, I almost fall out of my chair.
“So, yeah, I could demand a higher price. Obviously, they could afford to pay a hell of a lot more than two hundred and fifty grand, but I really don’t think we should rock the boat at this point. They could easily go with another writer.”
“You’re right,” I tell her. “You’re absolutely right.”
“So can I get started on that contract?”
“Yes. Please do,” I say, unable to resist the urge to bounce up and down in my chair. “I can hardly wait to sign.”
“Fabulous. Now, are you free on Friday? I want to take you out to celebrate…”
After we make arrangements to meet for a celebratory dinner and end the call, I get online and immediately Google “Ryan Blake.”
Gina was right about the guy being brutally hot. My eyes are immediately drawn to the photos that appeared on the first page of results. With ink black hair and piercing blue eyes, he is absolutely gorgeous. Even though he’s clearly a muscular guy, he has the sort of bone structure that would easily land him all the modeling jobs he could ever want. He’s that hot.
I feel a little stir of excitement in my body as I gaze into those spellbinding eyes of his.
To think that I’ll be getting paid $250,000 to interview this guy… Hah! I probably would do it for free if I had to. How many other times in life am I going to get the chance to spend time alone with such a sizzling hot hunk of man?
I cannot wait to get started.
And then, as my gaze travels down the page, my heart begins to sink. Scattered amongst the football-related news are tidbits about his run-ins with the law. “Assault charges dropped against Blake, following altercation in Denver,” announces one headline. “Court sentences Blake to thirty hours of community service,” declares another. “Is Ryan Blake too big a liability for team owner Bruce Maddox to contend with?” questions yet another headline.
Oh, this is just great.
The hot football player is a loose cannon. Suddenly, the idea of working with him doesn’t seem quite so appealing.
I click to the next page and scroll down to find a video posted a couple of weeks ago entitled, “Just who is Ryan Blake?”
Now, that’s a good question.
I click on the “play” button and my screen is soon filled with the image of two muscular men in dad-like sports coats—former athletes, I guess—who sit behind a massive desk like a couple of newscasters or something. Sports announcers, maybe?
“There’s no question that Blake is a gifted player and the best thing to happen to the Brooklyn Vipers since Ozzie Wilson scored a record number of goals back in the seventies,” says the bald guy. “But just who is Ryan Blake? Why is he so secretive about his past? Is he hiding something?”
“I would be very surprised if he wasn’t,” the bearded guy replies. “Blake’s got the worst temper of all the players in the League right now. I’d be willing to bet my beach house in Malibu that he has a few skeletons in the closet that would do irreparable damage to his career if they came out. That must be why he’s so tight-lipped about the past.”
The bald guy nods. “I can’t imagine how he’s managed to get away with it for so long. He’d have everyone believing he appeared out of thin air on Ohio State’s football field back in 2003.”
“And it does seem strange that not even the smallest detail from his past has risen to the surface in all this time. In this day and age, how is that even possible?” the bearded guy asks. “I mean it takes all of three seconds to find out that you were a fat kid with one hell of a mullet, Barry.”
“Better watch yourself, Marcus, or I’ll post those pictures of you after the 1989 Super Bowl,” the bald guy says with a grin. “Point taken, though.”
Smiling in return, the bearded guy says, “Maybe I’m a bitter, washed-up old has-been, but I think the fans have a right to know who Blake really is. They’re the ones filling the seats and essentially paying his seven figure salary.”
“I couldn’t agree more,” the bald guy says. “When you make as much as Blake does, you have to be willing to bend a little when it comes to the right to privacy.”
As the two debate how much privacy public figures should realistically expect, I tune them out and try to make sense of what I’d just learned.
So Ryan Blake is notoriously secretive. Great. Nobody knows the first thing about his past. He’s kept silent after being in the public eye for over a decade, and I don’t have much faith that he’ll be willing to spill the beans to me—or to be more accurate, I suspect, to unveil the skeletons.
I can only hope that he or his manager or the team owner or whoever it is that I’m actually working for will be happy with a lively account of his football career. If I can just skate around his past and focus on the current, relevant stuff, I might just be able to pull off this biography.
But deep down I know it won’t be that easy.