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Authors: Sawyer Bennett

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Off Sides

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Off Sides
Off Series [1]
Sawyer Bennett
Big Dog Books (2013)
Rating:
****
Tags:
Romance, Contemporary, Young Adult, new adult

“I'm not sure what possessed me to do it. Maybe it was the impossible expectations I faced, maybe it was my own self-loathing. But I just knew I needed something different to happen. I needed someone...something...to derail me from my current path. Otherwise, I would become lost...a hollowed out shell of a man. So I did it. I approached her, then I pursued her, then I made her mine. And my life was saved...”

Ryan Burnham is the privileged son of a U.S. Congressman and captain of his university’s hockey team. While he is on the verge of fulfilling his dreams to play in the NHL, his parents want him on a different course. One he is expected to accept for the sake of his family’s public image.

Forced her to abandon her music career after the heart breaking death of her parents, Danny Cross exists on the opposite side of the tracks from Ryan. She is struggling to make her own way, working two jobs, attending college part time and volunteering in a homeless shelter. She is on a mission to build her own success.

With a chance meeting, their vastly different worlds collide, causing each to evaluate whether they are truly on the correct path to self-fulfillment and happiness. Can their relationship survive? Particularly when others are against them every step of the way. A lot can happen in just ten short days...

Table of Contents

 

 

OFF SIDES

 

By Sawyer Bennett

 

All Rights Reserved.

Copyright © 2013 by Sawyer Bennett

Published by Big Dog Publishing

 

This book is a work of fiction.  Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously.  Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

No part of this book can be reproduced in any form or by electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without the express written permission of the author.  The only exception is by a reviewer who may quote short excerpts in a review.

 

Find Sawyer on the web!

www.sawyerbennett.com

www.twitter.com/bennettbooks

www.facebook.com/bennettbooks

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

 

I had not expected to write this book.  In fact, I was all set to start on my sequel to Forever Young, but the idea for this novel just popped into my mind and would not let go.  So I spent a few weeks just mulling the idea.  I tried to actually write the FY sequel, but I couldn’t even get started on it because this book just kept dominating my thoughts. Then I decided, what the hell. Let me just purge this from my mind.

I wrote voraciously for a solid week.  45,000+ words later, I had my first draft. I did some basic polishing and filling, but it was pretty much ready except for line edits. At this point, I’d like to give a huge shout out to Kristina Sessoms and Alyssa Shaver. Both jumped on doing a Beta read and provided great feedback, most of which I used.

Particular hug to Alyssa as she came up with the title to the book.  It must have been destiny that I found her as a Beta reader as she is a huge hockey fan as well as a violin player.  You’ll see why that’s important when you read this book.

As always, thank you Shawn for letting me pursue my dream. I know it means many hours that I am paying attention to my laptop instead of you. You rock my world, honey!

 

REFLECTIONS

 

I'm not sure what possessed me to do it. Maybe it was the impossible expectations I faced, maybe it was my own self-loathing. But I just knew I needed something different to happen. I needed someone...something...to derail me from my current path.  Otherwise, I would become lost...a hollowed out shell of a man.

So I did it. I approached her, then I pursued her, then I made her mine.  And my life was saved...

 

 

CHAPTER 1

 

Ryan

 

Heh, heh, heh, heh...

I hate those freakin’ green pigs mocking me. I hit the restart button and slide my finger over the screen, pulling back the little blue bird. I let him fly, giving the screen a quick tap and my fuzzy blue missile splits into three, peppering my taunters with their rage.  Ice shatters and I slaughter the green sows.  Victory is mine.

"Hurry up, Ryan. Beat feet."

I glance up at the group walking ahead of me. They're all laughing, arms linked together.  They look like a fucking re-run of
Friends
. We are all perfectly dressed in our designer clothes compliments of our families’ obscene wealth.  We have our perfect salon hairstyles and we are leading our perfect college lives. And I absolutely hate it sometimes.

Tonight we are slumming it a little. We're walking from a frat party to a 24 hour diner nearby to get some food.  Oh, the shame of it all.

Between the copious amounts of alcohol and pot at the party, we all have a serious case of the munchies. Well, my munchies are just because I'm hungry. I, unfortunately, cannot partake in the cannabis laughis as the athletics department at Northeastern springs random drugs tests on its athletes. And I'm not about to jeopardize our hockey season on a little bit of reefer. I sure hope Mike and Carter stayed away from that shit tonight.  I can tell by the way the girls are giggling, they were partaking.

It's 3:00 a.m. and I'm not nearly drunk enough to miss the fact that I wish I could ditch my friends and head back to my frat house for some sleep. It's been a long night and looks like it's about to get longer.

The men in our merry band constitute a portion of the first line on the Northeastern hockey team.  We’re all pretty tight. My right winger and best friend, Mike Yanalas, calls out to a group of young, street thugs leaning up against an old Dodge Charger smoking cigarettes. He has his arm around his girlfriend, Cameron.

"What the fuck you looking at?" Mike yells at them. He's drunk as a skunk and I sigh inwardly. I so do not want to have to back up his drunken ass in a fight tonight. 

Luckily, the Crip wannabes don't say anything and slink away into the darkness. I'm not surprised, really.  We are some pretty big dudes and most people would be crazy to fuck with us.

We turn onto Hay Street and we are back on my home turf. The gym where I work out is just a few blocks down and my frat house is in the opposite direction. Sally's Diner sits almost in the middle of the two points and has served as our post-party stop for the three years I have been a student at Northeastern. I break into a little trot to catch up to the others.

As we all pour into Sally's, I breathe in deeply the scent of frying bacon and french fries. The place is fairly busy even though it’s the wee hours of the morn.  There are several tables filled with drunken students and an old man hovering over a cup of coffee at the counter.

After pulling a few tables together, the group sits down, pulling the sticky menus out of the placeholders in the middle of the tables. I loop my foot around a chair and kick it backwards, sliding it out from the table.  I sit down and lean back, stretching my legs out in front of me. Crossing one leg over the other at the ankles, I continue to ignore the group in favor of
Angry Birds.

I don't bother with the menu. I already know I'm going for the Husky Special.  A cheeseburger with a fried egg on top plus a butt-load of french fries on the side. I've been working out like crazy getting ready for the start of our hockey season in a few weeks so I can spare the calorie overload.

"Ugh...this table is just nasty. I don't know why we always have to come here."

I keep my focus on my mission to destroy as many pigs as possible, mentally rolling my eyes at Angeline. It's irritating the fuck out of me that she's here with us and her spoiled whining is already grating hard on my nerves.

I was stunned when she showed up at the party tonight as we had been furiously trying to avoid each other since we had broken up a few weeks ago. But I suppose it was inevitable that we would see each other again, given our social circle was pretty tight. It also doesn't help that Mike is my best friend and Cameron is hers.

I sneak a quick glance at Angeline and just shake my head. She's trying to wipe the table down with hand sanitizer and napkins, a grimace plastered to her face. And watching her fret over a dirty table just reiterates to me I made the right decision in breaking things off.  Angeline is just a little too prissy for my tastes. Hell, she wouldn't even give me a hug after my games until I took a shower. In hindsight, I'm surprised she didn't wipe me down with that alcohol gel of hers before we had sex.  Or make me double wrap my dick with two condoms.

I pull my lower lip between my teeth in consternation. Seeing Angeline tonight was surreal. I expected her to still be furious with me for breaking up with her. Instead, she walked right up to me and gave me a big hug, telling me that it was good to see me.  I repaid the compliment, although I didn't really feel it.  It was the polite thing to do. 

As the night wore on, Angeline went from friendly banter to overt flirting.  I didn't fail to notice the numerous times she laid her hand on my arm when she was talking to me or the way she would stand on her tip toes to whisper something in my ear.

Don't get me wrong.  Tonight, Angeline is rocking a pair of skin tight jeans, a barely there halter top and some sky high heels. She is oozing sex and had she not been concentrating wasted energy on me, she would have made some other guy very happy to be having her attention.

Toward the end of the night as the band was playing one of their last songs, she tried to rope me into dancing with her. I politely declined, telling her it was probably not a good idea.  She seemed to take the rejection gracefully but then promptly invited herself along when we all decided to hit Sally's.  I should have just gone home but I really was starving and figured I could brave another half hour of Angeline.

So here we sit, and I'm trying to focus on slinging birds at pigs, keeping my attention half on the talk around the tables. It takes all of about five seconds for someone to mention Descartes and we are off and running.

I find it hilarious that when college students get drunk or high, we immediately start discussing philosophy. I mean, who gives a rat's ass about philosophy, but throw a little alcohol into the mix and suddenly everyone wants to pontificate.

We're all in a level 300 philosophy course called Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century Philosophers.  Word around campus is that Dr. Anderson, who is about a hundred and twenty years old, basically sleeps through class and tells you exactly what will be on the final exam. The class is supposed to be a cake-walk. I sure hope so because I have damn good grades going into my senior year and I want to have an easy schedule so I can put more of my efforts into hockey.

"Well, I think dualism is a load of crap," I hear Mike say with flourish. He had a slight slur to his words. "If the mind exists independently of the brain, then how are physical memories created? Tell me how that makes sense."

"None of it makes sense," I mutter, my eyes still glued to my iPhone. No one even spares me a glance which is fine by me. My game is far more interesting that discussing Descartes.

"That's narrow sited on your part," Angeline scoffs. "Regardless, I find it more fascinating this concept of 'I think, therefore, I am'.  I mean, that's pretty deep on a level I never bothered to think about before."

I am pretty sure Angeline has never thought about anything deeper than what designer jeans she will wear in the morning but I am impressed how she steers the subject away from the mind numbing philosophy of dualism.

I can see the waitress approaching from the corner of my eye but I don't look up as I am perilously close to breaking my high score. She stands there for several seconds while the conversation rages on, patiently waiting for a break in the expenditure of brain cells. When no one pauses to even take a breath, she gives a little clearing sound with her throat.

The table goes silent then I hear Angeline say in her most affronted voice, "Excuse me. But we are in the middle of an important discussion. Do you think it's appropriate to just interrupt us with the assumption we are ready for you?"

Everyone starts laughing hysterically, myself excluded. But I do give an inner smirk to myself and just shake my head.  Angeline can dress someone down and make them feel about three inches tall in just a matter of seconds. It's a true art form of the criminally wealthy and insanely narcissistic.

Angeline isn't finished with her though. She turns to the rest of the table and says, "I guess we can't really fault her ignorance. I mean, she slings hash for a living. This conversation is probably a little over her head."  She then breaks out into a fit of giggles that has me grinding my teeth together.

Okay, even I admit that's a pretty low blow but I don't say anything.  I keep my head down, avoiding engagement with Angeline at all costs. She's drunk and she's mean.  Not a good combination and I don't have it in me to fight with her tonight. Hell, that's one of the reasons I broke up with her.  It just always seemed to be a fight.

Before Angeline can say anything, I hear the waitress reply, "I'm so sorry.  It's just...I saw all of you sitting here, and well, forgive my ignorance, but I'm pretty sure Ockham's Razer says that among competing theories and all things being equal, the simplest theory is probably the correct one. I saw you had already looked at the menus and put them back down. Therefore, the simplest theory is that you are ready to order. Think of it this way...
I think
I saw you review the menus,
therefore I am
here to take your order. I mean, I know Ockham is a little before Descartes' time, but it's still a sound principle, don’t ya think?"

There's a moment of stunned silence and my eyes snap up to the waitress.  This is the most interesting thing that's happened all night...Angeline getting her spite jammed back down her throat. The rest of the table bursts out in a fit of laughter at the waitress' cheekiness and I am sure that Angeline has to be fuming.  But I don't look at her because when I look at our hash-slinging philosopher, my eyes go wide and I sharply inhale. She's stunning. No, unique. No... that's not it. Uniquely stunning...that's what she is.

She has dark blond hair that she wears up in a high ponytail. She's a natural blond. I can tell by the color of her eyebrows and I'm sure if I get her pants off, I can confirm that. The bottom four inches of her hair is dyed a pale, lavender color.  She is sporting a silver ring through her left nostril and a small silver barbell through her right eyebrow. She's not wearing any makeup but she has that sort of natural beauty that should remain completely unadorned. Flawless complexion with the sexiest smattering of light freckles across her nose. Her eyes are a gorgeous hazel color that I bet get greener when she's angry or excited.  Right now, they are swirling with mischief and she has full, pink lips that are smirking down at Angeline.

I don't know what it is about this girl, but fuck, she's hot. And clearly smart as shit.

I've never been into girls that had facial piercings or dyed hair. The type of girls my parents expect me to date wear pearls and cashmere and have a pedigree a mile long behind their names. How does mother put it? "Your father is in the public eye so we must maintain proper appearances at all times."

My eyes rake down the waitress' body and I can get away with it because she's in a staring war with Angeline right now. She's wearing a Northeastern t-shirt and really short, shorts that showcase miles of tanned leg.  She has on running shoes and sporting a little apron around her waist. Just above her right breast, which looks equally as luscious as her left, is a name tag that says, "Danny".

Miracle of all miracles, Angeline seems to have been struck dumb.  Nothing is coming out of her mouth but there are daggers flying out of her eyes.

Tucking her pencil behind her ear, Danny puts her hand on her hip. "I tell you what...when you're ready to order, how about..." she pauses to look around the table and points right at Carter, "...you...just raise your hand when you’re ready to order and I'll come back over and help ya out. Okay?"

Without waiting for a reply, she shoots Carter a wink and turns her back on us. I can't help it but I start laughing out loud and Angeline swings her eyes at me in fury.  I ignore her, still chuckling.

"Wait, Danny," I call out. She turns around and looks at me with surprise. I’m sure she didn’t think I would call her by her name. "We're ready to order.  I think you've made an excellent philosophical argument."

Sauntering back to the table, Danny holds my gaze and I can see her appraising me. I don't flinch or look away, and I'm returning her gaze with equal intensity.

She walks right up to me, close enough I can smell her...and she smells like summer rain. "So, what will you have?" 

She looks even better up close and I hope my tongue isn’t hanging out. I want to tell her I will have her, with a side of her, and for dessert...her. Instead, I order the Husky Special.

She winks at me. "Sure thing, stud."

I hear Mike snort over that but I don't care.

She goes around the table and gets everyone's order.  After her smack down of Angeline, everyone is appropriately subdued and polite.  I don't think anyone wants to go head to head with this girl. 

I watch her closely.  Even though she was basically just called an ignoramus a few minutes ago, she seems confident and self-assured. She smiles at each of us when she takes our order, even Angeline, who is noticeably acquiescent when she orders a fruit cup and a glass of ice water. I'm impressed and find myself very curious about this girl.

Why is someone so smart working in a diner?  And what possesses someone to dye their hair purple or pierce their nose?  I don't get it but I find myself wanting to know.

After Danny puts our order in, conversation resumes although we're discussing hockey now instead of philosophy.  I think we're starting to sober up.  Mike, Carter and I discuss our season opener against Boston College.  While we are talking, I watch as Danny moves around, talking to customers. She laughs a lot and has a killer smile with a dimple in each cheek. I also notice she has a killer ass but hey, I'm a guy.

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