Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 78
“You sure you can handle the pressure?” asks a calm, quiet voice to my left.
I look over to see someone taking off his helmet while sandy brown hair spills out of it. He’s almost as tall as I am, and in pretty good shape. My competition in the looks department, if not the athletic department.
“Christian Lewis,” says the guy under all the hair, extending his hand for me to shake. “First string running back.”
“Wesley Reynolds,” I tell him. “Newbie intruder.”
“And apparently, second string quarterback,” Christian says, his tone sounding light and refreshing compared to the gruff grumbles of my other new teammates. “That’s impressive.”
“Thanks.” I shrug.
“Just between you and me—” he lowers his voice. “Our first string quarterback isn’t very good. I think Coach has been looking to replace him, and you’re probably just the guy to fill the slot.”
I nod, even though I already knew as much. Calton hasn’t been known as a good football team in years, and none of its players stand out as being particularly talented. That’s the whole reason I’m even allowed to be here.
But I let Christian continue without interrupting.
“He just has to make it look kosher, you know? Can’t up and put in a brand new player right off the bat. He expects you to prove yourself, and for there to be no doubt that you’re the best player for the position.”
“I see,” I tell him, torn between thanking him for sharing the intel I already knew, and wondering why he’s so eager to help me out.
I say nothing. I could use a friend, and I shouldn’t assume that everyone has bad motives.
I know I’ll be moved up to first string and that I can help pull this team up from the gutter. But I have no intention of over sharing information with this teammate I just met, even though he’s clearly trying to be friendly for some reason.
“I’ll see everyone tomorrow for practice,” Coach Thompson says, dismissing us. “Thanks to those of you who have come to try out. I’ll get you my decisions shortly.”
“Nice, you’re the only one of the candidates who got an automatic yes,” Christian says. “Impressive.”
“My coach back at home was really demanding,” I tell him, as a way to deflect my embarrassment.
Even though I’ve been told I always come off as confident— cocky, even— I can’t take compliments well.
“If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t be nearly as…”
“Good,” Christian finishes my sentence for me, nodding as if it’s a given. “That’s great about your old coach. You know, I’ve heard about you.”
I wonder whether what he heard about me was good or bad. I assume it was bad, under the circumstances and just because it was about me . I’m not about to ask him, though.
“Sure, when they said you were transferring here and would be trying out, I knew you’d get the position. You’re all the rage at Huningdale. And you’re from Piedmont, right? Not too far away.”
“Just about an hour,” I nod, ashamed to be returning so close to the home I couldn’t wait to get away from, but not wanting to show it.
Christian might assume I couldn’t hack it in a bigger city, but my problem was that I was doing a little too well. I was a little too popular for my own good.
“Yeah I thought so,” Christian continues. “I’m from here in Calton. Since our high schools played each other sometimes, I knew you were a beast on the field.”
“Oh yeah. Of course,” I say, trying to act as if I’d also heard of him or remember playing against him in high school, even though neither of those are true.
“I don’t know if you remember the homecoming game where afterwards I congratulated you on your winning pass?” he asks.
I squint at him, not knowing what to say.
I finally decide on, “Uh oh. Kind of.”
He smiles, seeming content that I at least semi-remember it, even though I don’t.
“I heard you went on to do great things for Huningdale,” he continues. “And I heard you pull major tail, too.”
I shrug, not wanting to confirm or deny. There’s no doubt I’m known as a bit of a player. At my old school, it was a good thing; chicks lined up to get with me. I had a little fan club wherever I went.
But now, I worry that it’ll be an additional reason for all the other guys on my new team to hate me.
“I guess you could say that. You a sophomore?” I ask him, to change the subject.
I want the spotlight off of me in this conversation. I hate not knowing where one is going.
“Yep. Engineer major. I’m heading to a Biology 201 seminar next.”
“No way. Me too,” I tell him.
“Shouldn’t you be headed to the athletic trainer’s office?” he asks, eyeing my leg.
“Nah,” I say, beginning to walk in the direction of class while hoping I’m not slightly limping. “I’ll go later.”
“Tough guy, huh?” he asks.
I just nod, letting him think what he wants. The truth of the matter is that I can’t afford to miss any classes. I have to keep my grades up as well as keeping my ass out of trouble.
“I have a pretty hardcore math and science curriculum this semester,” Christian says, continuing the light banter as we begin to walk off the field together.
But I’m not listening. Because we’re passing her . The head cheerleader, with the blonde hair and all those fucking curves.
“Holy shit,” I say, out loud this time.
Christian looks in the same direction, and sees what— who — has caught my eye.
“No way, Wesley,” he says, laughing.
I’m still staring at her. Can’t take my eyes off of her. And this time I’m sure she returns my glance, before bouncing over to another one of the girls on the team.
“I know you probably think you can have any girl you want, and I’m sure that’s usually true. But not her ,” he says. “Not Chelsea. She’s off limits.”
“There’s no such thing.”
I shrug. His warning sounds pretty serious, but I’m thinking this Chelsea chick is probably the leader of the College Virgins until Marriage Club or something. I’ve known chicks like that before. They like to wear cheerleading uniforms and tease and flirt, but not actually give it up.
At least not until they meet me.
She’ll just be one more challenge, like all the rest.
Until I pop her cherry and leave her begging for more.
“That’s Chelsea Thompson ,” Christian says, and my ears perk up at the sound of the coach’s last name.
I get it now.
The coach has a daughter? And it’s her ?
“He doesn’t look old enough to have a daughter in college,” is all I say.
“Yeah, well he does. And I know she’s hot stuff, but getting with her would be completely out of bounds. Coach has made it abundantly clear. You’ll never last long if you so much as touch her. Or even look at her too long.”
I think back to the glare that Coach shot me as I was completing the drills. Now I know it’s because he noticed I was looking at his daughter.
Good thing he can’t read minds. Because then he would have known all the dirty things I want to do with his off limits daughter and he never would have let me on the team.
“What a fucking bad hand fate has dealt me,” I mumble.
“Tell me about it,” Christian answers. “You and me, and every other guy on the team. All we can do is look at the forbidden fruit, and never have any of it. Some of us have tried, deciding to take the risk, but she never gives it up. She’s a Daddy’s girl through and through. It’s so cruel.”
But I stare at her one more time, knowing that I’ll do more than look, no matter what kind of warnings I get from Christian or anyone else, and no matter how good and chaste Chelsea’s been before she met me.
They always change
As the players clear off the field, Chelsea leads her flock of cheerleaders on, and begins directing a cheer. I want a big taste of that juicy forbidden fruit, and I know nothing’s going to hold me back.
I’m Wesley Reynolds, star quarterback. I may have been knocked a bit off my game but I’m staging my comeback. And when I want something, I fucking take it.
Chapter 3 – Chelsea
Trying to get and keep the attention of a large group of women is often an impossible task. This season, the throng of current and aspiring cheerleaders seems even more unruly than usual.
“Ladies, ladies,” I call out, but everyone keeps talking to each other, over my voice.
I break out the bullhorn and try again.
Everyone quiets down, finally, and focuses their attention on me.
“As soon as the players are off the field, I’d like all current cheerleaders to take your positions, and show the candidates how it’s done. Auditions will be held tomorrow, so there isn’t a lot of time to learn the routine.”
There are murmurs and whispers, as the newbies complain about having such little time to learn something so new and difficult. Yada, yada, yada.
I’m used to such complaints, but this process has proven the best at weeding people out, because every year there are a few talented girls who quickly rise to the top and join our team, while the rest of them are sent home crying.
I have a reputation for being a bit of a hard ass. But someone’s got to do it. And I didn’t become head cheerleader by being a doormat.
Some might assume that I got here by being the football coach’s daughter, which isn’t true, and which is all the more reason I’ve had to work my ass off to prove myself. Ever since my mom died, cheerleading has become my life: something to immerse myself in, to distract me from my thoughts of how much I miss her.
Sure, it’s not a cure-all, but it’s better than lying in bed feeling depressed. I’ve built up this team and trained them to become not only conference champions but state champions too. And this year I’ve got my eye on nationals.
I begin walking onto the field, leading the flock of veteran cheerleaders who are ready to show off for the anxious newbies. And no one is pretending we don’t want to get a look at the football players who are wrapping up their walk on tryouts.
Most of them are familiar faces and we’re happy to see some of them more than others. But there are also always a few promising, fresh-faced and handsome wannabe football players to gawk at.
One of them is still straggling off the field, talking to Christian Lewis. I can’t help but stop dead in my tracks to stare at him. He’s broad shouldered and tall, and his abs are so chiseled that I can make them out from under his uniform.
He’s carrying his helmet and his dark brown hair is hanging in his eyes just a little bit. His hair is even longer and fuller than Christian’s, which is saying something. And from underneath all that hair, the new player is staring back at me.
I hear my name being called, and snap my head to the left, where my best friend and co-captain Taylor Hudson is glaring at me.
“Snap out of it. Back to planet earth. They’re waiting…”
She gestures with a quick head movement to the team, ready for me to start the routine.
“I couldn’t help it,” I whisper to Taylor.
As my BFF, she’s the only person on the team to whom I’d admit such a weakness.
“He’s so fucking hot.”
She looks at the new guy.
“He’s fine all right,” she shrugs. “But what’s the difference? He’s just one more football player your dad will forbid you to date, and scare away if he tries.”
“Maybe he won’t make the team,” I say hopefully. “Then I won’t have to be teased all season long by what I can never have.”
“Don’t hold your breath,” she replies. “I know you still don’t know or care a lick about football, but I watched him during the scrimmage and he’s probably better than most of the seniors on the team.”
Just my luck.
But I’m determined not to let my dad ruin this for me. I sneak a quick glance back in the new guy’s direction, and I’m pleased to see that I’ve had an effect on him. It’s clear that he can’t stop looking at me, either.
“Ready? Let’s go!” I command, forcing myself to join reality again, and the team kicks off our routine.
One, two, three, one, two, three… I count in my head like a newbie myself, afraid to mess up the steps. Even though I know this routine so well, I’m not used to performing in front of a handsome, mysterious stranger.
I make it all the way through the routine without screwing anything up too badly. But then I just kind of stand around, dumbfounded, as the new player and Christian walk in my general direction.
It looks like he might actually come over and talk to me, which is exactly what I was hoping for. But it appears that I’m suddenly unable to do anything but freeze.
Taylor elbows me and then speaks into the bullhorn on my behalf.
“I hope you were paying attention, ladies,” she says, to the scared looking girls huddled in front of us. “Because that’s the routine you’re expected to have mastered by tomorrow, if you want to have any chance of making the team.”
“Thanks,” I whisper to her, grateful that she stepped in to say something since my vocal chords don’t seem to work.
Taylor has helped me lead the squad, and even though I do most of the choreography and training, she always steps in to help out with anything I need. Just like she does with everything else in my life.
“Get your head out of La-La Land,” she snaps at me. “Tryouts for this year’s team are a lot more important than some guy you’re not going to be able to be with anyway.”
I must really be spacing out, if Taylor is this mad at me.
And I know she’s right. This isn’t even like me. I didn’t get to where I am by being obsessed with boys. Instead, I’m usually focused and determined on the task at hand.
But right now I can’t help but continue to stare at those abs and those eyes on that new guy. I hope he’s really going to approach me, even with my dad so close.
At the last minute, though, Christian says something to him and they make a beeline for the science building, and I realize he’s not coming over to talk to me after all. Maybe it was all just wishful thinking.
But then he turns around and looks at me one more time, before sauntering off into the sunset with Christian.
I wonder what Christian said to him. He’d hit on me last year kind of relentlessly. I kept using the excuse that my dad doesn’t let me date football players, and, as often happens, I was glad to have an alibi. Because really he just isn’t my type.
He finally got the hint and he’s cordial enough to me now. But maybe he told the new guy I’m stuck up or something. I get that reaction sometimes from guys I’m not interested in.
I pout about the fact that the new guy didn’t come talk to me, but I know that Taylor’s right. Or at least, she would be, except that this time I’m determined to have things turn out differently.
Because that new football player is one of the hottest guys I’ve ever seen and I’m not about to let my father ruin things for me.
Chapter 4 – Chelsea
After practice, Taylor and I each head off to our different classes. She’s a literature major whereas I’m more of a science nerd. After class we meet up to go to lunch together as we almost always do.
“My Greek myths class was so boring,” she says, untying her ponytail holder and letting her thick, brown hair flow loose. “And I’m starving.”
“Me too,” I agree. “But first I have to stop by my dad’s office.”
“Why?” Taylor groans, scrunching up her nose.
She and my dad get along well enough, but she knows that he a
“Because I know he’s there strategizing for the next game,” I tell her, feeling sorry for my dad for having a losing team when he always works so hard to make them better.
Calton isn’t a strong division school for football so it just doesn’t attract the good players. It’s not his fault, but he takes it personally.
“And I have to ask him about the party.”
“Oh yeah,” Taylor says. “But can’t you do that later, maybe? Like, at home?”
I just roll my eyes and keep walking towards my dad’s office. I know he likes Taylor and thinks she’s a good influence on me. So I want her there with me.
It’s ironic, because she didn’t grow up with such a strict father like him— in fact, her dad left when she was young, leaving her mother to raise her. Her mom was busy working to provide for Taylor and her siblings as a single parent, so she wasn’t around to be as over-protective as my dad was. I have a brother, but it’s different with daughters.
As a result, Taylor is much more experienced with guys and with life in general than I am, but my dad still thinks I’m the bad one and she’s the good one. It works for me in times such as these, though, so I just go with it.
When we arrive at my dad’s office, I put on my best “Daddy, please” face before asking him my pressing question.
“Hi girls,” he says, looking up from a playbook.
Then, he looks at the clock with a worried face. “Don’t you have class?”
“No, Dad,” I tell him reassuringly. “That was last semester. We have lunch first now.”
His face relaxes, which makes me hopeful. I blurt out my question, before I get too afraid to ask him.
“Dad, Taylor and I would like to know if we can use the lake house for a little congratulatory party for the squad, after our competition next weekend.”
“A party?” he asks, and I can tell he’s about to say no right away.