Their Protector: An MC Outlaw Halloween Romance, page 114
She looked younger when she was asleep, less fierce. Her skin was smooth and her features delicate but dark. She was a real beauty.
I stretched myself out again and felt the sheets rub against my erection. I groaned, flashing on the night before. God, she’d been sexy as hell when she’d arrived here, drunk and ready to give me everything I wanted.
I hadn’t wanted to give in to her. For a moment, she had caught me off guard with her no-business-all-pleasure routine, but my body had gotten with the program damn fast.
Then I was just pure lust and raw animal urge, and it scared me. I didn’t want her to have so much control over me: to tell me today we can’t, tomorrow we can, and to always be left guessing. But I couldn’t help but give in to her. It had only taken me a moment to get her naked and underneath me so I could bury myself deep inside of her.
I turned toward her and trailed a finger down her bare arm.
Her eyes fluttered open, meeting mine. Her eyes were blue as the sky and just as clear.
Her eyebrows knit together in a frown.
“Oh, shit,” she said, sitting up.
The sheets fell from her body, revealing her goddess-like beauty. I stared because I’m a man and that’s what I’m wired to do. Lacey realized she was naked, as if she’d forgotten, and pulled the sheets up to cover herself again, glaring at me.
“What?” I asked her.
“I have to get out of here,” she said. “I shouldn’t even be here. God, I shouldn’t have done this.”
I watched her scramble out of bed and search for her clothes.
“Calm down,” I said. “What’s wrong?”
She shook her head. “Do you have any idea what this looks like? What I’ve done?”
I had no idea what she was talking about. She was dressed in record time. She looked around, found the bathroom, and disappeared inside for a moment. When she came out, her hair was a little wet, like she’d run wet hands through it.
“We had both better pray that no one who saw me arrive last night sees me leaving this morning.”
She turned, and I followed her to the living room before she left without saying goodbye. I stood in the living room, butt-ass naked, looking at the door where Lacey had run out.
I had to admit this was a first. I was usually the one running away the morning after. I scratched my head, unsure of how I felt about that. She wasn’t exactly expecting me to call her. I usually hoped that would be the case. But I hadn’t been the one to be left behind like this while someone else runs off in a hurry, and it felt weird.
I shook my head and walked back to the bedroom. The bed was a rumpled mess, evidence that last night had happened at all. I walked to the bathroom and got into the shower. I had to hit the gym again today.
The training facility was all the way on the other side of Miami from my place, and I didn’t feel like driving that far. Also, the Sharks had a game tonight, a game I wouldn’t be a part of, and no one was going to be in the gym training with me.
Brian would be out on the field, running plays with the rest of the team. I didn’t want to see them doing what I wasn’t allowed to do for at least one more game.
So, instead of driving to the training facility, I drove to Anatomy 1220 where I had a fitness membership. It was only a couple of blocks away from my place, situated on the north side of South Beach.
The training facility was never very busy, but the upside of Anatomy 1220 was that anyone could go there. It meant that I had a lot of female ass to stare at when I was on the treadmill. It was worth the extra cash that I paid for a membership, even though I didn’t always get the time to use it.
And today I didn’t even feel like checking out other females. My head was already full of thoughts of Lacey.
Chapter 23 – Hanson
The gym wasn’t particularly full, but a quick scope around told me there was enough eye candy to keep me entertained. The treadmills were usually filled with women. Men congregated in the gorilla pit, where the free weights were. I was in good company when I hopped onto one of the treadmills and switched it on.
I plugged earphones into my head and switched on music loud enough to drown out everything else. My feet beat out a rhythm on the moving surface, and my body fell into the motion that being fit provided.
I loved running. I could forget about everything and get lost in my thoughts. My body did what it had to, and for just under an hour, nothing else mattered than what my body was doing and where my mind took me.
I had Lacey on my mind hard today. I wasn’t sure why. I didn’t usually think about the women I slept with after we did the dirty deed. I didn’t think about them ever again, most of the time. Not unless I was discussing the details of my night with Brian. With Lacey, it was different.
Her image flashed in front of me. I saw those mesmerizing eyes and her body that I’d had twice already, and still wanted more of.
Maybe it was because she was my PR Manager that she kept popping into my head. It wasn’t like she was gone and out of my life. I had to see her again for business.
She was someone I had to consider, and she was helping me get my career back on track. Which, so far, seemed to be going well. It would only take a short while longer before I was back where I needed to be, a worthy team member with a career and an image I could be proud of.
She knew what she was doing. The donation, for instance, had worked amazingly, even though I’d thought giving away that much money would be a complete waste. I hadn’t thought that buying forgiveness based on my fame would do anything, but apparently, giving was better than taking.
Go figure .
When I was done with my work out I switched off the treadmill and pulled my earphones out of my ears.
“Well, if it isn’t Hanson Bell,” someone on the treadmill next to me said, distracting me from my thought process. “Just in his own little world, ignoring everyone, even me.”
I didn’t know her. But it wasn’t rare for people I didn’t know to know me. My face was all over the news and the sports channels all the time— and in trashy magazines at the grocery stores, too.
I was more surprised that I hadn’t noticed she had been beside me this whole time. The old Hanson would have thought she was a Tahitian goddess. But the new and apparently improved Hanson hadn’t even noticed her presence because he was so caught up thinking about his PR manager.
This girl had skin the color of caramel, hair the color of coffee, and the old Hanson would have thought she had an ass that would make a man sit up and beg. I would have been busy watching as she ran through her routine, her ass bouncing up and down beside me, her long ponytail grazing her hips, thinking about how I would tap that so hard.
But I hadn’t even seen her then. And now that I do, even though she’s clearly a very attractive girl, suddenly I had no interest.
Damn that Lacey. How could her voodoo magic get up in my head all the time?
She was looking right at me with dark, liquid eyes. I grinned at her, as if to say, “can I help you?” and she flashed me a brilliant smile.
I was breathing hard. I put my hands on my hips and nodded.
“It’s me indeed,” I confirmed, after not knowing what else to say, and feeling rather dumb.
“What is a god like you doing here among us commoners?” she asked.
She flipped the hair on her shoulder back. Her hair was still perfect, like she hadn’t been working out at all. In fact, I began to think that maybe she hadn’t been. I think I would have noticed someone running alongside me on the treadmill next to mine. But maybe not, since I had been caught up in my own little world and since Lacey kept fucking with me head.
“Ha,” I answered, not really knowing what else to say.
I was used to strangers striking up conversations and girls hitting on me. But this encounter was getting rather weird, since I hadn’t said anything to encourage her to continue talking to me.
She smiled and looked to the side. She shuffled her weight f
“How about we go out for a drink?” she suggested. “We can talk about everything we have in common. I’m sure we can find a few more things we’re good at, other than fitness.”
Wow. She was asking for it. Practically begging me for it right here and now, but I didn’t feel like doing it. And I wasn’t even tied down.
“That’s okay,” I told her. “I’m busy.”
What a lame— and untrue— excuse. But I just couldn’t bring myself to go get a drink with her. I thought about Lacey getting a drink with some stranger who hit on her at the gym, and my stomach turned.
The stranger shrugged in a way that suggested she didn’t care whether I was interested in not. She was going to keep trying.
“How about you come to my place, and we forget everything we have in common, and do what our bodies were made to do?” she asked me.
My mouth dropped open and then quickly closed because I didn’t want her to think it was from a good kind of shock. I was just flabbergasted that she would suggest this after I had already said no to a drink.
“I said no thank you ,” I told her, picking up my towel and water bottle and getting ready to leave.
This girl was getting annoying now— not being able to take no for an answer. I’m sure someone would like to get a drink with her, but not me. I had no idea why she was so fixated on me.
She switched gears on me the moment I said it. Her face fell, and a frown knitted her perfectly sculpted brows.
“Excuse me?” she said loudly. “Do I look like a piece of ass to you?”
I didn’t know what to say. Hadn’t she just initiated everything? And I had turned her down? What the hell was she even talking about?
“You’re all the same, you know that?” she said.
She was talking loudly enough for everyone around us to hear her. I wanted to get away from her. She was drama on wheels. But I couldn’t just turn around and walk away.
“You walk in here, wearing your fame like a crown, and you think you can just get with any girl you feel like? Well, I’m not that kind of woman. I have respect for myself, and I would never let a pig like you put his hands on me.”
She turned around and stormed away, leaving me to wonder what the hell had just happened. I glanced to the side to see who had been watching. Faces were turned toward me from all around. One or two phones were lifted in my direction, too.
Dammit! Wasn’t this just fucking perfect?
I left the gym. I couldn’t spend more time there after they had recorded me looking like I had been harassing a woman. Which made no sense because in all my life, I’d never had to resort to such tactics.
I could have any woman I wanted with the snap of a finger. Yet there was one who for some reason freaked out on me for not wanting her and tried to make it look like I had. She must have been fucking crazy.
When I arrived home, I got into the shower again. I stood under the hot spray until the water ran cold. Was I going to have to deal with this for the rest of my life? Was I going to be portrayed as the asshole every time I spoke to someone?
Of course, most of the time, I was an asshole. But what if there were times I was nice? Didn’t that count for something?
My phone rang when I got out of the shower. I tied a towel around my hips and walked to the bedroom where I’d put the phone on the bed. Lacey’s name flashed on the screen, and I smiled.
“Hello, Beautiful,” I said.
“Don’t you dare,” she said, her voice cold. “You idiot.”
“What?” I asked.
“Did you think that it wouldn’t hit the internet the moment you left that gym? You’re all over Instagram, YouTube, Twitter, you name it. What do you think you’re doing?”
Blood drained from my face, and I sat down on the bed.
“Look, Lacey, I can explain.”
“Save it, Bell,” she sneered. Usually I thought it was cute when she called me by my surname by right now I was not amused. “I’m not even going to go into what it means to me personally. We’ll focus on the professional ramifications of this. Just your reputation alone isn’t going to hold up if you go on like this. You don’t seem to care that you’ll lose it all. Everyone else around you is scrambling, trying to fix the shit you get yourself into, and all you seem to do is repeat the same stupid mistakes.”
“It’s not what happened,” I said. “Was the whole thing even caught on tape? Did you see all of it?”
“No one is going to care what your version of events is, Hanson.” At least it wasn’t Bell anymore. “I told you— people only see what they want to see. They’re only going to care about how it looked. Which is horrible. It’s all over the internet, how much of a womanizer you are. Is this really the image you’re trying to maintain? Are you set on doing this? Should I just give up?”
“Don’t,” she said, not letting me speak. “I’m going to have a hell of a time trying to sort this out with your coach. Thanks to you, I have more than enough damage control to last me the rest of this week.”
She hung up the phone before I got to say anything else. I stared at the phone. A part of me wanted to throw it against the wall.
I didn’t even get to explain myself. But it was clear she didn’t want to give me the chance.
Chapter 24 – Lacey
“This isn’t something we can’t handle,” I said to Thompson. “It’s not nearly as serious as the DUI, for instance.”
I sat in the Shark’s Coach’s office at the training facility at Nova Southeastern University, trying to do damage control after Hanson had decided not to train at the facility but in a standard gym. It was like he was looking for trouble.
Coach Rudi Thompson rolled his eyes. He wasn’t in the mood to listen to me, and I didn’t blame him. I wasn’t exactly in the mood to stick up for Hanson, either, but it was my job.
After all the publicity Hanson had been getting, and none of the good kind, Coach Thompson was considering kicking him off the team for good. Seeing as how he’d already been suspended for six games, that wouldn’t look very good for Hanson. It could potentially ruin his career.
“What am I supposed to do with him, then?” Thompson asked. “You can’t tell me you don’t know what he’s like. What’s stopping him from doing it again?”
I nodded. “I hear what you’re saying. And I can’t tell what the future holds for him. But he’s been trying to change his image. The donation was a big one, and he’s helping with the city’s homeless committee after he visits the hospital. Those all count.”
“Not for much, if videos like these keep getting released,” the coach said. “Have you seen how many views he’s gotten? You would swear football has become a new reality show.”
Coach Thompson leaned forward, and his windbreaker rustled. He was dressed in what I saw as standard coaching attire, sweats and a windbreaker, with a cap that was pulled low over his eyes when he was outside.
“For what it’s worth, he says he didn’t do it,” I told him. “I know…”
“…he said that the last time,” we said in unison.
Coach rolled his eyes, and I didn’t blame him. It was taking all the willpower I had not to roll mine too.
“But I just wanted to give his side of the story, since he’s my client and all,” I told Coach, clearing my throat at the “client” part. “He says the girl started everything, and then got mad at him, which doesn’t make a lot of sense, I know. But it’s his story.”
I had been able to talk to Hanson a bit more about the incident. I wanted his story to be true, but I was no fool. I wouldn’t let myself be hoodwinked by a player like Hanson Bell. I had stupidly thought that maybe we had something important going on, but clearly I was just a piece of meat, which was fine with me.
My phone r
“Let me take this,” I said. “Excuse me.”
I stepped out of the office and answered. “Tell me you have good news, Conrad.”
“I do,” he said over the phone. “I did some digging. The girl is a model. She’s on all the major runways.”
“So, this can be a publicity thing?” I asked. “She kicked up a fuss on purpose, to get her name in the spotlight?”
“I wouldn’t go around telling everyone that without a statement from her of some kind, but yes.”
“I don’t need more than speculation to make this go away for now. I’m not going public with it.”
“Great,” Conrad said.
“You’re a lifesaver,” I said.
“Remember that when you’re out with the rich and famous, doing rich and famous things,” Conrad said, and I could hear the smile in his voice.
He loved that I’d needed to turn to him for help on this. I hung up. I would deal with my own damage control later. It would be a lot easier than what Hanson was throwing at me.
I couldn’t help but admit, though, how glad I was that Conrad said the evidence could match Hanson’s story. I was probably a fool not to give up hope, but at least there was some support to back up my foolishness.
I opened the door to the office and stepped back inside.
“My sources just confirmed it,” I said. “The woman, Kelsey Dean, is a model. She’s been hitting it big on the runway, and she’s been seen around town with other athletes. Chances are, it was just a publicity stunt.”
Coach Thompson regarded me for a moment. “You think so?”
I had him. He was considering it, and that was all I needed.
I nodded. “What better way to get into the limelight than by being scorned by Hanson Bell? He already has a record. You, of all people, know how tough the guys can have it in this world.”
Thompson nodded. He was close enough to the players to get a taste of the spotlight without really being in it himself.
“I’m not sure if Hanson did anything to cause her to go off,” I admitted to him. “I’ve watched several different videos and they all started filming after the girl flew off the handle. So, it could be that he is completely innocent, or it could be that he was giving her a hard time about something, but in any event, there isn’t enough evidence to condemn him. And she definitely seemed to be quite loony tunes in that video. I’m not sure it’s enough to make people believe her over him.”