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Down by Contact (The Barons #2)
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Two rival football players begin a game with higher stakes than the Super Bowl in this steamy romance from the author of Illegal Contact.
Simeon Boudreaux, the New York Barons’ golden-armed quarterback, is blessed with irresistible New Orleans charm and a face to melt your mama’s heart. He’s universally adored by fans and the media. Coming out as gay in solidarity with his teammate hasn’t harmed his reputation in the least—except for some social media taunting from rival linebacker Adrián Bravo.
Though they were once teammates, Adrián views Simeon as a traitor and the number-one name on the New Jersey Predators’ shit list. When animosity between the two NFL players reaches a boiling point on the field, culminating in a dirty fist fight, they’re both benched for six games and sentenced to joint community service teaching sullen, Brooklyn teens how to play ball.
At first, they can barely stand to be in the same room, but running the camp forces them to shape up. With no choice but to work together, Simeon realizes Adrián is more than his alpha-jerk persona, and Adrián begins to question why he’s always had such strong feelings for the gorgeous QB…
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On the television screen, a Fox News reporter chased after Adrián Bravo—the star linebacker of the New Jersey Predators—as he strutted out of his team’s training facility. He always walked with a strut, like he knew he was hot shit, and that was only one of the reasons I couldn’t stand him.
“Bravo, what do you think about your upcoming preseason game being against the Barons?”
Adrián came to an abrupt stop and wheeled around to face the reporter. He looked huge from the perspective of the cameraperson, and at six-four and two hundred and thirty pounds, he was. The camera had to pan up over the reporter’s head to get Adrián in the shot just in time for the world to see his twinkling brown eyes and cocky smirk.
“I think it’s gonna be a pretty sweet game.”
My eyes narrowed. He couldn’t be referring to . . .
The reporter took the bait so fast he’d have fell his ass off the side of the pier and into the river if he’d been fishing. “How do you think the recent controversy surrounding Brawley’s and Boudreaux’s sexualities will affect their performance?”
Adrián arched an eyebrow. “It won’t, unless Boudreaux thinks I won’t blitz his ass all over the field just because he’s out and proud. Balling is balling, man. But I’m pretty sure they’re both real on board with that.”
The reporter fell silent just long enough for Adrián to throw up the deuces, stare directly into the camera with his bright white smile, wink, and stroll away. With his book bag hanging off one shoulder and his sweatpants hanging off his ass, he was ridiculously fuckable. Too bad he was also over-the-top hateable.
“We need to fuck him up next week, Marcus,” I growled.
Marcus Hendricks, sitting on the carpet, looked up from his close examination of a jewelry catalog. He’d been scanning it all day without speaking, unless he was asking my opinion on a bracelet or a pair of earrings for his girl.
“Who? What are you talking about?”
I leapt off the couch and stabbed the remote control at the television. “Did you not just see that?”
“You know I don’t watch football coverage, Simeon. Especially on some bullshit Fox News. What were you thinking?”
The man had a point. Fox News was everything that was wrong with America, balled up in a single network that managed to be offensive as fuck when they weren’t being ignorant as fuck. And I ranted about this on the regular, but part of me liked to check it out from time to time. See how they were showing their asses this time. And they’d shown their entire asses, crack and all, ever since me and Gavin had flown the queer banner at the end of last season.
“I’ll rewind it for you.”
Marcus waved his hands at me. “No. I don’t want to see whatever you saw.”
“Yeah, you fucking do. Watch this shit. Just watch.”
I rewound the segment while shaking my head and muttering. Marcus sighed and shoved the catalog aside. I hadn’t even known Tiffany & Co. had a damn catalog. Whenever I thought of catalogs I pictured Fingerhut or whatever other mail-order stores my best friend’s mom used to scan when we were kids.
“Look,” I said, stalking over to the television until I was side by side with it. “Adrián’s sorry-ass talking mess.”
Marcus frowned at the screen for a long moment, watched the segment, and then shrugged. “He’s just being his usual dickheaded self. You name-drop him just as much as he name-drops you, so I dunno why you’re being all extra—”
“My dude. He made two gay jokes!”
“What? No, he didn’t.”
“Marcus! The game is gonna be pretty sweet? Me and Gavin know all about balling?”
Awareness dawned on Marcus’s face like the sunrise. “Ohhh. Oh shit. Man, what an asshole. And he did it so subtly you can’t really prove he did it.”
“See!” I paced the room, anger building the more I thought about it. “Fuck, man, how is that okay? Why does he get away with that shit even after all the goddamn sensitivity training the League has had us do in the past few years? I know they just did it to cover their own asses, but you’d think they would at least step up and make their players pretend to give a damn.”
“You need to relax, babe. That shit was live. No one has had time to respond.”
He was right. I knew he was right. But that didn’t stop me from pacing the room and working myself up into such a rage that I felt the urge to have a Brawley-esque meltdown. Usually I was one of the most easygoing guys in our crew. The one who let conflict roll off my back like water off a duck, and who tried to mediate problems within our own team. I was the one the media loved and the fans adored . . . even after I’d come out.