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Fraternize (Players Game #1)
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Emerson just made her dream come true as a professional cheerleader for her favorite pro football team. But even though the plus-size athlete is breaking down boundaries, she still has to contend with the massive rulebook. Carbs? Nope. Chocolate? Definitely not. Still, Emerson loves her curves, and she’ll rock the hell out of this job even if it kills her. Except for one mandate that is easier read than done…
No fraternizing with the players.
Problem one is Miller Quinton: Emerson’s first love, first sex, and the guy who still ignites her daydreams and R-rated fantasies. Thrown back together, Miller and Emerson feel the undeniable pull of passion again, even if the conflict that tore them apart seems insurmountable. Then there’s way-too-sexy Grant Sanchez. He has a serious reputation with the ladies, and when it comes to winning someone he wants, he doesn’t let anyone stand in his way.
Now Emerson is breaking every rule in the manual. But what she doesn’t know is that she’s part of a wicked little game—one that could steal both her dream and her heart.
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Bellevue High School—2007
The Big Game
“Emerson!” Miller slammed his hands against the locker room door at least ten times before he stopped and then started again; this time it sounded like he was using his cleats. “I know you’re in there!”
“Emerson!” Miller yelled again. “I will break down this door!”
“Just go away!”
“You’re a pain in my ass!”
“Well, you have a nice ass,” he said, humor lacing his tone.
“You’re smiling, aren’t you?” he said in a silky voice.
I snorted and tried to wipe the hot tears from my cheeks.
“Don’t fight it. You love me.”
“I hate you.” I was full-on grinning as I stood and shuffled over to unlock the door.
Miller shoved it open.
“You should be warming up with the team,” I whispered. “Whatever will our school do without its hero?”
“You tell me. You’re the one who’s hiding out in the locker room because you let some skinny bitch get to you.”
I sighed. “Maybe next time I’ll give her a cookie.”
As he towered over me, he held his helmet in one hand and placed his other against the doorframe. I’d been bigger than most girls my whole life. Miller was the only person capable of making me feel small. He reached out a massive hand and gripped my chin. “You’d be grumpy too if you referred to bread as Satan.”
I forced a watery smile. “You’re right. Sorry.”
He dropped his hand. “Em . . .”
“Uh-oh, what’s that look?” I teased, already feeling slightly better. How could I not when it was Miller Quinton?
The hottest thing to hit Bellevue High since . . . well, ever. With mocha-colored skin and clear blue eyes, he was almost impossible to not stare at without feeling uncomfortable. His Ethiopian mom was drop-dead gorgeous; mix that in with the Spanish heritage from his dad’s side and you got model-good looks, giant muscles, and a killer smile that had the power to make even my crappy night look completely blissful.
“I’m your best friend, right?” He stepped closer, reaching for my hand before grasping it and pressing an open kiss to my palm. His lips were warm, his smile gentle.
“Why do I feel like you’re about to give me the sex talk right now?”
“You loved that sex talk we had last year. I rocked your world with those pictures.” He winked and I felt my cheeks get all hot and splotchy. “But seriously, Em. Have you ever thought that maybe you’re perfect just the way you are?”
Air whooshed out of my lungs as tears threatened again. My uniform felt tight and itchy, and the really sick part was that Larissa, my nemesis, was right. Between last year and this year, my boobs had grown, and I’d turned into this curvy woman I didn’t recognize. One who would never fit into a size six, or eight, or even a ten.
“Yes, Miller.” I forced a smile.
“I’m only friends with the cool kids, right? No losers on this roster.” God, he was such an arrogant ass. “Which also means . . .” He grabbed me by the shoulders and turned me toward the field. “I can’t win this game unless you cheer really loud for me, boo.”
I groaned out loud. “Never say that again. Ever.”
“Boo.” He burst out laughing. “I think I just lost a brain cell.”
“Not to mention all of my respect.”
“Well, we had a good run.” He gripped my hand in his as we walked back to where the game was about to start. “Cheer loud, cheer girl.”
“Don’t rip anyone’s head off, ya dumb football player.” I hugged him tight.
He jerked his head toward Coen. “Except his, right? Because I’ve been itching to rip his head off since day one.”
I followed the direction of his gaze while Coen threw a long pass across the field. “He’s your quarterback.”
Miller clenched his jaw and pointed at the field with his helmet. “After this season’s over, I’m kicking that punk’s ass.”
“And ruin your chances of going to college because his dad sues you for touching his precious?”
Miller made a face. “What do you see in him anyway?”
“Biceps. Nice mouth. Killer body—”
“Horrible personality . . . cheating tendencies?” Miller finished. “When are you going to finally admit you have feelings for me and throw caution to the wind, hmm?” His dimpled cheeks broke out into a huge smile as he tapped his face with one of his gloved fingers. “Alright, give me some. Platonic. Strictly for good luck.”
I tugged his head down, ready to brush a kiss across his cheek, before he turned his mouth and crushed his lips against mine.
I sucked in a breath.
Breathing him in.
He broke off the kiss and shrugged. “Whoops.” He winked over my head at what I was sure was my furious boyfriend.
“He hates it when you do that.” I slapped a hand across Miller’s chest.
“Perks of being your best friend. That mouth.” He turned and started running away, while yelling back at me. “It’s always been mine. I’m just waiting for you to leave the dark side.”