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Tanner stares at me with wide eyes. “Shit. Does he know?”

“Well, he did get it kind of wrong,” I say, smugly.

I’m not sure I care much longer if they know. But I’m not the only one in this. So it’s best to have a plan. “Let’s join them for a while, then how about I pull off one of my spectacular yawns first and then you can follow me back to the room a little later?”

“You’re on, Remington.”

Remington, Remy, Luke. Whatever he calls me, I want to hear it.

Tonight, I’ll tell him I don’t want him to go to his brother’s wedding with that other guy. Since he’d better take me.




I’ve done my time. I’ve hung for an hour and a half in the hot tub. Played some drinking games. Killed it in a couple rounds of musical suit swap in the steamy water while rocking it to Lettuce Pray’s new album.

I didn’t lose my bathing suit, thank you very much. But I’m pretty sure I’m still wearing Nate’s suit, and he’s a bigger dude than I am. These trunks are a little loose around my waist.

But c’est la vie. Party rules are party rules.

It’s two-thirty in the morning, and I’m ready to jet. The guys are debating whether football is better than baseball though, so I have no choice but to represent. “Football is better because of this,” I declare, ready to mic drop this convo. “We play in any weather. Nuff said.”

I reach for my beer, knock the rest back, then climb out of the hot tub still in Nate’s suit. “I’m off to bed,” I say on a big yawn.

“Gimme my suit,” Nate calls out.

“Enjoy mine,” I say, then flip them all the bird, grab a towel, and head inside the inn.

I’m buzzed, so when I see Maddox heading down the hall toward the hot tub, I can’t help myself. “Best agent in the universe,” I call out, but my suit inches a little lower.

Oops. I tug it up, holding the waistband as Maddox gives me a professional smile, eyes up, and says, “I try.”

“And you exceed. But now, you’ve got to stop keeping secrets from me.” With my free hand, I wag a stern finger his way. “Tell me how the meeting went with the GM. I know you’ve been holding back.”

“Luke. It’s late.”

“Then just tell me the good news,” I say, since everything is going my way. I just know it. I’m going to get a contract renewal, I’m going to find the guts to ask Tanner if I can take him to the wedding, and then…dessert time! I’m going to get my ass eaten real good.

“Why don’t we talk after this weekend?” Maddox’s expression is purely professional, like he’s looking out for me.

Which means it’s the face of an agent who has to give his client bad news.

Suddenly, I’m stone-cold sober. My limbs weigh ten tons. “The GM’s not giving me an early renewal,” I say, and it hurts to speak past the stone in my throat.

Maddox sighs. “I’m going to keep trying. They just want to see how your season starts.”

I stumble then grab the wall behind me to hold on to something. I feel like I can’t breathe. Or stand straight. Everything I want is just out of reach.

Hours ago, the world and all its oysters seemed possible—football and romance for the first time in my life.

I’d believed it could happen to me.

But only because I wanted it to happen. I’d foolishly thought I could have it all.

Only, I haven’t earned it yet, all this happiness that my friends have. So stupid to think I could have it so soon.

“You’re still their guy,” Maddox says, reassuringly. “You’re their starter. So just show them why you’re their future.”

My chest tightens like a belt is cinched around me. I wince, then try to fight off this terrible hurt. This…shame.

But I nod, taking it like a champ.

Like the starter I need to be.

And starters shut down feelings. “Thanks, man,” I say, with my chin up and my hand tight on the waistband of the bathing suit that’s not mine.

I head to the room and shut the door behind me.




Longest twenty minutes of my life. But by the time the clock ticks toward three, I’m ready to fly.

Too bad Jason barks out, “One more round!”

“The groom says so,” Gunnar shouts, then stretches an arm out of the hot tub, reaching for his nearby phone in its waterproof case, and hits start on a new Pizza for Breakfast tune, all while giving us a shot of his moon.

Well, there is a piece of lime-green polyester crawling up his ass. Still.

“Dude, turn around. I can’t unsee that,” Jason calls out.

Gunnar wriggles his ass instead.

I laugh, hoping I don’t sit next to him. I’d hate to wear that lime-green thong even in the hot tub. Looks painful.