Roman (Raleigh Raptors #2) by Samantha Whiskey

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Roman





“It’s only a twenty-minute drive!” Hendrix shouted through my cell phone over the heavy beat blaring from the club I’d left an hour ago.

“Come on, Walt,” I said gently, ignoring Hendrix’s demand and ushering my German Shepherd back into the house. Not that I needed to be quiet for the neighbors or anything. My house was in the middle of ten acres, all of which I owned.

“Only you would give that beast an old man’s name,” Hendrix laughed.

“Walter Payton was arguably the best running back the game has ever seen,” I countered, shutting the sliding glass door behind me.

“Right. And we can have that debate when you get your ass back down here. Come on. There are more women than I can handle alone,” he whined. Right, because I hadn’t seen him take three women back to his place before.

“I highly doubt that.” I tapped the speakerphone button and set my phone on the kitchen counter. “And no. It’s already after midnight.” Besides, I wasn’t in the mood for anonymous sex tonight.

“For fuck’s sake,” he grumbled. “You’re twenty-six, not sixty-seven. Drive your sober ass back here. Make a night of it. Start your workout two hours later tomorrow. Hell, I’ll even run with you. You haven’t seen these women.”

“Let me guess. Nice legs. Great tits. Insert hair color here, and they’re huge Raptor fans?” I grabbed a Fiji water out of the fridge and twisted the top open.

“Well…yeah.”

“Then trust me, I have seen those women.” They were the same women who had been at my door since freshman year at UNC, the ones who started lingering at the hotel bar when I signed with the Raptors four years ago. They were more interested in the numbers in my bank account and on the back of my jersey than they were in the guy wearing it, and it was getting old.

Brunettes and redheads—I’d taken them all to bed.

All but the blondes.

Never the blondes.

“So…you’re coming back, right? Because I’m telling you there’s this set of twins who told me they were down for running a play with Roman Padilla, if you get my meaning.”

“I get your meaning.” I chugged half the bottle and waited for him to get the point.

The song changed in the background as Hendrix sighed. “You’re not coming, are you?”

“Nope.” Walt set his head on the counter, and I rubbed behind his ears.

“You suck.”

I grinned. “No, but one of them might. You have a good time and remember to wrap it up. They’re not all Liberty’s out there.”

Nixon—our team’s quarterback and one of my closest friends—and his wife, Liberty, may have had a surprise pregnancy from a one-night stand, but that was fate in action. She was a one-of-a-kind woman, and Nixon was lucky as hell to have her.

“Yeah, yeah.”

I ended the call and made sure Walt had water before heading toward the living room.

My realtor had gushed about my home’s modern farmhouse design, whatever the hell that meant. I wasn’t keeping cows out back or anything, but I liked that the ceilings were high, and the space was open.

I glanced over at the giant, black-and-white canvas print Teagan had given me as a housewarming gift when I bought this house with my signing bonus. We were eleven in the picture, arms linked around each other’s shoulders, grinning like fools with hair soaked from the sprinkler our parents had set up on the lawn in front of our linked houses.

She’d moved in next door when we were four years old, and we’d been best friends from that day on. For fourteen years, we were separated only by the wall between our bedrooms, always reaching out to the other with secret knocks that could carry through the flimsy construction. By high school, we’d moved on to the cell phones that kept us connected when we both got accepted to UNC.

I loosed a sigh and ripped my hand over my hair, refusing to let my thoughts go down that path tonight. What if’s were endless when you watched everything you wanted slip right through your stupid, foolish, fingers.

“You know what happens when you wait too long to tell your best friend that you’re in love with her, Walt?” I asked as I sank into the soft leather sofa. He climbed up next to me, sprawling his limbs over the remainder of the couch and settling his head in my lap. “You take her to your first official Raptor party, and she falls for your teammate.”