Jockblocked

jockblocked-med

Synopsis:

She’s always played it safe…

College junior Lucy Washington abides by one rule—avoid risk at all costs. She’s cautious in every aspect of her life, from her health, to her mock trial team, to the boring guys she dates. When a brash, gorgeous jock walks into the campus coffeeshop and turns his flirt on, Lucy is stunned by the force of attraction. For the first time ever, she’s willing to step out of her comfort zone, but can she really trust the guy who’s determined to sweep her off her feet?

He’s always played around…

Entering his last year of college eligibility, linebacker Matthew “Matty” Iverson has the team captaincy in his sights. And it’s his for the taking, if he can convince his quarterback Ace Anderson to give up the starting position. Luckily, Matty already has an edge—the hottie he’s lusting over just happens to be Ace’s childhood best friend. Getting Lucy on his side and in his bed? Hell yeah. Matty is more than confident he can have both, but when he falls hard for Lucy, it’s time for a new game plan: convince the woman of his dreams that she’s not sleeping with the enemy.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

Lucy

January

I flip my pen around my thumb again as I contemplate my mock trial dilemma. Should we include the expert in ice formation or the co-worker? Flip. Randall wants to go with the expert because they always score well with the judges, but we all know ice is slippery. Flip. A co-worker who testifies about what a hard worker our client is would go a long way toward us winning. Flip.

Not to mention that a lay witness versus an expert witness would be far easier for our new teammate Heather to pull off. Flip.

Ugh. Heather. Practice earlier was a friggin’ disaster. This is my freshman nightmare all over again. Newcomer blows the judges’ socks off with a prepared closing she’d practiced all summer and then newcomer ends up ruining the team because she can’t perform under pressure.

That newcomer was me once. I hate that my team is suffering through this again, and I’m going to do everything I can to prevent that, even if I have to write every question of every examination and every word of every argument.

I check the score sheet again, but the numbers don’t change. I exhale heavily. Randall’s right. Historically, an expert witness scores at least two points better than an ordinary witness does. Flip.

I flip the pen again, frustrated that I can’t seem to come to a solution. I’m a solution girl. This is my thing. I assess situations, measure risks, and advise the best course. But the best course in this case isn’t clear to me. I run my hand through my hair and study the mock trial case once again. It doesn’t matter that it’s a mock trial—to me it’s as serious as it gets.

As I turn the exemplar tabulation over, a packet of aspirin lands next to my hand.

I drop my pen and pick up the packet of medicine. Looking up, I check to see if it’s raining aspirin or if someone was playing table hockey and flicked the goal across the room accidentally, but I only see the lights of the ceiling and the bent heads of the few people in the room.

“I’m worried that if you sigh again, a tornado may form. Those are some heavy puffs,” a deep voice from behind me says.

I twist to see a guy the size of a small car dwarfing the upholstered chair next to the fireplace. For most people, that chair is oversized. He fills every inch. Even beneath his long-sleeved gray T-shirt, I can see the definition in his arms and chest. I allow myself a few seconds of covert gawking. Have to get my thrills in where I can.

“Maybe I have asthma.”

“Then you’ll be out of luck because I don’t have an inhaler on me. Just the aspirin.”

“Sad. Not much of a traveling pharmacist, are you?”

He smiles, and I grip the side of my seat to make sure I don’t fall out of my chair at the brilliance of it. Some people, like my roommate Sutton, are blessed with an unreal amount of beauty. This guy is one of those people. Even his black plastic glasses make him look like the studious model in an Abercrombie ad.

Crinkles form by eyes so blue I find myself scanning them for a telltale lens, but they appear to be real.

The only real downside to this guy is that he has the look of a gym rat. Big arms, broad shoulders, V-shaped torso all scream of a guy who spends a lot of time watching himself in the mirror. Those guys just don’t interest me. They’re pretty to look at, but a huge headache to deal with.

“You’ll have to blame my mom. She’s a pediatrician and has a weird propensity for sticking those things in all of my pockets.”

“Thanks, but my headache is induced by my homework. I don’t think a couple of aspirin are going to help.” I offer him the packet back, but he waves me off.

“It’s the second week of the semester. Isn’t it too early for homework to be causing anyone stress?” He glances around the room. “In fact, I’m surprised by the number of people here. Is everyone here studying? Isn’t it Wednesday? People study on Wednesdays?”

I think the last question is a joke, but I’m not entirely sure. “First time at the Brew House?”

He gestures for me to come close, as if he’s going to tell me a secret. “Don’t tell anyone, but I’m not a fan of coffee,” he stage whispers behind a screen formed by a hand big enough to make a Great Dane look like a toy poodle.

“So why are you here?” I find myself whispering back against my better judgment, caught up in his flirtation.

“Didn’t want to go to a bar. Didn’t want to be in the library. Didn’t want to be at home. I wandered around and found this place.” He waves his hand around the room. “But now I’m worried because I feel like I should be doing something serious instead of doing this.”

He raises his tablet to show me the game he’s playing.

“I would guess at least half the room is playing that game. It was sold for a billion dollars a couple of weeks ago.”

“I’d much rather learn how you do that trick.” He tips his head toward my hand.

I catch my pen reflexively, not even realizing I was flipping it. “It’s a bad habit.”

“Nah, it’s cool.” He gets up and is at my table in two steps. “Matthew.”

He holds out his hand. When I clasp it, I’m surprised by the roughness of it, as if he does something more with his hands other than typing on a keyboard or holding a pen. “Lucy.”

“Nice to meet you, Lucy. So what’s the trick to this?” He bounces one of my highlighters in his hand.

“No real trick. I tap the long end of the pen with my middle finger and let the momentum carry it around my thumb. Like this.” And I repeat the action, neatly catching it between my thumb and forefinger.

Matthew tries it, but the highlighter goes flying out of his fingers and skitters across the table. “Shit.”

I cover my laugh as he scoots over to pick up the marker. He tries again and the highlighter zips two tables over.

“Maybe not as much force next time. You aren’t launching a rocket into space,” I advise.

“I think you’ve made a deal with the devil,” he says after trying again.

“If I were to make a deal with the devil, do you really think this is the gift I’d ask for?” I spin the pen. “There are at least a million better things than a pen-spinning trick.”

“Good point. What would you ask for?” He lifts my mug and takes a sniff, making a face when the coffee scent hits his nose. He doesn’t even like the smell of coffee? I guess he has to have some flaws.

“Is this a straight trade, so I get eternal life in hell in exchange for something great on earth?”

“I suppose so. Are there other trades the devil will make?” He reaches back to grab his Gatorade off the floor next to the chair he’s no longer sitting in. His arms are so long he doesn’t even have to rise from his seat. His shirt pulls out of his jeans, and I catch a glimpse of well-defined abs.

I avert my eyes when he swings around so he doesn’t find me staring at his body like a creepster. One look is okay, two and I’ve definitely crossed over into bad behavior. “I don’t have any direct experience with the devil, but I’d try to make a bargain that does not include eternal hell. I’m not made for that kind of punishment.”

His lips quirk up. “Yeah, you do seem…sweet.”

“The devil doesn’t like sweet things?” The words pop out before my brain catches up with my mouth.

Matthew’s lips go from half-mast to full-out grin. “He might. But I think if he had the choice, he’d pick hot over sweet.” Sultry blue eyes rake over me. “Don’t worry, you’ve got the hot part covered, too.”

This time it’s my pen that flies across the table. Chuckling, Matthew snatches it out of the air.

“Nice reflexes,” I mutter. My cheeks feel like they’re flaming. I haven’t engaged in this kind of flirting since…well, I can’t remember the last time. And with this guy? It’s totally out of character.

“I’m good for something.” He winks and hands me the pen.

Our eyes meet, and the connection between us pings and arcs, warming me as surely as the flame of the fire five feet away. The register rings behind me, reminding me why I haven’t had sex in so long. Keith, my co-worker at the Brew House, was the last person I had sex with. It was uninspired sex—so boring that I think we both fell asleep before the deed was even done. I couldn’t really blame it on him either.

We were both distracted—him by some serious bio project and me by the mock trial case. Keith made out better than I did. He got an “A” on his bio project whereas my team didn’t make it out of regionals for the second year in a row. That time it wasn’t entirely my fault. We were just uninspiring, which is why Heather Bell is now part of the Western State team. She nearly brought everyone in the room to tears with her prepared closing statement during tryouts. The problem is that she doesn’t know a thing about how an actual trial works despite being the daughter of a superstar trial attorney.

As gorgeous as this Matthew guy is and as flattering as it is to have his attention, my priority is making it out of semi-finals this year. Two years of being beat down at something I’m supposed to be good at is wearing at my confidence. Giving up would be something my mom would do. Giving up and trotting off with the cute guy is her go-to plan. She’s done it my entire life.

Winning at mock trial doesn’t guarantee that I’m not going to end up like my mom, living from one boyfriend to the next, cutting out when there’s the least bit of tribulation on the horizon, but success would prove to myself that I’m her polar opposite.

I take my comforts where I can find them. And besides, I really enjoy mock trial. Not every aspect. Who loves everything about anything? But for the most part, I get off on crafting the questions, the courtroom atmosphere—all of it.

With school, work, and mock trial, I don’t have a lot of time for outside activities. Besides, I’m not sure how I’d even handle a guy like him. The sexual energy he radiates is thrilling, but I can’t deny it’s also a tad terrifying. I don’t have a type, exactly, but if I had to lump the guys I’ve dated in the past into one category, I guess I’d say…safe? Serious? Definitely not in-your-face sexual, that’s for sure. More like…well, Keith. Not too tall, not too short. Not too attractive, not unattractive. I fit with those guys. I’m comfortable with them. Nothing about this delicious male makes me comfortable.

“You’re sighing again,” Matthew cuts in.

“I’m not.” If I was, I didn’t mean to.

“Okay, you’re breathing heavily.” He cocks an eyebrow. “Or your asthma is acting up.”

“Fortunately, asthma is one ailment I don’t have. But sighing is clearly a problem. Does your mom do house calls?”

“Nope. But I can prescribe you the perfect thing for stress.”

I raise my palm. “Don’t say sex.”

He snickers. “I was going to say exercise, but sex is good, too.” Those blue eyes conduct another sweep of my face, then linger briefly on my chest. I’m wearing a plain black, long-sleeved, crew neck sweater, but the way his gaze smolders, you’d think I was topless.

There’s something familiar about him—as if I’ve seen him before. Maybe he models, though he’s a little broad-shouldered for that. But still… “Have we met before?” I ask warily.

A flash of something—irritation, possibly—skips across his face… Maybe he gets this question a lot. “You probably saw me on campus and said to yourself, who is that fine-ass guy and how do I get his number? But we were like sliding doors, a missed connection. I read Craigslist. You should’ve reached out.”

Yeah, he’s tired of that question. “Nice story. You sound like a Lit major.”

“Sociology, actually. You?”

“Poli-Sci.”

“What do you plan to do with that? Learn how to take over the world?”

“If I had the responsibility of the world on my shoulders, can you imagine the sighs that kind of stress would generate? They’d be like gale force winds.”

“Good point.”

Matthew stretches his long legs on either side of my own chair. If I fell forward, I’d land in his lap.

And that’s a bad thing because…?

I shove the naughty thought aside. If I want some lap time, there are other, less magnetic guys I could turn to—

Less magnetic? You need help, girl.

The exasperated voice has a point. It might as well have come from my roommate, the one who is constantly teasing me about my play-it-safe attitude toward men. But careful suits me.

“You seem less tense now,” he observes. He studies my face again, the weight of his gaze almost a tangible thing.

“Maybe you should keep me around.”

“Where would I do that? My lease only allows for three people, and I’m not sure I earn enough here at the Brew

House to feed you on a regular basis,” I say lightly. This guy is entirely too smooth for me. I have a feeling flirt is his default setting. Which is fine. Nothing wrong with that, but it means I can’t—and shouldn’t—take him seriously.

“I’m pretty quiet. I don’t think you’d notice me.”

I raise a disbelieving eyebrow. “That’s not even within the vicinity of truthfulness.”

“I can be quiet.” He raises two fingers. “Scout’s honor.” We both look at his fingers. “I was a Scout but dropped out at the age of fifteen.”

“What happened at fifteen?” I ask, almost against my will. I want to quit the conversation, but I keep allowing myself to be dragged back in. See? This is some practiced shit.

“I grew. I was a scrawny kid with questionable health, but somewhere between fourteen and fifteen my body said ‘to hell with that, we’re going to be big and strong.’”

“And the Scouts got left behind? Poor fellas.”

“I was a shitty Scout. I was way behind on my badge acquisition. It was really a boon to the troop when I left. I think they might have thrown a party.”

I can’t stop the laugh from bubbling out. “Your Scout troop was giddy with relief that you left, but you still think I should keep you?”

“I know how to cook and have, at some points in my life, operated an iron.” He ticks off each skill on a finger. “I always bring the good booze when I’m invited to a party, and I make my bed in the morning.”

“You had me at know how to cook.” Truthfully, all those things sound like the characteristics of a fairly responsible person. Safe even. But a guy this good looking who knows how to cook is single and hitting on me in a coffee shop before booty call hour? It’s all too strange. And I don’t have the time or energy to puzzle this out.

“Awesome. So when should I move in?” His eyes twinkle playfully.

I pretend to consider it again. “I think I have to say never. But I wish you luck on your roommate quest.”

He looks unfazed. I get the feeling nothing fazes him. “How about you just invite me over, then? I promise to bring the good booze.” When I hesitate, he swiftly changes gears. “Or we’ll go out instead. Grab some dinner.”

“Oh. Thanks for the offer, but I really don’t have the time.” I stretch my arm and drop the medicine on the top of his backpack. I won’t lie and say I didn’t enjoy this flirting session, but a date? That doesn’t fit into my plan. This year I’m winning the mock trial championship, and I’m not going to be distracted. I spent my entire winter break plotting out this semester’s game plan. Nowhere on that schedule of events includes taking a chance on a guy like Matthew.

Something about him makes me nervous. Not in a he’s-going-to-turn-you-into-a-skinsuit nervous, but more that I don’t like the way his vivid eyes and easy smiles make my heart pound. I feel the need to pull out my glucose measuring tool to make sure an unexpected hormone release isn’t wreaking havoc with my body.

He tilts his head. Then rubs his chin. Then sweeps his hair back away from his face. “This is new,” he mutters to himself. He gives me a tight smile. “Can I borrow your pen?”

I hand it to him warily, hoping he’s not going to spend the rest of the night trying to spin the pen while simultaneously trying to convince me to change my mind, but he doesn’t. Instead he pulls the rules book toward him and writes down seven digits. “This is my number. If you find some extra time, give me a call.”

© 2016 Jen Frederick



jockblocked-med

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