Love’s Ineligible Receiver Excerpt
~~~unedited, copyrighted version, subjected to change prior to publication~~~
Clutching the Gatorade squeeze bottle as I trekked behind my teammates, I gulped hard and fast. We were headed for the tunnel leading off the practice field. The more I chugged my chest cooled from the chilled liquid and my arms, thighs, and feet throbbed from the work I’d just put them through on the field. I could hear Jameson a few feet ahead, leading the group off the field, talking his usual shit.
“Yo, my first daughter was born in that house. My wife is crying her eyes out. But what the fuck am I supposed to do? I need to dump it!”
Because you going broke, buying stupid shit with ya money while your injuries are piling up every damn season! Fuck outta here!
But of course, those thoughts stayed in my head. I never paid dude no mind with his corny ass. My mind was on calling Dinky back about the water bottle plug for the lunch program back at home. That and rescheduling with that fucking therapist for this week.
“Not you, Rut!” A familiar bark ripped across the field from the speakers.
Slowly, I dropped the bottle from my sweaty face and turned toward the green. Underwood, the Offensive Coordinator, held the bullhorn inches from his mouth. His eyes were hidden under the tent of his baseball cap, but I could sketch the image of his scowl, knowing it by heart after all the times I’d seen it since getting drafted. A few snickers could be heard as the team passed me on their way to the locker room.
“You got an extra hour on the field. Run your ass now!”
What? We just finished a grueling plyometrics drill. Hours of it! More giggling could be heard behind me as bodies practically slogged off the field. Jordan “The Flash’s” sleek ass smile drew closer to me. My upturned palm automatically rose into the air, silently questioning.
“The fuck is this? High school?” I grumbled as he neared. “Grant and Stroy came late,” I began as he slapped my shoulders heavily with that same smirk. “I get why they have to stay after. But I was here early. Fuck I do?”
Smoothly, and on the low, Jordan tossed his chin, telling me to meet him off to the side of the line filing into the tunnel.
Once out of the way, I turned to him, curious as hell. But before uttering a word, Jordan spit a laugh from his belly.
“Yo, Underwood is old school as hell!” He laughed. I lifted one brow to hurry this shit along. Jordan caught on and tried to calm himself. “They all tight, man: Underwood, Henderson, Craig, Eli—Wright.”
Henderson and Craig were two of the wide receiver trainers, but—
“What this gotta do with them?”
Jordan shook his head. “You had a plus one when you left Eli’s shindig the other night.” I cocked my head to the side. “You fucked the wrong one.”
“So?” My hand flew in the air. “I fucked a jawn! It’s what the fuck I do. What that
got to do with me having to stay late to run more drills?”
Mentioning her reminded me of the note she left. Fats showed it to me, confused by it. But when I read what it said, “Sorry. Thanks.” I knew exactly who had written it.
Jordan’s face sobered. “Your plus one is linked to the old-school crew.”
“Who the fuck is Wright?”
“Jimmy ‘Boulder’ Wright.” His forehead lifted for recognition from me. Nothing. “Class of ’93, franchise wide receiver.” He nodded as my face fell when I finally recalled the name. I hadn’t heard about Jimmy Wright in years. Before Jordan and Trent’s days as franchise Kings, it was Tariq Evans and friends’ time. They got the ring and made the Kings loads of cash. And before Evan’s class was Wright’s. He brought the Kings more than one Super Bowl win in the late eighties/early nineties. I knew Eli, Underwood, Craig, Henderson, and Wright were old as fuck, but didn’t know they rolled together. Besides, I hadn’t heard Wright’s name in years. My pops used to go hard for him back in his day. “That plus one you retreated with the other night…” His chin dipped.
“…is Wright’s daughter?”
He snorted, face toward the ground. “Go lateral.”
“I fucked a bitch who cheated on her man?” I yelled, mad as hell over the bullshit. That wasn’t my fault. Here we go… I came up here for everybody to doubt me. I was doing the damn required therapy, making sure I haven’t given the trainers and coach too much flack, stayed low so I didn’t hear Divine’s shit, and now because I bumped dicks with a damn old fuck I’m the problem? I felt my jaw tighten. “That’s the big fuckin’ deal, bruh? So I smashed her. You know how many bitches I run through?”
Jordan’s eyes rolled over my shoulder to something behind me, his jaw dropping and face going lax. I turned to see what caught his attention and my damn eyes rolled away as soon as they hit their target.
Fucking. Eli. Richardson.
I let out an aggravated breath. The last person I wanted to see was my boss when I was copping to banging out his homie’s piece of ass. Eli stood with three other stiffs in tailored suits; one a female. They all looked horrified, as though I pulled out my gat and asked for the goods.
He cleared his throat and motioned for the small group to continue down the tunnel. A part of me—a real tiny part—wondered who his company was, hoping it was no one he was trying to impress. He was Eli Richardson, after all. The only black owner in the league. Who did he have to impress?
Low key snickering had me turning back to Jordan. Half his face was covered by his hand and he coughed into it, clearing his throat.
“Not a good look at all,” I muttered, mad as hell. “I know.”
I didn’t need a warning. Each day since I signed my shitty deal, it was understood Eli didn’t fuck with me. He wasn’t the type to have personal relationships with many of the players. But everybody knew he rocked hard with Trent Bailey and Jordan Johnson—before Jordan got with his daughter, Cole. That nipped at my ego, too. He and Divine were boys. Divine was my people and that still didn’t get me face time with Eli. It was another reminder that I wasn’t exactly welcomed here.
“Glad you do.” Jordan’s face straightened. “Look, playa, you gotta hit that field before Underwood blasts ya ass for real. But I’ll tell you this: you leaving with that chick the other night ain’t under the big homie’s radar.”
“Because his boy’s fuckin’ her?” I asked, mad about that recent discovery all over again. “Okay. I won’t touch his groupie again. Shit.” I snorted. “I ‘on’t even know her name!” My head was still fucked up over her leaving a note.
Jordan shook his head. “She ain’t his groupie. Try again.”
My eyes blew up. “His main bitch?”
Shaking his head even more, Jordan’s humor began to feel like pity. “Stop calling that girl a bitch. Get that outta ya system. I don’t know the details of their relationship, but I do know they’re legit. So legit, she works in the front office. She keeps on the low…don’t bother nobody.” He began to walk off, amusement playing on his face again. “Matter of fact, she may be known now because she left the party with the asshole new draftee. This may be something you wanna consult Divine on, lil homie. That’s all I got for you.” Jordan took off for the locker room and I could swear to hearing him laugh even more.
Oh. So now I’m that asshole…
“Rut, get yo ass out here, boy!” I heard from the bullhorn.
“Fuck!” I turned for the field wondering how in the hell did I get myself into this shit.
I started my jog for the center of the green, grunting underneath my breath. One of many rules I lived by was no pussy was worth trouble. There was too much out here for a man like me.
Don’t matter that hers was delivered in the most unexpected way to date…
✍🏽 #PenningWithoutParameters ✍🏽
💜 #ImGonnaMakeYouLoveMe 💜