Home > Filthy Player (Rough Riders #2)

Filthy Player (Rough Riders #2)
Author: Stacey Lynn

CHAPTER ONE

 

 

PAIGE

 

“You’re late. Again.”

I stared at my boss, Paulie, and tried not to flinch at not only his scowl but also the sweat already dotting his forehead.

“I know, and I’m really sorry, but my dad—”

“Enough excuses. If I heard one, I heard a million.” His hand slashed through the air to silence my reason, not excuse. It’s not like it was my fault my dad collapsed out of his wheelchair trying to get into his recliner and it took me twenty minutes to get him re-settled. I needed a weight lifting class.

I needed the money to pay for it first.

“Get to work,” Paulie continued. “Annabelle called in sick tonight so we’re down one waitress, and I heard the Riders might be coming in after their press conference.”

“Great,” I mumbled, at both the Raleigh Rough Riders football team coming in and the fact Annabelle was another no-show. I was late occasionally, but at least I showed. Annabelle was the least dependable waitress we had.

Least hard-working too, when she did show, and that bugged me more than her not showing.

“I’m warning you though, Paige,” Paulie said, leaning in close enough I had to lean back. The man was overweight, with a gut that could bounce me into the wall five feet behind us. “This is your last chance. Be on time or don’t come at all.”

I wanted to remind him this was at least the tenth time Annabelle hadn’t shown at all, only the third time I was late, but it wouldn’t matter. Annabelle was his niece. He had to keep her on the payroll.

Me, on the other hand…

He huffed and puffed and shuffled away while I tied my black apron around my waist. When I started working at the Ride’Em Rough Saloon, a pretty trashy name for an American Grill but it worked because we were doors away from the Rough Riders stadium, every waitress assured me Paulie’s bark was worse than his bite.

I hoped it was true.

Hours into my shift, I had boob sweat in my shirt, an impressive task considering my boobs were less than impressive. My hair was matted to the nape of my neck, and everyone in the city of Raleigh must have heard the Rough Riders were headed in after the press conference. They had one every year after pre-season, but before week one started. The place was so packed we had a line outside wrapping around the block.

On busy nights like that, Paulie hired bouncers who could give professional wrestlers a run for their money. The place was so crushed I wondered if one or more of them didn’t show either.

My feet ached, my arches burned in the wedge sandals we were forced to wear with our cut-off denim shorts and tummy bearing, skin-tight teal shirts—the color of the Rough Riders—and I had had it.

Had it with men who thought they could brush their hand over my ass because I was wearing a uniform dictated to me. Had it with drunken boys barely old enough to be legal hanging around, waiting for a glimpse of their heroes just because they could throw a pigskin thirty yards like well-aimed rockets.

I was born with Rough Rider love in my veins, but four hours into my shift, I had had it with them, too.

My dad loved football. Loved everything about the game and had been good enough to play for Purdue before he moved back to Raleigh to take over his dad’s auto mechanic garage. My mom had wanted the football superstar she’d started dating in college, not the guy who sometimes had two pennies to rub together. When she decided she had enough of being married to an auto mechanic and not the luxurious life she’d grown up in and hoped she’d find with Dad, she took off back to her hometown in Michigan.

Apparently, she hadn’t wanted me, either. I was four years old when she left. But no matter, Dad and I did just fine.

At least until he had a stroke a year ago, followed by another a few months later that left the right side of his body mostly paralyzed. He was finally getting some movement back, able to use a walker occasionally, but he still needed help taking care of himself and the house. On top of his paralysis, the strokes had affected his cognitive abilities and he didn’t always make the best decisions.

Now, I was stuck not only managing the office at his garage but working for Paulie to make ends meet due to our astronomical medical bills.

I needed help, but there was no way I was asking for it. Nothing good ever came with asking for help, except strings that weren’t worth the help given in the first place.

“Damn, Paige,” Hannah said, sliding up to me and bouncing my hip with hers to ensure she had my attention. “You are one lucky bitch.”

“Why, now?” I punched in more orders on the computer screen and didn’t spare her a glance.

“You kidding me, right? Ray just sat the team at your open six-top. What I wouldn’t give for a piece of that beautiful, Grade-A, prime piece of beef.”

Her voice went soft and I laughed softly. Freaking Hannah. More stars in her eyes than sense in her brain, she was always trying to score a Rider. The problem? She tried too hard and sent off stage-five clinger vibes from the moment she stepped near. I’d seen more than one guy from the team back off, weariness in his eyes even though she was stacked with huge boobs and a slamming bod. She was also sweeter than my grandma’s cherry pie. But she came off too strong, a bit too crazy, way too much fangirl in her breath.

“Freaking hell,” I muttered. “You want them?”

“I wish. Beaux Hale is here. I swear last time they were in he was totally checking me out. But Paulie would can me if I ever waited on them again.”

Paulie and his threats. It wasn’t necessarily Hannah’s fault she went all doe-eyed stupid at the sight of NFL players. Wasn’t her fault those men put off so much testosterone a woman’s libido jumped to attention at the mere sight of them. They wore their pheromones like I wore my independence…bright and shining like Times Square on New Years.

The men just had it.

I couldn’t lie and say I was unaffected, but the last thing I needed in my life was a football player with more plays than morals.

“It wasn’t that bad.” I reached for a tray of orders and thanked the cooks.

“I spilled four bowls of tomato soup all over Oliver Powell, Paige.”

I snorted. I couldn’t help myself. It had been funny, and the famous Rough Rider’s tight end always came across as a pretty uptight guy anyway. I didn’t exactly feel bad for him getting doused with humble soup. Besides, someone else had bumped her and balancing heavy trays was difficult.

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