Chapter Four, Part Two
An hour and two ulcers later, Angie pulled Colt farther into the wings of the cruise ship’s main stage. The audience was packed full of Thunder fans impatiently waiting for the players versus fans charades tournament to begin. It would have started fifteen minutes ago, if the overgrown jerk in front of her would do what he’d agreed to do.
“What do you mean, no?” Angie closed her eyes and sucked in a deep breath, every last ounce of sympathy she’d been nursing for Colt after this morning melting away faster than ice cream at South Beach. “You signed up for this.”
He grimaced. “I agreed to signings and those God-awful cocktail parties.” He bit out the words as if he’d agreed to scrub toilets with his toothbrush. “There is no way in hell Manny would ever give the go-ahead to me acting like a performing monkey joining in on party games on a stage bigger than the trailer I grew up in.”
“Funny you should mention your agent, because Manny and I talked specifically about these type of events,” she shot back. “That he didn’t tell you, and that you didn’t read the contract before you signed it, isn’t my problem.”
He folded his arms across his massive chest and kept his gaze locked solidly above her left shoulder. “No.”
Frustration jacked her heart rate up so fast, her whole body vibrated. She needed this. He needed this. But he was too damn stubborn to see any of it. Reaching up on her tiptoes, she jabbed her finger into his unyielding chest. “You go out there and play nice with your fans or I swear to God I’ll—”
“You’ll what? Drag me out there by my ear?” He took a step closer, eliminating the space between them. “Good luck with that.”
Instead of the tip of her finger poking him, her entire palm rested over his fast-beating heart, the contact and heat of the argument ratcheting up her every primal reaction. Frustration. Annoyance. Hunger. The same things she saw reflected in his blue eyes, made dark by a combination of lust and determination. His gaze dropped to her lips, which had grown puffy from her chewing them to bits during the argument.
Letting out a low groan, he dipped his head.
Desire became a tsunami crashing against her skin, threatening to knock down every barrier she had against him. Holding on to her last threads of sanity with a white-knuckle grip, she took a firm step back and dropped her hand to her side.
“We both know damn well why you’re on this cruise, Colt, and it’s not because you’ve ever been accused of being Mr. Happy-Go-Lucky.” Her voice shook but the words came out clear, which was more than she expected considering how jumbled up her insides were. “It’s because you’re doing whatever the fuck it takes to secure your position with the team. I can appreciate that because I’m doing the same damn thing. You hate crowds and being the center of attention anytime you’re not wearing a football helmet? Well, I hate dealing with gargantuan divas who don’t bother to read their contracts.”
The straight line of his mouth wavered a millisecond before he snorted with laughter. “I’m not a diva.”
“Really?” She threw her hands up in the air. “That’s what you picked out of that whole tirade?”
He rubbed the back of his neck and shook his head. “It’s for sure in the contract?”
“Yes,” she shouted as quietly as possible so the crowd on the other side of the stage’s red velvet curtain wouldn’t hear them.
“Fine,” he said.
Her body sagged with relief. Her career wasn’t going down in flames in the middle of the Atlantic. Everything was going to be alright.
“On one condition.” The one-sided smirk curling his lips did not bode well for her long-term job prospects.
She was going to kill him. She’d probably lose out on the promotion, but right about now she was willing to take that chance. “What?”
“You’re my teammate.” He rocked back on his heels, obviously proud of himself.
“You’re already partnered up with Darius.” She pointed to the retired linebacker standing a few feet away, not doing a damn thing to disguise his enjoyment of the whole fucked-up situation.
“Have you ever played anything with him?”
She shook her head.
“Well, I played with him for eight years. He sucks at any team sport that doesn’t involve making someone’s bones crunch, and I hate losing more than just about anything else in the world.”
“Worse than crowds and being the center of attention?”
He just stared, neither confirming nor denying that they were both hip deep in bullshit right now. She’d be well within her rights to tell him to take a flying leap off the observation deck. She bet someone somewhere would cheer her on, but that person wasn’t sitting on the other side of the stage curtain. Judging by the noise, the crowd was getting restless. Eye on the prize, Angie girl.
“Whatever.” She shrugged. “Let’s just get this over with.”
She gave a nod to the ship’s onboard comedian who was acting as gameshow host for what was going to be one of the most hellish forty-five minutes of her life. The pulleys creaked as the stagehands opened the heavy curtain, much to the crowd’s appreciation.
“Thunder ladies and Thunder gentleman, are you ready?” the comedian asked.
The audience clapped and stomped their feet.
“Welcome to dirty charades!”
Angie’s jaw hit the floor. No. Just no.
Colt chuckled. “Looks like I wasn’t the only one who didn’t read every word in the contract.”
If he only knew how true the stories were about a Cuban woman’s temper, he would be guarding his cajones right about now.
If you missed earlier chapters, you can find it here!
Come back next week for more of HOT DARE!