Chapter Seven, Part Two
Colt stood on the boat platform looking like an asshole in yellow and red safety straps that wrapped around his thighs and waist before hooking to some contraption that looked like a sex swing without any promise of an orgasm. A giant red parachute hooked to the swing thing, along with a half-inch-thick towline that would connect him to the boat while he floated in the air.
The assistant yanked on the towline, testing the knot’s strength, and grinned at Colt. It was probably meant to be reassuring, but failed miserably. Nervous energy ate away underneath his skin, the same kind that normally got him all jacked up for a game. But this time instead of crunching bones, he’d be swinging his dick in the air praying the whole time that he wouldn’t die. Shit. The things the little head talked his big head into just to impress Angie was going to kill him one of these days.
Colt’s gaze connected with Angie’s. His cock twitched in recognition. “Are you sure about this?”
“It’ll be fun.” She got up from the small bench seat next to the platform at the back of the boat where he stood. “I researched the company, they’ve got a solid safety record.”
The required life jacket was doing its best to conceal all her delicious curves, but the image of her in her purple bikini had burned itself into his brain. He didn’t need to see the rise and fall of her tits with each breath to see them.
“I know what’ll be more fun.” Colt leaned down and took her mouth as if he had every right to it.
Hard, demanding and more than a little possessive, the kiss was meant to curl her toes and blast away every lingering thought that a romance with a Thunder player was destined to end messy. They docked back in Miami tomorrow morning. That wasn’t a lot of time to persuade her not to follow Vegas rules for their adventure on board, but he’d never let long odds stand in his way before.
Ending the kiss sucked, but he did it anyway. He wasn’t about to give the captain and his small crew any more of a show than he already had. PDA had always been on his never-do list—along with parasailing—but here he was. The things this woman did to him.
“You are a bad influence.” She sucked her full bottom lip between two teeth and shook her head. “Enough procrastinating. Half the Thunder Dome Crew already finished their parasailing adventures and are on the beach waiting to take pictures with you as soon as we get back. You don’t want to disappoint them.”
The man in the Jacques Island Parasailing shirt returned to the platform and yanked hard on Colt’s safety harness before giving the captain the thumbs-up and motioning to Angie to take her seat. The boat’s engine revved and the captain cut through the water following a fast path parallel to the beach.
“This is nuts,” he muttered as the boat picked up speed and the chute lifted.
Wind caught the chute, snapping Colt into the sky. Feet dangling useless beneath him, he floated up, the air brushing against him and a bubbling excitement lightening his body. It wasn’t exactly what it would feel like to fly, but damn it was pretty awesome. From his vantage point, he could see for miles. The cruise ship docked at the Jacques Island dock. The throng of Thunder fans spread out on the private beach. Angie waved at him from the boat.
Five minutes went by faster than during the fourth quarter when the Thunder was trailing by seven. The dude in the Parasailing company shirt let out an ear-piercing whistle, letting Colt know it was time. He grasped the straps on the swing thing with a loose grip as the man reversed the towline crank, starting Colt’s descent from the clouds. He had to hand it to Angie, that was pretty fucking awesome.
The parasail jerked. Not enough to scare him, but enough to snap his attention to the fact that he was still pretty damn high in the air.
A second jerk was accompanied by a sharp tearing sound. His gaze dropped to the rope connecting him to the boat below. The towline had gone from a smooth rope to a shredded mess. A third jerk and the strands might disintegrate before his eyes, sending him plunging into the ocean or slamming into the beach. His pulse came to a dead stop before coming back on-line with a panicked pace. Acting on the same instinct that told him where the quarterback would throw the football before he even released the ball into the air, Colt reached up and wrapped his fingers around the line.
A second later the line snapped in two.
A cry rose up from below. “Don’t let go!” Angie screamed.
That wasn’t going to happen. He white-knuckled the rope, holding on for dear life. Muscles and tendons burning, he fought the parachute’s drag and pulled the line in closer, winding his wrist so the rope circled his hand. The rope cut into this palm, chafing away layers of skin, and pain blazed its way up his arm, setting fire to every tendon and muscle from his fingertips to his shoulder.
“We’re bringing you in, sir,” the captain yelled.
The towline yanked Colt forward. Something in his wrist twisted and popped. Agony ripped through him and a wave of nausea hit so fast that his hold on the rope slipped. It tore through his grip, ripping away skin and leaving only raw pain in its wake. He clamped his hand closed just in time, blocking out the agony darkening the edges of his vision.
Every second in his downward journey. Every foot in altitude he lost. Every layer of skin burned away by the rope. He ignored it all…closed his eyes tight…gritted his teeth…absorbed all the misery being inflicted on his body until, finally, he collapsed on the boat’s raised platform.
Adrenaline leeched out of his body, evaporating right as the screeching pain of his wrist and palm crashed into him like a defensive tackle hopped up on steroids. The throbbing extended up his arm to his shoulder, the one he led with when he tackled. If it was fucked, so was his career—his whole life.
Angie rushed to his side, crouching down beside him as the boat sped toward the dock. “Are you okay?”
“Fuck no, I’m not okay.” He lifted his arm to show her the ruined mess of his palm. The move forced a branding iron of burning-hot agony deep into his wrist, which had already ballooned up to twice its size.
“Shit.” She reached out to touch him, but pulled back at the last second and fisted her hands by her side. Her big brown eyes were wet with concern. “We already called the ship’s doctor. He’s going to meet us at the dock. Everything’s going to be okay.”
Impotent rage spiked in his blood, it was the only thing that quieted the screams of agony from his arm. It was fine and dandy for her to be worried now. She’d told him it was safe. He didn’t know what kind of research she’d done into the parasailing company’s safety record, but it obviously wasn’t enough and he was the one who’d be paying the price.
“No, it’s fucking not going to be okay. I just got back from an injury. I’m thirty years old and I’m breaking down like a refrigerator that’s been dropkicked into hell. Plus I’ve got a hungry backup who wants my job more than he wants to breathe. This could be my career.”
“It’s too early to freak out about that now,” Angie said as she unsnapped the safety harness from around his legs and waist, her gaze never meeting his.
The forced calm in her voice and neutral expression on her face told him exactly how much he needed to be freaking out as they zoomed toward the nearby dock.
The ship’s doctor stood on the boat dock. A ship’s purser sat on a nearby ATV, presumably to get them back on board as quickly as possible so he could receive medical care. A dark emptiness filled him at the sight. Fucking doctors. No good news ever came from them. All they wanted to talk about was being cautious, taking a wait-and-see approach. They never understood the position he was in—how easy it would be for the league to leave him in the dust.
And Angie thought it was too early to freak out about a little thing like his entire life going straight to hell.
“No, it’s not too early,” he snarled, focusing his pain and frustration on her with the single-minded tunnel vision that helped him lead the league in sacks a few years ago. “It’s too damn late to stop myself from taking a stupid fucking risk because it was suggested by a hot broad I was banging.”
She flinched as if he’d struck her. “You’re in pain. We’ll talk about this after you see the doctor.”
Talk. Talk. As if that would stop his life from crumbling underneath him. “If this screws me from getting my starter position back, we don’t need to talk at all.”
Her jaw tightened and her eyes went blank as if she could stare straight through him. “I see.”
“I fucking hope so,” he shot back.
She stood and whipped her head to the side, but not before he saw the moisture glimmering in her eyes.
The boat puttered to a stop at the dock. Angie stepped to the side, making room for the doctor who hustled over. He gave Colt’s wrist a brief look before nodding to the boat’s captain and his assistant.
“I’ll need to take a closer look on board, but it looks pretty minor all things considered—could be a severe sprain, possibly a break,” the doctor said as he stood. “Let’s get you out of here.”
A sprain. That was the best pain reliever out there. Colt’s head started to clear. Even with a wrist brace he could still clean the field with LeRoi.
The guy in the parasailing T-shirt helped Colt to his feet and started to lead him off the boat.
Angie pivoted, turning away from him. Her shoulders sank and her head dropped forward. A new kind of ache twisted him up. Fuck, he was twelve kinds of an asshole.
“It doesn’t matter, Colt.” She turned to face him, her head again held high, and gave him a tight smile. “It never really did.”
But it had…and he’d fucked it up.
If you missed earlier chapters, you can find it here!
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