Chapter Eight, Part Two
“Young’n, you are one lucky son of a bitch.” Darius had appointed himself Colt’s shipboard nurse and had refused to leave the cabin with the ship’s doctor. “You just dodged a bullet.”
He didn’t feel like it, and it had nothing to do with his sprained wrist. He hurt like he’d just taken a shotgun blast to the chest. He stared at the black guard holding his injured wrist in place. The pain meds the ship’s doctor had given him a few hours ago had kicked in, but had one unintended side effect. It didn’t dull the agony weighing him down. On a scale of one to ten on the asshole odometer, he’d been at one hundred and twenty-eight. Angie would never forgive him and he couldn’t blame her.
“It’s all over the place—social media, the fan forums, the news,” Darius continued. “That bitch almost got you killed…”
Heat blasted through him and Colt shot up, fisting his uninjured hand, trying to remember everything the man had ever done for him so he wouldn’t rip his fucking head off.
His mentor held up his hand and continued to pace, seemingly oblivious to how precarious his life was at the moment. “Obviously you just need to toss this fish back in the ocean and go find another piece of ass to distract you on your last night on board. What about that Mystie chick who keeps following you around?”
“Get out.” If he didn’t, Colt wasn’t sure he’d be able to stop himself from taking out all of his anger at himself on the man talking shit in front of him.
“Not her? Okay, how about the redhead and brunette from the other night?” Darius asked. “A little tag team action will make you forget that crazy bitch faster than you can do the forty.”
Something snapped inside him and Colt rushed Darius, shoving the bigger man up against the wall hard enough that the flat-screen TV hanging from the wall rattled. “Stop calling her that.”
“What? A bitch?” He over-enunciated the word ‘bitch’, drawing it out and taking an already ugly word to the next level of insult.
Colt pressed his forearm against his mentor’s throat, red fury eating away at his sense of self-control. “I’m gonna let go and you’re going to get the hell out of here.”
Darius brought up his hands to Colt’s sternum and shoved hard.
Caught unaware, Colt flew back. He slammed against the opposite wall, the impact reawakening the shards of pain slicing away at his wrist.
“Young’n, you must have been dropped on you head on a near constant basis as a child to be this fucking dumb,” Darius said, anger puffing out his cheeks and making the veins along his neck bulge. “A bitch never gets between friends…unless she’s not a bitch all. Is that what you’re trying to wrap your pea-size brain around? The fact that you—the king of not giving a damn about anything other than football—finally found something that matters more than the gridiron?”
That wasn’t it. It couldn’t be it. He’d just wanted to take her to his favorite Chinese place, the one where he wasn’t Colt “45” Butler; he was Colt “extra fried rice” Butler.
But certainty hung around his neck like an anchor, dragging him down the wall until he his ass met the cabin floor.
“You don’t know what you’re talking about,” Colt mumbled.
“Of course I do.” Darius crossed the room and sat down beside Colt. “You fucked around and fell in love. It happens. So stop being such a dumb shit and do something about it.”
“You got me mad on purpose.” To force him to act the truth that had been right before his blind eyes the whole time. God, he had fucked this up royally.
“Of course I did, you moron.” The older man slapped the back of Colt’s head. “Have you ever heard me call a woman a bitch before? Hell no. I was raised by a single mother who to this day would slap the stupid out of me if she knew I’d said that…so keep your mouth shut if you happen to run into her.”
He slid a side-eyed glance at his former mentor. “So much for the fearless Darius Washington.”
“Shee-it, you’ve never met my mom.” Darius chuckled. “So what are we going to do about your girl?”
Colt’s brain went blank. Women came to him. They always had. If one left, there’d be another to replace her. But there wasn’t anyone who could replace Angie and she rightly hated his guts right now.
“I don’t think she wants to be mine.”
“Then you better figure out what you can do to show her that you realize what a total asshole you were and that it will never happen again. I suggest going big.” Darius held his hands as far apart as possible. “When it comes to begging for forgiveness from a woman, I always recommend begging with a capital B.”
Colt racked his brain. “Flowers?”
Darius looked at him as if he’d just suggested sending her a bag of shit. “You are a hopeless loser. We need reinforcements.” He pulled his cell from his pocket.
“Who are you calling?”
He scrolled through his contacts. “Mystie.”
Blinking in surprise, Colt couldn’t connect the dots. “Why?”
“Up until I retired, I was her favorite player. She was president of my fan club for my entire fifteen-year career. Hell, she’s been to the house. Shontelle and her get their nails done together. Trust me, Mystie will have ideas.” He touched his screen and held the phone up to his ear.
Mystie was a great Thunder fan and all, but when it came to a last-minute plan to win back Angie, he didn’t see how she could help. “I’m not going to like this.”
Darius cut him a hard look. “You like the idea of losing Angie more?”
That was all it took to smack the hesitation from him. “No.”
“Then shut up and do whatever Mystie tells you to.” Darius walked out onto the balcony. “Hey girl, we got us a situation.”
The chances of Darius and Mystie coming up with any kind of plan that would help him get back Angie were slim to none. He’d have to figure out something as soon as they got back to Miami. They worked at the same place; it wasn’t as if he wouldn’t have the opportunity—
Someone had taken video of him being towed down to the boat and the aftermath. Manny and Coach Cater might chew his ass up a bit for taking a chance like that, but Angie could lose her job.
Pushing up from the wall, he ignored the throbbing in his wrist and focused all of his concentration on what he could do to fix any potential fallout before it happened. He grabbed his phone from the bedside table and dialed the number for the Thunder front office. The receptionist picked up on the third ring.
“Mr. Garcia, please. It’s Colt Butler.”
“Let me see if he’s available,” the receptionist said.
Three verses of canned on-hold music later and Ian Garcia picked up the line. “Colt, how are you doing?”
“I’m okay. The doctor says it’s just a sprain. I’ll have a brace for training camp, but it’ll be off before the season starts.”
He took a deep breath. He was breaking about a billion unwritten rules concerning the chain of command and Manny would be pissed as hell that this wasn’t going through him, but it needed to be done. “I need to talk to you about Angie Keller.”
“That situation has already been taken care of,” Mr. Garcia said. “We’re going to let her go.”
His grip on the phone tightened to the point that he heard a distinct crack. “It wasn’t her fault. I could have said no at any point.” The words rushed out.
“She was responsible for you on this cruise. I was against having an active player on it in the first place just in case something like this happened, but I gave her the benefit of the doubt. I see now that I shouldn’t have.”
Panic squeezed Colt’s lungs tight. He couldn’t let them fire Angie. She deserved better than that. They couldn’t bench—
“Do you remember the Breakers game a few years ago when Coach Carter benched our quarterback in the middle of the first quarter because he was too jumpy to complete a pass? Everyone thought coach had lost his mind. The fans were booing. The players were whispering. The analysts in the booth said it was the dumbest thing that could ever be done. But coach kept his cool, and when he put the QB back in at the beginning of the second, that man was unflappable. Six touchdown passes, including a sixty-yard Hail Mary.”
“What’s your point, Colt?” Mr. Garcia asked.
The Thunder owner was many things but mentally slow wasn’t one of them. The man knew exactly what Colt was trying to say, but if the boss needed to hear a little more pleading then Colt was ready and willing to make that happen.
“Angie’s the quarterback. There was a flub. You pulled a Coach Carter and benched her. When you put her back in the game, she’s going to be golden.” And she would. He didn’t have even the tiniest doubt in his mind. “The woman is good, really damn good.”
The silence on the phone weighed heavy on Colt’s shoulders. He couldn’t fail.
“I’ll think about it,” Mr. Garcia said.
It was yardage gained, but not enough. He wasn’t giving up until he crossed that goal line. “Sir—”
“You’re going to keep on my ass until I say yes, aren’t you?”
“Yes, sir.” And he would. Hell, he’d get Manny on it if he had to.
The Thunder owner sighed. “I’ll have Dylan give her a call and let her know to come in on Monday and we’ll work our way through this mess together.”
He let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. “Thank you, sir.”
“See you in training camp, Colt.” The phone went dead.
He tossed the phone onto the bed and did a modified touchdown shuffle. One game down, now it was time for the championship—getting Angie back.
“Good to see your dance moves aren’t completely terrible,” Darius said as he walked in from the balcony. “You’re going to need them if Mystie’s plan is going to work.”
If you missed earlier chapters, you can find it here!
Come back next week for more of HOT DARE!