Roughing the Passer
(Contains adult language)
Tyler Harris, star NFL quarterback, not-so reformed bad-boy, and dedicated boyfriend staggered into the bar and bounced off a couple tables. Steadying himself with a hand on a stranger’s shoulder, he pushed off and let momentum carry him the rest of the way. His buddies and fellow teammates looked up at him in unison. Tyler shoved one of them over in the booth and collapsed onto the cushion.
The men swam in front of his eyes, blurring and moving in ways that made his head dizzy. Why the fuck didn’t they just sit still?
“You didn’t drive in that condition, did you?” Asked his cousin, Derek Ramsey, in his usual tight-ass, follow-the-rules manner.
Tyler sneered at him. “I took a taxi.”
“What has you so fucked up tonight?” Zach Murphy studied him, as if he couldn’t quite decipher Tyler’s problem.
“She left me.” The words caught in his throat and came out sounding pathetic and strangled.
Silence as the guys looked at each other in turn, telegraphing silent messages via their eyes and body language, born of thousands of hours on the football field together. Tyler understood because he’d been there, too. Except usually those secret messages included him. Today they shut him out, and he didn’t like it one damn bit. In fact, he hated it, hated being left out in the cold, but even that didn’t compare to the pain stabbing his heart with a relentless ruthlessness, as it drove him to his knees. Figuratively speaking.
Zach, the rat bastard spoke first. “Lavender finally got a brain to go with that beauty and kicked your ass to the curb?”
Tyler tightened his jaw and ground his teeth together, refusing to respond to the insult. Murphy had gotten a little too big for his britches after he’d retired from football a month ago and accepted a position as the Jacks’ linebackers coach. In fact, he’d become an insufferable ass.
Derek shook his head in shock and muttered, “I’m sorry, man, but you had it coming.”
Fuck that, a guy couldn’t even get a little respect and sympathy from his own cousin.
Bruiser Mackey snorted his drink through his nose—he’d been hanging out with no-manners-Murphy too long. “I saw this coming a year ago. You should’ve given the woman a ring, you fuckhead.”
Tyler fisted his hands, fantasizing about how good it would feel to slam his fists into Bruiser’s smug face. Just because the asshole pretended to be happily married didn’t mean the rest of the world was that stupid. Or were they?
Looking at each one of his buddies—his partners in crime—the guys who stood by him on and off the field, Tyler got the distinct feeling they thought he was the dumbshit. Tyler didn’t like being the dumbshit. After all, he’d grown beyond that—thanks to she-who-would-not-be-named. Hell, he’d embraced his sensitive side as much as he fucking could with her insistence. He’d even given her free rein to do damage to his extensive credit limit.
What more could she want?
Like he didn’t know that answer to that question.
She wanted the one thing he just flatout could not give.