The Birmingham Rebels play both sides of the field, proving that the hottest action isn’t always in the arena.
Rookie running back Tom Kelly loves the perks of football stardom. Men, women—there’s no shortage of companionship for a pro athlete who’s hot, young, and willing, and Tom is definitely willing. But deep down he wants a committed three-way relationship, especially if the female in the middle is Carmina de la Cruz. The undeniably sexy Army veteran may not say much, but her body speaks loud and clear.
After a traumatic tour in Afghanistan, Carmina is struggling to regain her speech and rebuild her life. More than anything, she wants to feel like a woman again. Tom may be a wholesome All-American, but he knows just how she needs to be touched—and he’s not the only Rebel who arouses her interest. With his scorching intensity, Tom’s best friend leaves her wondering if two players might be better than one.
Danny Smith is no stranger to his team’s kinky reputation. He gave in to temptation once, but he’s not going down that road again. Sure, Carmina’s curves promise pleasure, but her eyes guarantee it comes with baggage—and Danny has enough of his own. Still, giving up control can feel so good. And when it comes to everything Danny craves, Carmina and Tom make the perfect team.
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“Hey, Carmina.” Tom grinned when he saw defensive lineman Sam Taylor’s sexy best friend. She was waiting in the hallway outside the Rebels locker room at Gulf Coast Arena, and she had her dog with her as usual. Buster K was the smartest dog Tom had ever met. He watched Tom approach but didn’t bark or jump on him. Sam had told him therapy dogs were trained not to do that.
Practice had just ended and Tom was the first guy to leave the field. He had a date with this cute dude he’d met a couple of weeks ago at a bar. He loved being a big football star. He was getting all the pussy and dick he could handle. Thank God some of the guys on the team had gone public about being bisexual and had showed Tom the ropes. He’d be forever grateful. It had opened up a whole new world for him, and he thought he was a better person for it. He was certainly more open and accepting of himself and other people now. Fucking pussy was sweet and he still loved it, but fucking a guy in the ass was a forbidden thrill he didn’t think he’d ever get over.
But the truth was he was getting a little tired of the merry-go-round. He didn’t seem to attract the kind of people who wanted more than a night in the sack. That had been good for a while, but he wasn’t really the one-night-stand type of guy. He wanted what a lot of his friends had—long-term bi relationships. But he wasn’t fooled by how easy it had been for them to find the right ones. What he wanted wasn’t the norm and he knew it.
His best friend wasn’t helping, either. Danny wasn’t bi, despite the fact he’d had sex with Tom and a few other guys from the team—that had been strictly a one-time thing, and there had been a woman involved. That night had opened Tom’s eyes to what he felt and what he wanted. But Danny was still strictly het. He didn’t even like to talk about that night. But it had been so fucking hot Tom had a hard time not thinking about it. A lot.
What Danny did like, though, was going out and getting lucky. He’d never partied much in college; he’d been too screwed up by something that happened in college, too angry and hurt. Now he was trying to make up for lost time. So Tom put his own goals on hold while he helped Danny out. That’s what best friends did. But for a guy who used to think a big night out was ordering pizza and playing videogames, the last few months had been exhausting.
He’d sure like to get something going with Carmina. She had curly, dark hair that she wore natural, just skimming the top of her shoulders. Her skin was the color of cappuccino, and he wanted to lick her all over until he got to her creamy center. Which actually made it a metaphor—or simile, whatever—about a candy bar, not coffee. He’d been a psychology major in college and barely passed English. The point was, he wanted to eat her, pussy and all. Then he’d like to fuck her. She had a Boricua ass that put J-Lo’s to shame. But he hadn’t been able to figure out how to get close to her yet. She was really closed off.
Carmina raised her hand in greeting, blushing as she met his eyes briefly, then looking away. Tom knew about her speech issues, so he wasn’t offended she didn’t actually say hello. He talked enough for two people anyway, so he figured they’d get along just fine.
“How’s it hanging, gorgeous?” he asked, just to be a smart-ass and get a reaction from her. It worked. She turned back to him with wide, incredulous eyes and then looked down at her crotch.
“It’s not,” she said slowly. Tom laughed, thrilled he’d gotten her to talk. She had a little bit of an accent that was very cool and sexy, just like the rest of her.
“Are you here to meet Sam?” he asked, wiping the sweat off his neck with his damp practice towel. Carmina nodded. “He’s still out on the field. You can go out there. We’re done for the day.” He noticed she was wearing workout gear. “You going to work out with him?” Damn, he’d be sorry to miss that if they were going to do it here. She was probably sexy as hell all wet with sweat.
“Run,” she said. She blinked slowly, biting her lip. “Going running,” she corrected herself. Tom was pretty excited that they seemed to actually be having a conversation.
“Cool,” he said. “You run here a lot? At the arena?” She nodded. Buster K had his head tipped to the side as if he were listening to their conversation. Tom waited patiently. He remembered Sam telling him that it was important to give Carmina time to think when you were talking to her. He squatted and reached over to pet Buster K, who made a rumbling noise at the attention and butted his head into Tom’s hand, asking for more.
“Yes,” she said finally. “I like the track.”
“Better for your knees,” he agreed. “I think they’re supposed to have the US Track Championship here in a couple of years. You always been a runner?”
She shook her head. “Since the Army,” she explained. “And it’s good for Sam.”
“You ever run the stairs here?” Tom asked, grinning. “We did that a few months ago and I thought it would damn near kill me.”
Her eyes went wide again and she shook her head with a smile. “Not for me,” she said. “Too hard.” Tom stared a few seconds too long at her eyes. They were the prettiest eyes he’d seen in a long time. The brown in them was so light it looked almost gold. He’d never seen eyes like them. She looked away and he noticed she was blushing again as she shifted uncomfortably from foot to foot.
“Anyway,” Tom said a little too loudly as he stood up. “I’ve got a date. Got to go. But Sam and King are still out there with most everybody else. I’ll see you around, Carmina.” He waited.
“See you,” she said at last, with a wave, as she hurried down the hallway to the tunnel that led out to the field. Tom watched her until she was out of sight. That ass in running shorts ought to be illegal.
Carmina ran out of the tunnel onto the track around the field. She could feel how hot her face was from blushing. She mentally cursed. She could talk better than that now. It had taken a couple of years of speech therapy, but she could carry on a normal conversation, even if it was a little slow. But she always froze when she talked to Tom. Memories of her very naughty fantasies last night hadn’t helped. As she stood there talking to him, all she could see in her mind was him and Danny wrapped around her fucking her brains out. Nice. It had clearly been the farthest thing from his mind. He had a date. Which meant he’d be fucking someone else tonight and she wouldn’t. She growled and made two fists but there wasn’t anything around to punch.
“Whoa.” Carmina spun around to face the man behind her. Nigel Locke, a former soccer star in Britain who was now a kicker for the Rebels, stood there frowning at her. They’d become friends when she’d kicked his ass at pool at a party at Tom and Danny’s, the first time she’d met them all. “Someone looks upset. Care to share what’s the matter, love?” She shook her head. “Well, don’t hurt yourself,” he teased. “You should never run angry.” She made a face at him and rolled her eyes. He snapped his towel at her and then waved as he headed for the tunnel.
When she turned around her breath caught in her throat. Danny Smith was standing there staring at her. He was surrounded by other players, but she barely noticed them. His dark skin gleamed with sweat in the fading light of early evening and she wanted to lick him clean. She’d run from one fantasy just to confront another. As he watched her, Danny had that same intensity she’d noticed before. Tom wasn’t around this time. Did that mean Danny’s intensity was focused on her and always had been? Several of the guys called out hello and she absently waved at them, unable to break away from Danny’s stare. Beside her, Buster K whined softly as if sensing her confusion. Just then, Danny was jostled from behind and broke their eye contact. Before he could say anything or she could make more of a fool out of herself, she ran off toward the sidelines, where she’d spotted Sam and King waiting for her.
Danny watched Carmina de la Cruz run over to Sam and give him a hug. Danny totally got how a man could be best friends with a woman. His oldest and best friend in the world was a woman. Marian Treadwell was the Rebels’ assistant offensive coach, and she and Danny went way back. They’d survived college, Marian’s prick of a dad who’d been Danny’s football coach, and Marian’s near rape by half the starting offensive line on the college team. He was tighter with her than any other living soul, including his own family. Sam and Carmina had history, too. They’d both been injured by the same IED. That kind of shit glued friends together for life.
He wondered if Tom had seen Carmina. The kid had a serious crush on her. Danny totally got that, too. He was just as attracted to her as Tom was. But she had the sort of broken, world-weary eyes that Danny avoided. Been there, done that. He didn’t need to take on someone else’s shit when he had enough of his own to deal with. And Carmina de la Cruz had a lot of baggage, for sure. He respected the hell out of her for what she’d been through and how she dealt with it. But he felt sorry for her, too. She had some messed-up brain and couldn’t talk right. Although he’d heard her talk, and even though she spoke slowly, she seemed okay. Truth was, he guessed Tom had a crush on her ass more than anything else. She had one fine ass, that was true, and Tom loved him some ass. Danny turned around with a grin as he headed to the locker room. Danny loved that kind of big, firm, round ass on a woman, too. Made you want to smack it just to watch it jiggle. And if Sam knew what he was thinking—hell, what half the team was thinking—he’d probably kill them all.