The last time I got laid was… oh right. Never. The only game I have is on the soccer field, where I mostly exist to make my teammates look good. I don’t get the glory or the girl, and in true Lavin Saint fashion, the first impression I make to the gorgeous new girl on campus is chair-crashingly, soul-crushingly bad.
Bianca Santos seems undeterred and even intrigued by my inability to form coherent sentences around her, which is why it sucks when I find out she’s my coach’s niece. Off limits.
Except Bianca doesn’t listen to that memo, and the more she focuses on me with those beautiful brown eyes, the less I care about the real possibility of being relegated to the bench. So when I find out she’s hiding something that’s threatening her, I’m done playing passive defense. I’m on the offensive now, no matter the risk—my sport, my sanity, or my life.
This time, I’m getting the glory. And the girl.
False 9 is a standalone romantic comedy with some sports, a bit of action, and a whole lot of sarcasm. HEA and no cliffhanger.
Coming Feb 4, 2019 on Kindle Unlimited!
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I knew stopping for that burrito was going to bite me in the ass.
Because the only desk left was the shitty one, the desk everyone avoided in Classroom 225B in the Markel Technology Building. It squeaked with every movement. Hell, I couldn’t breathe without this thing announcing oxygen filling my lungs.
But I’d been late—because of the aforementioned burrito—and when I walked in, all eyes cut to me, then to the fucking desk in the back corner. There was even a sunbeam slicing through the grimy windows, shining on the damn thing like a spotlight.
I plopped my ass down while the desk protested like the asshole it was.
Did I mention I hated this class?
I hated it.
Prof Anderson was easy, but she was boring as fuck. It was a Gen Ed course that I’d missed because my advisor had messed up, so it was mostly full of freshmen and sophomores.
I slouched down, the chair announcing my position change like I’d just birthed a royal baby. The girl in the seat next to me rolled her eyes. She detested me ever since I somehow managed to segue handing her a tampon that fell out of her purse into asking for her number. Because I couldn’t seem to do anything with the female sex that wasn’t fucking awkward. I was Bella Swan with a dick. Yeah, I knew about Twilight. My cousin—who made me watch the first movie—was Team Jacob. I was Team Stab all the Vampires with a Stake.
Anyway, apparently courting should never be done in the presence of feminine hygiene products.
I rolled my pen around my fingers, staring out of the windows beside my desk and tried not to be a creepy guy.
I didn’t want to be a creepy guy. Or the desperate guy. I just wanted to be… a guy.
I checked my watch discreetly so the desk didn’t protest. Prof A was late, which sucked because if she went over the end of the class, I’d have to rush to lunch.
The door creaked open and although the class fell silent, I didn’t look away from the windows. I was thinking about the new drill that coach had us do earlier in the week, and I was wondering if they fixed the Belgian waffle machine at the dining hall.
A throat cleared and Prof A said, “Hello everyone. Sorry I’m late.”
I was now contemplating what to smother my waffles in as she continued to talk. “We have a new class member, so we’ll be switching around your final project groups. You all can say hi to Bianca Santos.”
Strawberries, then a heaping of whipped cream. I was drooling thinking about it. I scratched my chin and sighed. A shadow fell over my desk, and I looked up.
I swore angels sang, or maybe that was someone’s Adele ring tone. The girl in front of me was backlit by the windows, the sun filtering through her long, straight black hair as she leaned against the radiator beside my desk.
She was…stunning. Beautiful. A person who didn’t belong on the Travers University campus. No way. She belonged on a pedestal in white robes while we all bowed, kissed her feet, fanned her with giant palm leaves and hand fed her grapes.
Her brown eyes were huge and round, her skin a couple shades darker than mine. Her lips were full and they were…moving.
They were moving.
She was talking. Oh shit. I had no idea what she had said. How long had I stared at her?
Then she glanced at the prof. “Can he…” she hesitated. “Hear me?”
Christ, she thought I was deaf.
I cleared my throat, and the desk wailed. Her gaze shot back to me and her lips parted. A little wrinkle appeared between her two perfectly arched brows. I needed to get my shit together and talk soon. “I’m sorry, uh, what did you say?”
She glanced around the room again, and her cheeks colored. Great, I was embarrassing her along with myself. There was no end to my madness.
“I was just telling you that I was going to sit here on the radiator,” she said. “All the desks are taken today.”
“Oh. Oh!” I struggled to my feet, the desk screaming. “I can sit there. You can have the desk.” I grabbed my book bag but the strap was hooked to the back of the chair and in an instant, the whole thing careened over, sending papers flying as we both jumped back to escape the crash of metal and plastic.
Silence descended in the classroom like a storm cloud of doom. The entire class blinked at me like I was an alien creature. Bianca clutched her book to her chest and I must have been dreaming because… was she smiling? I stood there with my battered book bag, my papers strewn everywhere, wishing I could melt into a puddle and slither outside through that damn radiator. “Oops.”
“Lavin, that’s all right.” Professor A cleared her throat. “Bianca. You can sit at my desk.”
Bianca walked to the front of the room, but I didn’t miss the smirk she shot me over her shoulder. She perched on the chair behind Professor A’s desk and ducked her head into her books. I righted my desk in a cacophony of sound and sat down with a creak.
Just call me Lavin Saint: King of First Impressions.
I bit off the corner of my protein bar and tried to act like I wasn’t eating a disgusting hunk of peanut butter and other natural flavors. I’d head back to my place soon to get my gear for practice, but for now I was chilling on campus with some of my roommates. Who were also my teammates.
Dre sprawled next to me at the picnic table drinking a red Gatorade. He was our goalie, so he towered over me by a good five inches, even though I wasn’t tiny at six feet. His hands were huge—better to catch soccer balls with. And freshmen. Sometimes several at the same time. Freshmen. Not balls.
He scanned the crowd, surely looking for another conquest, then turned to me and smiled, his straight white teeth stained pink from his drink. “Think Coach’ll be in a good mood today?”
I shrugged. “Probably not, now that Carson is out for the season.” Carson, one of our two forward strikers, tore his ACL last game.
“We won at least,” said Zac. He was our left back, and often our last line of defense. His eyes were half-closed and even though he was sitting up, I wouldn’t have been surprised if he fell asleep. He could pass out anywhere. On the field, he was alert and focused. Off the field, he was a blond, long-haired definition of lazy.
“Barely.” Shane, our star forward, snorted beside him.
“Hey, a win is still a win.” Zac nudged him.
“East for you to say,” Shane said. “Defense played great. I couldn’t get a decent touch on the ball to save my life.”
I opened my mouth to make a ball touching joke, especially because Shane preferred balls over boobs, but he glared at me. “Don’t start, Saint.”
My mouth shut with a clack. “It’s still early in the season, and now Coach’ll have to rearrange some things with Carson being out. But it’ll be okay. And Shane, you’ve been practicing harder, and I think Coach has noticed.”
Shane picked at his thumbnail and didn’t answer me, but his expression was stormy. I ducked my head and ran my hand over my hair. I knew I’d had a decent game, so I kept my mouth shut. I was a midfielder. The guy who ran a whole fucking lot. And I did important things like pass the ball and set up shots. But I didn’t do much of the flashy stuff like stop a breakaway forward or score goals. If I was lucky, I had an assist. But who paid attention to that shit?
Good thing I didn’t play soccer for girls or for glory or what-the-fuck-ever. I played because I lived for it. The feel of the jersey on my back, soaked with sweat, the plastic number six clinging to my skin. That solid thwunk when my foot connected with the ball for the perfect strike.
I loved the game. I loved it so much that I knew I was going to be that fucking crazy dad in the stands, pretending to kick and living vicariously through my kid on the field.
If I ever got to be a dad. ‘Course, I’d have to meet a girl. And have sex with her. I’ve met plenty of girls, but I’ve had sex with a big fat zero. Yep, I showed up at college with a squeaky clean dick.
As much as I loved soccer, it wasn’t the sport that got the girls hot. At least, not in America where the average MLS player made less than a hundred K. We didn’t have cheerleaders shouting DEFENSE at us. No, they wanted the quarterback or the pitcher or the point guard. They didn’t want a Division III midfielder. I wasn’t the big man on campus like the baseball team’s home run king.
It was probably better this way since my game with girls was nonexistent. I either clammed up like a mute or I suddenly became afflicted with verbal diarrhea and said really, really stupid shit. Not funny or cool stupid shit. Like actual stupid shit that made me look like something was clinically wrong with me. Kinda like in front of the new girl in class today.
But no, I’m just Lavin Saint, midfielder for the Travers Badgers: The guy who would die a virgin because he couldn’t figure out—even at the age of twenty—how to talk to girls. I’d have cried about it, but I needed to preserve my fluids for practice.
Dre’s body stiffened next to mine, and I looked up, hoping it wasn’t the football players who loved to fuck with Shane because their masculinity was fragile. But nope. The angels were singing again because Bianca Santos had deigned to grace us with her presence.
I swore the whole fucking quad fell silent. I hadn’t even paid attention to her clothes in class because I’d been so enamored with her face. Well, her body matched. She wore a pair of flat silver shoes and jeans that hugged every delicious inch of her calves and thighs and—holy hell—that perfectly shaped ass. Her low-cut shirt showed more than a handful.
She stared straight ahead, hair framing a face that could sail a thousand ships. She strutted across the campus like it was her personal runway, as just about every head swiveled to watch her do it.
“Holy shitballs, who is that?” Dre asked.
Zac held out his hands. “Hold on, no spoilers. I’m watching this in slow-mo so I’m on a five second delay.”
Shane shifted in his seat. “I-I think even I’m hard.”
My chest was tight and I couldn’t really sort out why. Jealousy warred with pride warred with arousal, and none of that made sense, really. Well, arousal made sense because I was a walking hard-on even on a bad day. But why I was jealous other guys were looking at Bianca? And also, how was I proud? She wasn’t mine. She probably thought I was some dumb kid.
She’d probably forgotten about me already.
Yeah, she was hot, but as she drew closer to our table, she dropped that runway facade for just a moment. Her eyes flicked to either side, her white teeth came out to catch a nibble of those red lips, and her knuckles tightened on the strap of her bag. The whole moment lasted maybe five seconds, and then her veil of confidence shrouded her again.
I didn’t like the unease that prickled over my skin for that moment. Was she…afraid? Anxious?
Some deep voices echoed off the brick wall of the nearby building, and Dre nudged me. A couple members of the football team were heading our way.
If this were a movie, the guy in front—the quarterback—would be wearing his jersey, even though it wasn’t game day. And he’d be tossing a football up in the air randomly, because every college quarterback always carried a football. His friends in the back would be his O-line, big dudes who wore size fifteen shoe. And they’d all be ridiculously good-looking except for the one overweight guy, you know? There was always one of those to provide comic relief, because Hollywood could never make him the hero.
That was how I pictured the football team every time I saw them because it made me smile. Instead of making me want to throw poison darts at them.
They had stopped walking now, Mike Delaney and his two friends, who I was pretty sure were wide receivers. And when I figured out the reason for their non-ambulatory status, I had to grip the table to prevent myself from leaping out of my seat.
They stood in Bianca’s path, so she either had to walk around them or…through them.
She slowed her stride and from my table, I heard her voice. “Excuse me.”
Mike’s gaze took in her body. My lip curled as he whistled low. “Don’t think I’ve seen you on campus. You new?”
She lifted one perfectly arched eyebrow. “Transfer. Excuse me, please.” She angled her body to step between them, but they made a play call and closed ranks.
Mike smiled at her, sweet as pie. “I’m Mike.”
“That’s nice.” Her voice dripped with boredom.
Oh God, I was in love with her.
Uncertainty crossed Mike’s face before he squared his shoulders. “So the football team is having a party Friday…”
I was walking. It didn’t really register in my brain that my feet were moving in her direction but once I started, and one of the football players spotted me coming, I couldn’t stop now.
So I kept going, until I stood next to Bianca. There was the sound of footsteps and some grumbling, and I knew my teammates stood behind me, backing me up.
Mike’s lips thinned. “Did I miss inviting you fuckers over here?”
That was different than his preferred insult of pussies who ran all the time and took dives. Which, hello. Yeah we ran a lot. I averaged seven miles every game. However, I would unequivocally deny I ever took dives. This wasn’t the Premier League for fuck’s sake. Mike was just sour because he probably thought he’d be division one, and instead he was playing division three for a team with a shit record. Fuck him.
“What, you own this five square feet of the campus?” Dre sneered back. “Shut the fuck up.”
I had no idea what I was going to do now that I was here. But I couldn’t stand there while they were sleazy to her, inviting her to their stupid fucking party where they’d serve her jungle juice out of an orange Gatorade cooler. Bianca was…fine wine. Or a martini. Or bubbly champagne with raspberries. She was not liquor out of an orange Gatorade cooler.
Bianca turned to me, her gaze resting on my face for a minute before recognition lit her eyes. I thought she’d roll them, mumble to herself about being surrounded by idiots. But instead, her lip quirked, and she took a step closer to me.
Closer to me.
I froze, worried if I moved a muscle, she’d skitter away.
She batted long eyelashes at Mike while playing with her hair. “A party tomorrow? Is that your way of telling me I’m invited?”
Mike’s expression quickly changed to smug. His default. “Hell, yeah. Starts at ten-thirty and goes all night.”
She hummed under her breath and cocked her head, dark eyes bewitching. “Could I bring some friends?”
Mike looked like he was going to combust with glee. “Of course. Anyone you want. Your friends are our friends.”
Fuck, he was a sleaze.
She straightened quickly and rocked on her toes. “Oh great!” Then she slipped her arm in mine and turned her head. She was about an inch or two shorter than me, so we saw eye-to-eye. That surprised me, as I hadn’t realized how tall she was. Her body leaned against mine. Our hips brushed. Her fingers were touching my skin, and I was going to burn up from the inside. Into ash.
And then she dropped her bomb right in my lap. “This is great, Lavin. We have a party to go to now on Friday!” She looked over her shoulder at my friends as my stomach began to flip and flop and completely revolt. “You all too!” Then she turned a blinding white smile on Mike, scrunching her nose up adorably. “This will be so fun.” Her gaze slid to me. “Right?”
“I—” I had to protest this. I had to tell her this wouldn’t work—me showing up at a football party—but holy fuck she was beautiful, and her eyes were on me, daring me to say no, daring me to turn her down.
No way in hell was I turning her down.
I swallowed. “I think that sounds like fun.”
“Great!” She slipped her arm out of mine, then grabbed my bicep and squeezed it. As she did that, she leaned in, and…kissed my cheek.
Those lips. On my face skin.
Then she said, softly. “See you Friday.”
With a wink to my friends and a wave to Mike and his crew, she was off again on her runway walk, black hair streaming behind her.
I was in a dream world where those lips touched more than my face when Mike popped my bubble. He leaned in and growled in my face. “You show your face, and we’ll wreck it.”
With a chin jerk to his friends, they walked away.
I still couldn’t move. Bianca had…invited me to a party. Was that a joke? Was I really supposed to go? See you Friday.
Shane stepped up next to me and watched the football players go with his lips scrunched to the sides. “Uh, well, there was not room for interpretation in that statement, was there?”
I held up a finger. “Did she just…”
Dre clapped my back. “Yep, she did.” He stretched his arms in the air. “Guess we’re crashing a party, boys!”