A/N We're baaaaack! And by we, I mean myself, Cockyback, Reed Girl, Rainbow and the like! Yes, in honor of the NFL starting today (minus the Packer slaughter by the Seahawks the other night, thanks so much for showing up and ruining week 1 of my fantasy stats Rodgers and Lacy) I'm posting the first chapter of the Sideline sequel! Sorry for the rant, had to happen. I should not be in a hole already after one game. After this first set going as I post, sure, but not after 1 game. Note to all, bench your offensive players when they go against Seattle. Just sayin.
Football rants aside, I plan on doing my absolute best to post every Sunday morning. Had a delay today because I had some errands to run and thought it'd be cool to post at kickoff. More than likely it'll be earlier next week. Also, the Fic Sisters are hosting this story on their site today at ficsisters dot com with my thoughts on what's ahead and a preview from next chapter, if you'd like to take a look. Thanks to them and sorry again for the late notice on posting! I appreciate you guys making a special post just for me. You're awesome!
Happy reading, happy NFL Sunday and thanks for waiting for this. I had a lot going on, and for those that don't know, my second book, The Hot Corner, is out and available and I appreciate all the love you guys have given it! Thanks all of you for sticking with me!
Getting Blitzed Chapter 1
"Cullen! What kind of throw was that? You threw cross body! Everybody knows that's dangerous. Use your head!"
Was he fucking kidding me? Number one, I completed the pass. Number two, I was born knowing more about throwing than his ancient ass had learned over the seventy plus years he'd been alive. Number three, I was Edward Fucking Cullen, and I could throw any damn pass that I wanted.
Of course, I couldn't say any of that shit. The biggest difference between NFL training camp and college was that the coaches damn well didn't give a crap what I had to say. It was their way or the highway. Well, not really, because they sure as hell weren't going to dump their first-round draft pick, but still. Rookies were to be seen and not heard, or so I was told. That didn't stop me from cursing Coach under my breath as I returned back to the huddle.
"Nice throw," Sammy Maddux, target of said stupid pass, told me with a grin.
"Thanks. How about you tell him that shit? It's not like I didn't know where the safety was."
"No way, man. I don't want to run wind sprints after we get done."
Fucker. I couldn't blame him, though. That shit sucked. Training camp itself pretty much sucked. We were expected in the building at seven a.m., and since I was the team leader, I was expected in earlier than that. Thanks a lot, fucking Tom Brady and Peyton Manning for your ridiculous work ethic. Emulating their stupid asses made for long-ass days for me. I spent three times as much time lifting and studying the playbook and old game tape than I had in college. By the time I got home at night, I had the energy of a fucking sloth. I wasn't sure where all the glitz and glamour of being a pro quarterback was but it was about fucking time I got to experience some.
Coach called the play, and I positioned myself behind my patchwork offensive line. Three weeks into camp, and we still weren't sure who was going to be protecting me. That didn't instill a lot of fucking confidence, let me tell you. I called for the ball and dropped back, scanning the field in front of me. I was supposed to throw a deep bomb to Sammy if it was open, but he was being blanketed by our star corner, Deon Dixon. I checked down to Paul Hatcher, who was running a short crossing pattern, and released the ball just as JPP slammed into me.
"Cullen! What the fuck was that? Harrison was open on the left hash."
Well, excuse the fuck out of me for not noticing as I was being slammed to the ground by one of the best defensive ends in the league.
"I felt the pressure coming and checked down to Hatcher." Which was the right fucking call, thank you very much.
"You had Harrison for a gain of at least twenty yards, and you threw a check for a gain of eight? What were you thinking?"
A gain of eight is pretty damn good on first down, that's what I was thinking. Fuck this noise. I was tired of pretending that Coach was always right.
"I was thinking that I needed to get the ball out of my hands before JPP drove me into the ground. I was thinking that throwing to Harrison would have required throwing across my body, which, correct me if I'm wrong, you just told me not to do?"
Well, fuck. Coach was already turning purple. I'd seen him do that shit in games on TV, but this was my first time seeing it in person. Behind his back, Sammy was laughing and giving me an across-the-throat gesture, calling me a dead man. Asshole.
"Do we have a problem, Cullen? If you can't throw the plays that I call, I can go and find someone who can."
Right. Because there were so many of me wandering around teamless this time of year. He'd mortgaged his entire draft on me. We both knew I wasn't in danger of being benched or cut or anything else. Still, I couldn't say that shit to his face. Man, I missed Coach Fisher. Never would have thought I'd think that, either.
"No problem, Coach. I took the check because it was there. If you want me to throw to Harrison next time, I will." And then you'll bitch at me for throwing cross body again, but what the fuck ever. There's obviously no pleasing you.
Coach watched me through narrowed eyes. "That's it for the day, folks. See you bright and early tomorrow morning."
I started to walk toward the lockers.
"Not you, Cullen."
Fuck. This is why you don't talk back to the coach. I knew it, but he'd pushed me to my limit. I watched sadly as the rest of the team jogged off.
Paul stopped next to me. "Hey, man, a bunch of us are headed out to Onyx later if you want to meet us there."
I snorted. "I doubt I'll be up to it." I had a bad feeling that my aching body was about to be aching a hell of a lot more.
He chuckled. "True, but if you are…"
"Yeah, man, thanks. I'll try." Likely by now he knew I wouldn't be coming. I'd yet to bother hitting any of the clubs my teammates frequented. I needed to get home to her. She'd listen to be me bitch about my day and make shit better so that I could roll out of bed and do it all again tomorrow.
I watched as he jogged off, tensing my shoulders when I felt Coach come up behind me. Here we go. I turned to face the firing squad. His face was back to its normal color at least. That purple shit was kind of scary. I didn't want him to have a heart attack and die because he didn't like the play I called.
"You don't think much of me, do you, Cullen?"
Well, that wasn't what I was expecting to come out of his mouth. "That's not true. You've won two Super Bowls, and you're one of the longest-tenured coaches in the league. Of course I think highly of you."
"But you don't think I know what the hell I'm talking about when I yell at you for throwing a check instead of hitting the open receiver for the big gain."
Hmm, this was dangerous ground. "I thought the safer throw-"
"Don't bullshit me, Cullen. You didn't see that Harrison was open. We both know damn well that if you had, you'd have thrown it to him, whether you had to go cross body again or not, even though you weren't in danger of that anyway."
Okay, so he had a point. A minor one, but a point all the same. "You're right. I didn't see him because JPP was coming on like a freight train, so I took the safe route, which is what I thought I was supposed to do."
"It is, in a game. In practice? I want to see everything you can do. Follow my orders now so I know I can trust you on Sundays. Do you think I didn't talk to your old coach before I used my entire draft on you? I know you've got a good football mind, and he claims you have unparalleled instincts on the field. He also told me you have a tendency to go rogue and call your own plays based on what you see at the line."
That was...true. "Look, Coach, I know I'm just a rookie, but I've been playing for a long time, and I know pretty much every scheme out there. Of course I trust my eyes and my instincts, and they rarely lead me wrong."
He nodded. "I don't doubt you, kid. I've been watching you for the past couple of years, and there's a reason that I traded up to get you. And someday, when you've earned it, you can change my plays and fly by the seat of your pants out there. But you haven't earned it yet. Right now, you're just another rookie, and I'm not going to let you ignore my directions. Show me that you can run the plays I call, and I'll give you a bit more autonomy as we go. Got it?"
Well, it hadn't gone nearly as badly as I'd thought it would. "I can do that." Even if I didn't completely agree with it. I'd earn his respect, and he'd see that he didn't need to question me or my ability. I couldn't help it if that shit annoyed the hell out of me. I wasn't used to it.
"Good. Now give me some full gassers before you hit the showers." He didn't hide his grin at my glare when he said the word gassers either.
Fucking hell. I lined up on the left hash and ran across the field. It wasn't long before my calves and lungs were burning, but I wasn't going to give him the satisfaction of slowing down or showing any sign of distress. I ran the requisite four times back and forth while he stood there with his arms crossed, wearing a shit-eating grin.
I had to bend over and try to catch my breath when I was done.
"Nice job, Cullen. Next time you talk back to me in front of your teammates, you'll be doing stadium sprints."
I peered up at him through the sweat that was pouring down my face. It was hot as fuck, and I pretty much wanted to die.
"For what it's worth? That throw to Sammy was a thing of beauty."
He chuckled when I gave him the finger. I wasn't quite able to talk yet.
"Why don't you take a shower and go have fun with your teammates? You've earned it."
I shook my head and finally pulled myself upright. "I can't. I'm engaged." There, I could breathe again. Sort of. I sounded like a ninety-year-old man on life support, but I could talk.
He laughed again. "I heard. Still, nobody said you had to hook up. Just go bond with your teammates. It'd be good for you."
Maybe, but I wasn't about to risk her wrath when I got home. I had enough shit to deal with without one of her hissy fits. "Maybe on a day when I haven't had to run gassers."
He smirked. "We'll see if you manage to have one of those. Get out of here, kid."
He didn't have to tell me twice. I forced myself to jog to the locker room, hoping he couldn't see the fact that my legs were shaky as fuck. Even if I wasn't engaged, the last fucking thing I'd want to do would be to head to a club. I wanted to soak in a hot tub and maybe, just maybe I'd have the energy for a blow job if it was in the offing, but that was about it. Football was turning me into an old man before my time. This fucking sucked.
I drove to the luxury condo building Reed Girl and I had picked out shortly after I'd been drafted. We'd debated on living in New York or New Jersey, but since I played in Jersey and we could get a hell of a lot more for our money, it just made more sense to pick the latter. We had a penthouse that overlooked the water and gave us a view of New York City that was pretty fucking awesome. Plus we had all these windows and hardwood floors and a concierge. Reed Girl loved the spa amenities, and I loved the gym and the rooftop terrace. It was the perfect place for a young, rich couple with their entire futures ahead of them. We'd both fallen for it at first sight.
I groaned as I stepped out of my car and felt every muscle screaming at me. The spa tub and I were about to get acquainted for a good hour or so. Part of me wanted to call for a masseuse, but Reed Girl probably wouldn't be thrilled. It was okay if it was the team trainer, Bob, but Hilda the Swedish spa girl? Not so much.
I wasn't sure I'd ever felt happier to come home as I was when I stepped off the elevator and unlocked my door. Before the tub, before I ate, what I really needed was her. She understood me like nobody else, and I knew she'd listen to me bitch about my day and be completely on my side. She loved me wholly and would agree that nobody, not even Coach, should question me when it came to plays on that field.
It didn't take long. The second I closed the door, I could hear her feet as she moved across the wooden floor. I flipped on the light and tossed my keys on the side table that Reed Girl had insisted we buy because the marble matched the marble in the bathroom. I didn't give a shit. As long as the couch was comfortable and the bed was soft and had plenty of room for maneuvering, I was good.
She rounded the corner, and we stared at each other for a few seconds before she launched herself at me. I scooped her up and buried my face into her soft fur. "Rainbow." She bopped her face against mine several times, like she had since she was a kitten. I still called it head-butting, even though Reed Girl had informed me that that was how she gave kisses. Calling them kisses made me feel like more of a pansy than I needed to be, so head-butts it was.
I carried her into the living room and sank down on the couch. She adjusted, lying across my chest, tucking her head into my shoulder, and purring away as I stroked her soft, gray fur. She could still fit on my shoulder, albeit not quite as well as she had when she was kitten, so she'd discovered that this was the best way to cuddle into me. I'd learned to let her have her way, as it was easier than the alternative. Besides, while Reed Girl was still down in Tallahassee finishing her degree, Rainbow was all I had.
I poured out the shitty day, telling her all about practice and Coach questioning my skills and the gassers and everything else. She gave me more head-butts and even put her paw on my face a time or two. I knew that meant she agreed with me. When I was finally done, I reached for some treats, and she got off me, meowing happily and rubbing against my ankles as I gave her a handful.
"Thanks for listening." Yeah, I fucking talked to my cat. And yeah, I was a grown man living alone with a cat until December when Reed Girl got her degree and finally moved up here where she belonged. It wasn't that far away, but each day felt like years when we'd been together pretty much non-stop for almost two years. I missed seeing her every day, having her take up three quarters of the bed, and I sure as hell missed having regular sex daily. Yes, my body was beaten to shit, but I would probably still do Reed Girl if she was here. I needed her.
I got my cell out of my pocket, wincing as my muscles contracted with the movement. Fuck, I needed that soak. But I needed my girls more. I speed dialed her and lay back as Rainbow climbed on my lap. When her voice came over the line, I felt myself relax for the first time all day.
"Hi, Champ. I miss you."
"I miss you too, baby."
She knew me. "Bad day?"
"Tell me about it."
So, I petted Rainbow and talked to my girl. Call me pussy-whipped, in two ways, but being with my girls was better than any night club. I was where I belonged, and soon Reed Girl would be with me and all would be right with the world. I was Edward Fucking Cullen, and I was going to make the NFL mine.