Dating the Player (The Legends #1) - Erin McCarthy

Chapter One

Eloise

My favorite things in the entire world were football and cats.

Hard-driving balls and soft, purring kitties.

And one sexy, star quarterback named Dak.

Which made me a nerd-girl oxymoron. Crazy cat lady was expected. Sports fanatic? Nope. Not supposed to happen.

But sports, football in particular, was the one connection I still had to my father, who died when I was nine. So, I wasn’t the tailgating, game-day-gear, fist-pumping fan. I was the watching-in-my-apartment-solo kind of fan. With my two cats. I was an intellectual sports fanatic. Into analysis and commentary out loud with Peyton and Eli, my feline besties.

Plus, have you seen most of those players? Swoon. Big, hulking men with firm thighs and tight ends… it got a nerd girl’s blood pumping every Sunday just to watch all that masculinity on the field.

While I may not have been the sexy female sports fan, who managed to make tailgating look like an interview for a reality TV show or for a nightclub VIP “hostess” position, all my life I wanted nothing more than to work somehow, some way, in the world of professional sports.

Mission accomplished when after grad school I secured a position in the marketing department of my dream team. We created and curated social media messages for the team, and engaged with fans. My department directed a vision for the overall tone of the franchise for the season and spent Sundays together in the office, live tweeting throughout the games.

Sundays were easy. It was the other six days that were more challenging, because it felt like instead of pumping up loyal fans, half the time we were running damage control for the star quarterback, Dakota North.

Yep. Dakota. North.

His mother had once said in an interview she’d named him for greatness, because no one with that name could be anything less than a leader. Go figure. She’d been right.

Dak. Party boy. Sexy as sin. Charming with a grin that could and did, coax women out of their panties on a very regular basis. He gambled, he drank, he spouted off stupid things on Twitter without pausing to consider the consequences. He had sex with preachers’ daughters, wealthy cougars, random women at nightclubs, and strippers, depending on the night. Or day. Or morning.

He was an equal opportunity manwhore.

His fingers were always in the cookie jar.

You would have thought he would be universally despised, but he had two things that worked in his favor—a golden arm and big balls. He didn’t care what anyone thought and he smiled his way through every debacle and tossed money out generously in all directions.

He was a social media nightmare.

And the man in my virgin, nerd-girl dreams every night.

Sweaty, dirty, sexy dreams where I was the center, gripping the ball for the snap and his hands were under my ass, among other things.

“I need more coffee,” my co-worker, Will, said, startling me out of my thoughts, as he stood up from his desk across from mine. “Eloise, do you want me to grab you some more too? We’ve got a shitstorm this morning.”

I checked my mug. Still three-quarters full. “I’m okay, thanks.”

There were five of us on the team and our desks were arranged in a rectangle facing each other, much like second grade. But it was necessary given the majority of the time we were in a dialogue over wording, timing, etc. The office was light and airy, with a view on one side of a manmade pond, fountain burbling away in it, the other row of windows showing off the indoor practice field.

That Monday we were debating how to respond to Dak’s statement to a reporter after stomping the Ravens. When asked how he intended to celebrate an unexpected victory, Dak had said, “I have a hot date with your wife.” When the reporter had said, “Excuse me?” Dak had followed up with, “Just kidding. Your daughter is more my type.”

Then he had clapped the reporter on the shoulder, gave him a charming grin, and jogged off.

He had been called into the office. I knew he was in the building already. Getting reprimanded and cautioned were the same things the powers that be did every week and Dak would nod and smile and do it all over again. Whenever he was in the building the estrogen levels increased, I swear. Actual hormone levels were being raised by his masculine presence. Brushes and lipsticks and hairspray all came out as the female staff prepped, practiced their pouts, and perfected their Instagram eyebrows.

As he sauntered through, big