People say not to believe the things you read in magazines, but you know what? Most things you’ve heard about me are probably true.
I totally banged the reporter in the locker room after the championship game last year.
Those pictures in Expose from last summer? Those were not modified.
I’m also not really six-foot tall. (But let’s keep that between us.)
Now, I know you’re wondering about that last Expose headline—the one about me and my teammate (and ex-best friend) Finn Miller’s sister, Layla James. That one is a little more complicated.
Here’s the thing: I’ve played football my whole life. If there’s one thing I know, it’s how to adjust when the game changes. And if there’s one thing I always do, it’s find a way to win.
Granted, the stakes are higher. The playbook has changed. There’s more on the line than (another) MVP title. But guess what hasn’t changed? Me. I’m still Branch “Lucky” Best and I’m not about to fumble this one.
Grab a seat and a subscription to Expose. I’m about to make some headlines. (Again.)
From USA Today Bestselling author Adriana Locke comes a fun and flirty STANDALONE NOVEL.
A few months prior . . .“This is why you’re hot.”
“Really?” I sit back, lifting a water bottle to my lips and smirk. My eyes don’t leave hers. “I had no idea.”
That’s a lie. This look, the one that’s currently melting her panties straight off her teeny little waist, has worked in my favor since I discovered it at the ripe old age of fourteen. Should it have worked on my math teacher? Probably not. But it did make acing algebra about a hundred times easier. I could use it then without even really knowing what I was doing. Now, with fifteen years of experience under my belt, I can play this look like a fiddle.
Fanning her face with a stack of index cards outlining the questions she’s supposed to ask me for Exposé Magazine—something I don’t even think she realizes she’s doing—she blinks rapidly. “Tell me something no one knows about you.”
I place the bottle on the little table beside me and shift in my seat. Her last question is the only question that is asked in every single interview I’ve ever done. Every last one. And they all think it’s so original.
I used to humor reporters and give them something to print, but in the last couple of years, I’ve thought better of it. Maybe my self-promotion has gotten better. Maybe there’s less to tell (since they already know so damn much). Or maybe I’m simply a little more cynical than I used to be. Either way, I loathe this question. It’s like just because I’m a public figure they’re entitled to every detail of my life.
“Branch,” she gulps, her cheeks turning a shade of crimson, “my notes from this interview aren’t going to be very . . . helpful.”
“And why is that?”
She refuses to look at me.
“Let me see your notes,” I say, reaching for the index cards.
“Oh, come on,” I tease. “What’s on there?”
“Just . . . I need something substantial so I don’t get fired.” The slightly pouty lips, dipped chin is a look women give me all the time.
“Yeah. You’re appealing to my emotions.”
“I don’t know what else to appeal to.”
Roaming my eyes down her face to the low-cut blouse that showcases a nice set of B-cups, I let them linger for a long couple of seconds before bringing them back to her eyes. I lift a brow. “I’m sure you have no idea other than appealing to my . . . emotions.”
“Well . . .” Her gaze drops to the paper on her lap as she turns an even deeper shade of red.
“How many interviews have you done?”
“Total? Or sports?”
“Five,” she admits with a sigh. “I only got this one because the sports writer got meningitis.”
“So you’re here by default?” I ask, leaning forward. My arms resting on my knees, I clasp my hands in front of me.
“No. I’m here because I begged for the opportunity.”
“To interview me?” I nudge.
“Something like that.”
“Do you beg often?”
Her tongue darts across her lips, leaving a trail of wetness. “Only when necessary.”
She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. There’s something about the gesture, a tinge of normalcy behind the overt sexiness, that makes me reconsider. As I try to talk myself out of giving in, I also wrack my brain for some fun fact that can help her save her job just in case she’s not feeding me a load of shit like I suspect she is.
“I hate dogs.”
Her eyes light up like a scoreboard. “You hate dogs?”
“I know, I know—this is a complete asshole thing to say. I get it. But the Blaney’s Doberman left a lasting mark on more things than the back of my right thigh. For some people, it’s clowns. For me, it’s four-legged beasts. To each their own.”
Her pen flurries across a legal pad, the sound reminiscent of Coach’s dry erase marker on the whiteboard at practice. “What else do you hate?”
“Oh, no. I gave you one thing,” I say, not falling into her trap.
“What do you love then?”
The door leading into the makeshift interview room opens. Finn Miller struts in, yanking a pair of sunglasses off his face. “Ready, Party Boy?” he grins.
“Yeah, I think we’re done here.” I look back at the reporter as she gulps. “Got what you need?”
“More or less,” she says slowly, innuendo thick in her tone.
Finn chuckles beside me as I slide off the leather chair.
“Thank you, Branch. For everything,” she says, her voice all breathy.
“Dear Lord, what did you give this one?” Finn asks.
“An exclusive,” I joke, shoving my Legends hat backwards on my blond hair.
“Oh, that’s what we’re calling it these days?”
The reporter, whose name I didn’t catch, clutches her notes to her chest. “Maybe we can all three do something together one day.”
“That’s called a threesome and I’m in,” Finn deadpans.
Her mouth drops open. “I meant an interview!”
“Sure you did,” he chuckles, holding the door open for me. “Let’s go, Branch. Time’s a-wastin’.”
“Good luck with your column.” Giving her a nod, I follow Finn into the deserted hallway.
There’s a spring in his step that worries me a little as we make our way towards the elevators. Why I agreed to accompany him on a weekend getaway without actually getting details is beyond me. The last time I did this we ended up ice fishing in Michigan. Who does that?
“Where are we going again?” I ask, hoping he’ll forget he didn’t tell me and just spill it.
No such luck.
He punches the down button for the elevator and leans against the wall. “You’ll love it. I promise.”
By the cheesy grin on his face, I have doubts.