The Coach

Chapter One


The beat of the music reverberates through my body. My eyes are closed, and I move with no care for what I might look like to those surrounding me. This song is sick; I think it’s a David Guetta remix, Love Tonight, or something like that. This is my happy place, when everything else in my life feels overwhelming. This is what I need to calm the crazy.

My girl gang, Darcy and Luna, are by my side. We’re out at one of the trendiest clubs in LA, and we’ve been dancing up a storm for at least an hour. I have a ridiculous amount of energy and find it hard to sit still at the best of times. That’s part of why I became a professional athlete.

The three of us play for the Angels here in LA, one of the best women’s soccer teams in the country. We’re super close friends and have been since we met in college. After four years of college, we all luckily got signed to the same team, and they both came to live with me and my sister Jasmine. These girls are my people, and man, we have a blast when we’re together.

“This bar is seriously epic,” screams Luna over the loud music on the dance floor. Her long black hair is down and sways around her waist as she moves her arms above her head.

“Totally,” agrees Darcy, grinning. I’m not even sure how she’s moving in the tight red number she has on. The girl loves to show off what God gave her. Why wouldn’t you when you look like Darc, thick brown curls, olive skin, and a body that looks like a Victoria Secret model. She moves around me provocatively, putting on a show, I’m sure trying to gain the attention of any cute guy around us.

I grin and nod in agreement as I dance along to the beat. They’re right, I adore this bar. It’s the perfect combination of all the things that I need to make me feel good on a Saturday evening: dance music, hot-as-fuck men, and whiskey. I’m in my own little world, just feeling the music vibrating through my body. With our hectic training schedule, it feels like it’s been so long since we’ve had a night out, and I really need to let loose and have a little fun. If I don’t, the pressure all gets to be too much.

And tonight, we’re celebrating this week’s big win against Louisville. It seems like as the season goes on, we’re just getting better and better. There is no way I’m going to let what happened last year go down again. This is our year to win the National Women’s Soccer League championships.

The song changes and my eyes flicker open to see my sister Jasmine walking through the crowd. I wave her over, and she dashes through the crowd to our group. “Jassy,” I squeal as I wrap my arms around her in a clumsy hug. “You came! I thought you were on a date,” I yell so she can hear me over the music.

She pulls a disgusted face. “Yeah, that didn’t go so well, so I ditched him for my girls.”

I’m upset for her. I know how excited she’s been all week about meeting this guy. She found him on one of those online dating sites. I can see the disappointment in her features. My sister is a hopeless romantic, always on the search for her perfect prince. All she seems to find are slimy frogs—no, worse than that, I would say toads! The guys she finds are the worst. But with every blow, she gets back up and tries again.

My sister is tenacious. I am too, it’s a family trait, but I use my persistent energy to be the best soccer player possible. I don’t date. I gave up on chasing the perfect man back in college when I realized they were all assholes, good for a screw when I’m horny and that’s it. Pouring everything I have into my career is a much more satisfying option.

“Good choice,” I tell her. “Come on, let’s get you drunk.” I take her hand and drag her along with me to the bar. She struggles to keep up in her tall pumps and little black dress. She looks beautiful all dressed up for her date, and I can never understand how she ends up with the losers she does. She is stunning, super intelligent, and so much fun.

I’m one of four sisters, but she’s the one I’m closest to. I adore her and wish I knew how to turn her frown into a smile, but this is becoming a usual occurrence with her. She needs to have some fun and stop trying so hard to meet men.

I lean over the bar, smiling flirtatiously at the nice-looking bartender. He flashes a smile in my direction and comes to stand in front of us. “Two Jamesons, please,” I ask super sweetly.

Jasmine gives me a worried look. “Andy, this seems like a bad idea. You know when I drink whiskey I get really trashed and end up doing something stupid. Remember what happened last time?”

I grin at my sweet big sister. She should know me well enough to know I’m not out tonight to sit and drink cocktails and gossip with all the pretty girls. I need to let loose and have some fun. “Yeah, I remember.” I burst out laughing at the thought of my sweet innocent sister so drunk she stripped off her clothes and ran down the main street of our hometown. I did it with her, but that’s not so unusual for me, I have no shame. “That’s the idea, let’s do something really stupid.” I grin at her. Trying to convince her to come over to the dark side with me. She is the sensible voice of reason in our group, but every so often she concedes, and that’s when we really have some fun.

The bartender places the drinks in front of us. Jas narrows her eyes at me, faking a filthy look. “You’re the worst little sister ever, such a bad influence on me.” She laughs, taking her drink from the bar and having a small sip.

I drain my glass, setting it back on the bar and signaling to the bartender for another. “That’s why you love me.” I give her a wink.

She shakes her head, following my lead, polishing off her drink and ordering another. She would be lost without me. Stuck in her boring, goody-two-shoe life trying to please our parents, but because of me, she gets out and has a little fun. I’m good for her and she knows it.

Darcy and Luna have ditched the dance floor and found their way to a table along the back of the club. We make our way back across the busy club to join them.

I sip my next drink, looking around for something fun to do—or someone. That would get rid of all of this nervous energy I have. I can’t sit for too long, my body needs to move. “I’m bored. I think we should play a little game,” I suggest to the others.

Darcy throws me a look. There’s a little twinkle of mischief shining in her eyes. She likes this idea too. “What do you have in mind, my wild friend?”

The other two look between each other and shrug. They are more the followers, happy to wait for me and Darcy to come up with a plan, then they play along. And I’m doing this for Jasmine. She needs a distraction from her shitty date. Who knows, she might even find someone special tonight. I mean, I doubt it, but she might.

“How about we give each other fake identities, we pick someone to chat up, and the first one to get a number wins?” I suggest. Because I can’t see anyone worth my time, I need to make this a game. It’ll be more fun that way.

“You mean like, different jobs?” asks Luna, fiddling with her hands, a little unsure of my brilliant idea.

I grin over to her. “Yes. Like a different identity for the night, something fun and sexy.”

Darcy smirks at me. She gets it, she’s always up for some fun. The two of us have gotten ourselves into some real trouble together. At times I would say we have even gone a little too far in the name of fun. “I’m in.” She claps her hands excitedly. I see her scanning the room already, looking for her target.

“What will the winner get?” asks Luna, always concerned with the prize.

“I don’t know, bragging rights? Loser has to buy the next round?” I shrug. Who cares what they get?

Jasmine assesses me and I think she has had just enough whiskey to be over her awful date and ready to loosen up a little. “Yeah, alright. I guess I could do with an Andy distraction.” Her eyes narrow in on me and she smirks. “I’m picking your persona, though.”

“Okay, Sissy, shoot. Who am I then?”

She looks me over, tapping a finger to her lips, considering me. “Well, I would like to make you something totally out of your comfort zone, like a beautician, but I don’t think you could get away with it with those nails and that hair.” The look she gives me with a roll of her eyes.

You’d think I would be hurt by the way she says it, but nope. I look at my nails, and shrug. She’s right, I’m not a girly girl at all. My nails are short. My waist-length, Viking-blonde hair hasn’t been brushed in a couple of days and is in a messy bun held together loosely with a few bobby pins. I’m not like most of the other girls strutting around this club, or even my friends really, in their tight little dresses and high heels. I don’t give a fuck about making myself up to attract the opposite sex—or the same sex, for that matter. I am who I am.

I’m wearing skinny black jeans with a black tank and my leather jacket, teamed with my comfy combat boots. This is me, unless I’m in my sweats to work out or soccer uniform to play. And I have never had any problem picking up guys, so why put in all the effort the other girls do?

“You would be more suited to a beautician, actually,” I say. “Ooh, I know what you can be.” I smirk, coming up with a profession she will hate.

“What?” She rolls her eyes at me.

“A fashion model.” She shrieks, and I laugh. I knew she would hate that, but now I bet she’s thinking about how annoying I am and not about her failed date, so I don’t really care.

She shakes her head. “Oh God, no! I’m so far from a fashion model it’s not even funny, no guy would believe it.”

“Jas, you’re gorgeous,” Darcy adds. “Tall, slim, stylish. Andy’s right, you make the perfect fashion model.” She wraps her arm around Jas, giving her a squeeze. My sister has no idea just how beautiful she really is, and Darcy’s description of her is very accurate.

“Well, that’s you sorted, Jas,” says Luna. “You’re a fashion model, just finished a shoot for Vogue Magazine, and I think that guy over there, the one who has been eye-fucking you since you sat down.” She’s looking over my shoulder.

Jasmine glances in the direction Luna is looking and blushes, covering her face. “What? No, he hasn’t,” she whispers. Ooh, she likes the look of him already, good.

I peek over my shoulder at who Luna is talking about and he so is watching her. “Lucky you, Jas, he’s hot as fuck!” She’s beetroot red now, her perfect porcelain skin giving her away.

“What about me?” says Luna. “Make me something good, like a flight attendant or a sex shop owner,” says Luna. She is our cute pocket rocket, one of the fastest on our soccer team, with stunning features and long almost-black hair. The girl is also obsessed with sex; you name it she’s done it. She might look shy, sweet, and innocent, but she is most certainly not.

Darcy turns to her. “You are so going to be a sex shop owner, that’s perfect for you, with the blond dude over there.” She tilts her head in his direction.

Luna rubs her hands together. “Ooh, thanks, he is mighty fine, I can work with that. And Darcy, you should be a flight attendant, with him.” She points and we all look. Just as we do, he glances our way, and we all burst out laughing, totally busted.

Darcy locks eyes with him, not caring for a second that she’s been caught checking him out. “Perfect, I can do that. A flight attendant just back from Paris, and the scrummy man in the suit, who is now wondering why we’re staring at him and laughing.” She grins, giving him a wave, always up for the challenge. He raises a brow and smirks. Damn, she’s already ahead of the rest of us.

“What’s it going to be for our girl Andy, Jasmine? Cause I have just spotted the perfect guy for her,” Darcy says with a devilish grin. This is going to be good. I can’t see who she’s talking about, but I don’t really care either. I’ll chat up anyone for a challenge.

We all watch Jasmine while she thinks it over. “A mechanic,” she announces, looking proud of herself.

I roll my eyes at my sister. A mechanic? At least it’s not some girly job. I guess I can pull off mechanic. “Who’s the guy, Darcy?”

“Him.” She tilts her head in the direction of the bar to a guy who is sitting on his own, drink in hand. I recognize him immediately as Brad Swift. He used to be one of the best strikers in the game, played for Chelsea. When I was younger, I worshiped him, and Darcy fucking knows that. That was until he got injured a couple of years back and I haven’t heard a thing about him since. She has to have picked probably the only person in here I would feel intimidated to talk to, and she knows it. She is just as competitive as me and she wants to win this little game.

“You fucking bitch.” I laugh.

She grins back. “Good luck, baby, may the best girl win.” She holds out her hand for me, and I give it one quick shake.

Even with the most impossible challenge for me, I’m all in. I never back down from a challenge and a chance to win. “See you losers when you’re buying me drinks,” I call, rising from my seat before the others have the chance, and I take off across the room toward the hottie the girls have picked out for me.

Brad Swift. In a club here in LA. Not just any club but the same one that we chose to come to tonight. What are the chances?

My heart is pounding, so unlike me, and for a split second as I get a little closer, I have second thoughts. He’s mighty fine, and he’s in a suit, all clean-cut and swoony. I can feel my lady parts wake up, the throb with need already thumping through me. I could never resist a handsome man in a suit, especially this one.

I take a deep breath to get my nerves under control. I give myself a pep talk. Andy, we don’t get nervous, remember? He is just a guy, no one special. You’ve got this. Checking behind me, I see my friends have all taken up the challenge as well and are heading to their selected guys.

Game on, girlfriends.

I sway my way through the club with an air of relaxed confidence, my eyesight set just past him to the bartender, but I take him in with my peripheral vision. And that’s enough to trigger a hot flush of excitement, knowing how close I am to him, Brad Swift. This guy used to be a poster on my bedroom wall for fuck’s sake, that’s how obsessed with him I was. I wanted to be every bit as good a player as he was. It’s why I started playing striker position in the first place and practicing scoring goals became an obsession. And he was mighty fine to look at, my first proper celebrity crush.

What am I going to say to him? Part of me wants to drop at his feet, thank him for being such an inspiration, tell him he’s my hero and the reason I’m one of the top soccer players in the country. But that’s not going to work here, not tonight, anyway. I’m playing a game, one I made up. And tonight, I’m a mechanic, thanks to Jasmine.

This guy would be used to getting the attention of any girl he wants, so I decide to ignore him instead. I walk straight past him to the bar, smiling at the cute bartender from earlier. I fix my hair, tucking a strand behind my ear in a flirtatious way. Standing close enough to Brad that he can’t miss me, I lean over to get the bartender’s attention. “Another Jameson, thanks,” I purr.

He smiles with a nod of the head and pours my drink, placing it in front of me. I take it, swirling the amber-colored liquid around a few times, then taking a small sip. I turn toward Brad, who is now unashamedly checking me out. I raise a brow in his direction, like, what the fuck are you looking at? Then I lean back on the bar, sipping my drink as I take in my surroundings. Playing it as cool as I can, even though my heart is pounding out of my chest. I’m close enough that I can smell his aftershave, and it’s intoxicating.

“Nice choice.” He smiles my way, then turns to the bartender. “Another Jameson on the rocks.” The bartender places his drink down in front of him. He has a swig then looks back to me. “You’re not like the other girls hanging around here tonight.”

That Australian accent… fuck, he sounds so sexy. I take another sip of my drink, trying to stay calm. He’s going to come on to me. Acting uninterested works every time. Guys like this have overly inflated egos, and they can’t stand the fact that a pretty girl might not be interested in them.

“Oh yeah, how’s that?” I ask, keeping my face unemotional, trying to look bored, glancing around the club like I’m on the hunt for something better, rather than giving him the attention I can tell he craves.

“I’ve been sitting alone at the bar for an hour, and so far, I’ve had a line-up of overdone girls asking for my autograph or a photo.” Out of the corner of my eye, I can see his brow knit together, displeased at the thought, and I’m glad I didn’t come over here with my hero speech.

I feign shock, placing a hand over my chest, finally looking his way. “Oh, that sucks to be you. Wait, autograph? Who are you? Don’t tell me you’re on one of those reality TV shows or something.” I laugh internally, trying my best not to blow my cover when I see the look on his face. He’s not used to girls not knowing who he is, it’s so obvious. It’s one thing to be good at what you do, but this guy is that and sexy as hell as well. Everyone knows who Brad Swift is!

He frowns. “No, not TV. You really don’t know who I am?”

I think for a minute, tapping my finger to my mouth. Then shake my head. “Sorry, can’t place you. Oh, I’ve got it. Were you in Crocodile Dundee? You have that Aussie accent going on.”

He throws his head back, laughing, and fuck, it’s the best sound ever. “Crocodile Dundee, that movie is really fucking old. But you got me, I’m from Australia originally.”

“So you’re Australian, but it’s not a full Aussie accent, though. Where else have you lived?” I ask, trying not to stare at him too intently, which is hard. He is truly the most beautiful man I have ever seen in real life. Short chestnut-colored hair, warm brown eyes, his skin is golden, and his lips—fuck, they look perfect for kissing. I glance at them for a second longer than I should, and he notices, his lips turning into a cheeky smile. Damn.

“You know your Aussie ascents?”

I shrug. “Yeah, a bit, I guess. My mom is an Aussie. She’s been here for nearly forty years, but she still sounds like one.”

“I’ve been in England for the past ten years playing soccer for the premier league. That’s the difference you were hearing.”

I fake a smile. “Oh, you play sports, cool,” I say like it’s the most uninteresting thing in the world.

He tilts his head, his eyes roaming leisurely over me. This whole uninterested thing is working like a charm. The look he gives me is like he wants to eat me up, and man, I want him to. “What do you do?” he asks, a smile playing on his lips.

“I’m a mechanic.” I shrug like it’s no big deal. God, I hope he doesn’t know anything about being a mechanic, or cars, cause all I have on the topic is, yeah, I fix cars.

I glance around the room to see how the other girls are doing. They’re all still chatting, no one has a number yet, that I can tell. Good, I still have a chance to win this.

He gives me a sidewise grin. “Of course you are. What’s your name, pretty mechanic?”

He thinks I’m pretty. My heart almost skips a beat. One of my idols thinks I’m pretty. “Andy. What about you? Or should I just call you Dundee?”

“It’s Brad,” he says, unimpressed by my joke. He really is ticked off that I don’t recognize him. It’s hilarious.

I hold out my hand for him to shake. “Nice to meet you, Brad. This was interesting, but I need to be getting back to my friends now.” I tilt my head to the side, trying to read him. His gaze holds mine as he continues to grasp my hand. I blink back at him, all of a sudden forgetting what I’m here to do and losing my words, completely lost in his gaze.

“Yes, pretty girl? What did you want to say?” His eyes flick to my lips and I get a vision of his lips pressed to mine, his hands in my hair as my eyes flutter closed, so caught up in the moment of passion between us. I snap out of my daze. You want to win, Andy, concentrate. “I was just going to ask for your number. Maybe we can do coffee sometime and you can tell me what it’s like to play sports.”

He laughs at my comment, but his eyes don’t leave mine. “Why exchange numbers to have coffee sometime when I can talk to you now? Tonight?”

I shrug, words to voice my argument not coming because I don’t want to stop talking to him. But damn, if I can’t get the number, I won’t win. But the longer I stand here with him, the less I care about the silly game.

“I’m only in town for the night, then I fly back to London. You want to have a drink with me, you’re going to have to come back to my room tonight,” he adds, trying to persuade me to leave with him.

Smooth, Brad. You can see how hard he normally has to try, or rather, not at all. I’m sure most girls fall at his feet with such an offer, but I’m not most girls. The offer is tempting, though, so much so I’m really struggling with how to turn him down. “Does that line normally work on the overdone girls that were bothering you before?” I reply, cocking a sassy brow.

“Every time.” He smirks cheekily, and I believe him. A guy like him wouldn’t even have to try. He could get any girl in this bar, but he wants to take me back to his room.

I pull out of his grip, realizing I’m still holding his hand. “Like you said, baby, I’m not like most of the girls in here. That’s not going to work on me.” I finish my drink, placing the empty glass down on the bar, making it obvious I’m about to leave.

He stands, finishing his drink and placing it on the bar. He takes a step closer to me; he is so much taller in real life than he seems on the TV playing soccer. I have to kink my neck to look up at him, and I’m not short for a girl.

He assesses me, his eyes dancing with delight, and I wonder what he’s thinking. “What would work on you, Andy?”

I swallow the lump in my throat—standing this close to him, the way he’s looking at me. That’s what works for me, my lady parts are screaming at me. But I’m not telling him that. “A girl can’t give away all her secrets, Brad.” I pause, racking my brain for something good to come back with. “How about this? Why don’t you tell me exactly what you have in mind for this evening, you know, if I were to come back to your hotel room. Then I’ll decide if it sounds worth my time or not.” I almost whisper the words. I’m trying to act my confident self, but I’m melting from the heat he’s radiating, and my mind is turning to mush.

He leans down, his mouth nearly touching my ear. “The hottest fucking night of your life, pretty girl. I promise, you won’t regret it.” He pulls back from me, the sexiest fucking smile ever crosses his face, and I know I’m screwed.

I’m not getting this guy’s number to win a bet against my girlfriends.

I’m leaving here with him, and he knows it.

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