Ruck Me: A Play On series short is available now on AMAZON
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Dependable and hard-working Dave Marsden is the loose-head prop for the Traverse City Blues. A big man with an even bigger heart, Dave doesn’t let the other players’ ribbing bother him about owning the premier flower shop in town. In fact, little in life bothers him…that is until his world collides with Sierra Richards, a teammate’s sister.
Now Dave is questioning everything. Thanks to their fierce physical attraction, his world has gone askew. Could a sexy siren like Sierra really fall in love with a big oaf like him? Sierra challenges Dick’s concept of normal with her slightly criminal attitude. With her computer hacking skills, she constantly pushes the boundaries of the law. And when Sierra’s hacking finally catches up to her, will Dave rescue her from her own misdeeds?
Because there is a right and there is a wrong, right?
The large wipers swished back and forth across the bus windshield, clunk clunk, hitting the outside edges of the windows with each pass. April 25th and the sky had opened up with a snow-rain mix. Big, wet flakes splatted the windows.
At least they were going to a warmer place for the tournament. All the way down to Nashville, Tennessee for this year’s Nash Bash. Just under eleven hours, and the Traverse City Blues RFC would arrive to sunshine and rugby. A perfect long weekend in Dave Marsden’s book.
Both the men’s and women’s teams, and partners of some, were loading their gear and luggage underneath the bus and then climbing on board. The bus lurched back and forth with the weight of the bags, the rocking motion familiar and comforting somehow to Dave.
The recent introduction of the Lady Blues team with the RFC was good. All good. Just made things a bit crowded on the bus, so Dave had started to ride up front where it was quieter. Usually he sat across from Irish and Gillian, but Irish was gone playing qualification matches for the next World Cup with the Eagles. Lucky bastard. And Gill was now sitting with some of the girls from the Lady Blues team.
Rory was his usual bus buddy, but now Rory sat with his new girl, Grace, also playing with the women’s team. That was cool. More room for him to spread out. Surprisingly, their bus driver, Joe, had music playing tonight over the speakers. Not surprisingly for northern Michigan, it was country, which wasn’t a favorite of Dave’s.
They had about six hours before their first stop, so Dave got out his travel pillow, iPad, and earphones and had just stretched out over one of the front seats when assistant coach, Shaun, came on board and handed Dave a clipboard. “Can you do me a favor and check to make sure we got everyone?”
Shaun and Coach always followed the bus in Coach’s SUV to carry the extra equipment. That also gave them a vehicle wherever they were going. It also made Dave a bit jealous for the quiet they would get.
Shaun clapped Joe on the shoulder but barely got a response from the burly bus driver. “Just let Joe know when everyone is here. Any extra passengers note at the bottom.”
Without an affirmation from Dave, Shaun skipped down the steps and was gone out the door. Okay then.
He lurched from his seat and made his way down the aisle to the back, working around bodies and gear bags. Some feet were propped up on beer cases like foot rests. Dave leaned around Mitch, who was organizing his stuff in the middle of the aisle, and checked off those already on the bus.
Jake, inside center, very last seat on the bus, headphones already on, a scowl on his face. Check.
TJ, openside flanker, and his girlfriend. Check.
Young Jimmy, tighthead prop. Check.
Champ, the Blues number eight, and his wife. Check.
Kevin, nickname of Keys, fly-half. Check.
Then a large group of Lady Blues: Brittany, Claire, Jordyn, Hillary. Lots of checks.
Gill and Junette. Double check.
Rory and Grace. Double check.
Shano was gone with Irish to the Eagles. New guy Bryce. Check.
Josh and Austin with another gaggle of Lady Blues. Check.
He marked Mitch and his girlfriend as he retraced his steps to the front and then plopped down in his seat behind the driver to wait for the rest. A half dozen more came on board, which Dave noted carefully. Then Damian, or Mouth as everyone called him, came on board with his usual noise and exuberance. “Blues, Blues, Blues,” he chanted, his fist up in the air.
Some responded back, but when he swore at Mitch who was in his way and knocked him upside the head, it stopped the comraderie dead in its tracks. What an asshole. But he was Asshole #2, the second of the Blues’ wings. Dick was Asshole #1, and with Mouth on board, that meant Dick would be coming any moment now…
Yep, the alpha asshole boarded the bus two steps at a time and then stood at the front of the bus, arms raised, and roared like a berserker. As spittle flew from Dick’s mouth, Dave flinched and reared back. Man, that guy had issues. Always seeking attention, always getting into trouble and fights, making fun of others as if he was a bully at school.
Dick did some sort of grind dance, humping some imaginary chick while swatting her ass. Class. Dave shook his head and ticked both assholes off the list. That only left the captain, Del, they were waiting on, and since Dave now was his roomie at the Blues house in town while the old farmhouse he bought was being renovated, he knew Del had left before him to make the bus. So was most likely talking shop with Coach. As captain, he took the Blues seriously, thank God.
Except, who was this?
A beautiful woman stepped up behind Dick and gave him a shove so he stumbled as he twerked. Dave chuckled. Dick righted himself but didn’t move on. She rolled her eyes and waited.
Holy shit. How did Dick get someone like that?
Platinum hair in a bob with a severe angle down to her chin. Her hair glistened with the falling snow. She wore bright red lipstick but very little black on her eyes. She was striking, but looked about as natural in the Blues bus of athletes as a wolverine in the desert. Yeah, that’s what she reminded him of—feisty. Like she could take down Dick with a look. But it still didn’t answer the question—what the hell was she doing with him?
She stood there, a bored expression on her face as Dick gyrated up the aisle to the sound of some twangy chorus. She had on a snug, tan leather jacket with a furred hood, black skinny jeans, and black boots. The hem of her coat hit the curve of her bottom. And what an ass it was. Hoo. Dave took a deep breath and glanced away to gain his composure before he stepped up behind her. “Excuse me?”
She didn’t turn around as she waited behind Dick to settle his backpack under his seat, taking ages longer than it should because he was too busy making jokes and acting the bollocks, as Irish would say, for the other lads.
“Excuse me,” Dave said again.
Still she didn’t turn around. He tapped her on the shoulder. This time, when she did turn, her brows were furrowed over her light blue eyes, almost a gray. “You’re not on the list,” he said to her.
She sneered. “What do you want, big fella?”
“I—” He wanted her. That was what. Everything from her posture to her attitude, from her unnatural color of hair to the red of her lips, everything in her design intrigued him. He opened his mouth, but no words, he was so struck dumb by an immediate infatuation with a woman he’d seen for a minute. His heart was racing, his throat tight.
When he didn’t finish his reply, she pointed with her finger. “I’m with Dick.”
Dave held in a laugh so it sprung out his nose as a snort. Someone so beautiful…so striking…with the Dickmeister? Incomprehensible but, obviously, it was true. “That’s cool. I just need to include your name on the bus roster so we can keep track of everyone traveling with the club.”
At that, she turned to face him and hitched her elbows out to the sides to rest them on the seat backs. “No one needs to keep track of me. I’m an adult.”
Right. “I can see that. I just need a name.” He looked past her to Dick for some help but he was already gabbing with Mouth in the seat behind him.
“We ready to go?” the bus driver yelled.
“One minute,” Dave shouted back.
She tapped his clipboard. “You can call me Cherry.” She puckered, blew him a kiss, and then turned her back on him.
Damn. Straight up spicy hellion. What the hell did she see in Dick? When she got to the Blues’ wing, she nudged him, and without a word to her, still talking a mile a minute to Mouth, Dick let her through to sit by the window.
She set her oversize leather bag on her lap and stared outside. Dave followed her gaze, but there wasn’t much there. It was early evening in the parking lot of Meijers supermarket on a Thursday, cars and people coming in and out.
Dave marked a +1 next to Dick’s name. He wouldn’t forget her when he took attendance when they stopped.
There was a buzz of anticipation building in the bus as they got closer to leaving. They would travel through the night, stopping only once for a late fuel and grab some food. Yet Cherry girl didn’t seem excited at all.
Just then, Del stepped up into the bus. Dave let him pass, and he walked to the third row and stopped right next to Dick. Strategic that was. Del was a smart man. And over the last six months since he’d been living with Del in the Blues House, he’d come to admire the man even more.
“Listen up,” Del roared over the noise.
Dave tapped Joe on the shoulder and asked him to turn down the music a minute. As the noise settled, Del continued, “We have a big tournament day tomorrow so no drinking tonight. And what is my general rule?” He didn’t let them answer. “No sex before a game.” A collective groan went up. Del raised his hand. “That is for the men’s team. I can’t speak for Rory and the Lady Blues.”
“Same,” Rory stated. Didn’t even raise his voice, but by that time Del had commanded everyone’s attention, just like he always did. The charismatic captain of the Blues from New Zealand had something about him that made folk want to listen. And listen good. Even Dickmeister was now staring up at Del with more than admiration in his eyes. A bit of jealousy there, for sure.
Dave stole a glance at Cherry girl, who was looking right at him. Dave jerked his head back to Del, heat moving up his neck into his face. He heard her chuckle but didn’t dare look again. She was probably thinking why a big oaf like him was looking at a woman like her.
I hope you enjoy!!
Also, the first two full-length novels in the Play on Series are on sale for a week. In Touch and In Time are only 99 cents until next Friday!