There’ve been two great loves in Zach Kendricks’ life. He lost one because of his commitment to the other.
After Griffin walked away because he refused to live his life in the closet, Zach put everything he had into achieving his football dreams. When he was drafted, he began to understand that Griffin had done the best thing for both of them by leaving. But that doesn’t mean he’s ever forgiven his first love.
Now in his second season with the Wilmington Breakers, Zach’s committed to keeping his head down so he can prove his rookie stats weren’t a fluke. He knows his resolve will be tested when he’s selected to participate in Outside the Pocket, a reality show which follows players through training camp. He’s almost convinced himself it won’t be a distraction when Griffin walks into the room. Distraction becomes an understatement when he’s informed he will be spending nearly every waking minute for the next six weeks with the only man he’s allowed to hurt him.
Will Zach’s love of the game be enough to keep him from being downed by contact again?
I placed my hands on Zach’s shoulders and turned him around to face me. We stood so close our feet were touching. I leaned in slightly, resting my hands on his hips. If this went the way I feared, tonight would be my biggest regret in life, not the night I walked away the first time. “I know you think I’m being an asshole by telling you we can’t do this, but I think you also know I’m right. I’m not saying never, I’m just saying not tonight. Not when you’ve been drinking. At all. If we do this, I want both of us clear-headed. Because if I’m with you again, I’m not walking away. And I won’t let you run, either.”
“That’s what I want, Grif. It’s what I always wanted,” Zach admitted. He lifted his hand to my face and I closed my eyes, reveling in the warmth of his touch. I felt his body shift and I knew what was coming. I swallowed back the emotions overtaking my body. Bit back the pleas for him to ignore everything I’d just said and throw me back on the bed again, consequences be damned. His breath ghosted over my neck as he spoke, the words shooting through my body like an electric shock. “I know you don’t want to hear it right now, but I still love you. It was always you, and no matter how much I tried to hate you for destroying what we had, I knew why you did it. Deep down, I knew you did what you thought was best for both of us. But it wasn’t, because now we’ve both spent three years alone and miserable, because no one since then could compare to what we had.”
Not trusting my voice, I did what any man would do when they’re that close to the other half of their soul. I opened my eyes so I could watch him as I pulled his hips closer to mine. And then, I kissed him. It wasn’t sloppy and desperate, it was a promise to him that we would be talking about this more in the morning. Hopefully, early enough that we’d be able to spend the rest of the day not talking. Zach moaned into my mouth, sliding his hand around to the back of my neck, carding his fingers through my hair, tugging slightly to expose my neck. He broke the kiss and I knew we needed space between us, but I was frozen in place. His mouth moved lower, sucking and biting at the side of my neck. My knees nearly buckled when he found the hollow behind my ear and started teasing me.
“Always you,” he whispered before standing straighter and pushing me back just enough to slide out from between me and the wall. “If you change your mind tonight, you know where to find me.”
It would’ve been easy to climb into the bed next to him. And if he was still the way he was in college, he’d be so sound asleep that he’d barely even move as I settled against his side. I could take one night next to him, just in case he did change his mind in the morning. But I didn’t, because when I was next to him, I wanted him to know I was there. I love you, too, Zach, I whispered into the darkness and rolled over, trying one last time to get some sleep. It never came.
Release Date: January 28, 2017
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