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Illegal Contact (The Barons #1)
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The rules of the game don’t apply off the field in this first Barons novel.
New York Barons tight end Gavin Brawley is suspended from the team and on house arrest after a video of him brawling goes viral. Gavin already has a reputation as a jerk with a temper on and off the field—which doesn’t help him once he finds himself on the wrong side of the law. And while he’s been successful professionally, he’s never been lucky when it comes to love.
Noah Monroe is a recent college grad looking for a job—any job—to pay off his mounting student debt. Working as Gavin’s personal assistant/babysitter seems like easy money. But Noah isn’t prepared for the electrifying tension between him and the football player. He’s not sure if he’d rather argue with Gavin or tackle him to the floor. But both men know the score, and neither is sure what will happen once Gavin’s timeout is over…
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“As training season starts for professional football players around the country, the legal troubles for Barons tight end Gavin Brawley are making the headlines once again.”
I watched the evening news from under my baseball cap and ignored the suited man pacing on the other side of the room.
“That’s right, Owen,” the female anchor said. They always sounded so earnest even as their eyes danced with glee. Nothing like a celebrity athlete’s downfall to get a journalist’s rocks off. “After almost a year, Brawley was finally sentenced in the wild car chase and assault that was caught on camera after last year’s Super Bowl.”
The “wild chase” hadn’t been videotaped, but some asshole had captured the ensuing confrontation on their phone’s camera. I’d cringed at the clip in the days and weeks following the incident, but now I watched with detachment. Like it had happened to someone else.
My chest didn’t tighten anymore as I watched all recorded six-five of me make the terrible decision of jumping out of the gunmetal Maybach after it screeched to a halt. And I no longer felt nauseated as I watched myself yank open the door of the shitty Nissan before pulling the driver out. When I responded to his frenzied attacks by cocking back my fist and swinging it in an arc to his face, I didn’t blink. The only feeling that remained was the sense of relief as I watched myself hold a brawny frat boy up against the side of his car and force him to delete the blackmail-worthy shit he’d bragged about having on his phone.
“Some people think Brawley received a light sentence,” the anchor went on. “But the Barons are reeling after learning he would not only be suspended for an entire season—he’s also under house arrest for six months in lieu of jail time, and is ordered to wear an ankle monitor for the duration. The star tight end can’t go anywhere but his Westhampton mansion, with approved trips to see his management team—”
The television went black. It stretched almost the entire length of the wall so, with no other lights on, my entire living room darkened. The only thing illuminating Joe Carmichael—my stressed-out manager—was the setting sun streaming in through the windows.
“I was watching that.”
“Why? Watching it won’t change things.” Joe tossed the remote control on one of the couches and strode forward. Even his perfectly tailored suit and perfectly styled hair couldn’t hide his irritation. “We’re already up shit creek, Gav. I could live without hearing the breathless coverage.”
“Relax.” I sank lower on the couch and tilted my head backwards. “You’re not the one with an ankle bracelet on for the next six months because of a single punch. A punch thrown in self-defense.”
“You’re right. I’m the one that has to clean up your messes.”
“No one ever asked you to be my babysitter. The only reason you’re standing here is because—”
“Your agent told you to hire me after you and Simeon turned a vacation in Ibiza into a brawl with the Predators, which the media blamed solely on you.”
I ran my tongue over my teeth. “The Predators are douchebags who stay salty because they haven’t won a Super Bowl in like twenty years, and we stay collecting trophies. And they were talking shit.”
Joe went on as if I hadn’t spoken. “And let’s not forget that the only time you released a statement to the press, it was an open letter telling them to go fuck themselves after they did that story on both you and Simeon having difficult childhoods.”
“Because that was a trash story,” I snapped. “They just wanted to write about how the Barons handpick starters with rough pasts to exploit our aggression and trauma on the field, acting like our talent needs an explanation. It was garbage and a flat-out lie. Simeon has plenty of fam and his mother is awesome.”
“That’s not the point. Everyone knows the media twists facts. But when you dragged the article all they did was make it out like you were jealous he received more attention.”
I shrugged. “I don’t give a damn. I’m sick of them acting like everyone who didn’t come up with a silver spoon in their mouth should have their lives exposed so people can rationalize why poor kids go pro, when their spoiled brats can’t even make it to a D-1 school. Simeon knew where I was coming from, and that’s all that matters.”
The statement earned me a scathing stare.
“Is there going to come a point when you stop getting yourself into trouble because of Simeon Boudreaux?” Joe jabbed a finger at the television. “Because this mess? This takes the cake. Simeon being blackmailed by that frat boy was his own fault. If he’s going to sic you on every meathead who secretly tapes him sucking their dic—”