“Hell yeah, there are!” Hendrix called out. The boys howled in agreement, but the second I put my hand up, the room fell silent again.
“Point is, unless you’re ready to shell out eighteen years of child support on an NFL salary, wrap your shit up. There’s a lot of good women in the world, but there are a lot of girls who are going to see that jersey as a meal ticket, so watch out.”
Another mumble of agreement filled the room.
“Oh, and not to correct Coach, but if you get in trouble, call me first, and we might not have to wake up the old man.” I grinned unapologetically at Coach Goodman, who shook his head at me and sighed. I’d been with him for the last eight seasons. The man was pretty much a second father to me. “You got anything else for us, Coach?”
“I have one rule above all others, and if you break it, you won’t have to worry about being traded, because you’ll be dead.” He stood at my side and stared down every player in the locker room, making eye contact with each of us in turn as the rest sat silently. “Do. Not. Fuck. With. My. Daughter.”
You could have heard a pin drop, and more than one rookie swallowed nervously at the murderous look in Coach’s eyes.
Honestly, I’d known Savannah Goodman since she was twelve, so to me, she was still the little redhead with pigtails and freckles. Good kid. Then again, she was twenty now, a sophomore about twenty minutes away at UNC Chapel Hill, so the warning was appropriate. I had no doubt Coach would slaughter anyone who got close to her.
“And just so we’re clear.” He whipped a picture out of his wallet and held it up, turning a slow circle. “This is my girl. There will be no ‘I didn’t know who she was,’ or ‘I thought she was just another staffer.’ She is Miss Goodman to you, and if you even look at her in a way I deem inappropriate, you won’t have a dick to wrap up. Are we clear?”
“Yes, sir.” The team answered, including me. If Coach didn’t fuck someone up for messing with Savannah, then I sure as hell would.
“Now that we have that covered,” Coach said as he tucked the picture back into his wallet. “We’re letting the press in. You know the drill. Don’t say shit you wouldn’t want your teammates to hear because the entire world hears you.”
I had just tugged my shirt over my head when the first reporter stuck her mic in my face. Then her eyes dropped down my body with an appreciative smile.
“How’s it going, Nancy?” I asked, pulling my shirt down the rest of the way. This was her third year in my locker room, and I had yet to give the woman what she’d repeatedly, clearly, and very loudly asked for.
“Hi, there, Nixon.” She flashed me a smile with overly bright teeth. “So how did you feel out there today?”
“Great,” I answered. “It’s always fantastic to get back on the field for the season.” New year, same old questions.
“And how do you feel like it’s coming together?”
I managed to keep from rolling my eyes. “Well, it’s the first day, so it’s hard to really judge, but knowing the base of the team that’s already in place, and seeing the level of new talent we’ve brought in this year, I can’t help but feel optimistic.”
I fielded the rest of her questions from the bench as I got my socks and shoes on, then handled three other reporters before I made my way out of the locker room. At least I wasn’t stuck at the conference tables yet, but I knew it was coming.
Locking eyes with Roman, then Hendrix, I pointed out of the locker room, and they nodded, both still answering questions. If I got out now, I could sign for the fans for at least twenty minutes.
“Nixon! What do you have to say about rumors that your brother had a shotgun wedding last weekend?” a local tabloid reporter called out from the side of the hallway as I walked out of the locker room.
Usually, I ignored that shit, but this time I laughed. “Trust me, there would be nothing shotgun about Nathan marrying his fiancée.” God, he’d been desperate to get that woman to the altar for the last two years.
“Is that a confirmation?” the reporter asked, following me down the hall with quick clicks of her heels.
Harper would lose her shit if I said anything even resembling a confirmation. “No, it’s not. Trust me, if my brother had gotten married, I would have been there, and he would have announced it in skywriting. Besides, aren’t you a little far from Charleston for the social gossip?” I tossed over my shoulder.