That asshole was a reporter.
We are so screwed.
“So wait a minute. Some random dude came up to you on the field after I left you and said he doesn’t believe our relationship is real?” I clench my teeth together, my jaw going tight. “Who was he?”
We’re at an Italian restaurant not too far from the stadium, having a late dinner. There are a ton of Niners fans in here, but none of them recognize me so they all leave us alone.
“I don’t know. He didn’t say his name and he was wearing a Niners T-shirt. He could be anybody.” She sighs, the sound so desolate, so sad, I’m tempted to grab her, pull her into my arms and give her a comforting hug.
“What an asshole.” I shake my head, getting more heated up the longer I think about it. “I can’t believe he said that to you.”
“He seemed real pleased when he said it too. Like he knew his words would shock me.” She hesitates before she whispers, “They hurt me too.”
Anger makes my blood run hot. “If I ever find him, I’m gonna kill that bastard.”
“Please. It’s okay. Calm down.” Sydney reaches across the table and touches my forearm, her cool fingers pressing into my skin. Despite my growing rage, I can admit her touch soothes me. “He was probably nobody important. I’m sure we have nothing to worry about.”
Her words aren’t registering. I’m too pissed. “I can’t believe you chose to wait and tell me this until we got to the restaurant. Why didn’t you tell me about that guy when we were still at the stadium? Maybe we could’ve found him,” I say incredulously. “At the very least, you should’ve said something in the car on the way over here.”
“I didn’t want to make a big deal about this. He could’ve been anyone just trying to get a dig in,” she says.
“Well, it worked. Now I want to dig into his face and pulverize it.” I shake my head and grab the glass of beer in front of me, taking a sip. I thought I’d indulge for once tonight, especially since I learned I am officially on the 49ers roster for the season. Talk about having something to celebrate. I was feeling on top of the world until Sydney told me what happened to her with that jerk guy saying what he did.
“I didn’t want to put you in a bad mood. I know how excited you are tonight and I didn’t want to ruin it.” She rubs my arm, her fingers squeezing me tight. “I’m so proud of you.”
Is that really Sydney talking? Or is she putting on a show for everyone else? No one is sitting nearby. We’re in a pretty intimate booth in the far corner of the restaurant, so no one can hear us.
I want to believe she’s proud of me. I need to hear those words tonight. I’ve worked too damn long and hard not to feel good about my newest accomplishment.
“Thanks,” I mutter, taking another sip of my beer. While we still have intensive practice five days a week for hours at a time, we don’t have an official game for another two weeks. If I want to cut loose for the remainder of the weekend, I don’t see how it can hurt.
Sydney sighs and takes her hand away from my arm. I immediately miss her touch. “Listen, don’t even think about that guy tonight. Who cares about all that stuff? We’re doing what we can to help out Drew and Fable, and hopefully reporters will take the bait and eventually leave us alone. If not, then—then I don’t know what we can do to change their minds.”
“If we can’t change their minds, we’ll have to ride out the storm, I guess,” I offer, sending her a look.
She frowns, but she’s still so damn pretty, even when she’s upset. “I hate that our lives are at the mercy of other people. It’s like rude reporters and asshole photographers rule the world.”
“Only if you let them control you,” I say, chuckling under my breath. I like how she called them asshole photographers. Her description is pretty damn accurate.
“Well, I guess I’m letting them control me then. Aren’t you?” She narrows her eyes, her expression challenging.
“Nah.” I wave a hand, trying to act more casual than I feel. “I’m going to do what I want regardless of what any of them say.”
“It’s not like you can do whatever you want right now, you know what I mean? We’re putting on this phony show for the entire world to watch. Don’t you think that’s kind of—weird?”
Looks like someone is analyzing her current situation a little too closely.
“It’s only as weird as you make it,” I reassure her. “Or you can just run with this plan and have fun while it lasts.”
“Is that what you’re doing? Having fun?” she asks, her voice low.
So I lower mine too. “Isn’t that what we were doing in your bedroom earlier? Having a little fun?” I tap the back of her hand with my index finger, but she snatches it away. Aw, she’s blushing. Damn, she’s cute when she does that.
“Stop what?” I rest a hand on my chest, always Mr. Innocent. It’s a lot more interesting to talk about what’s going on between us than worry over what some jackass reporter is up to. “What exactly am I doing?”
“Bringing up what happened this morning.”
“What happened this morning was not only fun, but also pretty damn hot, you have to admit.” It’s all I’ve been able to think about for the remainder of the day. Even during the game, I thought about Sydney. Her taste, the little whimper that sounded low in her throat when I grabbed her ass, how responsive she was. I swear I was a better player out on that field tonight while thinking about her.