False Start (Mavericks #1)(10)

By: Julianna Marley

“Because I would like to take you out to dinner to thank you again for all that you did for me and for the women and children’s center. Plus, as I recall, you made me stand up in front of over three hundred people and speak. I told you that you would owe me.”

Chuckling, she rested back into her seat grinning like a damn fool.

“Well tell me something Mr. Monaghan, do you take all your business partners out to dinner?”

“Nah, most of them are men, and they just wouldn’t look as good as you in a dress.”

Sharing a laugh, she could sense that feeling creeping up inside her belly. The same one that reminded her of high school when she had a crush on the most gorgeous boy in school and she would hide inside her closet talking to him for hours on the phone all giddy and smitten. Except this wasn’t high school. And this wasn’t a boy. This was a man. A very striking man and a professional athlete who already had the power to make her feel unbalanced under his intense stare, but also wildly intrigued. Plus, she had just got her foot in the door with the football league. What would happen if it didn’t work out between them? Would she have to see him again? Would it damage her reputation? Chelsea had mentioned his “flavor of the month.” Clearly, he dated often and she wasn’t interested in being anyone’s temporary time pass, no matter how attracted she was to him. Especially when she had the chance to plan events for the Mavericks organization.

“It’s just dinner,” he teased during her moment of silence. Yes. It was just dinner and before she had a chance to scrutinize all the reasons she shouldn’t move forward, all rational thought abandoned her.

“Well, dinner would be nice then.”

“Okay, great.”

“Perfect! I will see you then, Mr. Monaghan,” she smiled to herself.



“It’s just Jax.”

* * *

Grinning to himself, Jax slipped his phone back into his pocket. He wasn’t completely confident when he sent those flowers to Liv that she would call or even agree to have dinner with him, but he needed to see her again. He hadn’t been able to get her and that smile out of his head all weekend. Sticking his music buds back into his ears, he resumed the three mile run he was completing before she called. He promised himself that he wouldn’t get into any relationships during the season; that his sole focus would remain on his performance on the field. And he never broke a promise. He was eager and determined to take his team to the Super Bowl his first year of wearing blue and silver. It was the reason he was brought to Carolina. But what was one dinner with quite possibly the most beautiful woman he has ever laid eyes on?

It wasn’t like he was in danger of starting a relationship or getting in too deep with a woman, anyways. He hadn’t exactly figured out how to successfully mesh the two yet. Career and relationships. There were plenty of guys on the team that had girlfriends, fiancées, and wives and they made it work, but he never seemed to be effective at that. He worked hard on his talent, remained focused on his career and dedicated himself to his team a hundred and ten percent. Maybe that was the problem? Trevor had accused that it was because he hadn’t found the one that made him want to make it work badly enough. Maybe Trevor was right or maybe he just took after his father more than he would ever admit.

Seven months ago he ended things with a woman he thought he was willing to make it work with. He had met her junior year of college while playing at the University of Florida. They spent almost every day together; up until he got drafted in the first round to Washington. Sure, they had to endure the long distance relationship thing, but he wasn’t worried about being over eight hundred miles away. She would finish school while he played his rookie year in the league and they would see each other in between on bye weeks, school breaks, and the off-season. But it was then that he started to see a difference in Vanessa Flynn. She had demanded more and threatened more often. Calling him early in the morning while he was recovering from a rough game the night before, complaining to him that another one of her friends got engaged, only to call again at night crying and accusing him of not loving her enough. He had cared for her, sure, but he wasn’t positive that he wanted to marry her. He never felt those feelings for any woman. He was perfectly fine focusing on his career, but he also knew that Vanessa wanted more. Much, much more. Their rare time spent together was consumed with parading him around town to the best restaurants and most exclusive clubs in the city with her arrogant friends and suffocating family. Yet, he couldn’t even convince her to go to a local tavern to meet a few buddies and their girlfriends to blow off some steam or hang at home to just recoup from a long week of practice, unless it offered table service and a photo op.

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