False Start (Mavericks #1)(4)

By: Julianna Marley

“Hey lady!” Chelsea smiled enveloping her into a big hug and she couldn’t resist smiling.

“Look at you!” she took Chelsea’s hand, forcing her do a small twirl to appreciate her entire gown. “You’re exquisite!”

She had to give her best friend props. Chelsea Shaw was a jeans, t-shirt and sneaker kind of girl. One whom preferred her hair pulled back in a ponytail and who rarely wore a stitch of make-up on her naturally innocent face. Being friends with her so long, she knew that most days Chelsea just rolled out of bed picture-perfect. Not Alivia though. Nope. Concealer was a necessity to cover the bags under her eyes from lack of sleep. Ever the one to complain about how she never felt comfortable with most of the other players’ girlfriends who favored chit chat about make-up and spa recommendations, Chelsea blended into the high society crowd effortlessly tonight.

“This place seriously looks incredible, Liv,” Chelsea smiled admiring the room. “You and Ross outdid yourselves.”

“Thank you.” She smiled easing up a bit. Chelsea was the closest thing to family she had here in Charleston and sharing this professional milestone with her made everything seem less nerve-wracking, if it were even possible.

“You look very handsome tonight, Mr. Perry,” Alivia said shaking Trevor’s arm, loosening him up. The Mavericks tight end looked exceptionally handsome, his black hair slicked back off his cleanly shaved face for once. His solid frame towering over Chelsea’s, he tugged, loosening the knot of his tie, looking nothing short of a bored eight-year old boy sitting in Sunday mass. Knowing Trevor well enough, she knew for a fact that champagne and black tie affairs were not his idea of a good time.

“Relax, will ya,” she said playfully. “It’s a party.”

Nope. Tuxedos and photo ops were definitely not Trevor Perry’s scene.

“Now why does an ape like this get to have two beautiful women hanging on his arm and I have none?”

Turning around to a familiar voice behind her, she came face to chest with a large body covered in white cotton and black wool belonging to a man easily a head and a half taller than her. Stepping back, she lifted her chin looking up into a pair of green eyes so intense, she almost missed the grin gracing his smooth face, resting above an indestructible jaw. With eyes, a mouth, and a chest powerful enough to leave her breathless for the first time in her twenty-five years of living. Through the light buzzing in her ears, she could hear Chelsea chuckle, as he reached a long arm out to shake Trevor’s hand, not taking his eyes from hers. Which was good because she wasn’t ready to pull her gaze from the ridiculously tall man who suddenly seemed to be taking up all the space inside the 9,000 square foot ballroom. His massive body visible even through his perfectly fitted tuxedo. The type of build that only came from long hours of physical work.

“Where is your flavor of the month, Captain?” Chelsea snickered, looking up at him. Laughing with all the ease in the world, his lips turned into a small, assured smile for her viewing pleasure. Who was he? Surely, she would have remembered meeting him before. And he seemed to know Chelsea and Trevor well too. Maybe a Mavericks player? With those hands, definitely a Mavs player.

“Oh come on, Chels, you know I’m just waiting for you to leave this bonehead boyfriend of yours so we can run away together,” he joked, placing his large hands in his pockets, chuckling as Trevor put his arm back around Chelsea. Looking back at her again, his smile faltered a fraction.

“Oh, that’s right, y’all haven’t been properly introduced, yet,” Chelsea said flashing a shifty grin. She knew that look. It meant she was up to something. “Alivia Moore, this is Jax Monaghan, your host for the evening. Jax, this is Liv, my best friend and event planner extraordinaire.”

Oh sweet Jesus. This was the man she was working for and talking to for over a month? Struggling to keep her mouth from dropping, she felt the blood rising to her cheeks. She didn’t particularly know what to expect from a star football player, but this was not it. He was like a golden god in a tuxedo, his skin a muted tan, as if he spent most days in the sun. If she were a gambling woman, she’d bet he was a self-entitled star used to getting whatever he needed from people, whatever he wanted from a woman. Or maybe a pompous ass? Yes, that seemed more logical because in no universe would a man that looked like the one standing in front of her, also be a perfect gentleman. It’s just not how it worked.

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