Five Facts about me:
1. Although a New York City resident for thirty years, I escape to a small town upstate, with a population of 1500, every summer to write.
2. I adore black licorice and can't resist a piece of cake lurking in my refrigerator.
3. I have a rescued pug named Homer. He is my muse and we are inseparable.
4. I have two grown sons who are the light of my life.
5. My grandfather was the sheriff of Bisbee, AR, many, many years ago.
Known for his record-breaking stats and womanizing ways, wide receiver, Buddy Carruthers, would give it all up for one chance to win the only woman he ever wanted, Emmy Meacham. Hard-won games, and traveling half the season kept Buddy from pursuing his secret passion. Even if he managed to corner her for a moment, would she still care?
Now a rock star known as Emerald, Emmy lived her life on the road with no time for love. In her dreams, she longed to turn back the clock and spend another night with Buddy. But lies and deceit had kept them apart for five years. Would a chance meeting wash away those years or cause old wounds to resurface? Could two lives traveling in opposite directions make room for love or would they continue to spin, out of sync, and always alone?
Buddy slowly tore out the page in Celebs ‘R Us magazine. He smoothed his hand over the gorgeous photo of the stunning rock star, Emerald. Why aren’t you here with me? After a glance at his watch, he pushed to his feet. Trotting through the hallway, he made it to the locker room with ten minutes to spare.
“Whatcha got there, shrimp?” Bullhorn Brodsky asked.
“None of your fuckin’ business,” Buddy said, plucking the paper from the meaty hand of the linebacker and laying it on the shelf in his locker.
Before he could close the door, Brodsky, six four, two hundred and thirty pounds, shoved the five foot ten player aside. The big man stuffed his massive paw in the narrow space and snatched the photo back. He held it high, so Buddy couldn’t reach it.
“Lookie, lookie, a pin up of Emerald. In a bikini, too.”
The players hooted and hollered.
“Like she’d ever look at you, shrimp. Jack off material?”
“Shut the fuck up, you fat asshole. Gimme that,” Buddy snarled.
“Who you callin’ fat?” Strong fingers crumpled the page.
“The guy with three inches hangin’ over his belt, dickwad.”
Bull’s eyes widened as he went for the nimble runner.
Griff Montgomery, starting quarterback, stepped between the two men. “Come on, guys. Give Buddy his picture, Bull.”
The big man handed it over. “I hear she’s gonna pose for Playboy. Now that’d be jack off material.”
Buddy got sick to his stomach at the thought of Bull leering at a naked Emerald while jerking off. He flew at the linebacker. His fist connected with his teammate’s nose.
“Hey! Hey, break it up!” Griff tried to get between them again. Trunk Mahoney and another large linebacker entered the fray and pulled the men apart. Buddy’s nose was bleeding. So was Bull’s.
“Somebody’s got a crush,” Bull teased, in a sing-song voice.
“Shut the fuck up,” Griff said. “Assholes. You could get fined for this. Both of you.”
“The way he’s actin’, you’d think she was his girlfriend.” Bull gently touched the bridge of his nose.
“Yeah? Wouldn’t you be surprised,” Buddy muttered, grabbing a towel and his shoulder pads. After wiping off his face, he finished getting suited up to play. But his thoughts were far from the gridiron. They were squarely planted in a bus station in Willow Falls, New York, five years ago, where he said goodbye to the girl they now called “Emerald.”
Emmy Meacham, her name before she became famous, had been Buddy’s girlfriend in college. Though they had parted ways before she hit it big, his love for her had never died. She looked the same, except for a streak of bright green in her now-short hair. His blood heated simply looking at her petite, well-endowed frame.
Her mischievous smile practically winked at him off the page. Her eyes glowed with promise, promise that she and Buddy had fulfilled in college. His fingers tingled at the memory of her soft skin. He’d slept with a mountain of women in the last five years, but none could compare to Emmy.
Still miffed that the badly wrinkled clipping wouldn’t be worth saving, Buddy decided to reorder last month’s issue, so he could get a pristine copy of the amazing photograph.
When he remembered that she had dumped him immediately following their tender goodbye, his jaw stiffened. She had turned her back on him the minute she left. He hadn’t heard from her since. Now, little Emmy Meacham was Emerald, a big rock star. The wound, still painful after five years, refused to heal.
“Focus, Buddy. We’ve got a game,” Griff said, patting his pal on the shoulder.
“Yeah, yeah, I know.” Buddy put his feelings for Emmy into the cold storage section of his heart and turned the key. After a deep breath, he shook out his arms, twisted his neck to loosen the muscles, and knocked off a bottle of water. Griff tossed him a jersey with number fifteen on the back. He smiled. “Ready, Griff.”
The warmth of understanding in his friend’s smile made Buddy uneasy. He didn’t want anyone to know about Emmy. Only his mother knew of his heartbreak. The team all thought he was a womanizer with a heart of stone. He liked it that way. Fewer questions, fewer lies, and he kept his secret well hidden.
His teammates joined the others heading for the field. They lined up and stopped. Standing next to Tony Harrison, back-up quarterback, Buddy rested his hand over his heart, like his
mother had taught him, waiting for the National Anthem. Harrison looked like he didn’t know what to do. What the hell? What did he do at the million college games he played? Buddy nudged the young recruit and motioned the boy to follow his lead. The newbie grinned. Little asshole is relieved he knows what to do. Buddy gave his head a shake.
A sexy female in very high heels trotted out onto the field, and the crowd went wild.
Buddy rubbed his eyes. His brow creased. He stared in disbelief. “It can’t be.”
* * * *
Emmy had never sung the Star Spangled Banner in public as a solo before. She was nervous singing such a challenging melody. She glanced toward the left and saw The Kings in their dark turquoise and white uniforms. Those are the best colors. The opposing team was clad in dark blue and white. So unoriginal.
She waved to the fans as they cheered her, but her eye kept perusing the Kings’ players, searching for Buddy. He’s gotta be there. Isn’t this why you told Stash you’d take this gig? Two military men raised their trumpets, and Emmy began to sing. She transformed from sweet Emmy Meacham to Emerald as the emotion behind the song gripped her guts.
When she finished, the spectators went crazy, cheering. She took her bow and raised her arms. The players put their helmets on, destroying her chance to catch a glimpse of her old boyfriend.