Ball Buster is now available on NetGalley. Grab a review copy and fall in love with the Alabama Warriors…
Carson Savage buttoned his jeans and slipped on his boots before he threw his wet towel on the floor in front of his locker. Then he took a second look at the newspaper on his bench. He wondered if that’s what Coach wanted to see him about—the Mobile Tribune’s latest headlines.
Truth no longer mattered to the media. Whatever increased sales ended up on the front page, making the one-time respected newspaper read like a gossip rag. And that gossip usually featured Carson or one of his teammates. Today, they called Carson a playboy. He quickly read the small print—at 6’4 and 235 pounds, Carson Savage lives up to his name on and off the field. Local fans call the blond behemoth Apollo, the sun god, with his tan skin and perfect physique. We know what naughty gods like to do best…and we’re not talking about completing passes or avoiding sacks on the field. As long as she’s wearing a skirt and heels, Apollo will go down willingly…
A photo of him climbing out of the swimming pool at his friend’s party last weekend was also featured. The next shot showed his arms draped across the shoulders of two French supermodels. What the journalist failed to mention was Carson made an appearance at the party to help raise money for an international cancer non-profit.
He crumpled the paper up and threw it in the garbage can. His teammates on either side of him laughed and looked away. That didn’t make Carson feel any better. The dressing room was supposed to serve as a haven away from the media and crazy ass fans—but over the last couple of years it seemed everyone was disposable. Veterans were traded or retired to make room for new talent. And that new talent usually liked to start trouble. Carson shot a suspicious look at the rookie getting dressed next to him. Trust and respect was earned. The Warrior’s jersey hanging over Jag Patera’s locker didn’t qualify him as a superhero. In Carson’s eyes, that jersey should motivate the twenty-year-old jock to work that much harder.
The team had been plagued with problems last season and, of course, since Carson was a captain, it didn’t matter who screwed up or why, he had to answer for it. And the shit-eating grin on Patera’s face told Carson everything he needed to know.
“What the hell, Jag?” Carson asked.
“Did you do something I should know about? Preferably before I end up on the hot seat with Coach?”
Patera lifted his arm and applied his deodorant, ignoring Carson’s questions.
“Baxley?” Maybe his best friend would shine some light on what exactly they were so entertained by.
“Nothing, bro. Can’t blame me for the Apollo tag. That’s something you’re gonna have to live with.”
Carson smirked. “Any idea what they call you in private?”
Carson rolled his eyes. Was Baxley referring to a certain body part or his stats? With 1,865 total yards, 20 touchdowns, and 48 receptions during the regular season last year, Tyrone Baxley was definitely big—larger than life really. And he didn’t have a problem letting the world know it.
“Save it for the ladies.”
Tyrone laughed. “Is that what you think I do? Recite my personal stats while I’m…”
“Pretty sure I don’t want to know.”
“Carson. Now,” Coach growled.
Carson did a quick check in the mirror hanging in his locker. Nothing looked out of place, his hair was damp and his face freshly shaven.
They had just kicked the shit out of the Florida Heat in a special exhibition game, 28-7. But that wouldn’t save him from Coach. Not even a championship ring could do that. Coach Rangall expected the best from his players, even during the off season. “Nice passing today,” Sam said as Carson walked past.
“Thanks, man. We still on for Sullivan’s tonight? A couple beers and steaks?”
“Sure.” Sam glanced in the direction of the coach’s office. “If you don’t get sent to bed without dinner.”
Coach Rangall stepped aside as Carson entered his office and then slammed the door shut. “It’s days like this I wish I was still a college coach.”
Carson claimed one of the leather guest chairs in front of Coach’s desk and waited for him to sit down.
“While you ladies are busy primping and scratching your asses, I had to deal with the front office about this crap…”
Coach shoved a stack of photocopied images in front of Carson.
“Take a look, sweetheart.”
Almost afraid to, Carson stared down at the first paper. What the… definitely someone’s lily-white ass. He gazed at the second photo, recognizing his own muscular posterior. But… how? He flipped the papers over so he didn’t have to see more, then met Rangall’s angry eyes.
“Care to tell me how your ass ended up on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Google, Snapchat, Tumblr, and Secret within forty-five minutes after the game ended?”
Carson had to think about it, because he didn’t have any answers or excuses.
“I almost forgot.” Coach turned his laptop around so Carson could see the screen. “The first picture is also available on Shutterstock for $4.99.”
Carson studied the crisp color image. Yep. No mistaking the partial view of the black and gold serpent tattoo that curled around his lower back. That confirmed it.
“If you think I’m taking selfies in the showers, Coach, and posting them…”
“What else am I supposed to think? It wouldn’t be the first time one of you narcissistic assholes sent lewd photos to someone.”
Carson had to admit his coach had every reason to be upset. NFL players weren’t exactly known as altar boys. Just last year, one of his former teammates had texted naked pics to his girlfriend. They broke up a week later and she plastered the X-rated shots everywhere. The media went crazy. Hell, the fans did, too.
But if Coach thought about it, he’d realize Carson wouldn’t do this. Sure, he maintained his bad boy image to keep the fans guessing, but the truth was, he preferred anonymity. Unlike most players, Carson spent most of his time out of town at the three-hundred-acre farm he purchased a year ago.
He folded his hands on top of the desk, hoping Coach would believe him. “I’m not into this sort of trash, Coach. But I’m pretty sure I know who is.”
“Yeah?” William Rangall asked. “Who?”
Two names came to mind, but Carson wouldn’t expose them. He’d deal with Patera and Baxley his own way. “I can’t share that information.”