False Start (Playing for Keeps #2) Read Online Riley Hart

Categories Genre: Contemporary, M-M Romance, Sports Tags Authors: Series: Playing for Keeps Series by Riley Hart

Total pages in book: 80
Estimated words: 76334 (not accurate)
Estimated Reading Time in minutes: 382(@200wpm)___ 305(@250wpm)___ 254(@300wpm)

If only my feelings were as fake as this "relationship" with my former teammate.

CULLEN: I’ve been the NFL’s “problem child” since my rookie year. If there’s trouble, I’ll find it.

But my biggest weakness has always been Houston McRae. We were secretly together in college before it blew up in our faces.

So, when I see him again years later, you’d think I’d know better than to end up in an airport bathroom stall tearing his clothes off.

To make matters worse, because of mistakes I’ve made, I find out afterward I’m being traded… to Denver.

Where Houston lives. Because of course.

I’m not taking responsibility for the two of us ending up in a fake relationship. That’s all on him, but I can’t pretend I won’t enjoy it. As long as I don’t let myself fall for him again, I’ll be fine, right?

HOUSTON: I lived, breathed, and slept football until an injury sidelined me for life. Now I’m solely focused on finding my place again… until Cullen Atwood walks back into my life and tempts me into an airport bathroom stall, where every ounce of passion for him I thought I’d buried returns with a vengeance.

*************FULL BOOK START HERE*************



They say time heals all wounds, blunts the edges of life’s blades. That it dulls the memory of someone’s smile, leeches warmth from the memory of their touch.

Always sounded like a load of bullshit to me.

Yet, I kinda believed it—at least in an optimistic sense—until five minutes ago when, amid the hum of chatter and clinking glass, I glanced up from scrolling my phone to find Cullen Atwood sitting on one of SkyAir Lounge’s fancy barstools. Even at a distance, my heart shuddered with recognition at the way his finger lazily traced the rim of the glass the bartender placed in front of him. The curve of his back was still etched in my memory, sharp as a blade. I couldn’t look away, mesmerized by the jolt of electricity that surged through me, just as powerful as it’d been when I’d first met him at Southern University a decade ago.

My phone chimed with a text, breaking my trance, and I dropped my gaze with a sigh of relief.

Garrett: You there yet?

Me: Still at O’Hare. Flight’s been delayed.

Garrett: Ugh. Sorry, bro.

Me: No big deal. SkyAir’s members’ club is pretty sweet. Maybe I can just stay here for the next couple of days. Screw the interview.

Ramsey: Your enthusiasm about this job opportunity is overwhelming. Please tone it down.

Garrett: That’s just Houston. Excitable as a puppy.

Ramsey: If the puppy is a Rottweiler.

Garrett: I was thinking more along the lines of a wiener dog. Speaking of, I think we should get a dog.

Ramsey: I don’t know about that. We can circle back to wieners, though.

Me: Please don’t.

I groaned, even as a smile tickled the corner of my lips. Being in a group chat with my best friend and his boyfriend, who happened to also be my younger brother, was a mixed bag that usually devolved into them smack-talking each other, or me, until I threatened to leave the chat.

Me: As much as I’d love to watch a text debate about pet ownership play out, I feel I should be the voice of reason and remind you both that you play pro football for a living. You don’t have time for a dog right now.

Garrett: Which is why you’ll dog sit for us.

That was my cue.

Me: I’m leaving the chat now.

Tucking my phone away, I glanced at the flight display and sighed. The delay on top of Atwood somehow appearing in an airport club a thousand miles away from our respective home bases was starting to feel like another prank from the universe.

The last time I saw him, what felt like a lifetime ago, there were fewer than five yards and an entire world between us. I still had my pro football career with the Rush, a roaring stadium, the ringing of the coach’s calls, and the bustle of my teammates surrounding me. From the opposing side, Cullen’s piercing hazel gaze locked on mine until the shrill of the whistle drew them away.

A smart man would go back to the mind-numbing scroll of his phone.

Or leave.

But I never claimed to be smart, especially where Cullen was concerned, just decent at football until my knee had a disastrous encounter with two opposing linebackers and my career was unceremoniously over. Ramsey was right that I wasn’t overly enthused about the assistant coach interview with New York, but I’d had enough time to mourn my career. It was time to be an active participant in my own life again.

I rubbed a thumb over the twinge in my knee as I rose, hefted my backpack to my shoulder, and made my way to the bar. I left a stool between me and Cullen as I sat to order a drink. I suddenly needed one.

Cullen’s head swinging toward me felt both as inevitable and unexpected as the first time his lips brushed mine. The golden flecks in his eyes were enhanced by the forest-colored button-down he wore. I’d ripped something similar off him before, and the memory thumped the back of my brain with a dull ache as he gestured toward the stool between us nonchalantly. “That some sort of boundary line, McRae? Don’t worry, I won’t steal your backpack.”

We’d never done proper goodbyes; why would we bother with a proper hello? “I hear it’s something called ‘common courtesy.’”

“Ahhh, yes.” Cullen’s lips twisted into a sardonic moue. “One of those things I try to avoid at all costs.” The bartender set a rocks glass down in front of me. Clear liquid, a lime on the rim. “I assume you still like vodka tonics. Saw you as I walked in.” His self-assured grin, like he’d known I’d come over, irked me.

“Not usually at 10:00 a.m. on a Monday.” There were plenty of empty stools nearby, but maybe he was spot-on about it being a boundary line. The scent of his cologne hung faintly in the air—the same damn one he wore in college. That I remembered it was yet more evidence that all the epithets about time were bullshit.