My author for today is Rachael Duncan! I absolutely love this girl! Her debut release Tackled By Love was so good! And I have beta read her current WIP and it is amazing! Scroll down to see the Prologue from Tackled By Love and some really hot teaser pics!
Buy links for Tackled By Love
“Don’t fuck this up, Stone,” Coach says through the microphone in my helmet. “If the touchdown isn’t there, go for the short pass. We need this to tie the game.”
I hold back the urge to roll my eyes. I know we need this, just like I know what’s on the line here. We have to win the next two games to make it to the playoffs. It’s so close I can almost taste it. My whole life I’ve worked toward this, my only goal to lead my team to a Super Bowl. Now that it’s within my reach, I’m more focused than ever and determined to play the best damn game of my life.
I walk up behind center and call the play.
“Blue 22! Blue 22! Hike!” I yell out as the ball is snapped to me. Once the ball hits my hands, I take a few steps back before throwing the ball to Anton Andrews, one of my receivers. It’s a short pass, but effective since he’s wide open and manages to run the rest of the way to the end zone for a touchdown.
“Hell, yeah!” I pump my fist and run toward the end of the field to join the celebration. After a few slaps on the back, my eyes go to the stands in search of my beautiful wife, Valerie. With how tall she is, it’s impossible to miss her. She’s on her feet jumping up and down with her long, wavy blonde hair and big tits bouncing as she cheers me on. A smile crosses my face as I think that I’m one lucky son of a bitch. I’m a quarterback for a professional football team and I have the hottest wife known to mankind. If her big tits aren’t enough, she has these big blue eyes, luscious red lips that I can suck on for days, and a firm ass that I love to grab. But best of all, she was with me before all the money and fame. She loves me for me, not what I do.
Jogging back to the sidelines with my teammates, I pat their asses and give them high fives.
“That’s what I’m talking about!” I’m on an adrenaline high right now and can’t stand still. It’s happening. We’re going to go back out there to win this game.
It takes no time at all for our defense to crush the other team’s chances of scoring. I slide my helmet over my head and run back out onto the field. As we’re in the huddle going over the next play, I look each of them in the eye, “This is it, guys. This is what we’ve busted our asses for all season. Let’s go out there and show ‘em how it’s done!”
We break away and line up in formation. After the first snap is incomplete, I get the ball again and look around for someone who’s open. I see Andrews and throw it his way. It’s a perfect spiral through the air and to his hands, but before he can pull the ball in, he drops it.
You have got to be fucking kidding me.
I run over to Anton, or Andrews as I call him, and throw my hands up. “What the hell, man? I threw that right to you.”
“Sorry, dude. I was anticipating the hit before I caught the ball.”
“Next time make the damn catch and take the fucking hit. We can’t afford screw-ups like that. Understand?” I yell while getting close to his face. I need him on the same page as me. “We’ve got to lay it all out on the line right now. If we don’t, this year is over. We pack our shit and wait around for training camp next season.”
“Got it,” he replies. I pat him on the helmet in encouragement before he sprints off to his place in the formation.
I take my spot and close my eyes. Taking in a calming breath, I know this is it. I have to lead our team to victory with this play. And I will. Failure is not an option. If we don’t pick up a first down here, we’ll have to punt the ball to the other team and probably lose the game. And I’ll be damned if I let that happen.
Opening my eyes, I call out the play. “Red 57. Red 57! Hut, Hike!” This play is designed to pick up 10 yards for a first down. At this point, I’m not trying to score. We just need to pick up these few yards and live to make another play. Shifting my body to the right, my eyes seek out Jacobs, the receiver who should be there to catch this ball. But, he’s not. Son of a bitch. He missed his route and now I’m gonna have to do this on the fly.
I quickly scan the field to see if anyone is open. My best receiver is double covered and no one else is open enough to make a catch. The pocket is collapsing and defenders are closing in on me. Fuck. If I take a sack here, we’ll have to punt. I start scrambling around, running toward the right sideline to buy myself more time in hopes of making a play. I can’t see him, but I can sense a lineman right behind me, eager to knock the shit out of me.
I look toward the left side of the field and see Andrews has managed to get ahead of the defensive back. I’ll have to throw completely across my body, which is unnatural in itself, but to do it on the run doesn’t do much for accuracy. If I want to ensure this gets caught, I know I’ll have to stop running to throw it and risk taking the hit. But damn, I want this so bad I’ll have to suck it the fuck up.
Without looking behind me at the approaching danger, I plant my feet, pull my arm back, and throw the ball with all my might. For a second, everything seems to be moving in slow motion. I’m watching the ball fly slowly through the air, waiting to hit the hands of the guy who’s about to win it for us. But before I can see if the catch is complete, a 350-pound freight train crashes into my left side, knocking the air right out of me. The momentum from the hit jerks my head to the left as my body gets jarred to the right and slammed into the ground. I hear the pop before I feel the excruciating pain. It’s sending sharp jolts of what feels like knives stabbing me straight up my left leg. It’s so intense it instantly makes me nauseous.
I can’t hear anything as I roll back and forth clutching my knee in agony. This is bad, real bad. Gritting my teeth, I try to hold in the groans that want to escape my throat as I wait for the training staff to get to me on the field.
“What’s wrong, Landon?” one of the trainers asks while bending down to get close to me.
“My knee,” I moan out through clenched teeth.
“Okay, can you walk with some help?”
“I could probably hop toward the sideline, but I won’t make it to the locker room.” My mind is going all over the fucking place with the possibilities of what could be wrong.
“Alright, let’s go.” He nods at two of my teammates and each of them grabs an arm and helps me to my feet. A hiss passes through my teeth as I slightly move my left knee on accident. With all of my weight on my right leg and my arms slung over my teammates’ shoulders, I manage to hobble my way to the sideline where transportation is waiting for me. Once I sit down, a relieved breath emerges from me. I’m still in a lot of pain, but I’m glad I made it.
The cart starts moving to take me to the doctor, who I’m sure is waiting on my arrival. Before I’m taken away, I glance up at the stands to find Valerie. Her mouth is hanging slightly open and all the color has drained from her face. I give her a thumbs up and try to put a small smile on my face to let her know I’m okay.
I know I’m anything but.
Once I’m back in the locker room, the doctor injects my knee with pain medication to make me more comfortable while he examines me. The relief is instant and I can finally take a full breath and relax a little. The tightness in my stomach is still there because of the unknown, but at least I’m able to unclench my fists and jaw and actually listen to what the doctor is telling me.
Dr. Herpin bends my leg in different directions. As he concentrates and moves his hand and fingers around my knee and up and down my leg, he is very quiet, making him hard to read. I lean back and stare up at the ceiling to wait for the assessment. After he’s finished his examination, he starts writing notes on his clipboard. I’m trying to read his expression as he quickly writes. He has a deep furrow to his gray, bushy eyebrows while he looks through the glasses that sit at the end of his nose. I can’t tell if that’s a good sign or not, but everyone knows that you do not ask him questions until he is completely done. A few members on the team made that mistake and were quickly shut down, made to feel like a toddler who just pissed his pants. So I sit here and wait quietly until he’s finished. After what seems like an eternity, he sets down his clipboard and looks at me.
“How bad is it?” My eyes are slammed shut waiting for the bad news.
“I won’t know for certain without X-rays and an MRI. It could be a simple strain or hyperextension, but I’m thinking it’s a tear in your ACL.” He pauses for a moment and takes off his glasses before continuing, “And that could be bad.”
The way he says it, almost with hesitation, worries me and makes me wonder if he’s hinting at something worse. Something that could be life changing for me.
“Yeah, but athletes recover from this all the time, right? With a little rehab and hard work, I’ll be back out on the field in no time.” My tone is laced with determination to get back out there and do what I was meant for. Play football.
“Yes, a lot of players do recover,” he says in a calm, clinical voice, “but it all depends on the extent of the damage. I’m still not positive that’s what it is, but you know as well as I do, that the chances of recovering from something like this twice is not in your favor.”
My freshman year of college I tore the ACL in my left knee. Someone on the line missed a block and I got laid the fuck out by a huge defensive player. I never even saw the hit coming. It was probably the worst moment of my life. I knew my knee was fucked up and had it confirmed shortly thereafter. I was so afraid the school was going to cut me, since I’d be out most of the year. If I got cut, I’d lose my scholarships and probably have to drop out of school with no real way of paying for it. Luckily, my coach saw potential in me and kept me on the roster. I sat out the rest of the season, but came back strong and ready the following year. Maybe I’m an idiot, but I just didn’t think something like this would happen to me again. Lightning never strikes twice, right? Pfft, how fucking stupid could I be?
A sigh leaves my lips as I let the doctor’s words sink in. With the doc not sounding optimistic like I’d hoped, I’m almost desperate for him to tell me everything will be alright and I’ll recover quickly. That my dreams aren’t slipping away when I got so fucking close to achieving them. About that time, Valerie comes rushing through the doors. The sight of her helps calm my nerves and puts a smile on my face. She’s my rock, my support system, and I know I can get through this with her by my side.
Her hands cup my cheeks and her eyes search my face. “Oh my God! How are you? What happened? Are you going to be okay?” She starts firing off question after question. I gently grab her wrists and pull them down, away from my face.
“It’s okay, Val. I’m fine. My knee is just a little sore, no big deal.” I turn her hand over and kiss her palm.
“They kept playing the hit over and over on the jumbotron. It was horrible. I got down here as fast as I could.” She pulls one of her hands free from my grip and runs it through my light brown hair that’s damp with sweat.
“I’m okay, sweetheart, I promise. I don’t know for sure what’s wrong. I won’t know until we get some X-rays done.” I don’t mention the MRI. That’ll just freak her out more. She’ll think that the more testing I need, the worse the injury is.
Her eyes go wide before she shrieks, “X-rays?! I thought you said it was just a little sore. Why do you need X-rays?”
I pull her to sit on the side of the table that I’m laying on. “Listen, I don’t want you to worry if it’s nothing, okay? So let’s get the X-rays done and go from there.”
She stares at me for a few moments before nodding, “Okay.”
Dr. Herpin steps up and tells Valerie she can wait here while I get X-rays done. I give her a kiss and hold my breath as I’m wheeled down the hall and into another room. I’m trying to stay optimistic. I bounced back from an injury like this once, I can do it again. But for some reason, my gut tells me this time is different.
Val’s sitting next to me, holding my hand while I’m lying on the table in the locker room. I’m watching the game on the television that’s mounted to one of the walls, counting the seconds as they tick by. Finally, the clock hits zero and the game is over. We won and I hear the crowd go crazy. Turns out, Andrews caught that last pass I threw, so at least all this wasn’t for nothing.
The doctor walks in and his eyebrows are pinched together as he stares at the X-rays and MRI results that he’s holding up to the light. I’m starting to get the feeling that that little eyebrow movement means bad news and it makes me shift uncomfortably as I wait for him to speak.
“So what’s the verdict, doc?” I swallow the huge lump in the back of my throat. God, I’m so fucking nervous right now. My mouth has gone completely dry and I feel like time has stopped before he answers my question.
He sighs, shaking his head, “It’s worse than I thought, Landon. You tore your ACL and MCL. I’m sorry, but it’s not looking good right now.”
I feel the color drain from my face and start to internally panic as the reality of the situation crashes over me like a 30-foot wave that’s pummeling me to the ocean floor, refusing to let me up for air.
Valerie clutches my hand tightly, “What’s the prognosis? Can he make a full recovery from this?” I glance over at her and the worry is etched clearly on her perfect face. Fine lines that aren’t normally there mark the corners of her eyes. Her lips are pursed tightly together, like all the tension in her body is being directly transmitted to that one, small place.
“Like I said, it’s not promising. You had an ACL injury in college that took you a while to recover from.”
Swallowing hard, I finally find my voice, “Yeah, but I made a full recovery. I can go to physical therapy every day and bounce back from this again.” My words come out strained as I try desperately to put some confidence in them. I know I fail, because the doctor gives me a sympathetic look.
“Yes, you did, but you need to be realistic with your recovery. This injury is much worse than the last one. Plus, each time you tear it, your knee is never as strong as it was before. So, just because you recover now, doesn’t mean you’re not more prone to hurting it again later.”
This is worse than I could have ever imagined. As in, there-go-all-my-dreams-and-now-I-have-no-idea-what-I’ll-do-with-my-life, bad. My hands rake roughly over my face before I look back up to the doctor. I need to get my shit together. None of this feeling sorry for myself or panicking bullshit. It’s time to man up.
Sitting up trying to remain confident, I ask, “So what’s next?”
“Next, we schedule you for surgery. We’ll need to repair the tear, but only after the swelling goes down and you get some range of motion back to your knee. It looks okay now, but it’s going to swell a lot more in the next few hours. In a few weeks, we’ll do surgery and then begin your rehabilitation. We’ll see how it goes from there.”
I blow out a breath, “Okay, I guess that’s all we can do at this point.”
I lean my head back against the headrest on the table, feeling utterly helpless. And I hate every damn second of it.