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Contents Email Chapter 01 - LILY Chapter 02 - DRAKE Chapter 03 - LILY Chapter 04 - DRAKE Chapter 05 - LILY Chapter 06 - DRAKE Chapter 07 - LILY Chapter 08 - DRAKE Chapter 09 - LILY Chapter 10 - DRAKE Chapter 11 - LILY Chapter 12 - DRAKE Chapter 13 - LILY Chapter 14 - DRAKE Chapter 15 - LILY Chapter 16 - DRAKE Chapter 17 - LILY Chapter 18 - DRAKE Chapter 19 - LILY Chapter 20 - DRAKE Chapter 21 - LILY

Chapter 22 - DRAKE Chapter 23 - LILY Chapter 24 - DRAKE Chapter 25 - LILY Chapter 26 - DRAKE Chapter 27 - LILY Chapter 28 - DRAKE Chapter 29 - LILY Email Hi! I’m Lucy Snow, and I wrote the book you’re about to read. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it, and I hope you read the rest of my books!

If you’d like to get emails about my new releases and opportunities to read my new books for free, please sign up for my mailing list by following this link: CHAPTER 01 - LILY

Draft day, 3pm

So this was the draft. I walked into Radio City Music Hall and my jaw must have hit the floor from the start. Bill Thompson turned to look at me, muttering under his breath as he shook his head. Something about ‘dumb kids’ or something like that.

Radio City Music Hall, though! Holy moley! It was much cooler than I ever expected! I’d been to New York a couple times with my Dad over the years; we’d always strutted proudly down the streets in full Patriots gear, joyfully inviting the

sneers of all the New York sports fans we ran into. Especially Jets fans, but we shrugged all of them off.

It was good to have rivals, especially rivals that were good. This was the first time I’d been to New York alone, though. Despite being here for work I felt like everyone I passed by must have thought I was a goggle-eyed tourist, my head constantly snapping back and forth between this famous landmark and those gigantic buildings stretching all the way up to the sky.

My neck hurt already, and I’d only been here for less than 24 hours! Still, it was totally worth it. This was the draft! The majesty of Radio City Music Hall stretched out before me with its dark gothic architecture and huge lights shining from so far up all the way down here, bathing the auditorium in a soft glow, punctuated by the TV lights.

And all the people! Media, agents, and players on the ground level, fans in jerseys from each of the league’s 32 teams in the balcony. I stared up there as I walked in, wondering if the teams staked out places beforehand or they just showed up and congregated in one place. No one wanted to sit with fans of another team, or, even worse, a division rival.

It occurred to me right then, yet again, that I loved the tribal nature, the group you were a part of as a football fan. Sure, it was mostly drawn over geographic boundaries, but that didn’t stop it from being any less important? Patriots fans put up with Jets, Bills, and Dolphins fans, and that’s just how it was - how it had nearly always been.

Bill Thompson turned around and looked me. “Don’t keep dawdling like that, we have work to do.”

“Sorry, Bill.” I picked up the pace and caught up to them. Bill still gave me a strange look whenever I used his first name, but I had dropped the ’Mr. Thompson’ thing after the first day, once I realized he was just a normal human being, albeit one with a gift for writing about New England sports.

All of a sudden, Bill stopped in his tracks. I couldn’t see around him, because he was much taller and wider than me, but I figured something or someone had gotten in his way, and he was just waiting for them to move. Instead, Bill turned to me, giving me a look that suggested exasperation mixed with despair. “Listen,” he said gruffly, “today is a big day.”

Outwardly, I didn’t give any reaction except for nodding, but inside I was momentarily thrilled that Bill Thompson, the great Bill Thompson, was about to give me a pep talk right before our big day. I knew it had taken a long time, over a week, for him to warm up to me, but I couldn’t help but feel that this was the beginning of a beautiful working relationship.

“Don’t fuck it up.”

Any joy that I had felt in the past few moments over being part of the journalist club, being a member of the team, and working with my colleagues turned to ashes and dust right then and there. This wasn’t exactly a pep talk that I was expecting. “Excuse me?”

“You heard me. Listen, I know you went to journalism school. I know you think you can write. I’ve even seen some of your stuff, and it’s not the worst thing I’ve ever read. But don’t get ahead yourself, kid. You’ve got a lot to learn, and I’m not fully convinced you’ll be able to pick it up in time. So all I’m asking you for today is not to get in my way.”

I stared at him, dumbly, still in shock over the dramatic turn this conversation had taken in such a short time. I couldn’t remember a conversation with such difference between expectation and reality. “That’s all? There’s nothing else you want me to do?”

Bill shook his head, raising his voice over the increasing sounds of the crowd all around us. “Just don’t fuck it up. And don’t get in my way.”

Well, that was one way to inspire confidence on such a big stage. I bet Bill Thompson would make an amazing doctor, with bedside manner like that. The only thing I could do was nod, and Bill, satisfied that I had understood him, turned around and kept walking.

We headed over to our section, where our cameraman was already waiting. I could see Bill’s mood deteriorating by the moment; Bill thought that a newspaper should produce a newspaper and nothing else. These newfangled things like websites and online content, especially video, didn’t make any sense to him. Leave that stuff to the TV stations.

I, of course, being in my early 20s, didn’t know what he was talking about, and the idea of a news organization not having an online component and producing massive amounts of video made about as much sense to me as a dog walking itself.

Our cameraman was a jovial guy in his mid-30s, named Steve. Steve shook Bill’s hand, though Bill really wasn’t interested, and Steve grinned when he saw me. “All ready for the big day?”

I gulped, looking around at the throng of people, all milling about and buzzing with intensity, before answering. “I think so. It’s a lot to take in.”

Steve squeezed my shoulder. “You’ll be fine. You’ve done stuff like this before, I’m sure. Maybe this is a little bigger than before, but you’ll get into it soon enough.” He laughed. “Of course, there’s always next year.”

I wanted to laugh, but Bill shot Steve a withering look, and I decided not to join them. At this rate, even if I did great today, if Bill had his way, I would not be covering the patriots next year with him.

Bill turned back to me. “We’ve got work to do here. Why don’t you make yourself useful?”

I jumped at the opportunity to show Bill that I was a productive and valued member of the team. “What can I do for you?” I knew I sounded way more earnest than I should, but I couldn’t help it. Despite Bill’s acidity toward me, I really wanted to work with him. This was a prestigious job I’d managed to get, and if there was anything I could do to make sure I kept it, and got to cover the team of my dreams and childhood, I would do it.

He smiled, and I knew right then and there that whatever he would ask wouldn’t be all that useful. “Go watch the players arrive in the green room. Maybe you get an interview or two. Take Steve with you.”

Steve smiled again and hoisted his camera onto the shoulder. “All ready to go?” Steve seemed like a guy who was always in a good mood, no matter what was going on. I didn’t quite understand how that kind of attitude could work, but at the same time it was nice to be around.

Bill was sending me off to watch the players arrive in the green room rather than set up our space. A big part of that was meeting the other reporters who were sitting nearby, exchanging gossip, and seeing if there were any last-minute deals or trades

to be made. This was the real stuff, and Bill was keeping me out of it. Still, there wasn’t much else I could do right now; Bill was in charge.

Oh well, time to make the most of it. I nodded at Steve, and he followed me as we made our way to the entrance to the green room. The green room at the draft was a little different from at a late-night talk show. There are roughly 250 players drafted each year, but the league only invited a few, maybe 20 or 30, to actually go to the draft. Those 20 or 30 were the ones the league expected to be drafted in the first round.

Only a few got to actually come to the draft, the ones the league were pretty sure will be drafted early. They love that TV moment of the young man surrounded by his parents, getting a phone call from a professional football team, seeing if they’re interested in joining and playing in the big league. To my knowledge, no one had ever said no to that phone call.

At the same time, every so often one of the players invited to the draft wouldn’t be drafted where expected. When that happened, there was another kind of TV moment that the league loved: watching the nervous young man and his family despair as more and more teams passed him by, and watching his salary expectations diminish as a result. The announcers would be talking over him, asking each other why teams were deciding not to draft him. It was quite the spectacle, like everything the league did.

Win or lose for the player, the league always got what it wanted.

We set up shop right near the entrance to the green room. When the door opened, I peered inside, and saw that a lot of the players had already shown up, with their close family in tow. Everyone was all dressed up, like they were going to church or a fancy dinner.

We stood outside the entrance for about half an hour, greeting the last few players as they arrived, and getting one or two questions with each of them. Nothing too interesting, but things that we would put on the website. If there was one thing about football fans, they were crazy about the draft.

There was no other event on the football calendar could make your team instantly better, or make them instantly a contender for a Super Bowl. Of course, if your team screwed up the draft, or, even worse, if your team screwed up the draft many years in a row, like the Cleveland Browns always did, the draft could doom you to another year of living in the basement.

We had just closed up, and were heading back to the regular reporting area, Bill Thompson be damned, when a commotion erupted behind us. Steve nudged me, and I turned around to look back where we had been standing.

Drake Rollins was here. I sucked in a breath.

Drake Rollins was here. And he looked just as gorgeous as ever.

I couldn’t believe that Drake Rollins even had the guts to show up today. That took some serious stones. With all the stuff that he had gone through off the field of the last few months, his draft stock had taken a nosedive. I had forgotten that he was even invited to the draft. Most players just watched from home with their families and friends.

I felt my cheeks start to burn. Drake Rollins, wide receiver from Cal. My alma mater. I hadn’t seen him in a few months; after he declared for the draft right after the end of our season, he was a ghost around campus. Meanwhile, I had been finishing up my last semester, and was neck deep in books.

I turned to Steve. “Drake Rollins is here? Did you know he was coming?”

Steve shrugged. “He was invited originally, but after that stuff a couple days ago…”

“He was uninvited, right, right, I remember now. What’s he doing here?”

Steve shrugged again. “Beats me. They’re not going to let him in.”

I nodded. “Nope, you’re right, they won’t let him in.”

Drake was just as good looking as ever, probably even more so now. He had spent the off-season clearly working hard in the gym, getting ready for the draft. It was just that off the field he couldn’t keep it together. Run-ins with the law, pissing off the Dean by sleeping with his daughter, you name it, if it was bad, Drake Rollins was thick in the middle of it, with that famous grin plastered on his face.

I had fantasized about Drake Rollins since I had first seen a picture of him in a Cal football program. He was the literal definition of tall, dark, and handsome. Those deep brown eyes, that short black hair, just the perfect man. I had seen him at the gym a few times getting ready to swim, and the way his amazing tattoos twisted and turned across his body made my mouth water. I imagined them underneath his welltailored suit and I couldn’t help but get a little wet at the idea of tearing that suit off and having him fuck me, hard.

Ugh, Lily, you could not have picked a worse time to think like that! I had work to do, but all I wanted to do was fantasize about my dream man, who just happened to be here.

And that wasn’t all. Drake and I had a history together, if you could call it that. Nothing too big, of course, just the source of all my fantasies since we had met in college. I still remembered how that one kiss felt to me, even if Drake didn’t.

Why was he even here? Unquestionably, Drake Rollins had the talent to be here. Every scouting report I had seen gave him a first round grade. But the big news of the day was that the league had uninvited him from the green room and the draft entirely, over his latest legal issues. He wasn’t supposed to be here.

How did he not know that?

What a shame. CHAPTER 02 - DRAKE

Draft day, 3pm

So this was fucking draft. Not bad. Not as big as I had expected, not from watching on TV all these years. But it was alright. Not a bad place to kick off my career.

I’ve never been inside Radio City Music Hall before. They held big-time concerts and performances in here, stuff I had never been able to afford, and stuff I didn’t have time for either.

The room seemed a little small, though. Like you could contain all my greatness in a room just this big. I shook my head, laughing to myself. I better not get drafted by a team that plays in a dome. Not only was that only pretend football, no dome could contain me.

I walked in like I owned the place, because soon I would own the place. I looked over the team area, seeing the 32 teams setting up their tables. One of those teams would soon be smart enough to draft me, and their fortunes would change forever. That team’s fans would get tired of having a Super Bowl parade every single year.

Next stop, green room. I passed by the media section, nodding and smiling at everyone that I met. Even if I never saw these people again, it never hurt for people to remember me as a cool guy, a nice guy. A couple of the on-air talent recognized me and raise their eyebrows at me, which was kind of strange, but I let it slide. They were probably nervous about spending all that time on TV today.

One of the reporters, a guy I’d talked to a few times when game day coverage had come to Cal, waved at me. I stopped and he came over. “Hey, Drake,” he said, not nearly as happily as I expected him to be.

“Hey, Rich, nice to see you.” I looked out at the crowd in the balcony. “Nice turnout today, yeah?”

Rich looked confused for a moment, which wasn’t like him. “Yeah, Drake, big turnout. Lotta teams gonna be very happy with their draft class today.”

“And then of course there’s the Jets, right?” Rich was from New York and a big Jets fan and I’d ribbed him about it endlessly. Every few years the Jets showed a few signs they were a serious team, then inevitably they’d collapse and leave each of their fans tearing their hair out wondering where they’d gone wrong.

Rich didn’t have much hair left as it was, so he couldn’t afford to act like a regular Jets fan. Still, I had heard that being in the media and covering football for so long made it easy to forget your childhood team allegiance.

Me, I had never really had an allegiance to a particular team. Football was just something I was good at, and that was all the allegiance I needed. My teammates and coaches didn’t seem to mind as long as I showed up to practice and showed up to the games. I liked it that way, kept things simple.

“Right, Right,” Rich said, the smile disappearing. ‘Listen, Drake, what’re you -“

I cut him off in mid sentence. “I gotta go, Rich, things getting started soon, and I gotta get in my spot, you know?”

Rich just stared at me, his mouth moving but the words not coming out. I had never seen Rich at a loss for words before - this was actually really funny, and I wish I had had more time to stop and appreciate it. I didn’t, though; it was getting to be game time and I had somewhere else to be.

“Ye-yeah, Drake, you gotta get moving,” Rich finally spoke when he found the right words. “I hope you have a good day today.”

I flashed him my biggest smile. “Of course I will, Rich, it’s draft day! This is just the beginning.”

“Yeah. Good luck.” This time Rich was much shorter with me. I wonder what had gotten into him? Usually he was always good for some joking around, even during 20 or 30 second breaks from doing TV. The man was a pro and really good at holding his composure. He’d been covering the draft for the league’s own TV network for years now, so I really didn’t know what had spooked him like that.

Oh well, to each their own. I shook Rich’s hand and kept moving toward the green room. Along the way I ran into a few more reporters gathered around talking shop. I

checked my watch; I had about 60 seconds to kill before I really needed to get a move on, so I clapped one them on the shoulder and joined in the group.

“What’s the good word, fellas?” I broke in, showing off just how jazzed I was to be there.

“Oh, hey, Drake,” one of them replied, a look of confusion on his face. The rest of them were silent.

I got a weird vibe from the whole thing and decided to make my exit. “Just wanted to say hi, guys, happy draft day and all, I’ll see you after the festivities. Be sure to get my good side when that phone call shot comes up, yeah?” I laughed as I walked away. “Oh yeah, both sides are my good side!”

It was good to be on top. Those guys must have just been a little surprised to see me in their huddle so close to the draft. They probably figured I’d be in the green room already. I was Drake Rollins, though, I still had time to kiss babies and glad hand the common folk. I would never give that up - my adoring public needed me.

As I walked away from them I heard them talk about me. That was more like it.

I checked my watch again, and I needed to book it to get to the green room entrance before the cutoff. The league liked to keep things running as efficiently as possible especially on draft day, and I wasn’t about to be the loose cog that slowed everything down. That was no way for one of the league’s soon-to-be-biggest stars to start his career off, was it?

Everyone was acting a little strange around me, and I didn’t know why. I tried to shrug it off as best I could as I walked towards the green room, but there was a voice

in the back of my head telling me that something was wrong. And it wouldn’t go away, no matter how hard I tried to silence it.

The green room entrance was a regular double door, with two security guards standing in front of it. Big guys, bigger than me. Guys that could play on the offensive or defensive line, and probably had in high school and college. They each had earpieces in, and wore suits.

I rolled up, gave them the Drake Rollins smile. “Drake Rollins, here for the draft. Let’s get our green room on.” I waited for them to open the door.

The security guards cocked their heads to the side, and each one of them put a finger to their ear piece, as if pressing it in to hear better above the loud noise of the crowd in the huge hall. They listened for a few moments, and I tapped my foot against the floor. I didn’t have time for this. I need to be inside there with the cameras and the lights, so that people around the world could put a face to the name.

Football wasn’t like basketball or baseball. We wore helmets almost all the time that people saw us, so draft day was the first time that most of these people would learn what I looked like. When I got my endorsement deals, I wouldn’t be wearing my helmet, so it was important that they started to recognize me soon as possible.

These are all things I had learned in that public relations class I took back at Cal, and from all the different brand managers and endorsement dealers that my agent’d had me meet over the last few months. Everybody wanted to be in the business of Drake Rollins. As long as that made me money I was okay with it. A rising tide lifted all boats, and I was the biggest rising tide in town.

“Sorry, Mr. Rollins, we can’t let you in.” The two security guards said in unison. If they had said anything else, I would’ve laughed, the way they were so well coordinated.

“Excuse me? Let me in. I’m on the list.” Drake Rollins was always on the list. No matter what list, if you wanted to be on it, I was on it.

“That is not the information we’re getting, sir. You’ll have to move along.”

What the fuck was going on here? I had been invited to the green room at the draft this year. There was no way the league was keeping the leading receiver two years running out the green room on fucking draft day. This made no sense.

“I’m going in there, fellas. This was a funny joke, but I’m going in there.” I stepped toward the security guards, intending to rush by them and get inside the green room, but they form the wall in front of me, immovable, and pushed me back.

“We’re sorry, Mr. Rollins, but you can’t come in. You’ll have to move along, or we’ll have to ask you to leave.”

“What the fuck, guys?” I was starting to get mad, and my voice showed it. “I was invited to the green room. I am on the list. Check the list.”

“The list has changed.”

“Change it again. I need to fucking get inside the room. The draft is about to begin.”

“I’m sorry, sir. I can’t help you. Please move along.”

“Move along, move along, you keep fucking saying that. Where the fuck am I supposed to go?!”

“I don’t know that, sir, but you can’t stay here. This area is for invited players and their families only.”

“And I’m telling you fuckers, I am an invited player! Why is this so hard to understand?”

“Because you’re no longer invited,” Adam said.

I whipped around, still livid, to see Adam Snyder, my agent, standing behind me.

“Adam! Thank fuck you’re here. These suckers won’t let me in, and the draft’s about to start. I need to get inside.”

Adam was a shark of an agent, one of the best in the business. He was old school, didn’t get with any of the new fangled technology that most people use these days, but when you had his kind a roster of talent, and his skills at negotiating, you could dictate your own rules. Adam Snyder got the job done, and there was no one I would rather have as my agent.

He put his arm on my shoulder, pulling me toward him. He was a good 4 inches shorter than me, but he carried himself like a man who was 7 feet tall, and the rest of the world treated him like it, myself included. “You haven’t checked your messages, have you?”

I shook my head. “I’ve been a little busy today. Why, what’s going on?”

Adam shook his head, exasperated. He looked like he wanted to yell at me. He’d yelled at me before, and I had taken it without firing him, because he was Adam Snyder, and even though I was going to be the hottest thing on the field since sliced bread, I still listened to him. “You idiot, you’re not supposed to be here today.”

“Adam, I got the invitation. You gave it to me.”

“Things have changed, your latest stunt last week got everyone talking, and this morning the league decided it would be best for them and everyone involved if you didn’t show up today.”

“What the fuck? I never got charged with anything.”

“Yeah, thanks to me, asshole. I had to stick my neck out for you, farther than I ever have before for anyone else.”

“And you did that because you know I’m gonna make you bank - contracts, endorsements, you know it.”

Adam looked at me and I could see the familiarity and whatever bond between us slowly disappear. “That doesn’t look likely if you don’t get drafted, right?”

What. The. Fuck.

Not get drafted?

“Adam…what are you saying?”

He pulled me in closer. “This is what I’m saying, try and get it through your thick skull for once. You may be smart, Drake. Fuck it, you’re not just smart, you’re brilliant. And you can play football. But all that extra shit you keep doing just got you kicked out of the draft.”


I tried to wrap my head around this bombshell. It wasn’t easy. This was supposed to be the best day of my life until I caught my first professional touchdown, and then my first Super Bowl winning touchdown. “But…I’m still gonna get drafted, right?” I didn’t really need to be here as long as a team took me on.

And every team that could have picked me up before the one that finally did, I’d write down their name and make sure to burn them every time we played my entire career. Because fuck those guys.

My off the field shit wasn’t that bad. So I partied hard and slept around. That’s what worked for me, and I was always there when the game started. Wasn’t that all that mattered?

Adam pulled back. “I don’t know if you’ll get drafted. None of the teams will want to take a chance on someone with your character concerns.”

“Character concerns!? I fucking graduated from college early! I have an engineering degree and a 3.6 GPA on top of football at one of the best universities on fucking planet!”

“And yet when you arrive at the party things always get out of hand and the police get called. And you always seem to wake up with someone important’s 19 year old daughter in your bed.”

I couldn’t really argue with that. I breathed in deep, shutting my eyes, still unable to handle all of this. “What’re my options?”

“Go home, kid. Don’t watch the draft. I’ll call you and let know what happens.”

“That’s it?”

“Yeah, that’s it. Think about what you’ve done and see if maybe, maybe, if a team gives you a shot, that you’ll consider cleaning up your life and giving the media no reason to pay attention to you for just a year.”

“This is fucking bullshit, Adam.”

“You’re telling me.” And with that, Adam nodded to the security guards, who stepped aside and let him into the green room. Of course, Adam was allowed to go in. He had a bunch of other clients in there, and I’m sure all of them had put him on the list as one of their allowed guests.

“Fuck this shit!” I yelled after Adam as the door closed. I tried to push my way into the room, past the two security guards, but they must have seen me coming because

they closed up right behind Adam and I didn’t get more than a hand on the door before they’d shoved me back.

“Mr. Rollins, we’ll have to ask you to leave peacefully, or we’ll be forced to call the police.”

“Alright, alright,” I yelled back, holding up my hands before I straightened my suit. “I’ll go, I’ll go.”

The hairs on the back of my neck stood up. I knew that I’d made a scene and that there were cameras on me already. People were talking all around me in hushed whispers, like they were scared that I would lash out at them if I could hear what they were saying about me.

They were probably right.

I needed to get the fuck out of here as soon as possible. The corridor stretched in the direction opposite to the stage, and that seemed as good a place as any, so I ran down it, just trying to get out of the spotlight for a moment so I could collect myself.

Fuck everything. CHAPTER 03 - LILY

Bill came up behind me. “Drake Rollins actually showed up?” He chuckled under his breath. “I didn’t think the kid had it in him.”

I turned to Bill to ask what he meant by that, but Bill scowled at me and immediately focused back on watching Drake argue with the security guards locking down the entrance to the green room. It was hard to turn away from it myself.

Drake Rollins and I didn’t have much of a history together, but we’d known each other briefly at Cal. He’d taken a media and communications class that I’d taken a year earlier, as a breadth requirement for his degree, and I’d tutored him a few times. Drake wasn’t the type to need tutoring - in addition to being an amazing athlete, he was also brilliant. He just had a style of learning that was different from most. He didn’t learn things from hearing lectures or reading books, he learned through conversations.

The professors at Cal had gotten a little frustrated with him constantly asking questions in class, derailing their lecture plans, and finally had decided to give him wide access to talk to any of their assistants whenever he wanted. The plan had worked, and despite having a full load of football work and obligations, he’d completed an electrical engineering degree in just three years.

Why he’d taken a media and communications class I never really understood, but I’d really enjoyed our conversations together. And not just because they were interesting and informative, or because I’d learned a few things myself.

Drake Rollins was the most gorgeous man I’d ever seen. And that wasn’t exactly a unique opinion among the girls at Cal or any of the schools he visited through football. The man could turn heads of the female persuasion no matter what he was doing or wearing.

The trouble was, he was absolutely aware of that fact. I had heard stories around campus of his legendary conquests. With a chiseled body, and a smile cut out of stone like that, it’s not like too many girls would even dream of turning him down, and I had yet to hear of any that had done so.

I remembered over the course of our tutoring sessions, that I had tried and tried to get him to notice me, wearing increasingly sexier outfits, and doing my best to flirt with him. Drake had responded, of course, flirting back, but I had always gotten the impression that he was keeping himself from me.

Of course, he was also a world-class asshole. Everything had been handed to him, the school had bent over backward to accommodate him, and he knew it.

And he took advantage of it. That was the magic of touchdowns. If you could score on Saturdays, that’s all that mattered. You could do almost anything else the other six days a week.

The last time we had met, I had worked up the courage to ask him why that was, why he wasn’t making a pass at me, but in the moment, when it was the right time to ask, I chickened out, and the moment passed.

We had been at a party later that week and Drake had come up to me, a little tipsy, and made an awkward pass at me. I’d gone along with it, of course, and I remembered that kiss to this day. He seemed to forget it right away, though, and nothing ever came of it. Maybe he had had too much to drink that night, but even if he didn’t remember, I did, and I thought about it every day since.

It was quite a shock to see him here on draft day. Of course, I knew that given his record and his stats that he would be invited to the green room, but that’s still hadn’t prepared me for seeing him in person again. Drake Rollins had an effect on me that no man had ever had before.

Of course I had also read the news about him being uninvited from the draft day events at the last moment. I knew about his off the field issues and I had read each

news item over the last few months with a resigned kind of dread, the kind you reserve for someone you care deeply about who can’t seem to get it together, no matter how hard they try.

In Drake Rollins’ case, though, it seemed as though he was actively trying to sabotage his future career, and I just couldn’t understand why.

The scuffle with security guards in front of the door came to a head, and I heard the shouting begin. Drake then took off down the hall, and Bill turned to me, a sneer on his face. “Looks like the kid doesn’t have it in ‘em after all. I should’ve known.”

Again, I was about to ask Bill what he meant by that, and why he was taking even a modest interest in Drake Rollins, but before I could get a word out, Bill started back toward the globes table, and I couldn’t get a word in. I was left watching Drake’s retreating form.

No one else seemed to be doing anything about it; the security guards went back to guarding the door, and the rest of the media around kept on doing their thing, milling about and mentioning that Drake Rollins arrived, but no one made any other moves.

That made sense, because the draft was almost about to start. But it seemed to me like the most interesting story was leaving right at that moment.

Here was Drake Rollins, the number one receiver in the country, widely expected to be a top draft pick, taken off almost every team’s draft board because of off the field issues, uninvited from the draft itself, and he showed up, and now he was running away?

And no one was following him?

I turned to Steve, and he looked back at me, waiting for me to speak. “Follow me. And get that camera ready.”

Steve hoisted his camera and smiled. “Where are we going?”

“To follow the biggest story of the draft.” Steve nodded, and I took off after Drake.

Drake had a little bit of a head start on us; Radio City Music Hall was a giant place, and it was entirely possible that he had gotten lost by now in the caverns and tunnels behind and around the stage.

As Steve and I left the hallway I could hear the music start up, and the TV announcers begin their voice over.

The draft was starting, and I was about to miss it. I felt a momentary pang of disappointment course through me, but I knew deep down that I was following the real interesting story of the draft. Everyone else would see who was picked by which team and when, and if I was honest with myself, my reporting of those picks would be much like any other junior reporter’s coverage.

This, though, this was different. This was exclusive.

As we move down the corridor, I glanced at Steve’s camera, and saw the red light on it. He was recording, moving left and right in slow motion, taking it all in, getting a sense of what was going on. We weren’t streaming live to the Globe’s website, but whatever we got today, the Globe’s video editors would clean up and put on there as soon as they could.

Something told me this would be a huge scoop.

Drake must’ve known that he wasn’t allowed at the draft today. So why did he show up? Did he think they would just let him in? Did he think that in the spur of the moment all of his off the field transgressions, which were numerous, would just be forgotten?

And say they did let them in, say they did let a team draft him, which team would take a chance on a player with so many red flags?

Draft picks were extremely valuable, especially high ones. Football teams couldn’t afford to miss on them, and draft a player who wouldn’t perform, or who wouldn’t even be able to play. Drake Rollins looked like one of the latter.

Even if he didn’t get drafted high in the first round, he could probably find a team desperate enough to take a chance on him in the later rounds. At least, he might be able to find such a team five years ago. Or maybe even three years ago. But with all the increased scrutiny and condemnation the league had gone through over player issues off the field in the last couple years, with this latest move, uninviting Drake from the draft, no team would draft him, even if they were able to.

I didn’t know what he was going to do with himself without football in his life, but Drake needed to understand that being a professional football player probably wasn’t in the cards for him any more. At best, it seemed right now, that he would end up as a cautionary tale, a story to tell kids in high school and college what not to do with their off the field time if they had such a huge talent and potential.

End of this sample Kindle book.

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