I didn’t need to listen to a single word that she was about to say. I’d heard it all before, and she was wrong.
From the moment that I set foot in this city years ago—the minute I was drafted into the league, I’d given these fans my blood, sweat, and tears. I left everything I had on the field season after season, Sunday after Sunday, but it was never enough.
No matter how many “epic, once in a lifetime performances” that people recalled with utter awe, my efforts didn’t matter.
Not without a win in the Super Bowl.
Not without fulfilling the promise I’d made to bring them a trophy.
Over a year and a half ago, I’d come closer than I ever had. I led them to the big game, but I’d faced a far better team, with a far better leader: My best friend, Grayson Connors.
I’d come home empty-handed and hurt, and the fans made it very clear that they were starting to lose hope.
Still, even this year, with an undefeated 16-0 record and the best stats of my career, they weren’t happy. And they were currently furious about an offhanded comment I made to a photographer last week.
After following me for over an hour, he’d baited me with “You never keep your promises!” and “You’re all hype, and no results!” with every step I made to the practice facility. So, I finally broke my ‘Never talk to the media rule’ and let him have it.
“I can guarantee that I’ll still be a fucking millionaire, whether we win or lose in the playoffs,” I’d said. “And you’ll still be trying to pay your rent with my pictures.”
I may have also said, “Fuck this city,” and “I can’t wait to switch teams,” but I refused to confirm or deny that.
My comments set the city on fire within minutes, and there wasn’t enough water in the Charles River to douse the flames.
“I think the fans are simply passionate about your potential.” Taylor’s voice sounded in my ear again. “They want you to win a championship for this city, but they also care about you keeping the promise for yourself. They’re rooting for you, Kyle.”
“Are you getting me the private car or not?” I asked.
“I can’t,” she said. “Please just—”
I hung up in her face and temporarily blocked her from calling back.
Pacing the floor, I tried to figure out my next move.
There was no way in hell I was staying here tonight, but I also needed to find a way to escape without being seen.
I plopped onto my couch, and my flatscreen television instantly turned on with a message.
“Happy twenty-eighth birthday, Kyle! Live it up!”
I held back a sigh.
Amidst all the hate, I’d nearly forgotten about my birthday. Well, my “fake” one anyway; I’d kept the actual date to myself since college since I was still wary of people feeling like they knew the real me.
Against my better judgment, I logged into Instagram to see if anyone I knew had personally wished me well.
On my most recent post, one of me standing at the center of the field holding a “16-0” sign, there were over twenty-thousand comments, and…Most of them were pure hate.
“Eff our city? EFF YOUUUU!” “I hope the last groupie you slept with gave you a DISEASE!” “I just burned your jersey … AGAIN!”
Groaning, I took my time scrolling until I reached the more recent ones. The further I got, the more sanity seeped through.
* * *
@TheRealGraysonConnors: Happy birthday to the best friend I’ve ever had. I’m sure you’re out partying tonight. I’ll call you in the a.m. #keepyourheadup
@AdrienW: Not that you’ll ever see this, but Happy Birthday. (I’m still mad A.F. about your latest comments, though -_- )
@BarrettPratt: Happy Birthday, teammate! Let’s get this W next week! #tuneitallout
@CourtneyRJohnson: Happy Birthday, Kyle … The big 28th, huh? Hope you’re doing well.
* * *
I stilled at the sight of her comment, suddenly feeling an all-too-familiar ache in my chest.
We haven’t spoken in sixteen months.
I clicked on her name and her full profile opened. After all this time, I was stunned that she’d finally unblocked me.
Since our final conversation—a brutal argument that tore us both to shreds, I didn’t think she’d ever acknowledge my existence again.
I Kissed Shara Wheeler By Whitney G. Written on the Wind (The Blackstone Legacy #2) By Whitney G. Under One Roof (The STEMinist Novellas #1) By Whitney G. The Mrs. Degree (Accidentally in Love #2) By Whitney G. The Homewreckers By Whitney G. Summer Love By Whitney G. Ruthless Rival By Whitney G. Book Lovers By Whitney G. Wright That Got Away (Wright #11) By Whitney G. The Secret (Single in Seattle #1) By Whitney G. The Recovery Agent (Gabriela Rose # 1) By Whitney G. Falls Boys (Hellbent #1) By Whitney G.