I did give a few indications as to what this book is about when I did my The Next Big Thing post a few weeks back, but now you can read the first chapter for yourself.
Now, I need you all to be aware that this is very much still a work-in-progress; it's unedited, and there may be a few spelling mistakes or grammatical errors knocking about in there but just ignore them. They'll be fixed when the time comes. I just want people to get a feel for the kind of book this is going to be, and I think if you were fans of my previous books, No Matter What, Illusions of Love, or See You At The Show, then you might just like this one. I hope so, anyway. I'm having a lot of fun writing it, I know that much!
Anyway, here it is. Chapter One of 'Striker'. See what you think...
‘Jesus! I’m home,’ Ryan sighed, pulling open the blinds of his hotel room to reveal a miserable grey drizzle falling steadily from a gun-metal-grey August sky, the familiar sight of the Tyne Bridge looming large in the distance, reminding Ryan that he was, indeed, home.
Downing a mouthful of coffee as he watched the morning rush-hour traffic cross that famous north east landmark he felt a tinge of unfamiliar apprehension as he thought about what was to come. When people realised all the rumours were true they’d be expecting something akin to the return of the Prodigal Son, a homecoming hero; was he really going to be able to live up to all those expectations? Yeah. Of course he fucking was! What a ridiculous question.
Smiling to himself he finished his coffee and turned away from the window, pulling off the white Egyptian cotton towel that was tied round his waist. He had one hell of a body, hard, toned and tanned thanks to a recent trip to Marbella, and a pre-season tour of California. And hadn’t that been a blast? Who knew those American girls would be so into their soccer – as they called it over there – or their soccer players? He probably had David Beckham to thank for that.
He smiled again, checking out his naked reflection in the full-length mirror. Yeah. He was going to live off those American memories for a while, that was for sure. Not just because of the women, but because that had been the last time he’d played for a club he’d been a part of for over four years. But, in the world of football, you went where the money was, and the money was here, back in his native north east England.
Pulling on battered jeans, black t-shirt and expensive trainers Ryan ran a hand through his short dark hair as he sat down on the edge of the huge king-size bed, watching the traffic still crossing the Tyne Bridge in what seemed like a constant, never-ending stream. He had a long day ahead of him – interviews, photo calls, not to mention moving into the house his new club had sorted out for him. Another roller-coaster of a ride was about to begin, and just because he was back up north, away from the bright lights of London and all the temptations that had thrown his way, none of which he’d declined, it didn’t mean that this chapter of his life was going to be any less crazy. Why would it be? Ryan Fisher had it all – money, talent, any woman he wanted. He had the lot. And he had no intention of letting go of any of it any time soon.
‘Ten-thirty, at City’s ground. Did you get that, Amber?’
Amber Sullivan looked at her boss. Shit! Had he just asked her something? Her mind had been temporarily distracted by the constant arrival of texts being sent to her phone regarding the ongoing rumours of Ryan Fisher making a return to the north east; only, she knew they weren’t rumours anymore.
‘Sorry, Kevin. I was…’
‘Distracted, yeah. I got that. Just get your head together in time for this interview, okay? We’ve got an exclusive here. He isn’t speaking one-on-one to any other local news programme so…’
‘Are we talking about Ryan Fisher?’ Amber asked, swinging her chair round and crossing her legs as her producer sat down on the edge of her desk, clasping his hands together on his lap.
‘Who else has just signed a fucking record-breaking transfer deal with the biggest local club in the region? Jesus, Amber, come on. I need you focused here. I’m sending you to interview him.’
‘Why me?’ Amber began rooting around in her desk drawer, looking for the Dictaphone she remembered throwing in there the other day after a particularly second-rate interview with a Durham cricketer who’d quite obviously been in no mood to talk sport but had been quite happy to make a move on her in the most clumsy and irritating of ways. ‘I thought I was staying in the office today?’
‘You were. Until we got word that he was willing to speak to us one-on-one before the main press conference, so your plans for the day have changed, kiddo. You’re the only one I can trust to do this interview properly.’ Kevin Russell pushed a hand through his light-brown, slightly ruffled hair and stood up before shoving both hands in the pockets of his well-cut black trousers. ‘Ten-thirty, TyneBridge Stadium. There’s a pass waiting for you at reception. Come and see me when you get back.’
Amber threw her head back and closed her eyes. She actually loved this time of year, when the new football season had just started, the summer transfer window was drawing to a close, and rumours and speculation were rife. There was a certain kind of energy filling the sport’s department as everyone tried to second guess just who might be signing who, or which player was about to leave English football behind for the chance to experience, say, the excitement of the Spanish game in La Liga.
She’d been working on Newcastle-based regional news programme News North East for about ten years now, starting out as a junior reporter and climbing to the dizzy ranks of the show’s first ever female Sport’s Editor five years ago at the age of thirty-two. She loved her job. She was also extremely good at it.
Amber Sullivan had grown up surrounded by sport, so it was only natural that her work revolved around it. Her father, Freddie Sullivan, was an ex-professional footballer who now managed a local lower-league club, so being around sportsmen, and footballers in particular, was nothing new to her. Although, as she’d got older it had become less of an enjoyable experience, because Amber had grown up to be nothing short of beautiful with long, dark hair that hung in loose curls around her shoulders, bright blue eyes and olive-toned skin she’d inherited from her late Spanish mother. One day she’d suddenly turned from that tomboy who loved a kick-about with the lads into this stunning young woman, which in turn meant that a lot of the sportsmen she knew suddenly stopped seeing her as “one of them”, and began seeing her as more of a conquest. Especially the footballers. Even though they knew her father, respected him, looked up to him, they didn’t seem to have the same respect for his daughter.
Because of that, Amber had always made a conscious effort to stay away from relationships with sportsmen of any kind, but she stayed clear of relationships with footballers more than any other sportsmen. She wasn’t perfect though, and she’d strayed from that self-imposed rule only briefly a few years ago by sleeping with a player called Ronnie White who had, thankfully, become one of her closest friends. But she had no intention of going there again. She had no desire to become emotionally involved with men who could quite easily hurt her with their selfish behaviour and egos that seemed to need boosting on an hourly basis. It just wasn’t on her agenda, despite these men being the people she hung out with both professionally, and personally, on a frequent basis. Amber Sullivan had no desire to be a WAG. The whole lifestyle they seemed to sign up for was nothing short of abhorrent to her because, deep down inside, she was still that tomboy who’d accompanied her father to nearly all of his matches, learning all about the so-called “beautiful game” from the very best. Her interest was purely in the sport – not the men who played it. Unless it was on a totally professional level, of course.
No, she was quite happy being single. Feisty and fiercely independent, Amber had no room in her life for a man. Except her dad. He was the only man who mattered to her right now, especially since the loss of her mother just two years ago. That had only pushed her and her father closer together, so, between making sure he was okay, and her job at News North East, she had no time for anything resembling a serious relationship.
She sat up and looked over towards Kevin’s glass-fronted office. He was standing at the window tapping his watch and shrugging, and Amber couldn’t help but smile. He was going to give himself another angina attack if he didn’t learn to relax a bit more. She’d never been late for an interview, never missed an appointment or shown up late for a reporting slot. Yet still he stressed out. She stood up, grabbed her bag and mouthed “I’m going” at her producer, who smiled his thanks and turned away from the window to answer his constantly ringing phone.
Amber had a feeling today was going to be one of those days when her feet didn’t touch the ground, but those were the kind of days she loved – when she was part of something big and exciting. And, right now, as far as the world of north east football was concerned, there was nothing bigger or more exciting than the return of Ryan Fisher.
It was something he should be used to by now, being shoved from room to room, passed on to every person who wanted a piece of him, but it still didn’t sit well with Ryan. Even after all his years in the top-flight of professional football this was the bit he hated the most – the interviews, press conferences, photo calls. But it was all part of the package, and it was a package he’d wanted ever since he’d been old enough to kick a ball.
Ryan Fisher was twenty-six years old, 6ft tall with short dark hair, deep, almost dark blue eyes, a multitude of tattoos that he’d collected over the years, and a face that could only be described as handsome. Very, very handsome. And that face – combined with the hard, toned body – had made him the pin-up player of the football world, which meant he didn’t just get the women, it also meant he got the sponsorship deals, the modelling contracts, the invites to every celebrity party going. But Ryan also had a natural talent for the game that hadn’t been seen in a long time.
Growing up on a large, sprawling council estate just outside of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, he’d only ever wanted to be a professional footballer. He’d spent all of his spare time kicking his beloved football against walls or organising five-a-side games with his mates on the playing field at the back of his house. Saturdays had been his favourite day of the week when he’d sit with his dad eagerly watching the football results roll in, then spend the rest of the evening waiting for ‘Match of the Day’ to start so he could watch the professionals at work hoping that, one day, he could be one of them, playing there on some of the most famous pitches in the world in front of thousands of loyal supporters. When his father could afford it they’d even go into town to see City play, giving Ryan a taste of what it felt like to be part of the excitement football could create. Days like that had only made him want it more.
It was all he could think about. He’d thrown himself into every school team at the earliest age he could, rising from a star of the under-13s into a promising under-16 prospect, which is where he was first spotted by a scout from a London club on the look-out for local talent. He’d been fourteen at the time, and he’d never forgotten the excitement he’d felt when that scout had approached his father on the sidelines one Thursday afternoon as his team took on another local school in the Under-16’s county tournament. That one meeting had been the beginning of what had turned into one hell of a career for Ryan. He’d been whisked down to London for a trial at a First Division club, with their coach eager to sign him to their Youth team almost immediately and whilst his mother had been reluctant to let her son move down south – away from his family, his school, his friends – at such a young age, his father had seen the wisdom in not letting this chance pass Ryan by. It was an opportunity that might not come along again.
And so the journey began. His days were split between the training field and the classroom as he combined those first steps of his dream career with studying for his GCSE’s, and thanks to a tutor who Ryan had never forgotten, he came away with passes that could have guaranteed him a place at college to study for ‘A’ Levels. If that’s what he’d really wanted. But that had never been Ryan’s plan. Despite the fact he was an intelligent young man, he’d only ever wanted to play football, and those that mattered could see that natural talent he possessed.
By the age of sixteen he was playing first-team football, still unable to believe that he was actually living his dream. But that dream only became bigger when, at seventeen, a big-name club had shown more than a little interest in him. And suddenly, before Ryan’s feet had even had a chance to hit the ground, he was surrounded by agents and managers and PR people as word began to spread of this new, young talent that was setting the football world alight. There was talk of big money and sponsorship deals, figures that – at the time – Ryan couldn’t even begin to comprehend so it was just as well there’d been people around who could deal with it all for him. It had been a confusing but exciting time. But all Ryan cared about was playing football. For a time, anyway. Because, once the money had started rolling in and he’d become more savvy with the way the system worked, he began to realise that the amount you could earn depended very much on what you had the balls to ask for.
By the age of nineteen Ryan Fisher was one of the most recognised faces in the world of top-flight football. And one of the highest paid. He had a sharp business mind, able to steer agents and managers in whichever direction he wanted them to go as easy as he could direct a ball into the back of the net. Contract negotiations were never a sticking point because Ryan wasn’t just business-smart; he also had a knack for turning on the charm, both on a professional level, and off the pitch.
As a young, top-earning big-time player Ryan had no shortage of women throwing themselves at him. And that was one perk he was more than willing to capitalise on. By the time he was twenty-one he was one of the biggest players in the English football league, with a life that was way beyond even his wildest dreams. Clubs were falling over themselves to sign him, men wanted to be him, and women wanted to be with him. He had everything he could ever have wished for, and he was doing the job he loved, because, despite everything else that was going on around him, Ryan’s first love was the game itself. But, if that game brought with it all the trappings of luxury and fame that he was experiencing, then that was a bonus he was happy to take.
He’d been lucky enough to not only play for some of the biggest and best clubs in England, he was also a regular member of the International squad, having represented his country on numerous occasions, the pinnacle of any serious footballer’s career as far as Ryan was concerned. And it never hurt the old bank balance either.
But now, after almost fourteen years away from his native north east, he was finally coming home in a record-breaking, multi-million pound transfer deal that was seeing him sign for one of the region’s biggest and most famous clubs. A deal he hadn’t been able to ignore. For a number of reasons. The time was right for Ryan to leave London behind. The time was right for him to finally come home.
‘If you’d just like to follow me, Mr. Fisher,’ a pretty young blond girl smiled at him as she ushered him in the direction of a side room somewhere in the annals of the huge and impressive new stadium his new club had just had built. Ryan couldn’t help but smile back at her, noting the way she blushed slightly before quickly turning away to open the door for him. Even though he was more than capable of opening it himself.
He looked around before entering the room, because somehow or other he’d managed to shake off both his agent and the club official who was to sit in with him when he did this interview with a local news programme. How he’d managed that he had no idea because they’d been stuck to him like limpets ever since he’d got out of the car – a car he’d been bundled out of in a rather unceremonious fashion in some ridiculous attempt to keep news of his signing a secret until the very last minute. Which was a waste of time. It was probably old news by now, thanks to the Twitter rumours and media speculation that had been rife for the past couple of days.
Taking one more quick glance around he followed the young girl into the room, not missing the slightly panic-stricken look that took over her face when she realised he was alone.
‘Oh, I’m… I’m sorry, Mr. Fisher. We need to wait for the club official, and your agent. They should be here too. I don’t know where they’ve… If you’ll just excuse me…’
Ryan put his arm across the door, blocking her exit, smiling that smile that had turned a thousand women’s heads over the years. ‘So we’re alone? Does that bother you?’
‘I… I could get into trouble, Mr. Fisher…’
‘Quit with the Mr. Fisher crap, will you? It’s Ryan. And you are…?’
She looked at him with eyes that were still full of panic – but there was a tiny hint of excitement there, he could see it. A tell-tale sign that she was torn between this chance to be alone with a good-looking, famous footballer, and the need to carry out her job with the utmost professionalism. ‘Erm… my name’s… my name’s Ellen.’
Ryan grinned, his arm still resting against the doorpost, still blocking her exit. ‘Ellen… well, what are you doing after all this bullshit has finished then, Ellen?’
'I don’t know what she’s doing, but you’re moving house then getting your head down for an early night. You’ve got training tomorrow morning.’
Ryan groaned as Max Mandell appeared in the doorway, pushing Ryan’s arm out of the way to allow the camera crew from News North East through, who’d arrived to set up for the interview.
Max Mandell was one of the most respected and revered football agents in the business, with some of the biggest names in the game on his books. Renowned for always getting his clients the best deals possible he was a straight-to-the-point, almost hard-nosed business man that took no crap, which meant he had few friends, but one hell of a client list. Max Mandell was one of those men who didn’t care much about anyone else – unless they could earn him big money. ‘And for Christ’s sake, behave yourself, will you? For five frigging minutes. Let’s show this club the professional player they’ve just signed over millions for. Not some jumped-up playboy that might just make them regret shelling out all that cash.’ He looked at Ellen as she backed up against the wall, studying her clipboard with probably more interest than was necessary. ‘Is this going to get started soon, sweetheart? Only, we’ve got a shit-load of stuff to be getting on with today.’
‘As soon as the crew have set up and Ms. Sullivan arrives…’
Ryan looked up. ‘Ms. Sullivan?’
‘Jesus Christ,’ Max sighed, throwing his head back. He knew of Amber Sullivan. He knew her father, Freddie, because he’d been one hell of a player in his day. And Max knew that Freddie Sullivan’s daughter was one very beautiful young woman. But he also knew that she was good at her job. In fact, from what he knew about her, she could be as hard-nosed as him at times. She had a bit of a reputation for it, apparently. He’d often wondered why she’d never moved out of the north east to try for a job on national TV – she was just as good as any of the females who were gracing the world of sports broadcasting right now, and she’d always struck him as extremely ambitious the few times he’d met her. Maybe he should have a word with her, see where her thoughts for the future lay. He was sure he could broker some kind of deal to get her into the big wide world of football journalism. Max Mandell was never one to say no to a potential client, even if she wasn’t the kind of client he usually went for. ‘Do the fucking interview and no shit, Ryan. Do you hear me?’
‘Alright, Max. I’m not fucking five years old.’
Max just looked at Ryan, raising an eyebrow. Ryan Fisher was probably one of the most talented players in football right now, but, like most other lads of his age, earning too much and becoming so famous so quickly had side effects that weren’t always pleasant. There were some, of course, who resisted the urge to have their heads turned but there were others, just like Ryan, who chose to live that footballer lifestyle to the hilt. And that wasn’t always an attractive trait. Still, he wasn’t there to keep an eye on their personalities. As long as they stayed fit and did their job, keeping the money rolling into both their pockets, and his, he didn’t really give a shit what they got up to.
Ryan stood at the side of the room, his hands in his pockets, his head down, scuffing his trainers against the skirting board in an action that told everyone in the room he wasn’t happy. It wasn’t even lunchtime and he was already pissed off. There were days when he felt as if his life wasn’t his own, and this was fast turning into one of them. Sitting down on a comfortable black leather bucket chair he folded his arms in an almost defensive manner as he watched the somewhat flustered club official finally catch up with them, taking his seat at the back of the room, ready to make sure that only questions the club had authorised were asked. Max had decided to take his usual, rather more intimidating stance of leaning against the wall, also with folded arms, to keep an eye on things. Ryan was just bored. He hated interviews, and he couldn’t even remember agreeing to this one, but then, how many times had he found himself “agreeing” to things just to humour some sponsor or to earn a few thousand extra pounds?
‘Ah, Ms. Sullivan. You’re here.’
Ryan looked up as he heard Ellen – maybe he could still corner her somewhere along the line and grab that date – welcome the journalist whose heavily vetted questions he was about to spend the next ten minutes answering. And, as his eyes met hers, all thoughts of that date with the beautiful but nervous Ellen flew right out of the slightly open window.
Amber diverted her eyes from Ryan Fisher’s gaze to check with the camera and sound guys that they were ready to record this interview, before looking down at her list of questions. About half a dozen of them had been edited, with many not being deemed suitable to ask at all, although Amber had no idea why. It was hardly as though she was asking him for his bank account details. But she’d done this enough times and knew enough about this game and the way it worked to know that even the smallest thing could be considered far too personal to ask. So she just gritted her teeth and got on with it. As usual.
‘Hey, good to meet you,’ Ryan grinned, standing up and holding out his hand, not waiting for anyone else to introduce him. Not that he needed any introductions. Even if you weren’t overly familiar with the world of football most people knew who Ryan Fisher was. He’d been on the cover of enough glossy gossip magazines, or the front pages of many a tabloid newspaper, for a variety of reasons. But reasons that usually involved some model/actress/pop star.
Amber looked at him. Was that smile intended to impress her? Sweep her off her feet? Or have her falling at his? He was going to have a long wait then. ‘Are we all ready to go?’ Amber asked, directing her question at the club official, knowing only too well how tight a schedule these events were run on.
Ryan was even more pissed off now. Was she fucking blanking him? Jesus, she might look hot but she was a cold bitch. Mind you, that was actually a bit of a turn on. Ryan had never been one to shirk a challenge, although, to be honest, he’d never really been challenged all that often. In fact, he’d be hard-pressed to think of a time when a woman had blanked him like this.
‘Okay. Mr. Fisher…’
‘My name’s Ryan, sweetheart. Can we lose the “Mr. Fisher” crap. I’m a footballer, not some fucking businessman in a board meeting.’
Amber’s eyes bored into his. Who the hell did he think he was talking to? She was all too aware of this man’s reputation – both on and off the pitch – but she was more than ready for him. Fixing him with her best smile she crossed her legs and sat back in her chair, glancing over at her cameraman again. He gave her the nod – they were ready to go, so she might as well get this show on the road. ‘Okay then – Ryan. Shall we get started?’
Ryan smiled too, although he was finding it hard to get that smile to reach his eyes. She was one hard-faced cow. It was just a pity she was so pretty because, despite the fact she was quite obviously not in the least bit impressed by who he was, he still found himself drawn to her. Not that he had any intention of acting on it. Why put himself in a situation that would only succeed in denting his delicate ego when there were women out there who would quite happily massage it – and other parts of him – with just the click of his fingers? He’d get this over and done with then go see if he could find Ellen. She was a dead cert, whereas this one wasn’t even going to get off the starting blocks.
‘Fire away,’ Ryan sighed, sitting back and clasping his hands over his stomach.
Amber looked down at her notebook, mainly because she had no real desire to look at this man in front of her, although, as a professional, she knew she’d have to sooner or later. Even if she couldn’t really care less what he had to say. He may well be on his way to becoming a footballing legend, and even she had to admit that she’d been more than impressed with his performances on the pitch. But as a person she could, quite frankly, take him or leave him. And preferably the latter. He was doing nothing to eliminate the stereotype of the modern-day professional footballer with his arrogant behaviour, but it wasn’t like he was the first sportsman she’d come across who acted like this. She knew how to deal with them.
‘So… how does it feel to be back home then – Ryan?’
Ryan waited until she lifted her head, his eyes immediately locking onto hers in a stare he wasn’t in any hurry to break. ‘How does it feel to be back home?’ A smile spread slowly across his handsome face as he continued to stare at Amber. ‘It feels fucking fantastic!’
‘He’s an arrogant prick, Dad,’ Amber said, watching from the dug-out as her father’s team played an evening Cup match. The miserable weather from earlier in the day had given way to a beautiful, clear August night, conditions that were perfect for both playing the game, and watching it.
Freddie Sullivan looked at his headstrong daughter. ‘You’ve let him get to you, kiddo. That’s not like you.’
Amber sat up straight and looked at her dad. ‘Huh? I have not let him get to me. Jesus, Dad…’
‘I’m just saying, pet. Look, come on. Everyone knows what Ryan Fisher’s like. He’s one hell of a player, both on and off the pitch. You should know that by now.’
‘He’s reinforcing every stereotype there is, Dad. And it isn’t like he’s stupid either. He’s probably one of the most intelligent players around…’
‘And he knows how to work reporters like you, kiddo.’
Amber looked at her dad again. ‘Like me? What? Women, you mean?’
Freddie laughed, sitting back and stretching out his legs – legs that had once been insured for quite a bit of cash back in the 1970s and 80s. ‘I didn’t say that, Amber. You did.’
Amber stuck her hands in her pockets and sat back too, directing her eyes to the action on the pitch. The interview with Ryan had gone okay, considering. He’d answered every question she’d put to him in a professional and articulate way, which had really frustrated her. More than she’d thought it would. He was an incredibly intelligent young man yet he chose to act, at times, as though he was nothing more than an empty-headed poster-boy, full of crap and arrogance. She’d almost hoped, as she’d made her way to the stadium that morning, that all the rumours she’d heard about him from those who’d met him weren’t true, but it seemed they were. More’s the pity.
‘The interview went well though. Don’t you think?’ Freddie said, quickly jumping up from the bench to yell an instruction to a floundering defender.
Amber waited for him to sit back down, still staring at the action on the pitch. ‘The edited version looked fine, yeah. But, like I said before, he’s an arrogant prick. And that came across in all the bits you didn’t see on TV tonight.’
Freddie looked at his daughter again. ‘You’ve been in this business a long time, Amber. And I’ve never seen you react to any player like this before and, let’s face it, you’ve interviewed some of the biggest idiots this game has ever had the pleasure of spawning. Why’s Ryan Fisher got you so rattled?’
‘For Christ’s sake… He hasn’t got me rattled, Dad. It’s just been a long day, and I’m tired.’
‘Then maybe you shouldn’t have come to the match tonight. You should have gone straight home, had a bath, watched some TV.’
‘I wanted to come to the match. I didn’t want to go home and sit on my own watching soap operas and drinking wine… actually, I quite like the drinking wine bit.’
‘Join us in the bar after the match then. I’ll buy you a pint.’
Amber laughed, finally starting to feel relaxed for the first time that day. ‘Yeah. You always did know how to make a girl feel special, Dad.’
Freddie Sullivan leant over and ruffled his daughter’s hair, pulling her in for a quick hug before jumping back up to yell yet more instructions at that same wayward defender, using language that turned the air bluer than the late August evening sky.
Amber smiled, leaning back in her seat for the final few seconds of the first half, a little part of her suddenly warming to that idea of soap operas and a bottle of anything cold and white. She wouldn’t miss anything here. Freddie’s team was wiping the floor with the opposition and anyway, he’d fill her in on everything when she popped round to see him tomorrow. No, despite feelings to the contrary just a few seconds earlier, now she really fancied just sinking into a hot, bubble-filled bath with the radio on low and a glass of ice-cold wine by her side. Because, no matter how much she tried to deny it, Ryan Fisher had got to her. For a reason she couldn’t yet work out.
Ryan rolled over onto his back and stared at the ceiling, his breathing heavy and shallow. She may well have been shy and quiet at the club earlier, but Ellen certainly knew how to shake off those inhibitions once she’d set foot in the bedroom. Talk about wild! To look at her you wouldn’t think she’d know how to do half the things Ryan had asked her to do, but she’d done them all willingly. It was over now though. The sex was done, and he really wasn’t in the mood for conversation and cuddles, which is what so many of them wanted these days. They seemed to think that just because you took them home, gave them champagne, told them how beautiful they were and let them do anything they wanted to you that it constituted a pre-cursor to a full-blown relationship. It didn’t. And it probably never would. Ryan had no doubt he’d settle down one day, but that day was still far away in the future. He had a lot of living to do, and he had no immediate intention of doing it with the same girl. Not yet, anyway.
‘You’re really not as bad as everyone says you are,’ Ellen smiled, resting up on one elbow as she turned onto her side.
Ryan looked at her. She really was pretty. Very pretty. Would it hurt to keep her on the scene for another couple of days? After all, he was still settling in here, wasn’t he? He could do with a bit of company until he found his feet.
‘And what does everyone say about me?’ Ryan smirked, feeling just a touch uncomfortable as she started snuggling in against him. He usually didn’t encourage this from any of the women he slept with in case it led to those mixed signals he was so wary of. But he didn’t really have the heart to push her away. Especially as he intended to keep her hanging around for a little while longer.
‘They say you’re an arrogant, self-centred, selfish bastard,’ Ellen went on, her arms circling his waist, her head now on his chest. Ryan resisted the urge to put his arm around her shoulders. The signals were already mixed enough and he figured the only way he was going to possibly be able to end this when he wanted to was by being as distant as he could. He’d done it before, it wasn’t exactly hard. ‘But an arrogant, self-centred, selfish bastard with talent.’
Ryan couldn’t help but smile a wry smile, putting both hands behind his head as he stared at the ceiling again. ‘You’ve heard that a lot then?’
Ellen shrugged. ‘Quite a few times today.’
Ryan laughed. Yeah, that’d be right. He was all too aware of what people thought about him, but what did their opinions matter anyway? He did the business on the pitch, didn’t he? And that was all they really cared about. In the long run. As long as you didn’t push them too far clubs would usually turn a blind eye to anything you got up to off the pitch, within reason, of course. But it didn’t stop them voicing their opinions to anyone who’d listen.
‘Oh, I’m sorry…’ Ellen said, letting go of him and sitting up, covering her pretty pert breasts with the thin bed sheet. ‘I haven’t offended you, have I?’
Ryan sat up too. He was fast reaching the point where he wanted her to leave. Being alone seemed like such a great idea right now. He’d had his fun; he didn’t need the company anymore. ‘Sweetheart, you couldn’t offend me if you tried. Listen, if I took notice of everything everybody said about me I doubt I’d have got very far in this game. And anyway, maybe they’re right. Maybe I am an arrogant, self-centred, selfish bastard.’
Ellen looked at him for a second, frowning slightly until she realised he was speaking with his tongue very firmly in his cheek.
‘Look, Ellen, this has been fun, but… I’ve got training in the morning, y’know? New club and everything. I don’t want to turn up on my first morning late, or even worse, worn out. You know how it is.’
'Oh… Oh, yes, of course. I’m… I’m sorry. I should go.’ She leant over the side of the bed and quickly retrieved her discarded underwear, hurriedly slipping it back on as though she didn’t want him to see her naked anymore. Which was pointless. He’d seen it all and so much more so trying to hide it now was a waste of time. ‘I’ve got things to do too.’She looked at him with an expression that seemed as though she was dying for him to ask just what those things were, exactly; to show some kind of interest in her life, but why would he? He’d known her all of five minutes and, in all honesty, he’d probably wake up tomorrow morning unable to even remember her name. Maybe he should write it down somewhere, get her to leave him her number because he did want to see her again. But only because he hadn’t had enough time to check out what else was on offer.
‘Listen, sweetheart, scribble down your number, okay? Leave it there on the bedside table.’ Ryan indicated to a scrap of paper lying beside the empty condom packet before sliding out of bed and walking naked to the en-suite. Why the hell should he be shy? If you had it, flaunt it. And Ryan Fisher certainly had it. In spades. ‘You can see yourself out, can’t you?’ In Ryan’s eyes the fun was over and in his world, he called the shots.
Copyright © Michelle Betham 2012
Oh yes. If this book was ever to be made into a movie, he's the one that would be perfect for the character of Jim Allen. Absolutely perfect...
So, what do you reckon? Did that sample chapter make you want to read on? Would you like to find out more? Please feel free to let me know what you think, I'd be interested to hear your opinions. And watch this space for more news on how this book is coming along.
So, what do you reckon? Did that sample chapter make you want to read on? Would you like to find out more? Please feel free to let me know what you think, I'd be interested to hear your opinions. And watch this space for more news on how this book is coming along.
The full and finished version should be released some time early in 2013, so, I'd better get back to writing it then, because I've still got a shed-load of work to do...
Follow @michellebetham Tweet