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Hard and Fast
Lisa Renee Jones


“How’s that going?”

“Not good.” Amanda went on to explain her run-in with her competition. “I’m thinking the best way to fight him is by embracing the whole woman power thing. Maybe try to draw female readers who might not otherwise even open the sports section.”

“Hmm,” Kelli said, pondering. “I like the concept but how do you do that and write a sports column?”

“What if my column could be the Cosmopolitan of sports? You know, take the personal side of the athletes, and blend it with their performance on the field.”

“I’m not following.”

“Well, I found out about a lot of superstitious stuff the guys do before the games. It gave me an idea about sharing the secrets behind the players. Digging into the men behind the uniform. I could top it off with suggestions for a sexy headline.”

“I like it. You have to have the game stats, though.”

“Right. But after the rundown, I’ll highlight a player’s more personal side. I was thinking I’d start with Brad Rogers.”

Kelli made a purring sound. “Good place to start. Yu-m-m-y. Oh crap. I have to go. I have a date in ten minutes, and I still haven’t fixed my hair. But I love your idea. And don’t forget to take your vitamins. Kisses.”

The line went dead.

Amanda rolled her eyes as she punched the End button and dropped her phone on the bed. Her sister was an herbal supplement freak, which made absolutely no sense, since most doctors hated them. But then, her sister wasn’t what anyone expected a doctor to be. She was as unique as they came.

Speaking of unique, Amanda had a kick-ass article to write. A kick-ass article featuring Brad…

She sighed, and leaned against the headboard, giving herself a few minutes to consider how hot he’d gotten her. After two years of being single and pretty damn close to celibate, she’d started to think her On switch had been locked in the Off position. Thanks to Brad, she knew not only was she on, but she was downright smoking.

Her mind pictured those rippling abs. The trail of blond hair starting at his navel and disappearing beneath the towel. She so wanted to see where it ended.

Yet, if she found out, if she dared to get lost in those sultry blue eyes, to taste those full, sensual lips, she knew how that would look. No one would take her seriously and it would be impossible to do her job. She would have to pack and go home. Any success she might have would be wiped away, dismissed as part of her bedroom antics.

Regret settled in her stomach. It had been so long since she’d felt this fire of attraction, this desire for physical satisfaction, and her libido had chosen a man out of reach. The only place she could have Brad was in a fantasy.

Maybe a little trip down fantasy lane was what the doctor ordered. A little mental satisfaction would rid her of this restless sensation. Amanda’s lashes fluttered, and she inhaled, allowing the sensual tension to flare.

What would sex with Brad be like?

Her hands settled on her stomach as she visualized him lying beside her, sprawled naked on the bed, sinewy muscles glistening in the candlelit room. He’d be hard for her, ready for her to take him inside her. But she wouldn’t give him what he wanted. Not at first. She’d take control, tease him, make him wait and want.

She’d climb on top of him, straddle him, his cock pressed to her backside. She might even reach behind her and stroke its length.

Her hands traveled over her body. She’d touch herself as he watched, tempting him without allowing him to caress her. She slid deeper into the imagined feel of naked skin against naked skin. Amanda palmed her breasts and her nipples puckered and tingled as she thought of Brad’s gaze, of his hunger as he watched her pleasure herself. He’d try to pull her close, to take control, and she’d shove his hands away, warning him not to touch…not until she said he could. Not until she gave permission. Yes. Dominating a man so wholly male was enticing. Exciting.

She’d lean forward, her nipples brushing his chest, nestled for a moment in the soft sprinkle of light brown hair there. From beneath a pillow, she’d produce the tools to ensure his compliance, two long silk scarves. She’d watch her intent register in his eyes, see his conflict as he debated resisting. But in the end, he’d let her tie him up. He’d hand over his power. And he’d be rewarded….

Taking her time, Amanda would secure his wrists, one by one. Her nipple would brush his lips and he’d claim it with his lips, pulling it into his mouth, suckling the hardened peak. Just thinking of that moment made her body ache, made her wet with desire.

When she’d secured him, when Brad was her prisoner, she’d begin the real game. She’d move between his powerful thighs, his cock hard, her hand circling its width. And she’d watch him watch her as she drew him into her mouth. Watch his eyes shut as he took a breath of pure pleasure.

Amanda thought of all the ways she could tease and please him. Her fingers slid between her legs, into the wet heat of her body, images of a new scene with Brad taking hold. Images of climbing on top of him, of taking him deep. Of riding him until she shattered with release.

Driving herself wild with desire, she felt the throbbing pressure of her orgasm build until, finally, she found release. And with release came regret that, as much as she wanted to, she could never dare to do these things to him, with him, outside of this fantasy.

4

BRAD WOKE Tuesday morning to the ringing of the phone on his nightstand. He rolled over to check the time. Early. Seven in the morning on one of the few days he could sleep in, since their series didn’t start until the next night. With a groan he grabbed the receiver.

“Have you seen the morning edition of the Tribune?”

It was his agent, Mike. “No.” Brad pushed to a sitting position, instantly alert. Please don’t let it be about my arm. “Do I want to?”

“Oh, yeah,” Mike said. “You want to. It’s good stuff. Exactly what we need for this negotiation. Read it. Like it. Thank God for it after that Ohio piece. Give me more stuff like this and you’ll lock up that contract in no time.”

Brad threw off the blankets and grabbed a robe before heading toward his front door. Though it didn’t sound as if the news was about his arm, he wouldn’t be calm until he knew for sure.

Brad prodded for more information, hoping to ease his nerves. “What exactly did it say?”

“The Tribune did an exposé titled, Undressing the Rays and you were the feature. Brad Rogers stripped down to a good guy who loves his mom. Man, oh man. It couldn’t get better than this if I had bribed the reporter.” Brad could hear Mike rustling papers. “Now we need that record. Ready to rock the world tonight?”

“Not tonight. Friday night. And I was born ready. You know that.” But even as Brad said the words, he knew he wasn’t ready. Already his arm hurt and he’d just woken up.

“That’s what I want to hear,” Mike said, approval lifting his voice. “Bring me three shutouts in a row. That’ll go a long way in negotiations.”

“Right.” Brad yanked open the front door and grabbed both morning papers. “Good press. Great pitching. No problem.” Hopefully his arm agreed with that declaration.

After a quick goodbye, Brad kicked the front door shut and headed for the kitchen. He sat at the table and read the piece Amanda had written about him, breathing easier with each line.

No mention of his arm.

With one worry behind him, his mind switched gears. This article gave Brad the perfect opportunity to make his move on Amanda, to open the door to more intimate communication. He considered his options, a variety of rather tantalizing plays to launch his campaign to victory flashing in his mind. Soon Becker would know who ruled this show. And who was man enough to make Amanda moan.

ON TUESDAY MORNING, the day of her column’s debut, Amanda whipped her piece-of-junk rental car into a parking spot outside the Tribune with only minutes to spare. How she’d managed to snag a rental that seemed on the verge of a breakdown was beyond her. The last thing she needed was to be late for work only a few days into her new job. Of course, it might not matter. She could very well be fired after writing such a daring story.

She’d hit the Send button on her computer the night before, delivering her story to her boss just in time to meet her deadline. Afterward, Amanda had stared at her inbox waiting to hear his feedback. It never came.

This morning, having slept through her alarm, Amanda had been forced to dress in a frantic rush, leaving her no time to find a newspaper. For all she knew, some Associated Press filler had taken her story’s place.

Shoving aside self-doubt, Amanda walked toward the building, running her palm down the slim-fitting black dress she wore, hoping she didn’t appear wrinkled. She knew she was fidgeting so she wouldn’t focus on the nerves making her chest tight and her stomach flutter.

She’d done the right thing, she told herself. Considering the short window of opportunity she’d been given to succeed, she had to make a splash, and fast. Adopting the Nike motto of Just Do It had worked in the pool. It could work here, too.

Amanda walked through the newsroom, turning heads and instigating hushed whispers as she passed. Great. Everyone but her knew she was getting fired. She let out a relieved sigh at the sight of her boss’s closed door. She preferred seeing the paper before she faced Kevin.

But all her fears and concerns disappeared as Amanda stepped inside her tiny corner cubicle and spotted the front page of the sports section laid on her keyboard. She picked it up and stared down at story center page. Her story.

Undressing the Los Angeles Rays. Beneath the racy headline, she saw her name. Beneath that, the words staff writer. A smile touched Amanda’s lips. She wasn’t a flunky anymore and, damn, it felt good.

“Whatcha think, sugar plum?”

Reggie appeared in the opening of her little space. “I think I’m a ball of nerves,” she told him, examining the rows of thumbnail pictures on either side of her story. “And you’re my hero.” She’d asked him to dig up photos that showed Brad on and off the field, and he’d come through. “I can’t believe what great shots you found.”
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