FORCE: A Bad Boy Sports Romance - Vivian Lux

Chapter One

Candace

The text message alert on my phone went off the second the waitress brought out our appetizers. I smiled apologetically across the table.

But my date was too occupied with his onion rings to notice.

I slid my phone under the table and glanced at notification on the screen.

Olivia: How’s it going?

I pressed my lips together and snuck a glance at the man across the table from me. Dennis hadn’t noticed I was looking at my phone. Truth be told, I wasn’t sure he really noticed I was even in the same room as him. His eyes were fixed over my shoulder, keeping a close watch on the hockey game that blared on the screen behind us.

Yes, we were in a sports bar. A loud, boisterous sports bar. For our first date.

And they say romance is dead.

Feeling guilty, even though I had no reason to, I covertly typed my reply.

Me: Okay, I guess…

Then I slid my phone behind my back and smiled winningly across the table. “So—Olivia tells me your parents are veterinarians. How wonderful to grow up with animals like that!”

He nodded, chomping loudly on his onion rings. I could smell them from across the table, and involuntarily wrinkled my nose. “Yeah, it was cool, I suppose…” The momentary eye contact he made with me drifted away, and his attention was once again rooted on the game behind me.

I felt my phone vibrate against my back.

I sighed, shifted, and slipped my phone back to my hand. My thighs were sticking to the vinyl booth. I regretted wasting my favorite blue dress on this date. It wasn’t worth it.

I looked down at my screen.

Olivia: Have you used one of my lines?

I pressed my lips together again, this time to hide the smile that desperately wanted to turn into laughter. Olivia Bryant, my best friend and fellow cubicle dweller at Cupid’s Arrow Dating Service, was a self-professed ‘female chauvinist pig.’ The kind of girl who watched Sex and the City and took Samantha as her own personal role model.

Her current obsession was what she called, ‘pickup line equity.’

“If men get to use corny, sleazy pickup lines, well then so do we!” she had crowed to me three nights ago as we shared a bottle of Pinot Grigio in my tiny kitchen. “From now on, I’m a female pickup artist. It’s the war of the sexes, baby, and sometimes you need to adopt enemy tactics to win.”

Me: No!

I typed back, not even bothering to hide my phone anymore.

Me: I am not going to ask him if he has any wood for my beaver.

Just typing those words made me blush like a mad woman.

Three little dots that indicated she was typing hovered on the screen. I took a quick glance at my date to see if he noticed that I was paying him no attention at all.

Olivia: That was my best one!

She wrote back, with a string of frowny-faced emojis.

Olivia: Okay, how about this. Tell him...

Olivia: ‘I wish I was your car so you could fill me up.’

I hid my laughter behind a cough, and reached for my wineglass. The only wine this sports bar had was a cheap white Zinfandel, but I wasn’t above downing half my glass at once.

This blind date was officially a disaster, and we hadn’t even gotten our entrées yet.

“Another glass of the Zin, hon?” Our waitress couldn’t have been more than eighteen years old, and she smacked her gum loudly as she talked.

Dennis finally tore his eyes from the screen, and latched them firmly on her high, padded breasts.

“I’ll take more of whatever you got,” he leered.

We had barely started drinking, but his eyes already had a drunken sheen to them. I wonder how long he was here, pre-gaming, before I had showed up. A little tiny warning bell went off in the back of my head.

The waitress rolled her eyes, but at the same time she jutted her chest out a little further. “I got whatever you want,” she flirted back clumsily.

“Excuse me,” I interjected. This was getting gross. “Could you check on our meals?” I was debating leaving, but our orders had already been put in, and I had skipped lunch in an effort to fit into this blue dress.

“Gonna be a sec,” the waitress snapped, popping her gum again. “Kitchen’s backed up. Can I get you more drinks?”

I shook my head. This was ridiculous. “Excuse me,” I said, smiling apologetically. “I’m just going to run to the ladies’ room.”

“Chicks and their small bladders,” Dennis grumbled for