A Team of Love Ch. 01

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Author’s Note: Dedicated to all the gorgeous NFL quarterbacks who give us the imagination to dream {THUD}

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“That was the latest hit by Aerosmith from the movie Armageddon, which is still showing in a local theater near you.” Bradley Ryan looked over the table and mike to his co-host, Raelyn Ballard. She was still laughing at the joke he had told right before their mikes were turned back on after the song. He grinned at her as he continued. “Rumor has it they will come to the coliseum sometime in the near future.”

“That’s right,” Raelyn interjected, finally getting a hold of herself. “No official announcements have been made as to any specific dates but it should be some time this fall.” She smiled over at Bradley, adjusting her headphones.

“I love that band! Just when you think they’re gone, they pop right up again with a hit like this one.”

“I love that song,” Raelyn added enthusiastically. “One of our listeners called in during the last song and said that it made her want to make love to the radio.”

Bradley laughed hysterically. “You’ve got to be kidding?!”

“No!” she replied, her soft laughter joining his. “She was dead serious!” They both laughed for a moment.

“Speaking of which, we’ve just received word that our studio guest has just arrived.”

“What does that have to do with what we were just talking about?” Raelyn asked, laughing at her partner.

“I don’t know,” he admitted. “I just had to fit it into the conversation.” Raelyn shook her head at him, laughing at his antics. “Anyway, J.T. Young, the quarterback of our new professional football team is joining us this morning.”

“That’s right,” Raelyn added. “Pre-season opens Sunday at Ranger Stadium against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I can’t wait.”

“Are you going to the game?” Bradley asked, taking a sip of his coffee. Looking over at the phone system, he could see the listener lines already lighting up. Having J.T. as a guest was going to help their ratings … that could already be seen.

“No,” she admitted. “I’d rather sit at home and watch it. I’ve found that the best seat to a professional football game is in my recliner and above all, it’s free.”

“Yeah,” Bradley argued, “But it’s not the same as being there. You’ve got to actually be in the stadium to soak up the atmosphere. . .”

“And the beer, and the mess, and the stink,” she added for him.

“Stink?” he asked, laughing at her.

“People stink,” she argued back, wrinkling her nose. “You never know who you’re going to be sitting by and with my luck, it’s someone who sweats like old socks in this Texas heat and can’t hold onto their beer. The first big play and boom! It’s all over me!”

Bradley laughed at her, shaking his head. “That’s a nice picture you’ve painted for us, Raelyn.”

“Well, it’s the truth. If I’m going to pay that much for a ticket, I want to watch the game, not hold my nose and worry about my outfit being ruined by the slob sitting next to me.”

Bradley laughed again. “We’ll take a break while our guest gets settled. We’ll be back in a few with J.T. Young. Stay tuned!” Then turning on a song by The Backstreet Boys, he hung up his headphones and looked across the table at Raelyn as she did the same, grabbing her cup of coffee. “You’re crazy, Raelyn. Now we’re going to get a bunch of calls from rabid fans who want to argue that point for thirty minutes.”

“Oh, Bradley,” she laughed, heading out the door and to the coffee maker, “You know you love it when I stir things up a bit. You just go get J.T. You want anything?”

“No,” he answered, heading out the other door. Raelyn stopped for a minute, watching him through the glass window as he walked up to a tall man outside the booth. It was J.T. Young, and Raelyn couldn’t help but be impressed by him. He stood about as tall as her father had been, well over six feet. He had thick blonde hair and piercing blue eyes. Raelyn smiled to herself and then headed out the other door and to the coffee maker.

When Raelyn made it back into the booth, Bradley was setting up J.T.’s headphones and explaining to him about the mike system. Their mikes were set up on a bar surrounding the switch board and cd systems. Raelyn’s system was set up closest to J.T. She smiled at him as she nodded to her coffee. “Can I get you a cup of coffee?” she offered.

J.T. looked up and then smiled at her; instant appreciation for Raelyn’s looks lighting up his eyes. “No, I’ve had my limit,” he answered, his eyes traveling slowly over her, starting at her feet and then traveling upward to finally rest on her face. When their eyes met, Raelyn’s were blazing at his visual assault. She quickly sat down on her stool, adjusted her mike, and put her headphones back on, not offering anything more to him. Inwardly she was seething. ‘He had some nerve,’ was all that she could think as Bradley readjusted his headphones and get set to go. Looking over at Raelyn, he nodded and then turned on their sets.

“We’re back!” he casino oyna announced. “And we found J.T. Young in the process.” Smiling over at J.T., Bradley nodded to him. “Welcome to our humble abode,” he said.

“It’s good to be here,” he answered, casting another glance over to Raelyn.

Raelyn didn’t look at him as she asked, “Everyone is asking the same question, J.T. How are the Rangers going to do this year and can you pull off an initial win against the Superbowl Champion Steelers after last year’s losing season?”

J.T. continued to watch her, wondering if he had done something to piss her off. “Well, we’re sure going to try, Raelyn. We’ve worked on some new plays and perfected the old ones.”

Raelyn glanced over at him, wondering if he was egotistical as everyone had said. It was apparent that he was used to getting his way with any woman he came across and Raelyn couldn’t help but wonder if he thought the same thing about her. “Is that going to be enough?” she asked, raising one eyebrow at him.

“We hope so!” he answered, grinning at her. Damn, if she wasn’t beautiful. Violet eyes clashed with his as Raelyn raised her cocoa-brown eyebrows at him. “We’re not starting off pre-season with any thoughts of losing, if that’s what you’re asking.”

“I’m only asking if we are in store for a repeat of last season’s losing streak. True, last year the Rangers were the NFL’s newest expansion team,” she quickly retorted, her lavender eyes blazing. “But now you’ve had a full season under your belts. I think our listeners deserve to know what kind of team we have this year.”

Bradley jumped in quickly, realizing that for some reason Raelyn was ready to tear J.T. apart on public radio. “Whoa girl!” he laughed. “I think everyone knows that last year is gone and a lot of changes have been made to ensure that won’t happen again.”

“That’s right,” J.T. agreed. “We made some coaching changes and re-signed some free agents we were afraid of losing. There have been some changes made within the team, hoping that a new position would better suit some. The opener against Pittsburgh will be tough, about that we’re sure, but we’re confident that we can pull off a good game.” He glanced over at Raelyn again, taking in her stunning blonde hair, the lavender eyes that sparkled mischievously, the delicate features, and that unexpectedly sensual mouth. Their eyes locked for a moment and Raelyn recognized the desire that burned in J.T.’s expression and she couldn’t help but react. Her eyes widened momentarily as she struggled to form a smile on uncooperative lips. Her gaze drank in his tanned features – those remarkable blue eyes; the long, straight nose; that stubborn cleft chin of his; the light blonde hair just showing beneath his cap. Not wanting to, but doing it anyway, Raelyn had to admit that he was handsome, in a rugged sort of way. She blinked, suddenly gaining back her composure . . . the spell broken between them.

“That all sounds good and fine . . .” she began.

“What time does the game begin Sunday night?” Bradley asked, determined to keep Raelyn at bay.

“Kick-off is at 7:00,” J.T. answered. Raelyn watched him, reveling in the low, pleasant sound of his voice. She could’ve kicked herself for reacting this way to him. He was a professional football player and she had been around enough of them in her career and former life to realize that he was a user and a taker. In her opinion, all of them were. They took what they could get from people, only to throw them away when they had gotten from them what they needed or wanted. She had to admit that there had been a few that were not that way, but big players and the money makers were, by far, the worst . . . and J.T., in her opinion, was both of those.

Bradley spent the next twenty minutes fielding calls from listeners who wanted to talk to and question J.T. Most were women – no surprise to Raelyn! As Bradley wrapped up the interview and went to commercial, he looked over at Raelyn, asking with his eyes what the hell her problem was?! She just rolled her eyes at him, grabbed her cup of coffee and headed out the door. J.T. shook Bradley’s hand. “Sorry, man,” Bradley said, shaking his hand, shrugging. “I don’t know what got into her.”

“It’s okay,” J.T. assured him, smiling. “I think I pissed her off for some reason.”

“Let me walk you out,” Bradley offered.

“That’s okay,” he assured him, pushing in his stool and headed for the door. “I think I can find my way out.”

“Thanks for coming and good luck Sunday,” Bradley called after him, wondering what had happened in here that he hadn’t caught. It was apparent by watching them both that they were attracted to each other. He just couldn’t figure out what had happened with Raelyn.

As J.T. exited the door, he ran right into Raelyn, up righting her cup of coffee onto the floor and all over the front of her white silk blouse. “Shit!” she gasped, jumping back at the sudden collision and heat that scalded the front of her blouse.

“Oh canlı casino god . . .” J.T. exclaimed. “I’m so sorry,” he said, automatically reaching up to brush her off, his hands coming into direct contact with her breasts.

“Excuse me!” Raelyn exploded, pushing back his hands. “What the hell do you think you’re doing?!”

“No . . . I didn’t mean . . .” Suddenly J.T. broke into laughter, and Raelyn was shocked at the genuine laugh that came out of his mouth, his eyes sparkling.

“I don’t know what the hell you think is so funny,” Raelyn spat out, brushing at the front of her blouse. “You’ve completely ruined my new blouse.”

J.T. struggled to gain control of his laughter at what he had done. Lord knows, he hadn’t meant to reach out and touch her, but . . . now that he had; he wanted to do it again. Damn, if she wasn’t the most enticing creature he had met in a long time. And what made her even more appealing was the fact that she was doing everything she could to get away from him. He was more used to the exact opposite from the women he met. They were usually falling all over him, making him and themselves look like fools.

“I’m sorry,” he said, smiling at her as he reached over to the table that stood beside them, full of napkins, sugar packets, coffee stirrers and such. He came back with a load of napkins, thrusting a handful of them at her as he stooped down to wipe the spilt coffee off the tile floor. “I guess I wasn’t watching where I was going.”

Raelyn took the napkins, doing her best to wipe off the coffee, but knowing it was of no use. The blouse was ruined. “I guess you weren’t,” she said, frantically wiping at her shirt and then said, “It’s no use. It’s ruined . . . completely ruined.”

J.T. stood up again, an apologetic look on his face. “God . . . I feel awful.”

Raelyn looked up into his face. He had to be a good six inches taller than her. The look on his face registered his embarrassment at the incident and she smiled at him, despite herself. “It’s okay . . . really.”

“The least I could do is buy you another one,” he offered, taking the napkins from her and disposing of them in the nearest trash receptacle.

“No, that’s okay,” she said, shaking her head at him. “That’s not necessary.”

“Then at least let me buy you another cup of coffee,” he said, his blue eyes sparkling at her.

“It’s free and right down the hall,” she pointed out.

J.T. laughed good-naturedly as she smiled at him. “You’ve got me there,” he said. Raelyn took one last look at her blouse as she sighed, picking up another styrophone cup from the table next to them.

“Well, it’s been real,” she said, turning back down the hallway. J.T. watched her retreating form for a moment before jogging down the hall to catch up with her once again.

“So if you won’t let me buy you a new blouse or a cup of coffee, how about coming to the game on Sunday?” Raelyn turned, surprised to see him at her side once again.

“Boy, you just don’t give up, do you?” she asked, perplexed at his persistence to hound her.

“No, not really,” he said, watching her. “That’s kinda how I got my nickname in college. It was Timex, you know . . . “Takes a lickin’ and keeps on tickin’”.”

Raelyn laughed despite herself. There was something about him that intrigued her, despite all her reservations about professional football players. Maybe it was the way his sandy blonde hair curled at the nape of his neck, or those damned blue eyes that never let loose of hers, but she found herself suddenly wanting to go. “I don’t think so,” she heard herself saying.

“Oh, come on Raelyn. You’ll enjoy it. I promise,” he said, flashing that grin of his at her one last time.

Raelyn stood for a moment, indecisive and then found herself saying, “Okay. I guess I could come to the game.” At his smile, she added, “But only if I can bring a friend.”

“Uh, sure,” J.T. said, suddenly catching himself wondering who she wanted to bring to a Ranger game. “Let me have your address and phone number and I’ll bring the tickets to you.”

“Nice try,” she said, tilting her head at him. “Just leave the tickets at the front gate and we’ll pick them up there.”

“You can at least give me your number,” he persisted. “I might need to get a hold of you. You know . . . in case something comes up.”

She gave him a level look and then said, “Nothing will come up.” She smiled at him one last time, turning back down the hall. J.T. smiled to himself as he watched Raelyn walk up the corridor and then disappear around the bend. She was one hell of a woman and he eagerly anticipated the next time he would see her!

“Are you excited about going to the football game?” Raelyn said, looking over into the seat next to her. “Mommy can’t wait to see the Rangers play.”

A pair of big blue eyes looked up from the seat beside Raelyn in her little Mazda Protégé’. “I can’t wait!” came the excited chatter. “We’re gonna go see the football players and the man riding the horse.”

“That’s kaçak casino right,” Raelyn said, reaching over to smooth her daughter’s hair away from her sparkling eyes, full of excitement and wonder. Summer had never been to a professional football game that she could remember and Raelyn was excited about taking her, and she even found herself getting a little excited about it as well. It had been almost two years since she had been to a professional football game and she could feel the old excitement of the game to come welling up inside her.

“Can I have a coke and popcorn and a pickle?” Summer asked, turning her head to look at her mother. “Please . . .!”

“How can I resist that?” Raelyn laughed. “Okay.” The rest of the drive was spent singing with the songs that came over the radio. Raelyn was tuned to her station of course, listening to the national countdown that they always played on Sunday mornings. It cost five bucks just to park and Raelyn shook her head. Prices sure had gone up since the last time she had been to a stadium. When they finally found a parking place, Raelyn helped Summer out of the car and they started for the nearest gate.

When they got there, she made her way to the ticket booth. “Hi,” she said to the older lady sitting behind the Plexiglas. “Tickets for Raelyn Ballard.”

The lady sifted through her envelopes, finally coming across Raelyn’s name. “Two tickets?”

“That’s correct,” she said, turning her head to look down at Summer. She was looking around; pointing to everything she could see . . . balloons, cotton candy . . . whatever her eyes touched.

“Here you go Ms. Ballard. Enjoy the game.”

“Thank you,” Raelyn said, reaching for the envelope. Turning to Summer, she said, “Okay. Ready?’

“Ready!” Summer replied. As soon as they got through the gates, Summer started begging for everything she saw. “Can I have one of those big finger things?”

“You don’t need that,” Raelyn replied, shaking her head. She checked her tickets and made her way over to a help counter. “Excuse me?”

“Yes ma’am?” A young man turned to find Raelyn standing in front of him. “How can I help you?”

“I’m sorry, but I don’t see what section I’m sitting in printed on this ticket.”

The young man reached out, taking the slips of paper from her and then smiled. “These aren’t tickets for seats,” he said. “These are VIP passes.”

“So, what does that mean?” Raelyn asked, confusion clouding her beautiful face. “We don’t have a seat for the game?”

“Oh, yes ma’am,” he replied. Then pointing behind her he said, “Do you see that elevator over there?”

Raelyn turned to see a guard standing beside a gated elevator. She turned back to him, “Yeah?”

“Just go show the officer this pass and he’ll let you go up. When you get to the top, just go in and make yourself at home.”

“Is there a certain floor I should press?” Raelyn asked, still not sure she understood what these passes were for. J.T. said he would leave tickets, not passes.

“Oh, no ma’am,” he laughed. “That elevator goes directly to the VIP room.”

“The VIP room?” she repeated. “Are you sure this is where I’m supposed to go?”

“Yes ma’am,” he replied, handing her the passes once more.

“Well, okay,” she said, shrugging her shoulders. Then turning to her young daughter, said, “Okay, let’s go get something to drink.”

“Excuse me, ma’am?” the young man said.

Raelyn looked up. “Yes?”

“You won’t need to buy a drink or anything. Everything you might need is already up there. It’s complimentary.”

“You’re kidding!” Raelyn was surprised. What had J.T. done?

“No ma’am,” he replied, smiling at her. “It’s high class.” When Raelyn just turned around and stared at the elevator, he added, “You should go and enjoy it. It’s real nice from what I hear.”

Raelyn turned back around and said, “Thanks for everything. You’ve been a real help.”

“You’re welcome,” came the reply.

Raelyn looked down once more at her daughter, grasping her hand. “Are you ready?’

“Let’s go!” came her enthusiastic answer.

When the elevator opened, Raelyn stifled the gasp of amazement that came to her mouth. She had to be in the wrong place! This booth was absolutely gorgeous. Just as you walked in and to the left, a huge buffet table was set up with all kinds of finger foods, drinks, and utensils. Directly in front of her sat leather seats, stadium style, but further apart in a down sloping manner so each guest could see the game. Soft music played over the intercom during warm-up. Summer broke the trance Raelyn stood in. “Wow! This is cool!”

Raelyn looked down at her and smiled. “You’re right.” She looked back up and around them before adding, “This is definitely cool!”

“Welcome to Ranger stadium!”

Raelyn looked over to her right to see the smiling face of a statuesque black woman, the undeniably gorgeous wife of one of the players. “Hi!” came her quick reply, wondering who this beautiful woman was now standing before her.

“J.T. told us to expect you,” she said, offering a hand. “Let me introduce myself. I’m Jewelicia Williams, but everyone just calls me Jewel. I’m married to Terrell Williams.”

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